Once, Naples author Jason R. Jones had a battered, plastic laundry basket filled with handwritten notes.
Now he has a completed book of 445 pages. And he’s only getting started.
“The Exodus of Spiders and Falcons” is the first of Jones’ 18-part epic fantasy series, and tells the tale of five characters, their discovery of an ancient religious relic and the quest that ensues – the “exodus” of the title. Betrayal, romance, paganism and the battle of good against evil all find their way into the work, too.
Jones self-published the book, but hopes to also find a traditional publishing house that will be interested in the story.
“I have the whole story done,” he said.
That’s not an exaggeration. The 35-year-old Jones began compiling notes on the story when he was 18. Writing longhand, he filled multiple notebooks, depositing them all into a spare laundry basket.
By the time he was 23, the laundry basket was piled high.
But he still wasn’t successfully turning those notes into prose. Multiple attempts to turn his ideas into a fully fleshed-out book floundered, and Jones put his efforts away. It wasn’t until last year that inspiration struck. He began writing anew, and before he realized it, he had written 400 pages.
The first installment of his series introduces his characters and starts them on their journey. Set in a fictional fantasy world called Agara, the story brings together five different heroes, including a knight, an elf, a minotaur, a dwarf and a sorceress.
There is some of their creator in each one, Jones explained. A single father, he explored his own his personal struggles and tragedies to write the book, and can identify with the desires and failings of the characters. For example, the sorceress Gwenneth longs to leave the sheltered environment where she was raised — a wish Jones said he shared as a young man growing up in Wisconsin and which led him to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
“In each one of the characters, there’s a little bit of me,” he said.
Jones, who is the food and beverage director at the Naples Harbour Yacht Club, also drew from his hobbies. After leaving the Marines, he pursued saber fencing, working with an instructor to develop and hone his skills. Those lessons were folded into the fantasy tale to create realistic sword fighting scenes.
Not everything in the series could be pulled from real life, however.
Creating a realistic fantasy setting for his stories had its challenges, Jones explained. He worked to balance storytelling with the need for explanation. Sometimes, it was a question of taking the imagination plunge.
“You’ve got to dive into fantasy,” he said.
Jones is a longtime fantasy fan, and is pleased to see the genre moving to the mainstream.
“It’s there everyday now. It’s constantly being released,” he said. “I think I picked the right time to finally put my books into print.”
Jones notes that he could have made his 18-part series shorter by publishing longer books, but at almost 500 pages, he believes “The Exodus of Spiders and Falcons” is the right length for his readers. He’s currently at work on the second in the series, “The Exodus of Dragons and Crowns.” Jones is also considering penning prequels to the series.
Someday, he hopes to turn the writing over to his young son, Alexander.
“He’s taking over at book 19,” Jones said, smiling.
On the web: www.jasonrjones.com