Monday, May 22, 2023

Jasper Bark is Beyond Love(craft) and Quiet Places



I write horror novels and graphic novels, and I’ve also written a lot of kid’s books (no really). I’ve topped Amazon best seller lists, I’ve been translated into multiple languages and I’ve won a This Is Horror Award and a Splatterpunk Award. I was nominated for a British Fantasy Award, a Bram Stoker Award and a British Comics Award. Outside of horror I won an Educational Reader’s Award and a Fringe First for a play at the Edinburgh Festival. While you were reading this self-congratulatory bio, I was slowly hypnotizing you into buying all my books. It’s too late to back out now, you’re already under my power, you won’t be able to stop yourself grabbing everything I’ve ever written, including a few incomprehensible shopping lists.

Jasper Bark    Facebook    Twitter   Istagram  Amazon US  Amazon UK



Beyond Lovecraft is an anthology featuring three tales of cosmic horror that explore the secret history of the Cthulhu mythos, and the terrible truths to be found when we stray outside the bounds of everyday reality. The Elder Gods have risen and reclaimed the Earth. In the apocalypse that follows a tiny band of human survivors find a way to access the fabled library of the Yith, an alien archive containing the history of the entire universe. As they search for a way to vanquish their conquerors they uncover untold tales and make a revelation so disturbing it challenges their whole existence.

The Tough Questions

•    Where is your favorite place to write? Read? 

Anywhere quiet and undisturbed, I do like to read on long journeys, such as bus, plane or train journeys. I listen to audiobooks while I exercise and do housework and I write whenever I have the chance.

•    What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I’ve wanted to be a writer and a performer since I can remember.

•    What is one thing you need when you sit down to write? 

Like most writers, it’s time.

•    What is one tip you would like to share with an aspiring author? 

Turn off all notifications on your phone, your laptop, your tablet and any other device you own. You do not need to know who liked a friend’s post, or what junk email you have, or even that you have a text. These things steal your time and your concentration and those are the two most important things you need in order to write consistently ever day. Not only will your writing improve if you do this one simple thing, but so will your life.

•    Are you a pantser or plotter?

It actually depends on the story, some stories do need to be worked out in advance, whereas others don’t want you to waste your time thinking them through, they want you to tell them straight away so they can surprise you.

From BOH reader Heather L.
•    Chili – beans or no beans?
I love beans in chili, but I am a vegetarian, so that’s no big surprise.

•    Who’s your favorite superhero and why?
It would probably by The Doom Patrol. I came across an old comic book from the original 1960s run, by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani. in a thrift store as a very young child and it was so weird and traumatizing I have never forgotten it. I have loved them ever since in all their incarnations, but especially the first run and Grant Morrison’s tenure as writer on the strip in the 90s.

•    DC or Marvel and why is it Marvel?
The answer to this depends on what decade we’re talking about. I’m going to concentrate on the comics first. In the Golden Age of Comics, (1938 to 1954) DC, then known as National Periodicals, produced the superior comics with writers like Bill Finger and artists like Curt Swan Jerry Robinson and Mort Meskin. In the Silver Age (1956 to 1973), when Stan Lee started writing dialogue for the characters and stories created by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Marvel revolutionized comics and produced the best work all the way through to the Bronze Age of Comics (1974 to 1984) with writers and artists like Steve Gerber, Jim Starlin and Don MacGregor. In the 80s though, DC brought out Watchmen and The Dark Knight and they completely changed the face of both comics and how you told superhero stories. In the 90s DC launched Vertigo and launched the careers of writers like Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Garth Ennis. So they win hands down again. From 00s onwards, there isn’t much between the two publishers. Both continue to bring out the odd, amazing superhero comic like Al Ewing and Joe Bennet’s The Immortal Hulk and Tom King and Bilquis Evely’s Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow, but of late they’ve proven themselves to be little more than corporate entities endlessly exploiting their intellectual properties with no respect or consideration for their comic book origins.

When it comes to movies and TV, from 1940 until 2000, DC brought out blockbuster after block buster with Christopher Reeve playing Superman and a multitude of stars playing Batman, while Marvel brought out the most embarrassing TV movies every produced like 1979’s Doctor Strange and Captain America (go Google them). Finally, in the 00s they made a decent X-Men movie and in 2008 Avi Arad and Kevin Feige launched the MCU with Iron Man and have remained untouchable ever since.

This is probably a longer answer than you expected. And I definitely need to get out of the house more often.

