Name Jack Wallen
Age Now we’re getting personal. I’m somewhere between 0-50. Unfortunately “Somewhere between” is edging dangerously close to the latter boundary.
Where are you from
A dimension unprouncable by the human tongue. But for simplicity, I tell everyone I was born in a small town in Indiana.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
The two biggest bits of news revolves around my Reapers series and my book The Dark Seduction. First, the Reapers series (published by Devil Dog Press) was initially going to be a trilogy; due to its popularity, it has been decided the book will now be an on-going series.
The second bit of awesome is that The Dark Seduction is getting a sequel. This book stars the band Die So Fluid (they are awesome, look them up). Over the last year, the band tragically lost their drummer and I was under the assumption the sequel wouldn’t happen. After talking with the band’s manager, it was decided the second book would definitely happen.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I was a professional actor for thirty years. At some point in my career, I realized the Actors Equity Association retirement was a joke, so I had to come up with a plan. I had written stage plays and monologues before, so I was familiar with words—their shape and poetry. Thanks to script analysis classes and improvisation studies, I had all the tools necessary to tell a story. So I did…and it turned out to be the first book I ever had published…A Blade Away.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was a part of the beta program for Amazon Kindle Publishing. The second I sold my first book on that platform…I knew there was no turning back.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is a thriller that centers around the transgender community in the city of Louisville, KY. I had a few very dear friends that were a part of that community and I wanted to write a story that honored their struggle. The story I wrote wound up being fairly dark and kicked my career off on just the right twisty note.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My style is often called a mashup of the modern and the literary. I love words and love structuring sentences and paragraphs to manipulate rhythm, flow, and form. I tend to lean heavy on a poetic prose style of writing.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
With every book I write, the title is informed by the writing. The working title of A Blade Away was “Kill Her”. Somewhere in the middle of that book I wrote something like “You’re just a blade away from truth.” It was when I wrote that sentence the title was born. I am very organic in my process, so I always allow for things to just happen.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s a message in every story I write. In that first book, the message is that fighting against your truth can be deadly.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As I said, that first book (written over 20 years ago) was inspired by real-life friends. There are a few other friends peppered into the narrative as well.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The works of Clive Barker have had a massive influence on me. No other writer of the horrific has managed to write the gruesome with such grace. One of my greatest accomplishmens to this date was having my novel Hell’s Muse compared to Barker’s earlier works.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Again, say I, Clive Barker. His book Imajica was what helped make me realize the power and beauty in words. That book is breath-stealing at times.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The indie community has been tantamount to keeping me going. There are so many wonderful people in the community (both writers and readers), that fill my heart with hope and helps to keep my passion for the craft burning with an unmeasured intensity.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I am a full-time writer, so yes. I write seven hours a day, at home, in my pajamas. That’s the writer’s life. 😉
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My latest book is Dark Side Down (released April 21, 2017). I am thrilled to say I wouldn’t change a thing in that book. That particular story is part of The Nameless Saga, a series I started as a reaction to the publishing industry. It’s raw, dark, and painful at times. I can only write one of those books a year (or every other year), due to how much they take out of me.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It all started when I was a member of a group in graduate school (studying Acting at Purdue University). We were obssessed with the role playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. I loved my character so much that, when I finally graduated, I decided to continue him on by writing his story. Those words never saw the light of day, but made me realize that I could write more than stage plays.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The vestments were always a bit tight, heavy. With each attack upon my faith, they burned my skin and made bitter my memory. They were, however, my duty; the Vatican, my employer. No matter how many times I’d been spit at, violated, and broken, my goal was to cleanse the colors of evil from man’s palette.
“Father, oh Father, thank God you have arrived. The boy—he’s grown worse.”
“Your name?” I had little time for pleasantries, but knowing the names of those who would serve as my assistants made the rites and rituals far easier.
“I am terribly sorry. My name is Isobella. I am the Abbess of St. Belle’s Orphanage.”
“Do you know the Rite of Exorcism?”
The nun paused, looked at the cracked and aged hardwood floor at her feet. “I must apologize, Father, I do not.”
“Ignorance of the Rite was one of the blessings of having such a secretive arm of the Holy See. It is not a problem, Mother Abbess; I will guide you.”
As I was taking off my rain-soaked jacket, a low, creaking moan filled the air. The ambient temperature noticeably dropped.
“We have carefully examined the files and recordings you sent. Have there been any changes?”
Abbess Isobella stopped. The look on her face was drawn and hollow. “Yes.”
