GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Interview with the charming and unpredictable Author Jasper Bark! | I Smell Sheep

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Interview with the charming and unpredictable Author Jasper Bark!

Hey Jasper! It has been almost exactly one year since you last graced the flock with your presence? Looks like you’ve had a busy year. You have a new book, Quiet Places, a graphic novel, Parassassination, a new monthly webcomic, Fear Fix and you started a Pateron page. But first, the question we’ve all be wanting to ask since you were last your hair naturally curly? And how do you combat fizziness?
Jasper: Actually, my hair’s not natural at all. My real hair fell out when I was a very young child, following a traumatic incident when I was accidentally exposed to a late uncle’s stash of naked Liberace porn, while hiding under his bed, during an ill-advised game of sardines.

The local Scout troop was so moved by my condition that they hosted a number of yard sales and sponsored walks to raise money to help me. This money ended up going to the stepfather of a school friend of mine, who worked as a research scientist at British Nuclear Fuels. He discovered that a mutant strain of irradiated crabgrass not only gains a mild sentience when exposed to radium, it also resembles curly human hair. He donated his first test subject to me.

We’ve been together ever since. Of course now the poor thing is getting a little grey around the edges and isn’t quite the sprightly mop of mutant crabgrass that it was in our youth, but it still likes nothing more than to curl up at the bottom of my bed, with a saucer of curdled milk, at the end of the day.

Sharon: We’re gonna tackle each of your projects. Let’s start Quiet Places. It is a novella in the Heresy Series story cycle. What is the Heresy Series and how does Quiet Places fit in. Will there be more novellas?
Jasper: The Heresy Series is an ongoing Story Cycle based around the Qu’rm Saddic Heresy, this is an ancient and blasphemous set of beliefs that have been feared and persecuted since the beginning of time. It was thought of as old even in the early days of Ancient Mesopotamia, which is considered the birthplace of civilization. Very few records of the heresy survive the last vestiges of it were stamped out in the middle ages, and it is all but forgotten today, but it still has the power to illicit fear and outrage in those who know of its existence.

Forbidden knowledge and forgotten beliefs fascinate me, so I have devoted quite a few stories to this little-known religion, from the distant past. Like Brian Keene’s Labyrinth mythos, Laird Barron’s Old Leech stories and H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, the stories can be read in any order, but with everyone you read, you’ll learn a little more about the grand, mythopoeic tapestry into which they’re woven.

In a recent review of Quiet Places, the author and critic Dave Dubrow described the Qu’rm Saddic Heresey as

“the true story of the universe and what lies behind it. Once the door to Bark’s mythos opens, it sucks you in and keeps you from putting the book down in a way horror fans haven’t experienced since Lovecraft started putting tentacles and unpronounceable consonants together decades ago.”
Which was rather kind of him.

Like all of the story cycle, Quiet Places uses the heresy as a backdrop, you don’t need to know anything about it to enjoy the story. It does fill in more of the history though in a slow-burning tale that builds to one of my most shocking endings.

Sharon: What folklore did you borrow from for Quiet Places?
Jasper: As it’s set in the Scottish Highlands, I did a lot of research into Scottish folklore. So, tales of the Will o’ the Wisp, and the Gaelic Teine Biorach (which means ‘sharp fire’), strange apparitions that haunt moors, plains and other lonely places were something of an inspiration. As were tales of the Cù-Sith and Phantom Black Hounds, these were psychopomps, creatures which accompany the lost souls of the dead to the afterlife.

In addition to that, I drew on a modern day folk story, that of the ABC, which stands for Alien Big Cat. These are large feline creatures, similar to pumas and jaguars, that are regularly spotted, and sometimes even photographed, in the wilds of the British countryside. Animals that are not known to be native to British shores, but have nonetheless been seen by enough eyewitnesses to give a bit of credence to the claim that they exist. 
By Midnightblueowl at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

Sharon: You wrote the graphic novel Parassissnation. Tell us a bit about it.
Jasper: It’s a time traveling, political thriller, set on the distant planet of Sedulon, and it’s not like anything you’ve ever read before. Three possible futures hang in the balance, two end in total annihilation, and one assassin’s bullet will decide, as a rogue band of time travelers and scientific misfits fight to save the futures of two worlds.

It has a lot of bizarre characters you won’t have encountered before, such as Doc Hydrabus - a brilliant scientist whose body splits into a crowd of his past and future selves, he lives in one present and many futures all at the same time. Cassindra who is 900 years old, impossible to kill and every bit as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s travelled back in time to change the world. And Rushaar and Shartara, alien beings made entirely of gas with one simple plan, to use time travel to assassinate the leader of Sedulon and save their planet Eidolonia.

