It’s a Saturday afternoon in April, 2012, when Jason Alan is invited to accompany a friend to an Irish Pub located on the water in Fort Myers, Florida. Yup, not exactly a typical locale for such a place, you might say.
“Why must I go?” a dubious Jason Alan asks.
“Just come!” says Dani, his eager friend. “There’s a fantasy writer there.”
“Wha-? At an Irish Pub in Fort Myers?”
Dani rolls her eyes expectantly (she could never get him to do anything without some rationale and a detailed explanation), and through a sigh she utters, “He’s from Cape Coral. He’s doing a book signing. Come with me!”
Red alert, red alert!
Jason knew there was something wrong.
A fantasy author from Cape Coral? To most of the world, Cape Coral is even more obscure than Fort Myers (even though Cape is, by landmass, one of the largest cities in the entire U.S). You see, there’s something very “un” fantasy about Southwest Florida. Oh, there’s plenty of fans here. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones have no territorial bounds in their adoration. It’s just that, well, it’s really hot, and there’s palm trees and coconuts and country music – nothing wrong with that, just hardly a setting for anyone to spend their precious time chained to a desk mashing the keyboard intent on scribing tales of dragons and sorcerers. With the humidity and all, it’s a lot easier to just watch movies or read about that kinda stuff than put any effort into actually creating it.
Anyway, Dani leads Jason inside the pub. It isn’t very tropical. Jason smiles. It most definitely is an Irish pub. There’s oak wood floors and shelves lined with all sorts of dark ales. It’s a bit dim with plenty of dust. Cool. Good atmosphere, like a mead hall. And there, in the back of the room, a guy is sitting behind a table piled with books. He isn’t Beowulf, but the guy is signing these books, and that in itself is pretty cool. The guy isn’t too far from Jason’s age, it appears…well, all right, a little bit younger, perhaps. After the guy finishes chatting with a couple other people, Jason and his friend stroll up to the table and greet him.
The opening conversation is pleasant enough, somewhat typical of a meeting of this ilk, but bear with me, things gets a tad more interesting as we go…
“Hi,” Alan says, “how’s it goin’, man?”
“Good, and you,” says the amicable fellow as he rises from his chair to shake Jason’s hand.
“Good, good. What do we have going on here? You’re a fantasy author?”
Jason Alan notices there’s more than one book on the table. There are three. Three big, fat, glossy fantasy books. Nice. “What are they called?”
“The first one is Of Spiders and Falcons. Book two is Of Dragons and Crowns, and the third one I just released is Of Ghosts and Mountains.”
“Cool, cool titles.” Alan nods in approval. Ah, nice, fresh new fantasy novels. Nothing better. He wonders what the pages smell like, but thankfully keeps the desire to share that urge under wraps. His eyes are drawn to the meticulous artwork on the covers. Hey, look at that! The name on the covers is Jason R. Jones. “Ah, another Jason! I’m Jason Alan. Good people, we Jasons.”
Jason R. Jones smiles, concurs, “Yes, indeed.”
“You know,” Dani pipes up, “he’s an author, too!” She motions to Alan and gives him a little elbow to the side. All right, more than a little elbow.
“Ah, uh, well, that’s all right,” says Alan to Jones (though he’s eyeing Dani a tad disconcertingly). “I’m here to meet you, check out your work. That’s great, your third book, wow. That’s an accomplishment.”
So the conversation went on with first Jason, Jason Alan, trying to stay on the topic of other Jason’s books. But Dani is a pretty straight forward girl, and makes damn sure that Jones is aware that Alan has his own manuscript he’s looking to publish. Jones is intrigued, and after signing a couple copies of his books for Alan and his friend, offers to read it.
“Really?” Jason Alan is surprised.
“Sure. Come on by after work next week, it’ll be slow, we can hang out here.”
Jason Alan and Dani leave, with Alan fairly excited and nervous over the prospect of another human being outside his family actually reading his manuscript. Writers spend so much time in what can be an absolutely tortuous solitude, they sometimes forget that there might be others who will actually read what they wrote. Hard to believe, I know.
Fast forward a few days later. Jason Alan shows up at the mystical Irish pub, now the center of fantasy in all the universe, and sits at the bar.
Jason R. Jones, who turns out to be the outsourced manager of rebuilding the fledgling establishment, greets Alan from behind the counter. He’s friendly enough, but has a mildly peculiar look in his eye as Alan has shown up with something that resembles a dilapidated yellow shoebox.
“Here ya go,” says Jason Alan, a big stupid grin on his face as he pushes the box toward Jones.
“This is..?” Jones looks at Alan in the way Spock would look at Kirk after the captain suggests they do something illogical.
“It’s my manuscript.” Jason Alan is still all smiles.
“Really?” Jones is both bewildered and amused. This Alan character is something, Gods help me.
Alan, not completely clueless to Jones’ trepidation, says, “Well, it’s printed out. 8 ½ by 11. What else am I gonna do? It’s the only way I could give it to ya.” The two hadn’t really discussed sharing any electronic files.
Jason R. Jones opens the box and immediately laughs out loud.
“What?” Alan chortles.
“You signed it?!” Jones ponders calling the authorities at this point.
“Sure.” Alan laughs. Isn’t that what authors do?
Jason Alan has given Jason R. Jones a jumbled pile of paper that’s so disheveled it’s straining against the already worn creases of the box, with the title page signed as if it’s the inside cover of a bestseller. But there, too, is typed the title, Phate: The Cosmic Fairytale.
Jones lifts his brow. “Phate…Cosmic Fairytale…interesting.” O.k., maybe there’s something of worth here.
