My name is Jason and I’ve been writing as a hobby since 2010. I grew up in the Indiana countryside and moved quite a lot during my formative years. Most of that time was spent in central and southern Indiana.
I attended Speedway High School, home of the Indianapolis Speedway 500, and graduated in 1995. July of 1995, I entered the Air Force and attended basic training in San Antonio TX. Upon graduating basic training, I was deployed to Biloxi MS where I spent almost a year training in my field of electronics repair. I spent the remainder of my six-year contract with the military at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha NE.
I picked up on writing during my years in the military, writing short stories as a hobby to pass the time. The DragonLance series of fantasy books provided me with an outlet for my imagination. That allowed my hobby of writing short stories to blossom into a desire to write full length novels.
I’ve worked in the security industry since separating from the Air Force in 2001. Most of that work has centered around video surveillance and access control. But my passion is creating a world for someone else to get lost in as I do when I pick up a novel.
I have a myriad of hobbies. I’ve always been a muscle car junkie. I grew up in a garage watching my stepfather build hot rods, customize muscle cars, and restore classics. I spend time gaming with friends, watching movies and writing the occasional screenplay just for the fun of it. I like carpentry, museums, art, and sculpture.
The oddest thing about me is my addiction to research. I research anything and everything I can because that information is available to me in this age. I rarely purchase anything without researching it first and I really enjoy researching for things I will never own or likely do.
My goal is to entertain and inspire. The thought of others finding joy in what I create and even inspiration in what my stories might bring to them on a personal level, keeps me focused.
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Rise of the Avatar: Tip of the Spearby S Jason BerkopesPublish: Apr 01, 2022Series: Rise of the AvatarAction & Adventure Science Fiction Fantasy
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I was born in Indianapolis Indiana. My childhood was tumultuous. We moved around a fair amount in the central Indiana and southern Indiana areas until I was in 8th grade. My biological father and mother separated before I was born. I didn't really see my biological father much until I was around 14 years old and then still very little.
My formative years were shaped by this, and I latched on to my first step-father who helped raise me until I was around 8 or 9. My mother has been married four times and that meant I had quite a few father figure types. Some showed bad examples to follow and others some good.
My mother did whatever it took to make certain we had clothes, food, and a roof over our head. If that meant 2 or even 3 jobs, then that is what she did to make ends meet.
We worked hard even as kids and she made certain we were self-sufficient. Due to some family issues around 8th grade, I had some personal issues that affected my ability to control my anger and focus on school. It wasn't until my mother and I had a confrontation when I was in between my sophomore and junior years of high school that I finally came to my senses. It was a difficult slog to get my GPA up high enough to even qualify for the military after the hole I dug for myself. It was an important lesson about life not being fair and you have to keep getting up when you get knocked down. I was lucky. Not everyone gets back up before the bell rings.What does writing mean to you?
Writing is my escape. I get to take all of those ideas and fantasies I have and turn them into something that I hope transports the reader to a world I created and entertains and maybe even inspires them.Why did you choose writing as a hobby?
I realized I had a knack for writing in high school. Any English project that required a story or any test that was essay based I seemed to excel at. When I entered the military I turned that ability into being a game master for AD&D games. I really enjoyed creating detailed adventures for my friends to work through. It also trained me to be creative on the fly based on their decisions as players. From there it progressed into short stories and eventually into the idea of writing my own novels.What inspired you to enter the Air Force?
My mentor and father figure types were mostly ex-military. I grew up with a fascination for military vehicles, ships, and aircraft. My first step-father that I remained close with even after my mother and he divorced recommended the Air Force due to my lack of size. I was always raised to be proud of our military personnel and of our country. I wanted to serve and do my part to help protect the people of this country. I didn't do it for the government body because they continue to do some pretty heinous things. But the people here are important to me and I joined for them.What made you decide to pick up on writing during your years in the military?
