Q & A with J. P. Jackson
Updated: 14 hours ago
J.P. Jackson is an award-winning author of dark urban fantasy, paranormal, and paranormal romance stories that feature LGBTQ+ main characters. He works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, and lives with his husband of 24 years and his two Chihuahuas, Canela and Jalisco.
I've featured J.P.'s book Daimonion on the blog before, and with new title Devil's Due coming July 19 from Rebel Satori Press' Queer Space imprint, he stopped by to answer some questions about his writing and his daemonic world.
Congrats on the new release, Devil’s Due! What can readers expect?
I fell under the spell of things that go bump in the night at a very early age. Which is odd because at the age of nine I had night terrors for an entire year. No one in my family got a solid night’s rest for months. After that, I was drawn to all things spooky. At the tender age of twelve, I dove into The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson followed up shortly by The Exorcist by William Petty Blatty. Pretty sure my parents thought I was deranged.
Fast forward many years into the future, and a long list of read horror books later, most notably by Steven King and Anne Rice, and I became acute aware that the LGBTQ community didn’t really have great representation in them. My tastes morphed over the years and I flipped over to Fantasy, reading the likes of Anne McCaffrey and Piers Anthony. Non-conforming characters were a little more prevalent in this genre, but still (and keep in mind this was the mid to late 80’s and early 90’s), I still wasn’t seeing good representation.
Then Urban Fantasy morphed out of the Fantasy genre. For me, it’s a blending of horror and fantasy, set in modern day urban settings. I love everything about it. But again, little and poor representation. I eventually decided that I needed to start writing books where queer people were the main characters…the heroes…or anti-heroes. So that’s what you’re going to get with Devil’s Due. Queer Dark Urban Fantasy. Think Supernatural, but bent. I truly loved Lucifer (TV Series) as he wasn’t made out to be completely straight. But I so wanted more scenes where the boys were wandering away from his bed. I didn’t see enough of that.
In my eyes, demons are creatures of chaos and destruction, bad behaviour and seriously questionable morals. My main character, Dominic Ronove, is exactly that. Chaotic, destructive, bad, and most notably, questionable. This is Urban Fantasy with a side dish or Horror, and Paranormal Romance.
Let the chaos rein.
What made you first fall in love with horror and dark fantasy?
There’s something scintillating about pushing your fear limits, and dancing that precarious line between light and dark, good and evil. I want to poke at the darkness with a sharp pointy stick and see if anything grabs it and tugs me into the shadows. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Being afraid makes you FEEL. You have to acknowledge that empty pit in your stomach when you find yourself in a situation that terrifies you or disgusts you.
Writing horror and dark fantasy gives me permission to go there. I can explore all these nasty facets of my personality without getting the cops involved. And I find it odd, but my brain gravitates to the darkness. It feels at home there.
Daemons play a big role in many of your stories. What draws you to these fiends, particularly over other supernatural creatures and myths?
Like many other creatures, demons/daemons are found in many cultures all over the world. They are essentially creatures of chaos. They are the embodiment of bad behaviour. So when good people do bad things (as we all do), we need to find blame – because we have a hard time accepting that we are all capable of great acts of darkness. I fully believe that we all have equal amounts of good and bad in us.
But there’s a chunk of our society that won’t acknowledge the evil embedded within us all, and instead have decided to anthropomorphize those emotions instead. What a delightful creature to play with!
What movie has genuinely scared you as an adult?
I’m going to tell you a secret. I cannot watch horror movies. I used to, when I was a teen. I’ve still seen many of them, but they do my head in. Guaranteed if I watch a horror movie, I will be nestled firmly in the realm of nightmares every night for weeks.
I generally do not watch horror movies. Occasionally I get brave and check one out. It never ends well. It only feeds the vicious beasts in my brain. Now, I can’t stop myself though, from watching things like Supernatural, Stranger Things, True Blood – all of which you could say are borderline horror. But to me they are more urban fantasy, with that slight uncomfortable, “I don’t like this,” feeling slithering over your skin. I can’t get enough of these shows. Got a suggestion? Please, let me know!
I will confess – I watched 20 minutes of the original Paranormal Activity and went, “Nope. Nope, nope, nope nope nope.” I think it’s too close to home. I get regular visitors…they’re not always welcome.
You’re not afraid of grisly deaths in your fiction, including queer deaths. How do you approach death scenes, and balance them against concerns some have about the ‘bury your gays’ trope?
This is a great question. Hollywood hasn’t quite figured this out. But here’s my take.
Most of the characters in my stories are queer. Not all, but most. The hero of the story is always queer, and they may struggle, they might be maimed, or tortured, or put through the wringer, but in the end, the queer always emerges victorious.
Now, the other LGBTQ folks in the story? Maybe not so much. Someone is gonna die – that’s a given. But that also makes for a good story – I mean – Dark Urban Fantasy isn’t filled with candy floss and purple unicorns. It’s arsenic poisoning and purple people eaters. If you want the fluffy stuff, you gotta pick your books carefully. Urban Fantasy should be gritty, and real, and have a good splattering of blood. Let’s face it – we’re all going to die – some of us, in more grisly ways than others.
However, I’m not picking out the ONLY gay/lesbian/trans character in the story and giving them a horrendous exit. And on top of it all, the main character is still going to be victorious in the end, and they will represent the rainbow in some form or fashion. I think that’s the key. Killing off the only person in your story who’s queer? Bad choice. But killing off one out of a cast of queer people, makes it different, and especially if the final gay wins in the end.
I think that nails it, so one last, very important question. What exactly is the Devil due?
Anything they damn well want. LOL. I don’t know Christian…what do you have to bargain with? And what do you secretly desire the most?