“Yeah, it’ll be cool to see what you think. It’s fantasy but with some stuff from space – galactic warriors and necromancers and just a whole bunch of craziness crammed into the manuscript.”
“I’ll definitely read it.” Jones was hoping that would be the end of this strange encounter with yellow shoebox and the other Jason.
“I really appreciate that. Pretty wild, huh? Two fantasy authors from Cape Coral, both named Jason.”
“Yeah,” Jason Jones agrees, yet his mind is running. Never offer to read a strangers’ manuscript, never invite them to your place of work, what were you thinking Jones…?
It is a pretty nifty coincidence, eh? Well, that’s just the first. The coincidences are soon to get uncanny…
After some conversation, the Jasons learn a bit about one another. They share some common ground on their love for fantasy and science fiction. Both are avid fans of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, and film. In fact, while Jason Alan grew up on Long Island, New York, Jones practically lived a stone’s throw away from TSR’s main offices in Lake Geneva. Alan plays guitar. Jones played guitar, and the two also have similar musical tastes. Both love old school heavy metal, and they both love writing to epic movie scores: Conan the Barbarian, the 13th Warrior, Braveheart, The Lord of the Rings, just to name a few.
But where things start getting really bizarre is when Jones mentions his writing discipline early in the morning coming from the fact he is a Marine and he’s a Virgo, being born in September.
Alan would later swear that he had a funny feeling about that admission, and he promptly asks, “Exactly what day is your birthday?”
Now Jason Alan is the one making an odd look. Without saying a word, he takes out his wallet, reaches in, and slides his driver’s license to Jones.
Jones takes it and looks at it. His face goes sort of white. He says, “Are you kidding me?”
Jason Alan was also born on September 2nd.
The two get a kick out of that. And then, not a few minutes later, when talking more about their backgrounds and families, Jones idly mentions that his mother’s birthday happens to be exactly two weeks before his.
“Woah,” says Alan. “August 19th?”
“Yeah,” says Jones.
“Dude, that’s my mother’s birthday!”
Now things just got real. Though Alan seems to be a mild mannered fellow, and Jones is an ex marine trained in swordsmanship, Jones sincerely considers the possibility that Alan has been sent through time and space to destroy him. The coincidences are just too much.
“Are you here to kill me?” says Jason Jones, kinda seriously. “Is this a bad t.v. movie? Same name, same birthday, our mothers share a birthday, we both write fantasy, and we live 5 minutes away from each other.”
Jones also points out that September 2nd is the day J.R.R. Tolkien passed away, one of the reasons he writes fantasy – that whole morbid celestial on-this-day thing.
Cue the creepy music…
Alan laughs, shrugs. “I…I don’t even know what to say! This is something! Ha!”
Sometimes fate is a funny thing.
So the two Jasons would go on to read each other’s work. They were both entertained and impressed. It is apparent that their ties go beyond just all the unbelievable, coincidental circumstances of their lives, but extend into their imaginations. The two get each other when concerning their writing. So much so, in fact, that Jones eventually suggests that they write something together. He suggests they bring along another author friend of his for the ride. The trio begin what will be entitled, Whisper Shall the Midnight Moon, a fantasy/horror story consisting of three parts. It becomes immediately apparent that the two Jasons are totally locked in on each other’s writing, and they trade off pages as if they’re sparring with words. That’s precisely what they were doing, actually. The third author, while quite competent, and already traditionally published (the Jasons were both self-published at the time), just isn’t on the same…page.
There’s magic at work here.
The Jasons know it.
They realize they should pair for an epic fantasy. It’s a daunting task; it’s difficult enough to create one’s own universe as it is. But to do it with another author, and keep track of every miniscule detail of an intricate plot and huge world? Hmm… They know they must try, though, the universe has ordained it, and one hot Sunday afternoon they gather in Jason R. Jones’ garage to do just that. It’s a rousing success. In a rapid fire session of bouncing ideas off of each other, it takes them just three hours to conceive an entirely original, unique world, filled with history, newly conceptualized races that go beyond the typical elves and dwarves, and a setting that has never before been scribed. This epic tale, whose first volume is nearly complete, is called Mythnomor.
It is an afternoon Alan will never forget, as he had never before met anyone with an imagination that worked on a similar level to his own…
The stars further aligned when John Di Bartolo, childhood friend of Jason Alan and founder of Legendarium Media, who is aware of his writing, suggests that he submit Phate: The Cosmic Fairytale to Oloris Publishing, who happened to be looking for fresh new voices in the fantasy genre. John has some affiliation with Oloris, and thought it’d be a good fit. He was right. Oloris was immediately excited by Alan’s unique and bold manuscript. Subsequently, Alan blabbered all about his friend Jones and, tada, here we are now, with Oloris Publishing on the cusp of releasing the first of eighteen books of Jason R. Jones’ massive series, The Last Pantheon, Book One, Of Spiders and Falcons, and Jason Alan’s first volume of a proposed five, Phate: The Cosmic Fairytale.
It begins October 9th, with Jones’ release.
The two men have something very unique and exciting to offer and, together, with Mythnomor looming on the horizon, they’re determined on nothing less than ushering in a new era of epic storytelling. A lifetime of passion for the fantasy genre has armed these two with big ideas that take their literary influences to a whole new level.
So strap yourselves in. There’s a stampede of fantasy coming. It’s big and bold, with the imaginations of two guys who are convinced their meeting was nothing less than a divine act of fate.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re reading this article on or around the day it was printed, September 2nd, you might want to stop in and say Happy Birthday to Jason Alan and Jason R Jones….and tip one back for Professor Tolkien as well.