Featured Author: Mason S. Haynie
Q: In three words, describe yourself.
A: That’s too hard.
Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?
A: So far, just one! It’s going to be self-published very soon.
Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.
A: Ecclesia’s Table! It’s a dystopian folktale about power structures and group dynamics. It’s available everywhere on June 29th, 2021.
Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?
A: Honestly, titling the book was one of the most cumbersome parts of the process. Ecclesia’s Table was initially titled The Table since that is the central image/metaphor of the story, but that’s obviously a very generic, uninformative name for a book. I didn’t change it to Ecclesia’s Table until finishing my final draft as I started thinking more about how a title tells the reader what the story is like. Including the name of the central location hopefully helps clue audiences in on the genre (and allows for consistency with potential sequels...).
Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?
A: I think Duman would have to be the most interesting as of now. He’s a cheery, outgoing guy who hasn’t really had to struggle for anything in life (which is very unique in the world of Ecclesia’s Table). He’s often put in public-facing positions because of his presented disposition, but there’s a silent complacency brewing within him. Being told and assumed who you are on the inside because of how you act on the outside can do peculiar things to your soul.
Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?
A: I appreciate this question because boiling Ecclesia’s Table down to a single genre was just as difficult as giving it a title! I think “speculative parable” might do because I like to think that I’m creating and analyzing a different world in order to understand ours better. When going through the plot and arcs, I always referred back to a single question that the book is trying to ask and hopefully answer. Each character represents different aspects of that question and possible answers as well.
Q: Without quoting your back cover blurb, tell me about the last book you published.
A: Ecclesia’s Table is about three young adult friends who live in a desert world. That’s all they’ve known for their whole lives, but when rumor arises of a utopia far away, they decide to go for it. Much happens to them along their journey, but the book starts with their arrival at the city: Ecclesia. They quickly learn that in order to become citizens of this paradise, they must follow certain rules and face certain trials. Their relationships are tested, as is the very foundation of Ecclesia.
Q: Quote your favorite line from one of your stories. Indicate the line, and then the book title.
A: “And, he realized, to beg pardon was to squander the grace of the moment.” – Ecclesia’s Table, Chapter 9
Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.
A: Much of my life revolves around music. I play violin in a Southern rock/folk band (Caleb Henry & The Customs), I write my own songs, produce, and I even write album reviews for an online music publication (Jesusfreakhideout.com). Sorry to bring it back to writing.
Q: Who are your top THREE favorite authors?
A: Cormac McCarthy, Stephen Chbosky, Arthur C. Clarke
Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)
A: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. First book to make me sob.
Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?
A: Every chapter is plotted out ahead of time, but the individual sentences and details are usually just a result of whatever happens when I sit down to draft.
Q: Why do you write?
A: On a larger, metaphysical level, it’s something I always knew I would do. My grandfather wrote a book, my dad wrote one, and I’ve always been naturally comfortable with writing. It’s something that’s been passed down in a way, but I wanted to wait until I had the right concept. At a more personal level, it really is all about self-expression. I started blogging in order to get out my more contentious viewpoints on religious matters because there was no other medium in which I could do so. As I’ve become more of a creative, I’ve come to believe that it is the duty of the artist to either make the world a better place or figure out an authentic way of expressing yourself. Ideally, the two go hand in hand, and since writing a book is committing to a multi-year project, I wanted to make sure I could do both in one go.
Q: Do you currently have a WIP? If yes, what’s the title, and is it part of a series or standalone?
A: I’m going to take some time to make Ecclesia’s Table as visible as reasonably possible. But I do plan on outlining the sequel by the end of the year.
Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?
A: I’ve read ET and its drafts plenty of times at this point. Each successive reading was a slow transition from worrying about plot holes to worrying about the characters. I’ve become more attached to them over time and I learn more about them with each visitation.
Q: I play music when I write, and depending on the setting or mood of the story depends on what I listen to. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what genre or artist/band do you listen to?
A: Since music is even more embedded in my DNA than writing, trying to do both manifests a war for my attention. I’m far too prone to analyze the theory or feel the groove of whatever I’m listening to, though I do find that listening to Baroque and Romantic Era composers can be quite motivating (Bach and Chopin in particular). If I had to pick a few artists, I think Radiohead, Crumb, and Ichiko Aoba would do nicely.
Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the blurb that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?
A: I agree! I’ve found that many authors will just start you at a certain place in the story and call it the first line, so I tried to do the same. The last line felt like a proper summary of the story. But the synopsis is difficult. I tried not to spoil anything or lead the reader too far into certain expectations, but then it’s hard not to sound generic and vague. There’s a fine line in making a good synopsis, and, to be frank, I’m not sure that I’ve found it.
Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or your favorite beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).
A: Water into wine with Jesus would be great as long as He agreed to talking straight and getting to the bottom of things. I’m pretty sure Elon Musk is hiding the future, so I’d like to figure that out from him. And I’d like to talk to my grandpa Charlie since so much of what I know of him is more legend than reality.
Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?
A: The term doesn’t really matter to me, but I think if you can be 100% happy with what you’ve created, that’s as successful as you can get.
Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?
A: I don’t really have concrete goals. I’d like to have a family, go to certain places, have certain experiences, the usual type of thing. If we were to summarize what I hope to accomplish into two markers, it would be these: to push people beyond the limits they place on themselves and to live a full life. That’s all I want.
Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?
A: Take the time you need to figure out how you can love others and love yourself. Verily?
Social Media Links
Blog (Culture/Theology/Music/Life Events) - https://masonhaynie.wordpress.com/
Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/Mason-S-Haynie/e/B091BDJGLG/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1
Instagram – @masonshaynie
Tiktok – @masonshaynie