When I asked Author Jared Chapman about his writing, he replied: I love taking established tropes in the genres I write in and then flipping them on their heads, turning them inside out, and finding new ways to blow readers minds. I love filling my stories with Easter eggs that readers only pick up on second and third readings, because that’s when they get super excited and I know I’ve done my job. Please give him a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.
Greetings. I’m Jared K Chapman, not to be confused with Jared Chapman children’s author/illustrator, although we both lived in Austin in 2002. I was born in south central California to a farmer’s daughter and an engineer in petroleum. I didn’t crawl. I went right to walking around. I guess I had places to go, people to see. My dad’s job took us to Calgary, Alberta, but by 5 years old my mother moved my kid sister and I back to her father’s farm in California. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian area and got kicked out of Sunday School for asking too many questions. From age 10 to 14, I spent my school years with my father in Canada and summers with my mom. The experience gave me a diverse perspective.
I have degrees in religious studies and psychology, and I’m currently working on my PhD with a focus on extremism through the lens of social psychology. I also have a fondness for science fiction, fantasy, and horror, having grown up reading books by Ray Bradbury, Anne MacCaffrey, and Stephen King, and an array of comic books. I share these interests, whether they like it or not, with my wife and three sons.
When and why did you begin writing?
My mother would probably tell you I’m a born storyteller. I’ve been writing as long as I remember being able to write. One of my first memories is having a short illustrated story published in a book with other kids in my 3rd or 4th grade class. Seeing it in print blew my mind and made me want to do that again. I remember writing a novel in 6th grade that was a kind of mish-mash of Star Wars and Star Trek. I think I wrote it to see what others thought about my story, because I passed it around to fellow students and never got it back.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began writing a novel in 1996… something I’m still working on. I think the moment I allowed someone to read that was the moment I thought of myself as a writer. That’s when I believed I was going to become a writer. Unfortunately, life got in the way, but I’m finding my way back now.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My debut novel, 2HVØRHVNØT: To Have or Have Not, is essentially a murder mystery thriller set in a futuristic dystopia where the superpowered Haves known as the Mighty are the majority, and they oppress the powerless Have Nots. Mario wakes up late for work and misses his bus into the city. While waiting in the long line of other workers, an adjudicator arrests him for the murder of his employer, a Mighty restaurateur. He must race against time to prove his innocence and help those who oppress him to survive the onslaught of the real killer. However, Mario is not the only primary protagonist. When his kid sister, Zelda, suspects he is in danger, she finds her way into the city in search of her brother, the only person she has left in the world. While on the hunt, she discovers a dark secret the Mighty would never want her or anyone else to know.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had a thought in my head about “to be or not to be” but applying it to the situation of haves and have-nots, which resulted in the title “to have or not to have.” I thought that was too presumptuous and cumbersome, so I kept thinking and though To Have or Have Not sounded much better, and I am a Hemingway fan, so there’s a little homage there. I kept thinking and thinking about this title and one day while driving home the numeronym popped into my head 2HVORHVNOT. I thought that would be a cool title for a book, so I began to think what a book with that title would be about.
I immediately thought about a tattooed identity code on someone’s arm. I thought about how it could be scanned and used in the future like credit cards, but I thought that was too obvious and really wasn’t sure what the story would be. Poor people are Have Nots and can’t even use their codes while the rich people can… it seemed like something I’ve seen many times before. So, my mind went somewhere darker. What if only the Have Nots have these identity codes and they’re forced on them? I began to think about the Holocaust and poor lives lost in the camps. I began to think about Nietzche’s idea of the Ubermensch inspiring the Nazis. I began to think about Japanese internment camps and signs that said No Jews Allowed or Colored Only Section. I began thinking about the X-Men stories where normal people wanted to round up the mutants and put them into camps. Then, I thought what if that was flipped. What if the people in power, the majority, were the ones with superpowers.
I started to think about what kind of world that would be. I drew upon a lot of the social psychological theories I had learned through the course of my collegiate life. I found myself really drawn to Sherif, Asch, Milgram, and Zimbardo’s famous experiments. Ultimately, I wanted to delve into conflict resolution between two completely different groups. I also drew upon my religious studies and my interest in science-fiction/fantasy, post-apocalyptic/dystopia speculative fiction, particularly 1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Dark Tower Series, Running Man, Demolition Man, Minority Report, and Ready Player One. All of these inspired me to create the world of Fellowship City.
