- Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jay Veloso Batista, and yes, the middle name is important to avoid brand confusion with the wrestler! ☺ I live in Ocean View, Delaware, on a lake house with my gardens, only a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and 2 hours from Washington, DC to the west and Philadelphia to the north. For 30+ years I worked in international business and traveled the world—on the monthly excessively long flights I read many, many books! Regrettably over educated, I still work full time and write in the evenings… retirement is still years away.
- What do you write (genre, length)?
Primarily Historical Fantasy, in other words fantasies using actual history, myths and legends as a backdrop for adventure stories with supernatural suspense or fantastical elements or characters. My novels are approximately 100,000 words each. Additionally, I write technical books and articles, poetry and short stories that cross genres.
- What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details.
On August 14th, book 2 of the Forerunner Series will be released, titled The Vardoger Boy. The setting and characters were established in the first novel of the series, Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse, where the reader meets the Agneson clan, a Danish family with a homestead outside of Jorvik (today’s York, UK). The second novel follows the children of the minor Danish lord Agne and his Saxon wife, Gurid, as cataclysmic events of the year 878 divide them and set them on different paths, as well as incorporating legends and mythical monsters from Scandinavia, such as trolls, dark elves, were-bears and some lesser known fantasy creatures. This novel has completed its editing cycle and is going to my Advanced Copy for Review (ARC) readers in June.
I have started writing Book 3 of the series, titled On Viking Seas, and the cover will be ready for a cover reveal by September 1 of this year. Being a “plotter” by nature, I have already mapped out the fourth and fifth installments of the adventures, titled Kara Agnesdatter, Shield Maiden and A Vardoger in Jotenhiem. The stories are told from multiple points of view which allows us to experience the time period from many perspectives and build excitement and tension in the storylines. Are they books for kids? Well, the first one definitely was, but it was a violent time, so the books do get progressively bloodier…Most of my fans are adults who like history and fantasy. Book 2 includes a major battle between Wessex and the Danelaw, a blood feud, combat with forest bandits, ghosts and trolls, evil mythic creatures and undead slaves, were-bears and a dark elf who escapes in the end.
What’s a Vardoger? Here is the description from the opening of the second book in the series: A vardøger, also known as vardyger or fyreferd, is a spirit predecessor in Scandinavian folklore. Stories typically include instances that are nearly déjà vu in substance, but in reverse, where a spirit with the subject’s footsteps, voice, scent, or appearance and overall demeanor precedes them in a location or activity, resulting in witnesses believing they’ve seen or heard the actual person before the person physically arrives. This bears a subtle difference from a doppelgänger, with a less sinister connotation. It has been likened to being a phantom double.
In the non-fiction arena, later this year a book on modern media workflow operations will be published, and I contributed 2 chapters, approximately 50,000 words to this technical manual for the media & entertainment industry.
- Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write?
As a child I was a daydreamer and wanted to be a storyteller…
I read a lot and I read really fast. By the 6th grade (about 12 years old) I had read Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer), Edgar Allen Poe poetry and short stories, and in my teacher’s book shelf I found a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 which I read, not fully understanding all the subtleties, but it set me on a path of Sci-fi and Fantasy, and I devoured everything I could find! I read a lot of adventure books, like Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, A Princess of Mars, etc.), Alistair McClain (The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra—many made into movies), all the James Bond and Doc Savage pulp novels.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Sorry to be mundane or trite, but what everybody says is true: Try to write every day and read a lot. Find your own voice and find a good editor you can work with. Read the classics as well as your preferred genre—you can learn a lot from the very best!
- What do you do for a living?
Providing sales and marketing services to technology and software companies, I am currently working with a maritime security company with an innovative radar system and a satellite data analysis tool, a company that specializes in Internet of Things Data services, a museum and archive software company and a media asset management company from Spain. I am often drafted to be a spokesperson as well as manage the marketing communications (PR, Advertising, trade shows, branding efforts, product collateral, etc.).
- Who is/are your favorite author(s)?
