Friday, September 5, 2014

Liza interviews JP Lantern about his book, Up the Tower.

Today, I'm interviewing JP Lantern. Turns out he loves to write, even in a interview.

Space Rep:  Is he generous as well?

Liza: In fact, he is. He's giving away a grand prize gift card of $25 plus an ebook copy of his back list to one lucky person at each stop.

Space Rep. How do I win these prizes?

Liza: For the Tour prize: enter the rafflecopter.
For the ebook at each stop, leave a comment with your email address.

Space Rep: Super cool! So we are interviewing JP?

 Liza: I had to drop some of my questions & his fabulous answers so the blog wouldn't take 2 hours to read.

The funny part is he thinks he's lazy. In one of the questions I deleted, he said he writes about 3K words a day. What a sluggard, right? 

Well let's get started on this interview.

Liza: How'd you come up with this story?

JP: I watched the movie Sorcerer for the first time. It's this movie by William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist. It's notorious for being this huge commercial failure and throwing Friedkin's career in limbo for a long time. But it's a really terrific film. It's about four truck drivers who have to transport unstable dynamite across a jungle. They come across all these horrible obstacles and have to work together to survive, even though they have nothing in common.

Anyway, I watched it and I realized I wanted to write something like it (it was already a French novel, The Wages of Fear.) So I put it in the future and made the journey vertical instead of horizontal.

Liza: That takes bravery, to re-position and retell a story that tanked and ruined the career of the director. But you did, so tell me who's your favorite character in the book & why?

JP: The character of Ana ended up being the most complex character, I think. Maybe. I'd have to think about it. Anyway, she's a lot of fun to examine, and I wrote because I wanted to explore some different stuff about gender and patriarchy.

She's sort of crazy the entire time, but we don't really get to know that until the last act or so. Her craziness is engendered by the world that made her, though; she's very much a product of oppression, and she's the kind of woman who exists all the time in today's world, in that she actively participates in her oppression by men because it's the only way that she knows how to succeed. Sort of like how a woman might “put up with” men sexually harassing her at an office, or even encourage it, because she sees the men in charge, and she sees playing ball, so to speak, as the only way to get ahead?

Ana is sort of like that. But, within the confines of the disaster, and a few specifically harrowing events in the novel, she kind of loses her mind at the whole thing and snaps.

Liza: I equate that character description to dynamite and won't touch it. Let's see if we can move along with no explosion. What's your favorite line in the story?

JP: “Get ready world. Here comes a Gary.”

Liza: And why do you like that line?

JP: It's just very absurd, and I really like that nature of absurdity. The addition of the article of “a” is what does it for me.

Liza: What event occurred in your life that has influenced your novels?

JP: Not so much an event but rather a series of escalating devolvements in behavior, but I was a practicing alcoholic and drug addict for about seven years of my life. So, that's still around because it never really goes away, but I don't feed it anymore. At any rate, when you have something in your head that more or less wants you to die all the time, it shifts your worldview a little bit. I'm very aware of my mortality and everyone else's, and I've become a lot more forgiving of people who don't seem to be able to change their minds.

Liza: And now I'm sad. Help me out and tell us a good joke.

JP: This is the joke that you can tell to see if your friends have a good sense of humor or not:

Okay, so, there’s a guy who sees his friend after a long time of not seeing him at all. They meet in the middle of the street, and the friend is dressed very nicely, nice suit and all, and has a beautiful woman with him who appears to be his wife, and also has a giant orange head.

The guy is surprised, because the last time he saw his friend, he was completely poor, completely single, and did not have a giant orange head. So, naturally, he asks his friend what the deal is.

The friend replies that he obtained a magic lamp.

“Pretty standard issue stuff. I wished to be rich—boom! I was rich. You’ve noticed my clothes. Then I thought I would wish for someone to share all this new wealth with—and boom! I had this beautiful lady here.
“And finally—and here’s where I think I went wrong—I wished for a giant orange head.”

Liza: Okay, that was funny. Let's find out more about this book.

Up the Tower
by J. P. Lantern


Disaster brings everybody together. A cloned corporate assassin; a boy genius and his new robot; a tech-modified gangster with nothing to lose; a beautiful, damaged woman and her unbalanced stalker—these folks couldn't be more different, but somehow they must work together to save their own skin. Stranded in the epicenter of a monumental earthquake in the dystopian slum, Junktown, there is only one way to survive. These unlikely teammates must go...UP THE TOWER.


“Hey, Smellson!”

Samson ignored the jeer, focusing carefully on opening the box. He was twelve years old and he did not want to screw this up; being twelve was important, and people took the things you did seriously so long as you did them well.

“Smellson, hey!” The Crowboy banged his crowbar on the dusty ruins of the factory line where they had set up the six crates from their haul that morning. “Don’t blow us up, okay? I don’t want to die with your stench clogging me up, yeah?”

Again, Samson ignored the other boy, trying to concentrate as he eased his longtool through the gap in the crate before him. He very well could blow himself up; he could blow them all up. Inside the GuaranTech crate he tinkered with was a copbot.

Copbots blew up all the time. If their main processors or power source were damaged, they blew up. If they were being captured, they blew up. If they ran out of ammo and couldn’t refill within about ten minutes, they blew up. When they blew up, they incinerated everything in about a hundred foot radius. The warehouse was not big enough for the Crowboys to keep their distance and still work in the role of protection as they had been hired. So they were in the blast zone as well as Samson.

The copbots, deactivated, were precious and valuable. Strangely, they were valuable precisely because they were so hard to deactivate. A copbot was made almost entirely out of self-healing nanotech, and with enough time, it could repair from almost any wound to its metal shell. So, to keep this sort of power out of the hands of the gangster conglomerate that ran Junktown, the Five Faces, and any other sort of competitor, the copbots had a very liberal self-destruct mechanism.

This is what Samson worked against.


J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed "rugged," though he would also be fine with "roughhewn" because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.




twitter: @jplantern

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