Jason comes to Worldhoppers Guild with an original short story, Purgatory’s Price. The comedic twist on death has the recently deceased playing on a game show for the future of their eternal souls.
Purgatory’s Price gives you a taste of Jason’s debut novel, Around the Corner from Sanity; Tales of the Paranormal, which includes 14 tales of horror and humor. Enjoy the Q&A as much as I did and make sure to check out Jason’s featured author page.
Q&A with Jason Kilgore
Ryan: Jason, thank you so much for joining us. Purgatory’s Price is a perfect display of your storytelling skills and wonderful fit for our readers. We know it is part of your novel, Around the Corner from Sanity: Tales of the Paranormal; a collection of horror and paranormal stories available on Amazon. You wear the shirt – so now we want you to tell us about your novel!
Jason: Thank you for having me! I love telling folks about my writing, so I wear that shirt often. Around the Corner from Sanity is a collection of 14 different stories. Most of my projects are novels rather than short story collections, but it’s been fun to write and publish this anthology. These stories are of different lengths, from flash fiction of just a page or two up to novelette length. I think one thing that sets it apart is that it’s a mix of paranormal humor and horror. Some will make you chuckle, such as “Purgatory’s Price” (which you’ve posted here), where the recently-deceased have to play a game show to get into Heaven, or “Anger Not the Gods of Rake and Mower,” where a suburban husband is confronted by eccentric gods who are angry about his lawncare habits. Other stories make you shiver, such as “Rabbit Cry,” where a woman and her young son are faced with a murderous backwoods neighbor kid who arouses the vengeance of nature spirits, or “Devil Seed,” where a young couple who are trying to have a baby wind up with a very devilish result to their fertility problem. You don’t know what the next story will bring. That makes for a fun dynamic, I think! The reader is pretty much guaranteed to come away with a story or two sticking in their head.
Ryan: After spending some time on your blog I couldn’t help but notice that you have been published before, in many, many scientific magazines. You’re a scientist! Talk to me about the relationship between science and your fictional worlds. Do you find they conflict? Does science inspire you?
Jason: I was trained in biology and imaging techniques for my advanced degrees. I’m a leading specialist in microscopes and fluorescent dyes (which glow) used to label cells and tissues, and have worked with my global biotech company for over 20 years, first developing those reagents, and now doing technical support to guide other scientists and help them troubleshoot their experimental protocols. My science certainly comes through in my writing. It helps me pay attention to the details, and I use my scientific knowledge to help make my strange worlds more relatable. For instance, in Around the Corner from Sanity, there’s a scene where spilled alcohol burns rapidly to create a flash fire, so I studied which alcoholic brands burn fastest and hottest and what sort of insulation was necessary for flashover conditions. For my science fiction, such as an exciting space opera I’m writing, there are any number of uses where I better understand the technologies that my characters use and the biology of alien species. And for my fantasy novels, the plants and animals of a particular setting must fit the ecological niche, such as oaks in the valleys and fir trees at higher elevations, or what bird species are likely to live there, or the metallurgical characteristics of a region based on natural resources. It’s the little details that make the story come alive for a reader, I think, and I weave them into the story in a way where they hardly seem noticeable.
Ryan: I love all speculative fiction, but my heart lies with fantasy (specifically high/epic fantasy). You have two completed manuscripts listed on your site. Do you care to give us a sneak peek?
Jason: Fantasy was my first love, too, and my writing is a direct outcome of my love of fantasy roleplaying in my youth. In fact, Irikara, the vast world that I set my fantasy stories in, is the world that I created as a dungeonmaster for my games. One of the two books I’ve completed, White Lands Dragon, is currently being queried to literary agents, and I am about 60% of the way through its sequel, Footman of the Ether, as part of a multi-volume series. A great thing that sets these novels apart from others is that they are told from the point of view of an ancient dragon, a young female mage, a scheming demon-dragon, and a cruel general. How many books can you say you’ve read from a dragon’s point of view? It really sets a unique tone to the stories, as he and the young mage investigate the emergence of ancient gods and an elvish plot to resurrect elvish lords, and the demon-dragon’s cabalistic scheming adds a delightful mystique and taste of chaos.
Ryan: All of us have a story – the tale of how we found ourselves in love with the craft of writing. What has been your biggest inspiration over the years? Is there a book series or person in your life that brought you to this point?
Jason: I’m not the first writer in my family, as I wrote about in a blog post. My mother and father both penned a non-fiction book each, and my maternal grandmother, Verna Lee Hinegardner, published numerous books of poetry and was poet Laureate of Arkansas. She overcame significant physical ailments, including a stroke that required her to relearn how to read, and continued writing with a conviction that I strive to meet. My mother, in particular, encouraged my creativity. My young mind was fired with creativity by authors like Michael Moorcock (The Jewel in the Skull – the first “adult” book I remember reading, back in 4th grade, gifted to me by my sister), Weis and Hickman (The Dragonlance series), Stephen R. Donaldson (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant), Frank Herbert (Dune), and, of course, J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve always been drawn to series with complex worldbuilding, rich vocabulary, and imaginative plots.
Ryan: I’m a fly on your wall and you are sitting down to write. What do you need in front of you. What music do you listening to? What gets you in the writing ‘zone’?
Jason: Like so many writers, I have several quirks and rituals. When I’m writing in my home office, I have a really cool pewter dragon on my desk that I bought as a reward for myself when I finished my fantasy novel, White Lands Dragon. I consider it my “muse.” Sometimes I go to my Pinterest galleries to get inspiration. And I tend to associate a particular song with each writing project, which I will sometimes listen to prior to writing on that project. The song can be surprising and seemingly unrelated. For instance, for White Lands Dragon, the song was “Texarkana” by R.E.M. because it evoked a feeling of eons in time for me. And at least once a week I spend several hours writing at a local coffeeshop, just to shake things up, and I HAVE to have my chai latte!
Ryan: In closing, how can your readers make the most of your current and future writing endeavors?
Jason: I recently started a monthly newsletter, which features a fun collaborative writing project they can take part in. They can sign up HERE and will be able to see what I’m up to every month and follow my latest publications. They can visit and enjoy my blog or follow me on my social media. Most of all, though, I want them to enjoy my writing and the strange worlds I create. The best writers don’t dream of becoming rich and famous; what we want most is for people to experience our stories and come away from it entertained and enriched.