The Many Sides of Jason Mott: CFCC Graduate, Best Selling Author, Nicolas Cage Fan
Jason Mott casually sits behind the podium to address the audience gathered at the New Hanover County Northeast Library. Despite his claim of being an introvert, Mott comfortably shares stories about his writing process and the struggles of becoming a published author.
An Author on a Book Tour. Sounds Familiar
At this event, Mott promotes his most recent book, “ Hell of a Book ,” which weaves the lives of three seemingly unconnected characters: Soot, The Kid, and The Author. The characters’ stories unfold as readers journey from sadness to anger to amusement.
The book alternates between chapters that plunge the reader into the darkness of the Black American experience and then offers comic relief with the entertaining capers of an author on a book tour. Mott describes his method as “submerging and holding the reader underwater, then releasing them to emerge with the warmth of the full sun on their face.”
While his description is certainly figurative, there are times in the book when readers may catch themselves holding their breath, afraid of what might happen next.
How Did It All Start?
Before Mott was heralded as a New York Times Best Selling Author, NAACP Image Award Recipient, and winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction, he was enrolled as a university transfer student at Cape Fear Community College.
Even though he is busy with his book tour schedule, Mott was gracious enough to answer some questions about his experience at CFCC.
Why did you choose CFCC?
I chose CFCC because I knew that I wanted to transfer to UNCW in hopes of entering their Creative Writing program, and I knew that CFCC has a very good relationship with UNCW regarding the college transfer program. Also, CFCC was one of the few community colleges that taught creative writing classes, which was my focus at the time.
What was your major at CFCC, and when did you graduate?
I was in the Associate of the Arts College Transfer program. As mentioned, my goal was to transfer to UNCW in the hopes of being accepted into their Creative Writing program. I graduated in 2004, I think.
How did CFCC prepare you for transitioning to UNCW?
They gave me the credits I needed and helped me develop as a writer.
What special memories do you have about classes and/or instructors?
I have very beautiful memories of David Brantley and Margo Williams. They were my first creative writing teachers, and they had a deep and far-reaching impact on my development as a writer.
Were you involved in student activities at CFCC?
Yes. I was involved in student government and the student literary journal, Portals .
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I first got the “writing bug” when I was 14, but I didn’t get serious about it until my early twenties after the death of my mother. That was a galvanizing moment in which I knew I wanted to try and turn my hobby as a writer into something more.
Who inspired/encouraged you the most to pursue writing?
My parents. They were firm believers in me back when I was still years from actually believing in myself.
How long did it take for you to get your first book published and promoted?
From the time I got “serious” about writing until I found a publisher was about 10 years. And in those ten years, I wrote multiple novels and submitted them to agents and editors, and they were all rejected. The simple truth is that it takes a long time to learn how to tell a story. It’s not something that happens overnight.
What emotions did you feel when you became a New York Times Best Selling Author?
I was both excited and overwhelmed by both events. It’s not something any author expects to happen, and when it does, it’s a lot to process.
So, tell us about this obsession with Nicolas Cage.
Haha. Nothing mysterious there. I became a fan of his decades ago when I saw Raising Arizona. And from then on, I’ve been a fan. The simple fact is I think he’s one of the most complex actors—and maybe people—in Hollywood.
Any words of advice for aspiring novelists?
Be persistent, consistent, and patient. The path to being a writer is longer and more complex than people understand. Nothing happens fast, and it’s easy to quit. But if you want it, you must dig in and learn to find happiness in the journey. Write every day.
“Hell of a Book” is available to borrow at CFCC libraries or download in a digital format on the Libby App. You can also purchase a copy at most book retailers and airport specialty shops, where you may find a random autographed copy.
If you want to brush up on your creative writing skills, visit Ed2Go for a selection of standalone classes.