Saturday 12th April 2014
Bookish Banter is proud to present today’s Featured Author…
Welcome to the Bookish Banter Jim. Please tell us from where you hail? Let me guess Transylvania … just kidding…I hope gulp!
Not quite Transylvania, no, haha. I actually currently reside in a small country town in
Australia called Holbrook, although I originally hailed from Sydney.
How long have you been scaring people to death with your writing?
Almost as long as I have been able to read. I started writing a variety of stories from an early age, creating all kinds of fanciful monsters and things along those lines. I was always the kid in class with the freaky stories for the teacher to read out to the rest of the children and make sure they didn’t sleep well that night. I didn’t begin to seek to be published until the late nineties when I already had two books written. At that stage I had not much of a clue as to which publishers were liable to accept or be in any way interested in what I was writing, so sending unsolicited manuscripts to all and sundry resulted in loads of rejection. This was way back before the social media world of networking made things immeasurably easier for people trying to get published. For years after that I wrote reviews and things like that in the extreme metal scene (probably scaring a few people even then with some of the types of music I was required to listen to) and then I re-read an incomplete story written much earlier, rediscovered my passion for writing horror and that is basically where I’m at right now, successfully published with more dark and wonderfully gruesome stuff on the way.
Are you promoting a particular book at the present time?
I am currently promoting my début novel Plebs which was released in January this year through J. Ellington Ashton (available in both paperback and ebook format). I am also promoting the heavy metal horror anthology Axes of Evil from Diabolus in Musica, which I have a story in. This has only been out a couple of weeks, but it’s already spent time in the top ten Amazon bestselling Horror Anthologies.
What genre do you consider you write in – just horror or do you write other genres as well?
Horror is my genre. Though there may be other elements of different genres creep in to various parts of stories, horror is the core of most everything I write. When I started writing way back in the day I used to write in a whole array of different genres, but once I seriously looked to get material published it was all of a horror nature. There are an array of different subgenres under the broad blanket of horror itself, and while I don’t consider that I work exclusively in any of the following, Plebs has so far been referred to as ‘grindhouse horror’, ‘splatterpunk’ and old school classic horror, all of which suit me fine. They are among the more visceral end of the horror spectrum and that is where I see myself mostly working, albeit with facets of other things added in.
Can you give us the gory details of your latest book – can you give us the feel of it without scaring us all to death?
Plebs is the tale of three shiftless slackers, a trio of young men out having a good time celebrating a friend’s birthday. Along the way they happen to encounter a band of mysterious fugitive women who have a whole lot more to them than meets the eye, a whole bunch of deadly secrets and a request of the young men that is going to land them in a whole pile of trouble. From that point on, they are enmeshed in a nightmare of epic proportions that includes the freakish beasts of the books title, new enemies, old enemies, blood, violence and death. Good times are not had by all.
Where did the idea come from?
Initially this was supposed to be a short story with a similar premise, wrapping up much earlier with a different outcome, but the more I wrote, the more I loved building up the stories of the characters, tossing them into horrendous situations and generally just seeing where they could take the story. As a result I ended up with a six hundred page novel. I have myriad ideas about all kinds of things, probably more ideas than I have time to write and as with Plebs, the seeds of the idea may be there, but when I actually come to the point of writing it, it doesn’t exactly follow any particular blueprint at all, just takes on a life of its own.
Did you have to do a lot of research for your latest work? You know late nights in a morgue or cemetery… or haunted house… (shivers)
For Plebs, no I didn’t need to do any extensive research, it all is derived from the twisted depths of my imagination. Generally speaking, the amount of research I do or don’t do for projects depends on the type of story, what is required. If there are certain things I don’t know or am vague about then of course I’m going to need to do a little research if I want it to sound factually correct, but then again, horror does require a little suspension of belief at stages so meticulous research isn’t something I constantly adhere to. All places I use in my work (as in towns, cities etc) are almost always of my own creation, I never write country specific or area specific so that gives me plenty of room and artistic license to do as I please with them. Cemeteries, haunted houses, all those great places for inspiration, I have had plenty of experience with them in any case over the years, research not required.
Do you think your writing is improving with each spine tingling addition to your supernatural library?
Yes I believe so. My first few attempts at writing novels, many years ago when I first became obsessed with horror in all its medium, was definitely derivative of all the authors I was fascinated with reading at the time so it wasn’t exactly my own voice, more of a conglomeration of my favourite authors. From then on, after I discovered the late great Richard Laymon, I altered and honed the way I wrote. Each consequential thing I write, I would like to think I am further honing my skills and advancing my abilities as a writer and storyteller.
Did you find yourself cursed at any stage during the writing that held things up for a bit or did it flow freely?
Not particularly no. In terms of writers block, I don’t really suffer it at all. I’ll reply with the same response I always do when presented with similar questions. I constantly keep multiple projects on the go at any given time and if I ever do happen to stumble into a bit of trouble on one, I switch to another and carry on with that. Usually I return to the original one which might have been giving me issues, rejuvenated, with a new approach on how to work it and continue writing no problem. I never have problems with the words flowing when I do sit down to write, they are always coming. It’s often a matter of finding the time to get to sit down and do the writing, around kids and other things, so once I do, I always make the most of it.
Why do you love this craft so much? That’s the craft of writing by the way not witchcraft?
I just love to write, always have. I love to create horrific tales, I love to unleash the darkest corners of my imagination. Besides, I’m good at it. I was a fanatic of horror and writing from a very early age, I’ve grown up with a deep love for it that has never abated.
