Jay Halpern is a bit of an enigma. Twenty five years ago, he wrote a book called The Jade Unicorn, which garnered great reviews for style and sold well. Then disappeared. Currently, there is a 25th Anniversay Edition of the book through Overlook Connection Press.
I was approached to interview Jay, but since then have found him interesting to talk to and hope to have a few more conversations with him. His answers are rather sharp, but I am starting to think that Jay would be rather sharp to chat with as well!
But now I’ve heard he has a new book coming out. It’s called Gris-Gris. If you have read Jade Unicorn, then I think you should line up for this one. I will be. Before I gush too more about Jay, let’s hear from him.
What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?
I don’t write in genres. What genre was Finnegans Wake?
Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?
When you start a new story, do you have a title for it? Does that trigger the story?
The end triggers the story and, of course, the title?
Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright? If so, which authors are driving it?
Very bright. The authors who will really drive SF are just being born: space travellers, cyberspace inhabitants, meta-programmers of the human biocomputer.
What themes are being overused?
Violent confrontations with aliens, as if THEY will be found to be as deficiently programmed to survive as WE.
Are movies of books ruining the book?
No. Movies are an art form that attempts to co-exist with literature. Some enhance, many do not. The visual tech, however, plants seeds for writers to nurture into new visions.
Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?
Traditional publishing AND ebooks are threatened together by the ignorance cultivated by 1) capitalism’s need for drones; and 2) fundamentalism’s need for lunatics. They don’t threaten each other.
Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?
I prefer the classics, the Western Canon. Philosophy. Chinese poetry (in a good translation).
What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?
The challenge to my critical thinking skills: create meaningful, universal statements out of archetypal imagery.
Can I get an autographed book? (lol)
Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?
Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?
Do you have a target each day?
Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?
Some of my breaks last years. I await Zeus’s eagle to scoop me up in its beak. I live a life of service to others in between a writer’s stretches of solipsism.
Do you have characters running around your head? Do they dictate events and their histories to you?
What you describe is schizophrenia. No.
After so many books, how do you keep them unique?
I have a lot of time to evolve into another self between writings.
What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?
Worrying about money.
Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?
The windows of Brentano’s in Manhattan were filled with The Jade Unicorn. Lots of dopamine squirted through me…
Do you read other people’s writing?
See #8. Otherwise, no.
Would you read mine?
As a courtesy for your interest in mine, of course.
Jay’s website is in a state of construction at the moment but it’s: http://www.zoarmonster.net
For a different side of Jay check out: http://alicornservices.weebly.com/