Archive for June, 2014

WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR

Posted: June 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

I was invited to join in on the Writing Process Blog tour by a couple of people, namely the excellent horror and dark fantasy author Lucy Taylor and the wonderful scribe of terror Alex Laybourne.

Both of their fascinating insights into the questions asked can be located at the following sites.
Lucy http://darkfantasy.us/dark-fantasy-blog.html
Alex http://alexlaybourne.com/2014/06/22/tag-youre-it-blog-tour/

The questions are all the same ones asked throughout the entire tour, but of course, each response is going to be wildly different and incredibly diverse in terms of how different authors approach the writing process. So, without too much more introductory gibberish from me, here goes the questions.

1. What am I working on? I’m almost always working on multiple projects, usually because I’m inundated with ideas all the time, some which are probably great, some which border on the abysmal, but all need to be written to see how they pan out.
Primarily I’m looking at wrapping up another novel, hopefully as early as the end of today which I’ve touched upon elsewhere on my blog. It is an undead exploration which revolves around extreme metal scenes which is currently at a massive 170k in length and since I’ve gone into a little more detail on my previous blog post I won’t repeat myself too much about that. I plan to cut down the size of that somewhat, of course this is only a first draft, though I submitted Plebs as a first draft too and didn’t actually cut a whole bunch of it at all in the end.
I’m also writing a handful of short stories, some for specific anthologies, others because I have myriad ideas launching themselves at me at any given time of the day.
I’ve just completed first rounds of edits for a short story/novella collection titled With Tooth and Claw which will be forthcoming from my publisher J. Ellington Ashton Press as well as gearing up for the release of collaborative novel Feral Hearts very shortly, an epic, fun and challenging project written along with five of the other supremely talented JEA authors (Mark Woods, Michael Fisher, Amanda Lyons, Catt Dahman and Edward Cardillo-who is also the tireless editor of the book).
On top of that I’m promoting Plebs, of course and the anthologies Terror Train and Axes of Evil. I’m itching to get cracking on starting work on a follow up to Plebs, but I don’t want to jump the gun while I have a bunch of unfinished projects which need to be completed first.

2. How does my work differ from others of the genre? Grindhouse and splatterpunk are two of the things which have sprung up when referring to my writing so I usually appropriate those tags when promoting, and use them accordingly. In essence I suppose I write what could be termed grindhouse splatterpunk old school horror driven by heavy metal, though that’s a fairly loose description as I don’t particularly see myself being pigeonholed into anything specific. As a massive metal aficionado (especially the extreme genres), I love to incorporate those styles of music in my writing and though some stories or works feature these elements a lot more prominently-a prime example being my current novel WIP-of course it isn’t always the case, that would possibly be too confining or constricting.
Horror itself is an extremely broad genre with a wide variety of separate subgenres and styles within itself, so in ways, all of us involved in it are diverse and different, all with different approaches, preferred subject matter, or the way we write. I just write like me, what I like to write and if the things I choose to incorporate or utilise during the process, as well as the end results set me apart, or make me unique at all, that is excellent.
There are quite a few horror authors with roots in metal, one has to look no further than the various contributors in the heavy metal horror themed anthology Axes of Evil itself, but all of us have widely differing eclectic styles, so that’s where any similarities end.

3. Why do I write what I do? Quite simply, because I love it. I love writing in general, but more specifically, horror is a long standing obsession and passion for me, and it has been my first writing love for many many years. Even as a youngster with aspirations to write, it was horror and the dark twisted things I gravitated towards. No other genres or authors stirred me as much as those in the horror domain, nothing else quite captivated me like that and for me it was a natural progression from reading things I loved to conjuring up my own freakish tales of the macabre.
To me, horror is a genre of enormous scope that far exceeds a lot of the narrow views many people used to more traditional mainstream type genres may have, and so much can be done within it. One can be adept at dispensing quiet horror, subdued and thoughtful rather than in your face, with things that insinuate their way into your mind and lodge there, while others can take the less than subtle approach of bludgeoning away with graphic violence and all out visceral mayhem, but in any case there is a whole lot of ways horror can be approached.
I’ve been asked before if I could choose another genre to write in, or if I wasn’t writing horror what would I like to be writing, but right now I can’t see myself dwelling in any other genre. When I started writing I dabbled in a whole lot of different genres and cross sections, but horror won out early and has stayed with me for quite a while now. There are still a vast amount of stories and dark sinister tales I have to write.

4. How does my writing process work? There is no great science to my writing process, or any secret formula. The bulk of my genuine creative writing happens at night, often late into the wee hours. I am a night owl by choice, but it is mostly due to other factors that mean trying to get any real writing completed during the day is mostly a fruitless exercise.
During the day, or in the morning is when I will be checking emails, social media sites and other things along those lines while the kids are active and running around creating chaos, and if I’m lucky I might manage to get a short story or something similar knocked up during daylight hours, but those times are mostly rare occurrences. If I was able to do so, of course I would be writing all the time, spilling words out in some horrific malevolent production line, but in reality there are loads of other duties and things to attend to.
When I actually do get to the point of writing something, it is a simple matter of just sitting down and writing. I am not a meticulous planner, I rarely structure everything so I know exactly how it should be going and more often than not, I might not even have a clue how the story itself is going to end. My characters usually have the power to take the reins of the story and throw themselves in all kinds of trouble. With shorter pieces or works confined to a specific word count, I generally have a clearer idea of the whole spread of it, or a solid outline, though even that is subject to change, shift and alter as I write.
My whole process has itself altered over the years. I used to write everything by hand and then type it all up, which was a great way of connecting with the story and getting thoroughly involved in it, but with the expansive length I tend to end up writing not just novels, but short pieces themselves means this can become a time consuming exercise. Plebs was all written by hand and then typed up, pretty much word for word, not too many changes happening in the translation from paper to screen. It turned out to be in excess of 600 pages in a document, so you can imagine how much typing was involving and how much additional work had to be done. Consequently I now write everything straight onto the computer, though I have a large body of handwritten work spanning back some years laying around.

