Ed: ‘ello, ‘ello. As I hear writers are creative people, please answer each of the following biographic questions twice. Once with the truth, and once with a lie. Name?
JW: Jack Wallen. But honestly, what you call me would certainly depend upon what I’m wearing at the time. I mean, seriously, on any given night you might find yourself inclined to call me Mary Jane or maybe the King of Blood and Glitter. Or, should the mood strike me, The King of Zombies. You choose – but choose wisely, I do have a direct line to Shero.
Ed: Oh, we’ll get to Shero.
Where you from?
JW: We come from the land of the ice and snow. Actually, that’s not true, we come from Transexual, Transylvania. No…wait…I got it, I come from Fabulous, Incredibletown. But somewhere wrapped up inside a bacony nightmare, I come from New Castle, Indiana.
Ed: (humming “Immigrant Song”) Sorry, Day job?
JW: I am a pimp. My pimp name is Big Time Jesus. I pretty much own the hos at this place called The Asylum. But in a nightmare version of myself, I am a technical writer for Techrepublic.com. I write really nerdy things that have absolutely NOTHING to do with my books.
Ed: Dream job?
JW: Pool boy for the Queen of Darkness. No, seriously. Okay…I give. My real dream job is…Hell, who are we kidding? NO JOB!
Ed: Aspiring to nothing is very Zen. When not contemplating the Eternal, Why do you write?
JW: Because my dearly departed Grammy’s dying wish was that I kill off my family members one at a time. I figured, since it wasn’t worth prison sex, my best bet was to do it in book form. Okay, fine…I write because I am an artist to my core and I must create or my soul shrivels up and dies.
Ed: You can go back to full honesty now, if you want.
JW: Honesty? That hurts. Must I? Lying is so much more fun.
Band: Rush, with a side of Red and In This Moment.
Food: Cheesecake and Pizza – but not Cheesecake Pizza. I like them separate.
Game: Can I say Mountain biking? No? Oh really? Well, tough, I’m saying it anyway.
(Ed: Sorry, can’t accept Mountain Biking, putting you down for “Mountain Chess.”)
Album: Good God…seriously? Do you know how much I love music? Okay, I’m going to answer this two ways. My all time favorite album is Moving Pictures by Rush (because it contains the single greatest rock and roll song ever written – yes, I’m talking about the Modern Day Warrior, Mean, Mean Pride!). My current favorite album is ‘Until We Have Faces’ by Red.
(Ed: “His mind is not for rent. To any god or government.”)
Word: To your mother.
Color: Pink. Oh yeah…I’m man enough to admit it.
Animal: I am. Rowr.
Piece of clothing: Now that’s personal. But I’ll keep it clean. My plaid skirt, er, kilt. No wait, my new purple Doc Martens.
Movie: Hellrasier. It’s dark and is it sexy.
TV show: Big Bang Theory, The Walking Dead, and Once Upon a Time. Oh, you said just one. Well, you get three.
Drink: Diet Mountain Dew. It’s disgusting, but every writer has to have a vice, right?
Song: ‘Wind Beneath My Wings.’ Oh God, I just vomited a bit. I can’t pull off that lie. Okay, I’m setting ‘Tom Sawyer’ aside and will say ‘Watch You Crawl’ by Red.
Line from a song: “The snakes and arrows a child is heir to are enough to leave a thousand cuts” from “Armor And Sword” by…you guessed it…Rush.
Pizza topping: Tilamook thank you.
Crime: Only if it’s smooth…and worthy of a pimp like me.
Place: Your panty drawer. Or The Asylum.
Quote: “Think of me like Yoda, but instead of being little and green I wear suits and I’m awesome. I’m your bro—I’m Broda!” Barney Stinson.
Ed: Three random things about yourself, please.
JW: Any time a bag of chips is open near me, I must be the first to grab a sniff. If not, the chips don’t taste good.
I have a man-crush on Neil Patrick Harris.
My toe nails are generally black or purple. Not from swelling or disease…don’t take it there.