•    You need to hide a body - who do you call to help you?
Actually, are you doing anything later (asking for a friend)

•    Favorite song to belt out in the shower?
If you’d ever heard me sing, you’d realize that belting out a song in the shower would be a crime against humanity.

•    What animal would you be and why?
My totem animals are the fox and the coyote, so I would be one of those.

•    If you were stranded on a deserted island with all your human needs taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?
If I can’t have a fully stocked library, can I have an unbreakable kindle with unlimited storage? And something with a keyboard so I could continue to write?

•    Next project (what are you currently working on)?
A trilogy called Draw You In that will be part of a new series of books under the heading: Bark Bites Horror, coming soon from Crystal Lake Publishing.

•    Scary movies - complete darkness or all the lights on?
Complete darkness, so I have no idea whose cold, cadaverous hand I’m clutching in the scary bits.

•    Cats or dogs?
I love dogs, but I’ve never owned one, I have lived with cats my whole adult life though.

•    Who would you stalk? 
I can honestly say no one.

•    What inspired you to start writing?
My love of stories and language, which I’ve had since I learned to speak.

•    How old were you when you wrote your first story?
Four years old, I wrote it in an old log book that my father brought home from one of his union meetings.

•    What is your favorite book/story you wrote?
The story I’m currently working on, whatever that is, is always my favourite.
•    Who is your current favorite author?
There are too many to choose from.

•    What is your favorite genre?
It’s either horror or crime, but I’m reading a lot of sword and sorcery at the moment, something I haven’t done since before I was a teenager.

•    Favorite horror movie?
Dead of Night the old, black and white British anthology horror film from 1945. Although the made for TV movie from the 70s of the same name is also excellent as it’s written by the legendary Richard Matheson.

•    Favorite book of all time?
I don’t really have one, but If On a Winter’s Night a Stranger, by Italo Calvino comes close.

•    Cake - vanilla or chocolate?  Chocolate

•    What's your favorite band? Hard to pick a favourite band, but if you put a gun against my head I'd probably choose Neutral Milk Hotel.

From BOH reader Derek T.
•    Is there a particular author that inspired you to write horror?
The first horror author who really made an impression on me was Robert Bloch, I was 12 and the book was Psycho, I hadn’t seen the film at that point. Lisa Tuttle and Ramsey Campbell, whom I discovered a little while later, also showed me you could write about very personal horrors and be just as scary. 

•    Are there any things required when you write?, i.e., listening to certain music? an adult beverage? complete silence? stuff like that.
Time and a total lack of any distraction.

•    Skittles or Starburst?
I’d almost say neither, but it’s Starburst by default. Starburst started in the UK, but back when I was a kid they were originally called Opal Fruits, the advertising slogan was ‘Made to Make your Mouth Water!’ These days you can get shot simply for reminding people of that. Welcome to Dystopia UK.

•    Do you read or write anything that's not horror?
I read incredibly widely – fiction and nonfiction, literary, classics, crime, noir, sword and sorcery and even sci fi. I’ve written a lot of comics and kid’s books covering every possible genre.

•    Rhode Island is neither a road nor an island, please discuss.
I never rode the Rhode Island Line all the way to the end of the road, which I believe is Far Rockaway, but I’ve always wanted to, it would be rude not to (or Rhude even).

•    How do you feel about pants?
Didn’t wear them as a young man, cos my Mum (that’s British for Mom) stopped doing my laundry when I was a teen, I had to do it myself and not wearing pants cut down on laundry for me. When I could afford nice clothes, sometime in my late twenties, I started to see the benefit in them, much to my wife’s relief.

•    Dogs, cats or ferrets?
As a veggie, I’ve honestly never tasted any of them.

•    Mountains or beach?
Mountains, though beaches have their benefit.

•    Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Does Nickelback belong on a playlist???

•    What's your favorite taco?
Anything hot and vegetarian.

•    Would you go to space?
In a heartbeat, though I’m told that it’s better to go in a rocket ship.

•    Do you eat supper or dinner?
In the North of England, where I grew up, they call lunch ‘dinner’ further complicating this question.

•    Favorite ice cream?  Pistachio

•    Were you a good student?
No, I had a smart mouth and always knew what I would need to know later in life and, much to my teachers’ annoyance, I was right.

•    Who was your childhood crush?  Bugs Bunny – don’t judge.
•    Your favorite thing on French fries?  Mayonnaise 


From BOH reader Shannon E.
•    Why did you decide you wanted to be an author?
Since I learned to talk, at an early age, there’s never been a time when I didn’t want to tell stories. Since I learned to read, there’s never been a time I didn’t want to be an author.

•    Is there anything you don't eat?
Meat or fish, basically anything that once had a face or its own digestive system.

•    If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?
See, one of the reasons we watch and read horror is to prepare us for the potential crises and dangers in life. Have you ever read a story where someone is granted three wishes and it goes well? Nope! Three Wishes? Not even once!!!

•    What’s Something You Want to Learn or Wish You Were Better At?
I’m currently learning about advertising on Facebook and Amazon, if I can master that I will be very happy. Also, I kinda sucked at naked skydiving, so maybe I should brush up on that some, but courses are kinda hard to find out in the English boondocks.

•    What’s the Most Embarrassing Thing You Can Remember That’s Happened to You?
I don’t know if this is the most embarrassing, but a couple of decades ago, I went to the wedding of an old school friend. Many of my old classmates were there and a remarkable number wanted to buy me a drink (it’s a northern English thing). I was paralytically drunk by the time I went to bed in my hotel room.

I awoke in the night, badly needing to pee. My wife watched in puzzlement, and then annoyance, as I climbed out of bed, then clambered through my sleeping daughter’s baby crib, then, thinking it was the bathroom door, I opened the door of the hotel room, I walked through the corridor and out the fire escape door, which was opposite the door of my room, still in search of the elusive bathroom.

It wasn’t until the fire escape door slammed shut behind me that two things occurred to me. The first, that I was no longer in my room. The second was that I was stark naked and it was a cold January night. Now a lot more sober, I had to make my way down five flights of the fire escape, then walk around to the hotel entrance, on a busy main street, with my hands on my genitals and my skin turning blue.

At this point I had to bang on the locked doors of the hotel, while praying none of Her Majesty’s constabulary happened to be on patrol that night, and try to get the attention of the night staff. When I finally roused someone I had to convince them that I was a guest, who had lost his way and not some random streaker, lost nudist or sex-crazed pervert. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember my room number.

Finally, they took pity on me, let me in, gave me a spare bathrobe and sent me to my room. You can guess what the main topic of conversation was the next morning among all the wedding guests who had chosen that hotel to stay in. My wife was not amused and sent me down to breakfast with my daughter and a hangover, while she had a much deserved lie-in. She does, however, take great delight in telling this story at dinner parties, and to random strangers when I’m in earshot.

•    What’s Your Favorite Place on Earth?
My favourite place to be is in the arms of the special people in my life.

•    Who Are the Special People in Your Life?
My wife and my two incredible daughters.

•    What’s Something You’re Proud of?
Don’t want to sound too sappy, but my wife and my two incredible daughters.

•    If your life were a movie who would play you?
Given that I look like an ageing Frodo Baggins, probably Elijah Wood. I also look a bit like Edward Scissorhands, but I think Johnny Depp, might turn down the main role in my biopic.

•    If you could have a superpower what would it be?
An extendable force-field that would stretch to any distance, take any shape and exert any amount of pressure I wanted, instantaneously. I’ve thought about this waaaaaay too much haven’t I?

•    What would you do if there was zombie apocalypse right now?
Hack into reality with my patented magical keyboard that allows me to rewrite the world as we know it and come up with a better apocalypse. Like virulent snot monsters that only attack you when you sneeze. Or everyone’s toilet suddenly becoming sentient overnight, taking over the world and farming humans to feed them with number ones and number twos.

•    What were you like as a child?
If you go by my last answer, I’m wondering if I didn’t have issues with potty training. If I recall I was strange and highly imaginative and I loved books and comics, which made me stand out in the very rough, blue-collar, rural town in which I grew up. I wasn’t good at fighting and I’ve never been very tall, so I became very adept at making people laugh to get myself out of scrapes. 

I was often too rebellious and adventurous for my own good and this got me into a lot of trouble at school and with other adults outside of it. I developed a reputation because of this that I never lived down, even though it was, at times, a little unjust.

I left home and left the area as soon as I was able and never went back. I wouldn’t say I had an unhappy childhood, but I was bored for a lot of it, and escaped into my imagination, reading and writing stories, that I hid like a guilty secret. I think I was probably perceived by my peers, and their parents, as odd, sometimes charming, pretty, a little effeminate and too precociously intelligent for my own good but occasionally good for a laugh if you threatened to punch me.

Jasper Bark    Facebook    Twitter   Istagram  Amazon US  Amazon UK

Thank you Jasper for stopping in!

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