This is just a bit of a glimpse inside my writing process, hopefully you will have gleaned a little bit out of it. I have two more authors who are going to this tour on over at their sites, so be sure to check them out as well. They are Michael Thomas-Knight who I share a TOC with in Terror Train and Mark Woods who of course is part of the soon to emerge Feral Hearts collaborative work.

Michael Thomas-Knight – author of numerous horror short stories, his latest appearing in the anthology, Terror Train. Michael’s style ranges from classic ghost stories with violent conclusions to atmospheric Eldritch tales steeped in mysticism, cynicism, and irony. His stories have been published in publications, Dark Eclipse, Infernal Ink, SNM Horror Magazine, Fiction Terrifica, and Microhorror.com. His work has also appeared in anthologies, Miseria’ s Chorale, From Beyond the Grave, Shadow Masters and others.
http://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com
https://www.amazon.com/author/michaelthomasknight
https://www.facebook.com/michael.thomasknight.9

Mark Woods is a loving husband, doting father, successful Chef, a U.K Editor for J.E.A Press and bestselling author who specializes in Horror, Zombie and speculative fiction…
Mark is also an occasional Blogger and full time book geek who writes reviews for such sites as Amazon, Goodreads and Dooyoo. His Blog can be found here:
http://sparkymarky1973.blogspot.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/markwoodsauthor

 

If you want a little insight into my current manuscript, then here we go.

Shaun Meeks, author of Down on the Farm and At the Gates of Madness, recently tagged me in the Five by Five Game, where a writer then posts five thoughts about their current work in progress and then proceeds to tag five others to do likewise.

This year so far has seen the release of my debut novel Plebs, and inclusion in the anthologies Axes of Evil, and Terror Train, with Sinister Cavan and Training the Unfortunate being the respective stories in those books. It will also see the release of a collaborative novel with five other supremely talented authors from J. Ellington Ashton (who shall be releasing Shaun’s new novel by the way) titled Feral Hearts which should emerge in a month or so, and then some time down the track I have a collection of short horror tales/novellas coming as well. For now, let’s delve a little into my current WIP, which has the working title of Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger.

1. Yes, as you might have guessed from the title, this is a novel of the undead. Before you bang your head against the desk and say Jesus H. Christ on a hovercraft, not another fucking zombie novel, hear me out. Surprisingly, for all the time I have been writing horror (which is a hell of a long time, it is just recently that publishing has become a reality), bar a very recent short story based entirely around the lyrics of a song from Norwegian band Dodheimsgard, I haven’t ever written about zombies before. In it I’ve tried to create my own spin on an oft-traveled route, so it’s pretty safe to say this isn’t just the standard paint by numbers zombie entity.

2. The original idea was for this (like Plebs) was for it to be a short story. I had plans, and perhaps still do, to write a series of short horror stories based in various heavy metal scenes and environments, essentially a notion of pitching various genres of the music against one another. Undead Fleshcrave, for example was to be something of a clash between death metal fanatics and black metal aficionados, and though it is still firmly entrenched in those scenes, the basic premise has grown into a much huger creation that is spanning beyond the initial simple concept I had. It is very much a zombie story which tosses folks from these musical backgrounds into the sort of hell they’ve previously only imagined existed in the brutal lyrics of the songs they love to listen to.

3. While the WIP is a bloody, violent, undead infiltrated horror story full of my usual visceral excesses and characters bordering on the wrong side of deranged (and that’s just some of the so-called good guys), it has plenty of underlying themes that are either easily identifiable or interred a little deeper in the fleshy fabric of the tale, and one might have to dig a little to encounter them. It is also littered with musical references throughout, not just in sentences and metal acknowledgements worked into the flow of the writing, but all place names, establishment names and other similar things draw from either band names, album titles or song titles. One prime example of this (though there are loads of them which I won’t go into here) is the hometown of the chief protagonists, which bears the name Armada. This, for anyone not familiar with extreme metal, is lifted from the album of the same name by Keep of Kalissen.

4. As is the case in a lot of my work, I don’t generally write characters which are out and out good guys or gals, there is often a blurring of distinction between them, and aspects of both sides of the coin make up their various personalities, and this is again the case with this WIP. For the most part, the original collective of men and women who carry the story are what you would call decent characters, perhaps with the tendency to slip either way, depending on circumstance, however there are a whole bunch of other characters they become affiliated with along the way, who might be batting for the perceived good guys, but just well might be anything other than that.

5. This isn’t my only WIP at the moment, but for all intents and purposes it gets to be the prime topic of this blog post, because it is the one I’m concentrating my main attention on to try and get wrapped up. At the moment it is sitting at a giant 160k words, but I would say it is about 90 per cent done and I’m planning to get things finished off before I blow the word count budget to something astronomical. At this point in time, it is looking like it won’t be a stand alone book, but more likely, the start of a series, which is also the case with my other WIP. At 180k and with the first half of what was supposed to be a two part book, that other WIP (revolving around a group of disgruntled ex carnival employees discovering some exceedingly nasty secrets about the company which terminated their jobs) is now going to become two books as well. What can I say, I love to read big books, I love to write big books.

