As a teacher of Language Arts and creative writing at Longmont High, Jon Bassoff encourages his students to have the courage to write about anything and everything. He takes his own advice and has published a book “Beneath Cruel Waters.”
“Beneath Cruel Waters” is a “wrenching psychological thriller in the vein of Tana French’s “In the Woods” that examines the nature of identity, trauma, and what it means to be human,” according to Mindbuck Media’s spokesperson Kristen Ludwigsen adding the book is garnering movie interest.
Well before Bassoff wrote “Beneath Cruel Waters” he tried writing several other books. His first, was inspired by a book by Jim Thompson. Bassoff claimed his attempt was “really bad, it was a total rip-off of Jim Thompson and totally derivative.”
Although his first attempt was not successful, Bassoff didn’t give up and continued to write, learning more and more along the way.
“The longer I wrote some of my influences sort of combined in my trying to imitate them, I sort of imitated them badly, and sort of developed my own style, I think,” Bassoff said.
After several attempts at writing novels, Bassoff said “Beneath Cruel Waters” is the first to be carried by U.S. publisher, Blackstone.
Described as a gothic noir writer, Bassoff said his novels tend to include themes of religion, unreliable narrators who get their own history wrong and mental health.
“For me, the scariest stories aren’t really supernatural stories they’re the ones that have mental illness where people’s own minds are what’s haunting them,” Bassoff said.
Bassoff will begin a local book for “Beneath Cruel Waters” on May 13th at Boulder Bookstore, hop over the BookBar in Denver on May 22 and wrap up the tour on June 2 with a stop at Left Hand Brewery in Longmont.
Originally set for release in mid-May, “Beneath Cruel Waters” will not be publically released until June 21 due to supply chain issues, Bassoff stated in a news release. However, the publisher was able to get enough copies of the book for each of the tour stops.
The stop at Left Hand isn’t all about Bassoff though, he said. He will be joined by local musician Wendy Woo and former students of Bassoff who will sell art based on the book.
As a teacher, Bassoff feels he “walks the walk.” He said he doesn’t just stand before his students telling them they have to write if they want to be writers, he shows them.
“Just having the knowledge that their teacher is a published author kind of inspires them,” Bassoff said.
More important than having a teacher who writes is for students to find their own voice, Bassoff said adding he tells students not to sensor themselves in their writing.
“I give them permission to write about violence, I give them permission to write about sex. Those are not things that they are used to hearing that they can write about,” Bassoff stated. “Giving them that permission to just be really creative and not just try to write something to please one particular teacher but to write something that is true to them, I think resonates with some of them.”
Encouraging students to explore their own topics for writing is a method Bassoff applies to his own writing. He said he thinks he will continue to wrestle with the topics of religion, mental health and unreliable narrators until he creates the perfect book. Although Bassoff isn’t sure such a thing exists.
“Every time I write these books I hope enough people read it and like it and it makes some kind of lasting impact and isn’t something that is kind of forgotten about the day after. I feel like if there are enough people who get some sort of emotional connection to the story, I will have done my job,” Bassoff stated.