JASON FRANKS is the author of the Aurealis-nominated horror novel Bloody Waters, as well as the graphic novels The Sixsmiths and McBlack. His short fiction has appeared in Aurealis, After the World, Ignition and many other places.
You can find out more about Jason at www.jasonfranks.com or follow him on Twitter at @jasefranks.
1. You already had a respectable CV in comics and graphic novels (harking back to about 2005?) before your debut novel, Bloody Waters, hit the shelves in 2012. Was there a reason you got your start in the graphic side of things?
My first published work was actually a prose short story, back in 2001. The sale happened while I was in the process of moving to the States and I was quite preoccupied with that for a while, so I didn’t manage to publish much of anything for several years to follow. I was working on Bloody Waters already, and I more-or-less stopped writing any prose that wasn’t part of that or my other big project at the time. The comics thing started out as a lark – I hooked up with my first artist-collaborator while stuffing around on the internet. In 2005 I found I had enough shorts to self-publish a comic (self-publishing didn’t have the same stigma in comics that it did in prose) and suddenly I was a comics guy. From there I progressed to graphic novels and to editing anthologies. I had no plan, really; I just did whatever seemed like fun.
2. You’ve been hitting Supanova and Oz Comic-Con this year. How have you found the experience? It seems to have done good things for your latest collaboration, The Left Hand Path…
Supanova and Oz Comic-Con have been great! In 2007, when I returned to Australia, the whole convention scene was really tiny. The shows are still smaller than most US conventions, but attendance is growing hugely. Now we have multiple cons in every major city. The number of people making comics in Australia is growing – it’s really been incredible to watch.
Supanova was a great launchpad for Left Hand Path. Pat from Winter City Productions did an amazing job getting the book in print in time for Sydney Supanova and the response has been really gratifying. The first print run sold out before I even got to see a copy!
3. What experience or lessons have you taken from your career so far to apply to your next project/s? What are those projects?
Early on, when I was pitching Bloody Waters, an editor told me ‘I don’t like the story, but I like your prose’. The next editor said ‘I like your prose, but not your story’. I knew that there were always going to be people who didn’t like my stories, but I decided that I never wanted to hear that my prose wasn’t good enough again. So I went back to the woodshed and now … now most of the complaints are about my characters being unlikable. I dunno, man.
Another lesson I apparently have yet to learn is not to take on too many projects at once. Right now I’m working on a multi-genre novel called XDA Zai, a dark fantasy novella called Shadowmancy (coming from Satalyte Publishing in 2015), the second half of The Sixsmiths, five more issues of Left Hand Path, more McBlack, and numerous other small commitments. I have been trying to streamline my workload over the last couple of years, but with limited sucess, it appears.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
There’s so much amazing Australian work coming out right now it’s hard to narrow down a list. Some of my recent favourites have been Nina D’Aleo’s genre-bending thriller, The Last City; Dirk Flinthart’s ridiculously assured Path of Night; Amanda Bridgeman’s blazing space opera Aurora: Darwin; Jason Fischer’s end-of-the-earth-awesome Everything is a Graveyard; Jason Nahrung’s beautiful and fraught vampire novel Salvage (why thank you, Mr Franks!); Adam Browne’s strange and gorgeous short story collection ‘Other Stories’ and Other Stories; Narrelle M Harris’s hilarious and big-hearted Lissa and Gary novels; Kirstyn McDermott’s Caution: Contains Small Parts … I know I’m missing a lot of good stuff, and I haven’t even mentioned any comics.
I’m currently looking forward to Alan Baxter’s Bound, Jo Anderton’s Debris, Marta Salek’s Reticulum, Andrew McKiernan’s Last Year, When We Were Young and … I have a to-read pile that’s growing like a tumor. A delicious, juicy tumour.
5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?
The publishing business continues to be as vexatious and confusing for me as it is for everybody else. Digital digital digital – I think that’s clearly the way it’s all going, given the prices of freight and printing. That isn’t news to anyone, I’m sure. ‘Going digital’ has probably had a bigger impact on my comics work than on my prose, since the various devices change the way that you can tell stories in that medium. I actually think it improves the experience – most comics are created with digital tools now and they just look better on the screen than they do in print.
In five years’ time, I’m sure I’ll still be writing fiction. Novels and comics, most likely. In my day job I work in software, and to me it feels like tech and the creative arts are now really starting to converge. Designers can code now. Coders can design. I have this mad-scientist idea that I would orchestrate something that integrates prose, comics, videogames, music, travel … if I had the time and the funding. The technology is getting cheaper, the bandwidth is becoming available (well, everywhere except in this country). There are already a lot of small operators starting to do this stuff and I’d love to be part of it.
What will I be reading? Everything. EVERY THING.
THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian speculative fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: