Zoe Slapko of the popular online magazine Narratory met up with Jack during his extended book tour, immediately after his book’s publication. Read selected parts of the interview.

Hi, Jack! In the name of all diehard Jack Lane fans, thanks for breaking away from your busy schedule and granting this interview.

Hi. It’s a pleasure. I wasn’t aware that I already have a fan base. My first book just came out today. I uploaded it. It’s a really short book, in fact. Just a collection of some stories. But I’m thrilled about all the buzz. I guess miracles can happen with the help of modern technology. And with lots of luck, of course.

What do your fans mean to you?

They mean everything to me. They’re like having an adopted family. Without them, without knowing that they’re out there somewhere, I wouldn’t be doing any writing, or anything else, for that matter. The fans I know of have a close, friendly relationship with me, and we could all fit into a revolving door, including somebody’s mother-in-law.

First of all, why did you make your book so short?

Is that supposed to be a compliment or criticism? Anyway, it’s not that short. If I had more time away from my mundane duties and the menace of having to buy new winter tires, which are not exactly cheap, it would probably be longer! I may as well fasten downhill skis under the old ones, it wouldn’t make a difference. You know, there’s only so much a writer can put up with.

Would you like to take a five-minute break?

No, I can manage. Sorry, I got carried away. Well, just because I said “short,” that doesn’t mean it’s short for everybody. For example, it would be a long reading adventure for a foreigner with very basic English proficiency in confection vending somewhere in southern Europe. And you have to look at brevity from a positive side. My book is a compact package of fiction, ready for quick consumption, like a bag of yummy treats. Imagine your flight is delayed because of an Ebola scare. You take out your e-reader or tablet, or just your phone, and by the time you’re ready to board the plane, you have a feeling of immense satisfaction that you finished “Ten Cents a Dime” in one sitting. And trust me, while your fellow passengers will be flying high, you’ll be actually on a high after the read.

Do happy readers make you happy?

They certainly do.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

The high income and the lavish health and pension insurance benefits associated with this profession.



Will you always stay independent?

In the genuine sense of the term, yes. If you’re asking whether I will whore myself around in the book industry to the highest bidding publisher in a seven-figure auction, my answer is that I would stay independent in principle.

What does that mean specifically?

It simply means that I will always write.

Are you a graphomaniac?

Not at all. I would then be writing as we speak, wouldn’t I? It’s a dangerous condition. Just think of the accidents those people are exposed to in traffic or sports.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

I sure do. It was the “Point of No Return.” It wasn’t exactly a masterpiece. I wrote the story for myself as a Christmas present. I even put it under the tree. Unfortunately, it was accidentally thrown out with my graded chemistry notebook. The plot had something to do with claustrophobic elves, dishonesty as a path to success, and the planet Zyplark. And the protagonist could beam himself into women’s bodies and play around in there. There’s not much else I remember about it, though. It was a long time ago.

That makes you sound a little old.

If you insist, I’m not so young. I was born in 1968. But guess what? Like billions of other people in the world, I started a family and have to work for money. They like the idea of me doing at least one thing that brings in money. And bear in mind that the experience of a man in his forties, reveling in his prime, is an advantage over twentyish and thirtyish writers.

In what way?

In all kinds of ways. There’s not enough time to list them. No, I won’t make into The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” club, but, to be honest, I have no such aspirations. My ambition is much more pure and simple.

What would that be?

To become a regular member of a generic, but prestigious “Under 50” club.

Anything else?

Entertainment. That’s all that matters. If I see someone reading a book with a sad, disappointed expression on his or her face, it makes me want to cry.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

Oh, yes. It was Arthur Schopenhauer’s “The World as Will and Representation.” It was actually the first story I finished. It had a profound impact on me and eventually prompted me to revise my interpretation of Camus. I also remember taking it to class for show-and-tell. I had the impression that neither my 6th grade classmates, nor the teacher understood much of what I was showing and telling, and I received little applause. It was really embarrassing. But I learned my lesson. I realized I had to balance topical depth and audience demand, so in a few years’ time I was submitting lengthy essays on “The Hardy Boys” series, which were supported with many footnotes and other references. So the effects of other writers on me are very rich and varied.

