A big welcome 'From Dark Places' to Jamie Kent Messum.
I recently read Jamie's second novel Husk (booklikes review & Scream) and really pleased that Warp Films has optioned it for an international TV series so congratulations are definitely in order, great news .
To the interview:
I really enjoyed your latest novel Husk, what was your favourite scene and the one you had second thoughts about?
My favourite scene is when the main character, Rhodes, meets his first client in the book, Mr Navarette. The objective was to give readers a solid introduction to what the job of Husking entails. I think it came off quite creepy, which was a bonus. I don’t want to add any spoilers for anyone that hasn’t read the book yet, so I’ll just say that I had second thoughts about scenes where important characters succumb to certain fates. Not because I wasn’t sure about where the plot was going, but because I was quite fond of them and felt uneasy about designing their demise.
Do you plan a follow up?
I definitely have a sequel in mind that continues on from where Husk left off. There is an overall story growing in my head right now that I hope will eventually see Husk become a trilogy.
Have you struggled to get inside any of the characters you’ve written about and are you prone to masses of research?
Not really, I find getting into my character’s heads a most enjoyable aspect of the storytelling process. Research is important, but I don’t like to go overboard. I believe that if you get too technical or too descriptive, you can bore a reader and lose them easily. I’m not a fan of bullshit. I like to use what is necessary, and put some faith in my readers and their imaginations as well.
It’s my view that a good author needs to be an exceptional study of people, do you notice things others don’t or does it all come from the imagination?
I think it’s a healthy dose of both. You definitely have to be observational and take notes, but then you need the imagination to embellish and reconstruct those aspects into an exciting and fluid narrative. Although I put great emphasis on writing as a craft, I think the story should come first and the writing a very close second. I don’t care how talented a writer someone is, if there is no good story to go with it, I’m not really interested.
If you were stuck on a desert island and could choose 2 books as companions. 1 to read again and again, and one, page by page to wipe your backside with. Which books would you choose?
To read over and over, I’d have to go with ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy. It’s a brilliant book, and quite a fitting read while stuck alone on a desert island. To wipe my ass with... definitely ’50 Shades Of Grey’.
Who are your favourite characters both from what you’ve written and what you’ve read?
In my novel ‘Bait’, I was quite fond of the character Ginger. She was a hardass, take-no-prisoners kind of gal with just enough of a soft spot. In ‘Husk’ I was rather fond of the character Mr. Shaw. He had a relatively small role, but his limited presence felt quite big. From what I’ve read, Hannibal Lecter from ‘Silence Of The Lambs’. I found his character to be fascinating and unlike anything I’d ever read before.
What’s the funniest thing that's ever happened to you?
Oh, there’s an awfully long list of things I could pick from...
Is there a particular book that made you want to be a writer?
There are three: the first was ‘Rust & Bone’ by Craig Davidson. The second was ‘Tacones’ by Todd Klinck. And the third was ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King (which I included in my list of the 5 books that made me a better writer).
(list can be found on his website, link further down)
What’s next in the pipeline and can you give us some inside information? Just between me and you of course ;)
I’m working on a couple of new novels at the moment. One is a more traditional horror/thriller story with a southern gothic vibe. The other is a book about a new addiction/fad that surfaces unexpectedly and becomes problematic in the Western World, something that people would latch onto in a heartbeat if it was an actuality.
Know any good jokes?
Q: What did Clint Eastwood say to his pottery instructor?
A: “Go ahead, bake my clay.”
*I’m here all week folks!
When you’re not slaving over the books, what do you like to do?
-My former career was that of a musician, so I’m still into it in a big way. I don’t play much anymore, but I’m a huge fan of live music and late night record stores. I’m always on the prowl for great music. Hiking and exploring with my dog and wife. Travelling as much as I can, and enjoying an active social life of haunting local restaurants and bars.
Was Bait an instant accept from the Publishers or did you have to wait and wait for the nod? (I’ve just started reading this one incidentally and it’s certainly grabbed me)
After I got my literary agent things happened very quickly and Bait certainly garnered a lot of interest from publishers, but there were some concerns and reservations over the content of the novel. When you’re writing about drugs, addicts, and aspects of society that the average person would prefer to ignore, there’s a danger of crossing the line with many readers. Bait was the kind of book that really polarized audiences. People either understood it, or didn’t, and as a result either loved it or loathed it.
Reading your résumé you’ve certainly been around and done loads of different things, have you found your love in writing and do you see yourself still doing this in 20 years or does the entertainment business get more of your time?
As an author, I’ve found my place in this world. Originally, I didn’t have too much of an interest in being a writer. In fact, what I really wanted to be was a rockstar. But I did always see myself as a storyteller of some kind. At first I tried to tell tales through film, then music, but it never seemed to work out the way I hoped. When I finally honed my writing skills enough (don’t be fooled, it took quite some time), everything seemed to click into place and I knew I was right where I was supposed to be.
Two novels released in two years, do you set yourself a personal target or just let it flow as is?
If I had my way I’d be knocking out a book a year, but with all that’s involved in getting a book published it might be more of an 18 month to 2 year period. I have no shortage of ideas for novels for the foreseeable future, so until I get a bad case of writer’s block, I’d like to be as productive as possible.
Any issues close to the heart you’d like to share?
I have a few convictions: I’m against animal cruelty. I don’t believe artists should work for free or have their art stolen. And I really don’t think most people read enough these days.
Brilliant stuff my thanks again to Jamie for taking the time to answer all my dodgy questions and good luck with Husk.
A little more about the author
Here's his press release photo in an awesome catalogue pose.
J. Kent Messum is an author & speaker who always bets on the underdog. He lives in Toronto with his wife, dog, and trio of cats. His first novel BAIT (August 2013, Penguin Books) won the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for ‘Best First Novel.’ His second novel HUSK (July 2015, Penguin Books) was recently optioned for an international TV show by Warp Films in the UK.
LIFE GOES ON
For a lucky few, death is merely an inconvenience. With the help of technology the mind can survive long after a body has been laid to rest. This afterlife, however, is far from paradise . . .
MAKING A LIVING
Rhodes is a 'Husk'. It's an illegal, controversial and highly lucrative job - renting out control of his body and mind to the highest bidder. It's a sure way to gain a better life, but some clients go too far. Sometimes, he wakes up with scars.
MAKING A KILLING
Then the visions start - terrible sights that haunt his waking hours. They could be dreams, or they could be something far worse - they just might be memories . . .
Buy 'Husk' on Amazon: http://ow.ly/PYoXr
And here's the trailor Youtube link
And finally my thanks to all my booklikes friends who helped with the questions, I think for the most part it went OK, be interested in any feedback.