I love spooky things based on a nugget of fact. It’s my favorite type of thing to write…
Splitting time between Los Angeles and Toronto, we caught up with J.R. Mattison on location in Canada. Her novel The Tree of Jesse was recently published by Rothco Press.
You’re not a traditional author.
The seeds were planted as a kid who lived through a government overthrow and all around the world until I landed in the states at 7 years old. My escape from reality was always reading from ever since I can remember. I had a brief tryst with acting for a while until an injury…then I started writing more full time if that’s even possible. I don’t think it’s possible to write a full 8 hours a day everyday. I mean, we’re not making widgets here…there’s a bit of life experience that goes into it. Anyway, I started by writing screenplays and landing into writing novels. Now I do both.
So Tree of Jesse was a book that you had to write.
Very much so. I call it a possession. I wrote it during my injury when I was locked away from the world for months at a time. In many ways it wrote itself. The research lead me to new places and Jesse’s voice led me everywhere.
Tell us a little about the book.
It’s a love story…and a metaphysical exploration…and an airport thriller all rolled into one. That tells you everything and nothing about the book, right? In the end the heart and soul are Jesse and Mara…the Romeo and Juliet. The unrequited.
As a filmmaker did you write it with actors in mind?
I sadly wrote the character of Rogerson for Philip Semore Hoffman, Kevin Spacey was my inspiration for Abaddon and recently I’ve seen an actor that would make a brilliant Jesse.
So you live in Los Angeles, but have been spending a ton of time in Canada…
I did an action film last summer up there called Gridlocked with some great people…talented young director. And now I’ve been here for 5 months making a film I wrote called Lower Bay, based on true events staring Rose McGowan and Christopher Lloyd that I’m producing with the woman who produced The Ring movies.
What’s obsessing you now?
My husband and I recently binge watched all the seasons of Homeland. Brilliant! I also actually like the guilty pleasure, Salem. I love anything about witchcraft. To be honest we don’t watch much TV or movies…just the occasional movie night in bed. Though I still love a good old fashioned Disney fairy tale. Old school animation.
You’re not the only talented member of the family.
Definitely not. My husband is a very talented actor. He started at a very young age as Sketchy on Dark Angel…he stopped acting for a while when I was injured and we moved to a ranch near Sequoia park while I healed and went through surgeries…he’s been back since 2012 and has been doing a TV series and movies and most recently staring on the third season of Hemlock Grove. I’m his biggest fan and vice versa. We’re those people that just make everyone in the room want to kill us because we actually love being married. It’s funny. And amazing. We’re “codependent” and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been working on my television series Devils Highway….we plan to shoot it next year in New Mexico. There will be a comic book release along with the pilot episode. I’m very excited about it. Very dark, Navajo folklore, witchcraft. I love spooky things based on a nugget of fact. It’s my favorite type of thing to write….like Jesse.