After a hiatus of doing author interviews, this year I’ll be getting back into them. To kick us off, my guest today is Jason Franks! I interviewed Jason back in 2014, and I was curious to hear what’s he been up to since then. So let’s find out!
So Jason, congratulations on your new release, Faerie Apocalypse! It sounds intriguing. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I sure can! Faerie Apocalypse is about a succession of mortals who travel to the Faerie Realms and have adventures there. Each one is pursuing their own particular quest: a veteran seeking the most beautiful of fairy queens, a magician looking for power, an urchin looking for his wayward father, an engineer looking for meaning, a scientist seeking purpose, and… another character, looking for revenge. It starts out all whimsical and bright but things soon start to go horribly wrong. The protagonists’ quests get tangled up together and… let’s just say they don’t get along with each other. Then the faerie folk start to react to all of the destruction and things get bad for everyone. Which is just the way I like it.
Your last novel, Bloody Waters, revolved around a kickass female rockstar who sold her soul to the devil. What made you decide to enter the world of faeries for this book?
The truth is that I started writing both of these books at the same time–despite the five year difference in publication date. But they are very different, and this one was just a lot more difficult to write. But I guess it was also kind of inevitable I would turn to this material. The first novel I ever read was The Magic Faraway Tree and I guess I’ve just always loved the idea that there is a magical world near to ours. When I came back to the genre as an adult I became really interested in what made it work. Reading more broadly in the genre I found some fairly dark stuff. I wondered what it would be like to take some present day characters who have an awareness of the genre into a reality that is governed by those tropes and I figured there’d be a lot of damage. Damage is good story.
Now when some people hear the word faerie they think of characters like Tinkerbell, but not all faeries are so nice are they? Traditionally in fairy tales, they could be quite scary and mean. Can you tell us some of your favourite Faeries or fairy tale characters?
Yeah, the Disneyfied fairies are pretty weak-sauce compare to the old stories. Two of my favourites from folklore are Rumpelstiltskin and Fear Dorcha.
Not only is Rumpelstiltskin a perfect example of a capricious and powerful creature whose values are quite alien to our own, but his story gives a direct illustration of the trope in which the name of a fairy gives you power over it (which I have adopted in Faerie Apocalypse, in which very few of the characters are given a proper name.)
Another favourite is Fear Dorcha, the Black Sorcerer, from Irish mythology. He’s sometimes shown as a servant of the fairy queen whose principal duty is to steal stuff. And that stuff includes human beings. In the Fionn McCumhaill legend he steals Fionn’s wife, and even with the greatest of heroes in the land are unable to find her. Ever. There’s no happy ending if the Fear Dorcha comes for you. Also notice Fear Dorcha is means ‘dark man’ and is likely not a proper name.
More recently, I love the gentleman with the thistle-down hair (again, no proper name) from Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. At first the book is about the restoration of magic to England and winning the war against Napoleon, but the gentleman with the thistle-down hair proceeds to hijack the story and make it his own. I wish my own ideas about the nature of fairy land were half as clever as Susanna Clarke’s.
Not only do you write novels but you also write graphic novels/comics. Tell us about some of those.
Indeed I do write comics as well as prose. I’m probably best known in comics as the writer of the Sixsmiths, which is a religious satire about a family of suburban Satanists who have fallen prey to the global financial crisis. I am also the writer of the long-delayed Left Hand Path occult-cop drama series and a weird noir-action series called McBlack. I previously edited a bunch of anthologies. I can’t tell you how many short comics I’ve written and published but I’ve worked with dozens of different artists from all around the world.
I attended your Graphic Novel course at Continuum in Melbourne last year and it was really interesting. Are there any courses coming up that people could attend?
I’m glad you enjoyed it! I teach a similar course called the Mechanics of Visual Storytelling for Comics Mastermind. We hold the webinars twice a year–next one is in March. If folks are interested I recommend they sign up for the monthly newsletter (here), which usually offers discounts as well as useful news about the local comics scene.
So let’s talk inspiration. What books, TV, films are you currently hooked on?
Right now I’m plowing through Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which is magnificent. I don’t watch any TV regularly, aside from Thomas the Tank Engine, but I have really enjoyed Stranger Things and some of the Netflix Marvel shows, particularly Daredevil and Punisher. My current favourite ongoing comics are Lazarus, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, Saga, by Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples, East of West, by Jonathon Hickman and Nick Dragotta, and Thief of Thieves, which has a rotating lineup of writers (Robert Kirkman, James Asmus, Nick Spencer, Andy Diggle) and art my Shawn Martinbrough.
I’ve never had a shortage of inspiration, though–just time. I work full time and I’m studying at Uni again as well as trying to look after my family and be a writer. Sleep is a distant memory.
Okay, time for that age old question: If you could invite 3 people to dinner, alive or dead, who would they be?
Let’s go with all dead people, because I am thinking of changing careers in favour of necromancy. I would like to have dinner with two of my absolute favourite dead writers, Roger Zelazny, Elmore Leonard, and with Jack Kirby, the legendary dead comics artist. I imagine that Roger would do most of the talking and I would do most of the eating, on account of me not being dead.
So, what can readers expect from you next?
Well, let’s see. My new graphic novel, Gourmand Go, which is about haute cuisine and cannibalism in space, should be done soon. I’m also going to self publish my short novel, Shadowmancy, which those of you with long memories may remember was slated for publication in 2015. I’m also trying to get the final draft of my new novel, XDA Zai, into submission-ready shape. Otherwise, I have a couple of comic shorts in the pipeline and… two new novels on the go. It sounds like a lot, but at my current publication rate you’ll see them in 2025.
Whoa! That sounds even busier than me. You better get to it! *cracks whip* Thanks for joining me for the chat today!
If you’d like to find out more about Jason and his work, here’s how:
If you’d like to check out his new novel Faerie Apocalypse, find your retailer below: