An interview, lovely readers! Aren't you dying to meet somebody new? Cue a bastardized 'The Love Boat' theme here: "Writers / exciting and new / come along / there's room for you / on vampirenomad.coooooooom..."
VampireNomad: It's time to meet a new writer! Well, time for me to meet a new writer too. Roger Jackson, it's really lovely of you to sit down and chat with me. First off, tell me where on earth you are!
Roger: Thank you. :) I'm in England; Liverpool to be more precise.
VampireNomad: Oh, Beatles territory! I'm recalling that correctly, right? Liverpool lads?
Roger: That's right! It's a big cultural thing here, somewhat before my time, but always a talking point when one mentions the city.
VampireNomad: Sorry to be cliché. ;) You can't help these instant mind associations! Anyway I had to clarify because we've never actually met in real life. (Or as the kids say: IRL.) We met on Twitter. Through Friday Phrases or slightly before?
Roger: Not a cliché at all, more of a reassuring constant. I think we mutually followed outside of Friday Phrases, but FP was where we started chatting.
VampireNomad: I think one of our first Twitter conversations was about weird turns of phrase we like to use.
Roger: Yes! I seem to remember you wanting to return the word “ace” to its rightful popularity! Which we both agreed was “the cat's pyjamas” haha!
VampireNomad: Ha! Yes! That was it. Ace.
I instantly like anybody with a proper affection for words.
Roger: As do I ... I think that's one of the intriguing challenges of something like FP; they're great exercises in restraint which means obviously trying to find the words loaded with the most meaning.
VampireNomad: I absolutely agree. Finding a way to say the most with the least is a great challenge.
That exchange led me to your site, actually, where I discovered your longer-form writing. Your fiction is wonderful! In particular I have to call out ‘Parasite’ which is beautiful and dark. You do have a dark aesthetic to your writing and I want to talk about that. Can you explain your motivation there?
Roger: That's really kind of you too say. ‘Parasite’ was actually inspired by the work of the artist Claudette Anne Pearson, who quite wonderfully posted a Halloween Advent Calendar on Twitter. It was the first time my writing has been inspired so directly by the work of another, and something I really enjoyed.
VampireNomad: It's beautiful, truly.
Roger: I'm really glad you liked it. The story was a rare example (for me) of the plot emerging more or less intact from the original idea.
VampireNomad: Don't you love it when that happens? I find more often than not my characters hijack the story and drive it someplace other than where I thought it was going.
Roger: Yes, that happens a lot, haha! But hopefully that's a good thing for the writing. I think the best result is when the plot is (more or less) how you envisaged it, but the characters themselves surprise you. If they're a little unpredictable to the writer, then hopefully they will be to the reader, too.
VampireNomad: How very true.
Foundation question alert! I'm curious, because I always am, on what got you started in writing? Is it just something you've always done or was there an event that sparked interest?
Roger: I've been interested in stories for as long as I can remember. I suppose my first introduction to the concept of a narrative was through the comics I read as a child (Marvel and DC), but I think if there was any kind of defining moment it was when, again as a child, I saw a TV interview with Stan Lee, and suddenly realised that somebody was making all this stuff up! Stan was just so cool, and passionate about what he was doing, and that's my earliest memory of actually wanting to write.
VampireNomad: That is fantastic story, I mean it. I love imagining you watching Stan Lee and suddenly having this lightbulb moment of "Oh my god, somebody makes this up! I COULD MAKE THIS UP!".
Roger: Yes, exactly! It's like you've Quantum Leaped back into my past! I still think Stan rocks, and actually looking back on it the serialized nature of those stories probably led me to understand the ideas of pacing and so on.
VampireNomad: It's true, to a degree, that you are what you read. By that of course I mean what you ingest influences and instructs what you put out. There can't be a better introductory guide than Stan Lee. The man is a master.
Roger: ‘Nuff said
VampireNomad: So how did you then get into horror and suspense?
Roger: I actually focussed more on science-fiction when I started out, but I think that they were just horror stories in disguise. It's probably not the most unexpected of answers, but a teenage fixation with Stephen King books was a huge influence.
VampireNomad: I could probably have guessed that.
I will say this: ‘Christine’ scared the daylights out of me back in the day.
Roger: For me it was ‘Pet Sematary’!
VampireNomad: Oh I couldn't even read that one! I should probably rectify that now...
Who else did you read and do you read that is an inspiration?
Roger: I loved Poppy Z Brite, particularly ‘Exquisite Corpse’. Part of the book is set in England, and the way she described things I saw every day in such a lyrical style really chimed with my own views that the grey and the grim have their own kind of beauty. I don't have as much time right now to read as much as I would like (who does?) but I've just finished ‘Horns’ by Joe Hill and that was amazing!
VampireNomad: Okay now I have to immediately look those two books up. Oh and “the grey and grim have their own kind of beauty” is awesome and true, also.
Roger: I think it's true. The darkness in a horror story is only visible because of the light of the characters.
VampireNomad: See, this is where I realize we could actually talk for days about things like this. So much to share! You have amazing perspectives that I'm like "Yes, this!" to. But at some point we do have to tie this up or it will be The Post That Never Ends.
So okay, to wrap up, let me ask this: what is one thing about you that you want people to know?
Roger: Most. Difficult. Question. Ever! haha!
VampireNomad: *bows* Thank you.
Roger: Ha, okay ... I suppose If I had to say one thing, it would be what is says in my Twitter bio: Geek and Proud.
VampireNomad: LOVE IT.
Thank you so much for indulging my curiosity and questions.
Roger: Not at all, thank you! I shall file this mentally under Terrifying but Immense Fun!
VampireNomad: I'm not sure if I'm more flattered or more amused by the 'terrifying' part of that but either way, I'm glad we did this.
- Corinne Simpson