Welcome, one and all, to the final of this week’s author interviews. Today, i’m speaking to J.P. Jackson, who recently released his first novel, Daimonion, through NineStar Press.
Welcome to the site! For those unfamiliar with you and your work, can you please give us a quick introduction to yourself?
Good Evening! Thanks for having me, and wow, it’s nice to be here. An introduction? Well, let’s see…my name is J.P. Jackson, I like to write, and knit, and grow plants, and travel and as my husband would say – you have too many hobbies! LOL.
Right now I’m really focusing on writing. I tend to like the darker side of things, you know, pick up the rock and see what squiggles away. Sometimes it’s just a bug, sometimes it’s a demon – you just never know!
Daimonion is your first published novel. In my eyes it essentially feels like a horror piece, but one that follows along with some fantasy elements too. What made you choose to write in the genre that you have here?
Well, oddly enough, when I sat down to write Daimonion, I thought I was coming up with a great Urban Fantasy story. Turns out, I write Horror with a side helping of Urban Fantasy. Who knew? My editor from NineStar Press (that’s my publisher) came back after the first round of editing and said, “Great Horror story!” and I was all, like, “What? Horror? Um….okay?”
Since then, I’ve actually grown to like that label, and I think I can run with it, after all my influences and favorite authors have been Stephen King and Anne Rice since I was a teenager.
Dati Amon, the main protagonist, is a surprisingly sympathetic lead given that he’s a demon. Was he inspired by or based on anyone in real life?
That’s a great question. Yes! And absolutely not. LOL.
When I was developing the characters for this book, I really wanted to make sure that they were all unique and complex, but I did not want anyone I knew to read the book and think, “Hey, wait a minute, you wrote about me?” So each of the characters are completely fictional. But if we were to dissect each of them, I think you’d find there’s a little of me in all of them.
Daimonion’s ending draws the book to a satisfactory end, but also sets the wheels in motion for a follow-on. Were you aware when you started writing the book that you wanted to make this a series?
Yes. I knew from the get-go that the story I wanted to tell couldn’t happen in one book. After all, the end of the world just can’t happen in 300 pages. There’s too much going on!
And have you planned ahead in terms of what will happen in future instalments?
Bigger concepts and story arcs have been planned out, for sure. But all the little details? Nope, not yet. I get flashes or images in my heads for various scenes; things that should happen in the story. I plot those out, and then I fill in the spaces in between with connecting threads.
One of the things that impressed me a lot with the book is the sheer amount of work that you’ve put in in terms of the different species. Ranging from new twists on old favourites (such as shapeshifters and witches) to completely new species, this must have taken a lot of preparatory work! Did you come up with all the details prior to beginning writing, or did you get more of a rough idea and then flesh them out as you went along?
Yes, and Yes? I spent a lot of time putting together all the details for the various demon species, and granted, some of them are already well documented, written about, portrayed in the movies. But I wanted my beasties have a darker edge to them. Each creature in the story should be somewhat terrifying (well except the Shi-Shi; honestly I just think they’re too cute).
I did a lot of research too. My browser history is filled with demonology sites. And then, sometimes I find that as you’re writing, little details creep in and add to the character too. Sometimes it gets hard to keep all the attributes straight for the characters!
Do you have any favourite species in the book?
I love Dati. Too much, actually. I’ve always wanted a tail, and I’m insanely jealous of his. And the fact that he has wings that he can fold away…damn, that’s just sexy. Did I mention he’s pretty good looking too? Yeah, Dati….sigh. But you know, Alyx is pretty hot too, and after all, he’s 1/3rd D’Alae, and a red head…you know what they say about red heads? No souls, and smoking hot in bed. So there’s that. ;o)
Daimonion is published by NineStar Press, as is the upcoming Into The Mystic anthology that also features your work. What drew you to NSP as a publisher?
I was very, very lucky. I entered a pitch war on Twitter – #pitchmas – and NineStar liked my pitch! After that, I submitted my work to them and I was blown away when they offered me a contract for Daimonion. Since then, the folks at NineStar have been so unbelievably awesome that I really have no desire to solicit other publishing houses.
For me, writing the stories and publishing them was the goal, and now that I have found a home, I’m quite happy to sit here.
Your published work thus far primarily features LGBT protagonists. Is this something that occurred naturally with your writing, or did you set out with the goal of writing LGBT fiction?
