Jesse Teller fell in love with fantasy when he was five years old and played his first game of Dungeons & Dragons. The game gave him the ability to create stories and characters from a young age. He started consuming fantasy in every form and, by nine, was obsessed with the genre. As a young adult, he knew he wanted to make his life about fantasy. From exploring the relationship between man and woman, to studying the qualities of a leader or a tyrant, Jesse Teller uses his stories and settings to study real-world themes and issues.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
I love talking about my work. I think out loud. My best ideas come to me when I am talking in authority, as if they are already there. So, my wife will ask me what’s happening in the book today. Without knowing the answer to the question, I’ll start answering it. That’s how I work best, and she knows that. I get to talk about the inside and out of my characters, about the settings and plot points. I get to walk through the cities with my wife as I discover things that weren’t there a moment before.
What made you start writing?
I started writing because I love telling stories. I could go on for hours about my characters and the things they were doing, and I did. I told a lot of stories. After the telling, they vanished into the ether. A friend bought me a book by Stephen King called On Writing. The inscription said, “Read this. Learn from a master, and then finally sit and write it down.” That’s a paraphrasing. He used more colorful language than that. I realized if I wanted any of my stories to last, I had to write them down.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
I’m inspired by a lot of different authors. A lot of people have done fantasy really, really well. But when I really think about my work and what I want it to sound like, the answer is always Robert E. Howard. He created the character Conan. I got turned on to his work in college and just, the energy of the writing, was inescapable. The characters reach through the book and grab you by the collar and snarl in your face. You can smell them sweat. When I think about what I want my readers to experience, I always go back to Howard.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Work. Work all the time. You should write something every day. If you don’t have time to sit down and write a chapter or a scene, carry a journal with you and write out a bit of conversation. Describe the cup that’s sitting on the table next to you. It doesn’t matter what it is, just write something every day. I take two weeks off between each book. On those days, I’m writing emails, posts on Facebook, something. I’m phrasing words and putting them on screen every day. That’s the only way to do it.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
For the last couple of years, I’ve been caught on the classics. I try to bite into a contemporary book, and there are some fantastic ones, but I keep going back to Lovecraft, Howard, Bronte. They keep pulling me in. A writer has homework. Read your contemporaries in your genre. But I have been straying from that duty in looking at classics.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
His name is Kell the Wanderer, and he’s smarter than me. He always knows what to do in any given situation. He’s creative, and often times doesn’t know what he’s doing until he’s doing it. He thinks like I write. I’d love to go on a walk with him, take a road trip, listen to him talk, hear the kind of things he’d say. He’d spend a lot of time talking about women, and how he truly doesn’t understand them. I think it’s the one thing Kell will never have figured out. He’s addictive when I write him. I like him a lot. I’d like to buy him a beer.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
The Gunslinger by Stephen King. The whole series is good. It’s probably my favourite fantasy series ever written. A lot of people will disagree with me and argue about that. Lots of people will say Tolkien, or George R.R. Martin, but I’m a sucker for the Dark Tower series. But it’s the first book, The Gunslinger, that I find myself going back to. Stephen King had no idea what he was doing when he wrote that book. He had a scrap of a poem that made his brain explode with a possibility and a character. He went in, guns blazing. In the book, the main character, Roland, is chasing a man across a desert. I think Stephen King was chasing his idea. He didn’t know what was out there. He knew it was big. He knew it was vast. But beyond that, he was just chasing. It’s a spectacular read.
The hardest edit I’ve ever done was for a book called Chaste. It was told from five different points of view and my editor told me to cut some out. I cut it down to three, and was just not happy with what it did to the book. The question kept popping up: whose story is this? But I don’t think a story can always be told well from one point of view. I ended up going back and putting another point of view into Chaste. It has four now, and people may not like that. But it’s really the only way I saw to tell the story correctly. I’m always willing to take the hit in popularity to stay true to the story.
If I could live in a book, hands down, no hesitation, it’d be Wuthering Heights. That land is wild. It’s dangerous, holds too many secrets. That estate is dark. Every room of that house is a mystery. Every stone haunted. If I could live anywhere, it would be there.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Dave Barry. If I could get anybody to write my biography, it would have to be Dave Barry. I think only his level of absurdity could capture what it’s like to live with me. If you don’t know his work, find him, look him up, he’s amazing. I would only let him write it if he’d take me out on the water first in Buster Boat and talk to me about Big Trouble. What am I saying? I’d let him write the book even if he hated me. The man’s a genius.
We all know the phrase “the book is always better than the film.” Which film would you like to see remade as a book?
My favorite movie of all time is Braveheart. What Mel Gibson did with that movie is just breathtaking. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, and it put epic warfare on the map for me. I’d never really thought about big battles between thousands of men, and what that would look like. If I could read any book, it’d be Braveheart.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
Dark child finds love and hope and writes it down.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
Let’s talk for a minute about the book Mestlven, which will be coming out in April. The thing that’s most exciting about Mestlven, is it’s a story about revenge. It’s a story about a woman who was wronged and shattered, fled for her life and lost her mind, and has come back to her town to destroy her enemies. It’s a story about love and rage and insanity. It’s a story about a broken heart and a budding love. It’s dark and terrible and beautiful. It’s going to be either wildly hated or loved by anyone who reads it. No one will read Mestlven and shrug. They’ll either be furious or deeply touched. At least, that’s my hope.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
Love costs nothing.
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