Author Spotlight: Jacob E. Hess

  • a minister of music with a love for writing fantasy

Readers! Let’s give a good, hearty welcome to Jacob Hess!

Jacob was born in Burbank, California but was raised in the small town of Lebanon, Oregon. He always had a love for storytelling, but it was not until later in life that this love developed into a love of telling stories through the written word. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Ministry at Warner Pacific University and a Master of Divinity at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon and has since been working as a minister of music in the local church.

He seeks to express his deep faith through stories built on the tried-and-true pillars of tales centuries old, stories that connect to our deepest longings and speak to our greatest fears. But most of all he seeks to echo the greatest story ever told, the One True Story to which all other stories point: the gospel of God’s grace in Christ Jesus. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife of only a few months and plans to add two more books to his new science fiction adventure series, The Bright Abyss.

Jacob, thanks for agreeing to be here today. While most interviews start off with bios and such, and while I’ll get to that as always, let’s start with the important stuff!

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Hmmm….. this may be a weird response, but I would have to say Perry the Platypus, for two reasons. One, he’s a platypus and I just find mammals that lay eggs interesting. Two, I feel like it would be a lot of fun to go on secret missions together.

Sounds very, very cute, although I am unfamiliar with Perry the Platypus personally. Can I join this secret mission? Oh. Wait. That would probably defeat the secret part of the mission.

What do you write? And how did you get started?

So far, I’ve only written one science fiction book entitled The Bright Abyss, but I plan on adding two more books to the Bright Abyss series as well as writing a whole more slew of semi science fiction/adventure/fantasy stories in the years to come. 

I’ve always loved good stories, but I was more of a movie buff growing up. I didn’t start writing seriously until my enjoyment for reading and writing developed through my college years. One snowy day after college I decided to give writing fiction a shot and I’ve never looked back. It took me quite a while to get my first book published because I had a lot to learn about the art of writing fiction, but I’m excited to continue and can’t wait to get the next book done!

Once the bug hits you… it’s hard to stop! Then again, with the drafting and rejection and facing your own standards, it can be even harder to put your work out there! Congrats and I’m sure people are looking forward to more from you.

What do you like to read?

I like to read a whole assortment of things. Oddly enough my love of the science fiction genre comes mainly from TV and movies, but when it comes to reading, I enjoy some of the classics like John Steinbeck or Charles Dickens. I also enjoy reading theology/philosophy books and books on spiritual formation. Timothy Keller, Henri Nouwen, and James A.K. Smith are some of my favorite authors when it comes to these types of books.

What a great array of genres. They say being widely read is great for a writer and I’ve yet to meet an author who disagreed — at least not out loud.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you.

“Write what you know.”

Typically, I don’t agree with this statement if it’s taken too literally. It’s not that I don’t think it’s good advice. Of course, it’s good to write what you know, but for me this can feel a bit constricting at times. Part of the excitement of stepping into a new and strange world through story is encountering things we don’t know and stretching our imaginations as we bring to bear this strange world with the world we know around us.

If I come across something that my characters need to know in my story that I don’t personally know I’m not going to allow my lack of knowledge to hamper the story telling. It’s in moments like these where research can come in handy! That being said, I do think there is one important cavate to this statement, which simply put is that you should always write what is true.

Indeed! Those who take this advise very literally end up with slice-of-life stories that can be pleasant, but it’s hard to write fantasy or science-fiction if you keep strictly to this mandate.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that they can pry out of your cold, dead hands.

Write the truth.

While I may not always follow the previous advice, “Write what you know,” I always seek to write the truth. By this I mean that in my stories I seek to portray the characters, the settings, and the story elements in a way that is entirely coherent to the fantasy world of my own making. I know that if I want my readers to enter into the world I have created, this world will need to make sense according to the given rules of that world. Contradictions, loopholes in the story telling, and character decisions that don’t seem to ring true tend to really frustrate me in books and media so I seek to portray a world and its characters in a way that is entirely coherent. 

But there’s a deeper meaning to this advice as well. I not only seek to make my stories true to themselves, I also try to create opportunities for my stories to connect to the deeper truths of our own lives. In my opinion these are the best sorts of stories, ones that are not only fun and exciting, but take us on a journey that brings us back to the real world with a deeper understanding of the world around us and our place in it.

I completely agree. Without being rooted in a deep understanding of how humanity works, it’s hard for a story to find a deep place in one’s heart.

Shameless Self-Promotion time!

My first fiction book is The Bright Abyss, a science fiction adventure story that brings the world building of Star Wars and LOTR together!

The Bright Abyss by [Jacob E.  Hess]

A war raging between a primordial evil and the light that created all that exists.

The journey of a boy wrapped up in the center of the struggle, both seen and unseen.

Step into a world unlike your own, yet the same in so many ways…

Jeremiah Bradford was just a mechanic’s son living on Movaria, in bustling Canvar City, when his father passed away, leaving him a family heirloom wrapped in mystery. Little did he know that what his father left behind would start him on a journey to unravel the truths of the stories he grew up with; stories of a good creator and a primordial evil bent on dragging the world into his darkness. 

Follow Jeremiah and his companions as they face the violence of a universe divided and come to grips with the darkness within and without. Through tragic losses, space battles, and the secrets of the past, Jeremiah wrestles with his own calling and the fear that keeps him from becoming the hero his father always believed he could be.

I’ve also written a short eBook on the philosophy of beauty where I wrestle with questions like: What is art? It’s called Echoes of Beauty and anyone can get a free copy by signing up for my email list.

Check Jacob E. Hess out across the web!

Website | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter

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