Friday, March 21, 2014

Interview with Jason Chapman

Today, author Jason Chapman sat down virtually with ESE for an interview.  I selected Jason as I believe he represents the kind of fusion of topics, namely writing, science fiction, and UFOs, that I attempt to deliver around here.

If you’re a fan of a good old fashion conspiracy thriller, and loved The X Files back in the day, or you could be looking for a new book series to get into, then this is definitely for you.  The Angel Committee is a Cold War conspiracy thriller with a good dose of science fiction.

-First things first Jason, tell us about The Angel Committee, what’s the plot line?

The Angel Committee is a blend of historical fiction mixed with science fiction. The story mainly revolves around a Cambridge physicist, Professor Ralph Frederick, who is assigned to head up the science division of a secret panel of experts whose key goal is investigate UFO sightings across the United Kingdom and throughout the commonwealth.

-You mention historical fiction, but the subject of UFOs is generally considered in the realm of science fiction. How have you incorporated the UFO phenomenon into your storyline?

Yes, the UFO phenomenon is considered by many as mere fantasy. However what a lot of people don’t know is that both the British Government and the United States government have run research projects into this phenomenon. In 1952 British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill wrote a memo requesting information on flying saucers. The memo he wrote was declassified several years ago and can be obtained from the National Archives in the UK.

-So Winston Churchill had an interest in flying saucers?

I don’t know if he had an ongoing interest, but at the time there was a top secret group operating called the Flying Saucer Working Party. They were a real life version of The Angel Committee and investigated UFO sightings throughout the UK and the rest of the world. Information about the FSWP has been declassified and again is available from the National archives.

-So The Angel Committee is based on a group that existed during Churchill’s second run as Prime Minister. Are you not worried that you might ruffle a few feathers?

No not at all. What you have to remember is that although there have been classified projects run investigating UFOs, the official standpoint of every government on the planet is that UFOs don’t exist. Therefore there are no feathers to ruffle.

-Do you include Churchill in your book?

Yes, Winston Churchill is included a few times, purely to add a little realism to the book.

-Are there any other historical people in your book?

I have mentioned a few people, President Harry Truman and President Dwight D Eisenhower, just by name. Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen are included in the storyline. Many people who are familiar with UFO lore will recognise quite a few people.

-How did you come up with the title for your book?

It’s quite a long story. I first started to write the book back in 1997. I came up with ‘Angel’ after watching an episode of The X Files called "Fallen Angel" in which agent Mulder investigates a UFO crash.
When I started to rewrite it in 2012 I was going to change the title. However I started doing a little background research for the main character. I came across reference to an elite discussion group known at the Cambridge Apostles which still exist today in Cambridge University. Former members of the Cambridge Apostles are referred to as Angels. I was very surprised to find this out so I kept the title.

-1997, that’s a long time to be working on one book. What has kept you going all these years?

When I first wrote The Angel Committee, it had a totally different storyline, set in modern day at the time. I tried to find a commercial publisher but no one was interested, so then I took a leap of faith and went to a vanity publisher. I lost nearly £2000 and ended up with no book published. I stopped writing for a few years, I guess by then I had enough of the whole writing scene. In 2003 I read Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. I immediately became hooked on Brown. That’s when I decided to pick up The Angel Committee and started to write again. However after several attempts at rewriting the book I decided to call it a day. For reasons I couldn’t explain I was unable to totally walk away. That’s when I sat down and hammered out the new storyline and it worked. I finally published in November 2012.

-What are the pros and cons to self-publishing? And what advice would you give to anyone what wants to writing?

There are an infinite amount of answers I could give. It’s not easy writing a book in the first place. You have to be very dedicated and self-disciplined to archive your goal. Once you’ve written the book, you have to look for someone who can design you a book cover, and edit. I’m very lucky, I’m artistic, so designing things like book covers or promotional images isn’t a problem. I have also got some very ingenuous ways of editing my work, so that any spelling and grammar mistakes have improved 100%.

-Could you tell us please about this editing method of yours?

A lot of self-published authors are plagued with grammar and spelling mistakes, I am no exception. However I have a Kindle Fire and whatever I write I convert to Kindle format. I then use the text to speech app and listen to the book being read out load. This is a sure way to listen to what you have written, not what you think you have written, this way you will get over 80% of mistakes. Correct the mistakes you’ve made then read your work through again. Eventually you will weed out the main mistakes. Not everyone has a kindle fire, but most computers are equipped with text to speech software, it also helps if you listen through headphones in a quiet room.
Just one little bit more advice.
If you’re serious about wanting to break into the writing profession then you have to think beyond your first book. Most self-published authors don’t get past their first book because of poor or non-existent sales. The more work you have out there the more people will take notice of you. Look beyond just one book. In the commercial publishing industry all you needed was a good idea at one time. Then you needed sample chapters. Now a publisher won’t give you the time of day unless you not only have a finished novel, but five more lined up. With book series like Harry Potter, the Twilight saga, Hunger Games and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series, people want more than just one book.

-How have you developed your following online?

I have used the boost option on Facebook, which you have to pay for. Facebook can be very inexpensive to promote posts. For around $40 you can reach up to 100,000 people. If you were to advertise in a magazine with that kind of circulation then it would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I also keep posting, that way to keep people interested in what you are doing.

-What are you working on at this moment? And how much more do you intend to write?

The sequel to The Angel Committee, which I plan to release in May. I have also written a short story series entitled Tales from Majestic. It’s a spin off to The Angel Committee. Set in 1947 it’s about a group that President Truman set up in the wake of the Roswell UFO crash. It is an ongoing series, I plan to bring out 12 more parts later this year. As for how much I plan to write, I have 70 years of UFO history to cover, so I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
I will also be writing a good old fashion Space Opera next year, along with spooky detective short story series set on the Norfolk Fenlands in England.

-What’s the reaction been like to your work?

So far I have had nothing but praise. There are many people who have been wanting this kind of genre for years. Shows like The X Files and Dark Skies were huge back in the day. Since then there has been nothing. I have had a number of radio interviews on US radio, as well as an upcoming interview with a UK based newspaper in the next few weeks.

-So we come to the final question. What’s your opinion on the UFO phenomenon and life elsewhere in the universe?

Back in the 90s I used to run a UFO research group. I encountered many people who made all kinds of claims. However, I myself have never seen a UFO or had any kind of alien encounter, so therefore I remain neutral on the subject. The internet has given rise countless conspiracy theories and given birth what I like to call UFO evangelists who have amassed huge amounts of followers.
As for life elsewhere in our universe, absolutely!. Now that science acknowledges that there are other planetary systems beyond our own solar systems I think it’s only a matter of time before we realise that we are just one of countless planets in our universe capable of supporting life.

The Angel Committee is available on Amazon.

You can also follow Jason’s work on his facebook pages.

I want to give my sincerest thanks to Jason for this interview.  It's an honor to have him here.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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