Bonus fact, which actually has nothing to do with my current WIP, but more about my tendency to write books with the size to double as house bricks-I also have a complete novel I called In the Darkest Hour written many years ago which also clocks in at 180k words.

Now to tag five others, so if any of these folk want to play the game too, here you go.

Jacob Rayne, Samuel Adam Reese, Linda Watkins, Michael Fish Fisher, Heather Dowell

Picking a few people I might not have tagged before, as I get roped into these things incredibly frequently 😉

THE TERROR TRAIN HAS ARRIVED

Posted: June 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

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The Terror Train anthology from the exemplary James Ward Kirk Fiction, and edited by Krista Clark Grabowski and A. Henry Keene has pulled into the station. This collection of twisted horror stories and dark poetry is now available on Amazon, at least in Kindle format, with the paperback edition to follow in another week, and I am extremely excited to be sharing a TOC with some truly outstanding authors on this one.

Unlike some of the anthologies I currently have submissions in for, or the excellent Axes of Evil, where I had existing stories written from some time before I thought might fit the bill, the story I wrote for Terror Train is specifically for the anthology, drawing on particular train journeys or places mentioned as the idea for the anthology was taking off.

This one is titled ‘Training the Unfortunate’, which you shall discover as you read, that it might not exactly mean what you might think. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read any of the other works comprising this expedition into regions of darkness and stops at sanguinary stations, but I am eagerly looking forward to it. As soon as the paperback edition becomes available, I can’t wait to get my mitts on it.

I already had a train tale written many many years ago which I called Night Train, but rather than submit that, when I was aware somebody else was working on a piece with that title, I conjured up something new just tailor-made for the Terror Train and as you might expect from me, it is doused in blood, shot through with some suitably horrific violence and just enough of the splatterpunk tendencies I like to dwell in, but with a solid undercurrent of story to it and a deeply flawed, disturbed main character. Night Train itself can be located and read elsewhere on this site, if anyone feels inclined to read some of my work from long ago.

In the meantime, head on into the station, get yourselves a ticket and prepare to get onboard for a journey you won’t be likely to forget. That is, if you survive it.

Forget Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’, this is the Terror Train.

US LINK http://www.amazon.com/Terror-Train-Mathias-Jansson-ebook/dp/B00KYWRWS2/ref=la_B00HXO3FRG_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402746042&sr=1-3

UK LINK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Terror-Train-Mathias-Jansson-ebook/dp/B00KYWRWS2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1402748251&sr=1-1&keywords=terror+train

AUSTRALIA LINK http://www.amazon.com.au/Terror-Train-Mathias-Jansson-ebook/dp/B00KYWRWS2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1402748328&sr=1-1&keywords=terror+train

The complete author list for Terror Train is as follows:

Roger Cowin

Charie D. La Marr

Mark Rigney

Stephen Alexander

Mike Jansen

Mathias Jansson

Murphy Edwards

Aaron Besson

Justin Hunter

Brian Barnett

Jim Goforth

Dennis Banning

Tony Bowman

Abdul-Qaadir Taariq Bakari-Muhammad

Dale Hollin

David S. Pointer

William Cook

Shenoa Carroll-Bradd

Dona Fox

Michael Thomas-Knight

A.P. Gilbert

Shane Koch

Rie Sheridan Rose

Brigitte Kephart

E.S. Wynn

Stuart Keane

William F. Nolan

Teri Skultety

Thomas M. Malafarina

Lori R. Lopez

Leigh M. Lane

Jeremy Mays

Mary Genevieve Fortier

Alex S. Johnson

This is the English version of my interview with Emilia Filicamo for the Italian Ravello Magazine, located here in Italian http://www.ravellomagazine.com/alla-scoperta-dei-romanzi-horror-con-jim-goforth/

(Intro translation may be a little rusty, but you get the gist)

Jim Goforth, Australian author of horror novels and passionate about metal music, he agrees to tell me about his career and his passion for horror, is forced to delay a little ‘this appointment due to a sudden family problem, fortunately resolved. And it is just this little incident, this unexpected to do justice to one of his statements, when he says, in fact during the interview, that the only thing he is seriously fear that his family can take risks. Raised up by the resolution of the problem, Jim “surrender” to these pages with all the sincerity possible, telling of hopes and failures, his passion for music and for a fantasy world, what you find in his novels, mostly in shades bleak. Almost to a sort of “moral obligation” are forced to start from a question about the horror genre.

1) You write horror books. Why you chose this kind of genre? Just because it’s popular or there is something more?

I have a lifelong passion with horror in all its mediums and I have been writing in the genre for a very long time, though it is only relatively recently that I have had material published. When I first started writing, which was way back when I was very young, I was writing in all different genres, different stories about a wide array of things, but I gravitated towards the horror side of things. I have an affinity for all things dark and twisted, and there are so many directions one can take with horror, it is far from a narrow field to work in. In terms of genres there are certainly many that are far more popular than horror, but horror is what I love and it is where I do my best writing.

2) I read you began with music, how did you decide to go from music to the books and how did all begin?

