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 ten novels, including his latest The House By The Cemetery, which takes place at a real haunted cemetery — Bachelor’s Grove — in the south suburbs of Chicago.
His first novel Covenant, was a winner of the Bram Stoker Award and his sixth, NightWhere, was a finalist for the award. Other novels include Redemption, the conclusion to the trilogy begun in Covenant, as well as Violet Eyes, The Pumpkin Man, Siren and The 13th. Over the past 20 years, his short stories have appeared in more than 75 magazines and anthologies. He is the founder of the independent press Dark Arts Books and has written novelettes for The Vampire Diaries and Jonathan Maberry’s V-Wars universe (Books 1 and 3), the latter of which is currently being developed for NetFlix. He’s also written stories for The Green Hornet and Kolchak, The Night anthologies. He has had several short fiction collections, including Needles & Sins, Vigilantes of Love, Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions and most recently, Sacrificing Virgins.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I’m that guy at the end of the bar with his laptop. You know… the one with a couple empty pint glasses in front of him, who’s been there all night, not talking to anyone, staring off into space at the neon beer light when he’s not typing. The one who requests that one of the bar TVs be turned to the Cubs game, even though he’s writing. The one who nods his head absently to New Order and The Cure and Muse, but scowls when Ed Sheeran or Train come on. The guy who orders Devil’s Sweat hot wings, and then asks for extra hot sauce. I’m that guy.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Really anything creative. I love to cook, grill, garden and write music (I’m a keyboardist). I’ve even done some woodworking – I built an oak home bar for my basement a few years ago and blogged about it… and that blog draws more traffic to my blog than all of my posts about horror combined! (http://www.johneverson.com/diy-how-to-build-your-own-oak-home-bar/ )
I am also a huge movie buff… I spend virtually every Friday and Saturday night watching old horror, Grindhouse, exploitation, giallo or arthouse films from the ‘70s and ‘80s. You can see some of that influence in my new novel The House By The Cemetery, because my set designers for the book’s haunted house are named after two Italian horror directors (Argento and Lucio) and reference all sorts of films in their set designs.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
That’s tough. I was a huge reader growing up – it’s why I became a writer! I read a ton of Golden Age sci-fi, and loved Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Simak… If I go with “favorite” being the books I read more than once… that title would go to Tolkien’s The Hobbit and J.T. McIntosh’s Born Leader or World Out of Mind.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I was a newspaper music columnist for 20 years, and was in a couple short-lived bands as well. So… music is an important part of my life, period. I own thousands of CDs and LPs and don’t like to do much of anything without music playing. Favorite albums include The Cure’s The Head On The Door, New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies, Kate Bush’s The Dreaming, Psychedelic Furs’ Forever Now, Dire Straits’ Love Over Gold and Styx’s Equinox. To me, those are all examples of “perfect” albums.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
My favorite horror film is Ridley Scott’s Alien – because it’s the perfect mix of horror, sci-fi, mood and visual eyecandy.
Favorite directors for career-spanning work include Jean Rollin, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.
KR: What are you reading now?
Your interview questions.
Sadly, I haven’t had time to kick back and “read” this whole year. I miss it.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
That list of sci-fi writers I mentioned above, even though they were all science fiction authors. When I put pen to paper, the stories all came out macabre instead of alien. But I devoured Asimov, Heinlein, Simak, McIntosh, Tolkien, Matheson and more growing up. In my 20s and 30s, my tastes turned away from sci-fi, which to me had gotten “too scientific” and more to Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edward Lee, Nina Kiriki Hoffman and Charles de Lint who still produced fiction of “the fantastic”.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
Both. I’ve written books without an outline (including my first three) and I’ve written several with outlines – because I contracted those books ahead of writing them, so I had to show the publisher what I intended to do. The former is more fun, because you’re in the same position as the reader, not knowing where the next chapter will take you. But the latter is a much safer way to work!
