Posted on March 17, 2010 by Steven Dawes
A series of bizarre deaths leaves the victims unnaturally desiccated and decaying, sending Jason Dark into the dangerous world of the London dockyards in search of a supernatural murderer. But is the paranormal investigator prepared to duel a full-fledged demon on a Hell-bent mission to create chaos and catastrophe throughout the earth, a fiend determined to wreak more death and destruction than his even more ominous Master?
Steven Dawes had recently come across the new gothic horror series “Jason Dark” (Click here to the read the review) available now in paper and e-book format. After taking the time to read the first two volumes of the “Jason Dark” e-series, Steven Dawes was fortunate enough to have a great conversation and interview with Jason Dark author Guido Henkel about his new series.
SD: First off, thank you Guido for mailing me the first two volumes of the “Jason Dark” series to read and enjoy. Can you tell us what inspired you to use the “dime novel” format for the Jason Dark Gothic Horror series?
GH: “Dime Novels” are a large part of the literature culture in Germany where I grew up. They are fun, action-packed, easy to read and every type of story is told within them. I knew early on that I wanted to use the dime novel approach for my stories. To me, the current culture seems to constantly produce extremely large and physically cumbersome books that require a serious commitment to read them, which seems to scare away more potential readers than it attracts. In today’s world, people more than ever just don’t have the time to commit to books with page counts that range anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand pages. I wanted my stories to be something you could sit down to read and enjoy in an afternoon, which made the dime novel size of sixty four pages ideal.
SD: Can you tell us what inspired you to come up with the Jason Dark Series?
GH: Well, I‘ve always been a classic horror buff, from the classic Universal monster movies to the Hammer films, they have a style that you just don’t see in more modern day horror movies. I especially enjoy the rich and distinct flavor of “gothic horror” in both movies and books, and so I’ve wanted to write adventures in a gothic horror setting with that classic style for many years. My idea for creating Jason Dark himself was to design an intellectual character similar to a Sherlock Holmes, but someone who dealt specifically with the supernatural menaces that find their way to Victorian England.
SD: Can you tell us why you chose Victorian England as Jason Dark’s hunting grounds?
GH: Victorian England is a very unique and distinct setting. From the clothing and mannerisms of the time, to the fog shrouded London streets to the gas lamps that light them, there is a distinct “feeling” about Victorian England that’s all its own. This historic era perfectly matches the gothic horror setting that I really wanted to place my stories and adventures within. This period is also where many of the classic horror stories I enjoy take place in and I wanted to use that particular “feel” in my stories. I really wanted to romanticize this time period, if not make the era itself seem like a tangible character in the story.
SD: I noticed while reading the first two volumes that you use very specific locations and a lot of the unique details of Victorian England. Did you put a lot of research into the series?
GH: Honestly, I spent about as much time researching the story and Victorian London in particular as I did writing the first book. I didn’t want to invent London, I wanted people to be able to look up a map of Victorian England and be able see exactly where the specific scene takes place. In this respect the stories have something of a historic fiction feel to them. Coincidentally, I also tend to get a lot of my story ideas while I do my research. So yes, research is a big part my preparation and more often than not the streets, locales and names you encounter in these stories are actually authentic to a degree. To me it not only bases the story in reality but it is also a lot of fun to weave these elements into my writing in a sensible way that doesn’t feel tacked on.
SD: I enjoyed the cameos of both the historic and iconic literary characters of the time period. Will all of the Jason Dark adventures have cameos peppered throughout them?
GH: Absolutely! In fact, like the research I mentioned earlier, that’s an important part of the formula of the series to me. I really want people to read these stories and find familiar contexts through the cameos as much as I want them to enjoy the fresh ideas and aspects of Jason Dark and the other protagonists. It’s my hope and intention that people will read and talk about the stories to one another and will discover things they hadn’t before. For example, if you didn’t recognize a particular cameo, you might talk to someone who did, and after explaining who they were, you may feel compelled to re-read the story with the new insight or even seek out the original material where the reference comes from. I feel that fan participation in a series is more important than ever, and to encourage this I also added a forum on www.jasondarkseries.com to give the fans and the community a place to talk about the stories, characters and cameos.
SD: Jason Dark finds a partner in Siu Lin in the first volume, and by the second volume they almost have a “Green Hornet and Kato” style of partnership, was that intentional?
GH: (laughs) No, I’m not much of a comic book reader I have to admit. I simply intended to create a dynamic pair of protagonists, who would have a good balance between them to where their strengths and weaknesses would allow them to rely upon on another to survive their adventures. Going back to Sherlock Holmes being an influence, I never liked how the relationship between Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes was portrayed. Dr. Watson was always treated as a well meaning, but bumbling idiot who never really offered a lot of help or strength to Sherlock when solving a case. In fact it almost seemed that Sherlock kept him around to have someone to talk down to and outright insult at times. This relationship was especially prevalent in the books and the old black & white Sherlock Holmes movies from the 1930’s.
In my case, I really want Jason and Siu to feel as though they can depend on each other, if not need the other’s help. This is an angle that will become more important in upcoming volumes.
SD: Speaking of protagonists, there was a person by the name of “Herbert” mentioned in the second volume, but we didn’t get to meet him. Will “Herbert” make an appearance in future volumes?
GH: Yes, that was simply a teaser foreshadowing things to come. Not only will Herbert make an appearance, but he will also become a prominent character and will add another dynamic angle to the series.
SD: I really like the cover artwork of the books, especially volume #3 (titled “Ghosts Templar”). Can you tell us how you found cover artist Gary Crumb?
GH: I ended up having an epic online search for someone who had the artistic style that I was looking for. The cover artwork was especially important for me to get right as its part of the dime novel mentality; it has to be dramatic and grab the reader’s interest right away. It is a style more reminiscent of classic movie posters than modern day book covers and an art form that seems to be almost lost.
SD: Jason Dark is referred to as a “Geisterjäger”or ghost hunter. Can you tell us if you have any plans on diving further into the history and nature of this aspect of Jason Dark?
GH: Absolutely! In fact, quite a few people have asked and want to know more about this aspect. It’s been hinted at that Jason comes from an ancestral line of ghost hunters. His father did it, his grandfather did it, and so on. “Geisterjäger” is the German term for “ghost hunter” and it gives already an inkling of Dark’s ancestral origins. His family dedicated their lives to fighting evil for generations. I have even considered writing a prequel or perhaps have Jason tell an old story of him and his father hunting supernatural evil together. I have some exciting ideas floating around my noggin’ on that and we will most definitely see some adventures taking a closer look at his family history.
SD: So far Mr. Dark has dealt with Demons and vampires in the first two volumes. Can you tell us what other kinds of supernatural villainy Jason will deal with in the future?
GH: Anything that you and I could think of. Currently I can tell you that the next four volumes will include ghosts, angels and demons, mad scientists, curses and people making deals with devils. Some of them will even become reoccurring villains. I really want to use familiar monsters and evils, but at the same time I want to inject new ideas into them. In the stories I have planned for the future, I expect to also inject add a lot of the classic monsters like werewolves and mummies.
We’d like to thank Guido once again for taking the time to speak with us. To stay up-to-date with news about the Jason Dark series, we encourage you to visit www.jasondarkseries.com.
You can purchase the Jason Dark e-series at www.drivethruhorror.com.