Justin Jay Gladston
Hello Readers and Writers!
Today we would like to introduce you to an author who has put forth more effort to entertain his readers than anyone we've ever seen. Using a variety of visual elements, he has managed to give a multifaceted Fantasy experience to anyone who reads his work. With QR codes, Visual Audiobooks, merchandise, and a companion guide, readers are invited to not just immerse but to vanish deeply into these books. We are in awe of the effort and energy this author has dedicated to their brand and literary offerings!
Introducing Justin Jay Gladstone!
When did you start writing as a career?
While the story itself began in 2009, I officiated my writing career in July 2018. I have been writing for most of my life though. Most of the writing delved into the already existing worlds of fan fiction for some of my favorite stories. Very seldom were original.
What's your current work in progress?
My current work in progress is The Other Side II. This is the second book in The Other Side series. I’m really excited about it.
You write Fantasy. What led you to write in that genre?
I think what lead me into this genre is the things I tend to delve into most, which are fantasy and science. I enjoy the abstract and as such I ended up writing stories that push forward past questions of ‘what if’ and ‘what can’. Though I would say that while this series contains fantasy elements, I also did my best to help it maintain certain aspects of realism so that it wouldn’t seem unrealistic or literally impossible. I tend to lose interest in things that bend aspects of fantasy and realism beyond reach, so for me, it’s all about finding that nice medium.
How do your books rebel against the status quo in your genre?
The reviews that The Other Side earned reflect just what I was hoping this story would envelop, that is—a mass of themes meshed in one. While it is a science fiction book with fantasy-like elements, there are other themes like family, coming of age, as well as many other things that I try to make the story have. The reason why is because I believe that (like life) stories are more than just their genre. For example, a science fiction story doesn’t always have to be a story with steam-powered machines, and a dystopian book doesn’t always have to take place in the future.
Each story in this series will contain a little of something for every type of reader. If you enjoy humor, there’s loads of it in good doses that’ll make you chuckle. If you like romance, there are tiny breadcrumbs sprinkled to hint that something more may happen.
I try my best to take the tropes I know to be most common and flip them on their head. One that I know can tend to be a hit or miss with certain readers, is the tense. The story contains flashbacks that are told in the past tense, but general events of the story are delivered in the present tense. There is a canonical reason for both, which I cannot delve into at this moment.
Your book "The Other Side" features images and QR codes to give readers a full experience with the stories. What inspired you to give readers that extra layer of engagement?
I am a person who loves visuals. I love character artwork or rather just pictures in general. With artwork, what you see is what you get. One challenge that all writers face is getting to show the readers exactly what’s in their mind for interpretation. Depending on the past experiences of said reader, they will either be able to imagine the said object or completely pass by it with confusion.
I wanted to originally be wanted to just simply put pictures inside the book, but then one day, something strange occurred. In 2015, I worked in an arcade. One day, while walking around my workplace’s virtual theatre, I saw this strange square code in the corner that said ‘scan me’! Curious, I used my phone (despite the work rules) and scanned it. It brought me to a website that allowed troubleshooting for the virtual theatre.
While I did know what a QR code was, I didn’t know what it was capable of. This made me curious. And so, when I got home, I stormed off to the computer to do hours of research and thought about what would make The Other Side a more, interactive experience. I do plan on adding many more of these to the series, especially the next book. (Book II).
Try scanning this QR code and see what happens:
If you have an iPhone;
- Aim your camera towards the square and click the link that appears.
- You’re done!
If you have an Android:
- You’ll need a ‘QR code’ scanner app.
- Use the app to scan the code
- You’re all set!
There is also a companions guide, "Equilibrium & Chaos: Your Companion To 'The Other Side". How does this guide enhance the story?
Equilibrium & Chaos is what we would classify as an intellectual companion guide. It is not required to read The Other Side, but it certainly enhances the reading experience. If you were reading the story without these pictures, you would come across text that would say things like ‘Reflection Principle #1, one cannot exist without an 'other’. These bits of lore only appear where they are relevant.
What I would do is have three different layers of context to help the reader grasp said statements. Your ability to read comes first in accepting this fictional truth, then second would come the characters understanding. Third (a bonus factor) is being able to see the example in front of you. That is where the picture comes in handy. I thought the companion book would be a fun way of making the story more interactive for the reader. I know there are tons of collectors out there who would enjoy having more than one book to obtain as well. I tried to meet both of those worlds at the same time. If the reader would prefer just having a simple learning experience, they can choose to purchase The Other Side: Limited Edition, which combines both books together.
