The release of Pirates & Swashbucklers, the anthology featuring my short story “Relvan’s Rescue,” quickly approaches. We’ve had some great interviews with the other authors I share the table of contents with, and I’ve got another five for you this week. Today’s interview is with Jason Kahn.
When did you first realize you were a writer?
It changes depending on my mood. Sometimes I think it was when I sold my first short story. Sometimes I think it was my first (and thus far only) professional short story sale. Sometimes I don’t really consider myself a writer at all because I don’t write fiction for a living. Sometimes I think that’s ridiculous because I do make a living writing and editing, just not fiction. Then there are other times when I think that if and when I have an actual novel published, like I hopefully will with the one I just finished writing, I can then honestly look in the mirror and say, Chum, you’re a writer, you are.
What authors influence or inspire you?
Early on, I would say authors like Raymond Feist and David Eddings influenced me the most as I tried to write fantasy-adventures, but lately, much more James Ellroy, Elmore Leonard, Joseph Wambaugh, and Donald Westlake as I’ve been writing more noir crime fiction. I read several detective fiction authors as I worked on some of my recent pieces. Raymond Chandler, Peter Lovesey, and then I read Ellroy. The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, and many more. I wasn’t prepared, my mind exploded. I could not put them down.
What book(s) have you read more than once? What drew you back?
The first book I remember reading more than once was A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. I read it when I was a boy, and it was my first real introduction to fantasy literature. Quite a primer, right? I re-read it constantly, the language, the world-building, the characters. It was all there.
In 25 words or less, how would you define “pulp” as a genre?
Pulp as a genre takes me back to the old serials: over the top heroes and villains, nonstop thrill-ride action. That’s only 20!
What made you decide to submit a story for the Pirates & Swashbucklers anthology?
I always wanted to write a sword-and-sorcery adventure on the high seas with people who go “argh!” This was the perfect opportunity.
How did you come up with the idea for your story? What is your writing process like?
“Voyage of the Hangman” actually started out as an even longer story (I know, it’s not long enough?). There were a couple of basic elements when I started: Pirate ship invaded by demons bent on invasion, young man with latent magical abilities who somehow manages to thwart them. Now go discuss! After that I pretty much let my imagination go. It was definitely one of the less structured pieces when I began. That’s probably why it was so much fun.
My day job and family life keep me quite busy, so my “process” basically consists of writing whenever I can scratch out the time. Lately I’ve had to be extremely disciplined since I’ve been writing several things at once, which is not something I necessarily recommend, especially from a mental health aspect. But it’s good work if you can find it.
A while ago, I read something by an author who said his approach to writing is to treat it like a job and write even when you don’t feel like it. That was like a mini-revelation to me, because let’s face it, I don’t always feel like writing. Sometimes I’m just tired after a day at work, or frazzled from the kids. But so what? When I had the time, I started making myself. And you know what? Within ten minutes, I was off and running without fail.
Do you consider yourself a “pulp” writer? Why? Is there another genre you like to write?
Some of the writing projects I’m involved with currently are very pulp-ish, noir detective type stuff, so at the moment I definitely feel that way. But I also write fantasy and hard scifi, so it varies. Basically I just like to write a good story. Whatever style fits is okay with me.
Care to weigh in with your opinion of the e-book?
E-books are great. I used to not like the idea of them, but after my bookshelves got crammed beyond capacity I got a Kindle just so I wouldn’t have to find space for more hard copies. It’s been tremendous. Endless books at the touch of a finger. The pricing model has changed, though, and that’s the downside. Why on earth should an e-book cost just as much as a hard copy? There’s absolutely no good reason other than the publishers think they can get away with it. The sad thing is that they can. But that’s why I refuse to buy an e-book until it’s no longer in hard cover. When the price comes down to paperback level, I’ll consider it.
There also needs to be a better way of sharing e-books. I’ve bought it, I own it, why can’t I lend it to my wife via her Kindle, and vice-a-versa? There’s a feature for this, but it depends on the book, and few of the new releases actually allow it. But these are relatively minor quibbles. E-books are a marvelous invention that has made reading even more convenient.
Where can someone find more of your work?
I currently write an online paranormal crime series called The Dark InSpectre that comes out in bi-monthly installments. It’s scifi and pretty dark. For my other writerly pursuits, feel free to visit my website.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about your writing?
I hope people have half as much fun reading my stories as I do writing them.