Actually the writing came first, since of course I started to write very early in life. I had two books written by the time I was in my late teens, though the first one was more of a thing heavily influenced by all the horror writers I was reading at the time and a combination of ideas from all of them, not exactly at a point where I had my own style. When I realised I didn’t need to write like anybody else, but just to do my own thing and write what I wanted to, how I wanted to, my efforts were a lot better and much more natural. I attempted to get one of the early books I wrote published way back then, but this was well before the age of social media and the ease of communications we have today, so I didn’t exactly have a clue where to send manuscripts or who would be likely to have any interest in them.
After a lack of success getting anywhere with that, I didn’t write anything in the way of horror fiction for a very long time and instead pursued a variety of things in the extreme metal scenes. Eventually my wife and I created Black Belle Music, which was formed for the purpose of promoting, supporting and bringing attention to universal extreme metal scenes, primarily underground, unsigned or unknown acts, though along with a bunch of bigger recognisable names as well. This was done in a number of ways, reviews, interviews, articles, CD distro and similar things on our website, while we also branched out into putting on gigs and shows, becoming most known for annual all day events featuring ten or more bands.
Ultimately, after hundreds and hundreds of reviews for bands all over the world, multiple shows for local (Australian) bands and assorted other things, we put Black Belle on indefinite hiatus, or more to the point closed it down.
From then, I happened to reread an unfinished story I’d started to write years prior to beginning the metal promotions and felt the burning desire to complete it. Reading, and consequently finishing this, reignited my passion for writing horror and after that I have never looked back.
Though I seem to have been writing horror for a long time, it is really only recently that things have taken off for me, and in terms of having material published this year has been the greatest. My debut novel Plebs came out in January, I have a couple of stories in anthologies this year, a collaborative novel with five other authors will be out in a couple of months and I currently have a collection of my own short stories/novellas in with my publishers.

3) Metallic music and horror books seem to be related intimately, I find that a metallic piece is maybe perfect to be in a particular frightening scene. What represents for you this kind of music?

One of my favourite things to make reference to in interviews, and one I will make mention of here in this one, is that to me, horror and metal music go hand in hand. A lot of my stories and pieces make reference to metal bands, artists or songs, some are heavily inspired by a variety of metal related things, in particular of the more extreme genres such as black and death metal. I even have one specific story which is solely created from the lyrics of a song and all elements happening in it are drawn from names, occurrences etc. specific to that band responsible for the song.
A current novel I am in the midst of writing is strongly rooted in those aforementioned extreme metal scenes and takes place within them, though as one of my first ventures into writing about zombies and the undead, it is of course very much a horror novel.
I often write to a soundtrack of music which more often than not is some form of metal. There is a vast amount of different styles, genres and types of heavy metal, just like there is with horror, so different things playing in the background as I write serve to cater to separate parts of stories, or as you pointed out, to cultivate a certain aura or mood.
As I have an immense love for metal music and a background in working with it, and in its assortment of scenes, it is natural for me to make prolific use of it in writing horror and tying the two together, and there is a huge amount of inspiration and subject matter within metal to draw upon and create some thoroughly dark and frightening pieces of work.

4) You love to write since you was very Young, but who was your first fan, the first person to tell you that you were born to write?

My parents of course. Also teachers at school when I was young would be pointing out the fact that writing was a thing I was good at. I was a kid who always managed to write spooky, creepy tales with my own created monsters and other dark subject matter and often these would be stories read out to the other kids in class.

5) Who are your models in writing? I mean horror Writers, even from the past

Richard Laymon is my chief inspiration and my number one influence. Prior to discovering his work I voraciously read authors like Graham Masterton, old Dean Koontz, Clive Barker and many others like this, and even wrote things which I’d say were a little too influenced by what they wrote. After finding Laymon and becoming wholly enamoured with his work and his style of writing, I honed and altered the way I wrote to create more of my own style than something adopted from another.

6) I suppose you met a lot of people during your career, who left on you a great impression?

I have met quite a few people, but most of them are in the various extreme metal scenes rather than the horror scene. Because I am based in Australia which is a long way away from bigger horror scenes such as the United States and so forth where a vast majority of the big conventions take place, opportunities to meet and chat with legendary folk in the genre are minimal. I’ve never been a person to be star struck in any capacity, people are all just people to me, regardless of what career path they’ve taken, or what they do, what celebrity status or anything of that nature, so mostly, leaving any impression on me would be irrelevant.

7) Many horror or fantasy books become movies. Have you ever tried this path? I mean, did you ever think to change a book of yours into a screenplay and then into a movie?

I have never tried my hand at any sort of screenplay writing, though I’ve often entertained ideas of attempting to write scripts. Maybe some time down the track I will have a go at adapting some of my works to screenplays to pitch as movie ideas, or perhaps somebody else may become interested in doing so. Naturally, though I don’t write for my books to be considered as movies, sometimes reading the finished product I think, damn if this was a movie it would definitely be something I would love to watch. Several of the reviews that have been posted on Amazon, Goodreads and various places about Plebs have made reference to the book being a grindhouse horror with a cinematic quality, so who knows, possibly one day it will be adapted as a movie. Of course if that were ever to happen I would want to be heavily involved to ensure the integrity of the story was preserved, for so many wonderful books remade into movies have not been able to transfer the magic of the written word to screen and I would rather no movie be made rather than something which cannot remain faithful to the work it is drawing from.

8) If you never decided to write horrors, which kind of genre would you love to write?

