For too long now award winning author Jasper Bark has been allowed to skulk in the shadows committing his unspeakable acts. If he isn’t tearing out the throat of acclaimed author Joseph D’Lacey or eating the brains of best selling novelist David Moody he’s detailing some of the worst acts ever committed to fiction.
This has to STOP. We have to expose his checkered history to the horror blogosphere at large. Recently we at Crystal Lake Publishing tied Jasper to a chair and beat a confession out of him. The results of this cross examination can be found below along with a series of links to youtube that show his many crimes caught on camera.
How do your two innocent daughters cope with having someone like you for a father?
Thankfully they’re not entirely traumatised by having me as their father – just yet. They tend to use humour as a way of coping with me. I was hoovering a little while ago when my youngest Ishara looked at me askance and asked: “Dad are you gay?” To which I said: “I’m married to your mother and I have two children, what does that tell you?”
“That we’re adopted?” replied Freya my eldest.
On another occasion Ishara was dragging her feet on the way to school. I told her to pick her feet up and stop being such a pain in the backside. She started to sing: “Pain in the backside/Pain in the front/Mummy is a slack bride/ Daddy is … Daddy is … Daddy, what rhymes with front?”
Do you think they’ll put you in an old folks’ home soon or have you convinced them that a man of your age isn’t actually old?
I’m hoping that by the time I reach an ancient and decrepit age they’ll be so warped, through long term exposure to their father, that rather than inflict me on the residents of an institution, they’ll think nothing of slaughtering a few virgins so I can bathe in their blood and rejuvenate my aging flesh.
You began your career as a performance poet, isn’t that just an excuse to recite dirty limericks in public?
It was an excuse for a lot of things, most notably not cutting my hair cut or getting a proper job.
Your career has never been far from controversy has it? Before you were an author you managed to cause quite a scene at the Edinburgh International Festival.
I presume you’re talking about the scandal surrounding my play ‘F*** The State – In 5 Easy Lessons’ which debuted at the Edinburgh Festival. It did stir up a bit of controversy in the tabloids and a few councillors called for it to be banned. It was up for a Fringe First (which are the Oscars of the festival) but it was denied it due to the controversy.
The most unsettling thing was watching a bunch of the actors getting arrested for handing out leaflets for the show on the Royal Mile. This is something you expect to see happening to dissidents handing out seditious literature in the former Soviet union. Not actors handing out flyers for a comedy at one of the world’s foremost international arts festivals.
Some people really don’t have a sense of humour I guess. Thank goodness the British bobby is still susceptible to bribery I say.
You also spent some time as a music and film journalist, who was the biggest douche you had to interview?
That’s a difficult question as there were rather a lot. Fame and money do not bring out the best in a person’s character.
I did interview Marshal Mathers when he first came to Britain to promote his first album. A female colleague and I went to meet him in a suite at the Dorchester hotel. His six foot eight, African American minder showed us in and for some reason I still can’t explain, we did the interview in the bathroom.
My colleague was perched on the side of the bath, while I squatted over the bidet under the disapproving scowl of the minder. Mr Eminem sat on the toilet and stared at the floor, answering our questions with monosyllabic grunts.
About ten minutes in to the interview my colleague asked him about the number of his lyrics that dealt with violence against women. “Alright, I see where this is going,” said his minder. “Don’t you answer that Marshal.” Then he picked me up by the scruff of my neck so that my feet were dangling above the floor and marched me and my colleague out of the bathroom and threw us into the corridor.
My write up, as you can imagine, was quite cutting and filled with invective, but my editors had a failure of nerve and printed a bowdlerised, sycophantic version of the interview instead. That same week the NME, who’d conducted a perfectly cordial interview, led with the heading ‘Meet Slim Shady – He’s an Asshole’ and completely trumped us.
About a year later I was given his second album ‘The Marshal Mathers LP’ to review. I sat down, sharpened my knives and put it on the stereo. You can imagine my disappointment when I found out it was brilliant. Oh well.
You also write books for children and are well known in the world of graphic novels. When did all this start and how do you fit it in around writing horror novels?