Each of them must put aside their differences and come together to find a new future for all their worlds, one that lies in the most unexpected of all possible places.

Jasper Bark - Writer
Alfa Robbi - Artist
Bolt 01 - Letters
September 18, 2017

Publisher: Markosia Enterprises Ltd
66 pages

Three futures hang in the balance.

Two end in total annihilation.

One assassin’s bullet will decide.

On the planet Sedulon, a rogue band of renegade time travelers and scientific misfits fight to save the futures of two worlds.

Doc Hydrabus - a brilliant scientist whose body splits into a crowd of his past and future selves, he lives in one present and many futures all at the same time

Cassindra - 900 years old, impossible to kill and every bit as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s travelled back in time to change the world.

Rushaar and Shartara - alien beings made entirely of gas with one simple plan, to use time travel to assassinate the leader of Sedulon and save their planet Eidolonia.

The Parassassin - he will take the shot that decides the destinies of everyone in the galaxy.

Politics and parody collide on the bleeding edge of science fiction, in one of the most sh
ocking and innovative thrillers you’re going to read this year.
and all good book and comic shops worldwide.

: How long did it take to bring your story to life in graphic novel format? What were some of the unexpected challenges you ran into during the process?
Jasper: It took quite a long time, as the story was serialized in the award-winning online comic ‘Aces Weekly’. This is an amazing publication put together by the legendary artist David Lloyd, who drew V for Vendetta and designed the Guy Fawkes mask that is so popular with protestors all over the world, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring revolts.

The main challenges we faced were getting the pages out on a weekly basis over an 8 month period. This was a big commitment from the team and we were always skating on the edge of a deadline. Luckily David, and everyone else at Aces Weekly were always very patient and very helpful. I should also mention the incredible work done by the amazingly talented artist Alfa Robbi, who illustrated the strip, and our wonderful letterer Bolt 01, who always went above and beyond.

Sharon: Your character Dr. Hydrabus was caught in a worm hole generator explosion and now constantly splits into his future and past selves. Every 3 to 4 hours he reabsorbs them and splits again. Would you like to live like your character Dr. Hydrabus for one day?

Jasper: I can quite honestly say I wouldn’t. Aside from it being a rather strange, disorienting, and painful thing to go through, I think it would be rather unnerving to be confronted with so many past and future versions of yourself. We tend to find our own worst faults most irritating in other people, so can you imagine how vexing it would be to be faced with a crowd of mirror versions of yourself?

Most people can’t stand hearing the sound of their own voice on a recording, or the way they look on video, so imagine seeing and hearing it right in front of you in the flesh. You’d be constantly reminded of what an idiot you were when you were younger, and how decrepit you’re going to look in ten or fifteen years time. Can you imagine it? No wonder Doc Hydrabus considers it such a curse.

Sharon: Looks like you caught the comic bug because you also have a free monthly webcomic on your website called Fear Fix. What do you want to say about it that would make our readers want to check it out?
Jasper: Fear Fix is an homage to the amazing black and white comic magazines of the 70s, like Warren Comics’ Creepy and Eerie, or Skywald’s Psycho and Scream, as well as the amazing EC comics from the 50s and even DC’s horror comics like House of Mystery and House of Secrets. Each month it will feature a new self-contained stand-alone story of unspeakable horror, written by me and drawn by some of the best new artists from both mainstream and indie comics.

Like all of the horror comics I mentioned above, Fear Fix has a hideous horror host who introduces all the stories. Only the creepy keeper of this comic crypt is yours truly. That’s right, I’ve stepped into my own comic pages to become a character myself.

The first installment is up right now, it’s called A Bad Girl’s Guide to Making a Killing and you can read it right here.
Look forward to seeing you there.

Sharon: How did you decide on the art style you ended up going with? Will you use the same artist for each story? Who is your artist?
Jasper: The art style was decided by the two amazingly talented artists I worked with on this story. The intro and the outro pages are drawn by my long time collaborator, the quite awesomely talented Rob Moran, Rob and I will definitely work together again. The main story was drawn by an artist called Emily Hare, who is also ridiculously talented. She drew this story under the pen name Manon, but sadly, she decided, straight afterwards, that she didn’t want to be a comic artist and wanted to concentrate on her illustration work. Which is a sad loss to the world of graphic novels, but it does mean that Fear Fix showcases her one and only foray into comics, something that I am extremely honoured by.

Sharon: I asked this last year because Halloween was right around the corner. What are your family’s costume plans this year? You’d make a great Wonder Woman…just saying...
Jasper: Why, that’s most kind of you to say. We’re still making plans on costumes. I do know that my youngest daughter wants to go as a rather sinister looking Red Riding Hood, but the rest of us are still undecided.

