Jon O’Bergh is an author and musician who loves a good scare. He grew up in Southern California, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California at Irvine. A fan of ghost stories and horror movies, Jon came up with the idea for The Shatter Point after watching a documentary about extreme haunts. He has released over a dozen albums in a variety of styles, including the atmospheric album “Ghost Story.” After many years living in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., he now spends most of his time with his husband in Toronto.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I’m an author and musician who is interested in creative ways to combine the two arts. I’ve been fascinated by horror since I was a child, when my mother would gather neighborhood kids on summer evenings to tell ghost stories.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Create music. I’ve released over a dozen albums in a variety of styles from impressionistic piano to electronic dance music.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
“The Man Who Was Magic” by Paul Gallico. A mysterious stranger with the ability to perform real magic arrives at a city populated by professional magicians and befriends a young girl, but the townspeople are threatened by his authenticity and conspire to destroy him. It’s a tale that resonates deeply with me because it’s about fear of otherness and how people become crazy trying to keep others down.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I don’t listen to music when I write since my musician brain starts focusing too much on the music. But I like to find ways to link the two, such as writing songs that relate to the story or including characters who are musicians. In “The Shatter Point” there is a band that may or may not exist in real life. Hard to choose one favourite album, but the artists who’ve meant the most to me include Tori Amos, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jethro Tull, Steely Dan, and Joni Mitchell.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
Currently my favourite director is Guillermo del Toro. I actually got to meet him last year, and he has such a kind, gentle spirit. As far as a favourite horror movie, I especially like the original Thai version of “Shutter,” about a young photographer and his girlfriend haunted by guilt. The final scene is one of the best cinematic moments in horror—sends chills down my spine.
KR: What are you reading now?
I’m making my way through a bunch of horror novels that use music as a plot element, so my pile includes “We Sold Our Souls” by Grady Hendrix, “The Nightmare Room” by Chris Sorensen, and “Destroy All Monsters” by Jeff Jackson.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Three books had a profound impact on me as a teen: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Other” by Thomas Tryon, and “Demian” by Hermann Hesse. Each in its own way held up a mirror to the world and said, What you assume to be true may be an illusion. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to horror: it plays with our assumptions about the nature of reality.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I develop an outline, but find it’s important to be flexible because the process of writing usually takes me in a different direction. So the outline is continually getting revised.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do constant research, both before I start writing and during the process, especially when I need to include details on something with which I am not already familiar. I don’t spend a lot of time performing research at the start, though—it’s more like a little bit here, a little bit there.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
A walk, maybe a cup of coffee at a cafe. That’s the gestation period, which helps the ideas to emerge more easily once I sit down at the computer.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
A group of friends playing a haunted house board game are transported into the game and must make life and death decisions to get out. I actually designed such a game as a teenager, so the story comes with the image of the game board.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Of course. I have a lot of respect for the reviewers I’ve encountered so far. Even those who aren’t wowed by my writing have been professional and fair in expressing their opinions. You can’t expect everyone to like the same thing, just as I don’t like everything by even my favourite authors. Thank goodness no one has been mean-spirited, though. I know such people are out there.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
Write regularly, and read other authors as much as you can. Both activities expand your skill and creativity.
KR: What scares you?
Humanity’s apparent inability to learn from history.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Nothing is more satisfying than a beautifully put together hardback.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
“The Shatter Point” is a ghost story wrapped inside a thriller, and takes a chilling look at the things that make people snap. A sensitive musician is pressured by his girlfriend to prove himself by undergoing the rigors of an extreme haunt. At the same time, the haunt’s owners are locked in an escalating feud with a neighbor. Incorporating elements of both reality and fiction, the story explores the boundary between what is real and what is imagined.
KR: What are you working on now?
My next novel also juxtaposes reality and fiction, following a quirky group of neighbors whose apartment building may or may not be haunted. There will also be an album of horror-themed music by one of the characters.
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.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
First, I’d choose Asher Williams from “The Shatter Point.” We have similar tastes in music and could have interesting conversations. To provide balance with some female energy, I’d choose Theo, the lesbian psychic from Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” and Tori Amos, who is not only an amazing pianist but thinks outside the box. Both of them are in touch with an unconventional side of spirituality. We’d need that kind of grounding to help us survive.
KR: Thank you very much Jon.
You can find out more about Jon by visiting his blog www.obergh.net
Follow Jon on Twitter @jon_obergh
Jon’s author page can be found here
Set in Southern California’s Orange County and historic Pasadena, the plot follows two parallel sets of characters whose lives eventually intersect. The past intrudes in unwelcome ways for each character. Donna remains troubled by a previous marriage that turned sour when the husband became abusive. Her son Billy fears that he inherited his father’s propensity toward violence. Feelings of inadequacy haunt Asher from his years being bullied. Ruth hides a series of traumatic incidents from her youth. Jada’s craving for stimulation leads eventually to disaster.Much more than just a ghost story, the novel is a study of individuals under stress. The curious reader will discover different layers of reality versus fiction within the book. In a world haunted by the ghosts of the past–where reality is manufactured for popular consumption–how do we know what is real and what is fake, what is true and what is imagined? After the shatter point, the horror will become all too real.