William Jarrett leads a double life.
By day, he is Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jarrett, an analyst for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir. By night -- or anytime he's off duty -- he becomes "Dev" Jarrett, a horror writer with more than 30 short stories published and his first novel set to hit the shelves next month.
"I've always wanted to be a writer," Jarrett said. "It's just something I've always done. Even when it's work, it's fun."
The hard part for Jarrett isn't the writing -- it's finding time to create his worlds of vampires, zombies, monsters and ghosts outside of his full-time job in the Army.
"It's really tricky," he said. "I usually try to write for at least an hour or two every day. A lot of times, I'm up later than anyone else in the house."
Besides being a writer, Jarrett is a career Soldier with 19 years of service under his belt, including two deployments. He juggles writing and editing on the side but says being a Soldier has actually helped him make time for his passion, by teaching him to persevere.
"Really, I think being in the military has given me the discipline that I do stick to it," he said.
In fact, it was during Jarrett's first deployment to Afghanistan in 2004 that he first decided to share his work with others.
"It was just a fluke, really. I looked online and there was a contest for Halloween stories. I put something together and sent it in and it won," he said. "I always loved to write but the idea that it would be entertaining for others was really exciting."
Since then, Jarrett has evolved from a contest winner into a published novelist.
"Originally, I just started looking online for magazines, both electronic and print, that would publish stories," Jarrett said. "Since then it's been building slowly."
He wrote his first published novel, "Loveless," while stationed in Hawaii from 2003 to 2009 and finished editing it during another deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.
"Loveless" will be released in July by Blood Bound Books.
"'Loveless' is kind of a Southern gothic story," Jarrett said. "It's the story of a ghost on a Georgia lake and this ghost is intent on revenge because she was murdered many years ago."
His second published novel, "Dolly," is being released this fall by Bad Moon Books.
Jarrett's work runs the gamut in the horror genre. His tales deal with everything from cannibalism to bioengineering, medical murder to exorcism, vampire takeovers to the end of the world.
He also explores themes of revenge and devotion, good and evil -- "just the things I believe in," Jarrett said.
"I'm not a religious guy, really, but I believe in my Family -- my wife, my kids -- and I think they believe in me. The idea that together we make each other more than we are individually plays a part in a lot of the longer stories," he said.
"Some of the short stories are blood and guts and vampires and ghosts," he added. "But overall, the good guys should win."
Now, Jarrett is writing a new story from a military perspective, with a working title of "Casualties."
"It involves PTSD and deployment and monsters," Jarrett said. "It's probably the most ambitious in subject matter of anything that I've done because it deals with how evil is persistent sometimes and how even when a Family loves each other very much, they can get pulled apart through no fault of their own."
A Family Hobby
Writing horror stories isn't just Jarrett's personal hobby; his whole family gets involved in the process, from talking about ideas to editing the final product. Jarrett's wife, Jennie, is always his first reader and editor.
"I love reading his stories," she said. "I read them; the kids read them."
Jarrett's gift for writing also benefits the entire family, she added, especially the couple's five children.
"The whole family reads," she said, "especially the youngest; we have to take books from him."
Jarrett appreciates his family's support, especially when his writing takes up most of his free time.
"Jennie and the kids have to put up with a lot," he said. "She's not only having to deal with all of my Army stuff -- deployments and PCS and uncertain hours -- she's also dealing with weird questions. The other day I was working and she was in the room across the hall, and I said 'Honey, what's something good in the kitchen to cut off someone's head?' and she was like 'Oh, maybe a cleaver, butcher knife, something like that.' And the kids are just cracking up -- they love it, and they're used to it by now." "But they do talk about 'If anyone ever heard us, they would put us away,'" he added, laughing.
Making a Dream Reality
Jarrett said he was first inspired to write when he read the Stephen King novel, "Pet Sematary," in high school.
"I found a copy of that book left behind by someone else in a desk at school, and since my civics class was boring, I started reading it. From then on, I was hooked," he said.
He later wrote for his high school and college newspapers and earned a degree in humanities, while continuing to write horror stories on the side. He chose to use the name "Dev" in reference to his middle name, Devereaux.
"It's a lot of trial and error," he said. "I think the best training for writing is reading a lot. If you read enough, eventually you'll find something that's been published that someone's been paid for, and you'll look at it and say 'I can do better than that.'"
His favorite part of writing is when the stories just flow from his mind onto the page.
"It's magic, I guess, to a degree," he said. "You get in the zone -- you're writing and the story is playing itself out as a movie, generally, except you've got the added bonus of knowing what the characters are thinking. That's part of the reason that it's fun; it just becomes automatic."
Jarrett wants to encourage other servicemembers with passions outside of their military careers to pursue those things, even as they continue to serve to the best of their ability.
"It's good to have more than one facet," he said. "I want to be able to do something to the fullest and still do other stuff too."
However, it does take time and effort to achieve success, he added.
"If you want to succeed, you have to persist," he said. "Hold onto your dreams. In my case, some of those dreams are nightmares, but hold onto them."