Interview with James Jakins

By Michael Gruneir

James Jakins is a self published author of both Urban and Epic Fantasy. His debut novel Jack Bloodfist: Fixer was a SPFBO 2017 top 10 finalist. He recently released his third novel Knights of the Dead God, and he has a massive year ahead of him. I recently talked to James about his ambitious plans for 2019.

MG:Hey man so how’s NaNoWriMo treating you? You getting out at all or just sequestered somewhere on a keyboard?

JJ:NaNo is going great. I’m cheating a little by working on a 20k word novella instead of the 50k words the event usually encourages. So it hasn’t been as much of a marathon.

MG:Yea because when you have Jack Bloodfist in your corner you can break the rules on these things right?

JJ:Yeah. Jack said it was okay. I don’t actually think he has that sort of authority, but he’s a big guy so people tend to let him get away with it.

MG: I want to write a novel man. I have this concept with seals and a Walrus and maybe beer…think that would fly with them?

JJ:I feel like beer and walruses-walrusi?-are a natural fit. They just got the look of someone that loves beer too much. Also, as anyone that’s read Fixer will tell you, seals make everything better. Just make sure the seals don’t turn into attractive redheads and I won’t accuse you of stealing the plot of Jack Bloodfist 3.

Seriously, though. Write a novel.

MG:Speaking of classic books, Congrats on Knights of the Dead God, it’s just brilliant. Talk a bit about it and how it falls in to the world of Jack Bloodfist

JJ:Thanks! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Knights fits into the World of Jack Bloodfist primarily through the two main characters. Both Arthur and Miki are introduced in Jack Bloodfist: Fixer. There’s also the world they find themselves in during that opening scene of Knights. In Fixer, Jack learns the story of where his family came from and how they ended up in Virginia. In Knights, Miki and Arthur are transported back to the orcs homeworld. So, while both books take place in very different settings, one that of an Urban Fantasy world, and the other one you’re more likely to find sitting around a table rolling dice, they both exist in the same, I think the best word would be: multiverse.

MG: Cool…I love when everything just connects somehow. I notice one of your Characters Jackson Smith seems to appear just about everywhere.

JJ:Ah, Mr. Smith. Yeah, Jackson has appeared in one form or another in almost every story I’ve written. He was originally intended as an easter egg that was really just for me. As a kid whenever I read books I had a game I played where I figured out which of the less important characters I could have replaced. Someone inconsequential enough that I couldn’t break the story, but still got to do something cool. Then, as I got older I learned of the phrase “Deus ex Machina” and that was when Jackson was born. He’s that character. Someone from outside the story who’s stepped into a minor role with his goal being to nudge the story in the right direction. He really was never intended to be as big a character as he ended up being, but while writing Fixer I knew I needed a wizard character and instead of coming up with one whole cloth I thought it would be fun to slot Jackson into that role. Then he got away from me a little and now he’s actually a pretty big player in that story.

MG:Yea he’s a total badass. That’s always a fun thing in your books like in Son of Thunder, They ride vehicles called O.R.Cs.

JJ: I love orcs, man. After Fixer I felt bad not having any orcs in Son of Thunder, so I got the word in there at least.

MG: Speaking of Orcs, I’m sure the drunk pink elephant in the room of SPFBO followers and fans of hilarious Urban Fantasy is wondering what’s going on with Jack. It seems like it’s been a while since he’s made an appearance. What’s up with that and when will he be back?

JJ: Good news, Everybody! I’m currently working on the second book(Titled Jack Bloodfist: Freelancer) and it is coming along very well. Took a little break from that for my NaNoWriMo project, but Jack is priority number one. The current plan is for an early 2019 release. Aiming for April. I got a neat little synopsis if you want to see it?

MG: I know a lot about it but I’m sure others will.

JJ: Yeah, cause you’ve got that sneak peek. Here’s the blurb as it exists now: “Jack Bloodfist is an orc that has been known to fix things. Now he’s working for anyone willing to sign a check.

When he’s not handling security for a werewolf pack’s monthly meeting he’s helping a dwarf find a stolen magic spear.

But sometimes a thief isn’t really a thief. Sometimes they’re a preacher’s wife who also happens to be a powerful necromancer with even more powerful friends: Rogue demons, extra-planar monsters, and the obligatory zombies.

From small Southern towns, to an elf king’s court, to the rooftops of New York City, Jack’s gonna have to call in every favor he has if he wants to make it out the other end in one piece.”

MG: That sounds like all kinds of chaotic goodness. It’s Jack turned up to 11! Love it! And from what I’ve seen and read this will be one of the big ones to look out for. Got any plans for the release?

JJ: I will finally sleep…

No, I’ve got some stuff planned. Biggest, and for me the coolest part, of every book is getting that awesome cover ready. For Freelancer I’ve got the amazing Pen Astridge working on this one.

MG: Awesome! I love her work. That’s massive. How did that come about?

