The Stars of Speculative Fiction #2: Adrienne Jones

Well what a treat you have in store today, for tis none other than Adrienne Jones (aka

), born again Christian, who wrote a best selling book about her conversion to the light in her book Temple of Cod (Cod due to the fact that she is also dyslexic).

She lives in the US with her husband, wannabee Englishman who thinks that the funniest thing in the world is when dogs lick their privates.

Weep, laugh, feel your heart break, experience our AJ, the little petal we took into our compost, making her a blossoming flower of doom and despair (with a touch of humour thrown in…

So AJ, where to start? Good looking Trekky geek, who writes acclaimed fiction (favouring the novella just at the mo), with a husband that puts on a British accent to impress people and a jolly entertaining blog, with features like ‘Weird Book Cover of the Week’.

1. Is it true that Stephen King stole your Temple of Cod idea for his latest book?

That’s quite a colorful summation of my person, almost makes me want to hang out with myself! Ah, Stephen King, that lousy stinking copycat. Actually, I haven’t read ‘Duma Key’, King’s new book, but have received a ton of email about it from people who’veread my novella ‘Temple of Cod’, and I think I’ve got the gist of where the crossover lies. Apparently he’s got a character who after breaking up with his girlfriend, retreats to an ocean side cabin, where he begins to paint, and thereafter his paintings create a mystical phenomenon. I’m pleased to be hearing that his phenomenon, and subsequent plot differ greatly from mine both in back story and execution. But In fiction writing, you can’t really avoid this sort of thing happening now and then, and while it can set your ass on fire upon first hearing about it, you must remember that it’s the WHO and the HOW that makes for unique storytelling, not the WHAT and the WHERE.

( Indeed, well said but what about the WHY?)

Well the WHY is a part of the WHO, now isn’t it? Because the WHO is the character, and the WHY is the character’s motivation.

*hands a bowl of M&Ms across with all the yellow ones removed*

2. Picking up on that point of HOW and WHO for you, what is your storytelling angle, how do you go about putting a story together and who would you cite as inspirations in your career?

That’s a three-headed question! Okay, I guess I’m a concept writer. I start writing on a concept, maybe a flimsy outline, but all in all I kind of let it happen with no stringent planning. I do take time on ‘casting’ and fleshing out characters before I’ll move forward though, because a car won’t drive with no one behind the wheel. Then, after about 8 thousand words, I decide I suck, oh dear GOD do I suck! Then I destroy it, rewrite it, decide I suck again, level it one or two more times, and then finally the flow hits, and I ride it to the end.

Inspirations in my career? Gary K. Wolf is the only one who directly comes to mind. I’ve always loved his writing, and I think ‘Who Censored Roger Rabbit‘ is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. I met Gary years ago while doing an article on ‘sexuality in unreality’ for Black October magazine, and then after that our paths just kept mysteriously crossing, to the point where we were almost bumping into each other. This man has been there for me with generous advice, harsh truth, and unbridled support, from the time I was a true novice, through my first novel sales, and is still always there as a good friend and mentor. It’s rare you can find someone that knowledgeable to show a genuine interest in your work with no pretense or competition involved.

(Yeah, I know, sometimes you just keep ‘bumping’ into people you admire don’t you? *browses through thesaurus looking for a more polite way of saying stalker*)

*Browses through urban dictionary looking for a more succinct way of saying ‘bite me’*

(3. You’ve been dabbling in the world of editing recently. How has all that gone and how did it come about? Is it something you would like to do as a regular gig?)

Do you mean ‘editing’ in terms of the anthology I recently did? Grimm and Grimmer was a lot of fun, choosing the authors, going through the stories, seeing all the different interpretations on the theme. I put this collection together mainly because folklore is a hobby of mine, and a collection of fairy tale style spec. fiction stories is something I’ve always wanted to see. As far as ‘being’ an editor as a regular gig? No way, I don’t have time. I spend so much time writing and editing my own work, I can’t afford to take anything away from that. I’ve done editing in the past for magazines and what have you over the years, and while it can be fun and gratifying, I’m over it.

4. You’ve got The Hoax banners flying everywhere, Temple of Cod rewrites being done by King and Gypsies Stole my Tequila having its second publication, what are you working on at the moment, are you trying to keep your frantic momentum going?

I’m shopping around a completed speculative fiction novel called ‘Blender Born’ at the moment, and I’ve got a vague outline for my next novel–this one will be humor based with nothing paranormal for a change.

5. Humour, yes, that’s definitely an underlying theme in your fiction. How did that work for the Grimm and Grimmer project, did you inject some humour into that? What is it with comedy anyway, why do you want to write it?