Describe your desk for us.

It’s a simple piece of furniture. There’s a landline telephone on it and a heavy phone book. I dial random phone numbers, introduce myself and kindly ask the strangers on the other end of the line to spend some time with me and tell me some story about themselves, because I have absolutely no idea what to write about. I have a “Call Anybody Anytime for Little or No Money” phone plan, so it’s cheap to make these calls. The leaves of fall, blown through the window by the wind, and some insects are scattered on my desk. I also have a solar calculator on the desk to aggregate my planned stories and the potential revenue they will generate.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

There isn’t much of a background story. The stories were written by a good friend of mine, who kept them in a drawer and was lazy or just chicken to publish them. He knows the details. I took them, changed the titles, names and some objects of the scenery, like the color of the sky, so the stories now sound better. I haven’t told him about this, but I plan to. And I also plan to pass on some of the royalties to him.

You’re not worried about copyright issues?

Copyright, shmopyright. Why do people get so uptight about it? Honestly, if it would be such a serious issue, carmakers would be constantly suing each other because all cars have four wheels and headlights. By the way, I taught him how to do a 360 under water, so he owes me one. But, you know what, I’ll call him after the interview and tell him what an inspiration his work has been for me.

So, could you describe your writing process?

Isn’t it bad enough to experience the process? Why discuss it? But I hate to evade questions, so I’ll try to answer it as honestly as I can. First of all, allow me to substitute the dry, mechanical term “process” with “sensation.” It is a sensation not unlike gentle sea waves licking your toes, as you watch the sunset, sipping a mellow cocktail of your choice. The feeling is also similar to floating among the clouds. Only very rarely does this sensation resemble a state of mental hernia, an all-consuming, solitary void in which you’re banished to the most barren, unforgiving corner of a gulag.

That sounds harsh.


When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

First and foremost, I wonder why I am doing something other than writing and how this came to be. On the other hand, I feel fortunate and blessed that I don’t have to slave over poorly written stories that look as though I had written them. It’s unfair and humiliating. Even worse, the first title the Muses always whispers into my ear in the case of every single story is “Point of No Return.” I don’t really know what they mean by that, but I have a hunch, and I don’t like it. Moreover, it’s a lame title. So when I’m not shedding blood, sweat and tears over my keyboard, I usually discipline my family, who laugh at the idea of me becoming a best-seller millionaire, talk to trees that approach me, and watch VHS reruns of vintage Olympics opening ceremonies. I also agonize over the advantages and disadvantages of having a landline phone, because I also have a cell phone.

How do you approach cover design?

When I think of a cover, the first thing I do is project a full-blown portrait of myself in the size of a glossy coffee table publication. I know, however, this is not possible because retailer policies insist on including the title and the author’s name on the cover, but the letters would probably hide some positive aspect of me. So cover design is a problem for me. Also, I haven’t found a stylist, whom I can really trust.

Your cover shows an eye chart. Does it symbolize our need to focus on detail and not to blur reality? Or does it mean that reality is relative and 20/20 vision is just an empty category?

Yes. My eyesight is definitely worsening. My reading glasses may need stronger lenses.

What do you read for pleasure?

If the distributors will push and promote my book, and offer complimentary Pokémon figurines and other trending gifts with my work to buyers, which boost my sales, I will probably have some time to read for pleasure.

How have the online distributors contributed to your success?

In big ways, I hope. I have transferred substantial sums to some of their offshore accounts in the Seychelles and Liechtenstein to receive deluxe book placement service. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to disclose this information. I should probably consult with the sales people.

What are you working on next?

I’ve got tons of ideas. At the end of the day, I have to pick one. I’m currently researching material for a historical novel on daffodils, so that might be it. This would be my first full-length novel.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

To be famous and give interviews like this one.

Thanks so much for the interview, Jack!

Thank you for having me. Do I get paid for this?

No, sorry.

That’s O.K., I guess.


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