JJ: Well, bit of an insider tip here. The secret to getting a professional to do work for you is to reach out and agree to pay them. For Freelancer, I’ve been debating doing a bit of a rebranding of the Jack Bloodfist books. I still love the cover for the first book but I’ve had a number of people express that they’re not big fans of it. The truth is that people judge a book by its cover, so I want to make sure they see something that their judgement deems worthy.

MG: I have no doubt that Pen’s covers will bring even more hype to the sequel. Sounds top class. So how many books do you have planned for Jack? And what else do you have in the works?

JJ: So, after Freelancer I have three more Jack books planned out. Two more in the series proper and then a stand-alone. I definitely plan on coming back to the world and characters often, that’s just all the Jack stories I have in my never-ending list of ideas at the moment. Other than Jack my biggest project at the moment is my new series, of which Knights of the Dead God is the first. I’m calling the series “Broken Redemption” and have a total of 7 books planned. After Freelancer I’m actually planning on just focusing on those for a while. I try really hard to make sure every book I release works as a stand alone with no cliffhangers, so I really hope that fans of either of my other series are okay with a little bit of a wait, again…I feel like I should also mention my Thunder’s War series. I’ve started the second book, Lightning’s Price, but it’s on hold at the moment. It’s definitely going to happen, but it’s been harder to write than I’d expected. Not because I don’t think I can, but for completely personal reasons. One of the main characters in the book is based on one of my best friends who committed suicide in 2017 and there are days where writing that character hurts a little too much, especially because that book puts the character through the ringer. So it’s definitely coming, I just ask that everybody be patient with me. But trust me when I promise that when it does come? It’s gonna be amazing.

MG: So I’m assuming it will require little sleep and a lot of coffee to handle this. 7 books? That’s immense! Do you know where you’re going with all this already ?

JJ: I do. I have every single one of the books plotted. Some more than others, but every single one has the bones in place and just needs the squishy bits layered on top. It’s going to be 7 books, each one just a little different from the others, all leading up to what I hope everyone agrees is an epic finale. And, yeah, definitely a lot of nights with less sleep than is probably healthy.

MG: Well take care of yourself my friend. If there’s ever been a time I wish I had a Delorean it’s right now. I can’t wait to read all of this . Consequently I’m very sorry to hear about your friend. I think you had mentioned something about an anthology dedicated to him in a past interview

JJ: Yeah. Man, how could I forget to bring that up? Myself and a few other writer friends put together an anthology that’s going to be benefiting suicide awareness and prevention. We have a seriously amazing group of writers who contributed. The Anthology is genre-less, meaning we have stories ranging from literary fiction to horror to bizarro to fantasy. It’s called “Where There Are Dragons” and all the stories at least have the word “Dragon” in them. There are some amazing stories in there and I think there’s going to be at least one story for every type of reader. That’s going to be releasing in February of 2019. I’m hopefully going to have an “official” announcement of some kind at some point.

MG: Busy year! That’s also an amazing cause. I hope you do well with it. What about some recommendations if you’ve actually had any time to read. What’s good?

JJ: I primarily do audio books these days because that lets me listen while I do the other stuff I have to do to not die. I have listened to a few good ones lately. Let’s see… Just the other day I finished Dyrk Ashton’s “Paternus,” and loved it. Sat on it for too long. I thoroughly enjoyed RJ Barker’s “Age of Assassins,” CT Phipps’ “Straight Outta Fangton.” If you’re in the mood for something weird and potentially disgusting, my good friend Austin James has a short story collection coming out next month called “Indistinct Conversations.” I don’t want it to go to his head, but dude’s good. I’ve actually been pretty lucky lately. Haven’t really picked up any books this year that I haven’t actually enjoyed to some degree.

Oh! And, if anyone’s looking for recommendations, the finalist announcements for this year’s SPFBO are starting to come in. You know I’m going to be watching that score board.

MG: Awesome! I particularly dug Fangton and Paternus as well. A couple of  last things before we wrap up, hows the podcast tour working out?

JJ: Having a lot of fun with it. I talked with Dani and Greg from Book Geeks Uncompromised last night and got to nerd out about DnD, so I call that a win. I also always enjoy talking about my books and writing in general, so I hope at least a few other people get something out of it.

MG: Totally. I’ve enjoyed listening. Well thanks for taking the time dude, but lastly, the good word is that you’ve created a new character for Freelancer that’s like Boba Fett but 5 times more badass. Any truth to that?

JJ: Well, some(one) readers are calling him that. But yes, there is a character introduced in Freelancer that many(you) are going to love. Michael Gunn is his name. No idea where I got that inspiration from… He’s basically just another excuse for me to write a bard into a story and that’s always a good thing.

MG: Well I for one can’t wait to read about him. I’m sure his spinoff series will be a crowning achievement. Thanks man, always a pleasure and super stoked to read it all.

JJ: Thank you! Appreciate the excuse to talk about my stuff. Hope it delivers!

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