I was intrigued by the email sent by Oli Jacobs apologising for his lack of “Scottishness” but asking that I review his book, “Wrapped Up in Nothing”!
So in return for a wee Q&A I added him to my list of honorary men of kilts!
“I woke up in Hell…”
And so begins the saga of Mr Blank. Left mutilated in the desert with no idea who he is, and no way of finding out, all Blank has is a cheap mobile phone to help him communicate, and a wallet full of cash. Luckily, he isn’t the kind to just lay down and die, and so makes his way to the nearby town of Rattlers Creek, where he is prepared to ask the many questions that litter his head.
And if nobody wants to answer them? Well, Blank finds he has a certain talent for getting people to talk to him…
The first in the Mr Blank series, Wrapped Up In Nothing is a crime thriller from the twisted mind that brought you the horror of The Station 17 Chronicles, and the humour of Kirk Sandblaster.
Think Reservoir Dogs, think Pulp Fiction, think macabre, gruesome and full of black humour and then you have the gist of this short story by Oli Jacobs. This is the 2nd time this month that I have stepped slightly out of my comfort zone and left the UK to head across to the USA for some crime fiction and lets just say I have not been disappointed.
Mr Blank wakes up in the middle of a desert and is on a quest to find out how he got there and why, only problem is the only way he has of communicating is by tapping out messages on the phone he has been left. The story comes from the narrative in his head and despite the macabre nature of the tale the humour is class – dark but class all the same!
This book is short, sharp, pacy and punchy. It grabbed me from the beginning; it is told in such a matter of fact way despite the hell it portrays. It packs the reader a good few punches and doesn’t shy away from the nitty-gritty of what’s going on! Explosive and leaves you yearning for the next installment in Mr Blank’s life!
My Grilling of Oli:
- Your books cover quite a variety of genres from comedy, horror, sci-fi to mystery – which is your preferred and why such a mix?
I tend to write a variety of genres mostly due to the stories I conjure up. While I have a certain affinity to the likes of comedy and horror, if the tale is enough to intrigue me, then it doesn’t matter to me what the genre is. Sometimes (especially in the case of Bad Sandwich) it’s hard to even pin down a genre!
- You are stranded on an island – who are the 3 people you would choose to have with you and why (and they have to be 1. a character from your book 2. a character from someone else’s book 3. A famous person)
First of all, Kirk Sandblaster. In a situation such as being stranded, he’s the kind of person to sit back, find a coconut, and catch up on his tan while cracking some jokes about the wrong type of sand. From someone else’s I’d have to say Jack Torrance, as he’s good with an axe and seems to deal well with isolation. As for a famous person, let’s say Brad Pitt, as he’s so famous no one would dare leave him on a desert island, and he’d probably get us all saved eventually.
- Describe yourself in 5 words
Hairy, tired, booze-fuelled fool
- Any real life inspirations for your characters?
I think if you ask the majority of writers, most will admit that their characters are born from the people they know and have met. The key thing is mixing up enough traits so that they don’t realise it. Of course, the worst of the fictional bunch probably come from me, which says a lot about how awesome I am.
- What is the most challenging aspect of being a writer?
Getting people to read your work. I’ve found – especially as a self-published author – that while it is easy enough writing and releasing the book, the marketing is a real kick in the proverbials. After all, you’ve crafted this story and released it into the wild, so to see it just float in the ether is… frustrating.
- You have the chance to have one of your books televised – which one would you chose and who would star in it?
As someone from a filmic background, I usually envision most of my books as films and TV shows, but right now the one I could see as a gritty, HBO style drama is Wrapped Up In Nothing. Mr Blank’s adventures have only just begun as well, so his journey would make for quite the televisual treat.
- Do you have any little quirks or rituals that you carry out when you write?
Aside from the standard listening to music and tweeting when I should be writing, the only thing I can think of is actually speaking most of my writing out loud, especially dialogue. It’s quite interesting for my partner to hear me start talking in a variety of voices, especially when I’m in a multi-character jaunt like Kirk Sandblaster. Especially when I do the dialogue for the alien characters.
- Which book do you wish you had written and why?
The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp. It’s just that right blend of horror and comedy that I read it and was instantly green with envy. I could only hope to write something as intricate and dripping with fear, but alas I’ll just have to make do with reading it again and fawning over him on Twitter.
- What are you reading right now?
I’ve actually just finished House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski, and absolutely loved it. The labyrinth nature of not just the story, but the way the book is presented, is a Hell of an experience for both readers and writers. Much like the above Jack Sparks, I highly recommend it.
- You have to appear on a reality TV programme which one would it be and why?
Big Brother, because despite the obvious cretins I’d be locked in with, I could just hide away in the diary room and write some more books. No internet, no problem. Of course, when the inevitable massacre begins…
I loved your answers to those questions Oli and I know for sure that I will be following the adventures of Mr Blank!
If you want to read the book for yourself then pop on over to Amazon and get clicking!