Well the comics and graphic novels probably came first. While I was working as a music and film journalist I got in touch with The Losers creator Andy Diggle, who was then editor of 2000AD and offered to get him in to see any band or up coming film he liked for free. After a screening of the film Snatch I mentioned I was interviewing the cast and director the next day. Andy told me if I could get a quote from director Guy Ritchie he’d buy a script off me no matter how ropey it was. So in the middle of the interview I asked this drawn out question about 2000AD and got Guy Ritchie to endorse it. I let Andy out of the deal though and eventually sold a script to his successor, current editor Matt Smith.
After writing grown up comics for a while I began to notice there weren’t any really good comics for kids anymore and as I was a parent myself I felt impelled to try and write some so I moved into the kids comics market. From this I moved into writing kids books. Some of my kid’s books have been translated into nine different languages while others are used in schools all over the country to help improve literacy in senior school children.
Why is your name spelt Jasper on some books and Jaspre on others?
I had to undergo a bit of a rebranding exercise. Jaspre is an unconventional spelling of ‘Jasper’ but as I started to sell to an increasingly international market it was apparently causing confusion among certain readers about how you pronounce the name and this was putting them off.
So, just like Jif (which became Cif) and Marathon (which became Snickers) I’ve been re-marketed for a wider public. Unlike Cif and Snickers however, I don’t hang around the toilet for ages and you can’t nibble my nuts for under a buck.
Is it true that your most embarrassing moments was reviewing pop videos with two puppets called Zig and Zag on the UK TV show The Big Breakfast?
It’s the most embarrassing moment that I can publicly admit to.
A friend of mine, who is quite a famous stripper, recorded a copy for me when it went out. As she was doing this her bed partner of the night before burst a blood vessel in his penis causing the condom he had just put on to fill up with blood like a water balloon. My friend, bless her heart, refused to take him to the hospital until she’d finished taping my segment.
This is a true story!
I did the spot with the Australian comic Mark Little who used to play Joe Mangel on the soap ‘Neighbours’, which is famous for launching the careers of Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce. Mark started the interview by saying: “You know I’ve got a little Jasper” To which I replied: “Never mind, they have plastic surgery for that nowadays”.
“No,” Mark said. “I mean I’ve got a son called Jasper.”
“Oh,” I said, and an embarrassed silence followed, in which my customary wit completely deserted me.
WRITING AND CAREER:
What first got you interested in writing?
I was five years old and I saw a piece on the long forgotten BBC TV children’s show ‘Why Don’t You’ about kids, a little older than me, who were making their own comics. All you needed was paper, felt tip pens, a stapler and a little imagination. I had all those! I could make my own comics, MAKE MY OWN COMICS!!!
No idea has ever filled me with such excitement. From drawing my own comics I began filling stolen school text books with stories. The compulsion got so bad that the following Christmas my parents had to confiscate my pens and paper so I would come open my presents.
Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?
If I’m honest, it’s a little of both. I usually spend a lot of time plotting in advance but sometimes a story gets impatient with me and tells me to just sit down and write the damn thing. Even when I’ve plotted something quite tightly the story will often surprise me by taking unexpected turns. There is always a journey of discovery as you uncover the first draft, even if you think you know where you’re going. One of my favourite jokes goes: ‘Q: How do you make God laugh? A: Tell Him your plans.’ Bearing that in mind, I suspect you would probably have your novel in uncontrollable fits of giggles if you were to show it your chapter breakdowns.
Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?
Constantly! As I was coming towards the end of my second novel I was worried about a few loose plot threads and was trying to think of a sub plot I could quickly add to address them. Then out of the blue one of my characters suddenly revealed a whole sub plot that had been going on right under the main characters’ noses that completely reframed the whole story. I had no idea about this until she started to outline it. I sat there taking dictation from her thinking the whole while “why the hell didn’t I think of this?” She even made reference to all kinds of tiny events in the novel that I had forgotten about and suddenly made complete sense of them. Many reviewers commented on this surprise sub plot and singled it out for praise, but to this day I really don’t think I can take any credit for it. It all came from my female lead.
