Jonathan R. Rose was born and raised in the Scarborough area of Toronto, Canada. He has spent the last several years in Mexico. Carrion is his first published novel.
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Interview with the Author:
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I wanted to be a storyteller ever since I was very young, about six years old, when I started writing my first books. Ever since then, while there have been some breaks, some of which were very long, writing has always been a passion that I started to dedicate my life to when I was about twenty-three, while convalescing for a year following my first of several back surgeries.
What inspires you to write?
Anger inspires me to write, anger at what I see in the world around me. And since I get no satisfaction from complaining or venting via social media, I put all that anger into the stories I tell.
How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I have been living in Central Mexico for the last five years, and seeing how horribly the citizens are treated by those tasked to serve them, to protect them, predominantly the police, the military, and the government, inspired me to shed light on the situation. The abuses and overall lack of respect is as brutal as it is blatant, and it was those abuses that made me rethink the concept of what and who a hero truly is, while also rethinking what, and who a truly monster is, and that led me to create the story, "Carrion."
Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
Oh yes, several. Before publishing my first novel, "Carrion," I have written three full length novels that nobody will ever read haha. I still remember writing my very first novel. It took me about two years, and when I was finished I believed I was going to be the next Dostoyevsky. It didn't work out that way. It was terrible. But, it was a great learning experience, as it showed me I could actually start and finish a novel, while also teaching me many other lessons I still utilize today.
Tell us about your writing process.
I have always been the type who liked to work consistently, every day, but never burning myself out, and I have applied that mentality to my writing. I write at least 1000 words every day, while preparing a manuscript, and while editing, I make sure to schedule a set amount of pages; either way, I make sure I work every day, typically when I wake up, and I make sure I read every single day, as well. While the idea of working when feeling passionate works for some, it never worked for me, as I found that many can work when they're in the mood, but fewer can work when they aren't.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
My favorite scene in "Carrion" involves a field of crucifixes where monsters, similar to the protagonist, are strung up in accordance to the orders of the story's "Hero," a vicious, power hungry former police officer. In the scene, the main monster is forced to make his way through the field, and stops when a splash of liquid strikes him in the head, and when he looks up, he sees that he was struck by the tears of a crucified monster, who was still alive. It's a scene I believe inspires a feeling one would never associate with what we perceive to be monsters, empathy.
Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
I wouldn't say quirks, but there are some traits found in both main characters that were inherited from me, yes.
What is your most interesting writing quirk?
As I said earlier, I like to stop writing for the day at the 1000 word mark, and sometimes, I do so even when it means I'm in the middle of an intense scene; as a matter of fact, I actually prefer to stop in the middle of such scenes, as it gets me excited for the next day's work!
Do you read? Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I read every day. I love it, and I do it whenever I can. There are a number of writers who have influenced me, from Dante to Joseph Heller, to Jose Rizal, to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to Kurt Vonnegut, Jonathan Swift, Honore De Balzac, Cervantes, Albert Camus, Victor Hugo, and many others, whose work, and lives, have inspired me a great deal.
What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
To write and read every single day would be number one. And number two would be to cut, cut, cut, and keep cutting until there is absolutely nothing left to cut, to make sure every word, every sentence, matters, and if it isn't crucial, get rid of it, no matter how attached you may be to it; there is no room in a good story for useless words or statements.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Do it because you have something to say, not because you think it will make you rich because you probably have better odds winning the lottery then getting rich as a writer.
What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
I've become a fan of Mexican cinema, and considering the story of "Carrion" is so influenced by Mexico, I would love to see actors like Joaquin Cosio, or Damian Alcazar, Gael Garcia Bernal in the film version, and if somebody like Luis Estrada or Amat Escalante, or Guillermo Del Toro, Alejandro Innaritu, or Alfonso Cuaron wanted to direct it, well, saying no would be difficult.
If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
My MP3 player, fully charged, my Kindle, fully charged, and a pistol with a single bullet to use when the batteries died.
How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I like to take walks, long ones, alone, typically at night, in busy areas, as they allow me to watch the world around me, to observe it, to take it in. I also love film, and whenever I'm not working, I'm usually watching a movie; commercial or indie, in English, or any other language, as long as it's good, I'll watch it.
Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I want to go in one of those shark cages off the coast of South Africa or Australia, and see a Great White Shark up close.
Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I have a shameless obsession with children's cereal, from Count Chocula, to Lucky Charms, to Alphabets with marsh mellows, and Cap'N'Crunch, it's insatiable, morning or night, it doesn't matter to me. I think it has to do with my mom restricting the consumption of such cereals as a kid, which was best, of course, but now that I am a grown ass man, I consume those cereals all the time. It's sad, but so good!
I speak the most slang filled Spanish ever, as I never took classes beyond basic grammar, so everything I learned, I learned from friends here in Mexico, which means I can have a conversation with anybody at anytime without a problem, but if it I had to do apply my language skills academically I would fail, miserably.
I once had the chance to watch a movie on the biggest movie screen in the world, at the time, in Seoul, South Korea, and ended up watching a movie in a theatre next to the theatre that had the biggest movie screen in the world, at the time, and while watching the film (Avatar, the biggest movie in the world, at the time) I was constantly thinking to myself, "The screen doesn't seem that big." Afterwards, when I left the theatre and met up with my friends, they all laughed at me, pointed at the adjacent building, and said, "The biggest screen in the world is in the theatre over there." Needless to say, I was very upset, and didn't have a chance to make up for it, as we left the next morning. So close, but so far.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
Right now I'm in the process of working on a multimedia version of "Carrion" that I plan to release in the next few months. I am trying to put out some short stories, and I'm in the process of finishing up another novel that while different than "Carrion" does share some similar themes, and is again inspired by my time in Central Mexico.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I just want to say thank you for showing an interest in my work, and please know that I appreciate it immensely, and thank you Debdatta for this interview opportunity, I really appreciate it!
Here is a claustrophobic landscape of heaped flesh, ravenous vermin,and human monsters. Each body in Carrion is possessed by a maddening hunger that Jonathan R. Rose describes viscerally and graphically. What begins as a brutal, relentless effort to fill the stomach becomes another kind of ravenousness, one emotionally rooted but still debilitating. This novel is starvation captured on the page.
Alana I. Capria, author of Wrapped in Red and Hooks and Slaughterhouse
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