Monday, July 26, 2010

African heritage inspires Jason McCammon's fantasy adventure writing

Freelance camera man and gaffer, Jason McCammon has created the African culture inspired fantasy novel Warrior Quest: Search for the Ifa Scepter and the children's illustrated version The Adventures of Farra and Bomani. Although his film and television gigs and wedding events keep him busy and traveling in locations ranging from New York to Miami, McCammon has added creative writing to his life and is admittedly addicted to his new passion for authoring adventures.

Jason McCammon shared his excitement for expanding the fantasy genre to include his African heritage in an interview last Friday.

When did you realize that you wanted to write a fantasy novel inspired by African cultures?

I have been writing for about 10 years now. In my experience, once I started to create, the need just intensified and the ideas just kept coming. The hard part is arranging all those ideas into a story that makes sense.

I wanted to write fantasy because I love the genre. Anything creative really. The African themes came because I am of African decent and the absence of the genre made me feel sort of empty.

Who is your favorite character in Warrior Quest? Describe what you think readers will like about this character.

The most obvious hero of the story is Bomani. But I really began to like Farra more than anyone. She is the real hero of the story. Without her, Bomani probably would have destroyed himself, mentally. I think that her kindness and innocence coupled with her inner strength really grabs people.

Are there any specific African cultures or folklore traditions that you have studied and that inspired your writing?

I looked at Yaruba, Massai, Swahili, and others. As a whole, I tried not to be too one-sided on any culture. When you look at the drawings, you will see different things mixed together. As well as whole new concepts. There is some Ifa in there that you will find in the title but I talk about that more in the second book.

You expressed on your Facebook page that performing bookstore readings was a new experience. What have some of the public reactions to your readings been like?

I've worked with still cameras and motion cameras and one thing that I have learned about myself is that I'd much rather be behind the camera than in front of it. So, reading in front of people makes me a bit nervous. It is something that I will get better at with practice and time. At my first reading at Barnes & Noble, I read two chapters. I was amazed that when I was done, every single kid in the audience was begging for a copy. Too bad Barnes & Noble didn't cary them and I couldn't rightfully sell them a book on their property that they didn't have in their inventory.

You also created an illustrated children's version of adventures from your novel. That must have been a big project. What prompted you to develop your story for younger readers as well?

This whole project started as a visual piece. It started as a feature length cartoon. A, “Disney Chaser,” as I like to say. And keep in mind that this was before the Princess and the Frog. So The book was adapted from the screenplay. But since the screenplay was rated G and the book was more like PG or PG-13, I still wanted the younger audience to be a part of it.

Any additional comments?

Since many have already asked, yes, I am working on the next book. And am about 60 percent complete. I have yet to find anything more rewarding in life that creating.

Excerpt from Warrior Quest: Search for the Ifa Scepter

Broke was right. Farra was broken. Just as any great man or woman can reach their breaking point, no matter how big and strong, Farra had reached hers. She was in a state where hunger and thirst no longer mattered. She had experienced so much discomfort, that right now she just wanted to be comforted. If she had her choice, it would have been her mother, in her home, in her bed. But she wasn’t home, and the one thing she knew was that she didn’t want to be alone. On the other hand, she couldn’t bring herself to move either.

Bomani looked at her for moment before giving in. He sat down next to her against the wall; totally confused as to what to do next. He could have held her, but it hadn’t occurred to him to do so. For now, just being there was enough.

Farra’s whimpering had stopped. No tears had fallen from her face; she was beyond that now. She leaned over and rested her head on Bomani’s shoulder and fell asleep. It was at that point that Bomani understood. He didn’t need to do anything more. He felt an overwhelming calmness as the small girl lay against him. It was comforting. He felt like a parent and a child all at the same time. He embraced both these feelings and before long he laid his head back on top of hers and he too had fallen asleep.

See McCammon's work at his website The Ancient Lands, and, judging from the high praise of his Amazon reviews for Warrior Quest, he'll be enjoying his writing and entertaining others for many years.