Some Thoughts with ... Jonathan Weiss

25 Mar 2024

The Author/s

Jonathan Weiss

Jonathan Weiss

Jonathan Weiss is an Australian Fantasy & Science Fiction author of The Flux Catastrophe and The First Hytharo series. Ever since being a small boy he hunted for the best way to tell stories, dabbling in stop motion before eventually finding a passion for writing as a teenager. More than a decade later he’d gathered a bachelor’s degree of Journalism and a career in commercial cloud sales, yet they were never as satisfying as writing.

With the support of his artist wife and a trio of pet budgies, he’s now dedicated himself to a full-time career as an author. When not writing, Jonathan can be found reading, working through the never-ending queue of un-painted Warhammer 40,000 models and attempting to fit far too much food on his tiny barbeque.

The Interview

1.- Could you introduce yourself for Jamreads’ readers?
Of course! My name is Jonathan Weiss and I’m an Australian Science-Fantasy author that REALLY likes deserts! From my books you can expect plenty of action and a pace that never drops, because as a reader I’m pretty impatient with novels that beat around the proverbial bush.

2.- When did you start writing? What made you decide to try full time writing?
I started writing more than a decade ago when I was in highschool. I always wanted to do something creative and had previously been trying to make my own little stop motion animations, but found that too time consuming and limiting for the ideas I had. I wanted action and gunfights, and it turns out that’s really hard to do with a few handfuls of plasticine.
I’ve always enjoyed writing because I could control every aspect of the story and work without limitations. Writing was always my primary hobby and if I went too long without doing it, I could almost feel my soul draining out of my body. It’s always been really important to who I am, so when I had a chance to take a break from my career in cloud tech sales, I took it and jumped into self-publishing.

3.- Why did you choose self-publishing?
It’s a bit like I said before (and like the theme of Molten Flux), I chose self-publishing because I wanted control. Control of every aspect of the process from the cover design to the editing to just how many sequels I’d get to write.
Traditional publishing is a heck of a gauntlet that I’d previously attempted, but even after looking at how many hoops there were to jump through, I still didn’t like the look of what being traditionally published entailed. I had (and still have!) big ambitions about the series that I’m writing, but its continuation would’ve been at the mercy of how well the last book sold. Not well enough, and the publisher might not bother with the next one. (There’s been plenty of horror stories that I’ve heard…)
I’ll probably touch on it in another answer, but I also liked the idea of being able to write and release at my own pace. Traditionally published books have crazy, 2+ year lead times, but I get to put them out much faster than that. When I started self-publishing, I already had Molten Flux and The Hytharo Redux just about ready to release, so it seemed silly to sit on them for so much longer.

4.- Could you tell us more about the idea that kickstarted The Flux Catastrophe series? How it changed from the start to its final form?
The Flux Catastrophe started as a standalone distraction project to give myself a break from The First Hytharo project (my other series). I wanted to lean more into the scrap metal antics of The Droughtlands, and what better way than a walking fortress of magnetically enchanted metal? And so the walking fortress of Revance was conjured into being, along with the rifle-toting mercenary company riding aboard it.
The whole point was to get them into as many bloody and teeth-rattling scraps as I could, and the story that bloomed with it was mostly accidental. In the first few drafts, molten flux wasn’t even a thing!

5.- The Droughtlands is your big universe; how did this idea appear? Which plans do you have for it in the future?
WELL. The long answer requires about 14 novels over four series and who knows how many extra novellas that I’ll be able to manage along the way, so I’ll give you the shorter one.
All authors have a first book that they write that must never see the light of day. It’s a natural law of the universe. The thing that differs one author from another is how long it takes for them to realise that this “first book” is the one that should be buried in a deep dark hole. Or in my case, under a whole load of sand.
Jokes aside, I was having a bit of a sulk after putting away a project that didn’t have a snowball’s chance of working when I was suddenly overcome with a sudden desire to write in a desert setting, but still have some magic and some sci-fi stuff from the last world I was working on. Turns out just dumping a whole bunch of sand on something is a great way to both counteract coastal erosion AND write a fantasy world with an underlying allusion to the poem Ozymandias!
What was left was a barren, ancient, apocalyptic wasteland which was dotted with the buried skyscrapers of an extinct civilisation, left to by found by those who don’t stand a chance of understanding the magic or technology they find down there.

