An interview with myself

An interview with myself 

by Jack Strange

Author Jack Strange left school at the age of 18 and spent the next decade training to be an alcoholic and drug addict.

“I got to be pretty good at it,” he says. “In fact I was probably world-class by the time I decided to give it all up and lead a normal life.”

Normal for Jack wouldn’t be normal for the rest of us.

He spends most of his time living in a world peopled by the characters from his books. Since most of them are unhinged, or at the very least misfits, his world is rather odd - but hugely enjoyable, as you’ll know if you’ve read any of his novels or spent any time with him.

Against the odds, Jack is married to a woman he doesn’t deserve and he has two adult daughters, both of whom hero-worship him. Not. 

J.S.:      Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

Jack:   I love to party, so please invite me next time you’re having a bash.  But when I arrive, don’t get me started on the subject of my books because you’ll never get me off of it. Just set me loose near the place you keep the drinks and I’ll be fine. I can’t speak for your other guests, though.

J.S.: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Jack:: Pick up a pen and start writing.

J.S.: Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

Jack:   Anything and everything.

            Let me explain. I’ve read, and continue to read, very widely. I read every genre going from literary fiction to crime to horror and even chick-lit; and a lot of non-fiction, too. Then there’s my life. Every experience I’ve ever had has been an influence – including you, Jack.  A character with some of your traits will crop up in a future novel of mine, I guarantee it. But he (or possibly she) won’t be called Jack – that’d be way too obvious!

J.S.:  What are the books and films that helped to inspire you as an author?

Jack:   There are so many I find it hard to single any out.

If I had to name one, it’d be: It Happened in Boston? by Russell H Greenan.  It’s a book you can’t classify into a single genre. It’s a mash-up: horror, crime fiction, noir, literary fiction, and God-knows-what-else, all rolled into one.  I read it in my teens and it continues to inspire me even now, over forty years later. (Yes, I I’m an old guy, at least in the terms of the number of years I’ve been around on this planet!)

J.S.: What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?

Jack:   Apart from me?

Let me see…

Look, if you don’t mind, I’m going to cheat a bit on this one. We should all take note of  It Happened in Boston? by Russell H Greenan. He’s not a new writer, but he’s an overlooked writer, and he deserves better.  The chances are that if you read that book, you’ll enjoy it a lot.

There’s also Richard Godwin. He’s another overlooked writer. I’m thinking about one book in particular he wrote: One Lost Summer.  Check it out. It’s stylish, perfectly paced, and wonderfully told.

J.S.:  How would you describe your writing style?

Jack:   Fast-paced, tightly plotted, perverse, and sometimes funny.

J.S.:      What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

Jack:   All of it!

But seriously, there’s a magic to writing. When you’re on a roll, it’s easy; but when  you’re not, it can be tough. Above all, if you’re writing a novel, it’s always hard work because it’s blue-collar endeavor.  You have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. As Jack London is famously credited with saying: ‘you can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club’

J.S.: Is there any subject you’d never write about as an author?

Jack:   I don’t know, maybe.  But then, I always thought rape would be off-limits for me, but I tackled the subject last year in a novel  called Keeping Me. That hasn’t been published yet, but it might see the light of day later this year, or early 2018.  

J.S.: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?     

Jack:  Just one: stickability.    

J.S.: What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

Jack:   Keep writing.

J.S.: Getting your work noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you approached this subject?

Jack:  I’ve gotten myself a lot of reviews. Fortunately for me, they’ve mostly been good– including yours. (Thanks, BTW, for that, Jack!)

J.S.: What piece of work are you most proud of?

Jack:  A father is equally proud of all his children – he doesn’t play favorites!!!

Having said that, I’m especially pleased with Manchester Vice, a novel I’ve recently finished, and which I hope to see in print before the year’s out.

It’s a different type of novel for me. It’s noir fiction. It’ll be interesting to see how people react to it.

J.S.:      Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work?

Jack:   To be honest with you, I have a lot of favorite lines from my own work – I guess I must be rather vain!

Here’s one that springs to mind, from Celebrity Chef Zombie Apocalypse. It describes how one of my characters conceals the body of a cat he’s accidentally killed:

“Robert had been a promising winger when he’d played football at school. He now put his old footballing skills to good use. He quickly dribbled what remained of the cat up the drive, and with a deft flick of his left foot, he booted it under the privet hedge….”

J.S.:      Can you tell us about your last book, and what you’re working on next?

Jack:  My last book was Zomcats and it’s about a plague of zombie cats, an American President who builds a wall across the Mexican border, politics generally, and the chaos of the modern world.

I’ve just finished the sequel to Zomcats.  I say sequel; it’s actually the third in a series. (The first was Celebrity Chef Zombie Apocalypse). It’s called Thatchenstein and it’s due for publication around Halloween 2017.  No prizes for guessing who inspired it.

J.S.:      What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

Jack:   The last great book I read was Days Without End by Sebastian Barry.  I can’t praise it highly enough, so I won’t even try.

The last book that disappointed me was We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. It has a great reputation and it was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, but it did nothing for me, I don’t know why. It just goes to show: different strokes for different folks.

J.S.:  What's the one question you wish you’d get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

Jack:  Question: Would you be willing to sign these thousands of books you’ve written that we’ve all just bought?

Answer: Please form an orderly queue.

Here’s another one:

Jack, how come you’re so fucking good?

Answer: It just comes naturally I guess.

J.S.:  It’s been a pleasure talking to you, jack.

Jack:  And you. See ya.

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