Happy Wednesday Scribblers. This week I’m thrilled to have fellow author and all around amazing guy J. P. Jackson back on my Scribbles page to talk with us about his newest novel Magic of Die. I finished reading Magic or Die over the holiday and I have to say, it was amazing. I loved it and I can’t wait for the next novel in the series to come out. If you want to read my review you can find it here.
Welcome back J.P. It’s great to have you back.
Thank you for having me.
Of course, now why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your writing? Since you’ve been here before why don’t you tell us something not in your bio.
I’m claustrophobic. I actually never knew until a few years ago. I ended up in the last row of a minivan getting a ride from the Car Dealership to work, and within a few minutes there was this overwhelming sense that the metal around me was squeezing in. I started to imagine all sorts of horrid things, and I was convinced the van was going to end up in some sort of collision, where I would be stuck, compressed by steel on all sides, slowly suffocating, and help wouldn’t arrive on time.
Worst 20 minutes of my life.
Update: That feeling has returned now several times, whenever I’m in small tight spaces. So I avoid them like the plague.
I like to try and channel some of that emotion into my writing!
I can’t imagine, at least you found a way to channel those feelings. What got you involved in writing? Why did you pick demons and all things dark as your vehicle for story telling?
I think I’ve always had stories running around in my head…and I love to read. Eventually I thought, “Why can’t I write the stories?” It was also a bucket list item for me to be published, so I set out to achieve that.
As for my demons…how could you not love them? They’re just misunderstood monsters waiting for the right person to love them and care for them. LOL. I don’t know why I went ‘dark’, but I’ve always had a little evil streak in me, and that naturally fell out onto the pages of my tales (or should I say tails?). It’s funny, I don’t think my writing is all that dark, and yet I keep getting told, “wow, that was creepy.” So, hey, I say go with it. Plus I find some measure of beauty in the darkness…
I can see that in your writing you do an amazing job painting a beautiful picture with your words. It’s very impressive. Okay, now tell us about Magic or Die.
Magic or Die started out as a short story that my editor wanted me to write for another project. Before I knew it, I had a full-fledged novel on my hands.
The story revolves around James Martin – an extremely powerful empath who is forced into completing the last year of his contract with a facility called the CMRD. James is broken, on many levels, and although he’s a good guy, he doesn’t always make the best decisions.
James’s job is to help five people, all in their early twenties, find a degree of control over their lethal supernatural abilities.
Problem is, if they can’t get their talents under control, the CMRD will euthanize them.
It’s a story about survival, and learning how to work as part of a team.
I know you had to do a lot of research. Did you find any of it creeping you out to the point where you said, “Okay that is too much and goes to far even for me?”
To be honest – I didn’t do that much research.
Seriously? Wow. Care to share?
Magic comes naturally to me, I see it everywhere, and I might be a fairly well-versed pagan (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). So understanding elements, colours and their meaning, herbology, minerology, affinities etc., is second nature. There’s definitely a few things I had to flip through my books to remind myself on, or get some unusual correlations put together, and there’s a few websites I like and trust for their content…but did any one thing lead me to the darkest realms of the internet?
No – not really. I’ll tell you a secret though…
I can’t watch horror movies.
They’ll keep me awake for weeks. I’m too sensitive and impressionable. My mind takes things I’ve seen and twists them even further.
I’ll let you in on another secret…
I’ve had people tell me, “OMG, thank you for scaring the crap out of me! What is wrong with you and your brain?” And, I’ve had others say, “Well, that’s not that scary!”
So, one person’s eternal nightmare is another’s stroll through the garden of souls. It’s really subjective.
That is certainly one way to put it. I’ve got to ask, who is your favorite character? I know there are so many to pick from but do you have one? If so can you share?
In Magic or Die? Oooh, tough choice. That’s like asking a parent which one of their children is the favorite!
I suppose Annabelle holds a little place in my heart. She’s so small and tiny, but has not yet come to terms with how powerful and capable she really is. She lacks the confidence to master the demons within her. She’ll find her way, but it might take a little bit of a journey to get there.
But I wrote the entire book with Isaiah in mind. I wanted a little bit more of a romance than my first book, Daimonion, and so for me, Isaiah is my fantasy hunk. I find it interesting that different people have pictured Isaiah differently than me – and he is often people’s favorite – but not always. I like the fact that Isaiah is capable of doing any kind of magic possible, but he’s going to have problems when his demon starts making demands of him that will test his comfort zones.
Definitely something to look forward in the next novel. I know I was surprised at the request of Isaiah’s demon. I’m very curious at how that is going to get worked out. So no spoilers lets move on. I know you’re working on a sequel, but I’m curious how many books do you plan for the series?
