No Return: Review.
Rating 4/5 Stars.
No Return is the debut novel of author Zachary Jernigan, and it’s impressive..
No angelic white lace for this debutant as she glides her way into polite society, this girl kicked her attendant in the balls and strutted her red leather clad butt into the room. No Return brought to mind books like Strata and Ringworld for it’s alien world and god, but that’s where the similarity ends. This is more graphic and brutal. Zachary Jernigan creates unique vistas and a well formed history for his book. The world of Jeroun is an ancient place, full of the remains of extinct races, humans, hibreds, and created people. Warriors, mages, dragons and all manner of creatures. The politics and theology are believable and intriguing.
The best part for me though are the main characters. Vedas, Churls, Berun and the precocious child Fyra. They are sublime in their humanity. There are others too, flawed, ambitious, vicious and depraved, but very entertaining in their own way.
I will say that this book is maybe not for those who don’t like a bit of rough stuff, a bit of grinding bodies. Also there are moments of violence well detailed. But please, if you can move beyond that you will not regret reading on. The sequel Shower of Stones is out 2015 and I definitely will be buying it.
BCN: When did you realize you wanted to write? Is it something that you have done since childhood, or did the bug bite later? Do you remember having any “lightbulb” moments?
ZJ: Around the age of 21 or 22, I first started feeling the intense jealousy of people who wrote. I had little belief that I could write fiction — was way too intimidated to start anything but story beginnings — and so I mostly just wrote very emo thoughts down in a journal. I didn’t write a story proper, all the way through, until the age of 25 (and it was like 700 words). My “lightbulb” moment came when, at 27, I left to begin a grad program in the UK. I got there, looked around, realized I didn’t want to study fiction: I wanted to write it, dammit!
Of course, then I proceeded to procrastinate a bit, but whatever. It sounds better to say that was the exact moment I became a writer.
ZJ: None of them. I don’t read.
Okay, okay; that’s a lie. I do read. Occasionally. Or really, really often — take your pick. The most inspirational book I’ve ever read is Sean Stewart’s Resurrection Man. Without any fear of hyperbole, it is my favorite book, a piece of art I’d not soon (or likely ever) believe I can match. I generally don’t reread books, but it’s an exception, and it kills me every time I read it. To put that much emotion in something that dark, and yet make it ultimately a tale of such hope that it leaves me crying… it doesn’t get more inspirational than that.
BCN: Do you stick to a routine when writing? Or does spontaneity help the creative process?
ZJ: I should. I really, really should. And the days when it works and I get writing done, it’s only because I set some guidelines for myself. Lately, I’ve been restricting my social media interaction — checking Facebook, mostly — to only those times when I’ve gotten 250 words done. And then, after I’ve checked Facebook, I repeat the process.
I can generally only get a lot of writing done during the daylight hours. Once it’s late afternoon and into evening, I’m a total lump of lazy. I guess my conviction is that routine does generally help writing occur, and that within the routine there is more than enough space for spontaneous overflowings of… spontaneity.
BCN: Shower of Stones is in the pipeline, and now you are a famous narrator, is there anything else you want to try?
ZJ: Bocce! Seriously, I’ve never played bocce. Not even once. It looks like fun. Lawn bowls, also, looks really fun. I want to play shuffleboard more often, with old men in white suits and straw hats.
I have big dreams, guys. Believe it.
BCN: What is your pet hate in the writing process?
ZJ: Describing places. Hate it. I mean, here I am writing, and it’s going along relatively fine, and then I have to actually put the reader in the place the characters are? God, readers are so demanding. Can’t they just imagine the same places people go in other somewhat similar fantasy or science fiction novels? I feel like I should just be able to coast on other author’s location descriptions because it’s so nerve-racking for me. I mean, seriously, do I have to do everything in the story I’m writing?
BCN: In the movie “ The Great Jernigan” who plays the title role?
ZJ: Bill Nighy, Idris Elba, Ellen Page, The Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and, even though he’s likely in dog heaven, the dog from Frasier. Oh, and Taye Diggs, because he’s the best looking and most charming man who’s ever lived. Yes, that’s my answer.
BCN: Many thanks, Zach.by Leanne Ellis Zachary Jernigan website: http://zacharyjernigan.com Zachary Jernigan on Twitter @jerniganzachary Zachary Jernigan on Facebook