Sci fi visionary Philip K. Dick used to speak with his characters and consult them independently of his fiction. He was especially fond of a few characters and he would interact with them in a fictional realm, a little like divination. When he needed their support or advice he would sit at his typewriter and type “Phil walks into Leo’s office. He sits at Leo’s desk, wearing a hang dog expression. ‘Something on your mind Phil?’ Leo says. ‘Well I’m glad you asked,’ says Phil. ‘As it happens … &etc’.” He had on going relationships like this, with some of his characters, for decades after the books they appeared in were published. This is because the characters were independent entities to him. Grant Morrison also talks about putting on a fiction suit and stepping into stories and I’ve met Chaos magicians who claim to have summoned up and interacted with fictional characters in very real magical ceremonies. So I guess they’re all exploring a similar vein, which begs the question: do we come up with our characters, or have they always been there, simply waiting for us to write a story to house them?
What is a day in your life like? Can you walk us through the minefield?
I tend to wake fairly early when the blunt object my wife has thrown connects with my head. Usually this is either because the kids are driving her psychotic, or she’s found the writer with his throat torn out that I left in the middle of the lawn the previous night (when the cats do this with their prey it’s considered cute, but apparently when I do it, it’s psychopathic – double standard anyone???).
When the kids are safely delivered to school or, if it’s the weekend, safely locked in the basement with the power tools and the matches where they can’t distract me, I’ll settle down in my office to work. I tend to begin my day by writing a list. Lists are great ways of pretending to work without actually doing anything and they bring a completely unearned sense of achievement. I’ll start with a ‘to do’ list to which I’ll subsequently pay no further attention, then, if I’m about to embark on a new endeavor, like a short story or a script, I’ll write an ideas list like this one:
LIST OF IDEAS …
1) Erm ….
2) Err ….
3) How about …. no that’s a bit obvious …
4) Well I could always … no I couldn’t – God what was I thinking!
5) There’s always the old one about …. no, everyone’s used that …
6) Does an inappropriate thought about the Creature from the Black Lagoon actually count as an idea???
Once that’s successfully accomplished I may even write another list as a direct consequence of the last list. Such as this one:
LIST OF POSSIBLE REASONS WHY I’M GOING TO MISS THE DEADLINE:
1) I’m on the run from the CIA – again! (this has possibilities).
2) Look, it’s women’s problems alright! You wouldn’t understand. (not sure if I can pull this one off – fnarr, pull this off, snerk).
3) I’ve just suffered a rectal prolapse due to a civil war between the microscopic alien races inhabiting my lower colon. (might need to work on this one, fnarr – work on this … oh wait that’s not an innuendo).
Once the serious business of list making is out of the way, along with other important admin tasks such as ‘liking’ every lame picture of a cat that I can find on Facebook, it’s time to settle down to some serious writing. First I open a new document. Next I spend two or three hours staring alternately out of the window and at the blank screen of my laptop. At some point during this vital stage in the process, my wife will walk in and say something devastatingly witty like: “working hard are we?” I’ll then spend half an hour contemplating whether I should draw up a list of snappy comebacks for the next time she cracks this particular howler, but failing to come up with anything in the least bit ‘snappy’ or ‘comebackable’ (yes that is a word) I’ll abandon the idea.
After eating a light lunch I’ll return to my desk for a concerted hour of weeping tears of bitter frustration, interspersed with kicking my desk and weeping tears of pain from the injury I’ve done to my foot. Then I’ll lie on the floor, stare at the ceiling and bemoan the fact that I was stupid enough to enter a profession for which I obviously have no talent and my children will undoubtedly starve as a consequence.
Remembering that my children will soon have to be picked up from school (or released from the basement) finally spurs me into action and, fueled by sheer panic, I manage to rattle off a thousand words or more before I have to down tools and resume my role as a parent. In the 30s and 40s at the Disney Studios, the sixty minutes before the animators would clock off for the day at 5pm was known as the ‘golden hour’. This was the time when all the guys in the studio would stop giving each other hot foots, or drawing penises on each other’s cells when they weren’t looking, and knuckle down and do some serious work. It was estimated that the majority of work that you see on the screen from that period was drawn in this single hour.
