Indie Book Promo is happy to welcome Janson Cantrell to the blog! He’s here to answer some of our questions and share about his book, Manifestation. If this book sounds like something that you would be interested in reading, please find buy links below and pick up a copy or two.
IBP – Try to describe your book in one sentence.
Jason – Manifestation is about a teenage girl, Gabby Palladino, who is drawn into danger, mystery, and wonder as she witnesses the revival of ancient magical abilities that have long been thought to be nothing more than fables and fairy tales.
IBP – When did you decide to become a writer?
Jason – I’ve been writing fiction since fifth grade, but I really made the decision to pursue it professionally after I started college. I began my college career studying computer science, following in my father’s footsteps. But when I advanced further in the program and the classes became more focused and difficult, I found that I didn’t have the drive and motivation needed to spend the rest of my life working in computers. Instead, I started writing stories in my notebooks during my computer classes. My grades declined, and eventually I decided to switch majors. I ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Writing Arts from Rowan University in spring of 2013.
IBP - When did you begin writing?
Jason – I started writing fiction when I was in fifth grade. My teacher gave our class an assignment to write a Halloween story. Mine was a mystery story about a daring young boy who ventures into the eerie and dangerous Jenkins Manor. There he discovers that Old Man Jenkins wasn’t actually dead . . . he’d faked his own death, and his coffin was filled with rocks! An action-packed adventure followed involving secret passages, drama, bravery, and a final battle against the creepy old man before he was finally defeated and brought in to the police. It was seven glorious pages of excitement, written by my fifth grade self, and I still have it to this day.
IBP – Did you have support at the beginning and/or during your writing?
Jason - When I was younger, I never got much support in my writing. My mother used to say, “If you spent as much time on your schoolwork as you do on that stuff, you’d get straight A’s.” I persevered despite the lack of support, and eventually I started making connections with other writers, both in college and online. Now I have a large network of people who offer me support, advice, feedback, and encouragement. It makes a big difference and helps out a lot when I’m spending long hours working on major writing projects.
IBP - What is it you love most about writing? What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Jason – I love the wild rush of writing a first draft. I tend to write my first drafts as quickly as possible, without stopping to plan, outline, or plot things out. I also participate in NaNoWriMo, which is designed around the idea of writing without inhibitions. It’s extremely satisfying to see a story through from beginning to end in this way, right up to the point where all the hard work comes together in a stunning climax.
The hardest part is what comes after: revisions. There are always a lot of difficult decisions to be made, such as which chapters will be cut and which will remain. It can also feel more like work instead of fun, since you need to go over everything again and again to fix any problems in the plot. But this fine-tuned process is an important part of the work, and I push my way through it, since I know I’ll never finish if I don’t continue with the hard work every day.
IBP – Which scenes were the hardest to write?
Jason – The hardest scenes to write are always the scenes where I have to kill off a character I’ve grown to love. I pour a lot of myself into my characters, and I become very attached to them. But some of them were destined for tragic ends, right from the very beginning. It’s difficult to put so much development and care into a character that is eventually going to die, but at the same time, I know that I need to give each character a lot of personality and depth in order to make sure that my readers care about that character’s fate. If that makes things more difficult for me because I come to care about them as well, then that’s the price I have to pay.
IBP – How did you come up with your premise for your books?
Jason - A common trope in fantasy literature is the concept of a post-apocalyptic world. These novels usually start off some time after a great catastrophe that destroyed the previous civilization, leaving the survivors to rebuild and form a new civilization from the ashes of the old. While these novels can come up with some great stories about regaining lost knowledge or facing down ancient evils that were sealed away after the apocalypse, they all have one common failing. Almost none of them show the reader what actually happened during the apocalypse. It’s always something long since passed, referred to only in flashbacks or legends.
The premise I started with for Manifestation was the idea of showing how everything got started—the rebirth of magic. The novel is the first in a series, which will show the changes the world will undergo as magic returns and people begin developing supernatural abilities that they don’t understand and can’t fully control. This leads to danger and chaos as some people cause supernatural accidents with their uncontrolled abilities, and others begin using their powers for their own ill gain.
IBP – Which genres do you prefer to read?
Jason – I’ll read almost anything, but I do have a few preferred genres. My favorites have always been fantasy and sci fi. I enjoy far-reaching tales that go beyond what we can ever expect to experience within our own real lives. Part of the reason I ended up writing in urban fantasy is probably because of how it can be a blending of these two genres. You can have modern technology, from guns to computers to robotics, blended together with magical abilities that take the science to a whole new level.
IBP – Where can your fans find you?
Jason – You can find me on my blog, WritingPossibilities.com, where I post about my writing process and my thoughts on books, publication, and storytelling, and where I also post a variety of fiction, poetry, and academic articles. I can also be found on Facebook, Goodreads, or on Twitter @CantrellJason. I’m always happy to connect with anyone. And more information about my books can be found on ArcanaRevived.com.
