Calling Jack Kilborn an exciting new voice in horror is sort of a cheat, since it’s the pen name for J.A. Konrath, which is the “I could totally be a chick if you want to buy a book by a chick” pen name for Joe Konrath. But Jack Kilborn is the dark, dark, dark side of Joe Konrath, and his first novel Afraid is one of the most relentless horror novels in…well, maybe ever. If you’re a fan of authors like Richard Laymon, then Afraid will have you wetting yourself and the people around you with glee. He’s usually known for incorporating lots of humor into his books, but Afraid plays it straight.
Therefore, I conducted a serious interview with him. Then Joe suddenly was all like “D’oh! We should’ve done a funny interview!” and I was all like “I did it this way on purpose to better match the tone of Jack Kilborn” and he was all like “No! No! No! This is wrong! Can we do another interview?” and I was all like “Do you think I have nothing better to do than keep interviewing you over and over? Get a friend, for God’s sake!” and he was all like “I’ll give you a [favor omitted]” and I was all like “Sure.” So here’s an interview with JA/Joe/Jack, who, for the convenience of this interview, will go by “Jack”…
Jeff: You once signed books at over 600 bookstores in a single summer. I think that a truly successful author could’ve just signed at the same store 600 times and made the readers come to him. Please comment.
Jack: My new novel, Afraid, is being released on March 31. Run out and buy it. In fact, everyone reading this, and everyone they know, and everyone then don’t know, needs to buy a copy. Oh, and that’s an excellent point you’ve brought up, that I’m going to ignore.
Jeff: Uh, okay then. We’re 0 for 1 so far. How about you ask me a question, even though the whole point of this was to promote Jack Kilborn’s upcoming novel Afraid?
Jack: Okay, when we wrote our collaborative novella, Suckers, did you have as much fun working with me as I did working with me?
Jeff: I had so much fun writing the good parts of Suckers that I had to be put on anti-giddy medication. But I’ve heard the occasional comment that the humor in Suckers may not reach a 100% maximum maturity level, and that perhaps it’s an entire novella of “Hee hee hee! Men have wieners!” What happened to our original plan to write an insightful deconstruction of the current political climate?
Jack: Heh heh heh. You said “weiners.” Heh heh.
Jeff: You spelled “wieners” wrong, dumb-ass.
Jack: I’ve always wanted to ask you this: Have you ever gotten so wasted you wet the bed and then tried to convince your wife that the dog must have peed on you while you were sleeping, which was the first thing that you could think of when she caught you trying to flip the mattress over? Next time, you should wait until she gets out of bed before you try to flip the mattress. Also, LySol gets out lingering odors pretty good.
Jeff: Since when does Lysol have a capital S in it? I tried that once, and my wife pointed out that we don’t own a dog. I retroactively blamed the cat, but it was unsuccessful, and then I felt guilty about incorporating an innocent cat into my web of deceit. Now we just have rubber sheets.
Jack: I see. Very intereSting.
Jeff: Next question: When I let you borrow my car to transport that dead hooker across state lines, you promised me that it would never happen again. It happened twelve more times. I’m starting to think that you aren’t succumbing to the uncontrollable urge to kill, kill, kill and are instead just using my car to return DVDs to Blockbuster so you don’t have to pay for gas. Is that true? Is it?
Jack: I swear, it was all about murder. It’s always been about murder. But on your way to work, can you return these copies of Gigli and Ernest Goes to Jail for me? Can you do that, Vern? And see if they have the next Ernest film, Ernest Gets Waterboarded. I heard it has comic hijinks.
Jeff: Jim Varney is dead, and I’ll thank you not to mock his memory. He was the dog in Toy Story, you son of a bitch!
Jack: But getting back to talking about Afraid, which comes out March 31. Afraid is a very scary book, with a very real end of March publication date. What scares Jeff Strand? I mean, other than those Publishers Weekly reviews you got? I didn’t even know that “sucktastic” was a word, but it must be, because they used it like eight times.
Jeff: You’re taking that out of context. The review says “In a world of sucktastic books like those sucktastic books written by the sucktastic J.A. Konrath, whose sucktastic Whiskey Sour, sucktastic Bloody Mary, sucktastic Rusty Nail, sucktastic Dirty Martini, and sucktastic Fuzzy Navel are pure suck, it’s refreshing to see the awesomeness of Jeff Strand.”
Jack: That sucks.
Jeff: Shot of Tequila is an insanely entertaining book, and yet you’re practically giving it away on your website. Why don’t you charge more? I’d pay at least seven bucks to read it, if you hadn’t given it to me for free. Do you think the people who you’re charging a dollar will be mad when they see this interview and find out that you let me read it for free? What’s Shot of Tequila about, anyway? I wasn’t paying much attention because it was free.
Jack: Selling Shot of Tequila on my website for 99 cents was an experiment. It’s an early Jack Daniels novel, except Jack is a supporting character. I wanted to see how many people would be willing to pay for an Ebook download. So far, 112. I also have free Ebooks available on my website. They’ve been downloaded–no joke–15,834 times. Which proves my hypothesis that my fans are cheap. That’s why Afraid, which comes out March 31, is available as an inexpensive paperback for only $6.99. On March 31.
