At a young age, Jarrid Cantway started reading fantasy with titles like The Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon, The Dark Glory War by Michael A. Stackpole, and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. He skipped past most middle grade and young adult fiction, diving straight into epic fantasy at age ten.
He reveled in the worlds of authors like Terry Brooks, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jim Butcher, Orson Scott Card, Frank Herbert, Robin Hobb, L.E. Modesitt Jr., and Anne McCaffrey to name a few.
“Starting in 1999,” he says, “Writing wasn’t a conscious decision. Reading consumed me, and story found its way out through my pen via short stories.” His first written story blended Indiana Jones and Alice in Wonderland. Imagine navigating an apocalyptic labyrinth, using a bullwhip and dead trees to swing across chasms, while being chased by a mutant rabbit that miniaturizes every living thing it touches.
He wasn’t always a writer
In 2008, Jarrid enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Gunner’s Mate (GM). He served aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) and deployed in 2011 (OEF/OIF/OND).
As a Gunner’s Mate, Jarrid was part of the division responsible for the operation and maintenance of gun mounts, as well as firearms instruction and the ship’s armory. “The U.S. Navy made me who I am today,” he says. “It was both the most stressful time of my life and the best.”
He wrote little except for poetry during this time, but the ambition of a novel grew in him.
5 unique facts about Jarrid
- Historically, before being Americanized in 1880, his surname name was “Comtois,” a demonym of “Franche Comté de Bourgogne.” It’s like saying, “from the Free County of Burgundy (France).”
- He is six feet three inches tall. Growing up, he was frequently asked, “Do you play basketball?” His usual response was to grit his teeth and find a book to read.
- Car repair has been a hobby of his since getting his first car as a teenager, which cost about $300. The car was rust red with a top speed of 55 mph (going downhill).
- In the U.S. Navy, Jarrid visited England, Spain, Italy, Bahrain, U.A.E., and France on deployment. He knows what it’s like to have jets landing on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier thirty or forty feet above his head while standing watch on the aft deck, sighting down dual-mounted .50 Cal BMGs.
- He has the unfortunate distinction of having attended David Farland’s last 318R writing course when Dave suddenly passed away on January 14th, 2022.
Life after the USN
In 2012, he left the military to pursue college. He completed a science fiction novella that same year. “It amounted to,” he says, “an unpublishable trunk story.”
With the competing demands of working, starting a family, and college, Jarrid didn’t write fiction again until graduating in 2019. He achieved two B.A. degrees (Psychology and Org. Sciences) from the University of Idaho.
“That’s when I decided to write seriously,” he says. “How could I not? Writing was ingrained in my identity, a lifelong obsession always in the back of my mind, waiting for the chance to escape onto the page.”
“You don’t aspire to be a writer. If you write, you are one. I write because I can’t imagine a version of myself not writing. I love it.”
Jarrid wrote the first draft of a memoir about his military experiences, amassing over 130K words, until market research revealed that military memoirs not featuring special forces or combat experience don’t typically sell well. “For now, it’s a trunk story,” he says. “It taught me to research the existing book market and the success of similar works before I start writing.”
In 2020, Jarrid discovered the Writers of the Future Contest, one of the largest writing competitions for new fantasy and science fiction authors. His first submission was rejected, but he has since won four Honorable and one Silver Honorable Mention awards for his short stories.
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