Jason S. Ridler is a writer and historian. He is the author of BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers (DEATH MATCH, CON JOB and DICE ROLL), the short story collection KNOCKOUTS, and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. His popular non-fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Dark Scribe, and the Internet Review of Science Fiction. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. Visit him at twitter at http://twitter.com/JayRidler, Facebook , http://www.facebook.com/Ridlerville, or his writing blog, Ridlerville, at https://ridlerville.wordpress.com/
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Jason Ridler (AKA Doc Ridler; Angelface; and, the world’s most handsome Canadian). I’m a former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper who has a doctorate in War Studies and writes history and fiction. I love pro wrestling, hate hockey, and believe that the Replacements remain the greatest American rock and roll band since CCR, and that Taylor Swift is the poet laureate of puberty! Okay, the last line was a work, not a shoot.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Labels, soup cans, etc. I guess dark fiction, just because it encompasses the other two. But it’s such a nothing term. There’s no dark fiction section in bookstores or on amazon or in my head. I guess if I had to label myself, I’d say I write supernatural thrillers with heart. Take that, heartless writers of supernatural thrillers! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
Who are some of your favourite authors?
One that is obvious: Joe Lansdale. Two that may be surprising: Herman Hesse and Kazuo Ishiguro. Three that I love and that you should read and support right now: Steve Tem, Melanie Tem, and Gary Braunbeck. Four who blow my mind: Jeffrey Ford, Elizabeth Hand, Neal Barrett, Jr., and Haruki Murakami. Five that are typical: Ernest Hemingway, Patricia Highsmith, Jim Thompson, Dashiell Hammett, Harlan Ellison. Six who are contemporaries but kill it: Nick Mamatas, Trent Zelazny, Joe Clifford, Tom Pitts, Christa Faust, and Paul O’Brien.
What are you reading now?
Kaylie Jones, Lies My Mother Never Taught Me. Jones is the literary author who wrote A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries and many fine works. She is the daughter of famed war novelist and short story author James Jones (From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line, and, the unfinished Whistle). Lies is her memoir of family, hardships, drinking, recovery and more. An absolute gem of a book, equal parts tragedy and triumph. Jones is a formidable talent.
Which book do you wish you had written?
Fuck that. There are books that have inspired me to do better, reach farther, etc. Gary Braunbeck’s The Indifference of Heaven is a minor masterpiece. Ditto Steve and Melanie Tem’s The Man on the Ceiling. Joe Lansdale’s A Fine Dark Line, damn, I have powerfully good memories of enjoying that one.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
Sorry. Not into fan fic. I’ve occasionally used public domain characters like Frankenstein’s monster, etc. But I’d rather use inspiration for creation than imitation!
Describe typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Sorry. Most writing habits are as boring as watching milk sour in winter. I don’t do any ritualized behaviour to get in the zone. Sometimes, I’ll listen to music to brainstorm. But absolutely no music if I’m on a work in progress.
I know, lame. But that’s fine. I drink coffee. I write. That’s it. Doing it every day, apparently, is odd to some people. Perhaps the oddest thing I do, writing-wise, is keep a moleskin notebook for outlining on the fly. I was eating corned beef has at Sam’s Log Cabin in Albany, CA, and filled my little notebook with novelette ideas about pro wrestlers. But for me, that’s normal.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
A short story that I’ve never sold, called “Fragments.” It’s about a boy who plays with a dead kid’s toys. It’s a cancer story. I work-shopped it with Gary Braunbeck, who told me to change very little, which was praise from Caesar, let me tell you. But these kinds of stories are often hard to sell. Just because you write about painful experiences doesn’t mean you did a good job or editors will like it. That’s fine. It’s still the one that took the most out of me to not just write, but write well. I’m sure I’ll sell it, but writing and working on it with Gary was prize enough.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
That every story is different. Find the best method to work, but don’t stop learning new ones because . . . every story is different. I’m not interested in writing the same stuff over and over again, especially in short fiction, where more sustained experimentation works. Lots of books need the same structure. But when they don’t, it’s amazing to have a bag of tricks to use. Sure beats writing the right novel the wrong way.
What do you like to do to relax?
Sleep. Read comics (SAGA, CRIMINAL, the Gail Simone reboot of BATGIRL which is amazing). Do improv comedy at Pan Theatre in Oakland (though it’s pretty exhausting, I feel better when I do it). Play guitar. Honestly? Relaxing is bloody difficult. I just try to get eight hours every night, including weekends, and keep rolling with things I love.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
The latest novel is A Triumph for Sakura. While I thought of it as Million Dollar Baby with vampires, Nancy Kilpatrick called it “Hunger Games, Fight Club and True Blood rolled into one bloody good novel.” Topping that will be fun!
Next up . . . a luchador story, then there’s something dark and sinister on the horizon that I can’t mention.