PACE — Pace High School senior Jason Barlow took a coach’s suggestion to write instead of talk. and turned it into "Rise of the Phoenix (Home of the Brave," a 355-page book available through Amazon.
Here we catch up with Jason.
How did you get started?
I started in ninth grade. I never thought I’d get this far. I was taking a test and Coach Kevin Ricks said if I wanted to use words I’d have to write them down. I jotted a few notes before the bell and after a few weeks I thought it was cool. I started on notebook paper whenever I had free time. A year later, as a sophomore, I said I’ve got a lot of stuff and started to get serious. I was 43,000 words in. I put so much time and effort in. I was going for it. Now I’ve got almost 84,000 words and 355 pages.
The cover is red and black with a bird shaped like a spade. What does it mean?
Kai Davis, a friend of mine, designed the cover. I paid him $50. He deserved it. The red and black are eye-catching, aggressive. Blaine is the main character and he’s starting in a very powerful, influential place. The bird is a phoenix and based on the American eagle. It’s a typical teen dystopian (setting). Blaine becomes the hero. He changes like the phoenix. In Vietnam, they had the ace of spades in their helmets. Lt. Jimmy Cross had an ace of spades in “The Things They Carried.” There’s a deeper meaning (in the book).
How did you go from finishing the book to publication?
Writing was almost the easy part. We spent six months researching publication platforms. I hit a lot of walls in high school. Soccer didn’t work out. In state BETA I ran for a seat and that didn’t work out. The more I failed, the more I wrote. I thought, “This I’ll always be able to finish. I’ll always be able to come back to this. This is mine.” We decided to go with Create Space through Amazon.com. There are pros and cons and one of the cons is they let it sell three to four copies and then retired it. The copyright had to be validated. It’s not over until it’s over. With anything, you have to follow through.
Where are you now?
It’s available. I have 33 copies sold so far. It’s a lot of fun to show off to my friends. This is who I am. This is who I am working. It’s the coolest thing ever. In second grade, I hated writing. My teacher, Mrs. Smith, I asked why I need to learn this. “I’m not going to be an author," [I said].
Do you have any writing inspirations?
I read a lot of books, but there’s no one person I look up to. I didn’t base (my style) on anyone. I didn’t start with the intention of making it big. I know there are rules of writing. Most books have three main characters, the rule of three. I have seven. I really did my own thing. I can make it more diverse (with seven characters). Can I give them all enough time? We’ll see what I can do.