IBP – Have you ever Googled yourself?
Jason - Yes, and the results are interesting. I’m not the only Jason Cantrell you’ll find on the web. One is a photographer and another is a bodybuilder, each with his own website devoted to his craft. But the most interesting story is the Jason Cantrell who is a defense attorney. He was arrested . . . in court . . . for possession of marijuana during a trial where he was defending a client. It just goes to show that you never know whether your lawyer has any common sense. Though I’m hoping that one day, my own work will be the first Google search result when someone types in my name.
IBP – How many more books can we expect in this series?
Jason – Arcana Revived is planned to be an expansive world containing multiple series. The first series, dealing with the return of magic to the world, will span six books. The first one is currently available for purchase, the second is being revised with a planned release date mid-2015, and the third, fourth, and fifth have been written as first drafts. The sixth will be written before the end of this year. I plan to release them at a rate of one or two per year, depending on how long it takes to revise and edit each one.
After the first six books, I plan to start a new series, set in the same world, but following a new main plotline and possibly involving new main characters. Each set of books will thus have its own internal story arc, while the other sets will serve as part of the history and ongoing development of the entire Arcana Revived world.
* * *
Manifestation is Jason Cantrell’s debut novel, and Volume One of the Arcana Revived series. It depicts the return of magic to modern times and the struggle of a teenage girl trying to survive and to make sense of the supernatural events going on around her.
Gabby Palladino believes in magic.
Her parents always tell her that magic is nothing more than foolish superstition. But she grew up reading ancient fairy tales known as the Fables of Arcana, which filled her mind with wonder and mystery. When those myths and legends start to come true, Gabby learns that real magic is far more dangerous than the bedtime stories she always believed in.
When people begin manifesting the powers of arcana, Gabby finds herself surrounded by dangers on all sides. She encounters people who can melt steel with their minds, create earthquakes, and summon flames from their bare hands. She must struggle to survive in a city gripped by chaos and destruction, while trying to discover why people are manifesting abilities that have been lost since ancient times.
What she learns will make her question everything she believes in, about the world, her family, and even her own self.
* * *
Jason Cantrell was born and raised in New Jersey, give or take a few years sowing wild oats and racking up credit card debt on the west coast. He’s a graduate of Rowan University, Class of 2013, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Writing Arts and minoring in Communication Studies. He is also a member of the Rowan’s graduate program, Master of Arts in Writing, Class of 2015. Jason has been writing fiction since the fifth grade, and he most definitely believes in magic.
Manifestation is Jason’s debut novel, and the first in the Arcana Revived series. You can find more of his work at writingpossibilities.com or connect with him on Twitter @CantrellJason.
Jason can be found:
* * *
It was another quiet drive home. Gabby sat in the car and stared out the window at nothing. Mom tried to get her to say something by asking how the session had gone, but she quickly gave up when it became clear Gabby wasn’t going to talk.
As soon as they pulled into the driveway at home Mom said, “Straight up to your room.” Gabby huffed, not bothering to acknowledge her mother. She knew she was still grounded and didn’t need Mom telling her every day. She got out of the car and slammed the door, then stalked up to the house.
The house was quiet. Gabby let out a sigh of relief. The relief was short lived, though, since the little monster started bawling as soon as she came inside. She growled and rubbed at her temples as the pressure in her skull built up again. She wasn’t in the mood for Dante’s noise.
Gabby stalked into the living room. Adrianna was there, leaning over the bassinet to check on Dante. “Can’t you make him stop crying?” Gabby snapped at her sister.
Adrianna shot her a dirty look and picked Dante up. She rocked him in her arms and whispered soothing noises. Mom stepped past Gabby into the living room and went over to check on him. Adrianna shook her head and in a confused tone said, “He’s been fine all day . . .”
“And what about you?” Mom asked her. Adrianna had a look of pain on her face again, hinting at another migraine starting up.
Gabby turned and went back down the hall towards the stairs. As she stalked up the stairs to her room, she heard her sister say, “It’s nothing. It’s already going away.”
Cut off from TV, her phone, and her computer, Gabby sat in her room most of the night, feeling sorry for herself and listing in her mind all the things wrong with her life. Her sister and nephew were high on the list. She couldn’t even relax while she was grounded, since when Adrianna brought Dante upstairs for his nap, he started crying again and wouldn’t go to sleep or shut up for the next hour. She tried to tune him out, then tried to spend some time putting her thoughts down in her diary, but she couldn’t concentrate with the constant wailing coming from down the hall.
When she couldn’t take any more, she stepped out into the hall and shouted into Adrianna’s room, “God, just shut him up! Can’t you make him shut up?”
