Interview with Terence Jackson, author of Blood Underground, Von Dred and The Book of Jacob.
Firstly, tell us about your book/series.
I have published several books over the last few years, most of them vampire novels. The first vampire story was “Von Dred”, a lengthy story filled with all sorts of intricacies and characters. The story spans over one hundred years from the early 1900s until present day and spans the globe from England, to central Europe, and even to the U.S. The next vampire novel is “The Book of Jacob” and it is a sequel to “Von Dred”. It follows one of the characters from the last chapters of Von Dred on his own journey to make sense of the vampire world. My most recent novel is “Blood Underground: Book One – Thavs”. This story centers itself mostly in London, England, and is about groups of vampires which inhabit the unused and sometimes forgotten parts of the Underground rail system.
What are you working on at the moment?
Several things, actually. Originally “Blood Underground” was meant to be a trilogy, but I get inspired and all these ideas come to me that simply won’t fit into a trilogy so now it’s going to be a series. I’ll write them as long as the words come to me, I guess. Currently, I have the outlines for at least four books for this series. Book Two of the series is called “Thom Blood” and is nearly in the finishing stages. I’m also working on a separate vampire novel apart from the Blood Underground series that is tentatively titled “The First”.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I got inspired to write when I was taking a course here at university in 2007. It was a class that took snippets from the best of the best writers from all different genres and analyzed them from a sociological standpoint. It was a very exciting class and we had many lively discussions about the works. I believe that class is also why I tend to develop my characters as well as I do and really dig deep into them, who they are, and why they are the way they are.
How long have you been writing?
I began writing when I was in college back in the 1970s, never anything serious, though. It was just for me that I wrote – mainly short stories and such. I started writing seriously in 2007 as a way to beat the boredom of winter in Fargo. My first story was “Thirty Days and Counting.” It is a military love story I wrote that was inspired by – of all things – a Reba McEntire song. It took me about a year to write it and I had just completed it when I came across the Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition and I entered it. I did okay for a first-timer but I didn’t win. I did publish it through Amazon’s self-publishing platform and I got the bug – I wanted to write and publish more! That was when I started on the first vampire novel.
What is your relationship with your characters? Do you have a favorite? Is there one that you find a bit more difficult?
I have a very serious relationship with most of my characters. A majority of my main characters are based in some way upon real people whom I know, either physical characteristics or their personalities; some of them are a bit of both. I would have to say that my favorite character is William from “Von Dred” and “The Book of Jacob”. He was one of the first vampire characters I wrote and I really dug into his psyche; I got to know him as much as I know myself and I think in retrospect that he represents some of the better bits of my own self. As far as a difficult character…that’s an easy one. Henry from the latest novel, “Blood Underground,” wins hands down. I really enjoyed writing his character because he is so different from any other character I’ve ever written. I won’t spoil too much of his story, but suffice to say it doesn’t take you to the very end of the book to figure out what sort of man he is.
Is there anything that you find challenging about being a writer?
A lot of the challenge is finding the time to do it. I get so many ideas and I keep separate notebooks for each work in progress. I am usually working on one main project and have others sort of in the background for when I get stuck on the current story. At the present I have no less than ten notebooks with me so as inspiration strikes, or I get an idea for part of a storyline, or even a great bit of dialogue, I jot it down.
Do you write freehand at all or straight onto your pc?
Most of my writing is directly into the pc. I do write notes and outlines freehand. I sometimes record ideas on tape or digitally if I can’t get to anything with which to write.
Do you have a strict writing routine/word count per day?
Surprisingly not. I’m very much a control freak and very anal retentive about most things but not about writing so many words per day. Some days I might write a few words by hand in one of the notebooks. Others, I will sit at the pc or have the laptop open in my lap and write away for hours on end.
Is there one question that you wish that you would be asked in an interview? If so, what is it and what’s the answer?
What is your major flaw? My answer would be that I am very opinionated. I’m very passionate about things that I feel strongly about. You’ll see what I mean when you get to the question about the Tardis!
What do you think causes people’s enduring fascination with vampires?
I believe that our fascination with vampires comes in part from a fear of death. Becoming a vampire gives one a chance at immortality, to cheat death so-to-speak. I grew up on all the black-and-white classic horror films, plus television series like Buffy, Angel, and more recently True Blood and Being Human. I’ve always been fascinated by the macabre.
Do you have any plans to write in a different genre in the future?