Example of a few principles:
You are in the process of completing a visual audiobook for "The Other Side". This must be a labor of love! It is very detailed with voice acting and mixed animation. How has the process gone for you thus far?
The process has gone really well! Thanks for looking into it! Its sole purpose is to give those who don’t have the time to read to delve into The Other Side. I must say, it gained more traction than I expected. It’s a very fun process. Thanks to lots of critique and self-evaluation, I’ve learned a lot about narrating, directing, and Adobe Premiere (editing software).
You use Patreon to offer free books to readers as well as to allow your fans to have input in the creative journey presented by your books. Have you found success using this platform?
Funnily enough, I was terrified of even starting a Patreon account. I was worried that no one would support the cause(s). Thankfully, I have found a great deal of success in this avenue. Thanks to Patreon, I’ve felt more encouraged to push towards my goals in regard to The Other Side. Friends both old and new have shown me in so many ways, that they believe in where this franchise will lead us. It’s also given me a great number of subjects to post about in regards to my social media outlets.
You offer your readers a full experience including merchandise. When did you start offering "The Other Side" merchandise and how has that helped enhance your brand?
I started offering merchandise I would say in the mid-2015. It helped push the brand by giving everyone a different way to express their feelings for the series.
Speaking of brand, you are creating a strong and overarching name for yourself and your stories. Talk to me about what branding means to you as an author.
Branding to me as an author is something of high importance. I think it’s more than promoting a prose of text, but a universe itself. With the ease of self-publishing, it’s easy for anyone to get lost in translation of all others who are writing. I say branding is a means of making yourself stand out.
How hard or easy has it been to create all the content you have for The Other Side and is this something you would suggest for other authors to do, especially in the Fantasy genre?
You know what they say, when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. And to be honest, that’s what I feel each day when I put my mind to work on some aspect of The Other Side. I won’t say it’s been an easy road, but it’s certainly gotten easier as the years have gone by. This road takes a lot of learning. And without learning, there’s no way to move onward.
Tell me more about your YouTube channel.
Most authors when they aim to start a YouTube channel head down one of two paths. That is either to become a ‘Booktuber’ which is a vlogger that specifically focuses on reviewing books for other readers’ sake, or they become an ‘Authortuber’. Authortubers focus mostly on delivering news in regards to their journey as an author, giving writing advice, and also (sometimes) review books to help other authors gain exposure.
While I highly applaud and respect each of those fields, I can’t see myself doing either of the two. I did try, for a while, but it didn’t feel like it was me. I felt like I was just doing it because it’s where the community subliminally says to go.
So, I tried to create an alternate route for myself. Each of my social media platforms (except Twitter) focus on worldbuilding. I try to create a fourth wall for the readers to get lost within. Within the fourth wall is lots of lore, backstory information, and really just a place where people can lose themselves in the way that they do with stories like Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Kingdom Hearts. My YouTube channel is supposed to be just that—a place for characters from The Other Side to roam, a place for stories to live, and a place for new information to arise. This YouTube channel is more for readers or fans of The Other Side.
Talk to me about the path you choose in publishing.
Funnily enough, I originally chose to chase the traditional route. Like every aspiring author, I had high hopes. I thought mine would be first to be chosen out of all others. What a rude awakening I was in for. In 2015, I spent almost two months (from June to August) sending my first novel to hundreds of agents, only to either be rejected or ignored. It was at this point that I found myself asking if I was ever meant to be published.
I read each of the success stories of J.K Rowling, Stephen King, and many others with hopes to will myself into continuously editing and changing my story for the agents’ sake. But then I learned something that changed my mind forever. I learned about independent publishing and how taking part in this field could allow me so many opportunities for freedom, marketing, and chances to take. And so, I abandoned the traditional route and chose to try things in my own way. Because truly at my core, I felt that while (someday) my story could’ve been accepted, that I would never know when that day would come. And that. Drove me. Insane. I needed to make that decision myself, if possible—and that time, was now.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
Readers can expect a lot more books in the future! With this timeline here, you’ll be able to see that we still have a lot more work to tackle. They can expect books to be released every 1-2 years. This is to ensure that I as a writer grow healthily past my own flaws, and they as readers have a chance to grow with the stories as they timely come.
In the meantime, they can keep up with our YouTube channel for more announcements!