Jason Parent is an author gaining notice for his horror work in recent years. Seeing Evil and Wrathbone and other Stories are the most popular of his works. Wrathbone comes with a highly complimentary (and amusing) introduction by horror author Kealan Patrick Burke. We’ve reviewed both of these works on Sci-Fi & Scary and rated them highly. When we were approached for Jason’s latest work, we definitely wanted to be involved in some way. So, we sat down recently for an interview with him, and we had some big questions about People of the Sun, his latest work. (Including but not limited to: You wrote a sci-fi novel?!)
This interview with Jason Parent is part of the People of the Sun book tour hosted by Erin Al-Mehairi from Hook of a Book.
Talking with Jason Parent
S&S: Your latest work, People of the Sun, is what you’ve described as a ‘soft sci-fi’. Obviously, this is a big departure from your previously published works. What reaction did you get from your publishing company when you approached them with the idea?
Jason Parent (JP): People of the Sun is predominantly science fiction, but when I say “soft sci-fi,” I mean it’s a lot closer to “X-Men” than it is to “The Martian.” So it’s got fantasy and superhero tropes, but like all my stuff, it’s dark enough to appeal to my horror fans. I often wonder if I drive them crazy with my genre mixing and switching, but I can’t help it. I just write the stories I want to write.
And that applies to my publishers, too. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people who’ve shown nothing but support for the stories I want to write. Matt and Travis over at Sinister Grin brought me in for this novel, and we’ll be teaming up again for a traditional horror novel later in the year. Red Adept is home to another great team and my thrillers, with Seeing Evil and two more books already underway. Comet published Wrathbone, my horror short story collection, and I hope to be teaming up with Randy and Cheryl over there again soon for something… a little more aggressive. I have one or two other projects in the works and another novel I’m marketing, but I am grateful for each publisher who has taken a chance on my work and asked for more.
S&S: Did you draw inspiration for People of the Sun from the song “Children of the Sun” by Billy Thorpe?
JP:Besides the literal meaning behind it (and my titles have literal and figurative meanings—What Hides Within, Seeing Evil, Wrathbone, Unseemly), the title might have been intended to invoke Thorpe and his imaginative space opera, or maybe the hard-hitting, head-banging aggression of Rage Against the Machine, or maybe even the Yavapai (which means “people of the sun”),a Native American tribe with a fierce warrior heritage, captivating creation stories, and a penchant for living in places that are hotter than hell.
Or, maybe I just liked the name.
S&S: You’ve likened People of the Sun to I Am Number Four (but for adults). Is this simply because of the general theme, or will people who have read the books recognize specific influences?
JP: People of the Sun is not thematically similar to the Pittacus Lore series. The similarities are on the surface: aliens with extraordinary powers thrust into a battle not of their own making. Action ensues, minus the teenage romance.
S&S: What was the most difficult part of writing People of the Sun?
JP: Creating life. Like creating a new monster for a horror novel or a mythical beast for one’s next fantasy series, building up an alien culture from scratch takes a certain kind of imagination inherent in all who appreciate speculative fiction in all its mediums. You want to make something that is entertaining and unique and avoid putting to page the next Jar Jar Binks.
S&S: Including stories that have appeared in anthologies, you now have nineteen distinct works under your belt (at least according to Goodreads). Do you think you’ve changed as a writer in that time?
JP: Hopefully, I keep putting out better and better work. I’m trying different things, learning from my mistakes and my successes. I’d consider myself fortunate as long as I am to keep writing, so long as there are people out there who want to read it.
S&S: How long does it take you to get from idea conception to finished draft for a novella+ length work?
JP: Novellas are a good length for me. It’s always around the novella mark when I put a novel down and start working on other things. So, I could probably do the first draft of a novella in a couple months. I think I have novel first draft down to about a year, with one exception I cranked out for a competition (and soon to be another one for a deadline I have).
S&S: Do you intend on revisiting any of the stories you’ve put in anthologies and seeing if you can flesh them out into full books?
JP: A friend of mine has proposed I do so with Peter and Dervish in Unseemly, but the story idea for that isn’t jumping at me yet. Wrathbone doesn’t really allow itself for further treatment, but I’d love to do a highly researched historical horror again along the same vein. The most likely novella to get further treatment would be my 17th century Bavaria werewolf, tale, Where Wolves Run, though I am partial to my main character in “Dia de los Muertos.”
S&S: What’s your favorite horror or sci-fi film released in the last twelve months?
JP: “Get Out” was good, with powerful themes but a predictable plot. Though not films, I found “Black Mirror” to easily be one of the best shows on television, ever, period. I’m more excited about “Life” and the new film in the alien franchise. When done right, space horror always appeals to me. Movies like “Alien,” “Aliens,” “Pandorum” and “Event Horizon” are some of my favorites. I’m also looking forward to “It.”
S&S: Do you plan on doing more with science fiction? Will People of the Sun’s reception weigh in on that?
JP: I’ve already written a sci-fi/horror novel, so yes, science fiction will be part of what I write going forward regardless of reception. Like I said, I write the stories I want to write. People of the Sun’s reception, however, may affect whether it gets a sequel one day and if so, how soon. I write all my books to be stand-alones, but even with all the death in my books, I generally leave some way to continue the story if I ever want to return to it.
S&S: Got anything in the works that you can tell us about now?
JP: Lots. My next crime thriller, set in Fall River like Seeing Evil but at the turn of the millennium and unrelated, will be out in May from Red Adept Publishing. After that, I should have a couple of short stories mid-to-late year and another novel from Sinister Grin at the end of the year or early next year. Beyond that, I will have the sequel to Seeing Evil and another surprise I can’t really announce yet but that will take me back to my roots.
People of the Sun Synopsis: All life comes from the sun. Sometimes, death comes with it.
Filled with hope and compelled by fear, four would-be heroes are driven from their home planet in a desperate bid to save their civilization from extinction. But survival takes on a whole new meaning when a malfunction sends their ship plummeting toward Earth.
Surviving the crash is only the first obstacle on their path to salvation. The marooned aliens soon discover that Earth’s beautiful exterior masks an ugly foundation, a place inhabited by a warrior race that’s on a path toward self-destruction.
Brimming with action and intrigue, People of the Sun is sure to entice fans of dark fantasy and sci-fi thrillers such as Watchmen and I Am Number Four.
Praise for People of the Sun
“Jason Parent has penned a thought-provoking, gripping scifi thriller. This isn’t your grandma’s alien invasion. My own world stopped the moment I stepped into People of the Sun. Lovers of science fiction, horror and even super heroes will revel in this roller-coaster of a tale. A true must-read!” -Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching and The Jersey Devil
“With his own indelible blend of tension and dark humor, Jason Parent’s latest page-turner reminds me of what you’d get if you crossed Isaac Asimov with Kurt Vonnegut. In addition to being fast-paced and wildly entertaining, Parent’s novel also offers the occasional flash of insight into the human (and not-so-human) condition, and displays Parent’s talent for turning a given genre on its head.”
-Michael Meyerhofer, author of The Dragonkin Trilogy
Purchase: Amazon | Available on other online retailers as well such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.