Interview with Jessub Flower | Daisy Hill

The Bio

Jessub Flower is a writer that resides in the Bay Area. He has written two novels, several screenplays, and has published articles and short stories. He is married, has four beautiful children, and loves hearing and telling stories.

daisy hill coverThe Interview

LiS: What was your inspiration for Daisy Hill?  

Ideas are crazy.  Sometimes they arrive fully formed, packaged, and just waiting to be unwrapped.  Yeah.  For some people.  Not me.  I almost always find that I get one little picture.  Maybe a scene, or a bit of dialogue, or even just a picture.  Daisy Hill came as a picture that I originally saw in my mind as a cowboy of some sort—not even a circuit rider at the time—riding into a ghost town where the people had bare feet.  At the time I had no idea why, it just seemed a little creepy to me.  I thought that they would act fairly normal, but there was something hidden that you just couldn’t put your finger on.  Then, I started building the characters and coming up with a basic skeletal structure, but still had trouble with the full picture of the story.

My wife and I took a drive to the coast one day, and I told her that I had been struggling with it.  For the rest of the drive, which was about an hour, we hashed out more defined parts of the story.  It reminded me of the “writers’ room” stories that you hear about where you just keep bouncing ideas off of other people and having fun talking about what would make an interesting tale.  It was an absolute blast!

LiS: Tell me a bit about the main character, the Reverend. Is he based on anyone in particular?

The Reverend is a circuit rider that has just about given up hope.  His faith is failing, he feels alone and abandoned by everyone but his faithful horse, and he wants more than anything to stop the circuit.  But he’s still a good guy, you know?  I really liked him while I wrote it, and wanted to make him cool—like a grizzled John Wayne or Clint Eastwood kind of guy.  I wanted him to be tough enough to handle whatever came his way, but struggling with the call of God on his life and whether God could even hear him or direct him.  I needed something even more to give a visual representation of his doubt, so the brace naturally came into place.  In order for him to really have victory, the Reverend HAS to decide once and for all if he truly believes.

He honestly isn’t based on anything or anyone in particular, but I will say this:  I wrote this during a time where many of those faith questions pounded relentlessly through my brain as well.  We all doubt from time to time.  We all question faith.  I was no different, and as writing is truly cathartic. Writing the Reverend through this journey was very helpful for me as well.  The readers hopefully will determine if the hero truly finds his faith at the end…or not.

LiS: What sort of research went into the novel? 

You mean REAL research, or the “research” that we do on the internet to procrastinate?  In all seriousness, I actually did quite a bit of research to paint the world as clearly as I could.  I dug through some old sites and books that gave the history of the Willamette Valley, I purchased some “customs and mannerisms of the Old West” books, I read some of Jane Kirkpatrick’s stuff (she is wonderful at pioneer era imagery) and I watched the Cohen Brothers’ True Grit about six times.  Beside the cinematography and art design of that film, some of the dialogue styles appealed to me—and like the letters that we hear quoted from those Civil War documentaries—I am constantly amazed at the level of intelligence and eloquence that people used during that time!

LiS: Daisy Hill was your first novel. What did you learn from the process of writing it?

Actually it’s my second.  My first was rough.  Very rough.  Like Oakland after the Raiders lose kind of rough.  Honestly, I don’t think it will ever see the light of day — but I actually learned a lot from writing that one.  Perseverance, discipline, patience.  I learned that…well…it’s possible.  You can do it.  You can write a novel if you just sit down and keep going.  Daisy Hill was my first novel that I finished and thought, “This is a story that I would like to read.”  It has actually been finished for some time — but I didn’t let anyone read it, and it just sat there on my hard drive.  Finally, I got some advice from an agent that encouraged me to get it out there.  Get some feedback.  Find out if it works for other people and not just in my brain.  So I did.

LiS: What message were you hoping to convey through your characters and story?  

This is a good question, because honestly I didn’t write it with any “message” in mind.  Honestly.  I just tried writing a story that was filled with good characters put in interesting situations with enough REAL issues that were relatable.  However, after seeing the finished product, I do hope that people come away with an understanding that prayers ARE heard.  That there IS substance to faith.  That even though you might be in the midst of the worst situation possible, no prayer bounces back down unheard.  People sometimes say that the heavens are brass when they pray.  I say that’s the time to keep going.  Brass makes a heck of a lotta noise when you pound on it.

LiS: As a writer, what did you enjoy about crafting this story?

Oh, the characters for sure.  The Reverend was fun because I let myself be absolutely real regarding his thoughts and doubts.  Samson was fun because it’s a blast to try and get personality and character from an animal without being cartoony.  Johnny and Julio were a blast because I felt that they were funny and fun to write their little silly conflict pieces.  And the people of Daisy Hill were fun because…well…they’re complicated.

LiS: What is your hope for this story? How would you like it to impact readers?

Here’s the shallowest answer of all of them, because I touched on some of it in your “message” question.  What is my hope for the story?  I want people to love it.  I want them to share it and tell their friends about it.  I want people to empathize with the Reverend.  I want them to laugh at Johnny and Julio.  I want them to WISH they had a horse like Samson.  I want them to be just as confused in Daisy Hill as the Reverend.  And I want people to want more stories from me!  Sorry, I wish I could be more esoteric on this one, but I’m just being honest!

LiS: Tell me a little about your next project. You mentioned that you were already diving into your next book.

I am!  I’m about half way through the first draft and I really like this one!  This book is an adventure book—probably more of a Y.A. or even Middle Grade focused.  It is a story about an eleven-year-old boy and his adopted uncle who receive a mysterious package that launches them on a journey to discover the truth behind the boy’s real parents and the reason why they gave him away.  The journey the pair takes is like nothing we have ever seen, and the twist of the boy’s history is hopefully one that no one will see coming!  My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of February, get a couple more drafts out and see what happens!

 

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