Jon Skovron has never really fit in, and has no plans to start now. After twelve years of Catholic school, he went on to study acting at a conservatory program for four years before returning to his first love,writing.
Hey! Thanks for taking the time to do an interview with me! Okay, so first things first... I'm going to go for the book I've been ranting about: Misfit. What inspired it and how did you come up with the title?
Misfit was inspired by my own Catholic School experiences. I got a great education there, but being a creative free spirit, I always felt out of place. Sometimes I was even told that I didn't belong or that I was wrong or sinful because of my beliefs and values. And yet, because of a few great friends and teachers, I don't regret the experience at all.
The title "Misfit" was supposed to be just a working title. I put it there as placeholder until we came up with something fancier. But after spending weeks wracking our brains and coming up with nothing, my editor (who came up with the title for my first novel, Struts & Frets) said, "Wait a minute, why don't we just stick with Misfit?" For whatever reason, I hadn't even considered it until that moment, and then it was like "Oh yeah!"
I’m glad you didn’t change it. I can’t imagine Misfit as anything else—it’s perfect. Speaking of perfect, you use third person present tense in Misfit, which is unique, but somehow, it works for your book. How did that come along? Was it another “Oh yeah!” moment?
I always knew it was going to be third person so that I could shift to other points of view for the chapters told by Jael's parents (and the one little bit from Asmodeus's view). There were also a few short scenes told from Belial's perspective, but those got cut. The decision to use present tense came later. Originally, it was all in past tense. But I wanted a starker contrast between the present day chapters and the flashbacks. So I decided to keep the flashbacks in past tense and change the present day scenes to present tense. I'd never written in present tense before and I had a lot of fun with it. Everything is so immediate and tangible! It's all right up in your business!
It’s tangible all right! I almost found myself trying to manipulate elements, what with the way you described them. If you could manipulate one element, what element would you choose?
You know, I should say Spirit, because you can do so much with it, it's really the most powerful. I mean, you could control everyone around you. But honestly, that doesn't sound appealing to me. What does sound appealing is being able to throw fireballs! FWOOSH!
To be honest, I’d choose fire too, even though Spirit is the best one. I think flames are really pretty (and no, I’m not a pyro). Ooh! Something else really cool about your story: would you like to be an exorcist, a demon, a halfbreed, a priest, or just a mortal?
At one point in my life, I think would have picked "mortal", just because I really wanted to fit in. To just be like everyone else. But after years of trying, and failing, I realized that wasn't me. I'm a misfit. So it Jael. She's some of this and some of that, she straddles boundaries, she maybe even contradicts herself. Like good old Walt Whitman says, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."
So um, yeah, all that to say, "halfbreed".
I want to be an exorcist though! Actually, I just want that crucifix sword. I’m pretty sure the sword was made up, but there were so much religious stuff and myths bundled into Misfit that I haven’t even vaguely heard of. How much research did you do?
I did a lot of research for Misfit.
I read a ton. Pretty much every religion, myth, and folktale mentioned I researched. I read about 5 books on the vodoun stuff alone. I also went back and re-read a lot of stuff I had to do in high school. Biblical stuff, of course, but also early theologians like St. Aquinas and St. Augustine. And I researched all the different ways that Hell has been depicted over the years from really early stuff like Milton and Dante to recent movies and books. Probably the weirdest and scariest research I did was this book on conducting exorcisms called The Malleus Maleficarum, or "The Witch Hammer". Those dudes were serious about killing witches. They had it all down to a science.
I also did a lot of live research too. I talked to people about their religions. I even spent an afternoon in a Benedictine monastery. I've also lived in or visited all the places in the book except Hell and the kingdom of the Philistines.
Woah, I’d probably die if I had to do research like that. Back to the fictional side then… I can handle that better. Who is your favorite character?
Oh man, this is tough because I love them all. They each have their time to shine. I'm going to go with Jael because I did decide to write an entire book about her. But I also have a thing for minor characters. Characters like poor, sad Asmodeus. Love that guy...after being a total jerk for centuries, the love and generosity he sees in only a few minutes completely transforms him. Not everybody is that open to change.
But Rob’s the best! I mean, he’s sweet and he’s a skater slash science nerd—how cool is that? (Okay, ignoring the girly side of me and continuing…) Speaking of Rob’s science-ness, what do you think about magic and science being the same thing?
A long time ago, before people really understood how things like astronomy and physics worked, they thought that everything was magic. The idea that it could be explained logically by tiny, microscopic things we couldn't see would have been ridiculous to them. Are we really so arrogant to think we're that much better today, that we've figured it all out? I think most scientists would agree that our current understanding of the world only takes us so far, and past that, we're still little better than dudes painting stick figures on walls. Who knows what we will find in the future. One thing is for sure, it's going to be surprising. And possibly upsetting. Like the time that guy Copernicus said that we weren't really the center of the universe. That made a lot of people mad.
Hey! I still draw stick figures… well, maybe not on my wall, but still. Anyway, aside from us being nincompoops (or something to that effect), what do you want us readers to get from reading Misfit?
First and foremost, I hope they find it entertaining and that they enjoy reading it. But I hope some of it sticks with them, things that they can apply to their own lives. Whether that's Paul's struggle to put his faith in others after he's been betrayed, or Jael's struggle to put her faith in herself after she's been told so many times she's "bad", or maybe even just something as simple as Rob's passion for science and discovering the unknown. I really do think there's something significant in there for everyone.
Struts & Frets was my first book. The paperback comes out in September. It's a very different book. Contemporary realistic story about a teen following his dreams to start an indie rock band while dealing with family drama and a friend/girlfriend situation. It's much more romantic and sentimental.
As for Misfit sequels....hmmm, who knows...check back with me in a month or two...
Oh, you’ll hear from me in a month or two… (cue evil laughter) On the less evil side of things, and just ‘cause I’m feeling random… five random facts about you?
I have nine fingers
I play nine instruments
I dislike anything sweet
I have two sons and two cats
I am a classically trained Shakespearian actor
|I swear, this is so damn cute!|
Ice or fire? Fire
Angels or demons? Demons
Misfit playlist? Check it ;) http://grooveshark.com/#/playlist/Misfit/38097505
Thanks for being here today! Remember to check out (read: stalk) Jon's site! Oh, and of course, keep your eyes peeled for Misfit when it comes out in August and ditto Struts & Frets in September!