I haven’t ever considered anything beyond horror at this point in time because horror is where I want to be, it is what I love to write. In the past I have dabbled with all manner of different genres such as thrillers, fantasy, adventure, even western styled stuff, but ultimately horror has always been my favourite and where I see myself staying for a very long time. Since it’s only relatively recently that I’ve begun to have things published there are loads and loads of horror stories I have left to write and with a nicely twisted and dark restless imagination, the ideas will keep coming.

9) The book you love the most and sometimes you tell to yourself ” I would have written that book!”

Technically there are no books that I wished I had written or would liked to have written, but I do have many many favourites who have been extremely important to me along the way. First and foremost is virtually everything written by Richard Laymon, notable mentions being Darkness Tell Us (as the first book of his I ever read), Blood Games, Endless Night, Funland, One Rainy Night and Body Rides. Aside from works by Laymon, other important books to me which helped shaped my passion for the horror genre include Graham Masterton’s ‘Walkers’, Dean Koontz’s ‘Watchers’, Clive Barker’s ‘Cabal’, Thomas Page ‘The Spirit’, as well as most things written by Bentley Little just to name a handful. I have a long list of authors and books I grew up reading and still love them all. I was a voracious reader as a kid and while I would, and still will, read just about anything, I read as much horror as I could get my hands on.

10) Do you have Italian favourite authors in horror genre?

Because I don’t read or speak Italian I am not particularly familiar with any Italian authors in the horror genre. I do however have plenty of favourite Italian horror film directors including the likes of the genius Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and of course it would be remiss not to make mention of Ruggero Deodato.

11) Can you talk us about your last book or work?

Plebs was my last work, a full length novel that is 600 pages long. It has been described as such things as ‘grindhouse splatterpunk’ and ‘old school horror with a cinematic quality’, both flattering descriptive terms which I use to promote it with. When I first started to write it, the plan was for it to be just a short story or novella at most, yet the more I wrote, the more I enjoyed writing it, developing the characters and doing all kinds of things with them, so consequently it became a novel with plans for a follow up once I manage to clear some of the projects I’m currently working on.
At the heart of it, it is a horrific adventure story, a tale of revenge on the parts of several of the main characters which many of the grindhouse style movies and mediums it has been compared to have as a core element.
It revolves around three intoxicated young men, carefree harmless slackers, who decide after a night out celebrating a friend’s birthday that they want to carry on partying elsewhere. A random walk takes them way out of their usual realms and deep into the woods where they encounter a mysterious band of fugitive women. While these potentially dangerous ladies are quite open to the idea of continuing the party with the boys, it won’t come without a price and from that point on, things take a turn for the worse.
It isn’t a story for the faint of heart, it involves a whole lot of violence which is carried out by an assortment of factions, including the feral entities known as the Plebs who happen to share the woods in a very uneasy co-existence with the women, sex, blood, depravity and death, so plenty of visceral elements of horror.
There are a host of underlying themes to the book, it isn’t merely a violent splatterfest of murder and mayhem. Anybody can churn out material that is wholly blood and guts, but a story is always important and I’d like to think the storyline contained within Plebs is a strong one.
It certainly isn’t a book that everybody is going to be into, in fact it isn’t a book targeted for everyone, it is a story I wanted to write and I imagine some people are not going to find it to their liking. So far though, all feedback, reviews and word from those who have read it has been pretty spectacular so I’m extremely happy with how it is going. I’d always planned on writing a follow up to it, even prior to completing it, but the great enthusiastic response I’ve received from it and the requests for a second book in the Plebs saga to come, ensures that there will be at least one more. I also have some plans for some projects, potentially shorter stories or novella length pieces, involving side stories related to some of the characters from Plebs.

12) Is there between all the ones you wrote, a book you prefer the most, a kind of ” favourite child?”

Considering Plebs is my debut novel, it is currently my favourite child, though irrespective of that, it would probably still be one work I am really proud of. I do have other completed works which have yet to be published, including of course that one I wrote many many years ago, but Plebs still stands as a favourite in comparison to those. I have multiple novels in the works at the moment which I am immensely enjoying writing, so once they are complete we shall see if Plebs remains my ‘favourite brainchild’.

13) Is there a way, a kind of formula to write a good horror? And which are the mistakes to avoid writing a book of horror?

No, I don’t believe there is any formula to writing horror and I certainly don’t follow any formula at all. When people start to place rules or stipulations on what or what not should be involved in writing horror, that’s when it becomes too rigid, too by the numbers. There should be no restraints on what can be written in terms of horror, and while no doubt there are writers who do tend to use a formulaic approach in their writing because they have discovered that is what works for them, I am not one who is going to follow anything specific in the way I write. As for what mistakes to avoid, I’m not entirely sure that there are any particular mistakes, it is all a matter of learning what does and doesn’t work. There are a whole host of things in the way of subject matter or topics used in horror which some may feel have been overdone or too frequently written about, but in saying that, if a writer still feels like exploring these often travelled paths, then it is up to them to find a new approach or angle, a different spin on it that will make it interesting again.
I wouldn’t suggest to anybody that there are mistakes or topics to avoid, that’s for them to discover, but going into the thought of writing horror with a preconceived notion that they should be actively thinking there are things they need to avoid is going to have their creativity stifled and that goes back to the formula notion. In that event people will start writing to a specific formula which makes things mundane and ordinary, and horror needs to remain fresh and vibrant.

14) How do you understand if a horror book is a good one or is totally awful?