Classics: Shakespeare (I had a really great teacher, that makes all the difference!), Tolkien and his pal C.S. Lewis, Heinlein, Hugo, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Rumi
Modern authors: Nabokov, Asimov, Heinlein, Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling, Greg Bear, Sanderson, Bukowski, Terkel, Roth, Tom Wolfe
- What is/are your favorite book(s)?
City by Clifford Simak, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, The Great Gatsby, Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Heller’s Catch-22, The Hobbit and LOTR, and I really enjoyed the Harry Potter books
- What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author?
“It captured my imagination” and “I couldn’t put it down.” Those are the statements of true fans and someone I know my words “spoke” to…
- What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story?
It’s a tie between researching the flora of Northumbria to describe the woodland scenes with proper flowers, plants and trees, and myths of the Shetland Islands where I discovered a few characters for my Viking novels…
- What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why?
Finding time! As a self-published author still working at a full-time job, marketing chores eat up a lot of valuable writing time, and I need to remember the significant others in my life too!
- What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
I don’t have a favorite genre—I still read everything I can find—recently I have been reading indie published fantasy books as an ARC reader and I am pleased to find many exceptional talents in the independent publishing world. I also really love graphic novels and the artwork.
- What are some little-known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything?
From 1987 to 1990 I wrote AD&D Dungeon & Dragon games under contracts to TSR, Inc., including a boxed set on the Forgotten Realms Far East called the Kara-Tur, the Eastern Realms—I am very proud of the sections I authored and the maps are my designs.
For 3 years I was the president of the League of Milwaukee Artists, and I have sold fine art paintings through three galleries in the Midwestern US. Two of my paintings can be glimpsed in the PR photograph attached below.
From my office window, I can watch the herons, osprey, bald eagles and anhinga fish in the lake, as well as all the different ducks and geese and gulls that stop by.
- Do you like physical books, eBooks, or audiobooks better? Why?
While I find physical books easier to read and retain the information, I do have an eBook which I use for travel: it’s just easier to carry a Kindle with an entire library on it in your briefcase. Audiobooks have been used in our car for long trips, but I tend to prefer personally reading.
- Bonus Question 1: Television or Movies?
Definitely movies, they give more time to develop a good story arc. Good television is usually the direct result of excellent writers, and there are some superb examples but most TV programs are too formulaic and cater to an audience which I feel is “dumbed down” for mass consumption, not that the audience is dumb, the writing has been re-hashed by a committee and pushed to a level it is no longer entertaining for me. If you watch a situation comedy over a number of series, you can actually tell which episodes were crafted by the best creative writers versus the episodes where the staff writers were not as proficient. Additionally, because I have worked in that industry, I spend too much time analyzing the material rather than being entertained. The good news is that if I don’t turn to TV for relaxation, I can spend more time writing and get the next novel released, right?
- Bonus Question 2: How many banned books have you read?
Quite a few actually: Most of them are amazing literature, with the power to influence your thoughts, hence the reason they are banned, like Twain’s Huck Finn or The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.
According to many, Huck Finn was ostensibly banned because of the “N” word, but that is not the real issue. The fundamental reason the book is taken off shelves is the incredible passage when Huck realizes Jim, his runaway slave companion, is one of the best “men” in the story, a trustworthy and loyal friend, and he vows to treat him as a real person no matter the consequences. This change of heart message, that black people are real humans just as good or even better than contemporary white people, was unwelcomed in the Jim Crow South.
The Master and Margarita was banned by Stalin for religious and political views. Stalin found the ideas in Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel threatening to the USSR’s communist totalitarian control because the book described how art cannot be controlled. And it is really funny when Satan comes to Moscow, since the Soviet government does not officially believe in the devil, he doesn’t officially exist and can create all sorts of havoc!
And how about 1984? When Winston Smith so prophetically tells us “The Party told you to reject all evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” Sound familiar? Sort of rings true in today’s political landscape of journalist bashing and discrediting cries of “fake news.”
Find Jay at the links below!