Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WRI Fright Fest 2015 Interviews: Author John Everson

@johneverson #wrifrightfest #cafechat #authorinterview

Today on Cafe Chat we are welcoming John Everson. Thank you for being here John. Let's get right into it.

Bunnita: Most people have a time of the day when they feel most productive. When do you find yourself writing most?

John: Given the way you phrased it, that’s actually a much more difficult question than you might think! I have a pretty demanding day job, so, while I probably feel most productive in the mid-late afternoon… that’s usually not when I get to write! I am a night owl, so you’d think I would write a lot at night, but really, if I don’t start working by 6 or 7 p.m., it’s not worth it for me to open a manuscript. I stay up late, but my productivity wanes as the hours grow later. So when I’m actively trying to finish a novel, I will frequently stake out a “writing night” where instead of going home after work, I go from work to my favorite pub and hole up in a corner, eat some finger food, have a couple beers and write for 4 hours or so. That gets me rolling before I start zoning! I have also gone through months where I force myself to get up 90 minutes early, and write before going to work. Not my favorite way to work, AT ALL, but I have gotten a lot done that way, since the house is quiet, and I have a looming time limit (leaving for work).  But my favorite and most enjoyable times to write are when I’ve got a day off for vacation or on the weekend, and I actually have the time to sit on the patio for several hours in the late morning / afternoon and create… with no hard deadlines! That’s how I started out as a writer when I was (a lot) younger – sitting out on the patio on the weekends for hours on end working on odd little stories. Damn I wish I had that kind of time today!

Bunnita: What drew you to the horror genre?

John: Oddly enough, science fiction! Growing up, I was a huge fan of golden age science fiction… but writers like Richard Matheson tended to fuse science fiction themes with horrific, macabre endings. His “Born of Man and Woman,” a very short story about an alien offspring determined to break free of its imprisonment, had a huge impact on me. It was sci-fi (alien) but yet had a horror twist at the end. Same goes for his Incredible Shrinking Man. Those kinds of stories really drew me, and when you coupled those with what I loved to watch on TV (Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Outer Limits) you can see how I was drawn to “weird” stories that ended … badly! When I began to write stories myself, they frequently had vaguely science fiction themes, but always had a horrific twist. Eventually, I stopped trying to drag in the sci-fi, because the stories I thought up just didn’t call for futuristic trappings.

Bunnita: What kind of research do you?

John: Not a lot, because most of my stories aren’t based on anything “real” that I need to bone up on. When I set a story in a particular “place,” I do make sure that the place supports the story — for Siren and The Pumpkin Man, I’ve actually visited and taken pictures of the northern California coastal towns that the stories are set in… although, I ended up changing the names of the towns to protect the innocent! But those stories are based on real places. For demon and siren mythology, I did do some research, just to understand what the mythology has said about those beings… but there are so many variations, you really can follow some of a “path” and then invent your own alternate rules.

Bunnita: Is there anything you would say is hard about writing horror?

John: Horror has a couple roads. You can focus on building a mood of dread and anxiety… or you can focus on grossing out the reader with truly horrible things. I think the best horror has a little of both – and that’s a difficult line to walk!

Bunnita: What do you hope a person experience while reading your books?

John: I hope sometimes their skin prickles a bit, as something gets under it. I hope that they giggle a little when some of my characters get sarcastic. And I hope they hurry to turn the page and put off going to bed because they have to know what happens next. That’s the best experience as a reader… and it’s what every writer hopes to inspire.

Bunnita: Do you have a favorite horror movie?

John: Lots! It’s hard to narrow it to just one. I love Alien because it’s the perfect creepy merger between science fiction and horror. I love European horror from the ‘70s and ‘80s – Dario Argento’s Phenomena and Suspiria, Fulci’s The Beyond, Jean Rollin’s Living Dead Girl and Fascination,  Renato Polselli’s Delirium and Reincarnation of Isabel, Jose Ramon Larraz’s Vampyres, Harry Kumel’s Daughters of Darkness… the list goes on.

Bunnita: Do you have a favorite horror author?

John: Edward Lee is probably my favorite modern writer. Nobody else locks me to the chair like his books do. In the past 10 years, he is the only author who has had a book that really kept me turning the pages from start to finish all in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down.

Bunnita: Do you go all out with Halloween?

