Author feature – Jay Sandlin

Readers of my blog will know that I have already reviewed Jay Sandlin’s new release Outbreak Mutiny and really enjoyed it.

You can find my review here if you want to pop and have a look.  *Slides book from under desk and reads surreptitously whilst waiting*.

So now you’ve got my opinion of Outbreak Mutiny, as a reader, how about hearing from the author:  his background, writing, and thoughts about the novel?  Read on…

What is your latest book about?

OUTBREAK MUTINY is alternate history. With Superheroes. It takes place in a world where superpowers are real and an entire generation known as Outbreak Babies manifest their abilities after suffering a severe injury or trauma.

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In this world, superpowers are treated like a resource and those who possess them are in demand by the powerful.

The Reich has taken over the world after Germany pledged their allegiance to the most powerful of all Outbreak Babies, The Reichsmensch. He governs a caste society ruled by Warlords in conquered territories. Those who join the Reich attend Acolyte Academies where they seek the honor of earning a Warlord Trial.

Life is hard for those living outside the Reich in the Remnant States. When Issue 1 begins, we find the stragglers in the Remnant just struggling to survive as a Virus breaks out in the Chicago Buffer Zone.

In this world, the choice is clear: You Die Free, or Live in Chains. Which will you choose?

Tell us a bit about yourself: Do you have other interests outside of writing? An odd/interesting fact about yourself? Who is your favourite author?

 I started my own business when I was 24 and still own and operate it today. I work in insurance and financial services and serve a great area of people.

But that’s just my secret identity.

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For years I became complacent and unfulfilled inside the cubicle I had gone into debt to buy for myself. I gained about 70 pounds and stopping caring about pursuing my dreams anymore.

Then the best thing that ever happened to me happened. I had a little boy. And when he was born I knew I had to set a better example. I lost the weight and began to consider ways I could pursue my dreams. Nothing dramatic, but like a clipper ship, I wanted to steer slowly and awkwardly into a better direction.

The weight came off quickly with my new attitude. I was accepted back to my old alma mater for a graduate degree in History. This would be vital in building the basis for my alternate universe later. Writers of alternate history have to know the timeline they’re violating before they can begin to reconstruct it.

My other interests were vital as well. I learned to tell stories through theater. I had been performing on stage since I was 8 and in 2015 I began to make up for some lost time.

I did three plays in a row that year. A drama, musical, and a romantic comedy. Each one was a blast, however, I was left unfulfilled when the curtain fell on the last performances.

Theater felt too fleeting as an art. I wanted to find a way to preserve my hard work. Theater was a lot of work but once the show ended it felt like a vapor dissipating in the wind.

I wanted my Art to last like the constellations in the heavens. Immortal and unchanging. So I turned to writing.

My love of reading was a constant even in the times I had felt depressed. My favorite authors are Timothy Zahn, Stephen King, Jim Butcher, and Harry Turtledove. The Dresden Files series by Jim were, in particular, an addiction for me. Jim took old ideas of fantasy and stock characters from mythology and then masterfully placed them in gritty, urban, settings.

It was his mixture of the old with the new that inspired me to create a cast of superheroes and place them throughout the events in history. In my altered timeline, heroes would fight against villains during the attack on Pearl Harbor or storm the beaches of Normandy at D-Day.

These were the kind of books I had always wanted to read. I simply had to write them.

Originally Outbreak Mutiny took place in the present with only a background of this past of Superheroes moving the wheels of history. I quickly realized, however, that the better story was in the series dossier I was writing and decided to focus on that.

From there it evolved. At one point I scrapped over 100k words entirely and started over. The series required a stronger lead which I found in the character “Buccaneer”.

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I would tell writers never to be afraid to hit the “delete” button on many hours, days, or weeks of work. You never truly delete it, because the best components of your narrative will survive the re-write.

The pains may be temporary but the print is forever.

That semi-answers my next question too, which is what came first: plot, characters or style? I found your ‘novel comic’ format fascinating and wondered whether you started with that, or it developed organically as you wrote? 

After the Buccaneer was created, the environment changed too. The characters determined the setting and style. I originally had an alternate timeline very similar to our own. It was important to me originally to place heroes in actual events in history and stick to the dates!

Much to my own relief, that went completely out the window. I decided to focus more on the ALTERNATE than the history.

That was when I decided to place the story in a world where the US had already fallen and was downsized into something else. I always loved fantasy books, like the Lord of the Rings series, that came with maps included.

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I re-drew the boundaries of the US after it was conquered by the villains: the Reich. Originally the Reich was simply Nazi Germany. Now I don’t even use the term Nazi and I especially don’t call it the Third Reich. This is because the Reichsmensch, the Lord of the Regime, would never consider previous Reich’s to be legitimate.

I‘m thankful I found GV-Art to make my maps on very short notice with high quality. Find him on twitter for your art needs -Art.

Which of your heroes would you most like to be, and which of your villains would you least like to face?

They are all me to an extent. In my world, it takes great trauma to gain superpowers. All Outbreak Babies received their superpowers after a life threatening injury awoke their inborn abilities.

I would probably wimp out and choose to be a Made Man. Those are the members of the Armorer’s Guild. Like Clockwork and Steel Samaritan, they are brilliant engineers who put their ingenuity into the quest for peace and protecting the innocents.

Of course, some of those go bad like Nuremberg. I cast him as real life historical figure Wernher Von Braun. You’ll have to read Issue #3 “Sewer Storm” to see how he has been reimagined in this timeline! 

I wouldn’t care to fight any of my villains but the Okinawa Dragon stands out!

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He is the Warlord of the Underworld and in Issue “Abandon All Hope” you’ll find out why I would not want to face him!

Strangely he was one of the first characters I created and wrote a backstory for BUT he almost didn’t appear in the book! He was an unseen character until his appearance was added in one of the final rewrites.

What are you working on at the minute?

I am actively promoting OUTBREAK MUTINY with all my might. As an Indie Author you have to fight for every download or purchase of your book. I am also planning the bullet points of the next book. I know where I want to begin and where I want to end. The path to arrive there, however, has yet to reveal itself.

I am also planning to write a short story in between about Caliente Blu, the heroine from Issue 0 of OUTBREAK MUTINY. She has received such an overwhelmingly positive response that I want to write a story that takes place ten or fifteen years before her appearance in OM as a young Outbreak Baby gaining her superpowers and fighting for the freedom of slaves in Cuba. And, of course, forming her super team “La Escalera” the female group of Latina Liberators!

Can’t wait to read and review them!

You can contact Jay Sandlin or Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Outbreak Mutiny is currently available on Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US) in both Kindle and paperback format.

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