Today I am interviewing J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison, author of the new YA, horror/comedy novel, Demon Freaks.
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DJ: Hi Jim! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison: Demon Freaks is my second novel novel (I wrote a graphic novel, The Helm, for Dark Horse Comics). My first novel novel, was the epically silly epic fantasy Fish Wielder, which was released by Fiery Seas Publishing in 2016.
I’ve worked as a writer, screen writer, animator, film editor, producer and director in comics, commercials and entertainment since graduating from film school. I started my professional career by co-writing, producing, and even acting in a low-budget direct-to-video feature, The Creature From Lake Michigan. That movie turned out to be so bad, it was actually kind of hilarious, but it also almost ruined my plans to work in film. I guess every cloud has a stupid lining though. Making a bad film can be a crash course in the essential elements of good character and story, and The Creature From Lake Michigan was such a tremendously bad film that I learned A LOT. After a brief stint recuperating as a freelance writer and film editor, I founded my own production company. After seven years of wearing myself out doing that, I shifted my focus entirely to animation and joined Will Vinton Studios. They’re the guys that did the California Raisins and most of the animated M&M’s commercials. While I was there, I directed animated commercial and entertainment projects, including some M&M’s, as well as episodic television (UPN’s Gary and Mike). While working at Vinton, I also co-wrote the television special Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy with actor Paul Reiser (many people know him as the guy from Mad About You, but I prefer to think of him as Carter Burke from Aliens).
After that, I got very interested in story theory and co-founded a company (Character) to help the people who work on brands and entertainment properties understand how to more effectively work with story. While doing that, I appeared on NBC’s The Apprentice (although I didn’t get to meet The Donald) as an expert advisor on brand characters. I also did character development work and wrote the pilot episode for the PBS children’s television series SeeMore’s Playhouse, and I authored that previously mentioned graphic novel, The Helm (which was named one of 2010’s top ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens by YALSA, a branch of the American Library Association—just to slip in a little bragging).
These days, I live in Portland, Oregon, with my lovely wife, my two charming daughters, one smart dog and one stupid dog.
DJ: What is Demon Freaks about?
J.R.R.R.: On the eve of their SAT tests, identical twin brothers, Bing and Ron Slaughter, along with the members of their high school band, the Ephits, have to battle a cult of insane golfers who are trying to summon a demon in order to rule the world. You know, pretty typical experience everyone has been through at some point in their life. If I had to compare the book to something, it’s kind of like punk rock Hardy Boys versus monsters and demons. Oh, and it’s funny.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Demon Freaks?
J.R.R.R.: My influences go way back. When I was a kid, I used to read the Hardy Boys novels and watch a lot of Scooby Do. While I enjoyed both, I used to think they would have been better if they were mashed together into the same story. Then, as I got older, my tastes turned more to fantasy and horror. While I read and loved most of the serious stuff, I was particularly influenced by horror that had comedic overtones. For example, I looooooved Evil Dead 2, which had a huge impact on me, as well as Fright Night, Tremors and Shaun of the Dead. Book-wise, I’d say the works of Christopher Moore (especially the Blood Sucking Fiends trilogy), Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files series), and David Wong (the John Dies at the End series) have all been influences. Continue reading