A bit of a Q&A with Jason Foux, creator of Jericho Mills.
My name is Jason but half the people I know call me Troll. I’m 37, bald, and sometimes bearded.
What do you do? How do you define yourself?
For work I guide an 80,000 lb. land-based missile around the country while avoiding cars and listening to podcasts but driving a tanker truck is just how I earn my money. I suppose if I had to define myself it would be as a creative adventurer.
Have you always been creative? Why do you think so?
Yes, as long as I can remember (back to age 4) I’ve been creative in some fashion, mostly drawing but my focus changed to writing after graduation. As far as the why, I suppose it could be hereditary. My mother is extremely creative. My grandparents have oil paintings that have been hanging in their homes as long as I can remember that my mother painted. Portraits, landscapes, beaches, they’re captivating.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first story when I was about 9, but writing was sporadic until the early 2000’s. That’s when my writing truly began.
Other creative outlets?
Past creative endeavors include drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry and photography. Those have since taken backseat to pyrography, writing, game design, and bladesmithing. I also design and build some of my own backpacking gear. Oh, and I sew a little.
Reading? Fav authors/genres/books?
My reading is like my listening habits, eclectic. I’m a huge Lovecraft fan and enjoy odd horror as well as high fantasy like Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time but also like darker fantasy like Joe Abercrombie, sci-fi from the likes of Peter F. Hamilton and Scott Sigler, action from Jonathan Mayberry, lots of zombie stories, some kaiju stuff, anything by Dan Simmons, Ray Bradbury, and of course William Gibson but my all time favorite book is the Epic of Gilgamesh. A man is humbled, an enemy becomes a friend, they grow and leave on an incredible adventure, suffer with loss, quest for eternal life and ultimately accept the bitter reality of human mortality. The more times I read it the more I love it.
Advice for other creative types?
There’s a quote I’m reminded of. “Most will die and leave not their mark upon the world.” Let your hobbies consume you because you’ll never regret your accomplishments. Spend your time turning parts of your soul into something others can experience. leave your mark.
What is your writing process?
It starts with “what if…” and is followed by much daydreaming when I should probably be engaged in other activities. Eventually a story begins to form and I expand it. Somewhere along the line I start jotting down the idea and a series of notes that almost resembles an outline. Then I let it fester. I let it grow inside me until it NEEDS to get out, until it won’t stay put any longer. Then I consume more coffee than his healthy and pour the story onto the page.
Oh, and there’s lots of cursing and arguing with fictional characters, and trying to figure out how the hell the story changed without my permission.
Talk about day job? Unusual for a creative type? Why do you like it or dislike it?
I was creative for work for almost 15 years. It became a chore, then a drain. I enjoyed my work, but it was tiresome and after much thought and some preparation, I quit my job and walked away from everything with only a backpack and spend some months hitching around the country. Along the way I hung out with some truckers and after spending many days riding shotgun in an assortment of rigs, I decided I needed to try my hand at the lifestyle. It has nothing to do with my creative side, but satisfies my need for adventure which drives me as much as my need to create. So I work 60-70 hours a week hauling hazardous materials around the country. It’s nice, if you’re into moving about constantly, but it too can be tiresome sometimes.
Describe your perfect day.
I was hiking in the mountains of northern Arkansas around Thanksgiving one year with my girlfriend. We stood on a rocky crag that stuck out from the side of a cliff and overlooked a valley in the Ozarks. The whole world was stretched out before us and the it was so peaceful. We crawled through caves and over jagged rocks and scraped our skin and took photos of plants and mushrooms and at the end of the day we returned to our cabin and our dog was so exhausted he could only sit on the floor and grin while trying to catch his breath. We cooked Thanksgiving dinner and talked about nothing in particular. That might have been the best day of my entire life and I could relive it forever.
You’ve been described as a Renaissance man. Do you think the title fits? Why or why not?
Renaissance men tended to be better at all the things they did. I’m more of a dabbler, a jack-of-all-trades. I spend just enough time on a hobby to figure it out then bounce over to something else.
Podcast. Is it a new facet of your writing? Why podcasting? How did you get into it? Why this topic?
It is a new facet of my writing in a way, though it’s not very creative. The topic (religious studies/comparative mythology) is one I’ve been interested in for a little over a decade now but in recent years devoted a serious amount of time pursuing the topic. Though I’m not religious, the stories in the bible hold a special fascination for me and so I started reading about their origins. After a few years of that I decided to share the knowledge I was accumulating in a more digestible format. Thus the podcast was born. Many people will either not like it or be outright offended as it deals almost exclusively with religion, but if you’re interested in learning about the origins of the Noah’s Flood story or where the idea of Moses came from, then give it a listen. And I actually have a few Christian listeners who write in periodically and compliment me for the work I put into the show which is surprising.
What are you working on now?
Mostly knife making, the podcast and the research that goes with it, and designing games. I’m working on a tabletop RPG, a board game, and a couple of card games.
That’s my current means of scratching the creative itch… and by far my most expensive hobby to date (except maybe paintball). I like tools, especially those used for hiking, camping, and backpacking. As I mentioned earlier I make some of my own gear. Well, a few years ago I discovered that many of the brands of knives that I trusted were no longer producing quality blades, and since I refuse to buy junk, I decided to start making my own. There’s something extremely satisfying about beating a piece of glowing steel into submission with a hammer and manipulating the properties of metal through the heat treatment process. It’s like alchemy or magic. And of course the satisfaction that comes from creating something useful from a couple lumps of raw materials speaks to me on a near-spiritual level.
Anything else we should know about you? Anything you want to tell others?
Be nice to the homeless. When you see someone with a cardboard sign, buy them some food. Treat them like they’re human.
Where can people find you and your work?
My podcast is easy to find. Search “Dragons in Genesis” on your favorite podcast app (Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Google Play, etc.) or look it up on Facebook. I had a lot of my fiction up online, but have since taken most of it down. Anyone interested in reading my stuff can hit me up on Facebook. I’d be more than happy to send a PDF of any short story or novel to them. My knives aren’t yet ready for sale, but that will change soon.
You can also find Jason's previously self-published work on Lulu.