It’s about a 16-year-old named James Salley who finds out that he’s the Antichrist.
The Antichrist? Really? Like The Omen?
Kinda, yeah, but funnier, and without Gregory Peck. One review called it The Catcher in the Rye meets The Omen. That was nice.
So is this where I’m supposed to ask where the idea came from?
I guess. Yeah, we can do that. I uh, I actually remember the exact night the idea came to me. I was annoyed—I don’t remember what movie I’d just seen—but I was annoyed with the prevalence of that whole Neo–Luke Skywalker–Harry Potter–Joseph Campbell–“You are the One” sorta thing. I remember thinking both that it felt like a lazy, ubiquitous trope, but also how undeniably universal the want of that story is, for someone to come to you, out of nowhere, and tell you that you aren’t just average and put upon, you’re special. You’re the One.
And then it hit me: But what if you were chosen to be the bad guy.
All of a sudden, that jelled with so much of the existing coming-of-age story I’d been brainstorming, and I saw how this larger Antichrist story fit perfectly with the experience of leaving childhood.
I understand that to you that sounds amazing and magical, but I’m not sure it really translates.
Hey, did you ever notice the voices of the interviewers in these self-interviews are often really hostile and blasé? Isn’t that funny? Why do you think that is? You think it’s something about that voice we all have, the one telling us nobody wants to hear about our shit?
Alright, well, I’m sorry if I was rude earlier then. I’m gonna do away with it and be interested. You’re an artist. You made a “thing”—a novel, in this case. What were you trying to do?
I wanted to write the book I wanted but couldn’t find when I was 15. I wanted to write a book that was really about being a teenager and choosing who you’re going to be as a person—something you could read at 15, 21, 27, 35, and get something different every time.
Do you think you did it?
Don’t know, but it’s the best I can do.
JESSE JORDAN is a writer and editor in and around Chicago. His novel, This Is Not the End (2016, Medallion), received a starred review from Kirkus, where it was called “A wickedly funny examination of what it means to choose your own destiny.” He received his MFA from Columbia College Chicago and his first novel, Gospel Hollow, was published in 2012.