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Reviews & Interviews

SUNDOWN: ARIZONA

My three-issue western/horror series from Arcana. When a reporter heads west to cover the mysterious murders of several preachers, he finds himself neck-deep in bad craziness. Click on the interviews for background, and the reviews for the 'net's verdict on the series. 

Reviews

Sunday Slugfest @ Silver Bullet Comic Books

Movie Poop Shoot

 

Interviews

Newsarama

Jazma Online

NYXX Underground

Arcana Studio

iBulle (in French, I'm apparently a "journaliste et romancier.")

Silver Bullet Comics

Comic Avalanche

 

Western Tales of Terror

Reviews for “The Deserter,” my story in Western Tales of Terror #1 (with artist Jared Bivens), in which Union soldier Peyton McKinnon returns home from the war to his loving wife…and a hell of a surprise. 

“’The Deserter’ is my favorite story of the book…Busbee tells a excellent short story here, actually performing a remarkable dual narrative here with his words, and Bivens’ pictures terrifically complement it. The best story of the bunch, hands down.” --Comic Book Galaxy

“One of the gems of Western Tales Of Terror is a five page tale written by Jay Busbee called ‘The Deserter’…it was this tale that creeped me out more than any other simply because of two panels of Bivens’ art featuring the lonely, helpless wife waking up and greeting her wayward husband.” --The Comic Fanatic

“I also got a lot of fun out of Jay Busbee and Jared Bivens’ ‘The Deserter.’ The juxtaposition of the lonely wife with the carousing husband works great, and I just loved the twist at the end.” --Ain’t It Cool News

“Jay Busbee’s ‘The Deserter’ is next up and is probably the most riveting and disturbing story of the bunch. It's an emotional five-page short that deals with of a man who lies about his role in the Civil War and comes home expecting anything but the repercussions he finds. Busbee uses more terror than western here and succeeds wonderfully.” --SimplyJDOnline

"I think 'Deserter' by Jay Busbee and Jared Bivens is the one story in this book that really disturbed me the most. I really liked this one and would love to see more by these two talented men." --Paperback Reader

"Much of the best work [in WToT #1] comes from the lesser known talent, and the first issue includes such a piece from Jay Busbee and Jared Bivens, 'The Deserter,' a clever 5-page tale of deception and revenge that is one of the issue's standouts, both in the writing and art." --Comic Book Commentary

 

 

The Face of the River

The Face of the River has been a popular reading group selection in and around Atlanta. Here's a review written by a member of one such book club who also happens to be a contributor to "Chicks Laying Nest Eggs" (www.chickslayingnesteggs.com), a site dedicated to giving women advice on securing their own financial future. Thanks to them for doing their small part to secure mine...

The Face of the River by James Busbee

"This is the first book written by this author, James Busbee. His wife works with a friend of mine and she handed me the book and said, "Read this and review it" (I felt a little like Oprah). The story takes place in Atlanta, GA so it was fun to read, since I've been here for 8+ years. The pictures he painted with words were great. It's a bit of a murder mystery along with a message about how everyone comes to have his or her own belief system. I found myself reflecting on my own relationships with friends, family and society -- how each has molded me to who I am today. A very quick, entertaining, thought provoking read." Chick Jana

 

...and here's the text of a recent interview with Amazon.com:

 

Amazon.com talks to Jay Busbee

Search for items by Jay Busbee.

Amazon.com: Where are you from? How--if at all--has your sense of place colored your writing?

Jay Busbee: I was born in Lynchburg, Virginia and raised in the heart of suburbia in Atlanta, Georgia with the greatest curse a writer can suffer—a healthy family upbringing. I always knew my daddy loved me, and my mother never stubbed out cigarettes on my little baby legs. But I wanted something different from the standard career path. Harry Crews once said in an interview—and I’m paraphrasing here—that the world wants you to eat cotton candy and go to the zoo all day, and not think too much or too deeply. I knew I wanted something more than just cotton candy. On the flip side, my healthy family also contributed heavily to my style—I come from a large family, and if you want to be heard, you’ve got to be fast, loud, focused, and funny, all of which I’ve incorporated into my writing.

As for the sense of place—I don’t think anybody who’s paying attention to the world around them, writer or not, can help but be affected by their surroundings. Certainly, you can spend your life in anonymous malls and fast-food joints, and you can do that anywhere in the country. But I have a deep appreciation for all things Southern, good and ill. I don’t pretend to understand it all, but I try to take it all in and, as best I can, make sense of the South. I’ll cross a river in a rainstorm to hear a good ol’ Southern tale.

Amazon.com: When and why did you begin writing? When did you first consider yourself a writer?

JB: I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything else BUT a writer. Nothing ever appealed to me nearly as much, or for nearly as long. As for when I started considering myself a writer—well, some people believe you become a writer when you start getting paid for writing; other, more liberal interpretations hold that you’re a writer if you believe you are. Me, I considered myself a writer when I started writing what I wanted to write, in the voice and style that I wanted to write it in—without crippling my writing by trying to anticipate what others would think. In grad school—which I loved, and still recommend, despite what I’m about to say—my professors preached the doctrine of Characterization, and to a lesser extent, “Write what you know.” That led to a lot of tight little workshop stories about well-written characters whose lives were strikingly similar to the lives of their writers. The problem was, almost nothing actually happened in these stories. Conflict was almost entirely internal; epiphanies were insignificant. These stories were the literary equivalent of a magnificently-prepared peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich—if you’ve got the talent, why not try a larger challenge?

