Author Jason Bicko wasn't able to join me on the radio show, so we did his interview as a written one on the blog.
Jason is the author of the science fiction thriller, Alien Inc., available from Sonar 4 Publications.
What was life like growing up?
Life’s weird for humans. I remember a career officer at school telling me I had to plan for the day when I got released into the big wide world. He made it sound as if, at the age of sixteen, when school ended, we would be thrown out into a savage new world, and the years until then had to be spent preparing for it. And that’s kind of right. But I was not one of those kids who had a direction planned early. Is that why I don’t run a billion-pound business or build orphanages in Kenya? I started writing at an early age and it set the tone. I lived in my head a lot. The world is made up of two kinds of people, thinkers versus doers. Or, as it was once put to me, astronomers and astronauts. I was a thinker, an astronomer. I never had big dreams. The big dreams I did have belonged to characters I put in my stories. This attitude made me content with the way my life unfolded. Childhood was normal. The memories are vague, given their age, but there are as many smile memories as there are frown ones. And the same applies now. We can’t have everything we want in life, and you’ll get a headache trying to go for every dream. The way I look at it, I never became king of the universe with a harem of beauties and a horde of riches, but then I never got my head cut off in a dangerous alley, either. The middle ground suits me just fine. My only regrets are that I didn’t kiss Sarah Scarlett at school and haven’t travelled the world much. And there’s still time for both. Oh, and that I never had a pet unicorn to fight dragons with. Oh well.
What is your story Alien Inc. about?
It’s a slasher novel about a group of random people whose plane crashes way out in the Serengeti desert, at a high tech satellite tracking station. The entire staff have been turned into savage zombies by some alien, and that alien wants to have these crash survivors, too. It’s a gung-ho action story. I did this for the sort of people who like pulp horror, fans of guys like Guy N. Smith and Graham Masterton.
When/how did this story come to you?
I’d just finished a story that was quite complex. On every page there was something integral to the plot, and it was a bit of a headache trying to keep track of things. After that, I just wanted a holiday. Writing Alien Inc. was my holiday. It was fun and easy to do. I thought I’d do a siege-type story. One bunch of characters, one big setting, one short time-period, one fuse lit early.
Do you have a favorite character?
Jack Rodriguez, the rogue. The sort of character you like to watch, but maybe not have around you. Sarcastic, selfish. The sort of guy who goes for what he wants and mostly gets it. The sort of guy who, if luck were to balance itself out in the end, should end his life shredded in a crumpled car or squashed by a meteorite or something else that might make the people he pissed off in his life think “Yeah, he had that coming.”
What was your favorite part of this story?
After the crap hits the fan, whatever that’s really supposed to mean, the characters split up into little groups and have to fend off the zombies. There’s a Japanese businessman and his ex porn-star wife who end up trapped in a monorail with a single zombie lurking below the stranded carriage, trying to work out how to get inside. I enjoyed that bit. And the full stop at the very end of the story. I loved writing that bit because it meant the tale was told.
How long did it take you to write it?
Six months or so. It sort of flowed out. Like diarrhoea.
What was it like “shopping” the book to agents/publisher?
Awkward, because it’s the kind of story you don’t see out there often. The premise doesn’t sound like much. Bunch of people trapped by zombies. Sounds like the sort of story all the big horror writers might have written when they were ten years old and just starting out. I had to make the cover letter to publishers quite in-depth, to make sure they didn’t think I was ten years old and just starting out.
How do you like working with the publisher of Alien Inc.?
Those guys are cool. They assigned an editor who was very good. Loretta Sylvestre. She spotted mistakes I might never have in a hundred rewrites. The publishers also promoted the book in a number of websites and set up the blog radio interview that I missed the first time because I worked out the United States’ time zones wrong (and of course that embarrassing second missed interview involving area code confusion…)
Is the book available as an e-book, print book or both?
It’s an e-book. First rung of a ladder that hopefully reaches to dump bins and tours and awards and…(be quiet, Jason!)
Where is the book available?
The bookstore at Sonar4 Publications.
What other stories or books do you have out there?
A bunch of short stories published under the names JBICKO and Jason Bickerstaff. At one point six or seven years ago, a Google search under Jason Bickerstaff would have brought my stories up on the first page. But since then Pixar Studios has gotten big and successful with their awesome animated films, and these days searching for my name pulls up another Jason way ahead of me. He works in the art department. Dude, can’t you change the spelling?
What do you like best about being an author/Writer?
I just love plotting stories and sitting down to write them. I love the research, too, because I get really interested in whatever I need to read, and the more I read, the more I learn, which feels productive. I once had to read about myxomatosis for a story and while that sounds like a chore, it was necessary research and that made it fun. At the minute, I’m planning a story that requires me to know about police investigation procedures, so I’m reading a lot of crime stories. It makes it all feel like important work. If only it was paid work…
Where else can fans find you online?
There’s a blog or two, loads of silly Facebook comments, and a few instances where I got drunk and posted nonsense replies to serious articles in online newspapers.
Do you have any other publicity events coming in the future?
There’s an interview set up with Flashes in the Dark Ezine, but that’s it for the minute. Hopefully if you were to ask me that again in a year’s time, I would say, “Oh, I’m on Jay Leno’s show tonight and being interviewed by Jonathan Ross the day after. Probably not, though.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Work at my job, mostly. Down time involves a lot of reading, some working out, day trips away to country parks, a splashing of TV and a whole bunch of fun but time-wasting video gaming. Now, if you were to ask me that again next year, hopefully the answers can sound a bit more worthwhile. Probably not, though