Billy Purgatory – Interview with Jesse James Freeman

I meet the most interesting Authors on Twitter.  My interview with Steven Luna, a.k.a. Joe Vampire, led me to this totally brilliant man: Jesse James Freeman.  Funny, unconventional, and a bit strange (in a good way), Jesse has a style all on his own.  By the time you finish reading this interview I bet you will be smiling from ear to ear!

Here is a description of his authorship:

Author Jesse James Freeman delivers a comic book for the ages in novel form with this wild, tongue-in-cheek, imaginative creation that will suspend your disbelief. Jump in if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a unique and original fantasy tale with a sick twist….Billy Purgatory dares you to join him.

Billy Purgatory happens to be the most badass skateboarder and sweet talker any broad can meet–even at the age of ten. He is also the target of supernatural forces he can’t understand, and doesn’t want to.

Billy just can’t seem to avoid all things Monster. Growing up, he encounters Devil Birds, gypsies, Time Zombies and vampires (and not the kind you want to bring home to your Pop, either). He tries to convince himself they’re not real by joining the army, fixing cars and even going to Vegas. But whenever Billy thinks he’s put it all behind him, a monster shows up, and it’s usually in the form of the beautiful Anastasia…

“There are people.

There are stories.

The people think they shape the stories, but the reverse if often closer to the truth.

Stories shape the world. They exist independently of people, and in places quite devoid of man, there may yet be mythologies.”  ― Alan MooreSwamp Thing, Vol. 2: Love and Death

What animal best describes your personality and why?

I like to think of myself as like a river platypus, but not one of those Animal Planet ones – more like a hot river platypus. Lots of bling and with a river platypus girl under each flipper, or paw, or whatever it is that a river platypus makes it rain with. I also see myself living in a treehouse and having a crazy monkey neighbor. Everyone would expect me to live down by the river in a dam or something – but I’m kind of a game-changer like that.

Tell us your latest news?  What are your current projects?

I wrote this book called Billy Purgatory, I am the Devil Bird. It’s about a skateboard trash-talking kid who fights monsters and Time Zombies. He grows up and doesn’t really know if any of the crazy stuff he thinks happened in his past really happened or not – so he joins the army, becomes a mechanic (he probably dry walls in there somewhere – but I didn’t write that chapter) – he tries to grow up and have a normal, non-monstery life. But this vampire girl, Anastasia keeps showing up and won’t leave him alone – they kinda have the hots for each other, but neither one will admit it. So Billy figures out that all this paranormal insanity was real – and he goes out on a quest to find his mother, who’s been missing since he was a baby. He thinks that if he can find her he’ll get the answers he needs to make life make sense. I guess it’s about people’s life journey and trying to achieve that normal, picket fence life in this big crazy world. That’s what my therapist told me anyhow, and she’s pretty smart.

I just finished the sequel, Billy Purgatory and the Curse of the Satanic Five (look for it September 2012). Billy has to deal with all the choices (most of them bad ones) that he made in Book 1. He and Anastasia still have the hots for one another – they sort of still won’t admit it. It’s kinda the emotionally-unavailable vampire girlfriend love story that the world has been asking for. I read it out loud to my dog, PopPop. I’m not sure he got all the sub-text.

I was also a contributing writer in a book called Write for the Fight. It’s funny, and thought-provoking, and inspirational – I was way out of my element, but it’s me and 12 other awesome writers who usually do that kinda smart-writing stuff. Everyone who’s read the book really likes it, and we’re donating all the author proceeds to breast cancer charities – so if you buy a copy you end up doing something good for someone who really needs it. Plus you get to read a very unique and heart-warming book. So, double-word score.

When and why did you begin writing?

I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I can’t say that I always wanted to write novels, though. I made my own super-hero comics when I was a kid and went to film school and really got serious about writing with screenplays. Oh, and Dungeons & Dragons – just because there’s dice involved that still counts!

What inspired you to write Billy Purgatory?

I always come up with these really sweeping, epic-space opera, ideas. Kinda like Krull and Devil Wears Prada – you know BIG ideas. Billy Purgatory was gonna be my simple idea. It was gonna be like a two-page comic strip kinda thing. No back-story, no maps, charts, graphs, research – nada. Every week Billy would smack-talk and then hit a famous monster in the face with a skateboard. Like a Medusa or a Yeti or something like that. Turns out, that Billy Purgatory has blossomed into this expansive, multi-book universe now – plus we’re planning on graphic novels and multi-media tie ins and all kinds of that jazz. My simple idea became my most complicated idea. It’s how I roll.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Waffle. Coffee. Graph Paper. LEGOs. Note Cards. Lists. Tequila. Hall & Oates.

How did you come up with the title?

I wanted something that sounded vaguely mythological crossed with redneck. Billy Earl Purgatory seemed a little much, though. (Although, Billy’s middle name does get revealed in the sequel. I wonder if I just tricked anyone into buying it?)

Tell the truth. Do Vampires exist?

They do, but they all live on Mars. Which is why we spent all that money and sent that robot up there. Sarah Michelle Gellar is operating that thing with a Radio Shack remote control from a hidden rebel base underneath Mt. Rushmore – which is actually a volcano. You’re welcome, conspiracy theorists!

What books have most influenced your life most?

This is where I’m supposed to talk about all the great literature that I’ve consumed over the years, right? My people are mostly comic book people: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis. Toss in a little H.P. Lovecraft, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and you got it. I’ve read a lot of fancy books too.