I wouldn’t say Grimm and Grimmer in particular is humor themed, although some of the stories do have a humorous touch. My new novel ‘Blender Born’ is definitely a black comedy thriller though. As you said, it’s always an underlying theme in my work, whether I’m writing about aliens or mutants or just some guy having a bad day. It’s not something I plan or think about too much, I don’t force it. It’s kind of just the way my mind works and the way I see the world. With fiction, humor is important because it can make the darker parts of the story more palatable, and give a more genuine feel over all to the reader. Because even when life sucks, it’s still pretty funny. A sense of humor is one of the main ingredients I look for in friendship and love, so why would I expect less from my very own characters?

Good point, although your husband isn’t funny is he, what happened there?

6. I have to ask, it wouldn’t be me otherwise, and it links well to the previous question – how disastrous was your last ballerina session?

My WHAT?

Oh are you talking about my bizarre injury? Lol

Your memory is frightening. But yes, I tore a muscle a couple months back doing Mikhail Baryshnikov impersonations in my living room. What? You don’t do that?

I have heard this of my memory but alas my dancing is only fit for embarrassing myself in public, rather than home with loved ones…

7. Adrienne, it’s time for the hardest question of them all: what the hell is speculative fiction and why don’t we all say we produce sci-fi, fantasy and horror instead?

That is THE question, isn’t it? I just figure it’s an easy, boiler plate way to describe your work if it has any elements of scifi, fantasy or paranormal, but doesn’t adhere to the strict ‘definitions’ of any one genre. I’ve had hardcore scifi readers contact me about THE HOAX, saying “Um, this is FUNNY” in an accusatory manner, like a story can’t be both. I’ve had horror readers complain that GYPSIES STOLE MY TEQUILA made them emotional. So as odd as it may seem to me, there are readers out there that expect a certain thing from a certain genre. If you just call yourself ‘speculative fiction’, you’re pretty safe. Plus it sounds a lot nicer than ‘cross-genre hybrid freak’. People complain about your work? That’s just not on is it?

8. So what do you do when you’re not working on the latest cross-genre hybrid masterpiece then?

The only actual complaints I’ve had about my work are from hardcore Catholics, and a few people that assumed all fantasy was like Harry Potter, and mistakenly bought THE HOAX for their kids. As for the questions about genre, I’d categorize it more as an expression of surprise than an actual ‘complaint’.

What do I do when I’m not working? Is this the part where I say I like puppies and long walks in the park? Okay then. I like puppies and long walks in the park.

Puppies and long walks in the park? My lord where do you find the time? (Please be noting the lord thing is an expression and not a title – oh and for the Catholic contingent, I wasn’t taking anyone’s name in vain either.) *deep breath*

9. When sending stuff out there do you look for a particular theme of an anthology, or do you prefer certain editors or do you even care?

I do a bit of both. I do like writing for a theme, and had a good time doing my story for the Apex Digest anthology ‘Gratia Placenti‘ (for the sake of pleasing). But unless I’m invited to submit I don’t tend to seek out themed anthologies, only because it’s tough to sell that story later, when every editor in the business is getting the ‘vampire hookers from outer space’ rejects from the anthology you subbed to. So I guess to answer your question, for the most part, I write what I feel, then try to find a market for it later that fits.

*nods*

10. What advice do you have for the newbies out there, getting ready to launch themselves into a career of writing?

Well, at each stage of the game there are new surprises and challenges, so I’m not sure we ever stop being newbies in this profession. But if I had to give advice, something I feel strongly about is be very careful where you get your advice when you first start publishing, and don’t believe everythingyou hear. There is a lot of fantastic advice out there for new writers, but there’s a sea of bullshit you can get lost in. Try and stick to reputable sources like Writers Digest and other tried and true publications about the craft. In other words, listen closely, but be discerning in what you take to heart. Consider your sources carefully. This segment from Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of the Open Road’ says it pretty bang on.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,

Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,

Listening to others, considering well what they say,

Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,

Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.”

Good stuff, good advice that, from both of you!

Well thank you AJ for taking the time for the interview and I wish you the very best with all your current and future projects.

πŸ™‚

Cool beans, thanks.

Next week we entertain tree hugger and Stoke City fan, Mike Stone, who, despite those awful traits, keeps selling stuff (on eBay)

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About Mark S. Deniz

English teacher, writer, editor, publisher, reviewer and blogger. Founder of publishing company, Morrigan Books and imprint, Gilgamesh Press and editor-in-chief for review site, Beyond Fiction. Also cycles, plays floorball, listens to lots and lots of music, reads a ton of books and tries to fit in some TV, film and writing too. View all posts by Mark S. Deniz

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