Stacey – Welcome to The Horror Tree, Jim. It’s great to have you. Tell us a little about yourself?
Jim – Salutations, Stacey, and cheers for having me here. Predominantly, I am a husband and father, but in addition to that I am a horror author. Formerly based in Sydney, I now reside in Albury where I maintain a full-time job along with writing. I’m also an editor and run WetWorks, which is the extreme horror and bizarro imprint of J. Ellington Ashton Press. I’m a massive heavy metal aficionado, in particular the extreme subgenres (black and death), and often cross-pollinate my horror writing with forays into musical realms.
Stacey – As a complete novice to extreme metal music, what drew you to it in the first place. Was it a band or a particular song?
Jim – My passion for extreme metal runs in some ways parallel to my passion for horror. As an impressionable youngster I gravitated towards dark elements in both fiction and music early, and constantly expanded my search for new heavier, and horrific things. I grew up with music always playing in my household, as well as always having books around, so I cultivated an appreciation for all kinds of both. Reading was encouraged, appreciating music too, and as I delved deeper into heavy metal, and grew up with it, I discovered a penchant for the more extreme side of things. This went hand in hand with my explorations of horror, and an affinity with all of it. No particular bands or songs played major parts since I was into a very wide spread of acts from all over the world, but I certainly have an abundance of favourites.
Stacey – Was music what drew you into writing Horror or was there some other influence?
Jim – Music has always been influential and inspirational, not just metal, but all different types, but it wasn’t what served as any catalyst for writing horror. When I first started writing stories-which happened not too long after I learned to read-I was writing all kinds of different things in a vast array of genres. Back then of course, as a kid, I didn’t have too much of an idea of genres, but I have written tales that could be considered fantasy, science fiction, urban, I even used to write Westerns. What was the principal inspiration for all of this was reading. I read a hell of a lot of books of all types of genres, and I was often inspired to write my own tales. As I did with music, gravitating towards the heavier side of things, my reading tastes soon included horror, and while I continued to read an assortment of different genres, it was horror that became my prime obsession. My stories reflected that as a result, and soon enough I realised writing horror was exactly what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be.
Stacey – You have quite an impressive list of titles under your belt according to Amazon. How long have you been writing?
Jim – I’ve been writing forever it seems like, and essentially that is true. As I made mention of before, I started writing not long after I learned to read. As a kid I didn’t just write stories though, I actually made my own books, drew my own illustrations, synopsis, covers, the whole lot. I wrote stories, poetry, lyrics, a couple of novels through my high school years, and then continued to write on and off in one form or another throughout all the years following that.
In terms of actually being published however, that didn’t happen until early 2014 when my first book Plebs emerged. That came after a fairly long period where I wasn’t writing horror fiction at all, but was involved in other pursuits, such as working in the extreme metal scenes. Considering this involved writing reviews and so forth I was still technically writing, though not in any fiction capacity.
Stacey – Do you draw inspiration from real life experiences?
Jim – I draw inspiration from just about anything. I wouldn’t exactly say I have written too much based around my real-life experiences, not in any great detail or focus in any event, but rather a case of taking snippets here and there to enhance other stories.
I find inspiration everywhere. From daily events, to a random piece of conversation heard in passing, from news headlines to music, anything at all. One of my favourite methods of conjuring up a story is to merely find a single image-old houses are often a great source-and create an entire tale based around that sole picture. My novel The Sleep was largely conceived and written in this manner. The image that appears on the cover is the very one that the whole book was based around.
Other books and stories have drawn inspiration from all manner of sources, though any real life experiences or personal experiences of mine would be well blended in with themes and subjects of a far more fictional nature.
Stacey – Do you find anything particularly challenging about writing?
Jim – My greatest challenge in writing is finding enough time to write everything that I want to write. There are never enough hours in the day, and even as fast as I often write, I’m still being bombarded with ideas for other projects I want to get to work on. I almost always work on multiple projects at any given time, but even so, there’s never enough time.
Stacey – Do you write daily?
Jim – Yes, I do. How much I get written each day is variable, but I do make a point of writing something every day. Now and then for various reasons I might happen to miss a day here and there, but as a general rule I do write every day.
Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?