That’s how it is for me too. I’d like to say that all the preamble leading up to this hour or so is an integral part of the process, but even I’m not that self deluding. In fact one of the main reasons for having a routine is not so much to encourage myself to write, but rather to avoid all those things that stop me writing (namely just about everything). Don DeLillo said: “A writer takes earnest measures to ensure his solitude and then finds endless ways to squander it.” Which effectively says in seventeen words what’s taken me nearly a thousand.
Have you ever written something so truly, deeply frightening that you scared yourself?
If you’re going to successfully scare your readers you need to be able to scare yourself. You need to probe those parts of your psyche that you’re normally too afraid to explore. You have to confront those irrational impulses and deep seated phobias, that fester away under the skin of your mind like an abscess, and use your fiction like a scalpel to lance them and bleed off the poison. If it works for you, it will work for a fair number of your readers.
One story that did deeply disturb me was How The Dark Bleeds. The idea for the story originally manifested in a graphic novel I was pitching to an American publisher. One of the subplots contained a concept that increasingly unnerved and disturbed me. It grabbed hold of the darker side of my imagination and tortured it incessantly, until I was both in love with and terrified of the concept all at once. I had never seen this idea anywhere before and I knew I had to write about it. The only problem was, as amazing as this concept was, the graphic novel I was pitching was better off without it. So it was with great reluctance that I took it out.
At around the same time I was stuck for an idea for the short story I was contracted to write for the anthology For the Night is Dark. Well not so much stuck, I had plenty of ideas, it’s just that none of them were as good as I thought they ought to be. The pay for writing short stories is frankly lousy, so I always figure that, if I’m going to go to the trouble of writing one, it better be something I really want to write.
Then I remembered the concept that enthralled and unsettled me, the one I’d put in the bottom drawer. If anything, it had grown stronger since I’d dropped it into fictional suspended animation. I found it had been waiting for me and it wanted to take me to places far darker than my fiction had ever been before. It forced me to confront and record the taboos I’d previously shied away from and to enter those territories I’d always thought of as ‘off limits’ – even as a horror writer.
The experience of writing this story was both exhilarating and excruciating. There were several moments during its composition when I wondered not only if I wanted to finish it, but whether or not I wanted to write another piece of horror fiction as long as I lived. Ultimately, I did live to tell this tale and I will certainly tell others.
With hindsight, I’m glad that I did. The story turned out really well. It scared my publisher and made my editor queasy. It’s going to be collected in Stuck On You and Other Prime Cuts the short story collection I have coming out in June from Crystal Lake Publishing.
How important is authenticity to an author? Should they do hands on research if something is outside their experience?
Authenticity is everything when it comes to writing. Especially when you’re writing about things that are very unlikely to happen. Like decapitating a member of the walking dead with a malfunctioning sex toy. Or staking a vampire with the sharpened end of a frozen blood sausage. If this is outside of the author’s experience then it’s important they at least make some attempt to find out what this would actually feel like, if only as an aid to their imagination.
We recently had a new router installed to improve our broadband connection. This involved rewiring the offices at the bottom of our garden. So I was forced to work on the dining room table in my bathrobe. Well I wasn’t actually forced to work in my bathrobe, that’s just one of the perks of my job. Unperturbed I soldiered on with the day’s work and, as an aid to my imagination, I decided to boost the authenticity of the story I was writing by acting out one of the scenes.
Lacking a gothic balcony I decided to improvise and clamber up the bookcase instead. As there were no members of the undead to hand I had to use one of our long suffering cats. Being vegetarian I’d sharpened the end of a veggie sausage to give me an idea of the weight ratio involved in wielding a frozen blood sausage. At this point two things happened. A – my wife and the engineers entered the room to check the phone connection, to find me halfway up the book case pretending to impale a ruffled feline with a sharpened veggie sausage and B – my bathrobe fell open to reveal my not so sharpened love sausage.
While this is just another day at the office for me and my all too understanding wife, the engineers were, to put it politely, more than a little perturbed. I blame my wife for this of course. She knows there’s no phone connection in the dining room.
