Everyone, please welcome T. Jackson King, an author I have had the pleasure of listening to at Bubonicon 45 (Albuquerque’s yearly scifi convention). Today we chat about some classics (The Odyssey, Kipling’s Kim, Dr. Jekyll, etc.), the dangers of unicorns, comics, and Wicca beliefs. Plus a whole lot more. So sit back and be entertained!
If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?
Star Trek the Original of course! I loved its first TV run. I spent the decade of the 60s following the US space program of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, with the landing on the Moon, and was truly hoping that by –now-, 50 years later, we would have bases on the Moon and a full size colony on Mars with ships exploring Jupiter, Saturn and even distant Pluto. Which I still count as a planet! In books, I would love to re-read as “new” the KIM novel of Rudyard Kipling, which I first read in junior high school. It introduced me to the idea of a Land with multiple cultures, peoples and beliefs, a theme I have pursued in my Alien-dominated galactic adventure novels!
Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?
The ancient Viking beast Beowulf, who struck me as the essence of the Outsider, the Loner, the person Too Different to be tolerated by everyone else. Since I’ve felt like an outsider most of my life, yup, Beowulf would be fun to meet in the wild as we toasted rabbits over hot coals. As for avoiding a fantastic beast, well, I think it would be the Unicorn. Seems to me a horse with a pointed horn that long is meant to do one thing only—impale. I object to being impaled by something painful.
Self-promotion is how we devoted writers meet New Readers and reward Loyal Readers. That includes in person book autographing, meeting folks at conventions, and chatting with them online on one of the Amazon threads that I spend too much time on! I most enjoy going to sci-fi conventions and doing book signings. I have yet to start a blog cause . . . it does not appeal. But I love the hunt for great artwork to use as cover art for my Indy published science fiction novels! Since I’ve read sci-fi since fourth grade, I love it and know what kind of artwork appeals to most SF readers. And there are fine pieces of original art with space themes that a writer/publisher can now license to use for cover art, at a very low cost. The cover art for my newest novel, ANARCHATE VIGILANTE, was done by a Spanish artist living in Madrid. I give his artwork credit on the copyright page.
As for least popular parts of self-promotion, it is the assumption by a few online people that folks who produce their own ebook novels for sale on Amazon are ‘not pros’ or are ‘all miserable amateurs’. Not me. I’ve been writing professionally for 26 years since 1988, when Warner Books issued my first novel RETREAD SHOP. I’ve been writing short stories and novels ever since. While there are plenty of amateur ebooks out there, as a reader I know that other readers will leave Reviews that alert browsing readers to an ebook’s deficiencies. And will compliment an author on a well done novel.
Well, I would love to see a board game with that comic book magician guy Dr. Strange. I read lots of issues with him as the lead character and loved how he related magical and mystical stuff to the real world. His casting of spells was just great! Since then I’ve learned more about true ‘magical events’ by studying Wiccan beliefs. It is the Wiccan belief in Mother Earth having an internal ‘energy’ force that is the basis for the contemporary magic that I use in my post-apocalyptic novel THE GAEAN ENCHANTMENT. Gaean Earth Magic is a big deal in that novel. And I loved writing it.
Well, I have not read the ODYSSEY by Homer. Did read the ILLIAD. Both books are long shaman-like retellings of the adventures of gods, goddesses and mortals. Ancient Greek mythology, along with some Japanese, Chinese and Hindu mythology, have informed my use of such characters in some of my short stories and novels. My epic novel GALACTIC AVATAR is a mix of hard scifi with mythic archetypes that melds together Joseph Campbell-like gods and goddesses with the last 16 human survivors of Earth’s destruction as the humans realize they are also the “avatars” of those ancient gods and goddesses “in the flesh”. Had great fun writing that novel. Another ancient book that I have in my library, but not yet read, is the first Japanese novel by a courtesan lady of the imperial court. I gotta read it before the end of the year!
With the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?
I think it allows readers to do what people always do—hunt around for stuff that rewards their effort in reading! And yes, while most of my novels are science fiction, I think several of them fit the Action Adventure and Spy Thriller categories, albeit set in the far future. As for my reading zones, they have indeed been expanded. I like reading about dragons in fantasy, like JD Hallowell’s novel DRAGON FATE. I also enjoy some horror, like a very short story I read recently titled “Feeding” by Elizabeth VanZwoll. She penned a very fine story that is under 1,000 words. But ancient history reading and sci-fi reading are my two primary zones of reading enjoyment!
Who are some of your favorite book villains?
Well, the Hyde side of the split personality Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is pretty awesome. He is a very very misunderstood villain. In my opinion! And Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a fine novella staring the two of them!
Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?
Well, Superman in his various comic book incarnations has been a long favorite of mine. Read the original novel from the 1930s that gave rise to him and liked it. Batman and Robin are pretty decent superhero duos, tho most of their actions are well within the realm of normal physics.
Often various historical aspects (people, locations, events) are used in fantasy and sometimes rehashed in a far-flung future. Are there examples of such historical aspects being used well in the SF/F genres? Examples of what didn’t work for you?
Well, yes, I myself have used ancient Egypt’s River Nile as the basis of a story in my novel ANCESTOR’S WORLD, while other writers past and present have done the same. I really like author Steve White’s use of ancient Mycenae and Crete, along with the real conflict between the Minoans and the Myceneans, in several Baen Books sci-fi adventures. As for poorly used examples, I would cite the use of Atlantis as culture and location in many “popular adventure” novels set in the present day, all of which paint a too simplistic picture of Bronze Age culture and humans. IMO.
If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?
Ah, a hard question! Well, I would invite Dr. Strange, Ironman, Odysseus himself, Beowulf the critter and Charon the Ancient who conveys dead people along the River Styx to their final abode in the Underworld. Bet Charon would have loads of neat stories to share! Course, I would have to have bowls for the weak Greek wine, pitchers of honey mead and high dose caffeine for other folks to enjoy as we spent a few hours outdoors under the spreading limbs of an ancient oak tree.
Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?
Have not had any fanperson moments yet. I guess my brief chat with Robert Silverberg 15 years ago at a SFWA members-only event during a con might qualify for me feeling geekish and gushing.
Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?
I will be attending two science fiction conventions this year. They are Balticon 48 in Baltimore, Maryland, from May 23-26, and Bubonicon 46 from August 1-3 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Love to meet readers of all genres!
Places to Stalk T. Jackson King