What’s the biggest consideration when you are deciding what book to read?
JW: I want to read a book that will really mess with me. Play with my mind and my heart.
Ed: What genre do you enjoy most?
JW: Horror. Mean, ugly, painful horror.
Ed: What genre would you read only if you lost a bet?
JW: Business texts. Oh God, kill me now.
Ed: Do you have a favorite author, and do you think they influence your own writing?
JW: Clive Baker. He’s my idol. I hope to one day be compared to that man.
Ed: I can make that comparison right now. “Jack Wallen is shorter than Clive Barker.” Here’s a tissue.
Do you have a favorite book, and how many times have you read it?
JW: Imajica, by Clive Barker. That’s the book responsible for my wanting to become a writer. It’s brilliant. I only had to read it once because there was perfection in that one reading.
Ed: What’s the first book you remember buying with your own money?
JW: Imajica…I was a late bloomer. So you could say Imajica was my training bra.
Ed: I *could* say that, but I’d feel creepy. Not bad, but creepy.
Any books you have been told you should read, and know you probably never will?
JW: Yeah…I have this friend that is CONSTANTLY telling me about books I should read. I’ve never read a single book he’s suggested.
Ed: Ever lied about reading, or not reading, a book?
JW: Who me? Lie? What? Yes. Anything by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. If you’re gonna lie, lie big.
Ever read a book you were sure you were going to like, and not liked it?
JW: Yeah, that last stinker by Dan Brown. It was the first book I read on my Kindle. I was so angry I paid for that piece of crap.
Ed: Ever grudgingly read a book, and loved it?
JW: The first Harry Potter book. Didn’t want to read it, but I did. And I was hooked.
Ed: What’s your favorite line from a book? (not your own)
JW: “We’re too much ourselves. Afraid of letting go of what we are, in case we are nothing, and holding on so tight, we lose everything else.” From Imajica.
Ed: Now on to the books that did spring from your fevered pate.
How, and when, do you tend to come up with titles?
JW: I always allow my titles to happen organically. I create a working title and then discover a title for the book as the writing unfolds.
Ed: How do your characters get their names?
JW: A combination of magic, chance, and dumb luck. Sometimes I ask people if I can use their names in books. Sometimes I mash up names of people I know. Sometimes I just start saying names until something sounds interesting.
Ed: If you could live in the world / with the people of one of your stories, which one would it be and why?
JW: Shero. I’d much rather live in that world (and be Shero’s sidekick) than live in an apocalyptic world.
Ed: Every fabulous transgendered superhero needs a sidekick. 😉 What do you think your books say about you?
JW: Hoo, boy. Too damn much. Actually, they say I am quite an accepting human being who believes diversity is really what the world needs…with a rather dark side. I am a twisted SOB.
Ed: Is there anything you have written which you would now like to change or revise, wish you had written differently, etc.?
JW: Nope. They were given birth and they now belong to my readers.
Ed: Tell me about your favorite character.
JW: Shero. Hands down. He stands for everything that is right and fabulous. He is a heroes hero.
Ed: Have your favorite character tell me about you.
Shero: I can’t do this without running my mascara, so let me get a tissue. Okay, Jack has a heart the size of my shoe closet. He is a sensitive man, and good *god,* does the boy look good in heels.
Ed: Thanks, Big S., back to Jack.
What’s your favorite line which you have written?
JW: That’s a tough one. But I have to go with this line from Shero: “The sound was like a chubby kid sitting on a box of Cap’N Crunch.”
Ed: That is going to look freaking awesome at the top of this interview.
Ed: Now, on to the nuts n’ bolts part of bolting your…there is no good way out of this metaphor. Let’s just talk writing.
Plotter or Pantser?
JW: I used to be a plotter. But now, I’m a skirtster. Oh, wait…you said “pants.” So I’ll go with Pantser. I like not having that net below me. Why? My goal is to write books that can, at times, completely pull the rug out from under the readers. I want readers to never know what they can expect when they open up one of my books. I kill characters for a living.
