Jonz V. Stoneroad, author of “Dangerous Tango,” a Work-in-Progress

What is your book about?
Dangerous Tango is a psychological thriller set in present-day Honolulu, Hawaii where a young college student named Alexandros Kristopheris commits suicide and his death causes a series of repercussions for his family and friends, namely his best friend protagonist Chad Avalon. Chad is unable to deal with the loss of his friend so he recruits his friend emotional character JZ Silva to find out the “real reason” behind Alexandros’s death which results in a trove of secrets, lies, deception, and truth that challenges his own mental stability. Dangerous Tango and the characters of Chad Avalon and JZ Silva are the beginning of a series of novels that are currently in progress. At present, Dangerous Tango is still a work in progress.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
The concept of Dangerous Tango has been floating around for more years than I can count but it wasn’t until I took two literature courses this past spring that this became my dream to write and to spend as much time to make this a realization.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
I can identify the most with the emotional character of JZ Silva who seems conflicted of his own feelings about the troubled Chad Avalon and his pursuit of “finding the truth” in regards to Alexandros’s death.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Chad Avalon and JZ Silva are my two favorites. I enjoy Chad because he seems to represent the innocence in all of us who feels a sense of loss of control when his world is changed by the suicide of his best friend. He is filled with deep centered emotional attachment to JZ and a few other characters to make him more human and endearing. This adds into the Man against Himself emotional challenge in that he may be his own antagonist. As for JZ, he is the much older and wiser friend who is able to dispense advice and guidance but later finds his own emotional feelings in question when he sees the downward spiral that Chad begins to embark.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?
The most likeable character may be JZ Silva because like the protagonist he too is multi-faceted. On the surface, he appears to be more intelligent and articulate but deep down inside he still has his street smarts and a “tell it like it is” attitude which makes him more human and easily to identify. His own sense-of-humour also blends into the dramatic episodes brought on by Chad.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
As any writer can tell you, a lot of their “original work” often changes whether it be a character, a plot line, or a genre altogether. In this case, I created an outline and it was the outline that changed from the first chapter to the final chapter and therefore, everything is completed before it is time to write the story.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (Searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)
The only researching I did was based on the storyline such as the historical, philosophical, scientific, mathematical, and psychological references; the ingredients and history of certain items. Everything I researched is saved into files that can be used at a later date or in future work.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
For me, this is a lot easier than I thought it would be. I imagine what the characters would be like and then write their dialogue, personality, and the way they would react in a situation based on who they are. Chad is more street-smart and young, so he would be behave more naively and yet be able to sustain himself in a crisis or situation as opposed to someone who was sheltered or privileged in life.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
Interestingly enough, I always play music and let the flow of the music and not so much the lyrics motivate me to stay in touch with my story. There are times, a song will have a certain beat that seems to rhyme with the tone of the story and ouila, an idea is born.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
I feel that I am done writing the story when I can feel an emotional catharsis at the end of my writing and know that all of my questions have been completely answered; characters have experienced a change, and most of all, feel that this journey from Point A and Point B was worth the three Act arch.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
Dangerous Tango is the kind of story that a reader can take away that unconditional love and acceptance comes in all shapes and forms. The ages, lifestyles, backgrounds of each other characters do not matter as they loyalties they share with the main character and his personal challenges. The main and major characters grow together as one.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
The greatest challenge in Dangerous Tango is the birth and rise of Chad Avalon., Chad had developed from a minor character and throughout the planning stages; his role became more developed and eventually the most prominent until he literally “woke me up” in a dream to tell me that he needs to be the protagonist. I remember hearing his voice telling me to wake up and change him from the emotional character to the main character and in his own words: “NOW!”

