A twist: Athanasios Galanis interviews me

Recently I was interviewed by Athanasios Galanis for his site Mad Gods. I wanted to share that interview with my fans.

AG: Jack what the hell is monkeypantz? Why? Jack why, monkeypantz?

JW: Hehehehe, it’s a quote from Buffy The Vampire Slayer (which should tell you how long I’ve owned the domain). Oz and Xander had just been taken down by a demon and Oz, being the snarkmaster he was, said “I mock you with my monkey pants.” I loved the quote so much, I decided it needed to be a domain. Strangely enough, monkeypants.com and monkeypants.net were both taken, so I changed the “s” to a “z” and there you go.

AG: I’m acquainted with a lot of your work mostly because I’ve seen you all over the place on facebook, twitter, KDP forums and Kindle forums.¬†I must confess though I’ve seen a lot of your work I don’t know which came first. So listing your books tell me what came first, how long it took to write and why you chose to write each of them. No bullshit, they’re all my children answers, list ’em in order of first to latest.

JW: A Blade Away was first. In fact, it was the first book I ever completed (So it holds a very special place in my heart). The first draft of that book was actually written nearly ten years ago.

After that was Gothica, the second in the Fringe Killer series. I wrote that book during a heavy Goth period in my life. I was going to a club every Friday night that had a Goth Night. It was so much fun dancing and getting to know everyone. I realized there was a special side to those people that many never saw. So I decided they needed to be the focus of the next in the series. The first draft of that book was completed almost exactly a year after the first draft of A Blade Away.

Next came Shero. This book came into being a couple of years after Gothica. I had been going through a fairly rough emotional stretch and eventually needed to write something fun.

A number of years passed between Shero and I Zombie I (about five). I had all but given up writing and then the idea for I Zombie I hit me. When I got the idea, the book wrote itself in about three months.

I am not on a fairly regimented schedule such that I always at least have two books in progress. At the moment I have My Zombie My in edit, Die Zombie Die in first rewrites, and Endgame (the third in the Fringe Killer series) in first draft.

AG: What, besides Clive Barker, prompted a computer engineer and sometime technical writer to delve into zombies, psychotic killers, and transgender superheroes?

JW: I’ve always been a huge fan of horror. And I liked zombies because they had yet to be sparkled or hunked up by Hollywood. Besides, zombies can be such a good vehicle for social and political commentary.

But most of all — I was an actor for twenty years. That was my primary (and only profession) for those two decades, so my world was quite diverse. I ventured in and out of so many varied circles of people, I realized just how much wonder and character there was to be written about.

As for Shero — well, that came from a very personal need to lighten up my own mood as well as my penchant for wearing kilts and skirts. Besides — who wouldn’t want to see a man in a little black dress and three inch heels kick the ass of evil? Who, I say, who?

AG: Ok, I’ll bite, how did Clive Barker influence you to the point that you cannot find the words to thank him. Please do find the words or this will be a VERY short answer.

JW: I was never a reader. The extent of my reading was scripts and text books. But while I was in undergrad school I finally saw the film Hellraiser. That movie had me transfixed on so many levels. When I discovered it was based on a book, I had to read it. I did…wow. I knew I had found an author I could read. But it wasn’t until I read Imajica that I realized Clive Barker had a way to take the horrfic and fantastical and write them with such beauty and grace the mind and the heart wasn’t really sure what was right and what was wrong. The Cenobites could be seductive and Pie O’ Pah could be anything you ever desired. But it was more than that — the character Gentle, from Imajica, was me. Of that there was no doubt. The character spoke as I would speak and did and felt things I would do and feel. I was sure Mr. Barker had managed to some how tap into my heart and soul and use it as fodder for the character.

When I finished Imajica I was inspired. I had to write. I had to create worlds and relationships and wonder just like Clive Barker. Yeah — a lofty goal I hope someday to acheive.

AG: In the KDP listing for Gothica it’s listed as book 2 of the Fringe Killer series. What’s book 1? It isnt’ I Zombie I is it?

