Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jared fell in love with stories at a very young age. This love led him to major in English and Theatre, a decision that brought him many adventures, such as performing in Footloose, Cats, and West Side Story.
His first full novel, Rising Sign, was started backstage during a production of South Pacific in Indiana. Five years later, his debut novel was complete and he headed back to school for his Masters in Special Education. By the time he graduated, he had written the following two books in the trilogy, Ruling House and Returning Planet. He used his school experiences as a base for his standalone novel, Let's Play It By Ear. His newest novels, The Outerlands and The Good Witch are slated for release in 2015.
Jared currently lives in New York City with his cats, Benedick and Beatrice. He works during the day as a high school English teacher and theatre director at a Deaf school.
Connect with Jared on his Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads
When you teach Deaf students, you live in another world. Every day, I go to work and I use a language that is different from the one I use socially. There are different customs and behaviors that infuse my work world, like waving my hands or stomping on the ground to get the attention of my students. Still, some things are universal. Deaf or hearing, high school students will be high school students. Unfortunately, one of those things is bullying.
As I saw more and more stories about bullying and suicides on the news, I knew I wanted to craft a novel about bullying, but I wasn’t sure how to present it.
I was actually grading papers when the idea for THE OUTERLANDS came to me. I happened to glance up and see ALICE IN WONDERLAND on my shelf. It suddenly occurred to me that Alice’s retreat into Wonderland is similar to the way most people retreat into their own worlds when threatened. Victims of bullying seem to go into a downward spiral and I wondered what would happen if we decided that the world we created was better than the reality we lived. What if Alice had decided to stay in Wonderland forever? Wouldn’t that be a kind of “suicide?” I had found my novel. Now, I just had to write it.
Easier said than done.
Bullying and suicide don’t make for attractive stories. I didn’t want to write a story where the reader feels downtrodden from beginning to end. I wanted the reader to enjoy the story and still come away with a kind of insight. Unfortunately, Alice, for all of her adventures, comes out at the end of the story pretty unchanged. She hasn’t really learned any lessons from her travels. I wanted Alex, my protagonist, to learn something. I had to impose meaning on a story that had none to begin with. When you love a story so much, it’s hard to make it your own. I went through many incarnations of THE OUTERLANDS before it settled into what it is today.
What actually helped the most was writing the second half. WONDERLAND is much more well-known than THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS and it was adapting the latter story that helped me develop the former. I love playing with these characters and twisting them into something that’s familiar but not ones that you recognize easily. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the writing is there to cover a much darker undercurrent: that students like Alex feel lost and hopeless. I wanted to write about very serious topics using lighter allusions so that reading about them is not difficult, but the impact is still there. It’s a balancing act. Much like being a teenager.
High school isn’t easy for anyone. I know I always found solace in a book. I wanted to create a book and a world for others to find comfort. THE OUTERLANDS is that kind of book. I hope it brings you joy.
Look out for THE OUTERLANDS, a thrilling twist on Alice's Wonderland, releasing on March 31, 2015!
Alex didn’t want to die, but he just couldn’t take it anymore. Dwight’s pills seemed to promise escape… and escape is exactly what he gets. He ends up in a world reminiscent of his childhood Wonderland, but nothing is as it was in Alice’s day. The Outerlands are a twisted version of his favorite story, with strange characters and unnatural dangers. Before he can get used to his new home, it’s threatened by an outside force. Will Alex ever find a place where he feels safe?
Add THE OUTERLANDS to your TBR on Goodreads!