THE WHOLE JEREMY ROBINSON INTERVIEW FROM THE 2012 MAG7 EVENT
Thanks for taking the time to be part of this. As the author of one of my all-time favorite series, I'm really excited to have you here. Before we jump into that particular series, I guess we should introduce you to the audience. What would the inside flap of the bestselling novel, Jeremy Robinson: An Author’s Life For Me read?
Jeremy Robinson is the bestselling author of fourteen novels including the upcoming thriller, SecondWorld, as well as Pulse, Instinct, and Threshold, the first three books in his exciting Jack Sigler series, which is also the focus of an expanding series of co-authored novellas referred to as The Chesspocalypse. Robinson is also known as the #1 Amazon.com horror writer, Jeremy Bishop, author of The Sentinel and the controversial novel, Torment. His novels have been translated into ten languages. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and three children.
How did you get into writing, and what was your first publication experience like?
I started out as a comic book illustrator and kind of fell into writing comics, too. Technically, my first published book was a comic book I wrote and illustrated, titled Ralph. My first book published was actually a non-fiction screenplay book titled, The Screenplay Workbook. My first novel published was The Didymus Contingency, which I self-published. And finally, my first non-self-published novel was Pulse from Thomas Dunne Books. That pretty much shows the path I took to publication, too—self-published to publishing deal.
You're consistently putting out an immense amount of work. Do you enjoy that kind of workload or is it mostly out of financial necessity?
Sometimes I enjoy it. Sometimes it drives me nuts. But I definitely overdid it in 2011. All of the books came out fantastic, many exceeding my expectations, but by the end of November I was burned out. Didn’t read anything for all of December and January. Starting to get back into it now. It’s not really about financial necessity. I get paid, sure, and that’s nice, but the eight novellas released in 2011 were more for the fans of the series. I knew there was going to be a longer delay than usual between Threshold and Ragnarok and wanted to fill the time in for the readers.
SoThe Didymus Contingency was your first published novel? What inspired the idea for that story?
Yup, Didymus was the first novel I wrote, and the first I self-published. It’s sold scores of books now and I still get lots of fan mail for it. The idea came about by asking myself the very same question posed on the back cover: If you could go back in time, to any place, and witness any event, where would you go? My answer was the death and resurrection (or not) of Jesus Christ. That’s how the story was born.
How many total different pseudonyms do you write under? Any particular reason?
Let’s see. I’m actually Jeremy Robinson. I write horror under the name Jeremy Bishop, which came about because I wanted to write grittier, nasty horror novels and I wasn’t sure if there would be an audience overlap. I also wanted to see if I could be successful again, without my name attached. It worked out nicely! I also have two other pennames, which are more for fun. Ike Onsoomyu, author of The Zombie’s Way and Kutyuso Deep, author of The Ninja’s Path. Both are humor books. Sound out the author names.
What is your favorite genre to write?
This is a tough call because my books skirt so many genres—sci-fi, action/adventure, thriller, horror, fantasy, etc. I think the real unifying element in nearly all of my stories is monsters. No matter the subgenre, I always have a creature of some sort. So I guess you could say my favorite genre is “Creature Feature.”
How much time do you spend researching your novels before jumping in?
Depends on the novel. THE LAST HUNTER books don’t take a lot of research before I jump right in. There are little things I have to research along the way, but so much of it comes from my imagination that it’s not too intense. But then there are books like THRESHOLD and SECONDWORLD which include multiple scientific theories, lots of history and gobs of mythology so that the research is intense beforehand and then continues throughout. I do take liberties with the facts at times, but hey, its fiction.
Okay, you know I LOVE the Antarktos Saga and that my novel PROGENY centers on similar themes. I know where I got my research material from, was there any specific material you tapped for the information you used outside of your imagination?
Well, for the Antarktos Saga, my research was the previously written ANTARKTOS RISING, which began the whole Nephilim theme. For ANTARKTOS RISING I used a lot of web resources, which is perfect for conspiracy theories. But many of the theories posed in the novel were things I came up with on my own. I recently listened to some sermons by Chuck Missler, a really radical and scientific thinking pastor, on the subject of the Nephilim. I was pretty pleased to find that my theories on the Nephilim and the genetic connection to the Biblical flood match his own.
You've said that THE LAST HUNTER series has been your favorite work thus far, and yet I haven't seen it gain the traction that some of your other novels have (INSTINCT, PULSE, etc) if even in that my Barnes & Noble doesn't carry them. Any thoughts on that?
