Q&A with “Husk” author J. Kent Messum

We are very excited to have a J. Kent Messum author Q&A to share with you. A Kindle version of Husk was recently released in North America for the first time. Here is the new cover:

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I read Husk back in 2015. Here is my Goodreads review. I really liked the book and highly recommend it. Imagine if your consciousness could outlast your physical body and be implanted in “hosts.” Your consciousness could control the host body and have adventures. Then, imagine illegal things being done with the host bodies – and one host starts remembering. That is the premise. I’m very excited it can now be purchased on Amazon Kindle. The author was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

1) What was the inspiration for Husk?

-There is a quote in Husk that reflects a prominent theme of the novel: “There is a vast difference between those who seek to live forever, and those who are simply too scared to die”. That statement serves as one of the main inspirations for the story. Historically, immortality has always been worshiped and pursued in one way or another. Today, the idea of conquering death is becoming much more tangible with technology accelerating and adapting so fast. It is regarded as a probability more than a possibility, with many now claiming it is simply an eventuality. Personally, I find that quite frightening, but it was also inspiring to build a story around the idea.

2) Why did it take so long to be available on Kindle (in the US)?

-Husk has had a strange journey. After the release of my debut novel, BAIT, Penguin UK picked up the rights for the United Kingdom and also made an offer to commission/publish Husk after they read the synopsis. My agents and I accepted. Husk was published in the UK and all her territories, as well as half a dozen other countries. Oddly, Penguin US and Canada didn’t seize the opportunity to publish it in North America. It ‘s very strange to be published throughout half of the world, but not in your own home country. Some months later I got in to discussions with a couple ebook companies that started off well, but then experienced delay after delay and ultimately went nowhere. All the while I had a lot of complaints from North American readers saying they couldn’t get hold of Husk easily. At the end of the day I write stories for people to read, and my story wasn’t getting into the hands of many who wanted to experience it. So, I made the decision to self publish the book on Kindle in the US/Canada.

3) Are you working on anything now? If so, can you talk a little bit about it?

-I’m actually working on my fifth and sixth books right now. My third and fourth novels (‘Skin Deep’ and ‘All The Darkness Looks Alive’ respectively) are already complete. Skin Deep is a crime/thriller about a frightening new diet trend that surfaces in Los Angeles, and it’s currently being shopped around by my agent. All The Darkness Looks Alive is a southern Gothic tale about a young boy and a seemingly haunted weeping willow tree that puts a new spin on the supernatural. Right now it going through a final rewrite/editing phase. I’ve got no shortage of ideas for novels, so I’m always working on new material. People ask me how I come up with all my book ideas, but honestly I can’t turn it off. That’s not always a good thing, and results in a lot of sleepless nights.

4) What authors do you admire or have you read anything lately you really liked?

-Most of the authors I admire are from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, back when there was a real premium put on the writing craft and talent. Guys like Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Steward O’Nan, and Pete Dexter. The most recent book I read that I loved was ‘Redeployment’ by Phil Klay (Winner of the 2014 National Book Prize). Klay’s writing and storytelling thoroughly impressed me.

5) What character(s) do you relate the most to in Husk and/or which was the hardest/most fun to write?

-The lead character, Rhodes, is the one I relate to the most. There is a desperation about him, trying to stay afloat in a world where money has become synonymous with day-to-day survival. I think a lot of people can all relate to him actually. The cost of living is skyrocketing. A lot of folks are saddled with debt they can’t deal with. The wealth gap is becoming a canyon. There were many points where Rhodes was hard to write, because he voices many of my own fears about the future and personifies that worry we all have about keeping our heads above water in this culture and economy, especially when we see approaching waves.

6) Will there ever be another book set in this world or sequel?

-Originally I conceived of Husk as a single stand-alone novel, but since then I’ve plotted out a second and third novel, each focused on another character from the original book. I think whether or not I write a second and third book will be predicated on demand. Husk was also optioned for an international TV series back in 2015. So you could definitely see the story continue on screen at some point, rather than the page.

Enter the Goodreads giveaway for your own copy of Husk.

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J. Kent Messum is an author & speaker who always bets on the underdog. His first novel BAIT (August 2013, Penguin Books) won the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for ‘Best First Novel.’ His second novel HUSK (July 2015, Penguin Books) was optioned for an international TV series by Warp Films in the UK.

Messum lives in Toronto with his wife, dog, and a pair of cats. He is currently working on his third and fourth novels. He teaches Creative Writing at the University Of Toronto, and is also a book critic for the New York Journal Of Books.

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