The Big Idea: Jason Fischer

When a story reaches the end, the lives of the characters in it often don’t… so what then? Jason Fischer had to tackle this question for The Jawbone & The Junkman. In this Big Idea, Fischer unveils a few conclusions.


When the big bad falls, what happens next? Do the Ewoks caper about singing yub-nub while Luke and Han have an awkward conversation? Do weary warriors settle into a utopia, swords hung above mantles forever more, free to move from grimdark woes into a kinder and gentler age?

If you’re in one of my novels, hell no.

Furthermore, what happens when these books are connected to a table-top roleplaying game in the same setting? Does the experience of reading these books and then playing as a character in this world make it kick-arse?

According to my play-testers and early readers, hell yes.

In The Jawbone & The Junkman, I pick things up fifteen years after the events of Papa Lucy & The Boneman. Lanyard Everett should have died in the Waking City. He should have gone down in a glorious shoot-out with a god. He was meant to fight, and die, and he accepted this fate.

But he was saved. The big bad fell, and this doomed hero simply had to keep on going. As in life, there’s no cinematic ending, simply the slower grind of time, of responsibility and looming obsolescence.

Fifteen years later, Lanyard’s order of doomed knights-errant is no longer outlawed. It is thriving, even. He is trying to shirk all responsibility and to simply disappear, when a new threat arises, tearing across the dust of the Now, putting cities to the sack.

When the Dawn King blazes havoc across Lanyard’s world, that’s enough to get him to pick up his rune-carved shotgun and come running. Duty is not his strongpoint, but it turns out that Lanyard is fantastic at vengeance.


So after the success of the first book (starred review in Publishers Weekly, shortlists in several awards and the first print run sold out) my publisher and I really wanted to lean into this world. A tabletop roleplaying game in the setting has come out (click here to find out more about Bullets & Bleedthroughs. Teach your giant cassowaries ABBA songs, eat your friends, and smother dark magic all over Fury Road with a trowel!).  

My question at the start of this piece still stands. Where does an author go to when the big bad falls? How can I maintain my promise to the reader that this, a book 2 in a trilogy, is a book worthy of your time and attention?

Quite simple, it turns out. I have kept a lot of stuff up my sleeve when it comes to this world, and the threats that face our heroes (and anti-heroes). Hinted at in the first book is that the Now is just one place in a wider universe, a little Russian doll surrounded by many layers of cosmological nightmare. You’d better believe that there are hungry things out there, barely kept at bay by a weakened World-Veil, and the Jesusmen who somehow continue their thankless defence.

Death itself is also a mysterious shore, and we glimpse this in the first book. A band of Jesusmen swear vengeance and enter the Underfog, a realm of the lingering dead which we briefly glimpsed in book 1. The cover (as seen here by the amazing Steve Firchow) reflects this moment where the living see the edge of all life, and the stronghold of a truly dangerous being….

This book was definitely informed by the related roleplaying game Bullets & Bleedthroughs. A cynical reader would observe correctly that I’m providing material for the franchise, but in some ways the game has bled through into the novels and vice-versa (see what I did there?). The sense that the setting itself is one of the biggest characters drove almost every decision when it came to writing this book and also the final instalment, The Bride & the Bird-Man. The maps and the artwork in the RPG are gloriously 1970s-themed, and the body of work as a whole has really come together. The good folks at Outland Entertainment have gone above and beyond when it comes to the stunning visuals in this series!  

So buckle up into your battered muscle-cars, and come with me to a place unlike any you’ve ever seen. Spend some time in the Now, a post-apocalypse that I’ve spent almost fifteen years crafting and writing in. If we don’t attract the wrong sort of attention, we might get lucky and arrive on the other side, white-knuckled and trembling…

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