Ahh, looks are deceptive! True, the books are not readily available in Barnes&Noble. This is because I’m putting them out via my own imprint Breakneck Media, using print-on-demand technology that bookstores shy away from. BUT, the majority of The Last Hunter’s sales come from e-books, where sales are chasing the Chess Team titles pretty closely. In terms of dollars paid to me, the two series are about neck and neck. If they weren’t I probably would have cut the series short rather than write five. It’s also the series I’m most often e-mailed about. Nearly every day for the past few weeks I’ve received e-mails asking when book four is coming. The answer is June, by the way.
With how many stories you're working on at one time, do you ever get frustrated with having your attention divided, or do you enjoy the diversity? I don't think I would be able to keep the stories straight. It's hard enough for me to know exactly where one story is going, let alone multiple stories simultaneously. How do you do it and manage to maintain such a professional level of writing with each story?
It Probably appears that I’m working on them all at once, but that’s actually not true. When I start a novel, I work until it’s done and then start the next. I may work on side projects like edits on a novella, or a comic book series, or something else that’s not a novel. But I only write one story at a time. When I’m writing a book, my brain is in that world day and night. Dividing my thought process would screw things up.
Wow, then you write faster than I thought! But it's kind of a relief for me. I thought maybe I was the only one that couldn't work on multiple things at one time. So if any of your books could be made into a movie, which would you prefer to see on the big screen?
Man, that’s a HARD question. I’m going to have to say The Last Hunter. It’s just my favorite and would delight me to no end if it made it to theaters. That said, its far less likely to be made into a movie than some of the others. THE SENTINEL probably has the best chance of being made, simply because its 1. Big blockbuster fun and 2. Can be made on a tight budget.
Which actors/actresses would you chose to play the lead rolls?
For THE LAST HUNTER, I have no idea. By the time it was made, anyone young enough to play Solomon will be far too old. Would likely be unknown actors for most of the characters. For THE SENTINEL, I’ve always imagined someone like Mila Kunis for Jane Harper.
That's interesting! I'm interviewing Heidi Ruby Miller for one of her blog tour stops, and she picked the same actress to play her lead character! Have you ever thought about directing your own movie?
In fact, I have. It’s kind of a pipe dream and I’ve started and stopped on a indie horror movie several times. But I’ve done several shorts with friends over the years and have no doubt I’ll eventually get around to it. Probably not as a career move, though. Directors work crazy long hours for months at a time, often nowhere near home and I adore my family too much to do that.
Tell us about the whole QR element to your books. Do you think that using that kind of marketing technology has helped you?
Hard to say if it has helped or not. So far its just been on the hard cover of THRESHOLD. It’s on the mass market paperback, too, but that just came out today. It’s also a new technology, which has gained a lot of ground in the U.S. since the hardcover came out. Certainly hasn’t hurt, though! Having access to the book trailer and an interview with me right from the bookstore is a pretty cool thing.
And book trailers... I LOVE book trailers, and if I see one that would make me want to spend 20 bucks to see the movie, then I'm definitely spending 5 bucks to get the ebook. Since you use them a lot (the one for Second World is awesome), can you talk a little about their effectiveness?
Here’s the thing would book trailers—they’re not incredibly effective for book marketing, even for big name authors, but I love making them. I’ve looked at a lot of them and most get just over 1000 views. My highest is probably around 4000 views. The trailer for SECONDWORLD is by far my best and has seen some nice early traction, so maybe it will help, but in general book buyers aren’t scanning Youtube for trailers to watch. To be viewed, the trailer has to be embedded on a webpage or blog with high traffic. Mine are seen mostly through my website, so I’m mostly just teasing people who would likely buy my books anyway.
Since you have a lot more at stake in your writing than most of us - since it's your career - what do you depend on the most in order to sell those books and pay your bills? What one strategy is the most important (other than actually writing the books)?
Write. A lot. Part of my 2011 strategy was to pump out books in multiple genres, under multiple names and build an audience. It worked and in 2012 I’m cutting back. I’m releasing just six books instead of twenty something. 2011 was the acceleration of my career and 2012 will be a little closer to a calm cruise…says the guy pitching a comic book series on top of those six books. But I plan to slow things down this year.
For the five minutes a day that you aren't writing, what do you like doing? What are your hobbies?
