JOSEPH NASSISE INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by Steve Pattee
Former president of the Horror Writers Association, two time Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Award nominee and author of more than a dozen books, international bestselling author Joseph Nasisse sits down with HorrorTalk to talk about his latest work, Eyes to See.
Steve Pattee: Titles are often an under-appreciated part of books and film. Eyes to See is a fantastic title considering the multiple meanings it has within the novel's context. Did you put much thought into the title, or did it just hit you?
Joseph Nassise: Titles are pretty important to me, as I find it hard to get underway on a project unless I have the right title attached to it. Unlike some of my other recent works, such as Cradle of Solitude or the forthcoming By the Blood of Heroes, the title for the first Jeremiah Hunt book came to me right away and I didn't struggle to come up with one with which I was comfortable.
SP: The book's protagonist Jeremiah Hunt is a father who has gone to extreme lengths in order to search for his missing daughter. As a father yourself, did writing about his missing daughter affect you at all?
JN: Without question. Eyes is full of raw emotion, particularly when it comes to Jeremiah and his relationship to his missing daughter, and it was difficult at times to get that emotion out and onto the page in such a manner that it would ring true to the reader. Understanding what motivates Jeremiah and what has made him into the person he is at the start of the book is one of the key journeys I wanted the reader to take over the course of the novel and that emotion is fundamental to making that work.
SP: Eyes to See seems to have an angry tone going on throughout. Jeremiah is rightfully pissed, the detective who, let's face it, uses Jeremiah just for his skills is always scowling, Scream's rage, the final reveal at the end is, while not mean spirited, just sad. These things are nicely balanced at times by Denise's level head, Dmitri's thoughtful intimidation and Whisper's quiet calm, but overall the novel is not very happy-go-lucky. Was this overall darkness an intentional decision from the beginning, or is the road you went down as the novel progressed?
JN: I plan out all of my works in detail before I begin, including the various character arcs, so the darkness of the novel was intentional right from the start. Jeremiah takes things to excess in his search for Elizabeth and I wanted that desperation and self-loathing he feels to come out loud and clear to the reader. Eyes is, at its core, a story of redemption, but there are many flavors of redemption and not all of them come with brass bells and sappy smiles. Redemption does not come easy and the darkness of the novel is intended to illustrate that.
SP: Where did you get the idea for Eyes to See?
JN: The opening line came out of an exercise I was asked to do as a participant at the Borderlands Books Writers Workshop back in 2005. The line just came to me — "I gave up my eyes in order to see more clearly" — and prompted a host of questions in my mind. What does it mean to give up one's eyes? What would prompt someone to make that kind of sacrifice? How can you see things more clearly without your eyes? And so on. The answers to those questions, of course, resulted in the creation of Jeremiah, who in turn prompted the basic plotline for the book.
SP: While the book is classified as an urban fantasy, there is certainly enough horror injected that it can fit in that genre as well. However, even more interestingly, the novel has a hard-boiled feel to it not often seen in the horror genre. Who are your influences?
JN: My influences are many and varied, to be honest, because I read so widely and so often. For horror I'd say they would have to include Robert McCammon, Clive Barker, Charlie Grant and early Dean Koontz. When it comes to urban fantasy, Lilith Saint Crow, Kat Richardson, and Faith Hunter would all feature highly.
SP: As I mentioned in my review, it has been said on your site that Jeremiah Hunt could be part of a potential series. How is that coming along? Will we be seeing more of the other characters from Eyes to See? And will we be learning more about them (in particular Dmitri, Whisper and Scream)?
JN: Tor Books will be releasing at least two more books in the Jeremiah Hunt Chronicles. Book two, King of the Dead, will be out in October 2013. Book three, Watcher of the Ways, will be out the year after that.
Yes, you will most definitely be seeing more of the other characters from Eyes and in the process learn more about their history and what makes them tick.
JN: The Templar Chronicles is an urban fantasy series about modern Templar knights that act as a secret combat arm of the Vatican, charged with defending mankind from supernatural threats and influences. The story follows Knight Commander Cade Williams as he seeks revenge for the death of his wife at the hands of a supernatural entity that may, or may not, be a fallen angel. Current books in the series include The Heretic, A Scream of Angels, and A Tear in the Sky. Book four, Infernal Games, is due out just after the first of the year.
The Rogue Angel series is one that comes out under the name Alex Archer and is written by myself and several other individuals, including Mel Odom and Jon F. Merz. It features Annja Creed, an archeologist who becomes the latest bearer of Joan of Arc's mystical sword and focuses on her search for ancient artifacts, lost cities, and the like. There are now more than 30 volumes in the series, but they are all written to act as stand-alone novels so new readers can jump in with any volume. Some of my titles within the series include The Spirit Banner, The Dragon's Mark, and Cradle of Solitude.
SP: What is the last great book you've read, and who else should HorrorTalk readers be checking out?
JN: I recently enjoyed the debut novel from Thomas Roche, The Panama Laugh, and would suggest that anyone who likes zombie fiction give that one a try. Other favorites include the entire Jill Kismet series from Lilith SaintCrow and Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series.
JN: On December 26th fellow writer Jon F. Merz and I will be launching a brand new ebook series called HELLstalkers, which revolves around an accident at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland and the rifts that accident creates between this world and the next. The series falls squarely into the realm of action-based SF with a horror flavor and we've had great fun writing it. Fans can learn more at http://www.hellstalkers.com.
Then in May I'll be launching a brand new series with HarperCollins called The Great Undead War. The series has been described as Inglorious Basterds meets Dawn of the Dead (but in World War One) and I'm extremely excited to see how readers respond to it.
I will also be writing three more books in the Rogue Angel series this year, a volume in the popular Dead Man series created by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin (Dead Man: Eater of Souls), and a few independent projects in between all of those. 2012 will be a busy year!
HorrorTalk would like to thank Joseph Nassise for taking time out his obviously busy schedule to sit down with us!
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