Welcome to one of the March 2nd stops on the blog tour for Vampire Joe by Jimmie Christo, organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, other guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Of course! My mother taught me to read at three years old after I deciphered the word “Reception” at the family doctor’s office. She was very patient and diligent, and by four I was up and running. Worlds of possibilities opened up to me, and I devoured fiction at an incredible rate growing up. I had a tumultuous childhood, and reading provided me with a means of escape from the events around me. I read Treasure Island twice at five.
At eight, I attempted Frank Herbert’s Dune, and was extremely frustrated and dismayed to discover concepts and interactions I couldn’t comprehend. The gist was enough, however, and a total love of science fiction was the product! Sagan, Asimov, Van Voght, Bradbury, Rucker and Gibson and their contemporaries, I read them all every chance I got, and my mind expanded with motivations, reactions, plans, emotions. Pratchett and Adams gave me humour. Rice gave me passion and the nature of the beast. I reread Dune at 12 and was pleased to be able to understand it in its entirety, hanging on every word. Conniving politics, stranglehold economics, manifesting destiny and plots within plots within plots.
I was also crazy for films, and when there was a film based on a book (or a book created from a film) I read the book then watched the film immediately after, contemplating how well it was translated, what was shitty, what was great, and of course, how I would have done it.
At 14 I was sent into state care, living in group homes and on the streets in St Kilda and Prahran, Melbourne. Again, reading provided me with an opportunity to escape, but it became less so as a world of drugs, violence and criminal activity swallowed me up. I was small for my age at the time, so the lessons of all the lives I had absorbed from the pages gave me some tools to navigate the relatively dangerous existence I found myself in. They helped me survive. It also caused me some problems, let’s face it, you don’t want to be the smart kid in a room full of junkie deadshits, but more than a few people sought my opinion on certain things, and a bit of respect is its own coin.
At eighteen they let me go, and, after realizing in a moment of clarity that I would end up in jail if I continued my lifestyle, I took off to Perth. I stopped committing crimes. I got a job, a room in a share house and I learned that I could enjoy my life. I grew.
I came home to Melbourne a few years later with the idea that I could write a screenplay about what life in the youth hostels was like in Melbourne. It took me about four months, a fictional tale about four boys who sneak out at night to steal a Porsche from a drug dealer. It was 320 pages. I had no experience in scriptwriting and didn’t know that 100 pages was too much!
Next stop, film school. I learned how to treat a script, how to edit, what pace and beat meant, what an arc and a turning point and a conclusion were. How to direct actors, what to look for in their performances, how to convey subtext, blah blah blah. I graduated. I was ready to take on the world!
Fast forward ten years. A collapsed business, a broken relationship, and my dreams of directing films seemed a distant memory on the wrong side of depression and self-loathing. I hadn’t read a book in years. I was up to my eyeballs in drugs and scumbags, strippers, criminals and a daily practice of desperation survivalism. Sporadic homelessness was tempered by the windfall of the deal. I didn’t know what to do. I was lost again.
One day I sat down in my friend’s living room (I was couchsurfing) and began to type. I spent ten hours bashing my poor, abused laptop into submission that first day. So many things came out. The more I wrote, the more a story emerged, a story of a lost, deranged wastrel who convinces himself he is destined to take over the world. Day after day I wove this guy’s life, every day more interested and consumed in the project. I began to plan out three books, and when I was about 140k words in, nearing the end of the first novel, I began researching how to find a publisher, how to self publish, and how to promote. For some reason, I convinced myself that I could game the system, list on Amazon and perform the wily Koontz Maneuver. I planned to purchase 100k copies of my own work in December on prepaid credit cards and gift cards, using a VPN to disguise the purchasing locations in order to push the book into the bestseller’s list, and snaffle up a fair portion of all those yummy January Amazon gift card coins. Even going straight, I was crooked.
I needed $100-$250k, and I had 800 bucks. So I set to work, grinding out my MO with a fervor, a passion and a drive that I had never had before. I made connections, introductions, and the wind fell in earnest. I tried to save every penny, reinvesting instead of splurging. It worked. I wasn’t supporting my habits, I was supporting a goal!
It all fell in a heap when I was robbed of $47k at knifepoint in a carpark in Richmond. They also set my car ablaze, presumably to stop me from following them, or because they were total dicks.
I walked 6km home in a panic, took the remaining 14 grand I had stashed, but instead of restocking and redoubling my efforts, I went to the casino. I lasted about two hours before I was broke. Loser. Idiot. Fucking moron. But I still had a small amount of product at home. It wasn’t a total clusterfuck.
So I began to inject my drugs to save money and went crazy instead. Seven weeks later I was in jail, sentenced to four years incarceration for trafficking, weapons and a host of assorted stupidities.
I realized in the police cells that I never actually finished the book. I didn’t even write another word after I decided to manipulate the system. Stupid!
Yet, jail has its benefits, and the experience transformed me. I quit smoking. I quit drugs. I got healthy and fit. I began to read again, and I wrote a screenplay, Vampires on Ice, which pleased me a lot and helped to heal my self image. After a year I was sent to a prison farm, which in Australia has no fences except for the cows, and very few guards. The first day walking the track was an eye opener. I had to grow up and stop with all my bullshit!
So I wrote a book, a young adult sci fi under another pen name and it was good! I felt like I had achieved something, and had taken from my jailers more than they had taken from me. I wrote three more screenplays before I wrote my second completed novel, Vampire Joe. Joe took me 20 days of furious typing, and I loved every single keystroke, I laughed hysterically at the library computer several times a day. I was not in prison. I was free. Again, books had provided me an escape from the depressing reality of my existence.
