1. Hi James! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us here at BookNest!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my favorite subject, me! Actually I don’t like talking about myself at all, but since I already agreed to this interview...
2. Would you mind starting off by sharing a little bit about yourself with our readers?
I write the Dead Jack fantasy / horror series. So far, I’ve published two books, Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device and Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher, and a short story, “Dead Jack and the Case of the Amorous Ogre.” I’ve also had more than 20 short stories published in such places as Nature's Futures, The Best of Galaxy's Edge and Unidentified Funny Objects 4. Most of them are in my short story collection, Madness & Mayhem. I’m also the Managing Editor at Weird Tales magazine. Also I like donuts.
3. I first discovered your writing back in 2016 when you launched a Kickstarter for your first Dead Jack novel, Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device. For those who might not know, who is Dead Jack and how did you come up with the character and the colorful world in which he inhabits?
Dead Jack is a fairy-dust-addicted zombie private eye who works cases with his homunculus sidekick Oswald in an alternate dimension called Pandemonium (think 1940s New York as envisioned by Hieronymus Bosch). The ideas for the character and the world were borne of my love of detective fiction, zombie movies, and New York City. Like the Big Apple (in the books and game, I call it the Big Rotten Apple), the world is a melting pot of creatures and supernatural beings, and the subway is never on time..
4. I think what I find so enjoyable about your novels is the fact that the plot is always so wild and outrageous, filled with humor and action, but you never fail to incorporate incredibly heartfelt moments with wonderful character development. What is the impetus behind your story-telling and the creation of such over-the-top yet compelling characters?
The Dead Jack stories are all about fun, excitement and unbridled enthusiasm (please, don’t mind the Seinfeld reference), basically the type of stories I would have loved as a kid, and since I’ve never grown up, the type of stories I still love. But I’m also interested in creating a realistic world, even when it’s full of zombies and fairies and ogres, and I’m very interested in exploring the relationship between Jack and Oswald. You’ll find it getting more nuanced and complex as the series goes along.
5. You’ve already released two Dead Jack novels, as well as a few Dead Jack short stories. Do you have plans for future installments, and if so, any chance you might reveal some of what might be in store for Jack and his motley crew?
The third novel, Dead Jack and the Old Gods, comes out next spring. It’ll be full of Lovecrafitan horror and monsters. I’m very excited about it. I recently finished a new short story, “Dead Jack and the Case of the Creepy Cryptid,” which will probably be available in some fashion through the upcoming Dead Jack tabletop roleplaying game (more on that in a bit). Oh, and one of the Dead Jack characters will be getting a spinoff series, which will hopefully kick off late next year.
6. Aside from your personal writing, you’re also the Managing Editor for Weird Tales Magazine. How did the opportunity come up, and what’s it like working for such an iconic magazine?
Again it was Dead Jack. They were looking for zombie stories back in 2012 and I submitted the first Dead Jack story, which I never even thought of publishing in a magazine. I didn’t think anyone would be interested. They accepted it (my first story acceptance) and one thing led to another and I started working for Weird Tales.
It’s been a blast and very cool to have a connection to one of the oldest and most respected pulp magazines in history. Over the years, I’ve gotten to edit stories by such people as Ramsey Campbell, Joe Lansdale and Victor LaValle, whose story “Up From Slavery” won a Stoker Award last year.
7. Weird Tales currently has a Kickstarter running for its first original tabletop RPG. What can you tell us about the exciting project?
The game is called Pandemonium Noir and it’s based on the Dead Jack books. You’ll get to play as a dust-addicted zombie private eye or a magically-tattooed witch or a cab-driving goblin. Like my series, the game is wild and irreverent. It’s a real blast to play.
Ravendesk Entertainment asked me a few months ago if I wanted to turn the series into a tabletop roleplaying game, and I immediately said yes. I suggested we make it a part of a series of Weird Tales-related games, and that’s what we’re doing. After Pandemonium Noir, we plan on making mythos, sword-and-sorcery and possibly space opera games, all based on Weird Tales stories. And if this first Kickstarter is successful, you may see more Pandemonium games.
8. Do you have any other projects in the works that we can look forward to?
After the Pandemonium Noir Kickstarter, I should be launching another campaign in October for my first comic book, manBOMB. It will be a 5-issue series about an inept human bomb named Max Beebe.
9. Thanks again for talking with us today!
Thanks for taking the time to read the interview with James Aquilone. You can check out the Pandemonium Noir Kickstarter here.