JB: I was five years old and I saw a piece on the long forgotten BBC TV children’s show ‘Why Don’t You’ about kids, a little older than me, who were making their own comics. All you needed was paper, felt tip pens, a stapler and a little imagination. I had all those! I could make my own comics, MAKE MY OWN COMICS!!!
No idea has ever filled me with such excitement. From drawing my own comics I began filling stolen school text books with stories. The compulsion got so bad that the following Christmas my parents had to confiscate my pens and paper so I would come open my presents.
IHB: Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
JB: I think that depends on the story you’re telling, the themes you’re exploring and the scene you’re concentrating on. Both have their place in any horror story.
What connects them for me is that they’re both about revealing the mysteries of the interior. Very few of us get a sustained and intimate look at what goes on inside our bodies. Few of us get to hold a beating human heart, to use sharpened steel to remove a vital organ or watch as the blood drains from a still warm body until it stops kicking and turns cold.
Few of us ever explore the truly damaging nature of an aberrant human mind. Few get deep inside a psychosis so destructive it will bend a human will to murder over and over again. Or find ourselves caught up in the maelstrom of a meme, like mob justice, that culminates in genocide.
Horror is important because it’s the one genre where we can take those parts of us that remain mentally and physically hidden and bare them to the light. So that in plumbing the depths of our bodies and minds we might chance upon our souls.
IHB: What attracts you to writing Zombie/Apocalyptic fiction?
JB: Although both those genres have become conflated thanks to Romero’s excellent Dead movies, none of the Zombie fiction I’ve worked on has been post apocalyptic. The appeal of each genre is quite different for me.
What I like about zombies is how malleable they are as a representative icon. As society trades old nightmares for new, with each advancing decade, the zombie keeps adapting and changing the things it stands for in our collective unconscious. In the 30s when the zombie was first introduced to western culture it stood for the western colonial fear of the nations it was exploiting. Over the years the zombie has come to represent mainstreams fears of everything from communism and terrorism to sixties radicalism and growing economic unrest. This makes it very appealing to writers like myself who have an interest in writing social commentary and satire.
The thing that appeals to me about post apocalyptic fiction, on the other hand, is that it allows you to study society as a whole in microcosm. As we view the shattered bands of survivors trying to rebuild their life in the aftermath of the collapse of civilisation there’s a huge opportunity to examine the everyday tensions and conflicts of our current society. The backdrop of a lost and ruined world allows us to view these opposing forces in a more naked and honest light, outside of the contexts and allegiances of our contemporary culture. This throws them into sharper relief and allows us a fresh perspective of the problems they’re causing us and the long term consequences of certain courses of action.
Plus err ... zombies are totally awesome. They eat brains, they never wash and they always, always win. Vampires and Werewolves might be in an eternal conflict but Zombies can kick both their butts. A vampire or a werewolf can bite a Zombie as many times as they like and it’ll still be a zombie. A zombie’s only has to bite them once and you’ve got a zompire or a werebie. (Is it just me or does a ‘werebie’ sound like a creepy undead furby fetishist?)
IHB: Why should people read your work?
JB: Because I need the money!
Also because they’ll discover imaginative, edgy and unexpected fiction that explores social and spiritual issues while pushing at the boundaries of what genre fiction can and ought to do.
Because I’ll take them to places they’ve never been before and will never get to visit again. That’s a money back guarantee.
JB: I really do believe it has. In my opinion the best horror stories use the weird and other-worldly as a metaphor for a deeper or more personal truth. I also think that the world is quite a scary place at the moment and because of this the tropes and motifs of horror are some of the best ways of addressing the contemporary world. A lot of the horror writers coming up at the moment seem to be interested in social commentary in the same way that the New Wave and the early Cyberpunk writers previously used science fiction as a vehicle for social comment.
Of course, we shouldn't hold Jasper's past against him, particularly this incident at a Joseph D'Lacey reading...
Jasper can be found lurking here.
'Stuck on you' will be released for Kindle on 28th March from Crystal Lake Publishing
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