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
The most difficult part of writing Dangerous Tango was the emotional relationship between Chad Avalon and JZ Silva and the direction they were heading. Of course, in the traditional sense, this would be the classical suspense thriller but with a twist as both Chad and JZ are male characters.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?
Yes, it has dramatically. I say this because I begin to see things in my own life a lot differently than before. The places and locations I used as settings in my story suddenly began to emerge in my real life as if they were movie sets in a film production studio. My first realization of this began one night when I looked at a condo that was my template to where Alexandros died and that particular night, it seemed to appear the most dominate in the skyline and seemed to take prominence at that exact moment. Another time began when I started to see the food places also take on a stronger presence and could imagine seeing my characters frequent there and creating “scenes” inside.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?
I no longer am bored in my life and I am more aware of the people, events, situations, and locations around me as some may appear to be future material. When one goes to places like Hollywood or New York City, the landmarks often seem like movie sets that you recognize and these locations in Honolulu, Hawaii seem to be same significance as I would see on Hawaii-Five 0.

How has your background influenced your writing?
I am currently in college studying English and this is greatly been an influence in the main setting (a local college university) and that many of the characters are students or part of the faculty and staff.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
I try to complete one chapter per day if possible or at least half a chapter then I am less pressured to keep a constant word count.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?
This happens not before writing but as I am writing. If I am writing a scene where a particular brand of cologne is described then I will spray some in the air for the full effect of “falling” into the scene. The same goes for food, beverages, or even music.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?
I write when I have the time to write whether it is in the morning, my lunch break or at night before bed. I am more concerned at writing and not when I write.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?
Coffee works wonders! But I have been known to stop my writing and head out for Greek food or Indian curry and then get into my writing.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?
I am not necessarily trying to reach a particular type of reader as this is my first novel. Writers often find their best audiences after their first work and then can decide to continue or take on a challenge of targeting a different type of reader.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?
The most difficult part of the whole writing process is not having enough hours of the day and how this greatly affects your time to write as well as the care you give as you often at times seem to have to hurry writing to get it done.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?
For me, it is the dialogue. I really enjoy writing dialogue and after feedback from friends and other established writers; they often praise that my dialogue is my strongest quality.

Does writing come easy for you?
To be honest, writing is something I feel the most confident about in my life.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
How magic is created when I write.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?
Honestly, my characters that I am planning on killing off were almost created for that particular reason. There are several characters in Dangerous Tango whom were designed for the evitable fate in future novels one of which will be a serial killer. To kill off a character that a reader has invested in emotionally will create a more intense impact than some minor character.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
At this time, everything for future stories is on a mental list and will be developed into a print format when the time presents itself. My mind is constantly thinking and regurgitating ideas so to write down something now will soon change thus I wait for the time to create when I can add these ideas.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?
The one book that I wish I could written myself would be, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass: And What She Found There.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?
The most essential qualities of a good story are character development or having a strong protagonist. Too many stories out there, such as Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders Moll Flanders remains the same throughout the story and fails to change whether it be for the better or worse. She should at least feel a change in her life and that fails in this story. As for a strong protagonist, one character comes to mind and that is Alice of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, where Alice takes a back seat to the strong supporting characters like the Cheshire cat, the Evil Queen and the White Rabbit.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
This is a very hard one but to all of my writer friends is to write and “get into the story” as if it were happening in real time. As I am doing this, I can achieve a better feel for what is happening in the story.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Do not use judgment when you first write. Just write first; then edit and evaluate later. Also, don’t fight against the flow the story or characters will take. The characters WILL eventually lead the story and guide the writer where to go. Don’t fight it when this happens or else you will go in circles and thus become very tired and suffer from writing fatigue.

Where can people learn more about your book?
Right now, Dangerous Tango is a work in progress but in time when it is in the publishing stages, I will have an answer to this question.

2 Responses to “Jonz V. Stoneroad, author of “Dangerous Tango,” a Work-in-Progress”

  1. Keith Says:

    Great interview, Jonz. Interesting that spray a character’s cologne in the air to place yourself. And I’m hoping for your sake you don’t have a character who gets sprayed by a skunk. *smile* Enjoyed your answers.

  2. Jonz Victor Stoneroad Says:

    Thanks Keith. In acting they call it method acting; in my case, it’s method writing. Thanks for the comment.

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