Interview: Jason X Novelist Nancy Kilpatrick

In January of 2005, three years after the release of Jason X in American theaters, book publisher
Black Flame released a novelization by Pat Cadigan. Four “sequel” novels followed  The Experiment, Planet of the Beast, Death Moon, and To the Third Power. Unlike other publishers, however, Black Flame did not delegate writing duties to these licensed novels to unknown. Inside their New Line run (which included Friday the 13 th proper, Final Destination, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre) they hired established horror novelists such as Nancy A. Collins, Christa Faust, Tim Waggoner, Jeffrey Thomas, and Stephen Hand. This would have been a weighty line-up for any horror publisher. Utilizing this level of talent and craftsmanship for what might have been a simple cash grab from fans produced a series of challenging, unconventional, and sometimes controversial works. This was a far cry from the late ‘80s direct approach to the novelizations of Simon Hawke.

Even a cursory glance at reviews leaves an unmistakable impression: Nancy Kilpatrick’s two Jason X novels, Planet of the Beast and To the Third Power, are highlights of the series. It’s easy to understand why. After one of her short stories landed the considerable honor of being chosen to appear in The Year’s Best Horror Stories Vol. XX in 1993, Kilpatrick launched a decades- spanning career that began in earnest with her first novel Near Death in 1994, a book that saw her nominated for a Stoker Award. Sometimes referenced as Canada’s Anne Rice, Kilpatrick maintains a sizable fan base in both horror and (under the pseudonym Amarantha Knight) gothic erotic fiction.

Q: Much of your fiction prior to the Jason X books could be described as Gothic, particularly your popular Power of the Blood World series of vampire novels. What brought you to the opposite side of the horror spectrum to write two licensed science-fiction tinged slasher novels?

I loved the Jason movies and really liked Jason X—it was an innovative idea. I'd been in talks with Black Flame Publishing for a while and when this series came up, they suggested I do a book. Pat Cadigan wrote the movie spin-off and then the second book. I snagged the third and came up with the plot idea for Jason X: Planet of the Beast. That worked out well. As you'd expect, once Jason is on the scene, nobody survives. However, in Planet of the Beast, which took place on a ship in space, one character survived, getting away at the last second. I figured that was a great set-up for the next book where he would chase her down. Unknown to me, Black Flame already had a writer for book 4. I'd read books 1 and 2 and then read 4 and was startled and a bit outraged that my character London—who had escaped—died in space. "What????" I screamed. It's not the author of book 4's fault at all; writers do what we need to do to create our own plots. Still, I was so incensed that I talked to (read: 'badgered') my editor and said, "Ok, you've got to let me write another novel. I have to fix this!" Jason X: To the Third Power was book 5 and mine! I had the character London who escaped in book 3 go through a wormhole as the back story (which could have been in book 4, since how she 'died' could be read as ambiguous). By then, too much time had passed in the series and Jason had gone through some manipulations in book 4, so I had to evolve the genetic element I'd contrived in book 3 to make book 5 happen. That's all I'll say! Read the books if you want to know!

Q: Did Black Flame provide a "bible" or guidelines of any sort? Or did you have free reign?

No bible and I was pretty much able to do what I wanted to do, with the approval, of course, by Black Flame Publishing, and New Line Cinema, which had the rights.

One thing that happened is this: My editor called me one day when I was working on Planet of the Beast and said, "Jason's going to kill a lot of people, right?" He obviously needed to be reassured, maybe because he hadn't yet worked with me, or because I was 'the gentler sex' and he worried couldn't come up with enough blood (although I'd written quite a few vampire novels by then!). I listed all the murder scenes: well, there the military people are killed, and then there are the people on the ship, and oh yeah, there's..." I said, "Maybe 200 when they're added together." It was kind of amusing to hear his shocked voice say, "Oh, uh, okay! That sounds good!"

Q: Were you a Friday the 13th fan beforehand?

Absolutely! All the way from Camp Chrystal Lake to space and beyond!

Q: What are your feelings on the movie and your Jason X novels today, a decade and a half later?

Well, the movie Jason X was a leap for the series that I thought intriguing and the novels that came out of that were imaginative, in my opinion. But I suspect that a lot of fans prefer Jason Voorhees on Earth. Jason X mixed horror with science fiction and blending genres is sometimes a problem for purist fans who don't like crossovers. Personally, I thought both the movie and the novels were a good idea, though not a sustainable one, but an experiment that I thought worked well. But when a world steps into another world there are always people who cheer and others who rage and, of course, the series reverted. Which is also fine with me.

Q: Did you have any idea where you would have taken a third novel if the opportunity had presented itself? Would you have welcomed it?

Well, like I said, I'd anticipated doing the 4th novel, having Jason chasing down London, the character who escaped the ship on a shuttle, headed towards a space station, but it all went a different way. I know by the time I finished and handed in book 5, Jason X: To the Third Power, that this spin-off series of books was over. I think the books sold well, but as with a lot of publishers and films, there is sold well and smash hit and the latter usually means more and the former often doesn't. But yes, I would have loved to write another Jason X novel.

Q: Jason X is a very divisive film in the Friday the 13th franchise. But it has built up its own cult following inside Jason fandom. Have you had much feedback from the fan base?

More when the books came out and usually at shows like Horrorfind and Fan Expo. People would come up and tell me they read the books and/or saw the film. Very few were lukewarm. Love or hate. Well, Jason kind of elicits that anyway! Years have gone by since those novels came out and naturally furor and fascination have died down. But Friday the 13th in general, as you know, still has a huge following and every once in a while someone stops me and says, "Hey, didn't you write a book about Jason...?"

Q: Licensed novels are notorious for being difficult to reissue once they fall out of print. Have you heard anything about possible reprints, whether physical or digital?

No, I've heard nothing.

Q: Any parting words for Friday fans?

Never say die! Jason doesn't.


Nancy Kilpatrick is an award-winning author. Besides writing two books in the Jason X world, she has published a lot of horror novels. Her 22nd book is just out, Savagery of the Rebel King, #4 in her new Vampire-Novels-for-Adults series, Thrones of Blood. Follow Nancy on:

Twitter: @nancykwriter
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