Thursday 19 July 2012


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Darren Jacobs. I was born in Yorkshire, England, but I now live in Hollywood, USA. I’ve been living here for just over a year, and I love living in the sunshine.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
This is my first novel that I co-wrote with my best mate from back home, and I trained as a performer. I studied in London and New York on scholorships, and was lucky enough to travel the world as an actor working with fantastic directors and with great companies such as Disney, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. I have always had an expressive streak running through me, and writing was a great way for me to still be artistic when I was doing long runs of shows. Sometimes I would be doing the same show eight times a week for a year, so going home after the show and writing would keep my creative side in check.

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I don’t. I consider myself as someone who has co-written a book, and I will not consider myself a full writer until I have a string of books. I don’t think you should claim to be a true ‘writer’ just because of the success with one hit book either, I think it’s all about consistency and experience.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
YEAH!!!!! Try eight years! It was super difficult. We kept getting the notice of the big agents who asked for more chapters and the manuscript, who would then reply saying that they thought that it was wonderful, but could not go further with it as it was not about wizards, young spies, or more recently, sexually frustrated vampires J. Then when we finally signed with a great (and very famous) agent, who dropped us as soon as the economy went under – our concept was too risky to gamble on. Until recently, when the trend for YA dystopian literature became popular, no one would even give it a look. It was sitting on ice for nearly four years. But in that time we worked on other projects that are now on the back burner too…

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Anumal Empire: Lazarball
Think Thundercats meets Planet of the Apes, with elements of Tron, but with fast paced writing and a unique plot.

BLURB from Goodreads
The race of man is extinct…
A new breed has risen...
Anumalkind shall inherit the Earth...

After merging human and animal DNA together, the Anumal race turned against their creators…and wiped them out. 

Now, millennia later, an ancient pact between warring clans has been broken. Dark powers are surfacing, threatening the survival of this hybrid race…and the fate of the Anumal species lies in the paws of a single lion…Clinton Narfell.

Hailing from the desert village of Wooburn, Clinton’s meager life is catapulted out of control the day he steals food to feed his younger brother. As an extraordinary chain of events begins to unfold, Clinton is forced to use skill and cunning to keep himself alive…and is hurtled towards a destiny he did not realize he was born to fulfil…

Facing savage scavengers, vicious anumal clans, and worse, Clinton soon realizes that power does not come from books or spells, but from something far deeper within us all…

Available at

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
We are just about to rewrite book two of the Anumal Empire series (which will be seven books in total.) We have to change a lot of it as we adapted so much structurally in the first book: Lazarball. We also have a couple more series that have all been developed, but need writing. The ideas, concept artwork, plots etc have all been finished…we just need to sit down and do it.

What genre would you place your books into?
Fantasy…with elements of sci-fi. Plus it’s post-apocalyptic and dystopian, and covers a wide range of demographics too… I know it sounds weird, but you would understand if you read the book. In short, it is accessible to many readers, not just YA adult readers either. We had lots of test readers from many demographics, and the forty year-olds and above loved it just as much as the teens…which we were worried might not happen.

Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I can honestly say no…and the reason for that is that we have some GREAT, diverse characters in the book. We were very honest with the characters as we were worried that the fantastical element of the book might make the ‘people’ in the novel unbelievable. What I mean is that in the story humans mixed their DNA with animals and then were wiped out by their creations. Now the ‘Anumals’ are the dominant species, and humans just a dirty word. This meant that we had to make these hybrids as believable as possible, especially as we add mysticism and hi-tech machines into the mix too.  Plus we have some really bad-ass characters too.

If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
Hagen, or Clinton, or Wade, or Dallas, or Arkie…wow, that is a hard question…

How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
While at school I usually received an ‘A’ or ‘A+’ for my creative writing, but when I was at college I also had to study journalism and writing as part of my degree. My professor, Alastair Macaulay, is now the head theatre critic for the New York Times and he urged me to become a critic after grading one of my essays. It was about the links between dance, Disney movies, nature, classical music and their juxtaposition, centering on the movie ‘Fantasia’. He said he had never read anything like it…I thought he was a loon for thinking that…We became good friends.

Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
We wanted to write something that would not have the typical clich├ęs. We wanted something past paced and exciting that would be fresh and new…not the typical boy finds ring/sword/amulet and is plunged into chaos. I can only speak for my inspirations, which were Garth Nix (Abhorsen Trilogy), Stephen King (Dark Tower), The Island of Doctor Moreau, Thundercats, Avatar – The Last Airbender, and Naruto. I think that you will see homage to these influences within the book.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
Yeah, anyone with a pulse, a pair of eyes, and the spare time. We wanted as much feedback as possible as we did not have the luxury of a string of novels or a famous name behind us. This meant we had to have a book that was the best it could possibly be, and stood out against what is becoming a flood of recently released eBooks.

Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Of course! I would not expect the reviewer to gamble their money on two unknown writers when ultimately the writers might be gaining from the experience…plus we are secretly confident that the reviewer will like it and thank us after. 

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, maybe I won’t as the time goes by, but now it is very important to read the feedback and take note. Unfortunately, we got a 1* on Amazon simply because the reviewer (who had not even read the book) did not believe the reviews were real. This really upset me as we worked hard to get some great feedback. I wish I had the guy’s email and I would send him a free copy of the book to then decide whether he thought his actions were right!!! So if you are out there…get in touch!

What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
The Selkie Reads Stories said that it was one of the best fantasy books she had ever read. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!!!!! But we have also been compared to Harry Potter, LOTR, David Eddings etc… which I obviously laughed derisively at…but am secretly very proud of.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Of course not. If a book is not to someone’s taste then that is not the writer’s fault, but if the book is written badly…then unfortunately it is. I might unclog a sink, but that does not make me a plumber…and it’s the same with writing. Some lucky people are naturally adept, but for some it comes with time and experience…and listening to reviews and critiques will only help the process.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
This was a really exciting process for us. David Ayres’s (the co-writer) cousin is a graphic designer called Ben Wilkinson ( who really wanted to be a part of the project. We told him about the world, what colours and textures we wanted, and let him come up with different designs for the logo. Once we finally decided on a logo, he showed us what he thought we could use as a cover…and we LOVED it immediately. I think he has done a great job. The rusty metal sheets shows how the world is industrial, but is worn down and rough, and the blood splatter shows the danger and tension.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I like to listen to music when I write. Just in the background. It has to be non-lyrical. I listen to classical or film soundtracks. In the last section of the book I put TRON LEGACY on continuous play to help me motivate the action and danger in the scene. I think it helped.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst  book to movie transfer?
I think many books transfer into movies well…it’s just whether the movie studio, director, editor, actors, etc. etc. allows the process to happen. Ultimately a movie is not the sum of the actors, or director alone. I wish that the studios would remember that it is the sum of ALL parts. Plus I don’t like the method of buying the manuscript off of the writer and then not allowing them to have any input in the adaption. It’s crazy if you ask me. You are getting knowledge first hand from the person who made the book a success…why not get them on board to give advice? 
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
‘Empire in Black and Gold’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I’m really enjoying it. It is a paperback from the local library. I have been using the library more in LA as I promised myself I would not buy any books until I am more stable in the US. I simply cannot cart around suitcases full of books…which would easily happen if I had my way. My old room in my Mum’s house in the UK is literally like a library.

Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
I hope so, because if not they are losing out on so much. David and I had the same English teacher at school called Mr. Oakley. He was the most amazing teacher ever. What an inspiration. We dedicated the book to him because he really did make us imagine, and read, and play and do all the creative things kids should do. I wish every teacher were like him. I really do think we were lucky.

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
When I was ten I read Ursula LeGuin’s Wizard of Earthsea. WOW. I told Mr. Oakley that I was reading it. He asked me what I thought, as it was intended for an older audience, and when I said I loved it he recommended more authors to read. That was it. I was hooked.

Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
The Rose of the Prophet series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Loved, loved, loved it. Genies, angels, magicians, Gods, monsters…just amazing. Could not read the trilogy quick enough.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It is the only book I have not finished. I did not like the style or the subject matter, and the constant stream of unending consciousness that ultimately is fruitless. Please let me know if you know more books like this and I will steer well clear!!!

If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Alexandre Dumas, Jacqueline Susann, and T.S. Eliot. What a mixture that would be!

Where can readers follow you?

Twitter:          @darrenjcbs

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! Both questions and answers were so unique. I never thought of having Alexander Dumas to dinner, but, whoa...