John: Ironically… no. It’s my favorite holiday, but I don’t dress up, and don’t decorate the yard like a cemetery – though I love it when other people do! For most of the past 15 years I’ve hosted Halloween movie nights for a small group of friends, and played a variety of new and old horror movies for the group to enjoy, but outside of that, I’m fairly low key. I’m a horror spectator.

Bunnita: Do you have a favorite holiday and why is it your favorite?

John: Halloween is my favorite, because suddenly horror is everywhere! Nothing makes me more excited than the Gothic trappings of a haunted house. Now if I could just find the time to go visit some haunted houses at Halloween…

Bunnita: What is your favorite horror book?

John: I couldn’t possibly pick one. Stephen King’s Night Shift or Pet Sematary or Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game or Books of Blood or Edward Lee’s Succubi or Incubi or Coven… or Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat or The Witching Hour… or how about the one I read a couple times as a teen – Bram Stoker’s Dracula. They’ve all grabbed me in different, important ways.

Bunnita: Which book that you have written is your favorite and why?

John: Nope… still can’t do it. I guess I just don’t usually hone in on “a single thing” in my life! I love aspects of all of my books, and I can’t really put one above the other! I love Covenant because it was my first novel, but I love its sequel Sacrifice because I think it’s a better, more action-packed book with some of the same characters. I love The 13th because I think at that point, I really knew better what I was doing and had a blast creating its crazy blood-spattered orgy … and I love Siren because it’s a little more of a serious reflection on obsession and who, really, is a villain. And I love NightWhere because it’s the bravest, most over-the-top erotic horror story I’ve ever come up with. And then there are The Pumpkin Man, Violet Eyes and Family Tree… All of them have high points for me…

Bunnita: Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers out there?

John: Write what you want to read. If other people respond well… awesome. If they don’t? You still pleased yourself. And that’s all you really can ever count on. Entertain yourself, and others will follow.

Bunnita: Any advice specific to the horror genre?

John: We will always be afraid, because we’re human. It’s part of our genetic makeup. Taking that fear and using the adrenaline it releases to create the literary equivalent of a thrill ride is a tightrope feat… but if you can find the right balance and not fall off the wire, you’ll hit a universal nerve that can move everyone who reads your work. And that’s an amazing, powerful thing.

Bunnita: Your most recent novel was The Family Tree last fall… do you have any novels coming out this year?

John: I’m actually working on my ninth novel, which I’d planned to have finished by the summer, but… real life got in the way. That book is a long-overdue sequel to Covenant and Sacrifice, which at the moment is tentatively titled Redemption. I’m looking forward to finally being able to tie that up and write THE END.

In the meantime, I’m pretty excited about this year’s release – Sacrificing Virgins will be out from Samhain Publishing in December. This is a collection of my best short stories from the past decade, plus a couple new pieces. It will be the largest of my four fiction collections, with 25 stories, and includes a wide sampling of my work – from quiet ghost stories to over-the-top horror. There are even a couple tie-in stories that relate to my novels The Pumpkin Man, Siren and NightWhere. I hope readers will enjoy these tales!

Bunnita: Do you have any last words?

John: R.I.P.

Well there you have it. I'll like to thank John for this interview. And once again, thank y'all for stopping by until next time Happy Reading!

About the Author:
John Everson is a staunch advocate for the culinary joys of the jalapeno and an unabashed fan of 1970s European horror cinema.  He is also the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and seven other novels, including the erotic horror tour de force and Bram Stoker Award finalist NightWhere and the seductive backwoods tale of The Family Tree. Other novels include Sacrifice, The Pumpkin Man, Siren, The 13th and the spider-driven Violet Eyes. In December 2015, Samhain Publishing will release his fourth full-length short fiction collection, Sacrificing Virgins, collecting his best short stories from the past decade and more. In addition to Sacrificing Virgins, his other short story collections include Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions, Needles & Sins and Vigilantes of Love.

Over the past 20 years, his short fiction has appeared in more than 75 magazines and anthologies and received a number of critical accolades, including frequent Honorable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthology series. His story “Letting Go” was a Bram Stoker Award finalist in 2007; the story “The Pumpkin Man” was included in the anthology All American Horror: The Best of the First Decade of the 21st Century; and he was also a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest. He has written novelettes for The Vampire Diaries and Jonathan Maberry’s V-Wars series, as well as stories for the anthologies Kolchak: The Night Stalker Casebook and The Green Hornet Casefiles.  His tales have been translated into Polish, French, Italian and German and optioned for potential film development.

Learn more about John on his site, or connect on Facebook at

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