|Cover art by Zachary Brunner|
TFCE: Today we're here with author Jim Beard, to chat about his latest book: SGT. JANUS RETURNS. First off Jim, why don't you refresh our audience's memory about who Sgt. Janus is and what readers have to look forward to in this book.
JIM: The good sergeant is a “Spirit-Breaker,” a man who has taken it upon himself to aid those being hindered or harried by the spirits of the dead. Sgt. Janus “breaks” their ties to the mortal plane, sometimes easily, sometimes not, and sends them on their way to their reward …or punishment as the case may be.
SGT. JANUS RETURNS is Act Two. At the end of SGT. JANUS SPIRIT-BREAKER, Janus met with a spirit far more powerful than any he’d encountered before and, well, something very bad happened. The second volume illuminates his path to recovery, yet with a major twist.
TFCE: In our previous interview, you hinted that the first Sgt. Janus book was actually part of a larger story. Was there a much bigger novel originally written, or just a larger tale than you had room to tell in just one book?
JIM: Each book was written separately, but as I wrote the first, I knew instinctively what was to happen in the second. They’re two halves of one big story, yet they may also be read apart from one another, if I’ve done my job well enough.
|Author Jim Beard, researching|
TFCE: Why the change in story telling perspective between the two volumes?
JIM: I didn’t want to repeat myself, to be honest, though I had received many kind words in reviews of SGT. JANUS SPIRIT-BREAKER for its multi-narrator set-up. That said, I thought SGT. JANUS RETURNS needed a single voice to carry the reader through the story which, as I’ve mentioned before, is much more like a full novel than the collection of short stories in the first volume.
Our narrator in RETURNS is Joshua Hargreaves, a young layabout who has a chance encounter with a strange visitor to his small town and is swept up in what he believes might be the kick in the pants he needs in life, but in reality becomes something much, much more. He becomes the chronicler to a Spirit-Breaker. And what does that entail? Quite a bit, actually, more than one young man might be able to bear.
TFCE: Any particular reason why this character specifically is the narrator, instead of someone else?
JIM: Joshua makes a conscious decision to become the narrator of the book. He takes it upon himself to chronicle the events that begin to unfold before his eyes and, perhaps, makes sense of them by setting them down on paper. By doing so, we learn not only about the subject of the chronicles, but about Joshua himself; his dreams, his fears, his likes and dislikes.
TFCE: If you don't mind, please remind us of the developmental background of the Sgt. Janus character.
JIM: Sgt. Janus was created as my ode to all the great occult detectives in the very early Twentieth Century pulps, most especially William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost Finder. Janus is cut from the same peculiar cloth; a tireless man who sets himself between the supernatural and the normal people vexed by it.
|Book 1, cover by Jeff Herdon|
TFCE: Given the amount of time that has passed between the two books, do you think the character has grown some since you last wrote of him, or was it more like picking up where you left off with an old friend?
JIM: Since I knew where I wanted to go in the second book by the time I was about half-way through the first, starting in on the writing of SGT. JANUS RETURNS was like completing an unfinished symphony, perhaps. It all fell into place, and the characters pulled me along, rushing me to the last page. And there stood the sergeant himself. The story is not that he returns – the title of the book tells you that – but HOW he returns.
TFCE: What do you foresee in Sgt. Janus' future? Have you any thoughts on his third book, let alone further tales in the series?
JIM: I have to tell you, I can’t WAIT to start writing the third book. I am so engaged and enthused about the entire concept that the ideas are now coming fast and furious and not only do I have the third book outlined, SGT. JANUS ON THE DARK TRACK, but now also the fourth, SGT. JANUS: THE GHOST OF A YEAR.
TFCE: Is there any chance of Sgt. Janus ever encountering other literary characters either involved in his line of work or employed by “the opposite side”?
JIM: Though I’ve written an (unpublished at this time) story using real-life persons in a fictional setting, I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of that device, nor of using other fictional characters. There’s usually something a bit too wink-wink about it for me, something that calls undue attention to the appearances and takes me out of the story. Now, that’s not to say that a good writer can’t pull it off – many of my pulp pals have done it and done it well – but for me, I don’t see myself doing it much going forward. Probably no “Janus Meets Carnacki” tale will be told.
That said, Barry Reese has expressed interest in a joint Gravedigger-Sgt. Janus adventure, so I won’t rule it out entirely. I mean, when Barry calls, you answer, right?
TFCE: What does the future hold for Jim Beard?
JIM: I have the second Captain Action book coming out soon, HEARTS OF THE RISING SUN; three new anthologies, BETRAYAL ON MONSTER EARTH, MONSTER ACES VOL. 2, and THE LEMON HERBERTS, and the follow-up novel to my e-short THE CORPSE ON BROADSTREET. And if all goes well there might even be a few more things thrown in the mix for good measure. Always in motion is the future…
TFCE: Well, don't let us slow you down Jim; but thanks for stopping by.
JIM: You're welcome. Any time.
The Sgt. Janus series is available either through Amazon or Airship 27 directly.