Book Nerd Interview
James R. Tuck is the author of the Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series from Kensington. Book one, BLOOD AND BULLETS will be available everywhere on February 7, 2012 and will be preceded by the e-novella THAT THING AT THE ZOO on January 27, 2012.
James is a former bouncer and has been a professional tattoo artist for over 15 years. His tattoo work has been published in national tattoo magazines and he owns Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, Ga. He lives near there with a wonderful wife, three wonderful children, and six dogs of varying degrees of wonderfulness.
You’re an author and a tattoo artist; that's a curious combination. How did that come about?
The two are completely unrelated. I began tattooing over 15 years ago. I worked hard, loving it all, learning something new all the time. It takes years to become a good tattoo artist, to find your style and make the technique work for you. I built up a good skill level, had work published in national tattoo magazines, and built a large clientle who love me. Three years ago I made the move to open my own shop. It's a great little tattoo shop in my hometown just above Atlanta and it is exactly the kind of shop I wanted. It's not big, but we do nice work and people really like us. You can come in and not feel out of place. It's a laid back shop with a great vibe to it.
The writing bug bit me in 2009. I have always been a reader and I have loved urban fantasy for years and years. One day I was reading a book that was supposed to be a dark, violent, “OMG how did she get away with writing that” kind of book. It wasn't. The characters were flat, the story was dis-jointed, and it was not scary at all. I finished that book, sat it down, and said out loud to myself: “I can write better shit than that.”
So I did.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
As a child I swayed between being a veterinarian, a garbage man, and a comic book artist. Boy, I was pretty far off my guesses as I grew older. Lol.
When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I have always drawn and read. I remember srawing monsters, dragons, and warriors as far back as the second grade. And I my dad used to love to tell the story of me reading the paper to him at 5. So it has always been with me.
For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; Blood and Bullets, how would you introduce it?
BLOOD AND BULLETS is a Dark Urban Fantasy starring Deacon Chalk. It's got a main character with a death wish, bloodthirsty vampires, undead strippers, Were-spiders, cursed immortals, and more guns than a third world army. It is a bloody, violent thrillride of kickass.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
BLOOD AND BULLETS is book one of the Deacon Chalk series. There is a prequel e-novella called THAT THING AT THE ZOO which is available now from all fine e-tailers for less than a dollar. I have completed the 2nd e-novella titled SPIDER'S LULLABY which comes out in July and book 2, BLOOD AND SILVER, which hits shelves August 7th. I am currently banging away at book 3 (BLOOD AND MAGICK) as well as e-novella 3 which will come out in 2013. I have the series outlined to book 10 with plenty of room to continue from there as well as expanding it out to short stories and offshoots. You will see a lot of the Deaconverse in the future.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Deacon?
Just how damaged he would be. I mean, I started with the notion that if monsters were real, if this stuff really happened, then the person who woke up every day saying “I'm going to kill monsters.” would be really screwed up. I had no idea just how dark this series could get. Deacon is damaged from losing his family. It has made him angry and violent and he has a death wish. He wants to go on and be with his dead family, but he is a devout Catholic. Because of this, he cannot take himself there, suicide is a mortal sin, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. So what he does is mount up everyday and throw himself at the monster, hoping and praying that one day he will be just that little bit too slow, that little bit not strong enough and one of them will be monster enough to send him on his way.
That premise has taken the story into some really dark places. It's a hard world in the Deaconverse.
If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
Depends on the character. They all have their own veiwpoints. Father Mulcahy, the chain-smoking, coffe swilling, shotgun carrying priest has a different viewpoint than Nyteblade, the wannabe vampire hunter. Kat, the right hand man and research guru who survived a vicious time as a blood-whore to a sadistic vampire sonnuvabitch named Darius, has a differnt veiwpoint than Charlotte the Were-spider. I worked really hard to try and make all the characters well-rounded and treat them as “real” in this world that I created.
What is the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Oh, Facebook how I curse your name! I do not know what black magick crack they work into the programming at Facebook, but it seriously works. If there is an internet connection available then I must obsessively check my facebook.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why?
