Jasper Bark is infectious – and there’s no known cure. If you’re reading this then you’re already at risk of contamination. The symptoms will begin to manifest any moment now. There’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no itching or unfortunate rashes, but you’ll become obsessed with his books, from the award-winning collections ‘Dead Air’ and ‘Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts’, to cult novels like ‘The Final Cut’ and acclaimed graphic novels such as ‘Bloodfellas’ and ‘Beyond Lovecraft’.
Soon you’ll want to tweet, post and blog about his work until thousands of others fall under its viral spell. We’re afraid there’s no way to avoid this, these words contain a power you are hopeless to resist. You’re already in their thrall and have been since you began reading this bio. Even now you find yourself itching to read the whole of his work. Don’t fight it, embrace the urge and wear your obsession with pride!
Please help me welcome the amazing Jasper Bark to Roadie Notes….
1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
If you count comics, I was five years old. I saw a kid’s TV program in which other kids, a little older than me, were drawing their own comic books and I was beyond excited. I don’t think any idea has ever appealed to me so much in my life. The kids on the TV were using paper, felt tip pens, a stapler and their own imaginations. I had access to all those materials and I had more imagination than was healthy for a boy my age. I sat down right away and began making my own comics. I became so obsessed with doing this that, the next Christmas, my parents actually had to confiscate my pens and paper, so that I would stop drawing and come and open my presents.
If you count prose stories, then I was six. My dad used to bring home old log books, from his union (he was a shop steward at the local shipyard), to use as notebooks, and I began filling them with stories and illustrations. I was a lousy artist, but I got a lot better as a story-teller over the years.
2. How many books have you written?
I’ve written five novels, four novellas, nine graphic novels, three collections of short stories, twenty children’s books, countless pages of comics and even a couple of books of poetry (I was young and I needed the money, though if the truth be told, I’d have made more doing porn than writing poetry).
Now that I’ve counted them up, I’m quite surprised actually. Because I’m always beating myself up about not working hard enough.
3. Anything you won’t write about?
Y’know, I’ve asked this question myself, on quite a few writers panels at events over the years and the responses vary. At first, most writers will say “no”, there isn’t anything they won’t take on. Then, when we begin to probe the subject, they all end up admitting that there are things that are taboo for them.
My own experience is, that, things will surface in one story, that I will find I’m unable to write about, so I will consider that topic, out-of-bounds. But then another story will start to go in that direction and I will find myself writing about something I thought I could never address. So whenever I think I’ve found something I can’t, or won’t, write about, I end up finding a way to address it.
As writers of dark fiction, we are often confronting the darker sides of our nature, the things we fear most and the things we’re least proud about in ourselves. The same is very much the case for readers of dark fiction too. Dark fiction, whether it be gritty crime, weird stories, or out-and-out horror, is a way for us to face up to, admit, and examine that dark side to our nature in the controlled, and a safe, environment of a story. As a psychologist friend of mine once said: “If you can play with it, you’ve got it. If you can’t play with it, it’s got you.” Fiction is the best way to play with out dark sides, and we should approach it, with as few limits as are comfortable for us.
4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…
I’m in my late 40s, I’m married to an amazingly clever, talented and beautiful woman called Veronica, but every calls her Ronnie. She runs her own Marketing and Communications business, and she’s a wonderful role model to our two teenage daughters – Freya and Ishara, who are every bit as indomitable as their mother.
I write full-time and have done since my kids were born, having previously been a national film and music journalist and a professional stand up. I’ve been in and out of trouble most of my life and, in spite of my age, have yet to develop the wisdom to avoid this.
5. What’s your favorite book you have written?
That’s like asking me to pick my favourite child, they’re all special in one way or another. However, like most writers I know, my favourite book is always the one on which I’m currently working. It’s my chance to redeem myself for all the books I’ve already written, for which I had such high hopes, but which, inevitably came out flawed. The book I’m currently working on, still has that possibility to be great, to be my legacy to the world, so, for that reason it is my favourite.
6. Who or what inspired you to write?
Just about every book that I’ve ever read. The great books inspire me to reach similar heights myself, and the lousy one make me think: ‘wow, I can do better than that, maybe I’m not so lame after all’.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I recently joined an all female, octopus mud wrestling team. I’m not actually female (as you probably guessed) and I can’t wrestle for shit. But I think the other ladies let me join because they find it hysterical to see me getting my butt kicked by all manner of octopi. Recently, they’ve taken to replacing the mud in my bouts with avocado puree, jut for the hell of it. It certainly seems to please the crowds, but it leaves me picking green goo, out of unmentionable places, for at least a week afterwards. Mostly causing my poor, long-suffering wife, to raise an unamused eyebrow at my antics.
8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?
Yes, I sacrifice a virginal avocado, on altar of mud and avocado stones, in front of a select audience of pre-eminent Octopi. This is mainly to increase my standing within the Octopoid community. As you’re probably aware, octopi don’t read, so they have no clue about my literary reputation, they only know me as the short, strange guy who constantly gets his ass whupped in a big vat of puree. So, these rituals help me gain their respect a little more.