I do have several projects on the backburner that have nothing to do with vampires, although a couple of them do have to do with death. Hmm. One gets the sense that I have a thing about death. Anyway, I have one project, “The Big Song” that is a story about life in the West End musical theatre; the title was inspired by a catty remark made by a pop star about another’s performance and adulations. Next is “Persona” which is a story about how we touch the lives of others even when we don’t realize it or after we’re gone. Another one in the works is “Passing on Death” which is about the personification of Death in a very different light.
Are you also an avid reader? What are you reading at the moment?
Who has time for it? I have read a few things recently but spend most of my time writing when I can. Most recently I read “The Smell of Rain” by Hazel Larsen and “The War of the Coffee Bean” by Glenn Scrimshaw, both of whom are friends of mine and neither book is about vampires. I try to steer clear of any vampire stories for now.
Doctor Who has just arrived in his Tardis. He puts you charge of the time machine, what would you do?
Okay, so I’m probably going to get blasted for this one. If I was in charge of the Tardis I would go back in time to before the Doctor met Amy Pond and land on top of her, crushing her into a pile of goo beneath the Tardis. I hated her; I had to mute the telly when she spoke just to get through an episode. I hope she never returns to the show.
The vampires are attacking! Grab the first thing you see to your right and hit them with it! What was it? And how do you think you did in the ensuing fight?
My messenger bag. The vampire grabs it as it swings past his head, snatching it from my grasp. I stare him in the eye and say “Oh, frak.”
The afore mentioned vampire attack didn’t go so well and you were bitten by the vampire…now what?
I beg the vampire to give me some of his blood, to turn me, to take me with him into the fold, the brotherhood.
In the event of a zombie apocalypse what item would you make sure that you took with you to your underground safety bunker? (we will presume that your family are already safely in the bunker!)
A shotgun and a tonne of ammo!
You are planning an awesome dinner party. Which 3 celebrities/fictional characters/historical figures (past or present) would you add to your guest list?
Wow, this is a tough one. I’m not going to be vain and have dinner with my own characters although I’d love to be in a room with a couple just to listen in on them. I think I would have to have dinner with Bela Lugosi to pick his brains about what he felt about playing Dracula in films. Second would be Bram Stoker to ask him about his novel and what inspired him and to ask direction. Lastly would be David Tennant. He was my favorite of the modern Dr. Who’s and I think he’d be a bit of fun to add to the mix.
Can you give us five random facts about yourself?
I’m an anglophile. Love anything to do with the English – culture, history, food – you name it.
I’m a terrible dancer.
I’m loyal to a fault.
My hair has been gray since my late 20s.
I travel to London twice a year for inspiration.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write – write often and write feverishly and with a passion. Write about what moves you, what inspires you, whatever you believe in. Hone your craft. Show your writing to others, get feedback, listen, and revise. Don’t be afraid to let your light shine and release it to the world. You just never know what can happen.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
I appreciate every one of my readers, truly I do. And whether you fall in love with my books and the characters or you feel cheated by an ending, please keep reading and commenting on my books. I’ve been told my writing is everything from “wonderful, inspiring, etc.” to “vampire porn” (I get a big chuckle every time I think about that one) and I take it all in stride. All-in-all I enjoy the fans and hearing how much they love my writing and that they can’t wait for the next book to come out. Thank you all.
Terence Jackson was born at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina. His father was in the U.S. Air Force and his mother was a nurse prior to his birth. Terence credits part of his love for the written word to his mother, and avid reader who taught him to read years before he began regular schooling. He currently works at North Dakota State University as an administrative secretary – the only male secretary on campus. Terence grew up watching all those great black & white horror movies – Dracula, The Werewolf, etc. – on Saturday mornings and always had a love for the macabre. He also watched a lot of British television, especially Dr. Who and the comedies so he’s been a huge anglophile for some time, as well.
Blood Underground: Book 1 – Thavs
The early part of the 19th Century held a lot of promise for a young man born into the upper-crust of London society. Henry Stuart was such a man – educated, handsome, and headstrong – the only son of a prominent financier. The world was poised at Henry’s feet ready to give up its treasures – and pleasures – to one so seemingly deserving of such a gift. On the night of his graduation from university there began a series of events which would alter the course of his life forever, sending him down a dark and treacherous path. Along the journey are characters of all sorts with whom Henry must interact if he is going to find his way. Follow his journey from privileged gent to that of being one of the most feared vampires in all of London – if not the whole of England. Will the beast win out in the end? Or will Henry’s humanity triumph?