Home > Fandom > And Now an Interview with J.C. Hutchins

And Now an Interview with J.C. Hutchins

(The audio of this interview is available at the bottom of this post!)

JR: Welcome to the experience that is Jim – Yes, THAT Jim, the blog that is constantly stumbling over itself trying to figure out what it is.

JCH: I’m just glad I actually know who “that Jim” actually is now!

JR: I’m still figuring it out, really! (laughs) So, first off, I guess for anyone who might not be fully familiar, tell us a bit about the whole 7th Son thing.

JCH: Sure!  I started writing 7th Son way back in 2002.  I began writing a book that I knew was going to be big.  I’m highly influenced by Stephen King – I love the guy and I love his work – and my favorite novel of his is The Stand. That’s not to say that he hasn’t written great books since then, but that’s one of the books that I really love because the stakes are pretty much at their highest in a book like that.  I love high stakes fiction.

JR: Oh yeah!

JCH: And, so I kind of set out to write a story that kind of rivaled his The Stand in length and scope the best I could.  And, you know, have the whole end of the world kind of thing hanging in the balance with my story as well.  And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.  And I finished writing a 1200 page manuscript in 2004, so it took me two years.  Actually it was longer than that, but I then spent the next year, 2005, editing it down to 1200 pages and then sending it out to literary agents because this is how the publishing business works.  You can’t really submit your manuscripts to publishers and editors if you are a nobody.  You need a champion.  You need a middle man.  You need an agent.

JR: Oh yeah.

JCH: And so that’s what I did.  And I received universal rejections because the publishing industry – deservedly so – would not make an exception for a nobody author who had written a 1200 page book that couldn’t be sold.  Because of its length alone.  (chuckles)  So I was kind of heartbroken but during that time I was also listening to podcasting and came across the work of Scott Sigler, who was one of the very first podcast novelists, and he was releasing his unpublished manuscript online in free, audio podcast format, serialized week to week.  And by the end of 2005 I was like, “Well, you know, if I can’t sell this book I might as well share it.”  And that’s when I started recording 7th Son and releasing it on the internet.  The book is a high-tech thriller that takes place in present day and it’s about human cloning, genetics, nature vs nurture, the nature of human identity and a villain apparently hell-bent on global chaos and destruction.

JR: Excellent!  (laughs)  If I may briefly quote here from one of the gentlemen on the back, from Patrick Lussier, “Breakneck storytelling at its absolute best.  Characters – dark, duplicitous, and fascinating – stalk through a rich techscape that’s so real, so plausible, it compels and haunts.”  The “techscape” word really is something I latched onto in my little hindbrain.  What did you do as far as sculpting the world – how did you decide you wanted to start to create that “techscape” as they’re calling it?

JCH: Yeah!  Well, first off, I mean like that is the coolest quote in the world, from Patrick Lussier, one of the coolest guys.  And I have the good fortune of saying I personally know him and have personally met him.  He’s the director of My Bloody Valentine 3-D, White Noise 2, Dracula 2000 – I mean some of my favorite genre pictures he’s done –  edited the Scream trilogy – OMG!  The guy’s just freaking amazing and the nicest man you’d ever meet!  Anyway, he picked up on that – you’ve picked up on that, and that’s something I certainly wanted to build into the 7th Son universe – was that I wanted to make the surface of the 7th Son universe as absolutely pedestrian and normal and as well-rooted in reality as WE are rooted in reality.  But also kind of build just beneath the surface a 60 (at LEAST 60) year legacy of conspiracy theories and clandestine technologies and government arrangements with other countries and stuff that simply is not publicly available and CANNOT be publicly available because it is protected under a super-secret – beyond top secret – classification called Code Phantom.  In the world of 7th Son, only ten people on the planet have access to what is called Code Phantom Clearance and the kind of super secrets that fall under that security clearance.  And really what all this was is I wanted to build a plausible history and mythology that could support the core conceit of my novel, which was not only that human cloning exists but that it has existed for at least 15 years and that in addition to that the ability to record human memories – which is, to me, the key ingredient in a great human cloning story – that that has also existed for 15 years.  And how could a government create a program like that?  And how could it fund it?  And how could that exist without people knowing about it?  And who would want that technology?  And who would be willing to do anything to obtain that technology?  All that stuff.  And that’s kind of like the superstructure or the foundation of this building all kind of funneling up to the core premise which is human cloning isn’t near – it’s already here! (laughs)

JR: Ah, yes!  And we actually heard that quote – we saw that quote in that wonderful promotion that you did where you “hacked” everybody’s blogs.

