Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Interview with humor writer Jason Blake

Author Jason Blake already has me laughing today. We’re talking about his new humorous book, 101 Things to Do with a Dead Body.

Jason Blake lives on Kauai with his husband Philp. They moved to Kauai from Chicago in 2005.

Professionally, Jason is an insurance agent who works with the Medicare population and has helped over 2000 Kauai kupuna make their best Medicare-related choices. Jason also trains agents throughout the United States to do the same and is currently developing a website and YouTube Channel called “The Medicare Geek.”

Jason is the author of two books: 10 Things I Learned Living on an Island and 101 Things to Do with a Dead Body, which is illustrated by cartoonist Emily Caesar.

On Kauai, Jason is the founder of “Kauai Sings,” a fundraising event that has been in place for over 12 years and has earned over $250,000 for Kauai nonprofits. Jason is also the president of the Kauai Concert Association. Jason’s husband Philip Steinbacher is a long-term teacher and the Fine Arts Department Head at Island School.

Jason attended Georgetown University and The University of Illinois at Springfield. He was a district and state 4-H officer in Georgia during high school.

Jason was born and raised in Conyers, Georgia.

Welcome, Jason. Please tell us about your current release.
101 Things to Do with a Dead Body is a humor book that supplies a wealth of ideas for using a dead body for all occasions. Ask not what you can do for a dead body—ask what your dead body can do for you.

The dead body serves as a perfectly stable and reliable pool float. Tired of your cat ripping up your furniture? The corpse is an excellent scratching post. Don’t have the money to hire a stunt double for that action scene you’re filming? The dead body is a great stand-in. The body also works as a great paperweight for your office. Are you short one backup singer? You can use the corpse to balance out the tenor section of the church choir. Don’t want someone stealing your seat at the movies? The body will hold your spot while you get concessions.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was a lover of the 1980s bestseller 101 Uses for a Dead Cat by Simon Bond. A friend and I were joking about that book and we both agreed we needed an update with today’s tolerance of darker humor. I searched for about six months to find the right illustrator. As soon as I found Emily Caesar’s work, I knew I had to do the new book.

The book is a tongue-in-cheek set of 101 ideas for things to do with a dead body ranging from the mundane—foot stool—to the dark—to leave on your ex’s front door stoop instead of a flaming bag of poop. Each idea is accompanied by one of Emily’s clever illustrations.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m not a one-genre guy. The next piece I’m working on is about mental health and will be called Coming Out as Mentally-Ill.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Even though my tenth grade English teacher told me I was the best writer she’d seen come through the school in years, I still didn’t get it. I started writing pieces for industry magazines when I started working but nothing that would be considered creative writing. After a drastic move from Chicago to Hawaii, I finally got inspired to write about how island life has some great lessons that could translate around the globe. That led to my first book 10 Things I Learned Living on an Island.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full time. (My bio talks about how I pay the bills!) I’m a big believer in the program espoused by Julia Cameron from The Artists Way. I’ve been doing “morning pages” for more than 20-years. I find that setting a little goal of writing at least ten minutes per day leads to me writing longer than 10 minutes and helps me produce consistently.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think my tone can shift from very sweet (first book) to very dark (new book). That dark humor is offensive to some people.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a professional musical theater performer. I did a fair amount of volunteer and professional theater for a couple decades of my life and realized it rarely paid the bills and I liked a more sedate lifestyle than one gets in the theater community so that eventually worked its way out of my system.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think we’re at an important time in American history and people need to be engaged politically, at least by voting. With that said, with the crazy times we live in, people must find big and small ways to take care of themselves. Things that bring me back to my senses include: checking in on The Onion website, taking walks and the occasional scuba dive. I also think that if you have a dream—big or small—you owe it to yourself and the planet to pursue it even with the smallest of baby steps. I’ve failed at dreams as often as I’ve accomplished them but I’m so glad I decided to pursue them all.


Thanks for joining me today, Jason.

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