The Practice of Creativity

A Dream that Shapes a Novel: Interview with Author Jason Mott

Posted on: May 5, 2014

Jason Mott is a poet, speculative fiction writer, and is on his way to becoming a household name. He is the author of two poetry collections: We Call This Thing Between Us Love and “…hide behind me…”  His first novel, The Returned will be published internationally in over 13 languages and is currently a New York Times Bestseller.

Here’s a brief snippet about the book:

Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

Cool, huh? And no, the plot doesn’t involve zombies or aliens.

Recently, you might have seen Jason’s work on television. The Returned was optioned, last year, by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC.  ABC has begun airing episodes adapted from the novel under the title “Resurrection.” And, from what I’ve heard the show has already garnered some serious fans. And, we are all waiting with baited breath for Jason’s next novel!

I’m delighted to welcome Jason Mott to ‘The Practice of Creativity’.


Tell us about your recent novel, The Returned. What inspired it?

The Returned grew out of a dream I had about my mother. Both of my parents have passed away, and I had a dream in the summer of 2010 that I came home from work to find my mother sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me. I came in and sat with her and, for what felt like hours, the two of us simply talked about all of the things that had happened in the nine years since her death. I talked about all of the new friends I’d met, trying to be a writer, etc. It was a very warm and cathartic dream in which, for the first time in nearly a decade, I was back with my mother again.

I awoke the next morning fully expecting to find my mother sitting at the kitchen table. Of course, she wasn’t. That dream stayed with me for weeks and, while telling a friend about it over lunch, he said: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if that really happened? And what if it wasn’t just her?” And that’s where The Returned started.

What’s been the most surprising aspect of being a published novelist?

I think it’s the wonderful experiences I’ve had with readers. From the time the book launched, I began getting emails from readers who told me stories about the people they’d lost and how reading The Returned helped them deal with that loss or, simply, helped them stop and remember someone they loved. That’s more than I ever hoped for and I’m deeply grateful to and appreciative of everyone who takes time to read my work.

Poetry is one of your loves. What keeps you coming back to the form of poetry for self-expression?

At the end of the day, I’m a fan of writing in all forms, mediums and genres. The stories I first fell in love with as a reader were epic poems, so perhaps that’s what keeps bringing me back to poetry. But I also feel that each type of writing informs the others. I learn about poetry by writing fiction, I learn about fiction by writing poetry, and on and on. I feel that too many writers limit their creative development by only writing in one medium.


What do you say to yourself on days when the writing feels especially difficult?

“If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.” That may sound like an oversimplification, but it’s also very true. Writing is incredibly tough. I think most people underestimate how tough. And there will be many, many bad days. But when those days come, some people quit, but writers keep writing. I always wanted to be a writer, so I learned to make myself keep going on those days. And I like to think that’s helped me a lot.

What three living writers would you want at a dinner party you were hosting? And why?

Tough question. I’d probably go with Neil Gaiman, J. Michael Straczynski, and John Irving. They’re three writers living writers that I’ve deeply admired not only for the quality of their writing, but for the doggedness of their work ethics. They’re writers who are always working, and that’s what I hope to become.

What’s your best writing tip that you’d like to share?

Less talk about writing, more writing. Which is really just my way of saying “keep writing.” Haha.


Jason Mott lives in Bolton, North Carolina. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various journals such as Prick of the Spindle, The Thomas Wolfe Review, The Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, Measure and Chautauqua.  He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize award.

His inspirations often come from mythology, folklore, exploration of the sonnet form and, most often, comic books. His first book of poems We Call This Thing Between Us Love was a finalist in the 2009 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Contest and was published in December 2009.

Find out more about Jason at

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Michele Tracy Berger

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