Writing was free. I could spend hours creating stories, worlds, and characters that never saw the light of day but entertained my daydreaming side of my brain that I still utilize today. Writing sort of took me over and didn't go away even after I separated the Air Force.When were you first struck with the idea of your book, Rise of the Avatar: Tip of the Spear?
I had a dream about the book series and woke in the middle of the night and wrote it down. Later I expanded on the idea and eventually laid out a plot to break up into a three book series. I was actually in the middle of writing my first fantasy book when I had the dream. I was also working on an autobiography on how I found faith. I immediately paused those projects and focused entirely on this one.What do you enjoy most about writing your first book?
Bringing a new story to the reader based on my imagination. Many people have said it reminds them of Jason Bourne meets John Wick. I never related the story to those until I started thinking about it and found there are some similarities to those characters but with its own twist.What is the best way a fan has ever shown an appreciation for your work?
I've had a couple of professional reviewers love the book. My book has a religious spine to it that can polarize some readers. But I didn't write the book to force religion on the reader. It is a fantasy book, so I took my faith and ran with something fantastical that I've never read before, and thought would be fun to explore. The book takes an unexpected twist near the middle that takes a lot of readers by surprise, which is why it can be polarizing.What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I don’t think anyone of the opposite sex and perfectly portray anyone else regardless of sex. But portraying the opposite sex can be quite intimidating. I was lucky to have a mother who insisted I understand a female’s point of view when it came to life. I also dipped into my own personal relationships with women. Still, I can only cross my fingers that I can write a female character in a way that still connects with a female reader.
We are different animals all the way down to the cellular level. That isn't a bad thing, but it does make it difficult to write a convincing female character. There are exceptions to every character and that doesn't mean a female character in my book can't think the way I'm portraying them. It does, however, make me nervous as to how female readers will take that character.
I've tried surrounding myself with a good amount of professional women to help give me feedback on any female characters I do develop. I rely on them to give me honest criticism if I stray too far out of the lane.When playing a game with friends, how important is it for you to win?
At my age now, it is more about having fun with friends than winning. I consider myself an above average gamer, so I tend to win more than I lose. In my youth, winning was everything because I wanted the recognition, and my competitive side would lash out irrationally when I didn’t win.
Now it is just about hanging out with my friends and creating memories and good experiences. I tend to enjoy co-op games more than head to head competition because of that. The one competitive PVP game I do play I’ve had to turn off the chat and voice features due to how toxic the player base can be.
Another thing that has never changed is that I don't give up. Failure is something everyone has in common and we do that more than we succeed. I remember a time in my early 20's in the Air Force when I would play a fighting game called Tekken on Playstation with a friend of mine. He was better than I was with specific characters and would beat me probably 9 times out of ten. But I never gave up and would change tactics until I beat him. Eventually that made me a better player and most of our matches would come down to the wire because of it. To me, that made the matches that much more fun.
That’s just one example of my desire to self-improve. For me, that is one key objective in life.What inspired you to proceed with research? What motivates you to continue?
The military really ingrained that into me. They don't do anything without researching it in-depth. The military does plenty of things wrong. The one thing they do exceptionally well is training. I've never worked for a company in the civilian market that has come close to the military’s ability to train someone.
They have volumes of technical documents that cover everything from theory to troubleshooting. They have entire groups of people whose sole job is to create those documents and continue to improve them with feedback from those in the field. They encourage us to give that feedback and even rewarded feedback that saved time and money with monetary rewards if the improvement was considerable enough to warrant that.
I really liked that about the military and I kept that mantra after integrating into the civilian market in both my work and personal life. There is no doubt in my mind that doing something without researching it first will result in a much higher rate of failure. This also relates to purchasing personal items be that a washer and dryer, an automobile, or something as simple as mouthwash.
I also find it mentally stimulating. I like learning about things, any and all things. I applied the same methods to researching information for my novel. For me, that is one of the best parts of writing. Building that backstory that ends up being the foundation of everything else the novel is based on.
