Death metaller-turned-author Jeremy Wagner says he loved books long before he loved banging his head. "I know for a lot of metalhead readers, they got into horror books through bands talking about certain writers like Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, but for me it was the other way around," says Wagner during a recent conversation with Noisecreep. The former Broken Hope guitarist is promoting 'The Armageddon Chord,' his debut novel.

The book's synopsis reads like something out of a classic Iron Maiden album: "An ancient and evil song written in hieroglyphics is discovered; once transcribed and performed, the song will bring the Apocalypse upon the Earth and a gifted guitarist finds himself caught between the forces of good and evil."

"I got into books before I even listened to heavy metal. When I was around 6 or 7 years old, I started writing my own short stories and poetry. I grew up out in the countryside of central Wisconsin. We didn't have cable television. In fact, we only had 3-4 TV channels that came into our little black & white television," laughs Wagner.

"Since I didn't have MTV and all that other stuff to distract me, I spent a lot of time using my imagination. My mother was a real avid reader. She had tons of books in our house. Her reading tastes leaned into the horror, mystery and macabre side of writing. I first became intrigued with the covers of all these great books. I'm talking about Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock collections. I can't really explain why all of this stuff appealed to me, but anyone reading this who loves horror as much as I do understands the fascination," says Wagner.

Stephanie Cabral
Stephanie Cabral

Broken Hope, the popular death metal band that Wagner co-founded in 1988, released five studio albums before disbanding in 2002. "I had played in other bands before Broken Hope, but by the time that got going I was already into writing darker and more horror-centric lyrics. Through the entire time Broken Hope was recording and touring, I was always writing horror short stories. Writing fiction is like anything else -- you have to practice and work on the craft of it."

Watch the book trailer for 'The Armageddon Chord'

'The Armageddon Chord' is the culmination of years of hard work and early false starts for Wagner. "In the mid-'90s I wrote my first novel and it never went anywhere. I guess you can call it my starter novel. It had something like 100,000 pages and was a train wreck. That said, in my mind I thought it would be the next New York Times bestseller [laughs].

"I learned a lot from writing that first novel, and from there I started getting my short stories published. Then one day I had this idea of a guitarist who wrote the heaviest riff known to man. Once the chord was struck, it would shake the world. That was a bit cheesy, but I worked on it from there. That was the seed for 'The Armageddon Chord' novel."

Even though 'The Armageddon Chord' isn't even in stores yet, Wagner already has more writing projects on the way. "I have two new novels that I'm currently editing. They both go back to what I know best: pure uncut horror. There's some really nasty stuff in them. I'm talking really grisly [laughs]."

'The Armageddon Chord' will be released on August 22nd via kRP Publishing.

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