How much planning goes into a book? Do you spend a long time planning or do you just start writing and see where it leads you?
Not a massive amount that is for sure. I am not one of these writers who needs to have everything mapped out to the smallest detail, and for the most part, as I’m writing, even I have no idea how the book is going to end. For some short stories I usually have a clearer idea of how things are going to culminate, but even then not always. I prefer to let my characters develop, throw themselves into peril and create mayhem, and just see where it takes them. Being a meticulous planner of things has never been the way I write, that’s one thing that has never changed over the years and nor will it. I run with a few ideas or a basic outline/plotline of what I originally think will act as a framework for the story, but again, that doesn’t always eventuate as I believe it might. In most cases, something completely different will crop up. I’m constantly bombarded with ideas and it’s a matter of getting them all out. Some work, some don’t.
Do you have a crowd of zombie followers who read every word and encourage you?
Yes. Calling them zombies though would be doing them a great disservice. I have an excellent network of people who encourage, assist, read, provide feedback, support and promotion, from my family, to my publishers, friends, readers, all kinds of network contacts I’ve cultivated over the years.
What is your experience of the Publishing industry, apart from it being the most blood sucking industry out there?
I’ve heard loads and loads of horror stories (nothing like the ones I write) about bad experiences in the publishing industry, but personally I have nothing bad to say about my experiences in it so far. My publishers J. Ellington Ashton have all, without exception, been brilliant to me, supportive, helpful and always on hand to answer any potential questions, and I have nothing but great things to say about them and those involved with them. What’s more, they assisted in me realising a lifelong ambition, to have my work published.
Is this book a part of a blood curdling series? Where is it going?
All I can say is yes, there will be a sequel to Plebs. Where it goes after that, who knows, but you’ll have to read the first book to get the gist of things.
Have you had some good reviews for your book?
Yes indeed. Currently over fifteen reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.9 stars. I’m always on the lookout for more, but so far I’m pretty happy with what various readers have had to say about Plebs. Still waiting for that inevitable terrible review, somebody is bound to hate it sooner or later.
If you couldn’t be a writer what would you do instead? And no Count Dracula is not an option!
I’m doing exactly what I always wanted to do from an early age, writing horror fiction. There is nothing else I would rather be doing. Ha, pretty sure some of the folk in my town already think I’m some kind of Count Dracula as it is, so I have that covered too.
Your favourite Author is…
Richard Laymon. Discovering him back in the early nineties proved to have the biggest impact on me of any author I have read. He is still my greatest influence and inspiration when it comes to writing and still my number one favourite.
I am posting a link to Richard Laymon’s Author Profile on Amazon, thanks for that Jim, he looks like a cool Author to check out too. I look forward to reading Plebs and one of Richard’s books and seeing if I can spot his influence in your own work 😉
Have you got a book trailer?
No, not at this point in time. It might be something I explore a little later down the track.
What do you do to wind down?
I spend time with my family, play with my children, listen to extreme metal music (Might not sound too relaxing to some, but it’s a perfect way of unwinding for me. I used to drift off to sleep to the sounds of Norwegian black metal as a teenager, nothing much has changed in that regard), read, watch movies and certain television shows. And I write. Writing is relaxing to me as well, it’s what I love to do, so I never view it as a chore. It is a pleasure and like I said, occasionally things will be happening in a day which mean there isn’t much time left at the end of it to be able to fit as much writing in as I would like, if any. So any time I get to write I love it, appreciate it and manage to wring as much out of it as possible.
Do you belong to a friendly writers group and does it help?
Yes, I belong to many. It does indeed help, in many different ways. I discovered my publisher through a group.
What is your experience of editing and polishing your manuscripts?
I currently have editors so once they run through my manuscripts and get back to me, it’s a matter of me going through any corrections or alterations and seeing what, if anything, needs to be fixed up. Usually my most common issue is being far too sparse with comma use. Anything I submit is almost always a first draft, written as is, nothing changed. Once I have written something, nine times out of ten, it is how I want it to be. Rarely do I tinker with the end result or go back and change things or agonise over bits and pieces. Plebs itself, was submitted like this and came back after first edits with very minimal changes needed. I wouldn’t say it was a polished piece right from the start, but it didn’t require too much done to it.
Any tips for all our budding authors out there wondering how to get started?
Never give up. That’s the first and most important thing I would have to say. It’s pretty easy to get discouraged with rejections and things like that, but they are all part of the process. Even the greatest of writers have had to contend with rejection. What doesn’t meet approval somewhere, might be exactly what someone else is looking for. If you love to write, just write. Keep at it. To me, writing is easy and comes naturally, although that might not be the case for everyone. If you have to push too hard at it or it seems to be turning into a chore for you or something you aren’t deriving enjoyment from, maybe step back from it and reflect on things.
Link city – as many as you need to guide us round your internet trail of ghostly goings on…
Plebs on Amazon http://smarturl.it/Plebs
Axes of Evil on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Axes-Evil-Heavy-Metal-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00JAQ1F72/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397204394&sr=1-1&keywords=axes+of+evil
J. Ellington Ashton Press http://www.jellingtonashton.com/jim-goforth.html
Thanks for stopping by Jim. I am looking forward to reading Plebs, I like a bit of horror on a cold dark night. We’d love to have you back on the Bookish Banter with any future spine-chilling stories.
❤ Laura ❤