I spent days researching different sound barrier speeds, their names, and how existing rail gun technology is progressing just so I better understand that aspect of it in my fictional world. Days of research for something I barely speak of in the first novel and may not expand on in the sequels. But I learned something, it was fun, and I may end up using it somewhere down the line in another book.Where's the place with the best view in the state of Indiana?
One of my favorite views was when I lived in Fort Branch, Indiana. We lived on a farm and our trailer was located at the top of this rise that overlooked a lot of acreage. You could see miles into the distance and on the years where wheat and soybeans were planted by the property you could look out and see the green for miles and watching the wind currents hit the crops was something I always found therapeutic. Our nearest neighbor was a quarter of a mile away. The view was quite something.
The only other view I can think of that stimulated me as much as that was when I was out on the lake in the early morning hours with my mentor when we lived in western Indiana in Putnam county. We fished for catfish on Racoon Lake and the views in the morning when it was calm is something I'll always remember.
As for the best view in Indiana, that is a subjective question with no right answer. That is like asking who makes the best beer. So long as someone is affected in a positive way by the view, that makes it special to them and that is enough.Is purchasing an older, classic muscle car better than the new muscle cars?
This is something that people will argue about forever. I don't have a solid answer. I'm the type that likes the styling of the older cars because regulations allowed for manufacturers to have more freedom in their designs than they do now. Which is one of the many reasons why a good percentage of vehicles look similar to one another today. I like art and automobiles are art to me... functional art.
From a purely performance standpoint, new muscle cars are in a league of their own compared to the early muscle cars of the 60's and 70's. I love seeing old cars updated to perform like new cars. If I had the choice between a stock 1960's muscle car and an updated 1960's muscle car, I'd take the latter. Engineering is so much better in the performance aftermarket of today than it was from the factory back in the 60’s. The knowledge of metals, fabrication, and even welding was still early compared to what they know today.
All that being said, I have a new generation Dodge Challenger on my bucket list to own one day. If I had only three cars to choose from in my garage, I would have a 2nd generation Chevy Camaro, a new generation Dodge Challenger, and a self-built factory five hot rod coupe. All of them running V8 gasoline engines. Nothing compares to the rumble of a tuned V8. I know electric vehicles are pulling some ridiculous straight line performance numbers today. But if I had to choose something to cruise around in on a sunny Saturday, it would be something with the rumble of a V8 under the hood.
My daily will definitely be an EV or hydrogen powered car at some point in my life. They are much easier to maintain with less moving parts.What are you working on now?
My audiobook for Rise of the Avatar - Tip of the Spear is finalized. I have my first book in my fantasy series, Poisoned Kingship, in editing along with the artwork. I'm also finishing up the research, background, and backstory of the second novel in the Rise of the Avatar series. It will be titled Rise of the Avatar - Autonomous Army. It will expand on the story from the end of the first book and takes place 3-6 years after the first book. A good portion of the story will take place in South Africa. I chose that country because it has a very interesting history.What are your views on book promotions via social media? Are you satisfied with the AllAuthor services and would you recommend this platform to other authors?
When used properly, social media platforms can be a very good way to promote products of many kinds, books included. It opens up paths to readers that didn't exist with traditional publishers years ago.
AllAuthor has been a great platform to work with. The great thing about it is that everyone on it is a book lover. Unlike Facebook (Meta), Twitter, and the like you know that everyone looking at your page there is interested in reading or is an author themselves.
I'm progressing from a total unknown web presence which makes the process slow. Given enough time, I'll build up a fanbase. The most difficult thing for me about being a writer and publishing a book isn't getting the book to market. It is getting people aware of my product. I'm still learning much about marketing, which is why I hired a professional to help guide me through this part that I'm not familiar with. It doesn't matter how good a product is, if nobody knows about it, it isn't going to sell. That is just simple math. Knowing how to make people aware is something I always dreaded and one of the reasons I dragged my feet for so long in getting a finished product to market.
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