My name is J.S. Kapchinske (my first name is Jason but growing up everyone called me Kapper). I live in the United States. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but I only lived there for a few weeks before my family moved to Colorado. I loved growing up in the Rocky Mountains, but now I live in California with my wife and two sons, and I love it here too!
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I have always wanted to be a writer, but I haven’t always had the confidence to chase that dream. In college, I started out as a creative writing major, but I ended up switching to biology. I love being outside, exploring wild places, and learning about the amazing creatures we share this planet with—so biology was a good fit too. But I didn’t really feel complete in my career until I started pursuing writing on the side. For several years now, I have been waking up at 5:00 AM and heading to the local coffee shop to write for a couple hours before starting my real job. And I love that time.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Coyote Summer. Wow, 20 words is tough but I think I can do it 33… After his father’s unexpected death, it takes a wild-eyed tomboy, a litter of orphaned coyote pups and a mysterious old lady to help Heath Jenkins rediscover joy and beauty in the world.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I have completed a draft of a dystopian young adult novel, and I am currently revising and improving it. It will be released in 2014. I am also working on a nonfiction book. It centers on a 200 mile backpacking trip that I completed with my wife and 2 sons, and it explores our culture’s relationship to nature and the importance of helping our children connect to wild places. The trail is called the John Muir Trail, and you can learn more about it at http://johnmuirtrail.org.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I really like Annie in Coyote Summer. I like that she is a little rough around the edges. I like her spunk and the fiery side of her personality. I like how that part of her personality mixes with her softer, more vulnerable side. I definitely would have had a crush on her when I was young.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
The title just sort of came to me… and it fit. It sounded like a summer I’d like to experience—Coyote Summer. The cover art for the book was done by a wonderful artist named Samantha Wiley. She does some really great stuff, and you can see a little bit of it at http://www.samwileydesign.com. I especially like the pictures from her series Welcome to the 27 Club—Jimi Hendrix, Curt Cobain and Amy Winehouse.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I do plot my books before I start. I use rough outlines that can be up to 30 pages… but I definitely stray from them once I start writing. I love the unexpected twists that come up as I’m creating the story, and I love getting to know the characters and seeing where they want to go.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I have too many hobbies. I can’t find time for all of them! I love to surf, ski and backpack. I play the violin and mandolin, and my sons play guitar and drums, so we get to jam together sometimes. I really enjoy reading—all types of genres, but lately I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction. I find meditation really useful in my life, but I haven’t been very good about doing it consistently. And I love just sitting on the front porch sipping a hot cup of tea and petting the dog. I have a tiny Chihuahua, which is really funny to me. I never thought I’d have a tiny dog, and I was actually grumpy when my wife brought him home, but I fell in love with him so fast, and now we’re buddies.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Sure. Coyote Summer is fiction, but there are pieces of people I’ve known in the characters. My parents and grandparents are in there for sure. My wife is in there. I’m in there too—the good and bad parts of me. The pet dog I had as a kid is in there too. Her name was Goldberry, and she was half coyote. I loved that dog. And, of course, the Rocky Mountains where I grew up are very important to the story. Colorado is a beautiful place, dear to my heart, and I loved writing about it.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
I think a lot of authors influenced me—too many to list all of them, but I can mention a few. I really loved the book Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls as a kid. I recently read it to my boys, and I still love it. I also loved the Trilogy of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Some more of my favorites include Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy… and I still love Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel.
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
Sadly, I think there is so much emphasis on achievement tests these days that a lot of the creative activities that made school fun for me have been let go. But there are great teachers out there that find ways to incorporate fun, creative activities. Both of my kids have great teachers this year, and they are both doing some imaginative writing and other creative activities. Personally, I think teachers deserve a lot more support and recognition than they get.
I really don’t. I recently read The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and at the same time I was reading Harry Potter to my kids. They are so different, and I LOVED them both!
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Write. Make time for it every day. Be consistent. And read a lot.
Where can readers follow you?
I have a blog called Mud On Your Feet (http://www.mudonyourfeet.blogspot.com). It focuses a lot on environmental issues and the importance of helping kids connect with nature. It is a relatively new endeavor for me, and I hope to grow it into something meaningful in the coming years. I am always open to advice if anyone has ideas!
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