Ed: Writers don’t kill characters, writers with characters kill characters.
Worst advice you ever got as a writer?
JW: Stick to one genre. Screw that! If I don’t branch out, my writing will get stale. I like me some diversity.
Ed: Anything else would be un-Eclective. Best/Worst thing about being a writer?
JW: Best thing, feeling like you’re going mad at all times. Worst thing, feeling like you’re going mad at all times. It’s true. All writers have a spot of madness inside of them. Some embrace it, some don’t. Me? I loves me some crazy.
Ed: Why Indie?
JW: Because my world is too dark and fabulous for the narrow-minded scope of traditional publishers.
Ed: Is being a writer what you expected?
JW: It’s better. I have fans that love my work who contact me asking questions and begging for me. It’s like Eddie Izzard actually walking up to me on the street and asking me, “Cake or death?” It’s wonderful. I love it. The very reason I write is those people. I want to give them new worlds, characters, and situations to devour like a zombie on Einstein’s brain.
Ed: Have you, or would you ever, collaborate on a story?
JW: Yes. In fact, I have already agreed to collaborate on a vampire story with the Queen of Fire and Darkness herself, Shea MacLeod, and a delightfully dark paranormal romance with the Queen of Ninja Cyber Witches, Heather Marie Adkins.
Ed: If you were starting to write for the first time, what would you do different?
JW: Write a YA Paranormal Romance book with sparkly vampires. Oh, I kid…gosh…another one I can’t pull off. What I would do differently is immediately work my ass off on finding an editorial system. Being dyslexic makes it very hard for me to do any editing of any kind. So the editorial process is crucial for my work. I have a good system now…but it’s taken me a long time to get there.
Ed: What is the most important thing you have learned about writing?
JW: Be true to yourself, be true to your work, and be true to your fans. That is the single most important thing I have learned.
Ed: What’s the moral of the story?
JW: Always leave ‘em wanting more, and never be afraid to show a little thigh.
Ed: Now, hypothetically, I’ll ask some hypothetical questions.
JW: I have many backups. Besides, I’m an uber nerd. I know I can unplug that baby and most likely recover the data anyway.
Ed: You are looking at the back of a book in a bookstore, reading on online blurb, or whatever. What sort of thing makes you say “yes,” what sort of things makes you say “pass?”
JW: If an author takes him or herself too seriously, I’ll say pass. If an author is too busy pimping their credentials, I’ll take a pass. If an author is true to themselves and their art, I’ll give it a second look. If the story does something different, doesn’t follow a formula, isn’t afraid to flip the reader the bird, I’ll read it.
Ed: You have one perfect day of free time, no obligations, needs, or responsibilities. What do you do?
JW: Me and my mountain bike head up to Brown County State Park and I ride every single inch of beautiful single track they have to offer. And then I eat Mexican foods.
Ed: Someone “in the business” suggests you change something you feel is a critical part of one of your books, and guarantees it will increase sales. What do you do?
JW: It depends on who that “someone” is. If it’s someone I know and trust, I’ll seriously consider it. If it’s someone I don’t know and don’t trust, I’ll say “Thank you for playing, but you’re not fabulous enough to give me advice.”
Ed: You are offered just enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life, if you will just stop writing. What do you do?
JW: No way. I have an artistic soul that if not fed will shrivel up and die. I’ve been there before…it ain’t pretty. You hand me a bajillion dollars and I’m going to take that as a sign that I can do nothing BUT write.
Ed: What question do you wish I had asked?
JW: How is life in The Asylum?
To dip another toe in the warm waters of Jack’s mind, do check out his blog (Get Jack’d: http://www.monkeypantz.net), follow his Tweetage (@jlwallen), face his page, (http://www.facebook.com/jlwallen), or listen to the dulcet tones of Zombie Radio: http://www.zombieradio.orgblog. Oh, or of course, check out the books. Zombies, serial killers, superheroes…fun for the whole family.