Give a big hollah to Tamara Jones, author of the wickedly wild and wooly horror epic, Spore.
TJ: Hollah back! Thanks for having me. :)
SRW: Okay, Tamara, let’s talk turkey. Spore is a zombie book, yet not. It’s creepy in a good way, but doesn’t deal with brain-eating zombies. Tell everyone what the book’s about. And don’t be boring about it. Cause the book’s anything but boring.
TJ: The elevator pitch version is SPORE's about people who used to be dead and the comic artist who tries to save them. To expand a bit more, Sean Casey, a haunted, financially struggling artist, becomes the focus of community - and ultimately global - panic and desperation after dead people return to life due to a fungus in the water table. If the dead rising wasn't bad enough, one of the 'Spores' was a murder victim whose killer wants her to resume being dead, and someone else is killing children in ways that match Sean's worsening nightmares.
SRW: Your protagonist is a foul-mouthed comic book artist. Cool! How has your background as an artist helped to form the book?
TJ: Actually, not as much as you might think. I was a graphic designer who mostly created retail packaging and corporate advertising. I had to research comic drawing just as much as any other topic for a novel. About my only freebie was knowing what the tools are, since I'd used many of them in college. The job itself - and Sean's frustrations with it - came straight from research and talking to comic people.
SRW: I have an affinity with you, my friend. I slaved away for 25 years in the art/corporate world. Enough was enough. I quit. Are you still toiling in the art world?
TJ: Absolutely not. I do some of my own ad work, and I made the social media Chapter Graphics in the print version of the novel. That's about it.
SRW: What I really liked about Spore was the satirical elements regarding the fringe groups surrounding the revived. Lots of groups forming. Do you think this is a reality?
TJ: I think it very well could be. While we - as both a species and a nation - have always had splinter groups, factions, and protesters, social media has really amplified the ability to group with your own 'tribe'. Major events - like people coming back to life - only amplify that clumping together of like-minded individuals. It was fun dumping the various shouting, and often conflicting, factions into Sean's life.
SRW: So if the dead start coming back to life, what’s the first thing you’re gonna do?
TJ: A lot depends on how they are at arrival. If they're brain eating zombies, I'd hole up, grab a baseball bat, and wait it out as best as possible. If they're like the Spores, I'd probably be one of the people holding signs welcoming them back.
SRW: Spore, in my opinion, was more of a sci-fi tinged thriller than straight-up horror. Is that how you position yourself as an author?
TJ: Generally speaking, yes. I'm a speculative thriller author.
SRW: I liked the easy-going, sexy nature of the two protagonist’s relationship. Based on reality? Can we expect a romance from you?
TJ: I'm not sure which of the protagonists you're talking about - Sean and Mare? Some of their relationship is like mine with my husband, only the roles are reversed. He's the no-nonsense, stalwart one, I'm the idealistic artist type. If you're talking about the other two, they're completely different from my life. As for a romance novel? I'm not ruling anything out, but it's not likely. That's not where my skill set lies.
My wife’s a scientist. She took you to task about the title, “Spore.” Because she said it truly wasn’t about “spores.” Feedback?
TJ: Well, it is, obliquely, about a spreading fungus (spreading panic, Sean's ever-increasing nightmares infecting his life, etc), and the people are called 'spores', so for me - and my editor - the title works. Are they actually reproductive bodies or seeds that grow new organisms? No. Of course not. They're people. ;)
SRW: I enjoyed the subplot about the spored woman coming back to life. Sorta made it feel epic. Plus, we don’t usually get tertiary tales about characters like that. Very well done, Tamara. Was this something you always had in mind, or did it develop organically? Sporically?
TJ: Sporically? lol All of my books include intertwined yet independent story lines and I try to use them to show other sides of the main story that the primary protagonist doesn't see or experience. I think it gives a rounder, more layered experience. Plus it's just how my brain works. This character, and her journey, weren't specifically planned as much as unearthed as the story unfolded. I knew her name, and that she'd been killed but came back. The rest was a surprise.
SRW: You told me there’s a graphic novel coming out based on the protagonist, Sean’s, work. This sounds uber-cool. Fill us in.
TJ: GhoulBane (the comic Sean draws throughout the novel) was picked up by Cohesion Press last summer. An 80-page graphic novel, GhoulBane - Attack on Minos, written by me and illustrated by Monty Borror, will be available worldwide sometime later this year (I don't have a release date yet). It's violent, funny, and a bit snarky. Very fun to write!
SRW: I wanna read more of your books. What’s your hawt genre? What have you written? What’s firing up your keyboard now?
TJ: I write Forensic Fantasy novels (aka The Dubric Byerly Mysteries) for Bantam as Tamara Siler Jones, so you can pick up Ghosts in the Snow, Threads of Malice, and Valley of the Soul pretty much anywhere. I have some ebook original short stories too, SPORE, GhoulBane coming up, and my agent's shopping around a quirky women's fiction thriller along with another graphic novel based within the Dubric universe. After that, I don't know. I have several things in progress including a book about two kids with special powers on the run from a murder rap and an assassin, and another Dubric novel about an arsonist. Everything else is still in the planning stage. You can check out my entire bibliography and read sample chapters at http://www.tamara-jones.net/
SRW: There you go, folks. Check out Spore. It’s very good.
Thanks for having me!
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/Tamara-Siler-Jones/e/B001IZ163Q
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tamara-siler-jones