Sharon: What’s for dinner tonight?
Jasper: I’ve developed a bit of a taste for the souls of alcoholic parking attendants of late, it’s the bleakness of their existence that adds all the flavour I think, but it’s a bit of an acquired taste, and they’re rather hard to come by, when they’re not in season.

So I think I’ll probably just go with roasted mediterranean vegetables, fired halloumi cheese and chickpeas and cous-cous.

Sharon: You live in England? If so, what is your favorite English phrase? Do you have a favorite American one?
Jasper: I don’t know if I have a favourite phrase, I like old antiquated English phrases of the kind the author P. G. Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves, would have used, such as ‘what ho!’, ‘pip, pip’ and ‘chin, chin’. I also like Scottish phrases like ‘peelie wally’, which means pale and ill, and ‘proper braw’ which means awesome. Unfortunately as I was born south of the Scottish border, I can never use any of those words in conversation. Attempting to do so, would be like a white guy from the Upper East side of Manhattan trying to talk like an African American kid from the West Coast.

My father, a blue collar guy with a black belt in swearing, also had his own unique turn of phrase. One example would be, whenever my sister and I were goofing around or messing about, he would shout: “you pair better stop pissballing and fartarsing around!!”

I don’t know if I have a favourite American phrase either, but one that sprang to mind, when you asked the question, comes from old films from the 40s and 50s. It usually occurs when some poor sap has riled the local bully. The great galoot, will chomp on his cigar, push his bowler to the back of his head, and lean into the poor guy, declaring, threateningly: “why I oughta...!” If he decides to pop the guy one, it will be followed by the phrase: “y’know what? I will too!”

Sometimes, I toy with the idea of writing a novel about a homicidal surgeon who removes hearts, entitled: ‘Why Aorta!’. But luckily, my meds usually kick in time for me to see sense and get on with something else.

Rapid Fire:
Sharon: Right handed or Left handed?
Jasper: I’m actually a bit ambidextrous.

Sharon: lick it or bite it?
Jasper: Lick it definitely, I like to prolong the pleasure for as long as possible.

Sharon: front row or back row?
Jasper: I’m a front row kinda guy, I like to be up close and personal. But I have quite an experimental past, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the back row as well (just don’t tell my wife...)

Sharon: Penguins or Hawk?
Jasper: Hawk, I love birds of prey.

Sharon: Little Bo Peep or Miss Muffet?
Jasper: For all kinds of reasons, that you couldn’t possible print, it definitely has to be Miss Muffet.

Jasper: Before I go, I’d also like to mention my brand spanking new Patreon page. If you’ve enjoyed this interview, or any of my books and comics, I’d be very obliged if you’d go check it out here. The page is a way for me to get closer to the people who read and support my work. It’s go some quite unique perks for everyone who gets involved. So I’d love to hear from you and what you think.

Thanks for having me. I had a blast.

by Jasper Bark
September 29, 2017
123 pages
In the quiet of the forest, the darkest fears are born.

The people of Dunballan, harbour a dark secret. A secret more terrible than the Beast that stalks the dense forests of Dunballan. A secret that holds David McCavendish, last in a long line of Lairds, in its unbreakable grip.

It’s down to Sally, David’s lover, to free David from the sinister clutches of the Beast. But, with the whole town against her, she must ally herself with an ancient woodland force and trace Dunballan’s secret back to its bitter origins. Those origins lie within the McCavendish family history, and a blasphemous heresy that stretches back to the beginning of time. Some truths are too terrible to face, and the darkest of these lie waiting for Sally, in the Quiet Places. 

Quiet Places is folk horror at its most cosmic and terrifying. Blending folklore with psychological terror, it contains stories within stories, each one leading to revelations more unsettling than the last. Revelations that will change the way you view your place in the cosmos, and haunt you, relentlessly, long after you have put down this book.

Quiet Places is a novella in the Heresy Series story cycle and has been substantially rewritten and revised for this edition.

About the Author:
Jasper Bark finds writing author biographies and talking about himself in the third person faintly embarrassing. Telling you that he’s an award-winning author of four cult novels including the highly acclaimed ‘Way of the Barefoot Zombie’, just sounds like boasting. Then he has to mention that he’s written 12 children’s books and hundreds of comics and graphic novels and he wants to just curl up. He cringes when he has to reveal that his work has been translated into nine different languages and is used in schools throughout the UK to help improve literacy, or that he was awarded the This Is Horror Award for his last anthology ‘Dead Air’. Maybe he’s too British, or maybe he just needs a good enema, but he’s glad this bio is now over.

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