INTERVIEW: Jade Shames on The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘Give Up the Ghost’

A short interview with writer & composer Jade Shames on his contribution to The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, out now from IDW Publishing…


THE X-CAST: How did you come to be involved with Secret Agendas?

JADE SHAMES: I’ve known Jonathan Maberry for a long while and he reached out to me asking if I’d like to contribute to the anthology. I was thrilled.

T-XC: Have you always been a fan of The X-Files?

JS: Yes. I was pretty young when it debuted but I remember watching it every week. Still, I was fortunate enough have dated a girl in college who was a super fan and I still keep in touch with her. I made sure to let her read the story before sending it to Jon. I wanted to have the approval and insight of someone who REALLY knows the show. Her name is Kara Helmick-Nelson, by the way, and she’s a very good writer.

T-XC: So here’s the big question – where did the idea to put yourself in the story come from?

JS: I was trying to evoke the feeling of straddling two realities: Scully’s life as an agent and her life outside of that; Mulder’s confidence in his mission, and his insecurities; Sam existing in the paranormal, and Sam existing in the realm of science; The X-Files universe and our own. Inserting myself into the story was a way to further this feeling. And I think it creates a fun experience. It allowed me to make fun of myself and give the reader something they may not have seen in a story like this before.

T-XC: Your tale deals with some fascinating ideas of ‘meta’ reality & wish fulfillment – what made you want to write this kind of story? And is ‘Sam’ based on a real legend?

JS: I love those “deal with the devil” fables. Sam is based on that. He’s a Mephistopheles. But, in X-Files tradition, there also had to be a Scully side—a scientific explanation—which I drew from stuff like neurolinguistic programming, hypnosis, the McCollough effect, and other such things that seem to “hack” the brain. I loved the idea that the devil could be a kind of “brain virus”.

T-XC: You do some great character work with Scully here – do you think she truly wants a ‘normal’ life?

JS: Thanks! My thinking was that, at this point, Scully did consider it. She’s getting older and really doesn’t have anyone else in her life to share these experiences with except for Mulder. I like to think that both Mulder and Scully have had doubts about their mission and have had secret desires for a different life. I would have loved to see one moment in The X-Files where Mulder is on the toilet, perhaps hungover or sick, and lonely, and he says to himself, “What the hell am I doing?”

But in the show, we don’t see these things. Scully seems OK with this being her life, and in my story I wanted to suggest (spoilers) that perhaps that was due to a vestigial Sam code lurking in her brain, which is why she has the sudden change of heart at the end. Maybe it was Sam’s revenge—to keep her moving in a direction that deep down she doesn’t want to go. Or maybe she really does find satisfaction in her adventures. It’s open ended. Scully is a very complicated person and why she chooses the life she chooses is something we may never understand. I love that about her.

T-XC: Do you believe in the paranormal?

JS: Hmmm…well, I believe that science cannot currently explain everything, but I also believe that science will continue to explain things we once thought were unexplainable—meaning that what seems like paranormal activity now, will eventually be forensically explained. So, in way, yes.

Many thanks to Jade Shames for his time. You can find him at also follow him on Twitter @JadeShames.

Questions by Tony Black, who you can follow on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.


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