Have you met . . . D. I. Jolly?

The first book I read in 2017 was Mostly Human by D. I. Jolly — and it was one of my favorites (but man, I’d have sworn it was 2016, man…I’ve read a lot in the last 15 months). We did a little other business via his then-day job at a publisher, and a Q&A. And I’ve really, really intended on coming back for more of his work (as much as I’ve read, there’s more I want to ). Anyway, he’s got himself a snazzy new website and is trying to get some eyeballs on it (and, hopefully, the books he talks about there).

So, click the link above — or this one — and, if you have the inclination, check out my thoughts about Mostly Human and the Few Quick Questions with him.

A Few Quick Questions With…D.I. Jolly

Update 4/28/18: D.I. Jolly’s got himself a snazzy new website, and I wanted to make sure that people who read this Q&A can find their way there to get more info about him. So, here, go visit the site.

D.I Jolly’s Mostly Human was the first novel I read this year — and it’s one of my favorites so far. I’m very glad I finally got the chance to ask the author a couple of questions. As is the norm, I kept it short and sweet, because I’d rather he work on his next book than take too much time with me, y’know? Some really good answers below.

If you can without ruining anything you have planned, tell me about the island setting for Mostly Human — why there?
Syn Island has actually been the principal location for all the books I’ve written. It started with my very first novel A Guy, A Girl and a Voodoo Monkey Hand. Which I wrote when I was 19. I knew I didn’t want to set my story in the USA because I felt like everything happened there, and I didn’t want it in England because I didn’t like the weather. South Africa (where I’m from) is just too isolated. So I decided to invent my own country, also it meant I wouldn’t have to do geography research.

Although my books so far are stand alone and don’t faction in the same universe. They all give a bit more information about the island. For example the burnt out bar where Annabel meets Frank Oslo. The destruction of that bar takes place in A Guy, A Girl and a Voodoo Monkey Hand. And in Counting Sheep and Other Stories (my second book) the main character Kester reference reading about some of the things Alex does through his life.

Love that answer.

I don’t want to ask where you get your ideas, but how did you get to the point that from the dozens of ideas floating around your head you got to the point where you said, “You know what I want to write about? A Werewolf Rock Star.”

It started as I wanted to write about a brother and a sister and a werewolf. Even at the first what I thought would be the most important factor was their relationship not him being a werewolf. I then started to trance back on their time line to find out how they got to where they were. If she had a job and he could just sit around all day, how does he afford it? then what if he was actually a child when bitten, what would their lives look like?

I came up with most of this while driving from lunch with my sister to my mother’s house which was about 2 and a half hours away.

What surprised you the most about the writing of Mostly Human?
How much I wanted to keep going as soon as I was done. I already knew how I wanted to start the sequel and where I’d start and take the story as its own book rather than just continuing to write more of the first one.
Your day job is with a publishing company — what impact has that had on your approach to writing?
I don’t know if it’s had much of an effect on my actual writing, but it is very interesting to know both sides of the coin. And it definitely changed the way I think about marketing a book and myself. Which I’m not sure I ever took seriously enough in the past.

Also, at the moment it’s more correct to say my day job used to be in publishing. For the next few months at least, I’m a full time writer. So keep an eye out for Mostly Human 2.

What’s the one (or two) book/movie/show in the last 5 years that made you say, “I wish I’d written that.”?
Whole projects none really, but occasionally I hear or read a really good line or concept which strikes a chord. The most recent of those was in Transcendence starring Johnny Depp which I only recently watched. Johnny Depp’s character is dying and he’s sitting with his best friend and sees his wife through the window and says. “I know I’m a dead man, but I’m scared I’m going to miss her.”

Loved it.

Can you tell us what books/writing projects you’re working on and when we can expect them? Bonus points if any of these involve Alex Harris.
At the moment my principle writing project is a thing called Poetry Club. On Monday nights myself a few very talented friends and anyone who cares to sit close enough to listen, meet in a bar in Berlin and read out short stories and poems that we’ve written that week based on the chosen theme or topic. We’ve been at this every week, without fail since July and after a year we plan to collect all the stories and poems and publish them as an anthology.

But as I said, I’ve also taken some time to get a few other things done and Mostly Human 2 is on the cards. I am about 41k words into it so far so maybe a third.

Sounds interesting — and you do score the bonus points.

Thanks for your time, D. I. (and thanks for Mostly Human!)

