Friday 5 June 2020

The Hippo Hangs Out with AND Hands Over to Jason Acar

Today I've got a double whammy for you! I'm not only hanging out with author Jason Acar, I'm handing over the reins of The Hippo to him as well and if you're a regular visitor here, you'll know that this is a first. So grab yourself a beverage and snack of your choice, get comfy and join us!

Let's get things started by introducing you all to the man himself, lovely readers, I give you, Jason Acar.

Photo courtesy of Jason Acar

Jason Acar is a South African born fiction writer, who made his debut with Easter Egg in 2020. Born in 1984, in Johannesburg, he found his love for storytelling at a young age and went on to complete a diploma in Journalism. He has worked as a journalist and editor across multiple platforms (print, digital, radio, video) for over 15 years. An ambitious writer, he aims to make a mark in the Thriller market and continue expanding his skills as a writer.

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Welcome to The Hippo Jason, it's a pleasure to have you here. Please pull up a chair and let's chat.😀

What’s your favourite under-appreciated writer/book?
John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, which I picked up in my late teens. I found it to be such an intriguing and strange story. The book is now a big success, but the story of the author was so tragic. The book was published 11 years after his suicide, with the help of his mother and another writer. It then went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. So sad that he never got to see the success. Under-appreciated in its time.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I think it would be my obsession with finding a unique plot. I need something different or unique before I can actually dive into an idea. I understand the construction of a story and the importance of characters, but to get myself going, I need an idea or a concept that I surprises me before I jump in.

Do you often hear from your readers and what do they say?
I’m a new author, but have put a lot of effort in connecting with people who have read my debut thriller. It’s hard work when working full time in the media space, but it’s been really rewarding. I’ve had such amazing feedback so far.

Having read and reviewed Easter Egg (you can read my review here) I can see why you've had such great feedback. It's a gripping read! 😉

What advice would you give your younger self?
Get back to creative writing immediately. I wrote a lot of fun short stories as a kid, but after starting a career as a journalist, it is easy to lose that side of you. I would tell myself to ditch the procrastination and fear of what people might think of my work. If you’re a storyteller, get your stories out there.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from?
I started reading at a young age, and I think one of the most influential authors was Roald Dahl. I read every possible book I could get my hands on at the local library. His imagination, characters and extravagant stories really pushed my imagination.

What do you think is more important: characters or plot?
What a difficult question. I’m going to go with plot for me, because of what I mentioned above. I need a strong plot and then build my characters in that space.

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
I don’t know if it counts, but I made the video trailer and promotional material for my work. I love learning new skills, so I guess in my day job I’ve always found a way to be a strong all-rounder.

You get a brilliant idea/thought/phrase at an inappropriate moment (eg in the shower or driving) what do you do?
I keep repeating it to myself and ignore any other interaction until I can put it down on an email draft, notepad or WhatsApp message (to my wife). She deals with a lot of random messages from me, hahaha.

The poor woman must spend a lot of time peering at her phone and wondering what the hell you're on about! 😄

Describe yourself in five words.
Honest, kind, fun, family, crazy.

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As I know that Jason is going to be sharing 10 things you didn't know about Easter Egg, I think now would be a good time to share the blurb with you incase you're not familiar with it.

Tormented cop Rick Sorano is on a brutal path of redemption and salvation in this suspense thriller. Along with Detective Jane Dover and video game junkie, Denver Collins, he is sucked into a twisted augmented reality where a serial killer uses an online video game to commit his crimes. In a race against the clock, he must track down the murderer by solving the digital clues.As the body count rises in this deadly cat-and-mouse chase, Rick is pushed to his emotional limits as the secrets regarding his missing daughter are slowly revealed by the merciless killer. His marriage has fallen apart and he is slowly losing grip on reality. However, when all seems lost, the case of seemingly random murders might not be random at all.

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 Now I'm going to put my feet up and hand you over . . . .  take it away Jason!

                                    10 things you didn’t know about Easter Egg

10 – It was originally a screenplay
When starting my path back to my true passion, creative writing, I wanted to try my hand at writing a screenplay. I researched, taught myself how to format it, and managed to complete two feature film screenplays. Easter Egg was my second screenplay, and I loved it so much that I turned it into a book. Being based in South Africa and writing for the US film industry is not easy, but I’m glad I have that experience under my belt.

9 – Pacman quoted
Obviously as a new author, getting early reviews is difficult, especially since I don’t have tons of industry contacts. So instead of leaving quotes off of the back of my paperback cover, I decided to add some popular video game related quotes. One is from Pacman, and it’s probably my favourite. They might disappear in later editions too…

8 – Character names
I really struggle with names, so I did a lot of research into common American names when choosing the names of the main characters. However, there are some famous video game characters that I borrowed names from. Hope you can try identify them if you play games yourself.

7 – Console switch
I wrote the screenplay for Easter Egg many years ago before being sucked back into work. In my original story, the character used a PlayStation Vita. Since the console has been on a downward spiral, and decided to include the Nintendo Switch into the book instead.

6 – First edition
I don’t own the first edition of my debut book. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown around the world, I haven’t been able to order author copies of my book, as it launched when lockdown was already in place. Someone in the UK was able to order the paperback, and unknowingly they have the very first print of my book.

What a shame that due to the circumstances you don't have a physical copy for yourself yet. Wouldn't it be great if someone who has bought a paperback version was reading this right now! If YOU are that person, please do get in touch, we'd love to find you! 😀

5 – Extra content
The screenplay version of the story is missing some of the back story. I would say there is around three chapters that offer more about the characters in the book, which did not feature in the original screenplay draft.

4 – Character profiling
I was going through a lot of tips for screenplay and character writing when first putting together Easter Egg. I actually wrote full bios for each of the main characters from their birth to the present day. That process actually allowed me to easily write some of the backstory elements later on.

3 – My own gaming nickname
In the intro to the book, I actually used my own PlayStation nickname as an Easter Egg. It is a short cameo that doesn’t really end well for him. I suppose it is true to life though, considering how I fare in online shooter games…

2 – Video game meme
Leeroy Jenkins is probably one of my favourite video game memes, and I decided to subtly add a character into the book with some nods towards the infamous video.

1 – It’s part of a series
Easter Egg was not originally planned to be a series. However, I love the world and concept that I’ve created, and I feel like there is tremendous opportunity for growth. So, I guess I can formally announce that the second book is underway. The plot points, story outline, characters and the intro are all done and dusted. 

YAY! I'm soooo happy to hear that a second book is in the pipeline and I'm sure I won't be alone in that!

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You can connect with Jason using the links below:

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Jason for taking the time to stop by today, it's been great getting to know you and finding out more about Easter Egg. I hope that many more great reviews come your way. 😉


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