JCH: Yeah!  That was great!

JR: This very one that people may be staring at, at the moment, included (where I got to do my slightly hamfisted Kilroy2.0 impersonation).  That’s one of the really most innovative things, I think, also about this whole thing – is the way that you’re promoting it.  And that is not just through podcastery but also through this various-blog-hacking stuff.  And the music as well!

JCH: Yeah!

JR: Actually, something that I thought was just a brilliant idea was when you took music written by one of the characters in the book.  Essentially, you decided to put out songs – actual MP3 files of songs that this guy, John Smith, had written.  And I’m just curious – how did you come up with that?

JCH: It just popped in my head!  I like to play “What If?”  It all starts with, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”  And that’s how all of my fiction starts and that’s how all of my promotion ideas start.  And a lot of my promotion is a form of storytelling in its own way.  There’s usually obviously a participatory element, but whenever I can build a mythology into what we’re doing as a community to support 7th Son, I do it.  For instance, the 7th Son Ministry of Propaganda, which is basically an online street team.  I mean, at the beating heart of it, it’s a street team, and there’s nothing really unusual about that.  That’s been going on for years.  But what I did was that the Ministry of Propaganda is being led by a Russian woman named Natasha who is imperious and doesn’t ask you for your help, she COMMANDS you to help!  And so, kind of building a mythology around Natasha, I think, helps people playfully buy into this fake history and have more fun with the experience!  And that’s really what this is all about.  It’s that, yes, I would LOVE if you supported 7th Son by spreading the word, but if it’s a fun experience then you’re 1000 times more likely to do it.

JR: Oh yeah.  And I’ve got to say that I think your stuff has the most awesome extras I’ve ever seen of any author, pretty much!

JCH: Well, you know, in kind of getting it back into the John Smith songs, one of the things I did was I was just kind of sitting there, and *POOF!*  Wouldn’t it be cool if John Smith actually recorded and released some of the song titles that he mentions in 7th Son: Descent?  And these titles are actually mentioned in the text of the book, which was written years and years ago.  And I thought, “Well, yeah, that would be cool.  What would I need to do to do that?”  Well, I’d need to find a musician to collaborate with who could take my notes about the ideas that I had for these song titles and some mythology and history about John Smith and have him write and perform the songs.  And that’s exactly what I did.  I reached out to a dear friend, Matthew Wayne Selznick, who is also a podcast novelist.  Fantastic lyricist and performer, period!  I’ve heard him play acoustic Folk live and it was SO freaking cool!

JR: Yeah, it’s really good stuff!

JCH: Yeah!  And that’s kind of what I did.  And so the whole kind of goal was to, again, create art and create an experience that not only entertains the listener but also kind of draws them into the 7th Son world in an unconventional way.  In a way that enhances their pre-existing knowledge of the book if they’ve already read the book or informs them on what to kind of experience as John as a character if they purchase and read the book.  And it’s also kind of cool because you can actually compare the song list of the EP we recorded and the names of the songs in the book and be able to say, “I have actually listened to that song!”  And how cool is that?

JR: Oh, that’s great.

JCH: I’m releasing those songs on my web site in weekly installments.

JR: Yeah and actually, if you don’t mind, I’d like to – after this interview – play one of those songs.  I see we’re almost out of time, here, so I just wanted to go ahead and ask the last question, which I’ve actually shamelessly stolen from another podcast called The Game’s the Thing, because they do awesome work.  And that question is what one fact about you might your fans not know?

JCH: My favorite piece of apparel – that I wear regularly – is my robot boxers.

JR: Ooh! (laughs) So, actual boxers with robots on them?

JCH: Robots.  Robots are awesome.

JR: Robots.

JCH: Robots are awesome.  And whenever I wear these boxers I feel twice as awesome as I would on my best day.

JR: Well, they ARE our future masters so it is good to make sure we pay the proper obeisance to them.

JCH: That’s right!  You know, I’m always smelling emerging trends and I figured I’d get on this train pretty quick.

JR: Well, that’s great! (chuckles) J.C. Hutchins, thank you very much for coming and talking about this.  I really appreciate it!

JCH: Jim, it was my pleasure.  Thank you so much!

Song – Winter Love by John Smith
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