That all depends on individual taste, opinions and views on what they consider to be good or abysmal. It is the same as individuals choice in music, what movies they like to enjoy, even the types of food that may be their favourite. It is all a matter of personal choice, and what one person absolutely loves isn’t necessarily going to be viewed the same by another. I know the type of things that I love to read and to write, but I don’t expect that every single person is going to share the same tastes and opinions as me, and that also applies to the music I love and all the other things mentioned.
Even if a particular horror book for example, might be universally maligned or denigrated as being something that is completely terrible, that doesn’t essentially mean that everybody is going to hate it, that just indicates that the majority aren’t overly fond of it. There are still likely to be some fans of it out there, if for no other reason than the fact that the community as a whole doesn’t like it.
Consequently, the measure of whether a book is good or awful is entirely up to the opinion of each person who reads it.

15) When you write, you are in the arms of fear and of suspense. But what does really scare Jim?

In all honesty, not a whole bunch scares Jim. Perhaps only the notion of being away from my family would be the only thing as my wife and two little children are the most important things in my world. Other than that I’m not easily frightened by much and have no immediate fears that I can think of. I write scary and horrific stuff so there isn’t too much outside what I can conjure up in my mind that can compare.

Thank you Jim!!!

Emilia

 

This was an interview originally done for a press kit for Axes of Evil. A series of unfortunate circumstances means that is unlikely to go ahead, but since I think it’s a pretty cool interview, rather than waste it, I will post it up here for folks to peruse if they like. A bit of an insight into my story in Axes, my metal background and why I have an appreciation for almost all forms of music.

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AXES OF EVIL: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you start writing? What was the first thing you published?

 

JIM GOFORTH: I’m happily married with two children. My wife Elle is an artist/poet/ex-metal promoter and events manager among many other things, I have one four year old daughter Abigail and a two and a half year old son Felix, and a cat commonly known around the house as Eury (he is named after two ex-members from a classic line-up of the band Mayhem).
I’m a horror fanatic (in every medium-film, book, music, art), an extreme metal aficionado and a wrestling fan.
I write horror fiction and have been writing almost as long as I have been able to read. From a young age I was into crafting stories of all varieties in a massive cross-section of genres, but horror, my chief writing love won out. I essentially started writing, almost as soon as I could read. Creating stories of all sorts of phantasmagorical beasts, worlds, and settings was something I was into very early. I loved to read and I loved to conjure up things from my own imagination, I was always the kid in class who wrote the kind of things the teacher would choose to read out to the class. No doubt some of those kids went home and had nightmares about the creepy stuff being relayed to them, but to me it was great fun and that fun I first discovered in writing and bringing forth my various creations is something that has always remained for me. I used to write in a variety of different genres and dabble with an assortment of things of no specific boundary, although once I got hooked on reading horror fiction, I knew that was precisely where I wanted to concentrate my own writing on. I wrote two books more than twenty years ago, the first which was probably a little derivative of the horror authors I was reading-which I will probably never seek to have published-and the second which I wrote after discovering the work of the late, great Richard Laymon, the man who remains my chief influence to this day. Without much of an idea where to start in getting this one published I was sending unsolicited manuscripts off left, right and centre, so I ended up with a nice little collection of polite rejection letters. This of course, was back in the day before social media made things a lot easier to connect with the right market.
For a long time after minimal success finding the right spot to house the book, I put all horror writing on a lengthy hiatus while I went into different avenues, namely the creation and operation of Black Belle Music.
It has only been relatively recently that I have returned to writing horror and the very first thing I’ve had published is my debut novel Plebs.

 

My works so far

 

AOE: Axes of Evil is Diabolus In Musica’s homage to heavy metal music and horror fiction. What is your connection to heavy metal? Why did being in this book interest you?

JG: My lifelong passion for heavy metal is pretty much comparable with my obsession with all things horror, I grew up being a fond aficionado of both. In just about every interview I’ve done, I persistently make reference to the fact that horror and heavy metal go hand in hand and I’ll continue to do so, as it is most applicable to me and my writing. Music has always been an important part of my life and it’s always been around me, and growing up, I naturally gravitated towards the heavier end of the spectrum, starting with classic pioneers like Sabbath and Deep Purple. Ultimately this led me into all the genres, traditional, thrash, industrial, doom, you name it, culminating in the genres I revere most, black and death metal. I grew up as these genres were born, developed and evolved and for some casual metal fans who might like to say they went through a ‘metal phase’, for me, these forms of music are still the kinds of things I listen to today.
In that period where I was not writing, my wife and I created Black Belle Music, which was born as an entity to support, promote and bring attention to extreme metal, not just locally, but on a global scale. This initially was done in the way of interviews, articles and reviews for underground acts, unknown bands and up and coming outfits, as well as the occasional bigger name, the idea mostly being to steer away from the same names every mainstream media wanted to jump on and write about, in order to highlight all the other great metal artists that were out there plying their trade with little acknowledgement. Eventually that then moved into some distro and selling merch for bands on our site and putting on gigs and shows for local bands, often just a four band line up for evening or afternoon concerts, but more often than not it became ten to twelve band all day festivals. We reached the point where we had annual events that managed to run for several years before we finally called it a day on Black Belle Music. Over the period it was in existence several hundred reviews and interviews were posted, multitudes of bands performed at our shows and many a band actually got their live start through us, some of whom have certainly gone places or had members move on to form other bands that have certainly garnered a measure of success.
The reason I wanted to be part of Axes of Evil is simple. It is a twisted marriage of two of my greatest endearing loves, heavy metal and horror fiction, and when I became aware of its existence I was beyond keen to be involved. The concept is right up my alley, and though I did not specifically write my story that appears in it for the anthology, I already had it written and figured it would fit the bill.