JW: Nope. Book one is A Blade Away. I have to fix that listing so that it’s obvious both A Blade Away and Gothica (and the upcoming Endgame) are all part of that series.

I Zombie I is part of the I Zombie series.

AG: Did you release Gothica before the fist part of Fringe Killer like Lucas released A New Hope before Phantom Menace, Clone Wars & Revenge of the Sith in Star Wars? Or are you just not that good in math, i.e. counting past 1?

JW: No, as I said earlier, Gothica is actually part 2. Shenanigans can be called on my part.

AG: Growing up were you a George Romero & Tom Savini fan? What other zombie practitioners influenced your zombie foray?

JW: Big fan of Romero. I loved all of his films and even the remakes. I might well be the only fan of Return of the Living Dead 3! I do remember the first time I saw Night of the Living Dead. Damn that was a magical moment. And Romero was brilliant for casting a black actor as the protagonist. Not that I picked that up as a child — but what powerful social commentary that was.

Other zombinfluences? Resident Evil certainly as well as 28 Days Later. One of my favorite zombie films is probably the Australian film Undead. Not many liked it, but for some reason it really clicked with me. Another wonderful zombie film is Fido — it’s hilarious and should be viewed by any zombie fan.

AG: Any unmined ideas for stories you’re itching to put out? Assuming you could release a story that you haven’t yet but that’s close to your heart what would that be?

JW: I have a YA Paranormal story (doesn’t everyone) that I must write. This story started out as a dream I had nearly twenty years ago. Eventually that dream turned into a stage play for young audiences — but I knew that wasn’t the ideal vehicle for the story. The story has a very similar undertow as does most of my other books — acceptance and equality. As soon as I get my next zombie series going, I will write that. I’m nervous about starting it because it means so much to me. But when it’s done — it will be a huge hit, of that I’m sure.

AG: Were all your book ideas created in the same way? Describe each one. Did they come in dreams, did they percolate in the back of your cranium for years until they sprang from a chance occurrence in your life or did you develop them very slowly, nurture them onto the page?

JW: A Blade Away came from a discussion I had with a transgender friend about a moment in time that nearly caused him to take his own life. He was coming out of a meeting, dressed as his female persona, when he was attacked and badly beaten — just for being truthful to himself. When he told me that story I knew I had to bring the event to life and light.

As I mentioned earlier, Gothica came from me diving into the Goth scene mascara-first. There are a couple of characters in that book that are based on real people (with their permission) I frequently danced with or just hung out around.

I Zombie I was born when I asked myself “What would it be like to transform into a zombie?” The second I asked the question I knew I had to answer it and do so in book form.

A number of other stories that are brewing in the recesses of my mind-meat were inspired by songs, moments in time, deep thought, or other random bits and pieces. I find inspiration everywhere I look.

AG: On the surface every last one of the above mentioned books sounds like a great kernel of an idea for a movie. Did you plan them out that way or did they develop? Since you’ve listed that you’ve been an actor in the past have you been approached or been in talks to make any of them into a movie?

JW: Every book I write is written with the intent of being a movie or TV show. I feel like it’s our job, as authors, to help Hollywood out with new ideas. The film industry is currently bereft of originality and I do love movies. I would be remiss if I didn’t long for my words to find their way onto the big screen.

When I Zombie I was in the early stages, I did have a producer approach me about making a film of the book. It could still happen and it should happen. But, in all honesty, I’m holding out for Rob Zombie to do the treatment.

As for the Fringe Killer series — it needs to be a TV show.

AG: So now there’s also going to be My Zombie My, Die Zombie Die, Endgame & Shero II. Which one are you the most excited to finish? Remeber the no they’re all like your kids clause in this interview you’ve got to pick one. Sorta like an F-Marry-Kill question, or Sophie’s Choice thing.

JW: I am most excited about getting My Zombie My to the public. I think that book, most of all, will validate I Zombie I not just for me, but for the readers. Plus, I really think it’s one of my best yet. I’ve had a lot of readers contact me anxious for that book. It’s been a great feeling to know readers are actually excited about something you have created.