Cry of Justice by Jason Pratt

About the Author:

Jason Pratt is a native of West Tennessee, and the systems manager for Dyer Fiberglass, Inc. He holds a bachelor of communications degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

When he isn't freelance editing other people's books or writing philosophical treatises as a respected guest on various Internet sites, he can be found pondering tactics and strategies in the lates war game or studying metaphysics and world history. Occasionally he finds the time to instruct, judge and compete in the art of fencing; and has been known to write cinematic epic fantasies when people aren't looking.
Cry of Justice is the first book of an initial trilogy, the third book of which he is currently composing.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask Jason some questions - this is what he had to say:

Could you please tell us a little about your book?

Cry of Justice_ (CoJ hereafter) is an epic fantasy novel, the first of an initial trilogy, concerning an ambitious young woman leading a small ragged brigade in a world still suffering aftershocks from a vicious international war.She plots and battles against a series of increasingly ruthless adversaries, with help from her colorful sub commanders, while finding herself irreconcilably drawn to a charismatic, kind and hopeful stranger. Or, to give a 50 word description: Complicated anti-heroine. Angsty elite killer. Cheerfully average do-gooder. Wretched egotistical bully. Quiet brilliant giant. Lanky droll 'cowherd'. Brash paladin thief. Dedicated folk historian. Paranormal romance. Erotic ethical mysticism. Logical conundrums. Clever duels. Daring rescues. Innovative tactics. Climactic multi-brigade Macro-Fight Sequence. Arrogant villains. Shoulder beasts.Aasvogels. Army-slaughtering walking plateaus. Weepingly cool orcs. That's in the first book. The series gets better as it goes along... {g}

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

Nothing specific that I can think of. I had been ginning up a huge plot in the back of my mind for about 20 years, and in 2000 I was helping a friend of mine edit her first novels (Orbit author Marie Brennan, whose fourth novel, In Ashes Lie is scheduled for release in June this year,plug, plug. {g}) It just seemed time to start pulling everything together and putting it on the page. CoJ was my solution for how to introduce the story. Ironically, very little of my main overarching story is in CoJ though! (But the little that's there is super-important. Also rather hidden.)

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?

Hm. Lots of inspirations. Two of the most important for the immediate story, though,are the medieval enchantress/paladin paradigm, and the Jewish story of Israel's relationship with God (which is alarmingly rocky! {g}) I wanted to do something different with the enchantress/paladin trope than to have her simply be the bump in the road or pitfall for the hero, or to have him simply be the bump in the road or pitfall for the heroine. So she's the main protagonist, and the story is really mostly about her; but she isn't always (or even usually) a heroine. She can be downright evil sometimes. In other words, a very challenging character to write!

Who is your biggest supporter?

That would certainly be my parents,under heaven, God bless them.

Your biggest critic?

I try to make sure that that's me!--but I've seen some reviewers who thought nothing I did was worth more than derision.I'm not remotely famous enough to have a nemesis opponent, though, or anything like that.

What cause are you most passionate about and why?

Oh, good question. Um. The fact that I'm temporizing here is a bad sign... {lol!} If I had to choose, that would be the mistreatment of women. (With mistreatment of children close behind; but for some reason mistreatment of women I'm more passionate about. Probably because I'm a romantic chivalrist. {s}) However, I make a point not to be passionate about even that, in practice,so as not to lose sight of fair judgment on topics. That being said, I would certainly be most passionate about caring for my wife--if I knew where she was and could be with her. The devotion of men to women in my novels strongly reflects that; and I would go so far as to believe that this is the single most crucial social issue of human history under heaven.

In the last year have you learned or improved on any skills?

My first
two novels I composed simply as prose with some poetic flourishes here and there, but later I redrafted my first novel (CoJ) as one large rhythmically varying poem (which, interestingly, helped me trim the word count down substantially!) And I'm in the process of editing my second novel, Edge of Justice (EoJ), the same way. This past year, however, I completed probably 2/3 of my third novel, Song of Justice (SoJ), while composing it that way from the outset. Which I'm very happy about, because going back and doing a phrase-by-phrase rhythmical polish of a whole book is by far THE single hardest thing I've done for the first two books!(And SoJ will be larger than either of the first two, as befits the grand finale of a trilogy. {g})

Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?