(from Kim:  Nope, no great lit needed here, there are so many who can inspire us, I for one am inspired by stories of Bugs Bunny, his way of escaping every time is genius!)

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I’m inspired by what of a lot of the up-and-comers and my friends are working on right now: Steven Luna’s “Joe Vampire”, Marni Mann’s “Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales” & “Scars from a Memoir”, Shay West’s “The Chosen”, Robert Kroese’s “Mercury” series. There’s so much good stuff out there right now. It’s a good time to have your Kindle fully charged.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, I do. I’ve always had “the day job” to go along with it – but that’s just something I have to do. Writing can be tough – it’s like you have two full-time jobs. Plus, you have to balance family and real life stuff in there (thank the gods I don’t have a life). If I can say anything serious about this, if you live with/are in love with/related to a writer and said writer is really serious about their craft, it’s NOT a hobby. It’s who they are. We can’t turn it off. That off-switch is direct wired to their soul.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I have no concept where a comma is supposed to go. You toss a semi-colon in there and I’m just lost. Editors everywhere, bless your hearts.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write it down! “I have this idea for a story but I don’t know how to write a novel/short story/movie script.” That’s not an excuse. Write the most awful move script imaginable. Write the crappiest short story that has ever been scratched onto paper. Type the most terrible, insane, poorly-plotted, wooden-dialogue crap until your fingers start to bleed. Get so high off liquid paper you destroy a whole box of Crunch’n Munch.

You are making art. It might be shitty art at first, but it’s still art. You will never learn how to write, paint, draw, sculpt, build a model of the Brady Bunch’s house out of Popsicle sticks unless you do, and you do over and over, and you do consistently.

I love Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. It’s worth a Google if you ever wanna feel inspired. This is my favorite part and it sums up my philosophy perfectly and completely: see here

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love you completely and non-conditionally.

What would I find in the top drawer of your dresser?

Two unused Lava Lamps and a Texas Star belt-buckle.

How would you describe your life as a “headline” for a newspaper?

Panic In Texas: Bottle Empty!

James’ recent “outline” Cool!

What is your writing routine?

I don’t write consistently. I don’t have a certain time, without fail, where I can be found at a computer typing. I don’t know if that makes me a bad writer – some would say it does and they might not be wrong. I have creative bursts though. I can say that I am consistently thinking about story constantly. I write a lot in my head and then when I have things all worked out that’s when I hit the keys – and I hit them hard. I make pretty insane outlines – I’m definitely a plotter – but I can pants with the best of ’em.

What is your pet-peeve?


What was your favorite childhood game or toy?

Star Wars is what captured my imagination as a kid. Anything related to that – or comic books – most of that stuff I still have too. I’m definitely a geek. I hear that’s considered sexy nowadays – so, I got that going for me.

How did the chicken really get across the road?

Chicken Diablo, little Billy. They used to fight him in the old country.” Yalos’s words were always measured and thick. Billy liked to hear the old dude talk. “Like, chicken fighting chicken?” “No,” corrected Yalos, “Rooster fighting men.” “Badass.” Billy was impressed and that rarely happened when an explosion wasn’t part of the mix. “He would drink the mezcal and he fight all the men in the village,” Yalos began his yarn. “He beat them all too. Then Devil Bird would make sweet love to all their ladies. Finally, they banish him.” “Couldn’t he just go back and live with the other chickens?” “No, he was much too big by then,” continued Yalos. “And much too drunk.”

What did he do then?”

He fight bears, alligators, horse, some tigers…”

He always won?” Billy was wide-eyed. Yalos nodded. “Oh yes. He won against them all, every creature just as fast as Adam could name them in the Garden.” Billy let Yalos go on because this was getting good. “The Gates of Hell opened for him then, and the bird walked in to fight the Devil. People say he was so angry and drunk because the Devil stole his wife. The bird and el Diablo fought for many years, so much fighting that it began to wreck the world above. The fire pits roared and made the volcanoes. Demons cheered and their breath caused tornadoes. The bird’s sweat flew off his feathers and then we got the typhoon.” Billy jumped up and stood on his board for emphasis. “That chicken beat the Devil?” “You never win against the Devil on his own turf. The Devil was so impressed at how he had fought though that he lent him his name. This is why they call him now The Devil Bird.”

-Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird

How can we purchase your book?

 Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes

I have a Special Collector’s version that I’ll sell you. It’s all in Crayon. It’s pretty expensive though.

Billy Purgatory is Jesse James Freeman’s first novel. He’s also studied psychology and film and scripted comics. When he’s not writing books, Jesse James trains falcons to kill Leprechaun Robots, and will continue to do so until the world is relatively safe.

Jesse James recently contributed 4 essays to the book Write for the Fight: A Collection of Seasonal Essays, co-authored by Tess Hardwick (Riversong) and Tracey Hansen. All author proceeds will be donated to charities engaged in the fight against breast cancer. 

Jesse James is currently working on Billy Purgatory and the Curse of the Satanic Five, MythCop, Vehemently Jones, Blood-Love, R. Cane, and Witches vs Robots.

Stalking Links 

** Tumblr  **  Facebook  ** Goodreads ** WordPress **

** Be friends with Billy Purgatory on FB  **

 **  Twitter (I’m on there a lot, and I can’t make any promises that you won’t get pulled into some insane-fuck conversation)

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for your time for posting “Billy Purgatory
    – Interview with Jesse James Freeman | Muse In The Valley ©”.

    I actuallymay certainly end up being coming back for
    more reading through and commenting here soon enough. Thanks, Brandi

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