Friday, April 22, 2011

Interviews With Authors: Jason Ancona

It is a pleasure to have Jason Ancona, author of Debugging Tori Redding and the Covert Youth Agency series here today!  Jason was kind enough to answer my questions about his book, Debugging Tori Redding, and what it is like being a self-published author.  Debugging Tori Redding is about Tori, who on top of dealing with normal teen issues, suddenly finds herself with a super-human brain!  Filled with laughs and tender heartbreaking moments, this read is not one to miss out on.  You can find my full review of Debugging Tori Redding here.

Enough babbling, here is Interviews With Authors: A Talk With Jason Ancona!

A Talk With Jason Ancona

Author of Debugging Tori Redding

By T.B.

1) What inspired you to write Debugging Tori Redding?

I wondered what it would be like to be a teenager who wasn't ready to grow up--in terms of dealing with intimacy. I wondered how that person would handle being in a school environment, where many of her peers seem eager to explore their sexuality.

2) The main character, Tori, has such a strong personality and really captures the essence of a teen. Did you do anything special to help you write from the viewpoint of a teen, and was this a challenge?

No, I didn't do anything special. For some reason, I still remember the feelings I had when I was a teen. And I still harbor insecurities from those times. Writing teenage characters is an outlet for me. It's my therapy.

3) How did you come up with the idea to give Tori a super-human brain?

Not being that bright, I always wished that I was smarter--my sisters were both in the gifted program--I was not. In Debugging Tori Redding, I wanted to show that even with a brilliant mind and having all the answers, there's no substitute for thinking on your own.

4) Tori has a very troubled teenage life in Debugging Tori Redding. Did you draw on any past experiences of your own teenage years to help the story along?

I had a great group of friends in high school, who were very much nerds. When I was with them, I was happy. I did have that pang of wanting to belong--wanting to be liked by others. As a freshman I thought that no girl would ever want to date me. I was right. It wasn't until my sophomore year that I went out with someone.

5) Can you tell us what your hardest challenge has been so far, being a self-published author?

Spreading the word. Getting people to read your work. Besides that, it has been great. Writers who are interested in self-publishing should check out author Joe Konrath's blog. He recently wrote a great article titled: Are You Dense?

6) I understand that you created a website, Pub Pilot, for authors looking to write an ebook or go the indie publishing route. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

A lot of people I talk to have been asking me questions about how to format an ebook, or how distribution works, or how to get a cover. So I created a free site where they can go to get those questions answered. And hopefully serve as a nice tool to use when they publish their material.

When it came time for me to find information regarding ebooks, I would end up searching the web for it. The content is out there, but it's not all in one place. Pub Pilot is a central hub, where indie publishing content is organized.

7) How is it different writing screenplays and TV pilots, to now writing books for young adults?

Screenplays and TV pilots are very dialogue heavy. Often you hear that assistants don't have time to read description--they just read dialogue. So you are taught to keep descriptions short. Grammar rules are sacrificed in order to keep the pacing fast and the story moving.

In screenplays you aren't supposed to say what a character is thinking. That is supposed to come out as subtext in the dialogue. With novels you are expected to write what is in a character's head. That's been the toughest part for me. Eight years of screenwriting habits are hard to break.

8) You had a corporate job and had lived in Los Angeles for eleven years. What prompted you to move back home and start writing novels full time?

A few of my friends' parents passed away last year. I realized that I hadn't spent much time with mine over the last decade. Or my sister or her kids. I was also ready to take a step off the corporate hamster wheel, so that I could write more novels. I quit my job in L.A. and moved back to the burbs of Chicago within a couple of weeks.

9) At the moment, are you working on any new projects or books?

I am working on the third book in the Covert Youth Agency series. I'm still in outline mode, trying to figure out the story.

10) Lastly, what advice would you give to any young readers who someday wish to become recognized authors?

Be observant. Pay attention to the details of how people say and do things in various situations. Read a lot. Take writing classes. Write a lot. Rewrite. Exchange your work with other writers and be open to critique. Read blogs of successful indie publishers.

Build your social network. Be yourself. Be genuine.

Embrace life and experience a lot of things. Take emotional risks--open yourself up.

Realize that it takes a long time for most writers to become a recognized author. Success doesn't happen overnight.

Believe in yourself.

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf...
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Thank you so much Jason for taking the time to answer my questions and for being a part of Interviews With Authors!  Wow, what great advice!  I hadn't realized how different writing screenplays and TV pilots are from writing books.  It never occured to me that there has to be a lot of dialogue, as the viewer is watching everything and not reading it.  I'm amazed you didn't do anything special to help you write from a teen's perspective.  You really did a wonderful job of it in your book!  Again, thank you so much for being so kind and letting me ask you some questions!  I hope you all enjoyed this Interviews With Authors: A Talk With Jason Ancona!

Are you interested in reading Jason Ancona's first book in the C.Y.A. series, Covert Youth Agency: The Case of Tangled Love?  Just head on over to Jason Ancona's website to learn how to recieve a copy for free at  But hurry, the offer expires this Sunday!

You can find my full review of Debugging Tori Redding here.

Debugging Tori Redding is available from Amazon here.

Want to read more Interviews with Authors?  Check out my brand new Interviews With Authors page here!


  1. What a GREAT interview! Jason's success story is an inspiration to young and old. Can't wait to see more from him.

  2. So glad you liked it! It really is amazing how he dropped his corporate job and headed back home to spend more time with his family and write more novels. I think that's touching, and I also can't wait to see more from him as well!

  3. Thanks! Encouragement from readers and bloggers inspires me. And helps keep the doubt gargoyles away.


  4. I love it! I'll definitely take his advice on how to become a recognized author!
    Thanks for the interview! :]

  5. Wow, thank you so much for giving your interview! It's inspirational that you created PubPilot for writers. Also, thank you for your advice!

  6. Awesome interview! I love the sound of this book! Brilliant advice, and I love the sound of PubPilot!

    Thanks for all your comments!
    Portal was good, other than the language.
    About Thirteen Reasons Why: I didn't even know there was going to be a movie! Selena Gomez? :S
    And thanks for your comment on Across Eternity. The concept was amazing: Soulmates.

    Thanks for the comments, and sorry it took so long to reply to them! :)

  7. Nice interview. I especially love what he said here, "I wanted to show that even with a brilliant mind and having all the answers, there's no substitute for thinking on your own."

    He couldn't have said it better!

  8. Jason- Again thank you so much for answering my questions! So many people loved your interview, and I can't thank you enough! Glad those doubt gargoyles are staying away :)

    Sierra Cullen- Glad you enjoyed the interview! His advice really is helpful.

    Tia- Jason really is so kind and sweet, and to create something like Pub Pilot to help others out there who are also looking to publish an ebook is wonderful! On top of everything else he is doing he's still trying to do for others.

    TheBookAddictedGirl- Thanks, Debugging Tori Redding was a great read and hopefully you'll enjoy it if you try it out!

    Haha, and no problem on the comments :) I had the same reaction when I read Selena Gomez. I'll definitely have to give Across Eternity a try!

    BookGeek- I totally agree! I also loved when he said how writing teenage characters is an outlet for him, and it's his therapy. :) Haha, I couldn't help laughing at that.

  9. What a great interview!! I hope to see get to read more soon. Great job Tessa! Keep up the good work :)

  10. Thanks so much! I can't wait to read more from Jason. Thanks so much for stopping by!


Hi, and welcome to From The Bookshelf of T.B.!

I can't wait to hear what you have to say! I do my best to try and respond to your comments, so check back often. Comment away!