Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Bring Jasper Bark to Justice Blog Tour







A few short weeks back Jasper Bark burst into this reviewer’s consciousness with a little novella entitled Stuck On You. To say that it was an utterly disconcerting story is an understatement – but it’s also the grandest compliment I can espouse. For all too often we are spoon fed horror of the modicum, horror of the banal, and because there is nothing else in the merchandise window we give it faint praise. Since reading Stuck On You, more of the man behind those words has emerged. And though we have here a writer who composes seemingly without conscience, we also have an intelligent and humorous individual who cares about his chosen genre and works hard behind the scenes for the collective tribe. So sit back, relax, and hear some of what Jasper has to say.


Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

If I’m honest, it’s a little of both. I usually spend a lot of time plotting in advance but sometimes a story gets impatient with me and tells me to just sit down and write the damn thing. Even when I’ve plotted something quite tightly the story will often surprise me by taking unexpected turns. There is always a journey of discovery as you uncover the first draft, even if you think you know where you’re going. One of my favourite jokes goes: ‘Q: How do you make God laugh? A: Tell Him your plans.’ Bearing that in mind, I suspect you would probably have your novel in uncontrollable fits of giggles if you were to show it your chapter breakdowns.

Have you ever written something so truly, deeply frightening that you scared yourself?

If you’re going to successfully scare your readers you need to be able to scare yourself. You need to probe those parts of your psyche that you’re normally too afraid to explore. You have to confront those irrational impulses and deep seated phobias, that fester away under the skin of your mind like an abscess, and use your fiction like a scalpel to lance them and bleed off the poison. If it works for you, it will work for a fair number of your readers.

One story that did deeply disturb me was How The Dark Bleeds. The idea for the story originally manifested in a graphic novel I was pitching to an American publisher. One of the subplots contained a concept that increasingly unnerved and disturbed me. It grabbed hold of the darker side of my imagination and tortured it incessantly, until I was both in love with and terrified of the concept all at once. I had never seen this idea anywhere before and I knew I had to write about it. The only problem was, as amazing as this concept was, the graphic novel I was pitching was better off without it. So it was with great reluctance that I took it out.

At around the same time I was stuck for an idea for the short story I was contracted to write for the anthology For the Night is Dark. Well not so much stuck, I had plenty of ideas, it’s just that none of them were as good as I thought they ought to be. The pay for writing short stories is frankly lousy, so I always figure that, if I’m going to go to the trouble of writing one, it better be something I really want to write.

Then I remembered the concept that enthralled and unsettled me, the one I’d put in the bottom drawer. If anything, it had grown stronger since I’d dropped it into fictional suspended animation. I found it had been waiting for me and it wanted to take me to places far darker than my fiction had ever been before. It forced me to confront and record the taboos I’d previously shied away from and  to enter those territories I’d always thought of as ‘off limits’ - even as a horror writer.

The experience of writing this story was both exhilarating and excruciating. There were several moments during its composition when I wondered not only if I wanted to finish it, but whether or not I wanted to write another piece of horror fiction as long as I lived. Ultimately, I did live to tell this tale and I will certainly tell others.

With hindsight, I’m glad that I did. The story turned out really well. It scared my publisher and made my editor queasy. It’s going to be collected in Stuck On You and Other Prime Cuts the short story collection I have coming out in June from Crystal Lake Publishing.

Do you think horror has a purpose, above giving people a comfortable, entertaining scare?

I really do believe it has. In my opinion the best horror stories use the weird and other-worldly as a metaphor for a deeper or more personal truth. I also think that the world is quite a scary place at the moment and because of this the tropes and motifs of horror are some of the best ways of addressing the contemporary world. A lot of the horror writers coming up at the moment seem to be interested in social commentary in the same way that the New Wave and the early Cyberpunk writers previously used science fiction as a vehicle for social comment.



Stuck on You:


What were you thinking when you took an urban legend and turned it into a delightfully twisted story called Stuck on You?

Mostly - “Gee, I bet this will make ’em toss their cookies” I wasn’t actually sure it was an urban legend when I stumbled across it on an obscure forum while researching something else. The person posting it seemed to think it was a true story. In fact the tale first appeared on the Darwin Awards site, which is devoted to deaths that are so dumb the victim is given an award for not muddying the human gene pool with their decided lack of smarts. So there’s some debate as to whether it actually happened or not (my guess is definitely NOT).

It was one of those little snippets of information that stuck to the seamy underbelly of my imagination and wouldn’t let go until I wrote a story to get rid of it. Taking the Piss, another story that’s collected in the forthcoming collection: Stuck on You and Other Prime Cuts, was just the same. It was inspired by something hideous I read about that just wouldn’t leave me alone. I sometimes create stories as little traps for the vile and hideous notions that infest my psyche, so I can be done with them and pass them onto my unwary readers. Think of it as a public service.

Stuck on You goes to some pretty extreme places, did you ever worry that you were going too far?

All the time. The fear for a writer working on something like Stuck On You is that you’re going to lose half your readership. That what your describing is going to gross them out so much they’ll throw the story down in disgust. So I would try and slowly ease the reader into each new incident that befalls the main character Ricardo. I would build to a gross climax then scale it back a bit. The thing about the story is that just when you think it’s gotten as low as it can go I’ll find a new depth to plumb, but you have to let up a bit in between. The intense levels of eroticism helps with this as did the black humour. Many readers have said they squirmed while reading it, or felt sick, but most have also said they laughed too, which is good because there is a strong element of slapstick in the story.

Why should people read Stuck On You?


Because it’s the sickest, filthiest and most inexcusable thing you’ll read all year. If you think you’ve read everything in horror think again this will take you to an all time low. It’s the ultimate guilty pleasure, the sort of book you have to read with one hand free, partly to hide behind and partly to do other things with.

And there you go. Everything I said about the man is true. However, if you don’t believe me below is an entertaining clip where you can meet the man yourself:

Way of the Barefoot Zombie

And to learn more about this upcoming release, please visit:

Crystal Lake Publishing



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