I’d like to write five books in this series. One for each of the students and their journey. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge though because at different points in time, the characters will be pulled away from each other.
Five books from each students POV that would be cool to read and I can see how you set it up based on what the first book. I wish you luck. That is going to be a lot of work.
You’re telling me.
I want to ask about a rather difficult topic. You wrote a Dark Urban Fantasy book in the MM genre and there is next to no sex, which I think is excellent, LGBTQIA+ don’t and should not have to contain sex in them to sell, however are you worried that there is an expectation in the market for MM books to have explicit sex? And are you worried that it will affect your sales? In your opinion what can we as authors do to change this stereo type? Also, do you think there is a role that the publishers should be taking to address this issue?
The expectation that any LGBTQ+ fiction must contain romance or sex is sickeningly prevalent, and I’m so tired of it. Honestly. My characters might have sex, but nine times out of ten I’m not going to write about it. If that’s what you want, then I’ll suggest some really good M/M Romance authors. I write fiction. Paranormal and Urban Fantasy fiction. It. Does. Not. Have. To. Contain. Sex.
100% Agree. Nicely said. I wish more people would understand this and talk about it.
Am I worried about sales? Sure I am. I’ve already seen where the expectation for that kind of a story has deterred folks from purchasing my books. But, in all honesty, if that’s the kind of read they were looking for, they would have ended up disappointed in my work – so, I prefer to market my stuff to anyone who’s interested in a really good dark story.
I think authors who write queer fiction should market their books in the realms where they fit. Did you write a western about a gay cowboy who inherited land and has to ‘settle the west’? Great! Market that to folks who like reading Westerns. Did you write an epic alien saga that features invading non-binary humanoids from another planet? Then sell it to Sci-Fi fans.
Get my point?
I don’t think that queer literature has to be marketed to Romance readers just because they might be more accepting of the queer content. It’s almost as if we’re closeting ourselves by only focusing in on an audience that is looking for gay content. The problem is – that’s not our market.
Half of my beta readers do not identify as part of the Rainbow Tribe. And, in fact, a lot of the readers I’ve connected with do not either. The people who are reading my books are folks who like Paranormal/Urban Fantasy stories.
We need to be brave and force our marketing companies and publishers to flog our works into more mainstream areas. More and more, queer content isn’t an issue for non-queer folk. Anyone will read it.
Now having said that, we don’t want to forget about our communities either – one of the reasons I started writing was to put creepy queer stories on the shelves in hopes that someone from the Rainbow Tribe would pick up one of my books and say, “Yes! That’s me! I’m in this book!”
So we can’t forget about where we came from, or who we represent, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves to that either.
Thank you. I’m so glad you shared that. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Okay, let’s change subjects here. When you’re not writing and reading what do you enjoy doing?
I read a lot. Anywhere from 30 – 50 books a year. I’m also learning to enjoy exercise. LOL. I’m in my last year of my forties and keeping the weight off and getting in better shape has really become a focus. I’d like to be more muscle bear than bear. Beyond that, I love watching movies with my husband, and finding new restaurants to enjoy. We both love to travel, and when I have time, I also like horticulture and gaming (my PS4 is sadly neglected). My spare time is really limited.
Oh, I’m sure. Time always seems to be at a premium these days. So then, what’s coming up next? What other books do you have out that we need to check out?
This year I’m really putting an emphasis on creating content instead of watching other people’s works. I hope to be able to bang out two books, both sequels – one to Magic or Die, and I already have about 10 chapters of that written. It’s tentatively called Blood Rites and Sacrifice. And then I need to get book two of the apocalypse written as well. It will be called Nephalem. I’d definitely suggest people read Daimonion. One reader described it as the TV show Supernatural, but from the demon’s perspective…if the demon was gay. I love this. A lot.
I’m toying with writing a Paranormal Romance as well – but again, darkly interwoven into the shadows – hexes and demonic contracts and unearthly creatures…but instead of a waifish pasty near-dead main character (as is often the case), I want to write it from the perspective of a gruff guy. A bear, like me, but really tough around the edges who ends up being a witch. Sounds like fun, right?
I think I might also try out sketching some of my characters. I used to be able to draw, but I haven’t used those skills in years.
I might also have to get my profile pictures updated…hmmm….
There is nothing like a good well taken photo and I’m sure whatever you come up with will be amazing. Anything else you want to share with us?
You know I love it when I hear from my readers. Make sure you hit me up on my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Goodreads profiles. I’d love to hear who your favorite characters are, and why, and what you think might happen next!
I want to thank author J. P. Jackson for stopping by my Scribble page and chatting with us for a while. Until next time have a great week everyone. Happy New Year!
About J.P. Jackson
J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.
At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.
J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.