Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Interview with short story writer Jason Kahn
Reviews and Interviews welcomes short story writer Jason Kahn today, just to start mixing things up a bit more.
Jason Kahn lives in Brooklyn with his lovely wife amidst all of the other young families fleeing Manhattan for more space. His online series, The Dark InSpectre, is currently running courtesy of Abandoned Towers Magazine.
He has had short stories published in various places including Baen’s Universe, Damnation Books, Abandoned Towers Magazine (print version), and several anthologies. When not writing, Jason enjoys rooting for his University of Michigan Wolverines and chasing after two mischievous gnomes who claim to be his children.
What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
The endless variety. If an idea pops into my head, I’ll write about it. Then in a couple weeks, if I get another idea about something completely different? I’ll write that too. I’ve written dark humorous pieces about the devil, hard boiled crime fiction, and fantasy pieces about witches in love. Not to mention the obligatory zombie story. With short stories I can explore the most random interesting idea—and then move on to something else.
Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
Hey, I don’t play favorites, then the other stories would get jealous! I can certainly touch on a few, though. I suppose my story "Devil May Care" was significant for a couple of reasons. It was my first (and to date only) professional sale, to the now defunct Jim Baen’s Universe, which definitely opened some doors for me in terms of joining SFWA. The story was also important because it served as my introduction to the Baen’s Universe slush board, an electronic forum where contributors all critique everybody else’s work. I learned more about the craft of writing from that bulletin board over a few months than I had over the past several years. I also very much enjoyed creating the story, about a down-on-his-luck lesser demon working in a dilbertian version of hell.
Another key story for me was "The Killer Within," an e-book published by Damnation Books. It represented my first foray into hardboiled crime fiction and was a real departure from the fantasy and sci-fi pieces I had been writing up to that point. Of course, after that I was hooked…
What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
As you may have guessed from the above question, crime fiction, at least right now. There’s a certain voice you have to get into to write these stories that I absolutely love, stark, cynical, and at times funny. And the world these stories inhabit is especially juicy to explore, a noir universe where everybody’s working their own angle. Absolutely delicious.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on two main things. The first is my ongoing sci-fi crime series, The Dark InSpectre, published online by Abandoned Towers Magazine, with new episodes every two weeks.
Here’s the blurb:
In a near-future society where “normals” fear and mistrust those with telepathic ability, Jack Garrett leads a special police unit of telepaths with the unique talent of contacting the psychic awareness of the dead. Seven years after solving a notorious murder spree that culminated in the killing of his best friend’s daughter, Jack starts receiving visits from the murdered girl. Determined to follow her paranormal clues, Jack uncovers a web of police corruption that threatens to end his career and his life the closer he gets to the truth.
The second thing I’m writing is a more straight up crime novel, very hardboiled, no sci-fi elements. Should be finished over the summer. So between the two of those, I’m pretty busy, especially considering I have a normal day job and a rather hectic family life!
What else do you have coming out?
I have three short stories set for publication in the spring/summer:
• "Forge of the Soul" is a dark historical fantasy based loosely on characters form The Crucible. It will appear in Something Wicked Magazine.
• "Voyage of the Hangman" is a sword and sorcery tale set to appear in the Pulp Empire anthology: Swords and Swashbucklers.
• "The Emerald Heart" is my zombie story set to appear in the Static Movement anthology: Best Left Buried, a Cursed Anthology.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It changes depending on my mood. Sometimes I think it was my first short story sale. Sometimes I think it was my first (and thus far only) professional short story sale. Sometimes I don’t really consider myself a writer at all because I don’t write fiction for a living. Sometimes I think that’s ridiculous because I do make a living writing and editing, just not fiction. Then there are other times when I think that if and when I have an actual novel published, like I hopefully will with the one I’m writing now, that I can honestly look in the mirror and say, Chum, you’re a writer, you are.
How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I read, plain and simple. When I wanted to know more about how to write crime fiction, I started reading: Joseph Wambaugh, Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, everything I could get my hands on. If there’s something specific I need to know for a realistic detail in a story I’m writing, I’ll look it up. That’s why God created the internets. Otherwise, my advice is to read your genre, and then occasionally something totally outside your genre just to expose yourself to different styles and themes. It’s like food for your brain if you’re a writer.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m hoping what I write is far more interesting than how I write. There’s really very little quirky about how I write. I’ll either sit at my desk, or at my older boy’s karate class, or on a plane, or on a train….now why am I thinking about Dr. Seuss all of a sudden?
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Professional soccer player, no question. I was very into soccer. Still am, though I’ve long since given up the dream of playing overseas and buying a castle on the English countryside. Okay, maybe not the castle part.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Feel free to check out more about my writing. Or stop by and say hi on my Facebook page.
Thanks for being here today, Jason, and talking about your passion for short story writing. Write on. :)