6.- Would you say that being Aussie-based can be part of what makes dessert so prominent in your fantasy?
Most definitely. If you go out into the middle of the country you just find vast stretches of burning sand with these gorgeous red and orange hues. I’ve always been captivated by them so you an expect a lot of that imagery in my work.
This is also the country that produced the Mad Max franchise, so I won’t blame you for making any comparisons to that, either.

7.- Could you tell us a bit about your covers?
The covers are the stunning work of if you want to look him up on instagram. (You should, he’s got some great stuff in his own apocalyptic worldbuilding project.)
We all know books get judged by covers so I wanted to have mine be contained within covers that were really visually distinct from the rest. As you can see, those warm and even searing hot oranges and reds play a key role here, with the subject of the composition often not being a character, but an element of the world.
I prefer this because I think that the world is a character in itself. For Molten Flux, the walking fortress of Revance is the primary subject, its massive, striding construction being the thing that draws readers in. Its wreckage on the cover of Blazing Flux elicits the next question of “what the hell happened in the first book!?” (Which I don’t think is much a spoiler to say or show, because I LOVE destroying things in these books.)
Eventually, I’d love to do a kickstarter with the complete series (Flux #3 hopefully by end of year if I’m quick enough) with metallic foil titles, hardbacks, and all that jazz. If I can make it happen, I’d even have a one-off kickstarter tier of a METAL-back version of the series, though I need to find someone good at blacksmithing for that!

8.- Where would you recommend the readers to start reading your universe?
I would start with my novella Rising Flux for a few reasons. First, you can get the e-book for free, by signing up to my mailing list! Second, you’re then signed up to my mailing list where I can ply you with other goodies, and third, it’s a ripping good read all around.
Jokes aside, I did write it purely with the intention of being the appetiser for The Droughtlands. It follows the crew of an academic expedition into one of the sets of ancient and mysterious ruins that dot The Droughtlands. Only problem is that their leader’s already been here, having helmed a failed expedition to this place that he was the sole survivor of.
As all the secrets unravel and the true fate of that first expedition is revealed, you’ll get a full tour of the strange and twisted relics of incompressible magic and hyper-advanced technology that you might see in The Droughtlands.
From there, you can continue straight into Molten Flux, the first book of The Flux Catastrophe, to see what disastrous impacts have come from the expedition’s discovery.
After that, things start to get a little weird. I’m currently writing and releasing books between two series, with each one dropping hints and clues towards the events of the other. This is why you’d then go on to read The Hytharo Redux BEFORE reading book 2 of The Flux Catastrophe, Blazing Flux. You can see more of this larger plan on the roadmap page of my website.

9.- How do you manage to be so prolific as an author?
I just REALLY love writing. Big fan of it. Hope I can do it forever really!
In all seriousness, I’ve set myself a VERY accelerated timeline for writing and publishing these books, with the goal of having a release every four or five months. When one book is with the editor, or proof readers, or ARC readers, another book is being written. It makes it tough to keep things straight in my head at times because there’s period’s where I’ll be writing or adjusting three different stories at once!
By alternating between series in the weird way I’m doing, each book gets more time to stew and cook, letting them come out as deeper and better-planned stories than if I was just sticking to the one series.
Habit-wise, in writing mode I usually try to hit at least 3k words a day, but this usually sucks up a lot of brain power which is why I don’t post on my socials for gaps. The less you hear from me, the more I’m writing, basically!

10.- What does Jonathan Weiss like to do in his free time?
I’m big into Warhammer 40k miniatures and wargaming. It’s a great hobby that involves plenty of solitary time while building or painting the models, and can then be really social with games or tournaments that last the entire weekend.
Also really into bouldering and rock climbing, which is something that gets applied a bit with The Flux Catastrophe series. There’s a bit of climbing in it to start with, but I had to cut out pretty much an entire chapter of super technical climbing from the second book because it didn’t do anything for the plot. Hope to release it as a deleted scene some day.

11.- What can we expect from Jonathan Weiss in the future?
More books! Like I said before, check out my website to see a roadmap of what I’ve got in store!
Coming up this year is the release of Blazing Flux, which is set of April 2nd, which will be followed by book number #2 in The First Hytharo series (I’ve already got the cover and it looks GREAT!) and then hopefully by the end of the year, the third and final book for The Flux Catastrophe.
In the meantime, you can expect plenty of action between myself and the other #thebreakins authors, because we’re cooking up some pretty awesome collaborative efforts I’m not at liberty to disclose.