With the release of his latest novel, The Next Time I Die, released today from Hard Case Crime. We are delighted to be joined by author Jason Starr. Jason has written many novels, including Twisted City, Hard Feelings and Cold Caller. Jason has also written numerous comics for different publishers, including DC Comics, Marvel Comics and AWA Studios.
Hi Jason, thank you for being here with us. We are so excited to be able to chat with you today.
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m a novelist and comics writer from New York City. I’ve written comics for Marvel, the best known is probably the Wolverine Max series. I’ve also written for DC, Boom, AWA and others. My latest AWA creator-owned graphic novels are Red Border and Casual Fling. My new novel—and my first ever sci-fi novel is The Next Time I Die, out on June 28th from Hard Case Crime.
Can you tell us about the origins of The Next Time I Die?
While I’ve done some sci-fi in my comics and the novels I wrote based on the TV shows, most of my original novels have been crime novels and psychological thrillers. So I wanted to write a sci-fi/crime novel. One of my favorite sci-fi novelists is Philip K. Dick. While his books have complex themes, they’re also grounded and accessible. That’s the vibe I was going for with The Next Time I Die.
How would you describe The Next Time I Die?
A defense attorney, Steven Blitz, tries to break up an assault on a woman, and winds up getting stabbed in the gut. He should’ve died, but instead he ends up in a new reality, somewhere between Philip K. Dick and The Twilight Zone.
What can you tell us about Steven Blitz?
When we meet Steven he’s very driven in his career as a lawyer and he’s working on the case of a lifetime, about to begin a high profile murder trial. He believes he’s a good guy stuck in a bad situation. I think at his core he’s an optimis. He looks at the positive side of situations, perhaps to a fault.
You have written numerous comics; what is it about the comic book medium that you enjoy?
The collaboration. When I started writing, I wrote plays mainly and actually have an MFA degree in playwriting. Comics remind me a lot of theater—multiple working together, trying to create something great. I love writing novels, but it’s nice to mix things up. I love working with artists and comics editors.
How did Hard Case Crime get involved with The Next Time I Die?
Hard Case Crime has published some of my previous novels—several that I co-wrote with Irish crime writer, Ken Bruen, and my crime novel, Fake I.D. Because The Next Time I Die has a sci-fi twist, it’s different from the sort of crime fiction they usually publish, although Hard Case has occasionally published fantasy and sci-fi, in books by Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton and Stephen King. I think this novel could’ve been published by a crime publisher like Hard Case, or a sci-fi publisher, but I’m really happy to be doing it with Hard Case.
How long have you been working on The Next Time I Die?
I began writing it in late 2019 and 2020. The action of the book starts in late February 2020, a date that was in the future while I was writing the book. When late February arrived the pandemic began, so this “start date” took on a much greater importance.
Was it a challenge to write The Next Time I Die compared to the other novels that you have written?
Yes, definitely. The plot may seem very tight, but it took me several drafts to get there. There is a lot of world building in this book, which is different from most of my previous books. There was a lot of pacing around my apartment and scribbling plot notes in the middle of the night.
Has The Next Time I Die changed in any significant way since the first draft?
Yes, I made some pretty significant changes from draft to draft. Even small changes affected what came later on. There was a lot to keep track of.
What has it been like working with Charles Ardai and the rest of the team at Hard Case Crime?
It’s always great working with Charles and Titan Books. I’ve known Charles for a long time, since around the time Hard Case Crime was formed. He’s a great editor and, maybe because we’ve known each other so long, editing is always a seamless process with him.
What comics are you currently reading?
I usually have at least a few going at a time. Hotell by John Lees, Killadelphia by Rodney Barnes, the Reckless books by Ed Brubaker.
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
I love to hear from readers, let me know what you think of The Next Time I Die. You can connect with me on Twitter and Instagram: @JasonStarrBooks and at jasonstarr.com.
We would like to say a big thank you to Jason for chatting with us. We wish him the best of luck with The Next Time I Die.