Jason Arnopp is the author of the Orbit Books novel The Last Days Of Jack Sparks, which has been described as “a magnificent millennial nightmare” (Alan Moore), “scarier than watching The Exorcist in an abandoned asylum” (Sarah Lotz) and “The Omen for the social media age” (Christopher Brookmyre). Director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code) optioned the film rights shortly after the book’s 2016 release.
Arnopp co-wrote the official behind-the-scenes book Inside Black Mirror with Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones. Arnopp previously wrote and executive-produced the Lionsgate feature film Stormhouse and script-edited the Peter Mullan feature The Man Inside. He has also written for the worlds of Doctor Who (BBC), The Sarah Jane Adventures (BBC) and Friday The 13th (New Line Cinema).
In his past life as a rock journalist, he interviewed the likes of Bon Jovi, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne and Guns N’ Roses. He was once surrounded by angry guards holding semi-automatic weapons at The Vatican. His Slipknot biography, Slipknot: Inside The Sickness, Behind The Masks, was released in 2001 and is now available as a Kindle Edition. Arnopp has also written a guide to journalistic interviewing, entitled How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else, which is also out on Kindle.
Arnopp’s latest non-fiction book is From The Front Lines Of Rock. Available in the Kindle Store now, it gathers 30 of his favourite interviews he wrote as a rock journalist, with the likes of Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Korn, Kiss, Faith No More, Garbage, Nine Inch Nails and Green Day.
Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?
Hello! Ghoster is about a Leeds paramedic named Kate, whose boyfriend Scott vanishes the day before she’s due to move down into his Brighton flat. When she breaks into the place, all of his stuff has gone… except for his smartphone. Being a self-identified phone addict who has attended digital detox groups, Kate knows she shouldn’t open Scott’s phone, but she can’t resist – she has to know what’s happened to him or where he’s gone.
There’s no going back for Kate. Forced to stay in Scott’s empty, cold, lonely flat, she tries to get answers from his phone. But why do deep scratches keep appearing on the front door? Why do mysteriously creepy callers keep ringing Scott’s phone? And why does she feel so very watched?
Ghoster is a supernatural thriller. Much like my 2016 novel The Last Days Of Jack Sparks, it aims to scare you and make you laugh, hopefully without compromising on either. It’s also a mystery: why has Scott done this? Has something terrible happened to him or is he a villain? The more Kate investigates, the more twists and turns she discovers, until she’s horrified to reveal the ultimate truth.
Thematically, the book’s also about what our phones have done to our brains and how addicted we may have become to non-stop digital content. That’s not me preaching, by the way: if anything, it’s a cry for help.
If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?
I guess it’d be whatever title they chose. If I had my choice, of course, it was be called An Extraordinary Life Of Scaring People And Making Them Laugh (Cor Blimey & Wasn’t He EVER So Handsome?). Hmm, needs work. Bit long.
What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?
I’ve had a few emails since 2016, asking me to confirm or deny that Jack Sparks was a real person! This was a result of the book being written like a real non-fiction book, plus the Blair Witch-style marketing campaign we did at first. We even held a wake for Jack at the offices of my publisher Orbit…
If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?
Oh, wow. That would have to be Stephen King, wouldn’t it? There is no reason on God’s green Earth why he would want to co-write with me, but imagine sitting around with Stevie, creating a story together! Getting excited about plot points gelling! Now that would be beyond cool.
Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).
Let’s see, now… Hmm. I once shat myself while climbing hurriedly over a fence separating two houses. Rather embarrassing, but that’s three-year-olds for you. I suppose this answer doesn’t truly count, because my mum knows about this incident, but hey…
Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.
The Bone Ships by RJ Barker is a tremendous, epic fantasy novel, as was his Wounded Kingdom trilogy. The man is as imaginative as he is funny.
I loved Sarah Pinborough’s crazy thriller Behind Her Eyes, which helped convince me that mainstream readers could warm to a novel with a pretty bizarre punch at the end.
Lastly, in the world of non-fiction I recommend John Higgs’ book William Blake Now, a gorgeous little book that explains why he believes Blake to be more relevant than ever – and acts as a prelude to his 2020 mega-book William Blake Vs The World.
Thanks for having me here at Compulsive Readers, Tracy! Shall I let myself out?