John Everson is a horror writer whom I enjoy immensely. He's won the coveted Bram Stoker Award, plus he compares his newest novel to the movie Kingdom of the Spiders (which had a huge impact on my youthful mind when I saw it on TV back in the 70s). I'm happy to have John aboard to answer my five questions!
1 – What’s your latest book about?
My seventh novel, Violet Eyes, just came out in October from Samhain Publishing. It’s a Kingdom of the Spiders kind of novel, if you remember that old William Shatner movie. The prologue is drawn from Violet Lagoon, a short novelette that I also have out, which finds a group of co-eds on a deserted island trying to stage their own version of The Blue Lagoon, when they are rudely interrupted by odd and virulent breeds of spiders and flies.
The novel, Violet Eyes (which all these critters have!) picks up when one of the co-eds comes home and meets Rachel, a recently divorced mom who’s just moved to a small town near the Everglades with her son. The novel focuses on her, as she tries to protect her son first from her abusive ex- and then from a far worse fate as her new town suddenly becomes overrun with hungry spiders…
2 – Who’s your favorite author and/or what’s your favorite book?
I like a lot of authors for different things; I can’t single out a favorite… but there are certainly authors I come back to again and again – Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Edward Lee. I read a lot of Poe growing up, and I think a well-told horror short story can pack a more memorable punch than an entire novel. I think the modern masters of the short horror form today are Gary Braunbeck, Michael Marshall Smith and Jeffrey Thomas. As far as novels… Clive Barker’s Damnation Game… Edward Lee’s Coven… Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. Those are three big influential books for me.
3 – What’s your favorite aspect of writing?
Finishing! There are certainly times when a scene or dialogue really clicks and you feel good about it, but most of writing is simply work. And the best feeling about work is sitting back after it’s complete and being able to say, “I did that. It’s done!”
4 – Any good anecdotes about being a writer?
I was doing a book signing a few years ago in St. Louis at a Borders Books store, and I happened to see a guy in the horror aisle holding a couple Stephen King books. There was really nobody else around at that moment, so I walked over to him and said something like, “hey man, I see you like horror novels… I’m a Chicago horror author down here doing a signing right now over there in the front of the store, can I show you a couple of my books?” He looked at me straight in the eye and said with complete derision, “I only read Stephen King.”
Wow. King is awesome, but to limit yourself that way, to never give anyone else in the genre a chance to entertain you? That was both strange and sad to me.
5 – What was the most helpful writing advice you’ve ever received?
1) Get the story out and worry about editing it later. The hardest part is simply getting the thing roughed out, and it’s too easy to bog down in middle-of-the-book editing and worrying about whether this word or that sentence is perfect… you can get lost in that and lose your energy for the storytelling and never finish.
2) Don’t quit your day job.