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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Interview with Mr. Jack Wallen himself!

Okay, boys and girls, ladies and gents, here is my interview with the yummy Jack Wallen who has the face of a movie star and the writing skills of a well-honed legend. His newest book, Shero, is available at all the usual suspects (Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble). I have been looking forward to posting this interview so without further ado, here it is!

1) Why did you decide to stop acting and become a writer?

That was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made in my life. I was a stage actor and, at the time of my retirement, was working with one of the premiere theatres for young audiences in the country. When the economy tanked I foresaw the arts were going to really suffer and thought should get out while the getting was good. I didn't want to be one of those actors desperately trying to hold onto a career that was no longer there. And I adored performing for children (there is no more honest audience out there), so I decided to retire on "top of my game". But oh how I do miss it. The only way I can get my "fix" now is through my podcast on zombieradio.org. That was the brain-child of one of my beta readers and is giving me no end of joy in creating.

2) What are you most passionate about?
My wife. I adore her. Our relationship is something quite special and without it I'm certain I would have lost my mind by now. But beyond that...my passion would probably be my creative soul. I love to create.I love the process, I love how it makes my heart sing, I love the way it makes my mind churn, I love the end results it produces. I loved this as an actor and I love this as a writer. I can not get enough of it. That is why I have such a hard time functioning in the business world -- there is so little creativity in commerce.

3) If you are doing a serial or series, what made you choose to tell your story in this way?

My I Zombie trilogy started out as a question -- "What would it be like to turn into a zombie?" I wanted to know what it felt like, soundedlike, tasted like...and so I started out writing I Zombie I (http://www.amazon.com/I-Zombie-ebook/dp/B004LGTRX0). During the creation of that book, I fell in love with the characters and realized their stories needed to dig deeper into the human condition -- they wanted to play a much bigger part in the scope of the Apocalypse. And then I realized that there was so much story to tell and that I could actually go so far as to explain the why and how of the zombies that filled my world. Thus the trilogy was born. Plus, I wanted to take myself, the characters, and (most importantly) the reader on a ride they might not ever forget. That required depth and breadth I couldn't cover in a single book. I also knew my characters all had stories totell of their own. It wasn't "just" Jacob Plummer's descent into madness or his fight to discover the truth. It was also Bethany Nitshimi's longing to discover the cure and uncover the real purveyors of the virus. It was a fight to live and a struggle to bring back some semblance of life among the chaos. And ultimately it was my job to plunge the world into chaos and then, within the span of three books, try to bring it out.

Of course, I'm no Hollywood ending... so you can imagine there are loose ends I refuse to tie up. At least in this series. I am happy to say that this series has spawned yet another zombie series that will star one of the characters that comes about at the end of the third book. That new series will very much tie in with the I Zombie series in many ways.

4) What are three surprising qualities about you that would shock most of your readers?

I think the main thing that will shock most of my readers is that my characters say and do things most others won't. I have moments, when I'm writing, where I think "Should I go there?" and I inevitably do. Readers don't want the mundane. They don't want the things they can see or do every day. They want characters and stories brave enough to venture into places, emotions, actions they aren't willing to venture into. I also deal with people (such as members of the GLBT community) that many writers don't deal with. There are such incredibly wonderful, colorful, eclectic people out there that the world needs to know...and I want to bring them to an audience that might not have known them previously. And when I deal with those characters -- I make no bones about celebrating their diversity. Why? Diversity is what makes the world move and move in such a glorious, beautiful way. 

After reading my works, and reading my blogs and other writings, it shouldn't be of much surprise that I myself am quite the non-conformist. For the longest time I did what I did to simply stand out. That was the early days of college. After a while, it simply became who I was. It wasn't out of the norm to see me walking around in a skirt and combat boots. Why? Because it was comfortable and I quite liked the way it looked. I'm in my forties and my hair is still spiked to Jesus, my ears are pierced, and I might still have the stains of black nail polish on...you just never know. Life is too short for boring. Life is too precious for normal.

5) Your turn. Tell me what is on your mind at the moment? Talk aboutwhat ever you like and make it as long or as short as you want it.This is your space to shine and to tell us all about you, your books,  or what ever you're thinking about and want to get off your chest.

I am currently wrestling with what might be the end of my day job. That was a dream of mine, but for a time when my book sales were ready to usurp the mantle of income from that dreaded day job. That time has yet to come, but the end of the day job might well be at hand regardless. Although I have wonderful faith in my books and the characters that fill the worlds I have created, I stand at a precipice, knowing that the loss of that day job will open up a world of time for me to focus on those worlds, but also knowing my family has to eat.

I have been, for over half of my 44 years of existence, an artist of one sort or another and I can say, with absolute certainty, that being an artist is one of the hardest things one can do. When the soul is of the artistic bent, it can be challenging to feel as if you are doing nothing more than greasing the wheels of the machine. But it's more than that...it's a soul that deeply, passionately, painfully cares about the creation of the art. Although most of the time that is a joyous and wondrous thing to be a part of, it can hurt just as deeply.When the art isn't appreciated, when the sales aren't there, when the words don't come... it can make you feel like curling up and disappearing. That is the downside of being so desperately connected to the art inside. But, if you're like me, there is no breaking of that connection. It penetrates the skins and wraps itself around the very core of the being.

So it's crucial for the artist to figure out ways of making it through those rough patches, of finding ways to not feel like existence is nothing more than making the wheels of commerce go 'round, of getting the words out and the sales up. Whatever you do, don't give up. Giving up means "they" win -- whoever your "they" is. I refuse. I will fight, tooth and bone, to make sure my "they" do not win. I will come out on top... one way or the other and the only wheels I will be greasing are the wheels on my bikes.

Jack Wallen http://www.monkeypantz.net
Writer of many things. Purchase my novels on amazon.com,
autumnalpress.com View my tech articles on techrepublic.comlinux.com,
and ghacks.net

I thank Jack for this up close and personal opportunity to interview him. It has been a blast. As this will be my last author interview for probably the next couple of months as I must focus on my own writing, I will try to blog at least once or twice a week about what is going on in my life.

No way am I giving up the pleasure of interviewing my IWU authors. This is a terrific time to be an indie writer and probably one of the best times in the world in terms of the sheer variety of books which are available. I never take any one of you for granted and am grateful you allow me to share my life with you. Until next week, I wish you all happy days of love and joy. Jack, I wish you all the luck in the world; if anyone deserves it, it's you. 


Anonymous said...

"Life is too short for boring. Life is too precious for normal."

A fervent "AMEN" to that!

This was such a GREAT interview. Thanks, Jack, for sharing and thanks, Danielle for asking such great questions.

I LOVE Jack's books. They are fantastic. My favorite is I Zombie I (like whoa!), but I love his other books too. They are crazy and wonderful and sometimes just a little uncomfortable (in a way that makes you confront your own preconceived notions), but always, always a brilliant read.

Unknown said...

Shea, I am so happy you enjoyed the interview. I enjoyed doing it to and am a little sad I won't be able to participate in the IWU blog series for a while but you know how creativity is. I will be back and can't wait for a chance to interview you. That will be as big of a coup as interviewing Jack was! ;-)