Dear readers, tonight with us is the antagonist from a dystopian adventure. He’s here to give us a different perspective on his world and the protagonists.
Tell us a little about you and your family.
My name is Mayor Jack Oldham. You can just call me Mayor, if you wish, because that’s who I am to the people of Camp Five and that’s who I will forever be. This is my village. My domain.
Now, it’s true I was born Brantley Oldham. Can you believe that? Brantley? My oldest brother was Robert the Third. Everyone called him Bobby and slapped him on the back. Our other brother was Richard. Folks called him Richie and shook his hand. I was Brantley. Just Brantley. So when the world collapsed and Bobby and Richie lay crushed under the rubble, I climbed out and decided to be Jack. And I slapped people on the back and shook their hands until they thought I was the smilin’ Texan my brothers always pretended to be. Brantley died with Bobby and Richie. I am Mayor Jack now. And I am in charge here.
Do you have any cherished memories from your childhood?
I remember my father in the boardroom. He could encourage someone to speak just by giving them a smile. And he could make them shut up with his silence. They knew. They knew when he looked at them that they’d better sit down and be quiet now. I learned from my father. Who he was when he smiled, and who he was when he made people shut up. He was fierce. Brutal. A leader of fearful men.
How did you come to be Mayor of Camp Five?
Mayor. (scoffs) I made myself Mayor because I thought they might balk at King. (chuckle) But make no mistake, that’s what I am. I have no intention of giving up my title. Or ever letting anyone else lay hold of it. Others – namely Iris’ grandfather Ralph – they thought Camp Five should be a democracy. They thought they could have a council and let people rule themselves. But the world as we knew it has ended. We cling to the top of a mountain so the buku don’t eat us. We can’t feed everybody. We can’t keep everybody safe. These people need someone who isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done, to sacrifice who needs to be sacrificed.
What did you first think when the buku started breaking out of their pens and turning on their creators?
Micah and people like him – they thought of who they could save. Me — I thought opportunity. Does that shock you? It shouldn’t. Billions of people died because of greed. You can sit there and play victim. That’s not who I am. You know as well as I do that Givens knew this was a possibility when he started creating his souped-up hippos. Even when he was tweaking their DNA so that they carried layers of blubber under their hides like Ahab’s white whale, he knew that evolution could be a problem. How could he not? And when he promised governments a perpetual oil supply, of course they knew that breeding millions of the creatures could get out of hand. They didn’t care that they could bring on the apocalypse. All they were seeing were the dollar signs. I didn’t do this. I didn’t destroy everything. That was Givens and all the people who invested in his test-tube monsters. But I’m sure as hell going to take advantage of what they did. Some people see this all as the end of the world. I say it’s the beginning.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Ahhh. Yeah, I hated Ralph. Self-righteous ass. I celebrated his death with a bottle of wine. Kinda liked his daughter, frail though she was. She was a looker, and I would have made her mine if Ralph hadn’t guarded her like some prized heifer. Lot of good that did her. She still got knocked up and left us with Iris. And that girl — she’s a dichotomy for sure. Looks a lot like her mother, which makes me kinda want to keep her around. My son Blue, he fancies himself in love with her. Of course, his idea of love is hitting her to keep her in line, but what can a father do, you know? But I tell you, Iris is proving herself to be problematic. People are drawn to her. Loyal to her. Not just Blue, but others. Our doctor. The men she hunts with. She’s got the people over on the oiler side thinking that she walks on water just because she tends to their wounds. And then there are the strangers. This Oso guy and his dad Micah. Pretty sure she’s the reason we keep seeing them around. The last thing I need is for someone to come in and play hero, challenging my authority, promising my people things I can’t deliver. I should have found a way to get rid of Iris back when her grandfather died, but I thought she would be weak like her mother. I had no idea she’d be so much like Ralph. I’d throw her to the buku if I thought I could get away with it, but as I say, people are loyal to her. I have to step carefully. But make no mistake, she needs to die. If it takes killing her along with Blue and that Oso character and whoever else stands in the way, then so be it. Because I am Mayor of Camp Five and that’s who I will forever be.
Jennifer Anderson hails from Illinois — the opposite end of the state from Chicago. There, among the corn fields and coal mines, she grew up exploring new worlds through books, while dreaming of someday creating her own worlds. With a degree in advertising from the University of Illinois, Jennifer became a copywriter, working mostly in broadcast. She eventually landed at famed WSM Radio in Nashville, Tennessee where she went on to write and produce the syndicated radio program “The Crook and Chase Countdown” for over a decade. Finally, a few years ago, she decided to pursue her childhood dream of writing fiction. BUKU is her first novel. Jennifer lives in the Nashville area with her husband Mike, where she snuggles cats, neglects housework, and heads up a mission project that encourages creativity among at-risk children. Sign up for her newsletter at jenniferandersonwriter.com and receive the free prequel novella and read the hilarious story of the time she gave a ride to a sci-fi icon.
You can find Mayor Jack on the pages of Buku.
Dear readers, join us next week to meet a high-ranking government official, caught in a coup against his will. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.