Jason Krumbine is the author behind the pulse pounding, wisecracking Alex Cheradon Series, the dead soul hunting Grym Brothers Series (including Two and a Half Dead Men, The Dead Couple and Better Off Dead), and the tongue-in-cheek paranormal romance “A Graveyard Romance.”
You can also email him at email@example.com.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Jason. Can you tell us what your latest book, Better Off Dead, is all about?
Better Off Dead is the third book in the Grym Brothers series, preceded by Two and a Half Dead Men and The Dead Couple. It’s the halfway point in the series and I took the opportunity to break formula a bit. In the previous books the brothers dealt specifically with grabbing renegade dead souls. But with Better Off Dead, I wanted to focus on the macro-story of the series a bit and play around with bringing the problems to the brothers, rather than the brothers going to the problems.
Thane and Mort Grym are brothers who have inherited the family business, which happens to be grim reaping. Thane is the elder of the two and the more responsible one. He grew up working with their father and developed a healthy respect and love for helping the departed and those they leave behind.
Mort is a screw-up. He has an addictive personality that has led him astray into gambling and empty, meaningless sex with faceless, nameless women. He stumbles through life by the skin of his teeth and relies, subconsciously, on his brother bailing him out when the going gets tough.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
For the most part my characters spring from my own imagination. I do have a younger brother, so I am familiar with the particulars of a brotherly relationship, but Thane and Mort owe more to my fertile imagination than they do any real people.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
I used to be a by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy. Up until Two and a Half Dead Men I just sat down with my notepad and pen(I used to also write all my first drafts by hand), took my idea and ran with it. Sometimes I would have the last page written, but beyond that I wrote the book as it came to me.
When I started Two and a Half Dead Men my wife and I decided that writing was going to be my full time job so we worked out a publishing plan with specific deadlines. To meet those deadlines I had to start outlining my books beforehand.
On the upside, by outlining I don’t run into as many plot problems, such as getting to the end of the book and having no answer to who the bad guy was or how everything tied together(that happened twice, once with Fruitbasket from Hell and then again with the sequel A is for Amnesia, B is for Bullet. Nothing like forgetting to add the bad guy to the book. Awkward…). But nothing beats the exhilarating rush of just figuring out the book on the go. Outlining kind of makes it feel like a “real job” because it actually involves working beforehand. But I can’t argue with the results.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
Thane and Mort are hanging out at their favorite bar making a bet as whether or not Mort is going to sleep with a girl now that she knows he collects stuffed penguins.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
The Overnight Tomb is a dirty bar located downtown under a parking garage for the mall across the street. It’s filled with a steady cloud of smoke and it smells like a dog rolled around in a tub of diseased beer.
It’s the Grym brother’s favorite bar.
Thane and Mort are seated in a booth along the back. There’s a bowl of cashews between them and foamy cups of beer in front of them. Thane’s got a red book on the table next to him. Mort has his penguin in a tuxedo on his side of the table.
“I can’t believe you’re sitting him out in the open,” Thane points to the penguin.
“It’d be rude to leave him in the car,” Mort says.
“That’s not what I meant,” Thane replies. “Although, it doesn’t help your situation, either.”
“I’m not ashamed of him,” Mort says.
“You should be,” Thane replies. “It’s weird that a grown man goes around collecting stuffed penguins.”
Mort smiles. “I’ll make you a bet.”
“Oh, sure, I’ll gamble with you,” Thane says. “Nothing like encouraging all of your vices at once.”
Mort taps the table. “I’m gonna nail the girl at the toy store.”
Mort nods his head. “Oh, yeah.”
“After she saw you buy that,” Thane points to the penguin.
“His name is Peter,” Mort says.
“Why would you name it?”
Mort shrugs. “Why wouldn’t you?”
Thane shakes his head.
“Tell you what,” Mort says. “Not only will I nail her-”
“Please stop using that word,” Thane interrupts. “She’s not a piece of wood.”
“-I’ll even take photos to prove that I nailed her,” Mort offers.
“Wow, you’re such a gentlemanly gambler.”
“What do you say? Fifty bucks?”
Thane frowns, thinking it over. “There’s no way you’ll make it happen. You’ve totally emasculated yourself in front of her.”
“I have no idea what ‘emasculated’ means, but I’ve got this in the bag,” Mort holds his hand across the table.
Thane shrugs. “Fine. What the hell, I can use an extra fifty bucks.”
They shake on it.
“Now,” Mort says, grabbing a handful of nuts from the bowl, “please tell me what the hell happened at Lori’s house.
“I explained it to you, like, six times in the car,” Thane replies. “Six times.”
Thank you so much for this interview, Jason. We wish you much success!