Interview with J.J. Thorn, Author of Apocalypse Assassin

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What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Apocalypse Assassin (System Orphans: Claire)?

The story behind the story is that I was stuck in a tiny apartment with my girlfriend (at the time) in Toronto during COVID and I was bored out of my mind haha. We’d been stuck inside for a bit, and I would spend most of my days doing the same things: reading fantasy stories, watching tv and movies, or playing video games. At a certain point, I realized that I needed to do something different and for most of my life I’d always wanted to write one of those stories of my own. So, for a month straight, I wrote every night and pushed out what would become my first book: ‘Heavy (The Weight Of It All)’. The book had issues, but it was mine, something I’d created and come up with from scratch. Even now, I can’t believe I did it.

And though I loved it, the issues were quickly pointed out. I did my best to put out an amazing series with six entire books, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the first book didn’t meet the quality from some of the later books in the series. And so, one day while working through a block on book 5 in my first series, I wrote the first chapter of Apocalypse Assassin. It was a taster and a distraction, but the idea stuck as I finished The Weight Of It All. And eventually, a year after writing that chapter, I came back to it.

The story I’ve put out is one small part of what I’d like to produce in the future, but producing Claire’s story was a major achievement for me. It’s a first-in-series that I’m very proud of, and I believe Claire is the most ‘real’ character I’ve ever put to paper.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Apocalypse Assassin (System Orphans: Claire), what would they be?

I envisioned Claire like an equally determined, younger, and more angsty John Wick while writing sometimes, so I’d pick some of that soundtrack for Claire. I also fell into love with Paramore again while writing Claire’s story, so I feel like she’d love some Hailey Williams as her backing track.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

I am a die-hard fan of LitRPG and progression fantasy stories. Generally, these are stories that use fantasy settings, but add emphasis on the main character progressing through more difficult obstacles, such as you might see in a game. They are often characterized by visible cues showing the character’s progress, such as screens or tables. I write in this genre, using minimal screens to show progression, while trying my best to focus on the characters, the setting and the plot.

In my view, LitRPG and Progression Fantasies are done best when those things are kept as the focus, without losing sight of what makes LitRPG so much fun: visible cues that show how the character is progressing through the story.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Portal to Nova Roma 2, All the Skills, Legends and Lattes, Battlemage Farmer 3, and The fortifier.

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

The end of the book ends with a couple large climaxes, which change the setting quite a bit. These were a lot of fun to write, and early feedback about these scenes has been amazing. I hope to some day have fan art made about each of those scenes. The scenes in question, without giving anything away: The brother trolls and fiery lightning against the bronze god.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

I have a very comfortable chair that came with the house when we bought it haha. One of my favourite things to do is sit in that chair on a Saturday, put on my favourite radio station (bbc radio 1) and try to get down some words. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s a peaceful way to live on a Saturday

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I think I’ve had many in my life, but as you grow and your life changes, I’ve learned to not stick to any one mantra or philosophy. Ultimately, I choose to be kind.

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

Claire. I spent a lot of time thinking about and crafting who Claire was, and how she would be. To me, she became a real person, with thoughts, faults, emotions and desires. I enjoy the plot of my story, but I hope people learn to appreciate Claire, even if she isn’t always the most pleasant!


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