Last Month, Pro Se Press released two new novels on the same day. One was my spy novel Nobody Dies For Free, and the other was a work of crime noir by Jason Kahn called Badge of Lies. For today's post, Jason was kind enough to answer some questions about his novel and his writing career in general.
Aaron: Your novel, Badge of Lies recently became available. Can you tell us what it's about and what inspired you to write it?
Jason: Badge of Lies is the story of detective Frank Arnold, a recovering alcoholic who’s just buried his partner and best friend Mitch Connell, only to find out that Mitch was not the man Frank thought he was. The mistress who comes out of the woodwork is surprising enough, but the ties to organized crime are more concerning, especially after the cryptic warning Mitch gives from beyond the grave, that Frank’s in trouble, and not to trust anyone.
Avoiding thugs, crime bosses, his ex-wife, his new girlfriend, Internal Affairs and a rogue cop who might be framing him for several mob-related killings, Frank desperately tries to unravel Mitch’s cryptic clues. But the closer Frank gets to the information that will protect him, the more danger he finds himself in. The truth may set him free, but it may also get him killed as Frank tries to stay one step ahead of the cops, the criminals, and the women eager to betray him. It’s enough to drive a good man to drink, or become all the things he despises before he’s done.
I wrote this at the request of a different publisher who liked a science fiction crime series I was writing for her. She asked me to write a hard-boiled detective novel, and of course I said yes. I’d written a previous short story set in a fictional “Metro City” involving some of the same main characters, namely Frank and his partner Vera. So I thought I’d write the story of how they became partners in the first place, and combine that with Frank being led on a constant goose chase by his dead partner.
Aaron: How did you originally start writing and then pursuing it seriously?
Jason: Academically, I was always drawn to writing—high school newspaper, stuff like that. I was headed toward a journalism degree my second or third year in college, so I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. But it wasn’t until the summer after my senior year that I discovered I wanted to be a WRITER. I’d been reading scifi-fantasy books since I was a kid, and during my senior year, my then-girlfriend, now-wife, said to me, “hey, why don’t you write one of those?” Incredible as it may seem, the thought had never occurred to me. That summer I started writing, and haven’t stopped since. I’ve published numerous short stories in magazines and anthologies, and Badge of Lies is my first novel.
Aaron: Who or what are some of your major influences?
Jason: Early on, I would say authors like Raymond Feist and David Eddings as I tried to write fantasy-adventures, but then, much more James Ellroy and Joseph Wambaugh as I started writing more noir crime fiction. Especially Ellroy. The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential, The Big Nowhere. I wasn’t prepared, my mind exploded. A whole new world opened up.
Aaron: Badge of Lies was published by Pro Se Press, a major entity in the New Pulp movement. How did you come to be involved with New Pulp in general and Pro Se in particular?
Jason: I wouldn’t say it was a conscious decision to start writing New Pulp fiction. It just so happened that what I was really getting into writing happened to be in that genre. And finding Pro Se was a stroke of utmost fortuitousness. Remember when I said that other publisher asked me to write a hardboiled detective story, which turned into Badge of Lies? Well I wrote it, and then her small press house went out of business, leaving me high and dry with a manuscript and no publisher. Needless to say I was a bit depressed. But I would not be deterred, and I started looking around for an appropriate home. I looked for a LONG time, and eventually found several candidates. Some weren’t the right fit, others just said “no thanks.” Then I found Pro Se. The head honcho, Tommy Hancock, said they were not quite closed to submissions and I could certainly send in the manuscript. I did so, and within a few weeks was informed that Badge of Lies had been accepted. From that point on, everything has just been a dream.
Aaron: What other projects of yours, either past or upcoming, would you like readers to know about?
Jason: I recently finished that science fiction series I referred to earlier. It’s called The Dark InSpectre, and involves a police unit of telepaths with the unique ability to contact the psychic awareness of the dead. I’ve always thought of it as a cross between L.A. Confidential and the psi-corps of Babylon Five. It’s a wicked piece of noir fiction, and I’ve submitted it to Pro Se. It’s been accepted for publication and we’re going into the editing phase shortly. I’m totally psyched about it.
Aaron: In your experience, what are the best and worst aspects of being a writer?
Jason: The best part about writing for me is that it makes me happy, pure and simple. When I’m not writing I’m edgy and anxious. I constantly feel like I should be writing, like I’m slacking off if I’m not. But after I’ve written something, even if it’s just a paragraph or two, that all goes away. I feel better about myself. The neurons start firing, I get jazzed about the new possibilities that arise from the latest section, about where they might go and all the other story threads that will now come into play. I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
I’d say the hardest part is finding the time. Both to write and to just think about a story, to work it out in my head. I’m a news editor by day, and my job is extremely busy. I’m also a husband and father of two boys. I’ll write whenever I can, but long stretches can go by when I’m not writing. It can be very frustrating. I look forward to long flights, like from New York to San Francisco and back. I tend to get a lot of writing done on flights like that!
Aaron: Thanks, Jason, for taking the time to tell us about your work.
Badge of Lies can be found on Amazon on its own page or along with Jason's other work at his Amazon author page.
More information about Jason's work can be found on his website, his blog, or Facebook.