I’m delighted to be welcoming Jim Jackson today chatting to us about his novel, Kiss of the Cockroach Queen.
Find out about his characters, the authors who have influenced his writing and much more.
King Wong, the world’s only exoterric consultant and expert on the Otherkind, is down on his luck with a leaky, keep-you-up-at-night shower and a fold-out bed in grungy Kowloon.
So, when an expensive-looking dame from the swanky Mid-Levels offers him a year’s rent to find her missing shady, financial-wizard husband, he takes the case.
Now, he’s tracking down an ancient, Tang-dynasty magic and a buxom, violet-eyed barmaid cult leader in Hong Kong’s seedy, mystical underside with only the help of a hippie girl in dreadlocks and whatever allies he can muster from the mists of Chinese myth.
Or is he just making all this mythical stuff up?
Available to purchase in paperback format.
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise Kiss of the Cockroach Queen in 20 words or less.
Old-style pulp meets Chinese mythology on the Hong Kong streets. Hopping corpses, unstoppable insects and Tang-dynasty magic.
Please tell us about the characters in your book.
King Wong is the world’s only exoterric consultant – that’s with two Rs, mind you. He’s the only person who can deal with the Otherkind that live on the Borderlands between our world and the world of myth. But he’s down on his luck with a leaky shower that keeps him up at night in his grungy, Kowloon apartment. So, when a classy dame from the swanky Mid-Levels offers him a year’s rent to find her missing financial-wizard husband, he takes the case.
As a young girl, Jasmine Black had a relationship with a mythical, Modoc crawfish in her native Oregon. She’s always wondered if that was real, or if she imagined it. So, she travels to Hong Kong to find the only person who can truly show her the truth – King Wong. Now, she’s embroiled in the nest of a sultry, violet-eyed barmaid and has to deal with an ancient, mind-control Magic. Just an average Tuesday …
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie Jim?
I’d love to see John Cho in the lead. He’s got those looks that are half-ironic that would convey beautifully the tension of King Wong – are these mythical beast real or are they all in his head? It would be great to see an Asian in a lead role like this.
John, if you’re looking for something to do with that Star Trek money …
Did you do any research? What resources did you use?
I now know more about cockroaches than I ever wanted to! That was mostly Wikipedia.
My biggest tool for this book was Google Maps, though. I’ve spent a lot of time in Hong Kong, but there are half memories that are so much better brought to life with street view.
Made me nostalgic. Hong Kong’s my favourite city in the world, and I need to get back.
Do you have a theme for your book covers? Who designs them?
I love the vintage covers – 30s to 70s. Something in those covers resonates with something old in me.
I have a bit of graphic design experience, so I usually design my own covers. I know they say you’re not supposed to do that, but screw it. I’m indie. I want to, so I get to.
Your book is part of a series Jim, what is in the future?
The King Wong adventures is an open-ended series, though each stands alone. I had so much fun writing this first instalment, that more are already on the way. There’s a King Wong Christmas story in the anthology Baby it’s Cold Outside coming from Coffin Hop Press in November. The second book, Bones by Breakfast, will be out in the spring. I’ve also been asked to submit to a supernatural crime anthology, and that seems custom-made for a King Wong story.
Which authors have influenced your writing?
I was in Value Village a few years ago and saw a couple 60s pulp books by Carter Brown. Small trim, about 125 pages. Lots of kiss kiss, bang bang. Those initially inspired the tone of Kiss of the Cockroach Queen and the other King Wong adventures.
I’d also been reading a lot of John Crowley – specifically the Aegypt cycle and Little Big – and was looking at how to seamlessly blend myth with daily reality. That’s what I attempted in Kiss of the Cockroach Queen.
I also need to give a shout out to playwright Jovanni Sy. He wrote a play called Nine Dragons that I was lucky enough to have seen the first staging of. That was what inspired me to take an idea about a pulp-y detective and mythic beasts and set it in my beloved Hong Kong.
Do you have a most creative time of day?
I don’t know if I’m at my most creative, but I do most of my writing first thing in the morning. Before the static of the day interferes. Before I get frustrated with anything. I write for about an hour first thing in the morning (well, second thing – after caffeine) most days of the year, and that gives me more writing than I could realistically put out.
Discovering early morning writing has really opened up what I can do with my writing. It gives me the room to experiment and try new things.
Are there any tips you could share with new writers?
Write every day. That’s the biggest one. I’m not original in saying that, but that’s the advice I repeat. Writers write. The more you can build that habit of bum in seat, fingers on keys, the faster inspiration will come to you. The muse loves a working stiff.
Some of the successful pulp writers of the 40s and 50s had outputs of up to a million words a year! There’s a goal to aspire to.
What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
Community. I’m lucky enough to have stumbled into a writers’ community centred around the oldest indie bookstore in Calgary, Canada. There’s a monthly open mic where writers can share their works, events and just a load of good, supportive people.
Anytime someone asks me about what they can do to become a successful author, I tell them to get involved in their local writers’ scene. These are the people who will buy your books. These are the people who will inspire and challenge you to get better. These are the people who will put a pillow in the way when you want to bang your head against a brick wall.
Writing is a solitary act. Being an author takes a village.
Thank you for being my guest today.
Wishing you success with all your writing projects.
author – educator – gentleman
Jim Jackson is a Calgary Herald bestselling author and vintage leather jacket enthusiast whose books look at blues-steeped devil-deals, old-time pulp mixed with Chinese mythology and the art of storytelling. Jim’s mission is to show how the stories we all grew up with – the heroes, the monsters, the adventures – are still solid, muscular realities that shape our lives.
He’s the author of How to Tell a Really Good Story about Absolutely Anything in 4 Easy Steps, Stones in My Passway: A Novel in Blues, and Kiss of the Cockroach Queen. Find out more at www.reallygoodstory.com.
Connect with Jim Jackson