AOE: Do you have a favorite band? Song? What was your first concert? Tell us about it.

JG: I have a vast array of favourite bands, predominantly in the black and death metal genres, though not exclusively. The likes of Satyricon, Mayhem, Darkthrone, December Wolves, Dissection, Emperor, Carpathian Forest, Dodheimsgard and those kinds of outfits are ultimates for me, but I don’t limit myself just to strictly metal. I’m also a massive fan of The Cult, Mortiis, Corporate Avenger, The Animals, The Doors, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains. I don’t have any one particular favourite song, but for the purposes of the question we’ll run with ‘In The Mist By The Hills’ from Satyricon’s classic ‘The Shadowthrone’ album. One of the greatest songs ever written. My first concert would have been many many years ago, I saw quite a few when I was pretty young, old Aussie band Goanna springs to mind. Can’t recall a great deal about most of these concerts when I was really young aside from the fact that I was into loud music from an early age and loved seeing it performed. I’ve attended loads of concerts over the years, and though it isn’t actually part of the question, the most memorable concerts for me have been Satyricon, Celtic Frost and Dismember, with an honourable mention to Mudvayne.

AOE: Was music an important part of your life growing up? What kind of music did your family listen to?

JG: Music was extremely important when I was growing up. It was virtually playing all the time, either on the radio, or my parents were playing vinyls on their record player, and later on we all had cassette players and eventually CD players. This is where I gained an appreciation for all forms of music and plenty of those things I was listening to as a kid, I’m still a fan of. My parents had a broad range of tastes and records, and there would be anything from Johnny Cash to the Animals and CCR, through things like the Drifters to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. My parents are both from the States so when they relocated to Australia they brought all the records they’d picked up over the years along with them and every single one of those vinyls was played multiple times in our household. There was fifties and sixties music playing, there was blues, rock, later on there was metal, just about any type of music got a spin and while extreme metal ended up being my prime passion for musical choice, all of these things I grew up listening to and enjoying shaped my enormous appreciation for music in general, irrespective of what genre or type it is.
Every member of my family had eclectic and diverse tastes with the likes of Kiss, Billy Joel, The Sex Pistols, John Rowles, The Smashing Pumpkins, Guns n’ Roses and countless others all having their own impact on each member. My love for music stems from these days and I consider myself supremely fortunate to have been exposed to so many types of music in a household that adored so much variety.

 

AOE: Your story dealt heavily with the concept of censorship and the rights of one person being more valid than the rights of another person. Your character Malcolm Miller was a classic “suer”. He was the kind of guy who knew how to manipulate the system to his meet his own agenda. We see a lot of that going on in the religious right wing. Your story is a scathing exposé of people like Miller. Tell us more about how that idea came into play in your story. Was there any particular incident that inspired you? What are your thoughts on censorship and individual rights?

JG: Malcolm Miller is a caricature, an overblown representation of those that condone censorship of various arts (Be it music, cinema, literature) and those that take it to extreme measures to ensure their actions silence those their ideals clash with. He stands as the most fervent of those driven blindly by a faith that his ideals are right and everything that doesn’t line up with that must be wrong. Obviously he isn’t a representation of all morals crusaders, more an exemplification of the most fanatical end of the spectrum and while Miller himself is just a fictional character, there are extremists out there willing to go to similar lengths to eradicate things that they don’t understand or can’t be boxed into their neat little pigeonholes.
No one single incident acted as catalyst for the story, but rather a whole bunch of things combined which led to its creation. I used to write song lyrics back when I was younger and I occasionally used the same themes that crop up here, the notion of one faction attempting to censor or destroy another’s work simply because it wasn’t aligned with their own beliefs and I long toyed with the idea of writing a story revolving around this.
Heavy metal music has been widely demonized and made a scapegoat, because it is an easy target for both political and religious groups to take aim at, and that’s been going on for a long time with the likes of Deicide, Slayer, even classics like Judas Priest, Twisted Sister and especially Marilyn Manson coming under fire from these groups for all manner of things. Newspapers and various media outlets are as guilty as any of those who jump on the bandwagon, pointing fingers and starting up a witch-hunt with heavy metal in their sights any time something happens with that form of music as even the most feeble connection. Condemning, persecuting and stereotyping metal music is not just an easy option for those who do it, but more so a lazy one, a reluctance to look beyond what they perceive as ‘the root of the evil’, the same as Malcom Miller does and discover that some other real issues might be at play.
With regards to censorship, it does have a place and a benefit; it would be illogical to expect that certain forms of it don’t exist for the better, but when it is done to extremes or to demonise something else and to suppress various things for the sake of appeasing one group, denomination or faction I don’t condone it, and when people such as Malcolm Miller appoint themselves as a medium to carry it out through outlandish measures, that’s when it can become a dangerous thing. The story itself was written relatively quickly, it was one I basically had entirely written in my head beforehand, unlike a lot of my work where I just start writing and often let the characters run with the ideas and see where they end up.

AOE: Nietzche once said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it in the process, he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Did that quote cross your mind when writing this? Miller became a monster. He let hate consume him. And yet in the end, he was willing to bargain for his life by renouncing his faith. But, the fact is that the band did become evil creatures. If Miller had not tried to kill them, would they have become evil? Or did his relentless pursuit make them that way? Even the gentlest animal is capable of violence if backed into a corner.

