On the Spiral Staircase with Jason Rekulak
Jason Rekulak is the publisher of Quirk Books – and because his debut novel The Impossible Fortress hit bookstores last week, we’ve chosen Jason for this month’s On the Spiral Starcase spotlight.
In his seventeen years at Quirk Books, Jason has acquired and edited a number of Quirk favorites – including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, and The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters. He oversees all of Quirk’s editors and designers, and he’s personally worked on hundreds of books…so let’s see how he answers our five questions!
If you were stranded on Mars and could only have one book to read, what would it be?
My brain is saying The Complete Works of William Shakespeare because that’s a smart, practical choice, but my heart is telling me The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl. Everybody knows and loves the stories he wrote for children–but few people remember that Dahl wrote dozens of short stories for adults. Many were published in The New Yorker during the 1950s and they’re just wonderfully weird and twisted – they’re full of philandering husbands, murderous wives, devious schemes, crazy wagers, and surprise endings. I never get tired of re-reading them!
Tell us about something cool you keep at your desk.
A few years ago, I was working the Quirk booth at San Diego Comic Con, and a little boy stopped to purchase one of our books. He was maybe 10 or 11 years old. After he counted his change and disappeared into the crowd, I realized he had left this small alien figurine at our table:
I grabbed the figurine and dashed after the boy, but it was hopeless. There were too many people in the aisle and I couldn’t find him. Over the next few days, I kept the alien next to our cash register, hoping the kid would return. The next summer, and every summer after that, I’ve brought the figurine to the Quirk booth at San Diego Comic Con, just in case the kid turns up.
I used to be afraid of it, if you want to know the truth. For a few years, we used to joke that the kid had cursed us, that the figurine was some kind of evil monkey’s paw, like the haunted tiki idol from The Brady Bunch. But the last few years have been good to Quirk, so I’ve decided it’s actually a lucky charm. Now I don’t dare get rid of it!
[TV still from Breaking Bad, AMC]
What's your fandom?
Books–what else? I enjoy reading across a variety of genres and subjects – but I’m partial to realistic adult fiction, crime novels, popular history, and books that explain current events. I’m currently reading Best American Mystery Stories 2016 because my favorite thing in the world is an extremely well-crafted mystery story. They’re like little perfect gems.
In other media: I’m one of those annoying people who won’t shut up about Breaking Bad. It is hands-down my favorite TV show of all time. I’m a big movie junkie, I love all kinds of movies. I read The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer every day. I never get tired of listening to “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin. I love the video game “Red Dead Redemption” and I can’t wait for the sequel!
Jason (left) talking about The Impossible Fortress at the Free Library of Philadelphia on 2/6/17.
What's an unexpected talent or side effect you've picked up while working at Quirk?
I’ve become A LOT more comfortable with public speaking, because I am constantly pitching books to people. It’s very easy to talk about things you love. The key to good public speaking (and maybe everything in life?) is enthusiasm!
If you were a Quirk book, which one would you be?
This is a really tough question but I am going to say The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters, because (1) it’s a terrific, Edgar Award-winning novel and (2) I nearly appeared on the cover. The story concerns a detective investigating a murder as a giant asteroid hurtles toward the earth, threatening worldwide extinction. The cover designer, Doogie Horner, wanted to photograph a detective standing in a sort of Museum of Natural History-style exhibit for a vanquished civilization. (Take a second to wrap your head around that.) We didn’t have the budget to afford models, so I put on a hat and a trenchcoat and I tried my best to look gruff. Ultimately, we scrapped this direction but I keep a framed copy in my office. Oh, the things we do for the books we love!!
As a bonus, we're giving away five copies of The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters. Enter to win using the form below! Winner will be chosen on 3/1/17.