We have a second timer with us today. Nathyn Masters is an author, filmmaker and comic book writer and artist. He’s slated to be at the 2012 Wizard World Comic Convention. Today he’s back with us with his second book in the controversial “Blackrayne” series “Midrash Express”. Good to have you back. What have you been doing in the year’s time since this book was announced?
I’ve been busy with the “Epitaph: Bread and Salt” film and the “Epitaph” comic line from Night Phoenix Press. I’m writing all the books and drawing one of the limited series so I’m constantly working. But I never really announced the book. It was listed on Amazon, but it was considered “out of print” because I staggered it while I went back over it. The editing process takes longer than writing and I still found mistakes and things that just didn’t sound right, so I had to go back over it a few more times. On top of that “One in the Flesh 2: More Bedtime Stories for Married Couples” just came out.
Your first book “Blackrayne” was pretty controversial. How did that affect you work on this one?
I don’t think it did. I think the issue for me was coming from comics where everything is accepted without question and then coming here where people can actually feel attacked by what they read. It’s kind of crazy. There’s a lot of stuff going on and I got accused of a lot of things. The reviews are still there, you can read what people were saying. Some people already didn’t really like me at the time and some of them made up stuff about what was stated in the book. I won’t say they were lying, but I did eventually prove their perception was off, by actually printing the text from the book. But in the end it didn’t matter because people had made up their minds. So the lesson for me was don’t fight the readers even if they are wrong, they have the right to perceive as they see fit, it’s just sad it hurts the writer sometimes because people come into it with preconceived notions.
Certainly if you have any kind of Christian ideology in your book it has to be made known or some people will accuse you of stealth proselytizing, because of Christian publishing companies that are actually publishing Christian fiction and not labeling them as such. So people like me, get caught up in it because I love working with Heaven and Hell stories and Biblical themes, but my books are secular in nature. In comic books Heaven and Hell stories used to be so prominent no one batted an eye, especially over at Image Comics. But here it’s very different and people are very specific. It’s really not your average reader, but people on the forums and such are very picky and they will come after you.
Well what would you consider your work?
Occult fiction is what it is, but if it’s a Heaven and Hell story there has to be a theme of Godly and Un-Godly. There is a very strong anti-Christian and anti-God backlash in America right now, so people are bit on edge and they’re angry. They feel God is the enemy. But the love of money is the root of all evil and is behind everything happening now and much of what has happened in the past. Novels, movies and the like fall into a genres. “Christian” is not a genre. It’s made up (by Christians writers I assume), but no matter what your “Christian” story will fall into one of these genres. It doesn’t make the work special or better than anything else. People slap a “Christian” label on things to market them better. Many times it’s profit motivated. That’s the reality no one wants to face. Before the Christian labeling, books, movies, records, etc were simply of whatever genre the writer or artist was working in. If Christianity was in there it was simply a part of the whole, hence the “Narnia” books and other works of fiction that reached both secular and religious heights, but those books were simply labeled fantasy, or whatever because Christian lit didn’t come about until the 60’s or 70’s. I feel the same about “African American” literature and any other sub-genre. What it actually does is marginalizes the writer of such work, but this may help the writer make a quick buck marketing to a group, particularly if the writer isn’t that good.
Tell us about your second book. Jason Blackrayne is back?
Yep. Jason left Chicago, fearing Evelyn DeVille would try to kill him. He resettled in Chicago after after she moved to LA. He wrote a book about what happened to him. He named names and made a lot of money from that, but is trying to live low key. But the book made DeVille famous. One day, out of the blue, Jason gets a letter that Evelyn is dead. He’s invited to the funeral and it turns out he’s in her will.
Evelyn was a multi-millionaire and she gave people very lavish gifts that all turned out to be cursed. Only Jason’s stuff wasn’t cursed. Her fiance did get the estate, but Jason got the money to take care of the estate as well as some of her mystical items. This will make sense in book three which I’m writing now.
While it all seems like a Cinderella story there’s a problem and it presents itself in the form of a tall, beautiful, violent and hyper sexual, up and coming pop icon named Catherine Faust. She wants a particular book and from the collection, but is unsure which one. She smacks Jason around a bit and takes what she wants. Jason has a bit of an idea which book it is and he checks it out. Turns out one of the books is written like a Jewish Midrash, but is actually a book of demonology. This is the one Catherine will stop at nothing to get. There’s a lot going on in this one and it bleeds over into the third book even though Midrash Express is a standalone story.
How did this story come about?
I wanted to throw a curve ball in there somewhere. When I write I like to think of what is the unexpected thing. When you get into the world of the occult it’s not always easy to escape, especially when your enemies are both human and spiritual. Jason wants to escape, but gets sucked back in. He would stay away, if he could. I think he’s kind of deciding to take the bull by the horn in this one. And I wanted him and Catherine to really butt heads.
Who is Catherine? And why does she hate Jason?
I don’t know that she hates him. She wants something from him and he’s not willing to give it. Catherine is very strong physically and mentally, the kind of woman to kick doors off hinges and who has no qualms about physical violence. I wanted to create someone that would be beyond magic, but at the same time mystical in nature. Catherine is like Lady GaGa if she did steroids and had a meaner disposition. Catherine promotes the current “Do as thou wilt” attitude that’s going around in the mainstream media and has dealt in “ethereal goods” cheating people out of their souls. Her fame is a means to an end and that end is power.
There’s a very strong Jewish presence in this one, why’d you go in that direction, versus the Christian angle of the first?
I didn’t really change “angles” nor did the first have a Christian angle. Phoebe was the source of the controversy in the first book, because she was a very conservative Christian and spoke on it. She converted Jason, so people said that in itself was preaching, but the book was about Jason not Phoebe. Phoebe was the Heaven part of a Heaven and Hell story. In this book one of her friends is a Messianic Jewish minister whose married to one of the last Orthodox female Rabbis. He understands Midrash writings and his wife has knowledge of Kabbalah and Jewish demonology which is how they get sucked in. I’ve always wanted to do something involving Jewish Midrash writings and this way Phoebe doesn’t become the catch all when it comes to such matters. Catherine wants to know how to control the demons found in the fake Midrash, but the Rabbi certainly isn’t going to tell her.
Do you think that will be controversial?
A lot of things I do are pretty basic until people pick something out they want to fight about. They perceive something the way they want it to be then say any array of negative things, but those who take the story for what it is will not have this problem. An author shouldn’t have to write their intention in the story and modern readers shouldn’t be so quick to have knee jerk reactions. We teach people to be offended now days so they don’t think. And we teach people to not comprehend.
Where did the “soul” stealing or “ethereal goods” dealer concept come from?
I started watching these documentaries on youtube about celebrities and the occult and after doing some research I believe a lot of celebrities in the past and currently are connected with it in some way. So I had Catherine be this person who somehow traded things, (money, fame, power) for souls. The question is did Catherine sell her soul for riches and fame and why was she doing it to others. Book three has a few more answers about “ethereal goods” and the first book touched on it.
What’s next for Jason Blackrayne?
Well, it’s hard to say without giving anything away. I can say in book three Jason and Phoebe find themselves in a hunted house and some other insanity goes down, but he will come face to face with some actual soul dealers. I do have a short story coming about him and another cult situation, but it’s not a full length novel.