Jim – Either works just fine. I often write to a soundtrack of music which runs the gamut through the expected range of different metal genres, to sixties rock, industrial, even dance music, horrorcore, old school rap, all kinds of things. Other times I have no music at all, but that doesn’t essentially mean I’m writing in complete silence. With two little kids running around the house, there is rarely anything resembling complete silence. I’m attuned to just focusing on whatever it is I’m working on regardless of the surrounding sounds or background noise.
Stacey – What’s the best writing advice you could give someone just starting out?
Jim – This will be the same advice I’ve given each time I’m asked this, and that is because I maintain the same stance there; it never changes.
If you want to write, or love to write, then just write. Write what you want to write, how you want.
I’ll expand on this a little and add something which may or may not work for everybody, since each person has their own method of approaching writing. If you’re aiming to tell a story, then tell the whole story before worrying about whether it is perfect. It’s entirely up to each writer whether they want to edit as they go, but personally I never do, and never have. Sitting around agonising over a line or a paragraph, then going back over and over it multiple times, rephrasing, restructuring, completely altering it or what-have-you as you write tends to stunt the flow of the story and might ultimately end in you never getting anything finished. If you have the story in your head, get it out, and then concern yourself with beating it into shape if it so requires.
After all, first drafts exist for a reason.
In addition to that, I’ll toss this out there too. If you haven’t already got a thick skin, then be prepared to cultivate one. Whatever it is you write isn’t going to appeal to everybody, and there are always going to be myriad critiques and opinions floating around, so be ready to take all that in your stride.
Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish reading? Which book and why?
Jim – To be honest I can’t think of any book I couldn’t finish reading. If I start something I usually persevere with it, even if it isn’t really captivating or holding my attention. It will take a whole lot longer to finish reading than a book that does keep me fixated, where I might go weeks or longer in between periods of reading it, but generally it does get completed.
Stacey – What’s the last horror movie you watched?
Jim – The Autopsy of Jane Doe.
Stacey – What scares you?
Jim – Aside from something untoward happening to my kids and family, nothing really. I don’t scare easily.
Stacey – From the Vault is a collection of poetry and lyrics? Which is more rewarding? Poetry or Short Stories?
Jim – Writing stories and novels, novellas etc. is definitely where my main writing passion lies, so consequently, they are much more rewarding to me. In actuality, I haven’t written anything in the way of poetry or lyrics for many, many moons. From the Vault is quite literally from the vault. It is comprised of a collective of lyrics, songs, and poems which were all written way back in the mists of time. With the exception of a handful of them, they haven’t previously been published, so while they’re all quite old to me, they will be largely new to everybody else. I have a pretty sizeable assemblage of poems (all of which were originally written as lyrics), so this probably won’t be the only collection of its kind to surface. There will be others some time down the track, and since I have a body of unpublished novels, stories and so forth also written way back in the day, they too might be on the agenda to appear at some stage in the future.
Stacey – What are you working on at the moment?
Jim – As usual I’m working on myriad projects. They include Plebs 3, numerous other collections, a couple of novellas and several other novels. They’ll all jostle for the main focus of my attention until one wins out and I end up spending most of the time aiming to complete it. I’d like to say that will be Plebs 3, but we’ll see how that pans out. Anything can, and usually does, happen.
Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?
Jim – No, I seldom, if ever, share excerpts of unpublished work. I know there are plenty out there who do for an assortment of reasons, and if that’s what they choose to do, that’s their prerogative, but personally I never really understood the logic behind it. Sharing an unedited excerpt, which anything of mine would be, considering I don’t edit as I go, I get the story written first, means that excerpt might not even make it to the final product, it might be wholly changed, restructured, you name it. I appreciate why some might want to share their work before it reaches the stage of publishing, but it’s not something I do.
Thank you so much for your time Jim! If you would like to find out more about Jim and his writing endeavours, check out the links below.
- The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Ruschelle Dillon - August 3, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With Bruno Lombardi - July 27, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Dave D’Alessio - June 22, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Meredith Anderson - May 4, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with K. Matt - April 20, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Margarita Felices - March 30, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Em Dehaney - March 2, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Amanda J Evans - February 23, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Christy Mann - January 19, 2019
- The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Dan Weatherer - December 1, 2018