Stuart Jaffe is the madman behind The Max Porter Paranormal Mysteries, the Nathan K thrillers, The Parallel Society series, The Malja Chronicles, The Bluesman, Founders, Real Magic, and so much more. His unique brand of old pulp adventure mixed with a contemporary sensibility brings out the best in a variety of SF/F sub-genres. He trained in martial arts for over a decade until a knee injury ended that practice. Now, he plays lead guitar in a local blues band, The Bootleggers, and enjoys life on a small farm in rural North Carolina. For those who continue to keep count, the animal list is as follows: one dog, two cats, three aquatic turtles, nine chickens, and a horse. As best as he’s been able to manage, Stuart has made sure that the chickens and the horse do not live in the house.
Stuart, thank you for agreeing to this interview. You are known for blending old pulp adventure in your stories. We know the pulp fandoms have centralized around many genres, including horror, detective, and even sex as early as the 1920s. When I think of adventure pulp, I think of early magazine publications like The Argosy and All-Story Weekly that first had stories from Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, and Zorro. How are your stories similar? Different?
My stories are more contemporary—many take place in present day—but they mix in the fast pace of the pulps as well as an openness for the wilder elements. For example, the Parallel Society novels follow a young woman living in a modern day Pennsylvania town who happens to fight bizarre monsters from alternate universes much inspired by the whacked out tales of the original Creepy magazine. Oh, and she fights them alongside her grandmother and two elderly gentlemen.
You recently released the eleventh book in your Max Porter Mysteries, titled Southern Fury throwing your character between the wrath of two witches. For unaware readers, tell us a bit about your series and the new title. What should they come to expect from this collection?
The Max Porter Paranormal Mysteries is my bestselling series. Basically, Max and his wife Sandra run a detective agency along with Marshall Drummond, the ghost of a 1940s detective. They live in Winston-Salem, NC. They have a great, snarky chemistry which allows them to stay sane when battling witches, ghosts, curses, and magic. In each book, I take real history (usually offbeat history) of North Carolina and mix it with the supernatural.
Southern Fury sticks Max and the gang between the Mobley witch coven and the Magi — a group dedicated to controlling witches (and is led by a witch). This is probably not the best book to start with because these witches have been building up to this fight for a few years now. For those who like to start at the beginning, the first book is Southern Bound. Another good starting point is Book 4 – Southern Gothic which introduces several of the characters that are dealt with in the latest book.
The Nathan K thrillers are renowned for your unique take on immortality. Could you tell us a bit about the perspective taken in the book and what inspired the concept?
The Nathan K books were inspired by the old Mack Bolan (The Executioner) and Remo Williams (The Destroyer) action-adventure novels I grew up with. They were short, fast-hitting, pulpy books filled with guns, explosions, and bad-assery. I wanted to do a similar type of thing but throw in the aspect of fiction I love — fantasy. So, I came up with the idea that Nathan could have two souls. It acts like a spare tire. If he dies, he loses one soul but keeps on living with the spare. As long as he can replenish the second soul, he’s essentially immortal. When fully-loaded with two souls, he doesn’t age and he won’t die. But when he’s down to one soul, he’s mortal again — in every way. Of course, he’s not the only one with this ability, and the world of Immortals is very strange, political, and violent. Nathan wants to do good in the world, wants to help people, but the Immortals aren’t always on board with that. So, Nathan often has to straddle the two worlds he lives in.
Admittedly, when I scroll through your blacklist, The Malja Chronicles, especially The Way of the Black Beast, catches my eye. Not only is it a post-apocalyptic fantasy, but it screams of a bad-ass female hero overcoming the madness of a broken world. Give us the details on this story? And is Malja wielding a sickle?!
The Malja Chronicles is a post-apocalyptic fantasy where magic caused the apocalypse. Think Xena meets Mad Max. The world is filled with mutated beasts, crazed magicians, and my personal favs, the guitar-wielding assassins known as the Bluesmen. What starts off as a vengeance tale in the first book quickly expands into Malja having to save her entire world. That then expands to her having to save multiple worlds. The series is six books long and it’s a complete, finished story. You won’t be in George R. R. Martin territory waiting for years to find out what happens. It’s all there waiting for you now! 😀 As for that weapon, it’s far more special than a sickle. Far bigger, too.
With so many series under your belt—the Parallel Society series, Real Magic, The Bluesman, etc.—it is hard to decide where to start. Where would you recommend readers begin reading? Which one was your favorite to write and why?
Max Porter or Nathan K are the usual entry points. I do have standalones, too — Real Magic, After the Crash, Founders, and more coming. But as much as people say they want standalones, it’s the series that they keep asking for more, more, more of. Who am I to argue? As for my favorites—I love them all. I purposely write in multiple series for that very reason. I get to jump from one to the other, keeping me happy, excited, and fresh, which hopefully translates into the writing. If I only wrote Max Porter books or only Parallel Society books, I would have faded away long ago.
Lots coming 2019. I’m finishing up Nathan K #8, tentatively called Prisoner, there will be more Marshall Drummond Case Files (short stories and novellas featuring Drummond in the 1930s/40s when he was alive), another Max Porter novel, a Parallel Society novel, and I’m in talks with some small presses about a few projects. Plus, the first issue of The Bluesman comic is 99% done and should release later this year. I’m the writer, Garrett Gainey is the artist, and the incredible John Jennings does the inking and is producing the whole thing. And that’s just off the top of my head!
It has been a pleasure, Stuart! Please tell us where fans can find you online.
Thank you. It’s been a delight. I can be found at www.stuartjaffe.com. Of course, all my work is available throughout the internet at Amazon, Apple, Kobo, B&N, Audible, and tons of others. If you like libraries, you can ask your local library to order my work through Overdrive or Baker and Taylor. And if you like to chat, I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStuartJaffe