The year was 2008. I was already a huge fan of the (then) Sci-Fi Channel’s hit series Ghost Hunters, but I never bothered to watch a little known reality series that had premiered the year before that came on directly after. A show dubiously entitled “Destination Truth.” I’m not sure why I never watched it. But as I just stated, the title was so obscure, I just had no idea what it was about and my time was too valuable to waste watching another boring reality show. Besides, I was too busy searching for a muse that would usher into reality my dream of becoming a professional writer. Too busy seeking an idea for my first completed novel. Sure, I had started writing two books already…but like so many aspiring writers, I hadn’t quite managed to finish them. Just didn’t have the motivation to do so. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to keep trying. Didn’t mean I was going to one day find the perfect subject that would propel me forward into literary stardom!
Then, it happened. It was on a day I was home from work. I was skimming the channels until it landed on something that caught my eye. A strange greenish-hued night vision shot of a team investigating something. I glanced at the corner of my TV to see the slightly transparent Saturn logo which told me I was watching the Sci-Fi Channel. So what was I watching? Ghost Hunters? I didn’t think so. For starters, there was no Jason Hawes or Grant Wilson. Instead, there was this ruggedly handsome, square-jawed wisecracking dude who appeared to be the host. Second, they were outside. From the looks of it, they were in some kind of jungle. Wait. The Ghost Hunters had never done an investigation in a jungle before had they? Then, I heard a strange scream emanating from the TV. Some kind of wild beast calling out in the jungle which excited this particular team of investigators. They began running frantically in the direction of the strange cry. Wait a minute. Ghosts don’t make noises like that! Why on earth would they be excited about some weird animal call? My eyes were locked on the screen…watching as they hacked their way through the jungle with a machete, running as fast as they could. One of them slipped in some mud, crashing to the forest floor. The team member was helped to her feet and the running resumed full-throttle. I watched in rapt captivation. What on earth was I watching? I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the screen. The host curses when he realizes his prey has escaped, then lets loose with a humorous one-liner. I bust out with a guffaw. This dude’s funny! After several more minutes, the show breaks for a commercial and I see the shows title bumper…DESTINATION TRUTH! When the commercial is over, I quickly discern the nature of the show…this team doesn’t investigate ghosts. They hunt monsters! And from that moment on, I was hooked. I watched it religiously. Ghost Hunters quickly took a back seat and my interests quickly turned to cryptozoology, monsters, and legends. I became a true fan.
Some of you know the story from this point forward. Many of you might not. I became such a fan that I wanted to eat, breathe, and sleep cryptozoology. Legend Tripping. Monsters. I was not only an aspiring writer, I was an avid reader too. So one day, I got the brilliant notion that as awesome as this stuff was, surely some wonderfully clever (much more clever than I!) author had taken to writing an adventure novel or two with this type of theme. (FYI, at this time, indie publishing was still relatively new and for me, completely an alien concept.) I went to my local Barnes and Noble in search of the ultimate monster hunting adventure novel…and came up empty. Completely and utterly disappointed in the selection. Though there were a few that caught my eye, none really seemed to capture the feel and essence of the show I loved so much. Then, I was hit with another notion: “Dude! If the book doesn’t exist,” I told myself, “then you’re just going to have to write it yourself.”
|My very first cover attempt. My hand. My gun.|
Finally finding that muse I’d been searching for, I set out to write an adventure novel inspired by my favorite TV show, DESTINATION TRUTH and came up with The ENIGMA Directive. And so, on April 9, 2009, the man who hates his given name, Dr. Obadiah “Call me Jack” Jackson was born. Today is his fifth birthday and so, I thought I’d celebrate a little. I’d regale you with a few tales of his adventures. I’d share with you a few little known facts. And maybe, if you’re new to my writing, share with you the bare bones about this adventurous non-hero I’ve brewed up in my head.
As the creator, Jack is rather interesting in many ways as far as how he evolved. First of all, you should know this…when I first wrote PRIMAL THIRST (the first book in The ENIGMA Directive series), I was a little uncertain about the direction my writing career would take. At this time, the plan was to write exclusively Christian fiction (as I am, unapologetically, a Christian writer). So, of all my books, PRIMAL THIRST is probably my most explicitly Christian novel to date. Afterwards, I realized I could still uphold my Christian values and write more mainstream fiction by keeping my books relatively clean and free of cussing, sex, and graphic violence (most of the violence in my books is either implied or relatively far-fetched). But it’s important to keep in mind that Jack was born during this time of confusion as to what direction my writing would take.
|The official first cover|
The second thing you should know about Jack is that he’s really an amalgam of several different people (both real and fictional). I guess Jack’s foundation, first and foremost, had to come from the host of Destination Truth, Josh Gates (after all, it was his show that inspired the books). From there, I picked qualities and characteristics from various characters and actors. Bruce Campbell (particularly his Ash character from the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness movies) was the biggie. Next was probably Kurt Russell’s character from Big Trouble in Little China, Jack Burton. Are you seeing a theme here? You betcha! As I began constructing the person who would one day become Obadiah Jackson, I did so with the major idea that he would be just a regular Joe. A normal guy caught in extraordinary circumstances. He wouldn’t be some superhero. He wouldn’t always do or say the perfect (or even correct) thing. He’d mess up. He’d trip over his shoestrings. He’d be a insensitive and self-centered…and at times, he’d be downright selfish. And to ensure that Jack would be these things, I added one more person into the mix…one more set of flaws, insecurities and idiosyncrasies. I added myself. Or rather, my own worst characteristics. My own short-comings and foibles. That’s right. In those darkest times…when Jack is doing the stupidest thing you could possibly imagine him doing…he’s behaving precisely the way I would in that same situation.
And personally, I think his character is all the more interesting for it. Or at least, I hope so.
The third thing I hope you discover about Jack is this: He’s evolving. Or at least, I hope he is. I have intentionally set him on a course in each book that will force him to grow as a character. Naturally, I don’t want him to change too much. Don’t want his snarkiness to ever go away. Never want him to perfect his craft of adventuring. I love it when he scrapes his knee. I thrill when he comically tumbles down a hill while being chased by something that wants nothing more than to eat his face off. I laugh hysterically when he says something completely inappropriate or downright rude. But at the same time, a person who doesn’t grow with life experiences is either an idiot or dead. And so far, Jack is neither of those things. He’s smart. He’s witty. He’s very much alive. And therefore, he will change and grow. He will hurt and doubt himself. And most importantly, I hope he will always surprise you!
But I don’t want him to grow up too fast! He’s only 5 years old after all. Still just a kid. A baby, really. There’s so much growing left for him to do. I want him to take his time in growing up.
|Newer covers by Christian Guldager|
Now, for those who are new to the party, let me share a little about Jack and the super-secret government agency he’s worked for called ENIGMA. You see, Jack has been hunting monsters since he was a teenager back in Kentucky. While still in middle school, he befriended a little computer geek named Randy Cunningham. After saving Randy from a bad situation with one of his teachers, they became fast friends…and eventually, they started hunting cryptids together for fun. Jack later went onto college, earning a Ph.D. in biology. Randy studied in various places, but never graduated college. But his skills with computers and electronic equipment flourished and soon, he found himself as Jack’s go-to electronic tech manager for all his expeditions. Along the way, Jack and Randy teamed up with lots of people over the years in their investigations until one time, while hunting a very strange legendary creature in Siberia, they met a beautiful doctor named Vera. From that point on, the three basically were like the three musketeers of monster hunting.
Enter Chapter Two of PRIMAL THIRST. The trio are hunting a strange gnome-like creature in the Amazon when they are approached by a larger-than-life senator who needs Jack and his team to go to Malaysia to rescue his missionary daughter who is being hunted by blood-thirsty creatures known as the Jenglot. Reluctantly, they agree and it is through this investigation that Jack is introduced by a top secret organization that was started by President Richard Nixon after a string of bizarre monster sightings in 1969. The organization became known as EN.I.G.M.A, or the ENtity Identification and Global Management Agency. Their mission: to track down cryptids from all over the world and assess their dangers to the population at large. Through the years, this mission has changed somewhat (depending on administration) and it’s not always entirely on the up-and-up…which drives Jack batty.
|That’s artist Christian Guldager’s altered face there!|
So far, there are three full-length novels in this series: PRIMAL THIRST, SIRENS’ SONG, and DEVIL’S CHILD. There’s also a short story prequel called FREAKSHOW. Another short story (that teams Jack up with his Kentucky cousin from Boone Creek, Ezekiel Crane) is due out later this year and is called THE WETIKO TERROR.
A few have been asking about the next book. After all, after the way Devil’s Child ended (no spoilers here!), what on earth happens next?! How can I leave people hanging like that? What’s going to happen to Jack now? To ENIGMA? What does Clarence Templeton, the organization ARC, and Freakshow have to do with what’s going on? Argh! How can I be so insensitive as to let you guys wait so long for the next book?! 🙂 Have no fear. I AM going to be busy this year working on the Kringle Chronicles first book, THE CROWN OF NANDUR. After that, I also have to finish the third in the Dark Hollows Mystery trilogy and co-write a thriller with Kane Gilmour…but the fourth ENIGMA Directive book is on the way. It’s being plotted and outlined even as I work on these other projects and to prove it, I’ll reveal its title to you now: GREMLINS’ RUN.
So have no fear! Even though we’re celebrating Jack’s fifth birthday today, April 9, 2014, I plan on having Jack around for years to come. He WILL be returning. I promise. And he’ll be getting the answers to some of his most troubling questions soon enough. I hope you’ll join him in his journey for as long as he continues his adventures.
So what’s this about no cake, you may be asking? No cake? For a birthday? Well, nope. I reckon it’d be kind of hard cutting slices for everyone who reads this blog, now wouldn’t it? But as promised, there are presents a-plenty! I want to celebrate Jack’s birthday in a VERY special way today and here’s how we’re going to do it: I’m going to give away a Kindle Paperwhite to one lucky winner! Runner-ups will receive an ENIGMA Directive coffee mug, a 24×18 inch full color poster of PRIMAL THIRST’s cover, or a special PRIMAL THIRST mouse pad (or neoprene tablet carrying case).
Here’s all you have to do. Share a link to this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, or just someone at your office/workplace. Then, tell me you did (we’re on the honor system here). Then, on MY actual birthday (April 14), I’ll randomly select four winners. Prizes will be distributed randomly as well (and chosen by a completely unbiased party…a co-worker at my “day job”). Winner #1 will win the Kindle Paperwhite. Winner #2 will receive the mug. Winner #3 will receive the poster. And winner #4 will receive their choice of a mouse pad or tablet carrying case. But remember…you have to comment below in order to participate. Just share this blog post, then comment that you did so…and you’re automatically entered to win! If you’re chosen, I’ll reply to your comment and ask you to email me with your information.
So, let’s celebrate Jack’s birthday! Share away! And good luck to you!
For those interested in The ENIGMA Directive books (or any of my others), here’s a link to my Amazon author page. Take a look and happy reading!!!