9. Where do you write? Quiet or music?
I have a study at the bottom of the garden, that used to be a garage until we converted it. It’s full of thousands of books, and hundreds of spiders, who sometimes like to descend onto my keyboard, in the middle of the night, when I’m right in the middle of a particularly disturbing passage.
I sometimes write to music and I sometimes write in silence, it depends what I’m working on. If do write to music, it has to be something without lyrics. Like many writers, when I’m working on fiction, I like to use film scores, as these are composed specifically to support a narrative art form, and as such are really good for getting you in the right mood to write.
10. Anything you would change about your writing?
I like to think that through the daily act of writing I am already changing it and growing as a writer. So if there is stuff I’m not satisfied with, I trust to the process to eventually fix it, and allow me to grow out of it. In fact the wonderful thing about being a writer is that, right up until the point of publication, if there is something you don’t like about your writing, you can always go back and change it, and even change it some more.
11. What is your dream? Famous writer?
Over the years, so many amazing writers have had such a profound and life changing effect on me, have written stories, essays and books that have meant to so much to me, that I can’t begin to list them all. They’ve totally changed the way I view the world, and my place in it. They have given me hope in dark times, joy in sad ones and entertainment in periods of unimaginable boredom.
My real dream, as a writer, is to be able to write something that will affect a reader in the same way, that will move them as I have been moved, so many times in the past. If I can give something back, like that, to even a handful of readers, then I will have fulfilled my dreams ten times over.
12. Where do you live?
Why Becky, don’t you already know? Isn’t that you at the bottom of my garden watching me through binoculars?
Wait, no… sorry, that’s my FBI handler, they’re easy to confuse with a stalker, but they’re usually a little more polite.
To go back to your question, I live in the small medieval town of Bradford on Avon, in the UK. It’s quite close to places like Stonehenge, Glastonbury and the Georgian city of Bath, only it’s less well-known, but no less beautiful. If you’ve ever read a novel by Jane Austen, or Thomas Hardy, you’ll have encountered the corner of the world in which I live. It hasn’t changed much in the preceding 200 years and you still can’t get a good broadband connection.
Well we do have a couple of cats, and the disembodied spirit of a lobotomized gorilla hanging around our cottage. He was a bit unnerving at first, but we’ve taken to leaving out bowls of warm ectoplasm for him, and he’s actually become quite endearing. He even has his uses, such as scaring away Jehovah’s Witnesses and other door to door tradespeople.
14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?
It’s that moment when the writing really begins to flow, when you sink fully into the world you’re exploring and time stands still. When the story itself takes over, when you hear the characters voices so clearly in your mind it’s as though they’re there in the room with you. When you’re as utterly surprised and delighted by your work as anyone else who is going to read it in the future. When it goes places you never foresaw, and reveals things you knew nothing about until you began to type it up. When your fingers can hardly keep up with all the words that are tumbling out of you.
Those are the moments we all live for as a writer.
15. What is coming next for you?
Hopefully the shambling hordes of the undead aren’t coming for me.
I have a new novella out, called Quiet Places, which is a story of cosmic folk horror with overtones of psychological horror, set in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. Unusually for me, it’s an entirely bloodless affair that depends more on atmosphere and dark folk-lore. There is no sex, no violence, yet it is probably the most disturbing thing I’ve yet written.
You can grab a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Places-Novella-Cosmic-Horror/dp/1640074708
I also have a new graphic novel out as well, it’s called Parassassin and it’s a dark blend of sci-fi and horror. Politics, parody and paradox collide in a tale of time travel and attempted assassination.
It’s available here in the US: https://www.amazon.com/Parassassin-Jasper-Bark-ebook/dp/B074Y5NGPS
And here in the UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parassassin-Jasper-Bark-ebook/dp/B074Y5NGPS
Aside from that I have a novel and a novella due out next year, a lot of different anthology appearances. I also have a graphic novel starting on Comixology in 2018 and a couple of hush – hush projects, I’m going to allude to in an annoyingly vague way.
I am launching a new webcomic, called ‘Fear Fix’ on my website. It’s very much in the tradition of those classic black and white horror comics from the 60s, 70s and 80s, like Warren and Skywald, and also EC horror comics. Like those comics it has a horror host, but, in the tradition of Rod Serling, I am the host of the comic. It has some of the best artist from both mainstream and indie comics and it will be running monthly. You can read the first story – ‘The Bad Girl’s Guide to Making a Killing’ here
I’m also turbo charging my YouTube channel, with monthly updates, the first of which you can see here
And I have just launched a Patreon page, why not check it out and become a patron here
You can connect with Jasper Bark here:
Here’s the link to my Patreon Page again: https://www.patreon.com/JasperBark
Here’s a link where you can get a free eBook, a free story and an exclusive video of my blooper reel, by signing up to my mailing list:
Really, you’d be foolish not to.
Some of Jasper Bark’s books: