Today, I’ve got a very special treat for you. We are interviewing Jennifer Rainey, Author of These Hellish Happenings. But it seems that Jack Bentley, one of her characters, has opted to sit in on the interview. I figured it would be a good chance for us to get to know both of them, so I asked them both several questions.
Jerry: What was the most challenging part of working with this character?
Jennifer: The most challenging part of working with Jack Bentley was taking into consideration his age. I never outright say it in the book, but he was born 1366. Not only that, but as a vampire, he’s been about twenty-five for over six centuries. It was a balancing act; I had to think about his age, his experience, how he would be jaded in certain ways, but at the same time, I had to make him relatable and human and think about how he would react to the situations in the book that are entirely new to him.
Jerry: So, Jack, what do you think Jennifer should have changed about you when they wrote you in?
Jack: I wish I had more of a spine. I mean, I’m not asking to be bloody Superman or whatever, but for Satan’s sake, I feel like I’ve spent half my life running from things. I’m not at all athletic, so I shouldn’t be running this much. Can’t be good for me, I imagine.
Jerry: What are Jack’s most endearing qualities and what are the worst?
Part of what makes Jack endearing is how human he is. He’s not your tall, dark and handsome brooding vampire. He’s not sexy, he’s not mind-numbingly sophisiticated; he’s a slightly dorky, cowardly vamp with an almost obsessive love of music and a few vague hopeless romantic tendencies. But throughout the novel, he begins to overcome his cowardice and his tendency to repress memories he doesn’t want to face, and I think that makes him very likeable, as well.
His worst quality? He’s a complete slob.
Jerry: Do you think you were represented well in her portrayal of you?
Jack: First, I want to say I’m not that messy. There is a system to my… organizational techniques. I just have to remember on what part of the floor I last saw whatever it is I’m looking for.
But yeah, I think I was represented well enough. Jenny certainly dug into my mind a little more than I wanted her to, but in the end, I think it made for a good story. All that probing paid off. … Not… not that kind of prob… you know what I mean.
Jerry: Did you get into arguments with Jack when writing him into the story? How long did it take you to resolve any arguments and get back to the task of getting your story out?
Jennifer: Of course. I unfortunately can’t think of any specific ones at the moment, but he can be very stubborn if he wants to be. Normally we’d work it all out in a day or so, though, and carry on with our work.
Jerry: Jack, from your perspective, what is this story about?
This is a story about me never, ever catching a break. I go through more torture in this novel than all the torture in the Spanish Inquisition combined.
But really, it’s about me going to Hell and working there and getting involved in Hell’s society and politics, which are absolutely nothing short of awful. And I pick up a demon lover along the way, but Jenny told me that’s a spoiler and I shouldn’t talk about it.
Jerry: Jennifer, I guess it’s only fair I ask you the same question. What is this story about from your perspective as the author?
Jennifer: At its core, These Hellish Happenings is dark comedy about a man who has to go to Hell to figure himself out. Jack may not want to admit it himself, but he experiences a kind of rebirth when he goes down to the underworld. The Hell he encounters is far from Dante or the fire and brimstone most think of, and is actually quite a lot like Earth. He finds himself getting wrapped up in the affairs of Hell, in demonic politics, and indeed, even in romance, and through all that, he begins to figure himself out after 600 years of not quite being able to on Earth.
Jerry: Do you intend to write a sequel?
It’s actually the first of a trilogy, so yes, I’m working on the sequel right now. It’s tentatively called When Hell Freezes Over.
Jerry: Jack, how do you feel about that, hearing her say that she intends to write more about you?
I’m up for it. I’m not shutting up just yet. She knows if she didn’t write a sequel, I’d just kick around her brain. Drive her bonkers. … Which doesn’t sound too bad, actually.
Jerry: So, Jack, how are you adjusting to the publicity? Do you enjoy being known by potentially millions of readers?
It’s really nothing new to me. I am, after all, the famous vampire from the Registration Office of Hell. Seems like everyone on Hell’s Administrative Level is aware of me at this point. Some of them aren’t too pleased that a “leech”, as they’d say, got such an important job. Anyway, it’s prepared me for any publicity coming my way, I’d imagine.
Jerry: And finally… What other projects do you have in the works? Anything you’d be willing to share about at this point?
Jennifer: Like I said, I am working on the second book in the These Hellish Happenings series. It takes place three years after the first one ends, and I can’t tell you much more about it, sorry! I also have a rather dark comedy that’s on hold right now called Green-Eyed about a young wannabe archaeologist who gets wrapped up in a plot to find a cursed artifact. And he goes a little mad by the end, haha! But it is very rough right now.