interview – Samuel M. Hallam talks Project Jotunheim

To help further promote the recent release of Project Jotunheim, I spoke over email with co-author Samuel M. Hallam about his part writing PJ alongside Andrew Jackson. Read on below:

  1. This novelette was based off a short story Sam wrote. What made you guys decide to take it further?

I liked the original story, but I felt that a door had been opened so to speak with the original short, and could have gone further. I think I messaged Andrew asking about if he’d be willing to take this further, as I didn’t feel confident doing it alone, and I know Andrew is brilliant at science fiction, and together we’d be able to create something really good. 

  1. How did you approach writing with two people?

It was interesting to do it, and I don’t think either Andrew or I have tried it before. I know there has been a recent uptick (not sure if that’s the right term) of authors, especially in the indie community working together on projects. AW Mason and Alana K. Drex, Damien Casey and Kyra R. Torres are two examples, but there are a lot more. If you are considering doing it, I’d say find someone good that you know and have fun with it! Honestly, it is such a good experience and the results are often stellar.

But back to the main question. Originally, if memory serves me right, I think I wrote a part to get the ball rolling, or Andrew did, and basically we sent it to the other and basically said “here’s my part. This is where the story is at, what I’ve added, and where it has been left for you.” I think we described it as a jumping off point in the email chain, as we had prompts for each other and suggestions of where the story may go. I do think the idea of the jumping off point was part of what worked in terms of how to approach it, and having that level of communication between us.

  1. Why the Kraken? What draws you to the beast?

The Kraken is this fascinating beast to me. It has such a rich history and we don’t see enough krakens in fiction. From what I have read about the beast in other places, it is this great and powerful force which could easily destroy a ship, it was a mile long, and all the stories surrounding it. That idea that there was this leviathan in the world’s seas and oceans really did excite me.

I think the other big draw to me is that Norse link. I love my mythology, and have a great interest in Norse mythology, so to know there is a degree of connection between the kraken and that mythology, really appealed to me. We have placed bits of Norse mythology in Project Jotunheim as a bit of fun.

I will be honest, I really do hope we see more krakens in fiction, as the potential for more stories is there. 

4.    The experiments in this story brought to mind Overlord when I first read it. Were there any horror films like this that influenced the story?

I haven’t seen Overlord yet, but I’ll add it to my list. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad for me was a large influence, and I think a few people might be able to see the influence it had on Project Jotunheim. I remember one of the reviews mentioning Das Boot in relation to this, so that might have been an unconscious influence. 

I’m struggling to think of other horror films that I’ve watched that might be classified as an influence. Jaws was a milestone in the nautical horror genre, but I’m really struggling to think.

Non-horror, I’d have to give mention to the Pirates of the Caribbean and Davy Jones’ Kraken which appears on occasion.

5.    If Project Jotunheim ever got made into a movie, what would be some of your wishful casting and directing?

Going back to the last question, James Gunn might be worth a shot. I know he’s heavily associated with the DC Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but he might make a grand spectacle of this. I think whoever would take it to the big screen, have to try and capture all aspects of the story and have that sort of serious tone to it.

Or Spielberg. After all, he has done one film about a creature in the seas, so there is that going in his favour. That and Jurassic Park was a Spielberg feature, so he’s not unfamiliar to creatures from another time. Who knows? Our kraken might have been around when the dinosaurs were.

I’ll be honest, some of the films I usually watch, and my favourites, are by people like the Coen Brothers (Fargo, an instant classic!), Scorsese (Goodfellas, again, instant classic), Eastwood, (Million Dollar Baby really caught me off guard), and Scott (Blade Runner is so beautifully done, and really does hold up nicely). Actually. That could be a third suggestion. Ridley Scott is no stranger to sci-fi (Alien & Blade Runner) or historical films (Gladiator), so there it might be interesting to see his take.

But to surmise that point, Gunn, Spielberg, or Scott would be three who might be able to take Project Jotunheim to the big screen.

Casting is another issue. Personally, I’d like to see an up and comer, and someone relatively unknown in the main roles of Fielding and Laurel. Everyone has to get a big break somewhere, so why not with Project Jotunheim

6.    The commander is your classic fuck-all gritty bastard. What similar commanders in film and literature were an influence in bringing him to life?

I can’t think of any specific examples off the top of my head, and I do think it is a combination of various military figures from various places over time. Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller from The Suicide Squad is one I could point to in terms of the determination in both Waller and Fielding in seeing the job done. The drill sergeant (played by R. Lee Emery) in “Full Metal Jacket” is probably another unconscious influence, but with some noticeable differences.

I’m really struggling to point to specific examples. I do think Fielding is literally a hybrid of all the classic military commanders. 

I do have an anecdote which is worth mentioning here. I was having a chat with someone the other day about Fielding, and who he was, and they suggested a blend of Captain Haddock from “Tintin” and Noel Fielding, which caught me off guard.

7.    Any other projects together in the works?

There have been discussions about a couple of things. I would happily work with Andrew again in a heartbeat, as he’s such a nice person and I had such a good time working with him. But yes, there have been discussions about one or two things, and it is a case of waiting and seeing.

8.    Both of you are keeping busy with numerous solo releases. What do you have coming out this year?

For me, I’m hoping for two releases at least this year. First up, hopefully in late Spring or early Summer, I’m looking to release a collection of short stories called “Tales From The Green Chair”.  It’s mostly me shooting off short stories I have been working on and have gathered over time. There’s a strong sense of the supernatural in the collection with vampyres, ghosts, and other strange beings popping up.

The other thing I am hoping will be released is “Weathering the Storm” which is a sort of folk horror novella, with fantasy elements in there too. It’s hard to explain, but it’s my love letter to the folk horror genre, and is a really exciting title.

I do have more to come. So right now I am working on “One Night in Eastwood Hall” which is a choose-your-own-adventure story, like the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” books some people may remember. If you are unaware of this concept, effectively you read the book, but it will direct you to certain pages and different pathways, and as a result, different endings. It’s a lot of fun and something I have wanted to do for a while, but I look forward to getting that out there soon. 

“The Crimson Sails” (a working title until I have something better) which is a pirate story for Dark Lit Press, is also going well. My story originally starts in 17th Century India, when the British East India Company had a foothold in the country, but gradually the story drifts and a big portion will take place in the South Atlantic. I can’t say too much now, but prepare for a uniquely charming pirate story.

For those who have read Project Jotunheim, I will be back onto “Have You Seen This Martian?” soon enough. I am looking forward to returning to Mars and giving you answers as to just what Alex, Shill, Commander Hurst, and so many more characters will find out there on Mars. I am hoping for a 2024 release, but it all depends on how fast I can write. My mentality at this point is, if it gets done for a 2024 release, great. If not, also great, because I do want this to be the best it can be, owing to the fact, it is a very special tale to me.

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Wintry Monsters Press publishes the work of Aiden Merchant and Wesley Winters, as well as the occasional issue of WMP Dark Fiction Magazine, featuring reviews, interviews, promotions, previews, and more.


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