All time favorite? Oh, that is way too difficult to narrow down. I am an avid reader and have been for almost 4 decades. I love books. In urban fantasy I would go with OBSIDIAN BUTTERFLY by Laurell K Hamilton. That is one helluva good book.
what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
Again a hard one to nail down. I like a lot of books in a lot of genres. Gun to my head I guess I would pick THE OUTSIDERS by S. E. Hinton. It is not often you can go back as an adult and reread a book you loved in junior high school and have it hold up. This is a classic and a must read.
Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?
Not often. I mean, I have loved the dark stuff for a long time. I was watching Faces Of Death as a 12 year old. I have seen a ton of horror movies and read even more books on all kinds of dark subjects. So, nope, as dark as my books get, they don't creep me out. I mean, hell, I did read THE BIGHEAD by Ed Lee, which is hands down the most disturbing book I have ever read. It did almost make me put it down. I do not recommend it if you have any kind of weak stomach.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I learned a long time ago that honesty really is the best policy. Instead of lying I will tell the truth even if it hurts someone's feelings. It just makes life easier. Now I don't go out of my way to share my honest opinion if it is negative, but if asked I will be honest.
If I came to your house and looked in your closet/attic/basement, what’s the one thing that would surprise me the most?
Not sure. Maybe the collection of salt and pepper shakers we have? Maybe the Pez collection? Probably you would be awestruck by just how normal we are for all our abnormality.
What book are you reading now?
I am reading the THRILLERS anthology put out by the International Thriller Writers (of which I am a member) and REVENGE OF THE PENMONKEY by the Indomitable Chuck Wendig. The anthology is like most anthologies, some things make me add a writer to my want list and some stories I skip. The Chuck Wendig book, well, I just love Chuck. He has a way of making me crack up and want to be a better writer all at the same time. All writers should pick up his stuff and read his blog at www.terribleminds.com
Do you ever write in your PJ’s?
On my day off from the tattoo shop I do. When I have the house to myself you will often find me pecking away at the keyboard in pajamma pants and a t-shirt.
What’s the worst job you’ve had?
For one day I was a dishwasher at the Manchu Wok in the Mall. I was 16. It was horrible. I was elbow deep in greasy water, washing woks and pans all night long. I was the only non-asian person who worked there and the cook evidently did not like me. All night he yelled at me in chinese and when he was done cooking something he would just pick up the hot wok and fling it at me and the sink. He never actually hit me with one, just clanged it off the stainless steel sink or splashed me with the hot, greasy water. I worked there for 3 hours, trying to not go lose my shit on this old asian man. The lady who was in charge came back and had me take the garbage out. I gathered the bags, walked out the back to the dumpster, and just kept on walking to my car. I never even went back for my check.
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My keys have to be in my pocket. My wallet. My moleskine notebook and a pen for writing down ideas. A writer should NEVER be caught without something to write on and with. You will not remember that cool idea that hit you at the redlight beside Mc Donald's. Always write it down.
Do you have any fun Halloween experiences you can tell us?
I do a lot of staying in on Halloween. My kids are now old enough that we don't trick or treat and we live in a neighborhood of folks in their 40's and 50's so there are almost no kids around. So, nope, I am lame at Halloween.
Where can readers stalk you?
In person they can come to the tattoo shop, Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, Ga or track me down at any of the conventions I am working. I love to meet folks so don't be shy! My itenerary is on my website.
I am all over the web, but for social media here are the links.
And please do follow me. I promise you a good time. I love meeting new fans online and in person. Chat me up!
He lives to kill monsters. He keeps his city safe. And his silver hollow-points and back-from-the-dead abilities help him take out any kind of supernatural threat. But now an immortal evil has this bad-ass bounty hunter dead in its sights. . .
Ever since a monster murdered his family, Deacon Chalk hunts any creature that preys on the innocent. So when a pretty vampire girl "hires" him to eliminate a fellow slayer, Deacon goes to warn him—and barely escapes a vampire ambush. Now he's got a way-inexperienced newbie hunter to protect and everything from bloodsuckers to cursed immortals on his trail. There's also a malevolent force controlling the living and the undead, hellbent on turning Deacon's greatest loss into the one weapon that could destroy him. . .
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