I stared, waiting for the thought to be completed. The nun remained silent. In that moment, bereft of words, the disembodied low moan was joined by a chorus of hideous screams. As the wretched sounds reached a fevered pitch, Abbess Isobella slapped her hands to her ears. Tears flooded her mottled cheeks.
“Mother Abbess, you must be strong. Now, take me to the boy.”
Isobella pulled out a handkerchief, blotted her eyes, and blew her nose. The simple act was a microcosm of genuine humility.
“This way.” Abbess Isobella placed one nervous foot in front of another. At the end of the candlelit hall, she opened a flimsy wooden door onto the yawning darkness of a cellar. The creak of the hinges only added another layer of macabre to the horrific scene I was certain awaited me and the Word.
In the beginning. The phrase danced into the spotlight of my memory and begged for completion.
“Was the lie,” a chorus of whispers hissed from below.
Halfway down the cellar steps, I could feel the change. It wasn’t just another drop in temperature; the air felt heavy, stained with corruption. My breath caught as the stench of rot crept into my nostrils to fill my lungs with the heat of hate.
“He’s in this room.” Isobella’s shaky hand reached out and unlocked the door. For some odd reason, I expected the heavy wood to be blown to bits as the demon-infected child sensed the presence of a holy champion.
Instead, there was only a low, arrogant laughter. The laugh forced itself upon me, made sure I knew whatever unclean spirit existed within the room had no fear of the Cloth of God.
“Please, won’t you come in, Father?” The voice was simple—but not that of a child; it was reasoned and learned, logical and calculating. When I glanced at the boy bound to the bed, the laughter stopped. His oil-black eyes dressed me down. “Did you expect me to speak in tongues? Latin? Something older? I can see the disappointment in your eyes, Father. This isn’t the movies. My head will not spin ’round, nor will I spew pea soup. But if it so please you, I can begin afresh the theatrics.”
I set my bag down and began to pull out the tools of my trade.
“Ah yes, the weapons of holy war. Sprinkle me with God’s water, Father…the urine of the Holy See. Speak your clean words into the ears of this infested child. Fight me. Force me to begone. By the power of Christ, please…do compel me!” The creature laughed and then repeated in a sensual whisper, “By the power of Christ, compel me! Compel me until I cum, Father. Men of the gown are known for their predilection for the flesh of youth.” The boy writhed on the bed as he mocked me and my station.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Not in the writing. I have developed my own method, called “Responsive Writing”, which makes the process incredibly easy. The biggest challenge is in the marketing.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I do them myself. At one point in my life, I studied various aspects of design. Couple that with my knowledge of The GIMP and I’m good to go.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing that first book was handing it over to an editor and retaining any level of confidence the story and style were sound. Twenty years later, I don’t have that problem.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I discovered the transgender community is filled with a lot of unsung heroes and people with strength and resolve most would never know.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Oh goodness, I’d be more inclined to choose a director. I have a steampunk series (The Klockwerk Movement) that is perfectly suited to the artistry of Tim Burton. I am not generally inclined to say who I’d like to see playing roles, because I want readers to be ablel to draw the characters with their own imaginations.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t rush. Ever. I got caught up in rushing books out at one point in my career and that was a very painful lesson to learn. This is your craft, your art…it deserves the time and effort necessary to get it as near perfection as you and your editor(s) can get it. And never, ever edit your own work. That is a recipe for disaster.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you so much for your continued support. Know that you are loved, respected, and held in the highest esteem.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading an unpublished anthology for which I was asked to write a forward. I am aslo reading Orson Welles’ “The War Of The Worlds”.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I believe it was a book about the Universal Monster movies. I’ve been a fan of horror since I was a child.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Last night I watched Louis CK 2017 and laughed so hard my throat hurt. Prior to that, I watched 13 Reasons Why and couldn’t stop myself from crying. The struggle for truth in humanity gets me every time.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d love to get Shakespear and Clive Barker in a room at one time and have a sit down with them…see what really, really makes them tick.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Coformity is for zombies. Pretty self-explanitory that. 😉
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I’m a cyclist (used to race mountain bikes), I collect vinyl records, listen to music a lot, and am a film/tv afficionado.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Right now I love Elementary, Madam Secretary, The Americans, The Magicians, Legion, Supergirl, The Flash…so many shows, so little time.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite food is pizza and Indian food. My favorite color is black and orange (hello, Halloween much?) and my list of favorite bands is too long for one page, but would include Devin Townsend Project, Rush, Coheed & Cambria, Purity Ring, The Naked & Famous, etc. etc. etc.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have continued on as an actor.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?