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Typically, a horror novel doesn’t require much research – you’re making stuff up. Sometimes I’ll research a demon name, or look for ingredients for a magic spell or something. But I don’t need to research most of the key points of my plots, since they’re fantasy – I make up the history and the rules.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
It varies wildly! I can tell you my favorite writing day – Saturday and Sunday afternoon, when it’s sunny and about 80-85 degrees out and I have no other commitments. I take the big iMac out onto the patio, set it up on my glass outdoor “bar” table and pour a pint of one of Revolution Brewing’s IPAs. I plug in the iPod into my outdoor speakers and put on Delerium or Brandi Carlile or R.E.M. or… one of the other 2600+ albums I have on my iPod and work for five or six hours until it’s dark out.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
I have a lot of favorites! Every one of your stories is a “child” in some ways, so it’s hard to pick favorites… but there are a couple that I’ve come back to again and again. I love “Pumpkin Head” (from Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions) because it was one of my first (and most perennially popular) erotic horror stories. I think the end works really well. I love the story “Letting Go” (from Needles & Sins) because it sets a particular mood and just builds on the emotion. It also was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. And I really love “She Found Spring” (from Sacrificing Virgins) because it’s a ghost story… but one that focuses more on melancholia than fright.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Sure. I see artists say you should never read reviews because they can “get in your head” in a bad way, but I don’t understand how you can’t. I understand that authors don’t want to get upset by them so sometimes it’s safer to just avoid looking, but how can you ignore the reviews completely? Writers write to be read…. So it stands to reason that you want to know what the readers think of the work. You just have to try to take them with a grain of salt. So often on Amazon I see a 4 or 5-star review saying one of my books is awesome, and right below that will be a 1 or 2 star review saying it stinks. You naturally obsess over the low rating… but you just need to force yourself to look at the positive ones. Now… if everything is negative, then maybe you’ve really got a problem with the work…
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
Write. Write more. Go to open mic nights and read stories aloud (this might be the most valuable thing you can do – pay attention to the audience reaction to the things you think are funny or moving… do they react?) And then submit the work to real editors. Take their feedback… and work to improve. And write some more.
KR: What scares you?
People. They are far more unpredictable and cruel than demons and ghouls.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
The House By The Cemetery is a novel about an old house by a cemetery with a bad reputation being renovated and turned into a haunted house attraction for Halloween. But… it turns out that it’s already haunted, so all the fake blood… will just pave the way for the real thing.
It was a fun book for me to write because it’s set in a cemetery that I grew up near – and which is purportedly one of the most haunted places in Illinois. And since my characters are building a haunted house, I get to toss in lots of horror geekdom, including references to a bunch of my favorite old horror films.
KR: What are you working on now?
My 11th novel (geez, how did we get here?) It’s called The Devil’s Equinox, and is kind of a Rosemary’s Baby kind of tale. I’m hoping to finish it before the end of the year.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
Sin-D from NightWhere. She’d be sure to make any deserted island fun and she knows how to mix a good cocktail.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
Lisa, from Anne Rice’s Exit To Eden… because, well, if Sin-D is busy…
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
Guy Fieri – because he’s funny and we need someone who can cook some interesting things if we’re going to be stuck on that island all the time!
KR: Thank you very much John.
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Rumor has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumors won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumors down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumors is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfill. Because while the witch may have been dead… she doesn’t intend to stay that way.
She yearned to go beyond… but some curtains should never be opened.
When Rae broached the idea of visiting an underground sex club, Mark didn’t blink. He should have. Because NightWhere is not your usual swingers club. Where it’s held on a given night…only those who receive the red invitations know. And the mysterious Watchers who guard the club answer to something far more sinister than the calls of the flesh. Soon Rae is indulging in her lust for pain, moving closer to a threshold of unimaginable evil. And Mark is warned by a beautiful stranger to take his wife away before it’s too late.
But it’s already too late. Because Rae hasn’t come home. Now Mark is in a race against time — to find NightWhere again and save his wife from the Watchers and what they serve. To stop her from taking that last step through the degradations of The Red into the ultimate BDSM promise of The Black. More than just their marriage and her life are at stake: Rae is in danger of losing her soul…and more!
Tales beyond the darkness! If you could bring your daughter back from the dead…should you? If you could forget the worst event in your life…would you? In this collection of twenty-five dark tales from Bram Stoker Award-winning author John Everson, you’ll meet a host of provocative characters. Learn the secrets of the man whose pumpkin carvings look strangely, disturbingly real. Visit a small town where the tavern game isn’t about shots, but sharks. Meet the woman who finds an ancient sex toy-and a salacious spirit-entombed beneath her garden. From quiet tales of ghosts and cemeteries to extreme tales of erotic horror, Sacrificing Virgins will take you to the bleeding edge…and beyond.
Roses scented with bitter deception, Oracles redolent in hidden redemption, a body-mod-obsessed ingenue with an amputee fetish and a demon gone soft on a bitter angel. Dreamcatchers, an alternate Nativity with a pimp God and a non-compliant Mary, Stupid Bitch the three-legged cat and the secret explanation of how Germany almost won the war with the devil on their side.
These are just a few of the provocative sets in these 19 stories rife with “Needles & Sins”…
20 tales of obsession, dark decadence and erotic horror!
Meet a witch who conjures genital dragons while singing Manilow. A woman who provides a true window to her soul. A dirty deal with the devil on the side of a road. And a real cage of bones! The first short fiction collection from John Everson, originally released by Delirium Books, features some of his best erotic horror, including his most popular tale, “Pumpkin Head,” a dark tale of jack-o-lanterns…and the dangers of Halloween lusts…