An Interview with “Gusto” Dave Jackson!

Please welcome “Gusto” Dave Jackson, author of the upcoming novel TATTOO RAMPAGE (Curiosity Quills Press, September 15, 2013). I met Dave through the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and his blog, Chiseled in Rock.

13H Gusto Dave headshot

Not your typical author, “Gusto” Dave Jackson started writing in his constant pursuit to become a Renaissance man. Then he fell in love with the art form. Comedy remains as one of his many passions. He writes and performs skits as well as stand-up. Also a songwriter and guitarist, he has composed over 300 musical titles.

Tattoo Rampage, Dave’s debut novel, is represented for film by Hotchkiss and Associates, the same agency that saw Secretariat, The Kite Runner, and recently Joe Hill’s Horns from novels to movies.

13H Tattoo Rampage Cover

Evangelina Marquez-James gets her first tattoo, a symbol of courage to carry on after her husband dies in the line of duty as a police officer. The skin art is of an elite yet obscure super heroine created by a forgotten 1940s artist.

A solar disturbance triggers a metamorphosis in her new ink, enabling Evangelina with the ability to transform into the embodiment of the character complete with powers. She sets out to wage war against the types of vermin who murdered her husband.

Acid, a sociopathic killer who can assume the form of his warlord tattoo, seeks the artist’s original sketchbook. When Evangelina comes into possession of the drawing pad, Acid not only tracks it down, but her family as well, forcing her into a standoff with his nightmarish army born of ink.

Thank you, Dave, for joining me here at the blog today to tell us a little more about TATTOO RAMPAGE! And now, on with the questions:

Where did you grow up? Will you share a favorite story from your childhood?

Thanks for having me, Susan! Oklahoma. I’m a country boy, but moved off and received a little refinement through world travels and college. I like to tell kids about when I climbed way up in a towering black jack tree and grabbed a dead branch for it to snap off and send me hurling toward my death. The branch saved my life. I always say that my guardian angel is overworked, considering that incident and my ‘wild’ days.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’m an artist…was always involved with theater, drawing, and music. I simply had to write.

If you could go back in time and share one writing lesson with “new writer you” before starting your first manuscript … what would that be?

Great question. To take advice mostly from writers who are published. When I started out, I attended critique groups like an addiction, utilizing every suggestion I could to sharpen my writing. The problem was that most of the groups were comprised of unpublished authors. Don’t get me wrong. They were great for turning me on to the basics. I came to a point, though, when I needed to move on, trust my instincts, and simply bounce a few pages off of published friends.

Your new novel, TATTOO RAMPAGE, involves tattoos which imbue their owners with the ability to assume the tattoo’s form and powers. For your heroine, Evangeline, that means becoming a superhero. For human-turned-warlord Acid, it’s super-villain. What inspired you to take this unusual spin on ink?

All I can say is: I can run off to the woods and just dream up the most bizarre stuff.

Do you have a favorite author, book, or genre? If so, who (or what) is it, and why?

Any genre, although horror is my favorite when it’s done right…and that’s extremely difficult to pull off. Elmore Leonard, Jodi Picoult, Ken Follett, Esri Allbritten (she lives close by in Denver and everyone should read Chihuahua of the Baskervilles), Alan Dean Foster, Stephen King, William Peter Blatty, Robert Harris…those are just for starters. There are books that pound through some words and you dutifully read. Then there are those that getcha. The aforementioned authors know how to do that in most cases.

Your novel’s protagonist, Evangeline, acquires her tattoo as a sign of courage after her husband’s death, but wasn’t expecting the powers that went with it. Tell us about an element of TATTOO RAMPAGE (or the process of writing it) which came as a surprise to you.

Evangelina can extend the ink on her arms to perform different functions. One of those functions is blades made out of her tribal flames (see cover). When her mentor is teaching her how to get those to stick out, he associates it to lifting weights like bench press and ‘squeezing’ that last repetition out. Evangelina couldn’t identify with that, but thought about child birth, which did the trick. Lady friends who’ve read Tattoo Rampage say that they love this. I have no idea how I stumbled onto this comparison. Surprise. All I know is: I think child birth is the most amazing thing in the world and probably the most strenuous.

Do you have a favorite scene in TATTOO RAMPAGE? If so (and if you can tell us about it without revealing any spoilers!), what makes that scene stand out for you?

There’s a country girl in it named Felicity. She walks into a bar to meet our heroine and makes quite the impression with the Texans. She’s a spit fire, beautiful, and stubborn. Even though she and Evangelina are nothing but friction at first, Felicity becomes quite a champ in the end.

What is the last book you read, and why did you read it?

Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. Some life storms caused me to seek something uplifting.

How did you push yourself to get past difficult moments in writing and editing TATTOO RAMPAGE? Do you have a favorite place to write or to edit your work?

Nothing was difficult. I write anywhere.

And now, the speed round:

Plotter or pantser?


Coffee, tea, or bourbon?


Socks or no socks?

Bare footin’.

Cats, dogs, or reptiles?


For dinner: Italian, Mexican, Burgers or Thai?

Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Thank you, Dave, for joining us today! TATTOO RAMPAGE sounds fabulous, and I’m really looking forward to reading it as soon as the book releases.

You can meet Dave in person at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold conference on September 20-22, or find him online on Facebook (where he has both a personal page and a fan page for Tattoo Rampage)!



2 thoughts on “An Interview with “Gusto” Dave Jackson!

  • September 5, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Great interview! I’m looking forward to seeing Dave over on the Debs.

    • September 6, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks Lisa! I can’t wait to see his interview there too!

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