Jason B. Dutton

Ashland University grad looking forward to returning to campus for a reading of his debut novel

Published on Feb. 13, 2024
Ashbrook Center

Jason B. Dutton can’t wait to return to a place Feb. 22 that gave him such wonderful memories.

That place is Ashland University, where the AU grad will give a reading of his recently published first book, “How to Dance.”

“I was very fortunate to be surrounded by countless people of great character, integrity and kindness,” Dutton said about his time as an undergrad student in the early 2000s, which eventually led to him returning in 2010 to earn his master’s degree in creative nonfiction.

The Columbus resident also hopes his visit at 4:30 p.m. in the Schar College of Education’s Ronk Lecture Hall, which is free and open to the public, will give current students wonderful memories.

Students who attend Dutton’s reading will definitely enjoy a memorable experience, said Hilary Donatini, Ph.D., chair of the AU English Department.

“Students are inspired by successful alumni, and Jason’s reading will allow them to learn more about his craft, as well as the publication process,” Donatini said. “We are thrilled to welcome Jason to campus and are proud of his achievements.”

Dutton’s publisher, Alcove Press, had this to say about his book: “In this fresh-voiced and utterly charming debut novel, Jason B. Dutton takes readers on a swoon-filled journey as two lost souls learn that neither physical disability nor emotional scars disqualify us from finding beauty, validation and love amidst the chaos of being human.”

Opposites attract and sparks fly as a passionate dancer and a ladies’ man who’s given up on love fall for each other – one tango a time, according to the first sentence of the book’s description at: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/738370/how-to-dance-by-jason-b-dutton/

“Writing it was a joy because I got to indulge my childhood dream as a voracious reader: I got to create a world in which I’d love to live,” said Dutton. “Publishing has been wonderful because of the support I’ve received from so many people, many of whom I first met at Ashland.”


How to Dance

Being in AU’s creative writing program, as well as its Ashbrook Program, as a creative writing and political science major helped him hone his writing skills, gain a valuable education in regard to seeking truth and express himself honestly in his writing, Dutton said.

Because it was one of only two colleges in Ohio with a creative writing program and he loved his experience touring campus as a prospective student, the Pickerington High School grad said he choose AU.

From a young age, Dutton said he loved to read. Soon after, probably in grade school, he first developed his passion for writing, he added.

The inspiration for his first published book came from a movie preview he saw, “Me Before You.”

“I was enthused about this love story between a disabled man and an able-bodied woman,” said Dutton, who has cerebral palsy. “When I found out the story concluded with the disabled man choosing suicide, I felt compelled to write about the experience of choosing to live with a disability.”

Online at https://jasonbdutton.wordpress.com, Dutton describes himself as a writer with cerebral palsy who delights in finding humor, beauty and possibility in life with a disability.

“I love going to the movies, singing karaoke and laughing with good friends,” said Dutton, who added that it was such a joy to focus on writing as a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) student.

Working the past 17 years for the Defense Logistics Agency as a customer account specialist for the military can sometimes make writing a challenge, Dutton admitted.

“It can be difficult to find time with a day job, but I firmly believe that the way we spend our time is a reflection of our priorities,” Dutton said. “Writers don’t have more time than anybody else; they just choose to spend time writing, even if it means long nights with little sleep.”

More “long nights with little sleep” appear to be in Dutton’s future as he said he plans to make a lifetime of publishing novels.

For now, he’s going to enjoy his first novel and everything that goes with it like his upcoming reading at AU which he expects to read some from the beginning and then “pick other bits and pieces that are entertaining and illustrative.”

“I hope ‘How to Dance’ brings joy to readers and reminds them of the joy that can always be found in the world, even in – and sometimes especially in – the midst of difficulty,” he said.