Gaming. My preference is PC multiplayer games. Right now I’m playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. My name is Callsign: King if you want to be killed by an author. Heh. I also watch a good amount of movies and spend more than average time with my three kids. Part of the benefit of working at home.
What has been the best part of this whole writing experience for you?
Hearing from readers. I write, mostly in a vacuum, spending the majority of every work day alone in my man cave. And the point of all that time alone is connecting with the people that read the books. So hearing from someone who has spent 8 hours inside my brain and enjoyed the experience is quite rewarding.
Just out of curiosity, of all your books, which has your favorite cover?
Another tough question!! I’ve done the majority of my covers myself. Hold on, I’m going to look. I’m back! THRESHOLD, CALLSIGN: DEEP BLUE and CALLSIGN: KING – UNDERWORLD are all close contenders, but I think my new favorite is actually SECONDWORLD. It perfectly captures the feel of the novel and is incredibly eye-catching. And I can say all that without looking like an egotistical jerk because it’s one of the few I didn’t do myself.
If you were to write a historical piece, what place and time would your story be set in? Any specific period of history fascinate you?
Technically, I already did this in THE DIDYMUS CONTINGENCY and my choice for that book was ancient Israel at the time of Jesus. There's a lot of interesting things going on there at that time including ancient Jewish culture, the Roman Empire. Israeli zealots battling the Romans and, of course, Jesus and the start of Christianity. I don't think there is any other time period that has had such a lasting and dramatic effect on the following two thousand years.
If you were going to go down in history for a specific book that in some way impacted the world, what topic would your book revolve around? Any social, political, spiritual, etc issues that you feel passionately enough to write about?
You know, it would probably spiritual and to an extent, I've already made several attempts. Again, DIDYMUS covers the life of Jesus. KRONOS and ANTARKTOS RISING touch on Biblical topics. But the real kicker so far is TORMENT, which I wrote under the Jeremy Bishop pen name. TORMENT asks the question, "Are you ready for death?" and makes readers really consider what the ramifications of not figuring things out in time. The result is that nearly every reader has a passionate emotional response to the book, whether that be excitement, fear or outrage. You can see this in the reviews. TORMENT is a heavy book and was really hard to write so it will probably be a long time before I attempt something like that again. But it's fuels a good number of passionate debates already.
So its days before impending doom and, being the high profile celebrity you are, you have a ticket inside one of the facilities designed to survive the cataclysmic apocalypse. You lost your kindle in the hectic plans to secure your family from the mobs of unfortunate people left to endure the future on their own. Someone gives you one because you're their favorite author, even though you're leaving them to die. There most likely won't be WiFi after the solar flares have their way... So you have to choose which books to download now, knowing they may be the only books you have to read for the rest of your life. The problem is, a flash flood is heading toward your house and you have to leave in the next half hour. You've also maxed out all your credit cards knowing you won't have to repay anyone (most people are still believing nothing is going to happen via the news maintaining that it's business as usual). You have one card that has 50 bucks left before reaching its limit. So you have no time and no money and have to decide which books you want for the rest of your life. What are you downloading on your new kindle before leaving your house and entering the facility?
Good question. First and most obvious thing to do would be to visit the free bestseller list on Amazon and snag a lot of the free classics. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Jules Verne. Etc. Probably would grab a copy of the Bible while I'm there. Then take a chance on some of the free self-published titles. And I've still got $50 to spend. At this point I would grab The Descent and Deeper by Jeff Long (my favorite books) and hope that the third book was out by that point. After that, I think I'd want books I know I can reread and the only books I've ever read more than once were THIS PRESENT DARKNESS and PIERCING THE DARKNESS by Frank Peretti, so I might grab those. They're good reads, but also make you think. Those newer books combined with the free classics would hold me over for a while.
Jeremy, thanks so much for being part of this event. I really enjoyed getting to pick your brain! I have TORMENT and DIDYMUS chomping at the bit in my kindle (although THE SENTINEL has been drawing me for a while:) Anyway, thanks so much and good luck!
You're welcome, Shawn. Reading Didymus and Torment back to back would probably be one of the most surreal reading experiences imaginable. They are so incredibly different! It will probably seem like two different people wrote them (a really nice guy and a totally unhinged guy). Enjoy. :)
And now, click here to see the exclusive SECOND WORLD interview with Jeremy!