At times you score an interview way beyond your pay grade, please welcome Gregory Lamberson
Jake Hellman is a perfectly flawed, well meaning protagonist, where did he emerge from?
That’s a good question, because I was till in my twenties when I wrote the screenplay that became the first novel. I love nourish, hardboiled characters, and some of my favorite storytelling was on cop drama TV shows – WISEGUY, CRIME STORY, HOMICIDE. When I created the script, Jake was sort of my idea of what a hardboiled detective should be, which is to say he was formed by archetypes – and clichés. But more than a decade later, when I wrote the novel, I’d experienced quite a bit in NYC and was able to infuse a lot of my life into the character. Specific incidents – the shootout in the liquor store and the miraculous escape from death in the subway tunnel – are based on incidents that actually happened to me. The whole book was also influenced by 9/11, because I lived in NYC when that all went down.
Did you know Jake was series bound when writing Personal Demons?
Yes. When I wrote the first script, I envisioned a trilogy of movies. When I wrote the first novel, I envisioned a series of six books. Each book sets up something to come, and when certain things go down in the sixth book, I hope readers will be searching for clue I planted throughout the series. I love all of my creative children, but I have a special place in my heart for Jake, and I’m most proud of his adventures.
Does The Jake Hellman Files have a point you are working toward, or do you hope to keep Jake’s adventures alive forever?
I would like him to keep on trucking. I know how this first set of six novels goes. On the chance that Medallion wants me to continue beyond that, I’m already formulating a second set of six. At one point, I had a closing trilogy mapped out that involved Jake’s death – his real death – but I’ve re-jiggered those ideas into something more dramatic. If everything comes together, these 12 books will form one big ORIGIN for Jake Helman!
Was the combination of supernatural and science based horror difficult to balance when writing Personal Demons?
Not really. The science fiction angle really came about in the script. I reached page 28 and realized I hadn’t found a first act point yet, so on the spot I made up the subplot about the genetic engineering. It was totally a kitchen sink approach. When I wrote the novel, I was careful to integrate those concepts more thoroughly into the narrative, which resulted in one of the book’s central themes: scientific extremism vs. religious extremism, in a world threatened by terrorism.
In The Frenzy Way I thoroughly enjoyed the detective elements, was it difficult constructing a mystery where the reader knew it was werewolves?
The Frenzy Way was also based on a screenplay I wrote in the late 1980s. Both The Greenwich Village Monster, as it was called then, and The Forever Man, which is what Personal Demons was called, were 95 page scripts that required a lot of research and development to become the novels they are. The werewolf script was very much “The Night Stalker meets Hill Street Blues” - but I always thought my central concept, that these are wolves who become humans instead of the other way around – was strong enough to carry the day. But what happened with that one was that I spent years researching the Spanish Inquisition, Native American mythology, and worldwide werewolf legends. I was never worried about keeping the mystery alive, I was worried about being able to pack in as much of my research as I could.
What can we expect from the upcoming Frenzy War?
First, the book comes out in June 2012, and it has an unbelievable cover. This makes me happy. The first book was a police procedural. This one is more like an espionage tale, or a story about rival terrorist cells. The Torquemadan werewolf slayers introduced in The Frenzy Way come to NYC on a mission that turns very bloody; we meet a lot more werewolves this time, and their society splits into factions; and there’s a joint NYPD/FBI task force trying to keep all of this a secret from the public. So there’s a lot of cloak and dagger going on. It’s by far my goriest book, because I found I just had so much fun hacking off heads and limbs.
On the spines of your novels the genre is listed as horror. Despite the immense popularity of vampire and zombie fiction now why do you think so few book retailers have a horror section?
Sales, of course. Fantasy is in, SF is in, and horror seems to be in… one month of the year, unless your name is King or Koontz. I honestly don’t know or understand a lot about this business. Whenever I get together with Adam Mock from Medallion, I listen to everything he has to say, because he really seems to have a handle on where this industry is heading. I can’t say I like it all, but it’s good to know.
Do you have any projects coming up the pipeline you would like to share?
As an author, 2012 is going to my biggest year: I have three books coming out. First up is a zombie novella called Carnage Road from Creeping Hemlock Press/Print Is Dead. It will be out in April, and I’m really encouraged by my publisher’s reaction to it. Next is The Frenzy War in June, and it’s so different from the first book while being so dependent on it – a real sequel – that I’m anxious to see how readers react to it. And October sees the publication of Tortured Spirits, the fourth Jake Helman novel, which is my biggest novel yet. I’m really pleased with the course the Helman books have taken, and I think this may be the best one. I should also mention that I’m currently writing a top secret project for Medallion that is the most challenging venture I’ve ever attempted, and I include my film work in that. It’s really going to raise eyebrows when it’s announced.