I won’t write anything that doesn’t have someone from the Rainbow Tribe (thanks goes to Vance Bastain of the WROTE Podcasts for this GLORIOUS term!) as the main character. I make that promise to anyone who reads Daimonion and is a fan. I wanted stories with people like me growing up – and they just weren’t there. So, the old adage stands: Write the story you want to read!
Do you think that it’s important to see more same-gender loving characters appearing in different genres?
Important? No. CRITICAL. And not only do I want it in my books, but I also want it in my movies, my TV shows, my everything. I want to feel like I’m being recognized and have a valued and respected spot in the world. The only way to do that is to see myself in our media and entertainment – and as a society, I think we’re getting there, but we still have a way to go.
What other projects are you currently working on, writing or otherwise?
Well, as you’ve mentioned, I have a short story in the recently released Into The Mystic, Volume 1 with NineStar, and I’ll also be in another anthology called Under The Rainbow, Volume 1 which will be released on November 20, 2017. My short story there is a retelling of Red Riding Hood that features an all male cast, an M/M relationship, werewolves and murder.
I’m also ¾ of the way through a different novel that’s more M/M PNR. The main character still lives with his ex, except his ex is dead. Garret (the MC) simply wants to live a life free from supernatural events and creatures, but as he starts dating again, he uncovers a harsh reality about who he really is. Don’t worry though, his new Warlock boyfriend who summons demons is there to help him, sort of.
And then I’m about a quarter of the way through a fantastic story about five young adults who have magic so powerful they can’t control it, paired up with a teacher who has to help them out, all set within a facility that will kill the students if they don’t learn to control their magic.
After all that, I need start writing the sequel to Daimonion! LOL. Oh lord. What have I done?
I am of the view that there’s always more to learn, especially when it comes to creative ventures. That being the case, is there any advice that you’d give to upcoming authors trying to get a footing in the industry?
Just. Keep. Trying. It’s so hard to break through and get that first publishing contract – but it can happen! The other piece of advice I’d give is this: Don’t get too attached to your story – that sounds weird, right? What I mean is this…write the best damn story you can, but never be afraid to listen to good criticism on how you can make that story even better! It’s hard, and you have to have thick skin, and often be willing to scrap what you think is your best writing – but the minute you start waving your story in front of agents or publishers, it needs to be the best darn thing you’ve ever done!
Moving away from writing for a minute, your author profiles mention that you enjoy hybridizing African Violets. Can you tell us a little more about that and how you came to be interested in it?
That was all Grandma’s fault – she had the green thumb and passed it along to me. I love my plants. They don’t talk back. Demons are so lippy! Honestly, no respect at all.
You also enjoy extensive travelling. Do you have any favourite travel destinations or travel memories that you can share?
FAR TOO MANY! I have an awesome travel story for almost every destination we’ve been to. Mexico will always be a second home for me – and I love Puerto Vallarta, but after that I think Bali was probably one of the best places I’ve ever visited…but then New Orleans was freaking awesome too! Those cemeteries….wow!
You also mention knitting as a hobby. That’s not an image that immediately springs to mind after reading Daimonion! How long have you been knitting now, and did you find it hard to pick up? I’ve tried myself many times, but my skills are near useless.
OMG, I’ve been knitting for over 20 years. Again, Grandma’s fault. Was it hard? Maybe at first, and there were a few ugly scarves that would prove that statement to be true. But the fun thing about knitting is that there are so many techniques and skills to learn in order to create different kinds of garments, and patterns, and stitches that you could seriously spend a lifetime learning and mastering all of them!
I’m just happy with my socks and scarves and the occasional sweater.
Do you have entertainment recommendations for readers?
Too many. Honestly. I always have music playing, and I listen to everything. Current favorites are Ruelle, Fleurie, Denmark + Winter, Clarity, and Ursine Vulpine’s version of Wicked Game.
As for TV, a new series just started called Midnight, Texas. If you love the darkness and you’re not watching this, I judge you. Sense8, Supernatural, Being Human and True Blood are all favorites as well.
Video Games? Well, I don’t get much time to actually game – but my fallback has always been Skyrim.
Did you have any final messages for readers?
Sure! I hope you all get a chance to read Daimonion, especially if you like things a little dark and twisted. Never be shy, always feel free to drop by any of my social media interwebs and say “hi!”
Also, whereabouts on the web can everyone find you if they want to know more?
NineStar Press: https://ninestarpress.com/authors/j-p-jackson/