Can you write under any conditions or do you need peace and quiet?
Peace and quiet is essential to the act of creation. Staring into space for long periods of time is an unavoidable part of writing for a living. Even if we can never get our loved ones to understand this. If we don’t get the time and space to do this properly then countless hours of work can be lost.
At an integral point in my story I might suddenly hit a brick wall, triggered by an unseen plot hole such as: “how does my protagonist obtain a frozen blood sausage in the middle of the Sahara?” This is the point in the proceedings when I look up from my screen and use the time honoured technique of staring into space. My train of thought might go something like this…
“So how does my protagonist get a frozen blood sausage in the Sahara desert? I mean it’s not like the nomadic Tuareg raiders have a traveling blood sausage tent or anything. How would they freeze the sausage if they did? Can you get a camel powered freezer in the desert? Could you fit a freezer in a camel’s hump?
“My editor is seriously going to get the hump if I don’t get this story in, I’m two weeks late already. If my protagonist was a writer who’d missed his deadline maybe he could sharpen his blood sausage on the heated edge of his editor’s rage. Is that even possible? Perhaps I’m coming at this from the wrong angle. Maybe I need to think about this thematically.
“What does the blood sausage represent?
“The phallocentricity of Victorian society?
“His father’s phallocentricity?
“If the blood sausage represents his father’s phallus, and he wants to penetrate the vampire’s chest with it, does that mean the vampire’s cold heart is his mother? If the blood sausage melts as it pierces the undead organ will the liquid blood impregnate the vampire’s heart causing an unholy hybrid sausagepire to grow inside the slaughtered vamp’s chest cavity?
“Wait a minute… I’ve got it… that’s it… oh my god, that’s the most amazing idea I’ve ever had… the vampire sausage hybrid is a…”
“Working hard?” my wife might say popping her head round the door at just this moment.
“I said are you working hard? I popped in to see if you wanted a cup of tea and you were staring out into space.”
“I’m not staring into space I’m doing important mental work and I’ve just made a breakthrough. Do you realise that the vampire sausage hybrid is really a… a…”
“The vampire sausage what?”
“No, you don’t understand the blood from the sausage is… it’s going to… I mean… oh no, I’ve completely forgotten. I had genius dancing at the ends of my fingers and now it’s gone. Dead and gone as surely as if you’d hammered a sharpened blood sausage through its unbeating heart.”
“So… does this mean you want a cup of tea or not?”
At this point I will most likely throw an unholy tantrum and lock my self in my study for the rest of the day. On reflection it’s most probably this behaviour that causes my wife to invite workmen into the living room while I’m swinging naked from the bookcase.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
The fact that it’s the genre you go to when you want to think the unthinkable. The genre where all our worst fears and neuroses bubble up to the surface. What if my child doesn’t come home one night? What if my home, my body or my mind is invaded and I’m powerless to stop it? What if consensus reality is just a cosy fiction that masks a deeper more irrational universe than we can ever understand?
This last fear is probably what attracts me the most. Horror stories are where I first learned about people who held heretical beliefs and practiced unthinkable acts in the name of both science and religion. Who had the balls to lift what Shelley called “the painted veil that those who live call life” and peer at what lies behind it. Granted they usually came to a bad end because of it, but in the brief moments before their fall I always thrilled to their Faustian excitement, drunk on the power of forbidden knowledge.
The Gnostics used to believe that fearsome angels, known as Archons, patrolled the outer limits of reality to terrify and attack all but the bravest and most dedicated seeker after the truth from venturing into the unknown. Sometimes the deepest and most profound truths lie beyond a howling chasm of fear. To experience those truths we have to leap blindly into that chasm with no guarantee that we will get to the other side.
That moment of electrifying, near hysterical terror, when we leave behind everything we know to be true, and hurtle towards a new reality, that’s the note of cosmic terror that I love the best.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I think that depends on the story you’re telling, the themes you’re exploring and the scene you’re concentrating on. Both have their place in any horror story.