JG: This question actually contains spoilers, so for the benefit of those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to read the story I will mostly skirt around parts of it.
No, that quote didn’t once occur to me, not on any conscious level in any event, but it certainly is a most applicable one in the case of our mighty morals crusader Malcom Miller. Those he perceived to be monsters, or impure entities he was certain were responsible for all things evil in his society, and his unswerving unfaltering desire to crush them and obliterate the threat he’s built in his own mind has made him the real monster of the piece and it becomes irrelevant what shape or form the targets of his hatred take. They in fact choose to show him what he is looking for, what he thinks lurks behind human facades of those he hunts and it proves to be a catalyst in his mental unravelling. He has chased down many alleged monsters in terms of music and film and various mediums, conducted many a witch hunt with successful results for him and finally he runs into something that defies the boundaries of his beliefs and ideals, and he is in no way prepared for it to eventuate as it does, hence what ensues.

AOE: The editor of this book, Alex S. Johnson has spoken about you in terms of being one of his inspirations when it comes to writing. What advice have you given him? What advice would you have for a novice just trying to get started? What advice was given to you and who inspired you?

The same advice I give to most people, which revolves around the whole idea of never giving up, never becoming disillusioned with things. If you love to write, you will write. Things such as rejection, critical assessments both good and bad are going to come your way, it’s all part of the game and it is how you respond or react to all these things that will shape you. Though I have been writing for what seems like forever, in terms of published output I am really only a newcomer, so I’m always open to input and advice as well and by the same token I’m prepared to assist anybody who wants to have a listen to what I might have to say. Alex is a wonderful writer and I’m extremely flattered to be considered in any way an inspiration. I’m one of those writers who doesn’t overthink or agonise over my writing too much, I just write what I want to write and though it might not be ideal for everybody, it seems to run pretty well for me. I have learned plenty of things along the way through various editing processes about streamlining, restructuring sentences to make a story flow better, but for the most part I write and rarely tinker with something once I’ve completed it. Prior to actually having my debut novel accepted for publishing I hadn’t ever sought any advice or had any words from anybody in particular to point me in any sort of direction with how to write, I just wrote because I love it. That’s still the number one reason I write. For some it might become a task, a chore or a burden, for me, it is sheer pleasure. Again, it is like listening to heavy metal to me, I love it and I don’t see that changing any time at all.
Who inspired me to write, that’s an easy one. The late great king Richard Laymon. He wasn’t the first author that make me pick up a pen and try my hand at writing horror, since I had that book written which was a bit of a mashed up conglomeration of ideas derived from others I read, as I mentioned earlier, before I discovered his body of work, but he sure as hell was the one who altered and honed the way I wrote. He remains my greatest influence and inspiration in writing to this day.

AOE: There are plans for Axes 2 and 3. Do you have plans for participating? Have you come up with any ideas yet?

JG: I do indeed have plans to submit and potentially participate in both Axes 2 and 3. Being in Axes 1 was awesome, and the ensuing news that there were going to be further anthologies following the epic themes of horror and heavy metal combined, means, for sure I want to be involved in them all as well. I always have ideas churning, sometimes so many that I barely get the time to get them all out. Metal is something which is a regularly recurring facet in much of my writing, either as music referred to in the background, or the choice of listening for various characters, or in fact as a principal theme in a story, so I shouldn’t have much trouble melding metal with horror any time.

AOE: What are you working on now? When will we see it in print? Who is publishing?

JG: In terms of what will next be out on the market from me, there is a collaborative novel written by six authors (one of whom is me) entitled Feral Hearts which will be out in a couple of months. This will be published by J. Ellington Ashton Press who are also my publisher for Plebs. I also have a collection of short stories/novellas with them which will be out some time later in the year I would imagine; it is currently waiting to go into first round of edits.

As for what I’m working on at the moment, I am currently in the midst of writing two full length novels, one which is at 180k words and being only partially done will most likely need to be broken into two books. The original plan for this story was to have it in two parts anyway, but I hadn’t anticipated on it spanning out over two separate books. The other book I’m working on is around 100k and is the one I’m focusing most of my energies on to complete first. This is my first foray (bar a short story in my upcoming collection) into the realm of the undead, surprisingly I haven’t dedicated much time to the big business these days that is writing about zombies. Referring back to my previous answer where I mentioned that heavy metal often plays a part in a lot of my work, it is integral in this book considering the whole thing revolves around black and death metal scenes.
When these will see the light of day or which press they come out with has yet to be ascertained, but I plan to have the extreme metal undead-fest wrapped up very shortly. Among working on novels I’m constantly bombarded with an abundance of other ideas which don’t essentially fit anywhere in these works so I’m knocking out a few shorts as well.

 

AOE: If you could be any metal/rock star for one day, who would it be? (You can tell us why if you want to, but most likely it has something to do with getting laid a lot.)

JG: Layne Staley. So I can say to myself, no Layne, don’t do it!
In actual fact though, nobody in particular. After years of involvement in the metal scenes on various levels, I don’t really subscribe to any starstruck notions. They’re all just people, a whole lot of whom are down to earth wonderful people and a few who balance out the other end of the scale.

AOE: Do you have a favorite quote about music? Tell us and explain it to us.

JG: There are so many that I could fill pages upon pages, so rather than do that, we’ll take one from a guy in the business who isn’t just a shrewd musician, but a goldmine of classic quotes. Marilyn Manson. “Music is the strongest form of magic.”
Short, to the point and self-explanatory, and undeniably true, though I’d enhance it to add that writing is an equally powerful of magic.

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