Her sister glared at her and snapped, “You know, you yelling all the time isn’t helping.” She got up and stalked over to Gabby, but she swayed in her steps. She paused to lean against her dresser. She looked dizzy, her eyes glazed and unfocused. She pressed the heels of her palms to the sides of her head. Tears welled in her eyes from the pain of the migraine setting in. Gabby frowned and stepped closer, her anger fading into worry at how sick her sister looked. As she stepped closer, Adrianna whimpered in pain, and looked about ready to collapse.
She looked up at Gabby, her eyes distant, and muttered in a confused tone, “Why are you leaving?”
Gabby frowned at the odd words, then screamed, “Mom!” as Adrianna collapsed to the floor.
* * *
An ambulance took Adrianna to the hospital and Gabby, Mom, and Dante followed in the car. They called Dad on the way, and he met them at the hospital shortly after Adrianna was taken into the ER. They sat in the waiting room and Mom tried to comfort Dante, but he was crying so much that they asked if a doctor could look at him too. The baby was taken to the pediatric ward for tests, and the rest of the family was left waiting.
Gabby was silent while they sat and waited to hear back on the results. She felt guilty for yelling at her sister, even though she knew that couldn’t have had anything to do with her collapse. Still, if something bad happened, she didn’t want an argument to be the last words she shared with Adrianna.
After hours of waiting, the doctor came out to talk to them. “They’re both doing fine,” he said. “The pain faded almost as soon as you brought her in and she hasn’t had any more symptoms during the tests. We didn’t find anything physically wrong with her. It’s possible the episode was brought on by stress.”
Gabby shrank back as her mother shot her a look. A tightness welled up in her gut and the pressure in her head swelled up. She looked away, staring at the wall. Mom turned to the doctor and asked, “Can we see her?”
He nodded and said, “We’d like to keep both her and her son overnight for observation. But you can go in for a few minutes.”
Gabby waited out in the hall while Mom went in to talk to Adrianna. She felt like this was somehow her fault. She knew she’d been lashing out lately. The pressure in her head got worse whenever Dante was crying and sometimes she felt like she was holding back a dam that was about to burst. She felt horrible for snapping, but she didn’t know what else to do. She thought about asking if one of the doctors could look at her head while they were there, but that would mean dragging up the suicide attempt again. She couldn’t deal with that.
She was sitting on the ground, knees hugged against her chest, when her mother returned from Adrianna’s room. Mom stood over Gabby, looked down at her, and said, “I want you to go in there and apologize to your sister.”
Gabby looked off to the side and brushed a tear from her eye. All she could see of Mom out of the corner of her eye were her legs and her hands at her waist, fists clenched tightly around her purse. She glanced up, peering through the thin veil of her brown hair hanging in front of her face. Mom’s eyes were red and strained. She looked sick. Down the hall, Gabby saw Dad exiting Adrianna’s room. He took a few slow, aching steps, then leaned against the wall. He rubbed his hand across his face and let out a long, slow breath. He stood there with his shoulders slumped, staring at nothing.
She wondered if they’d looked like that when she was in the hospital a month before, unconscious, having her stomach pumped. If they’d cared that much. It hadn’t been sympathy she’d awoken to. It had been her mother asking, What is wrong with you?
She slowly rose and under her mother’s stern gaze she marched down the hall to her sister’s room. Dad tried to force a smile as she walked by, though he did a poor job of it. When she walked into the room, she saw Adrianna lying there in pain with tears welling in her eyes. Her hair looked stringy from sweat, and she had wires and sensors stuck to her head and chest.
She was giving Gabby a strange look as she entered. She looked confused. Distant. Staring more through her than at her. After a moment she closed her eyes and shook her head, then she leaned back in the hospital bed. Her movements were slow and weak. She looked exhausted and the pain was clearly etched on her face.
Gabby felt her mother’s eyes on her back and she quickly whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Adrianna slowly forced her eyes open and gave her a weak smile. “So am I,” she said. She gave Gabby another strange look, as if she didn’t recognize her. Gabby stepped back and shifted her feet. Adrianna kept staring at her like she was studying her, while Gabby stood there fidgeting under her sister’s gaze.
She was about to turn to leave, uncertain what else to say, when Adrianna said, “Hey . . .” Gabby turned back to her sister but kept her head lowered, unable to meet her eyes. “None of it’s your fault, you know.” Gabby looked up at Adrianna for a moment and stared, then lowered her eyes in shame. “You didn’t start this,” Adrianna whispered.
Gabby glanced back up at her sister. Adrianna’s eyes were glazed over. Gabby’s chest felt tight. Her head pounded. Adrianna winced and covered her face with a hand, whimpering in pain. Gabby turned and hurried from the room, unable to see her sister in such pain.