Amazon.com: Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way? What books have most influenced your life?

JB: When I was a little kid, I was a comic book freak. I was always fascinated by the idea of “continuity” in comics, where storylines from one book would show up in another. In Spider-Man, Spidey would run into the X-Men, and they’d say, “Hey, bro, sorry we couldn’t help you fight Dr. Doom, but we were out in space,” or whatever. And then you go look at the X-Men’s book, and yep, there they are in space. It gave the idea that there was this overarching story, this meta-narrative going on behind the scenes, of which you were seeing only a tiny part. When I got a little older, I really got into the comic strip Doonesbury, which has the same sort of internal continuity, and an amazingly broad cast of characters who can pop in and out for whatever situation appears appropriate. More recently, filmmakers like Guy Ritchie (Snatch) and Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy, Dogma) have taken the same tack. 

It's an approach I've adopted in my writing--one of the lead characters in Bluff City is preparing to go to work for a Rolling Stone-style magazine I created in a college story I wrote, and he's also best friends with one of the lead characters from The Face of the River. And there's much, much more of that to come. It never intrudes on the storyline, but for those in the know, it's a nice Easter egg.

Ah, but none of those works I just mentioned as influences were books, were they? Okay, then—Stephen King blew me away the first time I read him, because he wrote like I thought. I liked his style—his smooth, conversational, sounds-like-he’s-right-there-with-ya voice—even more than his subject matter. Naturally, I went through the requisite “Catcher in the Rye” phase. I still love James Lee Burke; the guy has such richness of description that he could make a laundromat sound morally complex and disturbing. Faulkner has the exact same kind of multi-novel continuity I described above--without Dr. Doom, of course. And Flannery O’Connor still creeps me out to this day.

As for the "who"—I can hear the music playing; the band wants me to get offstage and get to the next question, so this'll be quick—I owe a world of thanks to my parents, who never once questioned my career choice, and my wife, who has supported my writing at every turn, serving as editor, groupie, and taskmaster all at once.

Amazon.com: What is the most romantic book you've ever read? The scariest? The funniest?

JB: The scariest book I’ve ever read—I dunno; ironically enough, being a writer and a professor tends to put you at a distance from writing, if you’re not careful. You start thinking, “okay, WHY is this scary? How’s this guy setting the mood and building tension? And most importantly, what can I swipe from him to use myself?” But I do recall getting the snot scared out of me by Pet Sematary and The Shining, and if I set the mood properly, The Fall of the House of Usher. You can’t read this stuff on a plane or with the kids running around, but if you give it the atmosphere it demands, you’re in for a sleepless night.

Funniest—anything by Carl Hiaasen. He can occasionally descend into absurdity (says the guy who killed a character with a potato gun), but when he’s on, he’ll make you laugh out loud—and it’s only afterward that you realize you actually learned a little something, too.

Most romantic—Going off the menu here. The most romantic book I’ve read in the last few years has to be Preacher, a comic book series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Sure, it’s got a vengeful God; the ghost of John Wayne; an undead Irish vampire; and the living embodiment of Murder, a resurrected cowboy called the Saint of Killers. But at its heart, it’s a love story, where two people absolutely meant for each other survive everything imaginable—including both their deaths—to literally ride off into the sunset together as the series ends. Absolutely first-rate—and light-years removed from Spider-Man and Superman comics.

Amazon.com: What music, if any, most inspires you to write? What do you like to listen to while writing?

JB: Blues, blues, blues. I’ll give any blues a chance. The Backstreet Boys could write a song called “Yogurt Swirl Blues,” and I’d give it a good ten seconds. I love rock and roll—everything from the Rolling Stones up to Linkin Park—but I can’t really write to it. I like to write to deep, languid blues, particularly the north Mississippi swamp styles of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and recent Buddy Guy. Oh, and the heavy instrumental techno-lounge music of David Holmes (soundtracks to Ocean’s Eleven and Out of Sight) is good for writing, too.

Amazon.com: What are you reading now? What CD is currently in your stereo?

JB: I’m reading the current edition of New Stories from the South; I await the series every single year. I don’t always like every story, but I like seeing people trying to make sense of Southern identity in the 21st century. I’m also reading Founding Brothers by Joe Ellis, since my knowledge of early American history pretty much stopped dead after eighth grade. On the ol’ stereo (or Winamp, as the case may be), I’m listening to Springsteen’s The Rising, North Mississippi All-Stars’ 51 Phantom, and Evangeline Made, an amazing collection of modern artists doing tribute to traditional Cajun music.

Amazon.com: What are you working on?

JB: Next up in my grand novel cycle is The Dirty South, a book about—as the tagline goes—“football, murder, and other Southern institutions.” That’s all I’m going to say about it now. I’m always making pitches to magazines for smaller articles and working on my existing assignments.

This really is a hell of a good job. Every day, you wake up in the morning and decide how your career is going to go—and every day, you have the opportunity to change it. Another thing I'm working on is getting better at handling rejection—which, unfortunately, is the flip side of the joy and freedom that a writing career brings. I don’t ever want to get too good at handling bad news, but it makes the acceptances that much sweeter.

Bio

Jay Busbee is a novelist and journalist living in Atlanta. Click below for more info on his novels, articles, and comics.

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