In Fellowship City, there is a caste system with the highest, most powerful Mighty being the telepathic seers, monks of Sol & Luna, who police the other Mighty. This creates a world without heroes or villains, because the monks stop any crime or wrongdoing, even wrong-thinking before it happens. They eliminate the bad elements to create a utopian world for them, but in doing so, life is mundane. Their superpowers are meaningless. In this world, a pyrokinetic has a job as a barista reheating coffee in the ceramic mugs of old customers. But in nearly every utopia we find some dystopian element, and for those without powers, this world is a nightmare. They are forced to serve the Mighty, live in camps or slums, and must be tattooed with their scannable identity codes.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Varied. Sometimes I outline. Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes it’s a little of both. Sometimes I write in first person and other times in third. Sometimes I write in present tense and other times in past tense. Whatever I do, however, I try to be as consistent as possible. But it all depends on the story I’m trying to tell.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
At the core of it, my book is about how embracing diversity in skills and thoughts, not judging a book by its cover, nor dehumanizing others, are the only ways we can overcome that which might kill us all.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in
your own life?
I think we, as writers, always draw inspiration from our own experiences or from those we know. There are definitely some small moments that were inspired by real experiences, but if I did my job well, the reader will not uncover which ones are real and which are pure fantasy.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you
I believe my three biggest influences are Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Anne MacCaffrey because their books were my gateway into real novels. Before reading their books, I read books made for kids. When I was 10, I read Misery and it blew my mind. After that, I remember finding Dragonriders of Pern books in the school library and devouring them. However, Fahrenheit 451 was the book that made me question reality and made me believe I could do that too. They all created wonderfully vivid worlds, sometimes vibrant and colorful, but other times dark and dreary. I think their ability to create such worlds is what I found most inspiring.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
Stephen King. He is a legend. He’s published over 60 books and he’s only 73. Imagine how many others he wrote that weren’t published. The guy is a machine. I just wish I could be 1/10th of what he is. He’s like the end goal that I aspire to be like. I know I’ll never achieve what he has, but that’s okay. I just want to be 1/10th of what he is… and direct a feature film. He did that. I want to do that too.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
Derek Smith is the artist who designed the cover. I met him in 2011 when he began dating a good friend of the woman I was dating. We married those women within six months of one another and our babies are eight months apart. He is an amazing artist, and I approached him in 2012 about doing the art for a graphic novel I was writing. I wrote it, but he got busy with his day job touring the world, drumming for a band, so we never completed the graphic novel. I decided to write it as a novel instead, so I could proceed without his art. When I completed the novel, I asked if he would do the cover because it was always meant to be a project we were doing together. Someday, we will go back to the graphic novel. You can find him at https://www.facebook.com/kickitlikebonham and https://www.instagram.com/dereksmithart/.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I waited too long to publish because I didn’t have confidence in my work. Don’t do that. You are the only person who can tell your story the way you want it to be told. So, write it and don’t be afraid to show it to people. Also, don’t have a big head about it. Be open to others’ critiques, challenges, and changes they may introduce. Those ideas may help you more than you know. It’s never too late to start. I’m 43 and this is my debut novel. I wish I had begun 20 years ago, but here I am now, and wishing only gets you so far. If you need help, there are people and companies out there who can help. I needed my confidence boosted and help on how to get published, so I found a program. Message me if you want to know about it. Otherwise, keep writing. Write every day. Only stop to send pages to the editor. Publish!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I grew up in the 80s, watching Saturday morning cartoons followed by wrestling, reading comic books with superheroes and books by Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, and sneaking into B-Movie slasher flicks to watch the ridiculous blood and guts spray across the screen. I loved Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, The Last Starfighter, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Goonies, and Monster Squad. I write stories that I want to read, and they are influenced by those early interests. I also studied religion, psychology, anthropology, film, and creative writing in college, and those academic experiences influenced how I see the world and how I write about it. I’ve also dealt with abuse, neglect, and instability when I should’ve been a kid enjoying all those things. The worlds I create and write in reflect all of that. My goal is to make my readers feel something viscerally in a world of my creation. I hope I do that, because it’s the best part of being a writer.
Jared K Chapman
Los Angeles, CA
2HVØRHVNØT: To Have or Have Not