I wish I had some actual rituals I followed when I finished a book! That would be quite unutterly cool; but also far more likely to develop with a wife than not. {wry g} Unfortunately, what actually happens is very mundane: I verbally dictate the thing out loud as my first editing pass (though I'll have done lots of partial editing passes before then). With SoJ I'll start a new habit of doing a statistical analysis for figuring out the Action Scene Percentage(which I've already done for the first books, but long after their composition), so I can concentrate on making sure that the current book is at least as good as previous books (if not better) at giving reading audiences more than just a bunch of plotty talking heads. I'm a plotty kind of guy, so I tend to overwrite that way if I'm not careful. On the other hand, and rather schizophrenically, I would write the whole story as endless butt-kicking if I could figure out a way to do so while actually having a story in there somewhere! {lol!} Those two sides of my head have to come to terms; managing both inclinations is the job of my superego maybe.

Who has influenced you throughout your career as a writer?

Lots and
lots of people and authors. Like many fantasy authors, I hew back to George MacDonald for his use of mythopoeic design. (Phantastes,Lilith,the Curdie novels, various short stories and novellas.) Brian Daley's Coramonde duology, though almost forgotten now, is a yardstick of high-efficiency plotting, characterization and entertainment value that I routinely aspire to. There's a lot of H. Rider Haggard running around in the back of my mind for sure. Stephen King for his internal characterizations (and general imagination). J. M. Straczynski, Peter David and Jim Starlin for their ability to run epic plot lines with great characters and characterizations. Josh Whedon, ditto. Robert Jordan sets a good bar, pro and con (PAY ATTENTION TO HOW TO AVOID PLOT CREEP IN AN EPIC SERIES!!!) When I first wrote CoJ I knew very little anime outside of an early childhood adoration of Space Battleship Yamato_, but there's so much good work out there to try to stand up along side with: Rurouni Kenshin,Trigun, The Irresponsible Captain Tyler, and Giant Robo still top my list there, but there's tons more (including Bruce Timm and Paul Dini's work on the Justice League animated series several years ago). I have to mention Marie Brennan again here (Doppelganger, Warrior and Witch, Midnight Never Come, several other novels of hers I've read but which haven't been published yet): I'm always comparing the quality of what I'm doing by the light of whatever it is she has done or is doing recently, whether I'm measuring up or not. (We kind of grew up as baby writers together. {g} So she's like a big sister, only 10 years younger.)

What is the most important thing in your life right now?

Logically, I would always have to say "God". But below that, my family is always the most important thing in my life, even though I don't always show that enough.

What are you currently working on?

Well, this week I'm scrambling to answer interview questions for my virtual book tour! {wry g!} More broadly, I'm very busy as a guest author along with Gregory MacDonald(not to be confused with George MacD) and Thomas Talbott, over The back of my head is meanwhile busily composting on how the heck I should integrate a new plot development into my long-detailed plans for the final third of Book 3. (This book tour may help jog me back into creative-writing mode for the grand finale there.)

Do you have any advice for writers or readers?

For readers...honestly, I can't imagine any advice I could ever give to readers. Every reader is so different... For writers: writing and sex are both creative disciplines, and very dangerous ones because of their power. They are, in fact, both quite literally magical enchantments which affect other people, which is why you should be careful (in the fullest senses of that word) in what you do with them. Are you serving the other person by helping them become more completely and cleanly the person they are, expanding their person-ness,empowering and actualizing them, fulfilling their fertility--helping them walk according to whatever light beyond you they can see, looking for more light thereby? Or, are you only trying to create effects in them with your power, putting yourself into them or calling them into yourself, for your own purposes, making them react to you? One of those is a dark enchantment, and is damnable, regardless of how pleasureable it might be for the other person, even regardless of whether the other person is seeking that pleasure from you. The other is a mystical union, and is the human contribution to the generation of healthy interpersonal relationships. Which, now that I think of it, might constitute advice to readers, too. Be careful about who you curl up with, and why. {s} Make sure he or she is someone you can trust to care for you, and not abuse you.

