I recently had the pleasure of discovering Wayne Simmons when I was asked to read Plastic Jesus for review. I loved Wayne’s twisted vision of the near future, and if you love smart, brutal, and imaginative science fiction, you will probably love Plastic Jesus as much as I did. (You can read my five-star review here.) Wayne is a damn good writer, and I hope you try one of his books, you won’t be disappointed!
I’m thrilled to have Wayne visiting Books, Bones & Buffy today, and the publisher is offering up a copy of Plastic Jesus to one international winner, so check out the giveaway at the end of this post! Please welcome Wayne Simmons to the blog!
Plastic Jesus takes place in a near-future society that relies heavily on the use of virtual reality interfaces. What gave you the idea to create a story around a VR Jesus?
I think it all comes back to me being a fan of old-school cyberpunk and crime noir. Essentially, this book is my love letter to William Gibson (for Neuromancer), Ridley Scott (for Blade Runner) as well as a host of noir and neo-noir writers through the ages (Lawrence Block, Day Keene, Donald E. Westlake, Christa Faust etc.)
The Jesus idea just hit me. The commercialisation of religion seems like a very contemporary theme right now so I guess I just ran with that. Hence, the central story arc being about an audacious businessman using high-tech to reinvent religion within a largely secular world, and the fall-out from that.
You’ve got quite a few books under your belt, most of them in the horror genre. How was writing a science fiction story different from writing horror?
The world-building is where things differ the most, I think. My other books, to date, are all set within and around Belfast, Northern Ireland: a real-time and place. This story, however, takes place in Lark City on the fictional island of Maalside, a hedonistic haven just off the coast of an alternative, post-war America. Lark is the amalgamation of every good noir and tech noir setting I’ve ever come across; a sprawling cityscape with echoes of burlesque and 1950s style and a little Je ne said quoi of my own, of course.
Plastic Jesus is published by Salt Publishing, a different publisher from your horror books. How did you come to work with them, and what was the experience like?
I had been watching Salt from afar; in particular their sci-fi/ fantasy/ horror imprint, Proxima. At the time, Salt editor Steve Haynes was working on Blood Fugue by a friend of mine, Joseph D’Lacey, and I was keen to see how it all panned out. I was particularly impressed by how hands-on Steve seemed with the editing side of things; he and Joseph worked really hard to make Blood Fugue the very best it could be. I was keen to work with Steve and so pitched him my recently finished manuscript at the time, Plastic Jesus. Steve read the manuscript and liked it. There were changes he wanted us to make and if I agreed to those, he wanted to take the book on. I was delighted, of course.
Working with Steve was the biggest draw, but since coming on board with Salt, I’ve found everyone there to be hard-working and committed to their list and authors. So far, it’s been a good experience.
Which character in Plastic Jesus was the most fun to write, and which character was the most difficult to write?
When I write, every character – even the most odious – has elements of me within them, so it’s always quite personal. This book in particular has a lot of echoes from my own life, despite the futuristic and high-tech setting, and that made its writing both compelling and difficult.
Highlights on the fun side included Charles 7, the Tech Hack with a penchant for Latino VR dolls, and hooker with a heart, Dolly Bird.
In terms of intensity, gangster Paul McBride was a difficult one to write as he genuinely scares the hell out of me: I think what’s most terrifying is the fact that McBride doesn’t see himself as a villain; in his own head, he’s the hero, despite being a full-on sociopath.
Kitty McBride’s story is particularly heartbreaking for me. She’s such a broken doll and, as a reader, I think I’d really want to mend her.
I understand you are also a musician. Can you tell us a bit about your extreme metal show, Doom N’ Gloom?
I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a musician but I have been messing around with bass and guitar for over twenty years and been in and out of bands. It’s just a bit of fun for me now, a way to unwind. The Doom N’ Gloom Podcast is the same; for kicks only: my buddy, Tsam Cowling, and I would meet up and talk like machine guns at each other about all the unseemly music we listen to; mostly doom and black metal. It just seemed the most natural thing in the world to do it in front of a mic. It’s a very niche world but we love it. It’s a labour of love.
I’ve noticed in your author photo that you sport some pretty beautiful tattoos. As someone who doesn’t have a tattoo (although I really want one!), I’m fascinated by the whole culture. Can you tell us about some of your tattoos and how you came to choose them?
God, that would be a whole interview in itself! Ha! I guess with tattoos, there’s always the expectation that every one you get has to mean something and that’s just not the case with me: I happen to think that my pale, freckled skin looks better with ink, than without, and that’s been the primary motivation. Theme-wise, I’ve a lot of horror tattoos but they’re done in a colourful and gore-free style which may reflect how much I view horror and genre stuff as a positive influence upon my life; something I’ve derived a lot of pleasure from.
Can you tell us what’s up next for Wayne Simmons? Are you working on a book as we speak? Please say yes!
Yep, next stop we have a vamp book. Then a slasher horror set within New Orleans (co-written with fellow genre hack, Andre Duza). There’s also another sci-fi in the mix and the final book in my zombie series, Flu. So loads more if people want it!
Please tell my readers three things about yourself that can’t be found on your website. Seriously, we want to be shocked!
Hmmm… let’s see.
Okay, when I’m not writing, I walk dogs for a living. My partner and I have our own business.
I don’t actually come from Belfast. I was born in a small town 30 miles south of Belfast once described as the Alabama of the North.
One of my tattoos is a graffiti-style inverted cross, right in the centre of my chest.
Wayne’s work has since been published in the UK, Austria, Germany, Spain, Turkey and North America. His bestselling zombie novel, FLU, was serialised by Sirius XM’s Book Radio.
He continues to write reviews and features for various magazines as well as his own website and The Lair of Filth blog. He’s the co-host of extreme metal show, Doom N’ Gloom and has his own podcast, HACK. He co-produces the Scardiff Horror Expo.
Wayne currently lives in Wales with his ghoulfiend and a Jack Russel terrier called Dita.
Find Plastic Jesus:
Thank you Wayne, for stopping by today! I’m thrilled to be able to offer a paperback copy of Plastic Jesus to one international winner. To enter, you must fill out the form below. You can get extra entries if you share this post, leave a comment for Wayne, and a few other options as well. Giveaway is open until December 27th. Good luck!