Mostly Human by D. I. Jolly

Mostly HumanMostly Human

by D.I. Jolly

Kindle Edition, 494 pg.
TinPot Publishing, 2016

Read: January 2 – 4, 2017

When Alex Harris was 10 years old and visiting his grandparent’s farm in Canada, he is attacked by an injured wolf. He recovers more quickly than the doctor predicts and at the first sign of stress after returning from the hospital, hulks out. But instead of turning green and growing a handful of sizes, he sprouts hair everywhere and his body transforms its shape into a large wolf.

The book follows Alex for the few days following the bite, then high school (learning to cope with the wolf), and then his career as a rock-star. I loved this approach, this way of dealing with the werewolf. Not just Jolly’s way of dealing with the werewolf, but Alex’s family’s way of dealing with his animal form (I’ll keep the details up my sleeve, read it yourself). There’s a lot of emotional ups and downs for Alex — like any pre-adolescent and adolescent male (and, like most rock stars, a post-adolescent male that acts like a teenager) — he’s emotionally volatile, and trying to learn to deal with the world in general. It’s a little harder for him than most teens — thanks to his resistance to injury and disease, and his strength. Once he reaches his adult years, there’s some interesting developments regarding his artistic career and his family’s brush with organized crime.

I love a good werewolf story — I really enjoy a decent one, out of all the various types of Fantasy Creatures/Races/Monsters out there, I don’t think there’s one I enjoy more than a lycanthrope. Mostly Human keeps that streak going.

One of the best parts of this book is how the curse/infection/condition affects not just the human who goes furry every now and then, but everyone around him (whether they know it or not). When Alex was on the farm and initially turned, everyone was supportive and encouraging — just the way a good family should treat a kid going through something major. But then later, when the initial crisis had passed, everyone falls apart (at least for a few minutes). Not en masse or anything, but individually they express some sort of anger or grief, puzzlement, despair, etc. Once that time is passed, they regroup and come together to support Alex. That was so great to see — I’m not sure that there’s anyone I’ve read who shows a family coming together to support the lycanthrope the way this family does.

Alex’s sister, Annabel, is a gem and my only complaint about her is that we don’t get more of the character — and every age and stage. I liked his friends, doctors, and relatives, too — actually, every character that gets more than a handful of paragraphs is well-used and appealing. But Annabel outshines them all.

I don’t have any major concerns or problems with this book — it was a fun escape. Not that it was perfect, there were three things that didn’t work for me, none of them were deal-breakers, but they were things that kept nagging at me.

I have no idea why Jolly felt the need to invent a fictional setting for the Harris’ home — it may become clear in a sequel (which I can only assume is forthcoming), maybe it won’t. I liked the setting, but I don’t see where it helps (it doesn’t hurt). I’d feel better about things if I could figure it out — too much time was spent describing it for it to be a throw-away detail, there’s something to it and I can’t see it.

The first sex scene was more detailed than I really needed — I see where he was going (not just the comedic intent) with it, but still, I didn’t need that. Thankfully, after that, Jolly gave everyone the privacy they deserved when it came sex.

The 10-year old version of Alex doesn’t talk like a 10 year-old. He’d be a stretch at 13. Still, I enjoyed that part of the book so much I shrugged it off.

This was a lot of fun, with a large cast of characters that draw the reader in and keeps you engaged. The story seemed secondary to character development — not just Alex, but his whole family (both officially and those considered family). Yeah, I’d have liked some more of Alex the rock star — and the organized crime thing the book description promised — but what we got was good, and saying that the book was mostly character development isn’t a bad thing. It’s just not what I expected.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.


4 Stars

Mostly Human Giveaway

I really don’t know much about the book Mostly Human by D.I. Jolly — it’ll either be the last book I read of 2016 or the first of 2017. But it looks appealing — and the author seems like a nice guy. So I was glad to chip in when he asked if I’d help spread the word about a Goodreads Giveaway for some physical copies of the book.

Mostly HumanAlex Harris is a world famous rock star, lead singer of the Internationally acclaimed band The Waterdogs. But Alex is no ordinary rocker, and has a secret that he and his family have painstakingly kept since he was ten years old.

While playing on his grandparents farm, Alex discovers what he presumes is a dead wolf. With a slip of the hand he realises it’s not as dead as he thought, and come the first full moon, everyone realises it wasn’t just a wolf.

What would you do if your son could never be normal again?

There ya go: Rockers, Werewolves, British spelling, and (according to another description I read) Organised Crime — sounds like a quiet weekend for Ozzy Osbourne or the makings of a fun book. I can’t help you enjoy the former, but if you click this link, maybe I can help you enjoy the latter.