When he’s not rocking the stage with his bandmates in Broken Hope, Jeremy Wagner is engaging in one of his many other pastimes. The guitarist has always had a passion for horror movies and horror novels, and he has taken this love to a whole other level by becoming an avid collector of memorabilia from the last several decades of horror cinema. Included in this collection are one-of-a-kind posters, screen-used artifacts, and his latest collectible, a life-size sculpture of the character Quint, played by actor Robert Shaw, from the legendary Steven Spielberg film Jaws. Wagner has both a dedicated museum to The Thing film series, as well as Jaws, in his Chicago area home.
Recently, via THE DAILY JAWS fan page, Wagner, Hollywood sculptor, makeup artist, and visual effects guru Nick Mara, and Charlie Benante of Anthrax got together for a special summit to discuss the importance of Jaws within film and also heavy metal music. It was all part of the celebration around unveiling this Quint sculpture and honouring such a legendary flick.
With him being such a fan of films and novels, Wagner made for the perfect guest for our latest Fahrenheit V13 interview, in which we discussed the most memorable book from his childhood, his opinions on the publishing industry as it currently stands, what books he enjoys that we may be surprised to hear, and more!
What was the most memorable book from your childhood?
Jeremy Wagner: “As a kid, Where the Wild Things Are, and Fungus the Boogeyman.”
How important were books and reading in your family growing up? Did you share that same level of enthusiasm, or did you differ from them on that?
“Books and reading were important to all kinds of people throughout my families, more so my mom’s side. My dad wasn’t into books and reading, but my mother certainly was. She was and still is a real bookworm. That really rubbed off on me. Also, my grade-school librarian, Mrs. Bernd, was an absolutely positive influence on my love of books and reading.”
What is the book that has made the most impact on you as a person?
“There have been many for different reasons, some reasons, specific to ‘impact,’ are books that impacted me as both a writer and a reader. Books where I was like, ‘Damn. I wish I wrote that’ and, ‘Damn, what a book. Genius!’ To that end, a novel like The Godfather is a masterclass on how to write a multi-layered epic with amazing, unforgettable characters. It’s also one hell of a sweeping saga that blows you away as a reader.”
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? What’s your preferred genre?
“I prefer reading and writing fiction. But I’ve read and written non-fiction. It really has to hit me right. For me, fiction is always the ultimate escape. My preferred genre is ‘dark fiction,’ which falls into horror and dark crime (I guess that’s two genres tied).”
Who are your favourite writers?
“Thomas Harris, Cormac McCarthy, Peter Blauner, Nic Pizzolato, Colin Harrison, and early Stephen King.”
Which book had the best soundtrack in your mind while you were reading it? What songs or artists had the best fit?
“Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, as I can hear Ennio Morricone as soon as that book takes off.”
How many books do you own? Any titles or editions you’re particularly fond of?
“I own about 1,000 books. Somewhere in that area. I’m very fond of the signed books I have by my heroes, signed-limited editions, and rare books as well. I’m not religious, but have a Bible that’s like 150 years old, and it’s insanely titanic and like a work of art.”
What book do lots of other people enjoy that you just can’t stand?
“Romance novels. It’s a huge genre and more power to those people, but I just can’t read that stuff.”
What book do you enjoy that no one else seems to?
“I love Thomas Harris’ Hannibal, but I know people who read that and just chucked it. They couldn’t stand it. I still love re-reading that one.”
How often do you find or make time to read? Are you paperback, hardcover, or eBook?
“I try and read every day for an hour or more. I read it all: paperback, hardcover, eBook (sometimes), and audiobooks as well.”
What’s your most controversial opinion on books and literature?
“Books shouldn’t be banned, unless they’re intentionally racist, homophobic, and full of some horrible, toxic ideology. Other than that, if a book offends you, that’s your problem. Especially with fiction, some people want to ban books that are just make-believe. I don’t get it.”
What is the worst part of the publishing industry right now? What’s the best?
“The worst part: false gatekeepers who cancel authors because they don’t like their books, not based on any toxic content, ‘just because.’ There’s these Twitter witch-hunts among groups who think their opinions matter, and if they don’t like an author’s work, or if an author disagrees with them, then these ‘gatekeepers’ crucify them and try to cancel them.
“The best part: New and exciting voices are being published. New and exciting publishers are in motion. And no one really cares about Twitter mobs anyway (laughs).”
What’s the longest book you’ve ever read? Did you enjoy it despite its length?
“I believe that Stephen King’s The Stand was the longest book I’ve read. I loved it!”
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
“When I was younger, I could get scared a lot easier. So when I read Stephen King’s IT back when it came out, it scared me. Before that, the paperback movie adaptation for Halloween scared me a bit.”
What was the best reading or book-related present you ever received?
“An original, First Printing of The Godfather signed by Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola, and Marlon Brando. My wife bought that for me from an auction house. I was delighted, still am! Thank you for the interview!”