What connects them for me is that they’re both about revealing the mysteries of the interior. Very few of us get a sustained and intimate look at what goes on inside our bodies. Few of us get to hold a beating human heart, to use sharpened steel to remove a vital organ or watch as the blood drains from a still warm body until it stops kicking and turns cold.
Few of us ever explore the truly damaging nature of an aberrant human mind. Few get deep inside a psychosis so destructive it will bend a human will to murder over and over again. Or find ourselves caught up in the maelstrom of a meme, like mob justice, that culminates in genocide.
Horror is important because it’s the one genre where we can take those parts of us that remain mentally and physically hidden and bare them to the light. So that in plumbing the depths of our bodies and minds we might chance upon our souls.
What attracts you to writing Zombie/Apocalyptic fiction?
Although both those genres have become conflated thanks to Romero’s excellent Dead movies, none of the Zombie fiction I’ve worked on has been post apocalyptic. The appeal of each genre is quite different for me.
What I like about zombies is how malleable they are as a representative icon. As society trades old nightmares for new, with each advancing decade, the zombie keeps adapting and changing the things it stands for in our collective unconscious. In the 30s when the zombie was first introduced to western culture it stood for the western colonial fear of the nations it was exploiting. Over the years the zombie has come to represent mainstreams fears of everything from communism and terrorism to sixties radicalism and growing economic unrest. This makes it very appealing to writers like myself who have an interest in writing social commentary and satire.
The thing that appeals to me about post apocalyptic fiction, on the other hand, is that it allows you to study society as a whole in microcosm. As we view the shattered bands of survivors trying to rebuild their life in the aftermath of the collapse of civilisation there’s a huge opportunity to examine the everyday tensions and conflicts of our current society. The backdrop of a lost and ruined world allows us to view these opposing forces in a more naked and honest light, outside of the contexts and allegiances of our contemporary culture. This throws them into sharper relief and allows us a fresh perspective of the problems they’re causing us and the long term consequences of certain courses of action.
Plus err … zombies are totally awesome. They eat brains, they never wash and they always, always win. Vampires and Werewolves might be in an eternal conflict but Zombies can kick both their butts. A vampire or a werewolf can bite a Zombie as many times as they like and it’ll still be a zombie. A zombie’s only has to bite them once and you’ve got a zompire or a werebie. (Is it just me or does a ‘werebie’ sound like a creepy undead furby fetishist?)
When a novel has a strong theme, it can be a tightrope act walking between what the story’s about and what it’s really about. Way of the Barefoot Zombie uses the walking dead sub-genre as satire. At times I found the message blazing as brightly as the story itself. Was that intentional? Once you knew where you were going, did you find it hard to keep a lid on all that social comment?
You’re right it can be a tightrope act but I’m glad you said ‘blazing as brightly as the story itself’ and not ‘strangling the fecking story to death’. I think the writer’s ultimate responsibility is to the story itself but I think the story is strengthened no end if it is about more than just the characters themselves and what happens to them. As a writer you get incredibly close to your story and subject matter when you’re spending eight, nine and even ten hours a day working on it. You can’t help but ruminate a lot on your themes, so when the greater significance of certain parts of your story occurs to you, you want to point them out.
I was a lot more subtle about this in my third novel Dawn Over Doomsday and as a consequence a lot less people noticed. So I think when I wrote Way of the Barefoot Zombie I was over compensating a little and trying to point out the subtext to the reader, possibly a little too much at times. I’m still learning how to get the balance right.
I do aspire to write genre fiction that is fast paced, completely gripping but just as intelligent and significant as more weighty writing. This is a tall order though and sometimes you can fall between two stools. The sort of people who just want quick entertainment can get really annoyed when you start asking them to think a bit and the sort of people who might appreciate the more complex ideas you’re considering can be put off by the schlocky nature of some of the content.
Still, it’s not worth doing if it’s too easy is it.
Do you think horror has a purpose, above giving people a comfortable, entertaining scare?