I worked on myself, read self development books and participated in the prison programs. My mental health improved drastically. I wrote three more screenplays and another science fiction book. My path as an author, and a capable one, was beginning to reveal itself.
I served my time and changed my whole life. I write books!
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I catch falling objects before I’m aware they’re falling, which is good, because I can be incredibly clumsy.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
A barefoot shaman (I found this out later) was passing me at my café table as I read the paper. He stopped, looked at me with a seriousness that can only be described as deranged intensity, and said “You’re supposed to be writing books! So go write books!” before continuing along as if nothing had happened.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Shops that charge $6 for a bottle of coke because there’s no other shop within walking distance selling it cheaper. Muesli with the Ziploc top which becomes redundant because the packaging splits down the seam when you open it.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Carlton, Melbourne, and grew up in St Kilda, Windsor and Prahran.
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
I would go visit Mum, and call everyone I care about and tell them why I care. Prolly get high one last time and dance all night in Revolver.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
Outspoken, decadent, benevolent, hilarious, scandalous.
What are you passionate about these days?
I love landscaping, sculpting, making furniture, veganism and the benefits of vaping
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Outspoken, decadent, benevolent, hilarious, scandalous.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At the age of 20 when I began and completed my first script.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
All of them!
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Two wise, knowing eyeballs floating in a pickle jar.
What inspired you to write this book?
Great question! Vampire Joe has an origin story. I read a meme years ago, words to this effect: Okay, I’ve destroyed my protagonist’s family, had him hunted by the mob, wanted by the FBI, I shot him, I set him on fire and I killed his dog. What else could I possibly do to him? Hmmm. I know, I’ll stab him in the face. “Then, out of the shadows, a knife gripped tightly in a gnarled fist flashes out to stab John in the face. Repeatedly.”
What can we expect from you in the future?
I plan to write another few Joe books, I’m currently paying a Bulgarian artist to illustrate Vampires on Ice as a graphic novel, and I will eventually rebirth the book I never finished. The series is called Unity, the first book is titled Sex Money Power, the second is The False Profiteer and the third will be called Stealing Tsion.
I’m also currently editing another YA Sci Fi under another pen name.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Vampire Joe?
Yeah okay, So Joe is an antisocial junkie with parental issues. He becomes a vampire through no fault of his own, perhaps, and he has to learn how to navigate the world of people again. He is brash, selfish, egotistical yet self loathing. I think he was in the process of punishing himself to death for wasting his talents when he was transformed, and his expected or perceived morality as a vampire comes into conflict with his actual morality, which he is only just having to now define. A decadent reprobate, vampiring becomes him, slowly.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I’m a seat of the pants kinda guy. I just took a disgusting loser with terrible ethics and gave him mythical superpowers in order to screw him over. Repeatedly.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Average Joe. All the others I just plucked from the minds of the Genii whispering in the walls.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Oh my god I laughed so hard writing this I was asked to leave the library more than once. I discovered that I am actually pretty funny.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
I wanted to write a book about an average loser, a talented underachiever. Average Joe became Vampire Joe.
Who designed your book covers?
Alexander Marinov, he is a Bulgarian art student who works with digital art tools, he did an absolutely fantastic job, I wanted James Dean’s strut with James Franco’s broodiness, in an alleyway covered in blood. I think he nailed it!
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
James Franco, for sure! In saying that, I pictured a young Sam Rockwell as I wrote it, but he is too old now.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Bronwyn for sure! Stay away from funparks…
Is there a writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Tom Robbins or Chuck Palahniuk would be my pick, I wanna just chat about stuff.
Advice you would give new authors?
The first 200 words in any day are the most important, and it is a super easy minimum goal. If you only write 200 words a day as a daily practice, you will write a book in 500 days. If you write 200 words, your flow will flow, and you will hit 5k words without blinking.
Also, use spreeder.com to increase your reading speed, and you must must must get your typing speed up. Something happens when you approach 80 to 100wpm, you begin to stream consciousness and you might find the words are up on the screen before you get a chance to think about them too much. When you get to that, its like you’re reading new words on the screen.
Describe your writing style.
Seat of ma frickin pants! I have a vague idea where the storys headed, but stuff always crops up to divert it, change the moods, change the motivations, force the characters to react. About five to seven chapters from the end I know what’s left, what has to be done, what will be left open etc and I plot out the remaining chapters with a short chapter summary
by Jimmie Christo
Published 1 June 2019
Genre: Humorous Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 447
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Do you even know how much of a pain becoming a vampire is?
All Joe ever wanted was to shoot up some smack, sit in his apartment, listen to some Nick Cave and be left the hell alone.
Now he has to cope with his addictions, his dealer, a new girlfriend,, the mafia, the cops, his christian minister AND an unquenchable thirst for human blood.
How the hell does life get harder AFTER you die!?
Born in Carlton in 1979, Jimmie Christo is an author of the lowest calibre.
A criminal since birth (he stole his mother’s heart), he grew in the care of the state until he was 18, whereby said state awarded him the Keys to the Universe (citation needed) after imparting no life skills.
He has literally been using the word literally literally, literally all his life (figuratively speaking) and is a pain in the arse most of the time.
He spent four years in jail for crimes he didn’t really commit to, namely trafficking (We believe the plan was to consume the whole volume in it’s entirety himself, although it was too large an amount for anyone not completely ravaged by addiction to comprehend as such), posession, weapons, burglary and being a not very nice person.
While incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, determined to get more out of them than they took from him, he wrote a whole bunch of books and movies. Also, he may have changed his outlook on his existence. That said, he is not returning the Keys.
Vampire Joe is his first published work, read by eleven people to critical acclaim. Everyone else who read it said it was vile rubbish.
He has also written YA sci fi and children’s novels, understandably under a much nicer alter ego, keeping grown up stuff like Joe separate.
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