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Once Upon a Rainbow : take a ride with J.P. Jackson in a new fairytale retelling anthology

This week on the blog, J.P. Jackson joins me in celebration of the release of Nine Star Press’s first fairytale anthology, Once Upon A Rainbow! Nine fairytales are retold in a deliciously bent way by nine different authors, and it’s my understanding this is just the first of several fairytale anthologies to come.

So, Hood’s Ride is Red happens to be the retelling of a fairytale that needs no introduction. You usually write in the horror genre—how did that influence your fairytale version of this classic?

See, it’s weird for me to hear you say horror genre. Let me tell you a funny story. I wrote Daimonion, Book One of the Apocalypse thinking that it was a great (well, to me) urban fantasy tale about the coming of the end of the world. After I submitted it to NineStar and they accepted it, my editor came back with “This is a great horror story!” And I was all like, wait…what? Really? Like, Clive Barker and Stephen King and Anne Rice horror. That kind of story? Really?

And then I was all proud of myself (cause you know, I think lofty goals and maybe I could be compared to those horror GREATS). In the end, I like the darker side of urban fantasy. I love wings and horns and tails. I love magic. But most of all, I love the shadow world, where things are grey, and you’re never quite sure if you’re mystified or terrified. So I took the “This is a great horror story!” and now wear it as a badge. I never set out to write horror. It just happened.

So then, writing Hood’s Ride is Red was a continuation of that. It has the elements of the original fairy tale, but twisted, and gone wrong, and darker than the original (I think). So, in the end, a merry trip through the woods turned into an incarceration in prison, being turned into a werewolf, and a sabotaged red Dodge Dart. The car, by the way, was the first car I ever owned in real life.

What is it about the horror genre that attracts and inspires you to write it?

There’s something fun about the darkness, and flirting with the secret powers the dark holds. There’s also an element of sacrilege – that twisting of our beliefs, expectations and norms – that I enjoy as well. Turning things bleak and corrupted is kind of tantalizing. I love it. I love to create those images in other people’s heads, and I think most of us like to be just a little scared.

Horror allows us to act out any particular diabolical fantasies without having the police called, or going to jail for crimes against humanity. So, you know, there’s that too.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Finishing a piece, especially the longer ones. Short stories I’m usually really good with the beginning, middle and end concept. It’s those stories that are greater than 50,000 words…I find I stumble at the mid-way point. I did that with Daimonion, but then buckled down and wrote my way, one word at a time, to the end. I have two novels now at that same stage (one has a deadline! YIKES), and it’s hard to keep the momentum going enough to GET IT DONE.

Are you working on any new projects? Tell us about them!

Well, the project with the deadline (as mentioned above) is a dark urban fantasy, with a side dish of romance (?) with five twenty-something year olds who find themselves with lethal magical abilities they can’t control. A teacher of sorts is brought in to help them master their talents, but he’s a little broken, completely morally grey, and a bit of troublemaker. If the students don’t pass their final exams, given by the facility that is containing them, then they are euthanized. Hence the title: Magic or Die.

As soon as that’s done, then I begin the heavy lifting on the sequel to Daimonion, which is Nephalem, Book Two of the Apocalypse, where we’ll get to see if Dati, the rather human-like demon from hell, manages to heal his soul.

And then when I’m done that, I’m going to pick up where I left off with another novel that’s ½ done – Uninvited Possession – about a cast of characters who are a mix of mundane and fae, with witches, ghosts and LGBTQA+ folk, and a whole big heaping of demons running amok.

I like demons.

On the surface you appear to be a mild-mannered software guru, but … what kind of creature from your horror novels best represents you as an avatar or mascot?

Oh goodness. Um…well. There could be, no, that’s not quite right. Okay, ah…wait.

So … no, that’s no good either. Ah, maybe…no.

I don’t know – why you ask such hard things?

Okay, I’ll tell you a little secret. I’m all of them.

I have the wings of Dati that let’s my imagination soar and run wild.

I have the flirtiness of Alyx that allows me to tempt and tease the dark things.

I have the sexiness of Alicia, and that gets me into ALL sorts of trouble.

I ramble on like Jenae, and probably cast about the same amount of successful spells.

And in the mornings, I’m a shifter like Caleb – don’t talk to me before I’ve had my morning coffee – I’m just a big ole’ bear. And I most certainly am snarky like Harkin Ross, and we eat the same candy.

They are me, and I am them.

J.P.’s debut novel DAIMONION has garnered a couple of honorable mentions in the 2017 Rainbow awards (you can read my five star review HERE). Congratulations, J.P.! I look forward to reading Once Upon A Rainbow. Where can readers interact with you on the internet?

All kinds of places!

Thanks for having me! It was a ton of fun.

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