Jason Starr Smashes His Favorite Genres in 'The Next Time I Die'
We chat with the author about his new science fiction hardboiled noir mash-up from Hard Case Crime.
Welcome to our Creator Corner, our new reoccurring interview series, where we chat with the coolest and most thought-provoking creators in the comics industry. In this entry, we're conversing with Jason Starr about The Next Time I Die. Listen to the unedited audio HERE.
When times are dark what entertainments do we seek? Escapism? Hmmmm...not so fast. On this week's Creator Cranny conversation, we're chatting with crime novelist Jason Starr about his new book The Next Time I Die, which dares to smash the hardboiled noir with a science fiction thriller...kinda. There's more to the tale than an elevator pitch can handle.
Most importantly, or, at least, more intriguingly, we jump into this conversation discussing the world outside our window and the nightmares it stirs within. For The Good Men Project, Jason Starr wrote the essay, "In Dark Times, What Entertainment Do We Seek?" He challenges the capitalist notion that publishers and studios often cling upon: that folks seek joy when things look grim. History may suggest otherwise.
"Whatever is going on in the news," says Starr. "Whatever dark event is going on. It always seems to affect the perceived attitude of what is desired in pop culture. When Covid started, I heard a crescendo of agents and editors talking about how they don't want to read, and they were not going to be representing, any dark material. It has to all be light. People only want to see love stories now."
"No knock against well-written romance," continues Starr, "but it just seemed sort of arbitrary to me. It's very difficult to predict what people want and, in fact, if you just see what people were attracted to during Covid, like Squid Game was huge!"
From there, we delve into what's driving Starr to mix genres and tones in The Next Time I Die. The novel scratches a new itch for the writer, but not one totally unfamiliar to him. Starr is, after all, the author of many rad comic book sci-fi sagas involving characters like Wolverine and Ant-Man. He knows a thing or two about delivering the goods while also subverting expectations.
"I don't like to be put into a corner as a writer," says Starr. "Maybe just as a way to challenge myself to always do something different, to try to push myself. Red Border is a horror thriller that takes place on the Mexico border. It's ver much different from The Next Time I Die. I wrote a comic series for Boom called The Returning, which was also horror and had a fantasy element to it as well. So, I've always strayed into other genres. It's always a challenge for me to do it."
"It's something I'm very interested in doing," continues Starr. "I think at the core of anything I'm writing is a psychological thriller, no matter what genre or what tropes I'm using. It's always about the characters and the decisions they make."
The Next Time I Die is now available from Hard Case Crime. Here's the basic plot synopsis:
"Steven Blitz didn’t think about his own safety when he saw the man trying to force a woman into his car. He stepped in to defend her, and got a knife to the gut for his troubles. But when he wakes up in the hospital from what should have been a fatal wound, he finds the whole world changed – a different president in the White House, a loving family when he’d been on the verge of divorce, more money in the bank than he’s ever seen. There’s a dark side, though: in this world, Steven Blitz is not a good man. And now he’s got to get himself out of serious trouble without even knowing what it is he’s done wrong."
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