|Interview with J.J. Reichenbach, author of Nix and
By D.W. Jones
J.J Reichenbach is a professional editor by day, but when the sun
goes down she becomes a horror writer. Her first novel Nix came
out in 2014 and little did she know that it would soon become a
series. Her follow up novel, Notorious Nix, came out in July 2016
and was just as good if not better than the first one. We talk with
J.J. Reichenbach to about writing, about her novels and how she
came up with her main protagonist Nix.
J.J. Reichenbach: How did you get started writing?
D.W. Jones: Writing and reading are things I’ve always enjoyed, and after High School I started getting
more serious about the craft. From there, I fell in love with it. Haven’t stopped since!
JJR: Were you always interested in writing horror?
DWJ: Yes! I love horror—always have, even as a kid. There’s just something about the darker side of
existence that fascinates me. I think we can learn a lot about ourselves and each other by exploring those
often-ignored darker facets of human behavior that the horror genre trades in. It may not always be
comfortable, but I still believe it is worthwhile. And, of course, horror is great entertainment.
JJR: How did you come up with the idea for Nix (the story)?
DWJ: It was originally going to be a short story, but the character just took hold. I’ve always loved the idea
of the anti-hero, but I wanted to try taking that a step further—an antagonist forced into the role of
protagonist. Someone brutally evil, but not in the same stereotypical way as many other antagonists. I was
tired of cardboard-cut-out bad guys and typical gender roles. We’re all the protagonist of our own stories,
so I figured why should demons be any different? The character of Nix drove the story, and I loved the idea
of scrappy monster-hunting good guys like the hunters in Supernatural, so I built a plot around that. And, of
course, from Nix’s point of view they are completely, laughably incompetent, so her perspective is what
colored the whole book. They aren’t really that incompetent, but through Nix’s eyes everyone is, so they
had to appear that way to her. It was ultimately an experiment in narrative craft that evolved into a story. I
wanted to test just how far I could take an evil protagonist and still keep an audience—turns out, pretty far!
JJR: Nix is such an interesting character, ready to create chaos wherever she goes. Did you
have an idea of who Nix was in the beginning or did she develop as you were writing?
DWJ: All I knew about Nix as a character when I started writing her was that she was a demon—ruthlessly,
relentlessly, unapologetically evil. But from there she started to develop on her own. She turned out to be a
bit of an outcast among the demon community. She doesn’t really fit in. She’s lonely because of that, but
finds the company of other demons to usually be tedious and unfulfilling. She likes humans more than she
should, which is what gets her in trouble most of the time. She doesn’t so much care about people living or
dying, and she certainly doesn’t care about anyone’s souls like a demon should. Her drive in her non-life is
basically entertainment. She’s immortal and stuck that way. She doesn’t hate being immortal, but she
doesn’t love it, either. She gets bored easily so she has to make her own fun or risk going insane with
existential angst. That’s why chaos is her favorite thing—it’s the only activity worth bothering with for her.
So she certainly developed a lot as I was writing her, often taking unpredictable turns and defying my
JJR: Being a fan of the Supernatural TV series, I saw similarities with some of the ideas between
the show and your novel. Was the purely a coincidence or were a you a fan of the show and like
some of the elements?
DWJ: I am a huge fan of SPN! To me, they have exactly the right blend of horror and humor for my tastes. I
love it! I’ve gotten so much inspiration from that show. Whenever I hit a wall when I’m writing, I’ll go binge-
watch some episodes for the inspiration. I also like to scatter little references to Supernatural throughout
my books as homage to the show, things that only other fans would pick up!
JJR: Without giving too much away, there was a combative relationship between Nix and
Rachel but as the story goes on, there is a subtle change. Were you always planning for this to
DWJ: Not at all. In fact, I intended Nix to end with the first book. Reception to it was so positive, though,
that I decided to continue and make it a series. The characters are definitely in control of the plot—their
needs and development are what drive it. I often start with a particular ending in mind, but it rarely works
out that way. With Nix and Rachel, especially, I had originally intended to kill Rachel off in the first book, but
she grew on me. She’s not the most likable character, because in a lot of ways she’s weak—but that’s
also what makes her work well with Nix, because she represents some of the traits that Nix hates to
acknowledge in herself. They provide something of a counterbalance for each other, and that balance
keeps shifting as both characters develop.
JJR: Nix is quite cruel and sadistic throughout the book. How did you come up with the different
ideas for what she does?
DWJ: Well, I’ve watched and read a ton of horror, and I have something of a twisted mind, so that certainly
helped me come up with scenarios. I also like to defy reader expectations whenever I can by flipping
things like gender roles or regular story tropes upside down, so that drove many things. A lot of it was
actually quite difficult to write—even too disturbing for my tastes at times. But what guided me was
ultimately the character of Nix herself. I was careful to make sure that regardless of the circumstances of
the plot, I was always being true to the character. No matter what, and no matter my comfort level. That
meant no cheating, no short-cuts, no pulled-punches. None. Nix could only ever take actions that were true
to her character, and I didn’t allow myself to fall into the easy trap of making her do what I wanted her to do,
or softening her to make the character more palatable. I would analyze the plot and the other characters
purely from her perspective—so in any scene, I would ask myself “What would Nix do?” And the answer
was usually that she would find someone’s deepest weakness, latch on to it, and then sink her teeth in until
she destroyed them in every way possible, every way that would hurt them the most. Because at the end of
the day, she’s a demon, and it was important to me that she stayed that way—even at the possible
expense of having her be a relatable or likable character. After all, Nix is who she is and she never
apologizes for that.
JJR: In Notorious Nix, there is a change in the dynamic between Nix and the rest of the main
characters. They both are changed by the events of the first book. How does this change the
flow of the story and how the characters interact?
DWJ: It changed a lot of things! In the end of the first book when Nix and Rachel were forced to confront
their own fears and work together, the veil between them was blurred. I think both characters broke a little
in that exchange. For Rachel, she let the darkness in. But for Nix, she let a little light in. They were both
changed by that, and continue to suffer the ramifications and struggle with the changes within themselves
that they don’t even fully understand. In most of the second book, Nix is extremely frustrated with herself.
She finds herself reacting differently than she usually would, but she doesn’t know why and she hates it.
They are still themselves (and Nix is still evil), but they’ve had to adjust to accommodate that shift. As a
result, though they still ostensibly hate each other, Nix and Rachel have a certain connection now that the
other characters can never understand. Plus, due to extreme circumstances, Nix and her enemies have to
work together to ensure their mutual survival. It was a balancing act to write, since I had to manage that
loathing (without minimizing the intensity behind it or the reasons for it, because that would be cheating)
while still enabling cooperation—even if it is very reluctant cooperation. Hopefully I succeeded in doing so.
JJR: Will you be coming out with a third book involving the character Nix?
DWJ: Yes, there will be a third book in the Nix series—and very likely a forth, maybe even more. I haven’t
decided how it all ends yet. I haven’t finished the third book, but the title will be Insatiable Nix. I sat down
after writing the second one and asked Nix, “What would be fun to write about next?” And the obvious
answer was “Cannibalism!” So you can look forward to some messed-up and disturbing new themes in
the next book, as well as a greater focus on Elliot and his story.
JJR: Are you working on any projects now or in the near future? What do your fans have to look
DWJ: The third book in the Nix series is one of my main focuses at the moment, though I am also
(unexpectedly) working on a book about a girl who joins a cult and then everything goes to hell. So that will
Thanks so much!