My turn for a question. In ten short years, your fan base has grown from a dozen hardcore fans to almost double that. That isn’t actually the question. The question is, if you were Night Owl II from Watchmen, and you had that pimped out flying submarine thingy, would you act so broody and dippy all the time?
Jeff: Probably. But I can say that if I were a guest in the submarine thingy, and it was parked in the garage, and there was a button with a very clear picture of a flame on it, I wouldn’t push the button while the submarine was indoors. So if J.A. Konrath and Jack Kilborn got into a fight, who would drop to the ground screaming “Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me!” first?
Jack: We wouldn’t fight. We’d make-out. That’s not gay. It’s more like masturbation, with more positions. Hey, you write funny horror novels. I’ve got this great idea for a funny horror novel, about an accountant who gets bitten by a werewolf AND a vampire AND a zombie, and then gets cancer. I mean, how unlucky is THAT?!?! I want to call it “Sheldon the Un-Un-Undead Dead Guy, Who Died.” It’s also got paranormal romance in it, because that genre still has a pulse. Maybe Sheldon also gets bitten by a mummy. Do you turn into a mummy if a mummy bites you? Anyway, I’m too busy to write it, so I want you to write it, and I’ll give you 20% of the profits. You need to research that mummy thing first. Here’s an outline you can work from:
Chapter 1 – The accountant gets bitten a bunch of times by monsters. Also, he’s got a hot next door neighbor who sunbathes naked.
Chapter 2 – Some plot things happen.
Chapter 3 – At long last, the much-awaited graphic sex scene with the hot naked next door neighbor. Also, maybe the hero does some monster stuff.
Chapter 4-29 – More stuff happens. With twists. Remember to add some surprise twists.
Chapter 30 – The hero dies of cancer, while having hot sex with the hot naked next door neighbor. Also, there’s a surprise ending. Maybe with a mummy. With this outline, the book will practically write itself. In fact, I’m only giving you 10%, since I did all the work.
Jeff: Does he have to be named Sheldon?
Jack: Never mind. Much like Ernest, I’m known for my comedic hijinks, as are you. But now we’ve both written these super-scary horror novels without a shred of comedy in them. So my question to you is, Angelina Jolie or Jessica Alba?
Jeff: What about them? I’m not sure what you’re asking. Are you asking which one I’ve spoken to most recently? That would be Jess. I didn’t give her your message, though, because it was kind of creepy. I just did the panting and left it at that. Angelina is busy these days and we mostly talk through Skype.
Jack: I like to ask the tough questions. So, if John’s son is my son’s father, what relationship am I to John?
Jeff: You’re John’s prison bitch. Duh.
Jack: Can you do anything unusual or interesting? I can fit my pinky up my nose all the way to the second knuckle, but I’m scared to go further because I’m touching something squishy that I think is my brain.
Jeff: That’s not your brain. And it’s not your nose.
Jack: If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have one book, wouldn’t that suck?
Jeff: It would. Unless that book was Afraid, by Jack Kiborn. It comes out March 31, you know.
Jack: Really? March 31? I should write that down. Being serious for a moment, I loved your novel Pressure, which is possibly the most intense horror novel I’ve ever read. It really gets under your skin, and shows no mercy. Do you find it bizarre that this book, which is getting the most publicity and the biggest print run of all of your books, is so unlike your other work?
Jeff: See, I introduced this interview by saying that Afraid was one of the most relentless horror novels I’ve ever read, so now it just looks like we’re giving each other full-contact body rubs. One of us has to withdraw our praise. I guess it’ll be me. I don’t find it bizarre—I worried that my current fans would be disappointed by the decreased humor level (they weren’t) but even while writing it, it was clearly my most mainstream book.
Jack: I just read Benjamin’s Parasite, which has all the elements of essential Strand: a luckless hero in over his head, over-the-top gore, outrageous action scenes, funny as hell dialog, and richly developed characters, all of them memorable, the majority of whom don’t survive. You manage to make this hodge-podge of seemingly disparate elements work, and work well. I cared about the protagonist, the book is fast based, scary, and laugh out loud hilarious, and the plot actually makes sense–it isn’t just a strung together collection of comedy sketches.
Jeff: Thanks! That’s not a question though, so now we have to sit here in an uncomfortable silence.
Jeff: I have great questions for you and great answers from you regarding Afraid and Jack Kilborn’s second novel, Trapped, but they’ll have to wait for the “serious” interview, which I think I’ll send to FearZone, because FearZone is way cool and has brought readers advance news on Benjamin’s Parasite. Wouldn’t it suck for you if FearZone rejected it? That would be awkward. I’d probably make up some excuse to spare your feelings, like maybe the webmaster died or something. Well, I guess we’ve babbled enough…so what’s that book again?
Jeff: Available on…?
Jack: March 31st.
Jeff: Available in…?
Jack: Your local bookstore, or fine online retailers.
Jeff: Do you have a website that people should visit for all the latest J.A.. Konrath/Jack Kilborn news, blog entries that could serve as full Writer’s Digest articles, and more cool stuff than you can wave a monkey at?
Jack: Yes. It’s–
Jeff: –and we’re out of time for this interview. I’d like to thank Jack Kilborn for taking the time to hang out on my blog, and encourage everybody to support their local bookstore the day before April Fool’s Day buy purchasing a copy of Afraid to call their very own.
(It’s www.jakonrath.com) (Go there now.)