What are some of your long term goals?

Finishing the Mikonese Saga would be nice! {g} And in fact, I don't think I should responsibly have any long term goals as an author (of fiction anyway) beyond that. One thing at a time. Whether I'm successful, in the sense of ever being bought by large numbers of readers, is not a long term goal for me. I care about it, of course, but I can't make people do that, and would be rather horrified to learn that I could make people do that. If I'm ever popular, I'll certainly appreciate it. But I have work to do.
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement as an author?

So far, that would be CoJ winning the 2007 retailer poll held by the CSPA for Novel of the Year. As a publisher, that would be creating a fine product and being able to send it out (including to people I care about),after so many years of working on it.

What do you feel is your biggest strength?

My humility? {rimshot!} Sorry. Um. I really don't think about myself in those terms. Which makes it hard for me to market myself, sometimes. Who gives a hoot what I think my greatest strengths are!!? Me, maybe, the end. I'm far too egotistical to safely answer this question. When I keep coming up with answers and then going, "No, that one is! No,that one!" then it's time to move on.

Biggest weakness?

Here we go! This question I can answer! {g!}Amending to 'weakness-es'... I have far, far too high an opinion of my own cleverness; I have to constantly watch to make sure I'm not doing something in a story simply for cleverness sake. I don't always distinguish well between necessary detail, color detail, and minituae. While I think I can objectively say I've gotten better about this overtime, I still worry that my character voices and characterizations aren't distinct enough. (A major problem in the first several chapters of CoJ.) I'm worry that I don't do enough research to properly present things in my story. (Yes, this is despite being overly picky about details. It's possible to have both kinds of shortcomings.) I worry that I'm being too vague for readers when they really need the extra info to understand what's going on. I worry that, thematically, I keep beating the reader over the head with a dead horse... or, y'know, words to that effect. {g} I could go on with this for a while, but I don't want to give the impression my novel is crap. {lol!}

What do you feel sets this book apart from others in the same genre?

Heck, I'd be happy if the book is 'just as good as others in the same genre! Not many other writers, even in epic fantasy, are making their books as one long piece of rhythmical poetry, but I don't necessarily consider that a selling point. (It might be considered eye-bleedingly pretentious, as one casual reviewer basically said last year...!) Look, the field of epic fantasy is small enough that I'm not terribly interested in setting myself apart from what other people are doing. I try to come up with interesting things to do and to talk about and to explore in interesting ways, in a big melodramatic story with lots of characters being slowly introduced over time and interacting with one another and occasionally kicking butt (for better or for worse), presenting various mysteries for readers to debate among themselves while waiting for new installments and then resolving those mysteries along the way. Some readers want to read that kind of thing; and in fact there aren't a lot of such things out there. (A lot of trilogies, yes. Not a lot of multi-book epics.) Some readers don't. I do try to avoid a tendency among modern epic writers to plot-creep as they complexify things. (Hint 1: DON'T SCATTER THE PROTAGONISTS ALL OVER CREATION!! um... okay, admittedly, that's on schedule for Book 4... crap... {lol} But at least I know enough to get them the heck back together, or else settle them down somewhere that they don't have to be kept an eye on, asap!) And I try to write according to the anthrax-airliner principle: if an airliner full of anthrax crashed on my head tomorrow, would people think my series as it stands was still worth their time reading? If I can't answer that question in the affirmative, I'd better dang well be doing something about it in whatever book I've arrived at currently!

You know the scenario; you're stuck on an island. What book would you bring with you and why?

