Saturday, November 29, 2014

World of Writing, interview

-- World of Writing --

Joining us today for our next installment of World of Writing interviews is Jeff Rasley - ( ) -author of several books (including Monsters of the Doorway, Light in the Mountains, a thriller titled False Prophet, Islands in My Dreams, and Bringing Progress to Paradise). Jeff practiced law in the Indianapolis (US) region for 30 years and is currently the partner of Knowledge Capture Publishing and Editing as well as the president of the Basa Village Foundation ( ). Amazingly he is also able to act as a liaison for Adventure Geo-Treks LTD, while teaching students. He is most passionate about combining adventure travel with philanthropy, and creating better communities. 
Check out the archived audio of the 2012 interview we did with Jeff on our radio show:

Q: Who inspired you to pursue a career in writing?

A: My mother was a journalist, columnist, and city editor of our hometown newspaper, The Goshen News. So, I spent time with reporters and editors as a child. The reporters and editors were all frustrated writers – they wanted to write books. In college I wrote bad-adolescent poetry but was on the editorial board of a literary journal. So, I learned a bit about good writing and editing. My creative writing professor was Richard Stern, who was Saul Bellow’s close friend and sometime-personal editor. He encouraged me as a fiction writer, although he described my college attempt at a memoir as “a magnificent failure”. My greatest influence as a mature writer is my wife, Alicia Rasley, who is a successful romance novelist, writer of writing craft books, and English professor. We’ve worked on several books together and some of her skill has rubbed off on me. 

Q: How does writing help you make a difference in the world?

A: Each book I’ve written either directly addresses or circles around the theme of Community. I took for granted the value of community growing up in a small town. Having since lived in London, Chicago, and Indianapolis, I’ve experienced modern urban life and how difficult it is to develop and maintain communities in our transient, alienated, and virtual world. But, we are social creatures who need communal participation to thrive. So, I’ve tried to express what I’ve come to appreciate about community through my writing. I hope the books and articles I’ve written shine a light for others on why we need to work at creating healthy communities and how we can do that joyfully.
Q: You’ve written a lot of books, and I’m curious - how do you feel about today’s publishing industry as an experienced author?

 A: I’m no longer interested in traditional publishing. The industry has changed in a way that the advantages of direct publishing outweigh the advantages of seeking (and possibly finding) a publisher for a “mid-list author”. If I were famous, the scales would probably tip the other way, because I could demand an advance that might outweigh what I enjoy about publishing through the company Alicia and I have created. But control and working at my own pace is more important to me than the potential benefits of working with a traditional publisher.   

Q: What do you do when you are not writing?

A: I practiced law for 30 years and was senior partner in my own firm for the last 12. I was a very involved father in raising our two sons, who are now both out in the world with their own careers. So, I have a lot of freedom to choose how to spend my time. I serve on the boards of 5 nonprofits and am president of the Basa Village Foundation USA. Much of my time is devoted to philanthropic endeavors. My wife and I travel a fair amount and I usually do a trekking or mountaineering expedition in Nepal each year. I regularly engage in recreational activities, which combine physical fitness with enjoyment of the outdoors, like kayaking, swimming, biking, rollerblading, etc.  And, there are a bunch of good TV shows with the explosion of indy networks, a bazillion books yet to read, several magazines I subscribe to. Oh yeah, I teach a course in the honors program at Butler University on philosophy and philanthropy, and lead a weekly discussion class at Indianapolis Friends Meeting. Not to mention regular dining out with friends, playing in three volleyball groups, and sharing a glass of wine with Alicia on the riverbank behind our house. Life is good and full, and I do not miss practicing law.    
Q: What gave you the idea (inspiration) for your latest book?

A: I have been growing in the conviction that belief in religious doctrines and political ideologies is the cause of much of the divisiveness in our world. Believers tend to feel that those who do not share their beliefs are not fully human. The most fanatical believers, e.g., ISIS, want to kill unbelievers. Beliefs in doctrines and ideologies affect the way believers understand reality as well as how they treat other people. You do not see the reality of this world clearly, if you have a utopian view or make decisions based on rules given by an imagined god. The cure for this ill is to choose positive values to be “life guides”.  Beliefs divide us, values unite us is the theme of the book, which is entitled Godless – Living a Valuable Life Beyond Beliefs.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced in writing your non-fiction books?

A: When I was busy raising kids and practicing law, there were times when it was difficult to sustain discipline in writing regularly. I wrote one book and started another before I left the law. Since then, the challenges are the ones typical for most writers. What do I really want to say? Is the message worthy to be read by others? Then, all the craft issues involved with writing, organizing, structuring, and editing to create a finished work worthy of publication.  People in this industry have to know how to create a cover that represents the theme of the book, how to describe the book, which genres/subgenres are most appropriate, and which distributors to use. Finally, how the hell to get anyone to notice it, let alone entice them to buy and read the damn thing. J

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