Bio: James Aquilone was raised on Saturday morning cartoons, comic books, sitcoms, and Cap’n Crunch. Amid the Cold War, he dreamed of being a jet fighter pilot but decided against the military life after realizing it would require him to wake up early.
He had further illusions of being a stand-up comedian, until a traumatic experience on stage forced him to seek a college education. Brief stints as an alternative rock singer/guitarist and child model also proved unsuccessful. Today he battles a severe chess addiction while trying to write in the speculative fiction game.
His short fiction has been published in such places as Nature’s Futures, The Best of Galaxy’s Edge 2013-2014, Unidentified Funny Objects 4, and Weird Tales magazine. Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device is his first novel. Suffice it to say, things are going much better than his modeling career.
GJ: After checking out your website I have to say I love the covers for your books! Tell me all about Dead Jack!
JA: First of all, thank you for the compliment. The cover illustrations were done by Colton Worley and the text design was by Shawn T. King. Ed Watson did the interior art. They all did an amazing job.
As for Dead Jack, he’s a dust-addicted zombie detective who works cases in Pandemonium, an alternate dimension full of mythical and legendary creatures, like vampires, werewolves, leprechauns and ogres. I’ve published two novels, Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device and Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher, and one short story in the series. The third book, Dead Jack and the Old Gods, should be out this year.
The series has been optioned and I’m developing a TV series with some great people at the moment. Hopefully, I’ll be able to talk more about that soon.
GJ: What do you find is the hardest part of being an independently published author?
JA: The lack of million-dollar advances and three-martini lunches with high-powered editors, of course. Also finding readers willing to buy your book. They’re out there. But finding them can be very difficult.
GJ: Other than writing, what is your favourite aspect of being an author?
JA: Interacting with readers. I’ve met some really cool people who’ve reached out to me after reading my fiction.
In The End is a fast-paced post-apocalyptic zombie thriller. If you like nightmarish settings, reluctant heroes, and action-packed adventures, then you’ll love GJ Stevens’ spine-chilling novel.
When humanity faces an undead nightmare, one man’s party turns into a race to survive.
Logan has always taken things a little too seriously. So when his New Year’s Eve attempt to unwind descends into chaos, he’s the first to realize it’s no joke. After Logan and his friends miss the evacuation transport, he’s given a choice: lead the group to safety or watch all of his friends come back from the dead…
When Logan discovers the military and government have no interest in saving them, making it to sanctuary alive may be their only hope. And after he learns his party of survivors might hold the key to a cure, the fate of humanity rests on his shoulders. But saving his species could mean sacrificing himself…
Can Logan stave off the end of the world or will one wrong decision doom humankind?
GJ: Can you describe the type of books you write?
JA: The Dead Jack books are humorous fantasy/horror. But I write in most of the speculative fiction genres, plus mystery and action. Before I began publishing novels, I had more than 20 short stories published in such places as Weird Tales Magazine, Galaxy’s Edge Magazine and Nature’s Futures. My stories run the gamut from funny sci-fi to dark fantasy and horror.
GJ: Can you describe a typical day where you get chance to write?
JA: Typically I write late at night when I’d done with my day job. If things are going well, I can hack away at it for several hours. When it’s not going well, it doesn’t last long. Maybe I should try it with wine.
GJ: Are you a full-time writer?
JA: Yes and no. At my day job, I’m a writer and editor in the field of broadcast journalism. So I write during my day job and my hobby is also writing. I’m a lot of fun.
GJ: If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice without breaking the time-space continuum, how old would you be and what would you say?
JA: I’d go back to when I was about 20 and tell myself to buy AOL stock and dump it before the tech bubble in 2000.
GJ: What’s your favourite ever book you’ve read and why?
JA: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I probably read it when I was around 12 and it made me fall in love with the fantasy genre.
GJ: What’s on your bucket list of things you want to do before the end of the world?
JA: I’m really hoping to win the lottery. I figure it’s just a matter of time. But also write a few more books, have a screenplay produced, and generally not work a real job.
GJ: What brought you into the world of writing zombie fiction?
JA: I’ve had a lifelong love-hate relationships with the undead. They terrified me, especially after I saw a movie called Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things around the age of 8. Eventually, I learned that the living were scarier than the dead, and my love of zombies was born.
GJ: How would you describe your style of writing and what makes your zombie books stand above the crowd?
JA: I try not to have a style. I subscribe to the Elmore Leonard school of writing. If my prose sounds “writerly” I get rid of it. I also like to mix things up and write in different voices and genres. My zombie books are more on the humorous side, including a short story I did called “The Zombie Who Had a Name,” and often from the point of view of the undead.
GJ: So what can readers expect from you in 2020?
JA: I have a comic book called manBOMB coming out this year. Dead Jack 3 should be released soon. And I’m working on a number of other novels and a few screenplays and teleplays that I can’t talk about now.
GS: One for the authors in the group, what do you find is the best way you have found of getting your books in front of readers?
JA: Of course there’s the usual: social media, ads, BookBub-type email lists. But I found Kickstarter to be a great place to find dedicated readers. I ran a successful campaign for my first novel back in 2016, and it was the best thing I ever did to create a readership.
GJ: Thank you James for taking the time to talk with me today. I recommend everyone that has read this to take a look at your awesome website, DeadJack.com.