Tell us about yourself.
First off, thanks, Sandra, for inviting me. My name is Jay Chalk. I’m a former trucker turned high school teacher. I received a Bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in English from the University of Texas at Tyler and have been teaching high school social studies the past 20 years. I’ve written four novels and I’m working on a fifth.
Please tell us about your latest work.
Revolution 2050 is a dystopian sci-fi due out April 3rd. In the novel, America has suffered through another, albeit brief, civil war. A political party called the Directorate restores order east of the Mississippi River, where it begins its stranglehold on constitutional freedoms. By the 2040s, it’s morphed into a full-blown totalitarian regime. Those escaping its claws have fled west, forming the U.S. Western Alliance. The protagonist, Sam Moore, is a young high school teacher and Directorate member, living in what was once South Carolina, now renamed Carolina Province. The adoptive son of a wealthy Directorate Commissar Colonel, Sam lived the sheltered, pampered life of the ruling elite. The nucleus of the story is his realization that he’s nothing but a facilitator, brainwashing young minds into the Directorate’s anti-God, anti-American ideology. The story follows his transition from follower to leader to revolutionary.
What drew you to writing?
I was always an avid reader and hoped one day to have the time and fortitude to sit down and actually write a story. As a trucker I would keep a journal describing where I’d been and what emotions my surroundings evoked. While in college in the early 1990s, two English professors told me there was “voice” in my writing and encouraged me to continue writing once I graduated. I wasn’t sure what “voice” meant at the time, but continue writing, I did. Writing just seemed a natural form of expression to me, like talking, or playing the guitar. Yet I’m still humbled that people will read my work.
Do you have any writing habits, such as writing in a certain location or time day?
I’ve got a small desk in one corner of my living room with a great outside view. That’s my favorite spot to write. If working on a novel, I usually start before sunup and write until everything I have to say is out. It could be a few minutes, but usually turns into an all-day affair, sometimes stretching into the evenings.
How do you get the inspiration for your stories?
I teach U.S. government and enjoy political spectacles. I’m also a student of history. So, you probably know where I’m going with this. In today’s world with 24/7 mass media reporting, I’m surrounded by inspiration. Three of my four novels have a political “reaction” to not only historical but also current events. Russian author and Cold War dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, along with Orwell, Bradbury and Huxley heavily influenced my writing.
Of all the stories you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
That’s a tough question. The smart answer would be Revolution 2050. However the sequel, which for now will remain untitled, actually moved me more. There were times when I was writing Revolution 2050’s sequel that I freaked out inside. “Desperation” describes Revolution 2050. “Sacrifice,” describes its sequel. The sequel would be my favorite by only a “tad” because the story unfolds closer to home.
Do you write in other genres? If so, which ones?
As a matter fact, I do. My unpublished novel, Final Run, is a present-day thriller. The protagonist is a trucker who inadvertently becomes involved in human trafficking. The head of the human trafficking ring is the son of a prominent U.S. Senator.
Who are your favorite authors and why do you admire them?
John Steinbeck—hands down. To me, Steinbeck’s writing gives emotions a flavor I’ve never known. His novel, East of Eden (my personal favorite), could be the bible for character development. I’m also fond of Stephen Coonts and how he develops his protagonists’ inner voice and conflict. And of course I can’t leave this topic without mentioning my love for JRR Tolkien’s fantasy world and his trilogy, Lord of the Rings. I still have the box set I purchased in high school for $2.95 sitting on my bookshelf. I often wonder if Tolkien were a new writer today, could he breakout in today’s instant gratification world?
What other writing projects are you currently working on?
I’ve mentioned the sequel to Revolution 2050. It’s completed and waiting for some serious editing. I’m currently bogged down in the final book of the series. It’s set in the early 22nd century. The protagonist is the adult son of one of the previous characters. That work is heavy with the sinister use of bio-technology, its symbiotic attachment with social media and its effect on humanity. I’m not sure what direction I’m taking the story, though.
What’s one of the goals you hope to achieve with your writing?
My main goal is once people read the novel, I’ll hear them say something along the lines of, “This author is on to something; this could actually happen.”
What are your favorite non-writing activities?
I’m a private pilot and absolutely love flying. I hope one day to own my own plane. I’m also a beekeeper, but more on the hobbyist side.
What’s something people wouldn’t be able to guess about you just by looking at you?
What an interesting question. I’m sure other authors have experienced the following (at least I hope they have—or it could be just me!): If it comes up in conversation that I’m a published author—especially of fiction—I get the strangest looks. Then I hear something that goes like, “You’re kidding…” or “You don’t seem like a writer.” Now there’s a dozen ways I could reply to that, but I usually just laugh it off. Yet the question begs to be asked: what does a writer/author look like? Most would reply to me with, “Not like you!”
Coming -Revolution 2050 by @jay_chalk Amazon https://tinyurl.com/ycckco7o B&N https://tinyurl.com/y8p4q8kk Kobo https://tinyurl.com/ydx5zcvw #scifi #dystopian