Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Jackson Ford?
A gigantic flaming sh*thead who thought it would be fun to write paranormal action thriller novels set in Los Angeles, despite never having been there, and is frankly amazed that anything ever came of it. Fortunately, he also happens to be the alter ego of Rob Boffard, who has been to LA and is a much better writer.
Your new novel, Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air, will be published by Orbit in July. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
While it is part of a series, each book can also be read as a stand-alone. You definitely don’t have to start with the first one! Jump in wherever.
The books document the adventures of Teagan Frost, a government agent with psychokinetic abilities who dreams of living a normal life and running her own restaurant. I’d introduce it to the reader by saying: it’s the best book you’ll ever read, and if you disagree, then f*ck you.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I was tired of reading books where the hero was dark and brooding, and where everybody hated each other. I wanted something that was bright and energetic and fun, and where the hero would much rather be kicking back with a beer than dealing with whatever bullsh*t is being thrown her way. So I wrote one.
I draw my inspiration from things that make me happy. I don’t mean this in a fatuous way – I genuinely use these things to draw creative energy from. Noisy rap music, high-end audio gear, cooking, basketball, snowboarding… anything that gets my blood pressure up. And in the case of rap music, anything that makes me want to punch a motherf*cker.
The series has recently been optioned for television. This is excellent news—will you be involved in the production, and do you have any particular wishlist items? (Casting, etc.)
Are you kidding? I basically had the entire series cast, soundtracked, and filmed in my mind from the moment CBS expressed any interest.
The reality is that as the author, my involvement in the production is very minimal. Good thing, too, as I know absolutely nothing about making a TV series. It’s better for everyone involved if I sit on the sidelines, making people coffee and cheering at inappropriate moments.
Any plans to make a cameo in the show?
What a ridiculous question. I’m going to play the lead. Obviously. The part of Teagan was made for me. Mostly because I made the part of Teagan.
Honest answer: I bloody well hope so. Even if I’m just Murder Victim No.7.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Sadly, nothing especially interesting. A lot of writing is simply about sitting down and getting it done. For me that involves researching, some vague plotting, then actually writing the damn thing. Then lots and lots of rewriting. The finished product is badass, but the actual process is boring to just about everyone except me and my wife. And frankly, I’m not sure about my wife.
I will say that I have one suspicion, which is that I don’t talk about something until it’s ready. Never have, never will.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
That’s a tough question. I’m going to pour myself a whiskey before I hit that one.
OK, back. Firstly, I don’t think The Frost Files fits anywhere. It’s not sci-fi, not really. It’s not urban fantasy. It’s a thriller, but not a traditional one. It’s its own thing. I know a lot of authors like to talk up their work as being outside traditional genres, but honestly, I don’t know where to put Teagan and her friends. Neither does anybody else – bookshops tend to put them in the sci-fi/fantasy section, but I’ve had plenty of readers refer to them as urban fantasy.
And honestly, I’m fine with that. That’s cool! I’d rather set out to write a good story that doesn’t fit in a particular box than write a ‘sci-fi’ or ‘urban fantasy’ book.
Secondly, as to my opinions of the genre — let me stick to sci-fi for a second. Right now, it’s healthier, more varied, and more creative than it has ever been. There has never been a better time to read sci-fi. As for urban fantasy, I genuinely can’t say. I don’t read urban fantasy. Mostly because a good chunk of the heroes are mopey and grim, and that annoys me.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m gearing up to research and write the fourth book in the Frost Files series. I can’t talk about it, although in this case it’s because I genuinely don’t know what it’s going to be about. I’m also building a garden path while under lockdown, although frankly, I don’t know how interested in that potential readers would be. That’s more a me thing. Even if my wife is building most of it.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I just read DEV1AT3 by Jay Kristoff, which is the second book in this cyberpunk post-apocalyptic super-powered series of his. Kristoff is one of my favourite authors of all time, and although the series isn’t the best work he’s done, it’s still really good. I’m now rereading Notes From a Small Island, by Bill Bryson, who remains one of the funniest travel writers ever.
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
It, by Stephen King. There’s not a single person it doesn’t apply to in some way. If you’re a reader, it’s an incredible story. If you’re a writer, everything you need to know about the craft is right there. I’ve read it five or six times, and I swear it gets scarier every time.
Although frankly, the weird child orgy thing in the sewers can get in the damn sea.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I lost my sense of smell when I was a kid. Permanently. I was climbing a tree, and fell out, and damaged something in my brain. To this day, I have almost no sense of smell, although my taste works fine. This becomes a problem when I have to describe the scent of something in a book. I have to rely on my wife for that.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
Not being in quarantine would be nice. Not being murdered in a nuclear war by that jackass in the White House. Maybe getting a decent summer.
Oh! And the release of RANDOM SH*T FLYING THROUGH THE AIR in July. I am continually flabbergasted by just how much people enjoy the adventures of my girl Teagan, and I think this one is going to blow their tiny minds.