You know the stereotypical answer now: "How To Survive And Hopefully One Day Escape From A Deserted Island"! (Ideally the "For Dummies" version...) However, if the question is 'only one book to read if I only had one book ever': the Bible. In some non-pretentious but still artistic but accurate translation. With plenty of footnotes for alternative translations and an apparatus showing all even-remotely-pertinent textual variants along with rationales for and against their prominence in the main text. And interlinear with the original languages. And with exhaustive cross-referencing between textual references, whether quotes, allusions or just thematically. Then I could build a paddle and a sail, and use the blessed thing as a raft. {g}

If you could go back and change one day, what would it be?
I wouldn't. As bad as things are, I'd have to be omniscient to know what could be changed that wouldn't somehow be worse in the long run. (And someone else already has that job. {s} Glad it isn't me!)

Are you a different person now than you were 5 years ago? In what way/s?

5 years ago? Winter of early 2004... I don't even remember the winter of early 2004. I'd have to go look things up that I was writing and doing at that time. I doubt I've changed much personally. I hope I'm more charitable to opponents than I've been in the past. I'm sure the pain I continually live with was a lot closer to the surface at that time, but I can't say that's really changed; only submerged. Less distracting, but not really a change. I'm increasingly more tired every year (comes from living with that pain every waking hour and then having constant stress dreams and nightmares every night. I'm always exhausted or near exhaustion.) But that's not a personal change. One day my brain will finally just stop, and then maybe God willing I'll be able to rest. Good Lord that was horribly depressing. Next question! {g}

What is the most important lesson you have learned from life so far?

Hoping for the death of someone else's good hope, and wishing evil of another person, is an ultimately evil and entirely damnable thing to do. So I mustn't do that. No matter what. Ever. (Quite a few Bible verses about that, btw. {s}) Okay, sorry, that was still depressing. Something equally pertinent but more upbeat: it matters almost nothing whether I ever receive my rights. It matters everything whether I acknowledge the rights of other people.(Thanks George MacD!) True love really is the most important importance in all reality. Justice without true love to the object isn't justice, but is only evil tyranny.True justice, even in wrath, seeks fair-togetherness and reconciliation;and never stops seeking it. When all other things have passed away, these three will be remaining: faith and hope and true love. (And the greatest of these is the love.)

Is there anything you regret doing/not doing?

Too many sins to list. But kind of answered already in principle. {s}

What is your favorite past-time?

Creative writing is certainly on top, at this time. Serving someone else would be better, though. {s!}

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Just incase readers don't know, those little letters in the fancy brackets are astyle of 'emoticon'. {s} means smile; {g} means grin. And no, I don't usethose in the book. {g

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Jason Pratt said...

Thanks for the interview, Tracee!


Cheryl said...

Very interesting interview. I love your answers. I think that's the best part of author interviews, aside from the whole discovering new books aspect. You get to know a lot about a person...or at least, what the author lets you see.

Good luck with your tour.


BronzeWord said...

Thank you for telling me about this book. Great Interview. I also support books about powerful women who yet know how to be in a loving relationship. Good job, Jason.
Jo Ann Hernandez

Jason Pratt said...


Well, Portunista will be in that position eventually, as is revealed in her first chapter. (Though it is unclear in CoJ whether or not she does in fact have a loving relationship in the future even though she's capable of it by then.)

During the main storyline, though, she is more than a little self-centered, and this leads to grievous problems for her and for other people, including in her romantic relationships.

As an early reader and friend of mine once (rather sullenly) quipped, Portunista starts off more than half-weak and more than half-bad. Well, yes, exactly! She has two dynamic directions for improvement, which are not at all the same kind of improvements. If she doesn't grow stronger, she's going to die (or worse). But if she doesn't become a better person, not only might she die but even if she lives she'll be increasingly more likely to misuse whatever strength she has attained.

(Of course, I've already revealed where she arrives at in her first chapter--though her story isn't over at that time, by far! But the plot-crucible is, how does she arrive where she's at, and how much suffering results from her choices along the way?)

That all having been said, in Book 2 (Edge of Justice, not yet released), I introduce a powerful woman who knows how to be in a loving relationship, and so who serves (in that and several other ways) as Portunista's thematic foil. I don't suppose I'm spoiling much of anything if I say here that the two characters don't get along very well... {wry g}