Today I would like to introduce you a young author and his first published book - Abandoned, for which I recently created the cover.
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Jesse Hyland is a screenwriter, director, book author, and actor. Do I miss something? You are an incredibly talented young man with a strong spirit to conquer both the film and literary scene.
Tell me where and how it all started. What was the first thing you realized you were good at - writing or acting? How old were you then?
That is very kind of you to say.
I would say the first thing I was interested in was definitely writing. I didn’t develop an interest in acting until I was well into University.
My interest in writing started when I was around three or four, maybe. I wrote several short stories on the home computer. My parents would then print out my work and it would be accompanied with these pictures I would put together.
Then, as I grew older, I wrote picture books, poetry, comic books, and a short novella or two. I wrote one novella when I was about eight or nine and was given the opportunity to read it out to my class every week, which was nice, even though it was terrible.
But yes, I would definitely say creative writing has always been in my life since childhood and it’s what I’m wired to do.
You look young to me, but I haven't found your age anywhere on the Internet. Is this a secret? If not, answer me how old you are and how such a young man manages to write a whole book, developing a layered plot and interesting characters. What is the most challenging thing when writing literature?
Haha, I’m not young. I’m 26. I guess it’s kind of young. I will take that as a compliment.
I started writing this book when I was about 19, so it’s been in development for a while. By far the most challenging aspect is keeping yourself motivated throughout the process. Well, that was a challenge for me anyway.
I also found keeping track of continuity and plot inconsistencies sometimes challenging.
Read the EXCERPT on Amazon
And how was the idea for Abandoned born? Tell us about the plot and the characters in it. What genre is the book, and for what audience is it intended?
I know it sounds cliché, but the idea literally popped into my brain: What if a guy was left in the middle of the outback to survive for some reason? Then I went from there. I knew I wanted to make it a crime/thriller story, as that was where my interests lie – the crime and thriller genres. There’s been a big presence now of outback crime noir, which Abandoned fits in with perfectly. It might appear I’m riding the coattails of that genre, but, to be honest, I started writing this book before that sub-genre took off.
So, the plot follows Samuel Levi, who is a small-time criminal that is left to die in the outback after a botched drug deal that he organised. He makes his way back to town and begins a journey of survival and introspection. He reflects back on his past and the steps that brought him to where he is now.
Eventually he does make it back to town, where everything begins to go haywire – that’s the simplest way I can explain it.
The book is a neo-western crime thriller. It encompasses modern western elements with crime and thriller themes and tropes. I’d say it’s definitely for an adult audience, but I guess you could say men would get a little more out of it, as it delves deep into male relationships and masculinity.
Sounds intriguing. It has already won me over as a reader.
Will there be a sequel to your book?
No plans for a sequel, no. I’m not a huge fan of sequels if I’m going to be honest.
I have a vague idea of what happens after the events of the story in the book, but I don’t think I’m going to write it…not for now anyway.
I saw in one of your videos that you are fond of Sci-fi Horror. Have you thought about writing a book in this genre?
Yes! I love science fiction, especially science fiction-horror, which is another niche sub-genre I’m obsessed with. Alien is one of my all time favourite films.
I would love to write a sci-fi novel. I actually have a brilliant idea for one, but, unfortunately, the idea is extremely complex, and it would take a lot of research and time that I just don’t have at the moment. The story would delve into the spiritual and philosophical. That’s where I’m going to leave it at.
Hopefully one day I can write it though.
Do your acting skills help you when you write? What are the qualities that a young writer must possess to intrigue readers and audiences?
Acting has helped me write scripts a little, especially when it comes to scripting dialogue. I’m a dialogue fiend and I love it when characters have a conversation, but I know that it’s not always the best idea for a film.
I think writing something you’re passionate about, something you know, something you’ve experienced first hand, something you’re interested to delve into. If you have an intense interest in something why wouldn’t someone else?
You graduated in journalism and media arts production. And although Abandoned is your first novel to hit the market, you've been writing for a long time. You wrote the script for two films in which you also participate - Survivors (2013) and The Number's Claim (2017), in which you are also a director. Tell us about the differences and similarities in writing a screenplay for a film and a book for readers. What are the difficulties in writing a script? What entertains you more?
Well Survivors was a little project for University I did when I was 18, and there was no real script, so I think we can skip that one.
The Number’s Claim is the first proper script I ever wrote. The script format was easily the most difficult part. I started writing The Number’s Claim in early 2016, and by this time I had already spent years writing Abandoned, so that’s why it took a little bit of time to get used to.
What I found, and what people said when they read my scripts, was that I wrote long, descriptive sentences with lengthy monologues – which is very much like a novelist. I was often asked to turn down the novelist part of me.
I would say writing novels is easier and more enjoyable for me personally, but I love writing both.
Tell me about filmmaking. Is it difficult to make a movie nowadays? Is it easy to find funding for such a project? What are the pros and cons that the average viewer cannot know about this profession?
It’s very difficult, especially in Australia where the industry is tiny. What I found is this industry is so small you usually know someone who knows someone famous or you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who is famous.
Making movies is long, arduous, time consuming and expensive, and I feel you really need to have a strong love and devotion to cinema to have the patience for the process and create good films. It’s definitely not easy.
I think they biggest takeaway for a viewer is seeing a five second scene play out and knowing in your head that scene could have taken hours to shoot and edit. So much effort can be put into a small scene and it will go by on screen in a second.
Jesse, please tell us what it's like to be an actor, and do you dream of playing a specific role in your future? Maybe some character from your favorite book?
It’s fun and enjoyable. I still consider myself a writer first and foremost, but I do love getting stuck into roles and performing on screen. Unfortunately, it’s something I don’t have a lot of spare time to devote to because of my work schedule and I’ve sometimes had to turn down gigs because of work priorities.
I see acting as a fun extra-curricular activity. I never really intended for it to become my main thing.
I don’t have a specific role in mind, but I do love playing the bad guy. I think most actors do to be honest. Out of all my film roles though I’ve only played the villain once.
I would love to play a character from one of the thriller novels I love, but I’d have to really get stuck into my Americanisms as American literature is what I mostly read.
You are currently working as a news producer at "Sky News". Which aspect of this profession enriches you the most as a person?
Damn, that’s a difficult question. I guess I’d say writing and putting together news stories and seeing them read out on television by presenters is quite enriching.
Who are the people who support you the most in your interests and career development? Who are the personalities who inspire you to follow this path and develop as a writer, screenwriter, actor, and director?
Friends and family are supportive, but most of the time I keep my projects to myself and they really don’t find out much until I’m already working on something – whether that’s a film, project etc.
I would say there’s a couple of individuals in the film industry that have helped me a lot as well.
I have a few personalities that inspire me, but they’re mostly novelists. I really like Cormac McCarthy, Nic Pizzolatto (who transitioned from novelist to screenwriting), Dennis Lehane, Michael Crichton and a smattering of others.
And now a difficult question. Your life looks exciting and diverse, unlike the average person. But if you had to choose only one field of development, what would you focus on? Without which, you could not live. Do you feel any of these creative activities as your vocation?