I really do believe it has. In my opinion the best horror stories use the weird and other-worldly as a metaphor for a deeper or more personal truth. I also think that the world is quite a scary place at the moment and because of this the tropes and motifs of horror are some of the best ways of addressing the contemporary world. A lot of the horror writers coming up at the moment seem to be interested in social commentary in the same way that the New Wave and the early Cyberpunk writers previously used science fiction as a vehicle for social comment.
Regardless of whether you could sell it or not, what is the book you were born to write?
The Scratch and Sniff Karma Sutra – don’t know why it hasn’t been done before.
Why should people read your work?
Because I need the money!
Also because they’ll discover imaginative, edgy and unexpected fiction that explores social and spiritual issues while pushing at the boundaries of what genre fiction can and ought to do.
Because I’ll take them to places they’ve never been before and will never get to visit again. That’s a money back guarantee.
STUCK ON YOU:
What were you thinking when you took an urban legend and turned it into a delightfully twisted story called Stuck on You?
Mostly – “Gee, I bet this will make ’em toss their cookies” I wasn’t actually sure it was an urban legend when I stumbled across it on an obscure forum while researching something else. The person posting it seemed to think it was a true story. In fact the tale first appeared on the Darwin Awards site, which is devoted to deaths that are so dumb the victim is given an award for not muddying the human gene pool with their decided lack of smarts. So there’s some debate as to whether it actually happened or not (my guess is definitely NOT).
It was one of those little snippets of information that stuck to the seamy underbelly of my imagination and wouldn’t let go until I wrote a story to get rid of it. Taking the Piss, another story that’s collected in the forthcoming collection: Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts, was just the same. It was inspired by something hideous I read about that just wouldn’t leave me alone. I sometimes create stories as little traps for the vile and hideous notions that infest my psyche, so I can be done with them and pass them onto my unwary readers. Think of it as a public service.
Stuck on You goes to some pretty extreme places, did you ever worry that you were going too far?
All the time. The fear for a writer working on something like Stuck On You is that you’re going to lose half your readership. That what your describing is going to gross them out so much they’ll throw the story down in disgust. So I would try and slowly ease the reader into each new incident that befalls the main character Ricardo. I would build to a gross climax then scale it back a bit. The thing about the story is that just when you think it’s gotten as low as it can go I’ll find a new depth to plumb, but you have to let up a bit in between. The intense levels of eroticism helps with this as did the black humour. Many readers have said they squirmed while reading it, or felt sick, but most have also said they laughed too, which is good because there is a strong element of slapstick in the story.
There are some really erotic and sexual scenes in Stuck On You. Were they fun to write?
Yes, but they were also very hard (if you’ll pardon the pun). That’s because, in my experience, Sex and Violence are the two hardest things to write well. Not many people have first hand experience of extreme violence so their depictions of it can sometimes seem inauthentic or clumsy. While most people have first hand experience of sex, we make ourselves very vulnerable when we talk or write about it in great detail. Mainly because we’re revealing something of ourselves that’s very intimate when we do. What’s more, its very difficult to find the right language to approach sex without sounding like either a clinical sex ed. description or a euphemism laden dirty joke.
Champions of ‘Quiet Horror’ often claim that ‘anyone can throw in a bunch of sex and violence and get a response’ but I think they’re wrong about this. You’ll get a response, but it won’t always be a good one, because not anyone can write sex or violence well. That’s often why many authors stop at the bedroom door and only hint at the violence. I think they’re making a virtue out of a necessity. However, I do think you can write something of great quality that’s also extremely violent and highly erotic. That’s one of the issues I was hoping to address with Stuck On You. You’ll have to read it to see if I’ve succeeded but I can promise you that if you like either sex or violence you won’t be disappointed.
Why should people read Stuck On You?
Because it’s the sickest, filthiest and most inexcusable thing you’ll read all year. If you think you’ve read everything in horror think again this will take you to an all time low. It’s the ultimate guilty pleasure, the sort of book you have to read with one hand free, partly to hide behind and partly to do other things with.
VIDEO FOOTAGE & MULTI MEDIA:
Jasper’s 1st promo for his novel Way of the Barefoot Zombie wherein he shows us a novel way to treat an estate agent and make a real killing on the housing market: