Author John Palisano has a pair of books with Samhain Publishing, DUST OF THE DEAD, and GHOST HEART. NERVES is available through Bad Moon. STARLIGHT DRIVE: FOUR HALLOWEEN TALES was released in time for Halloween, and his first short fiction collection ALL THAT WITHERS is available from Cycatrix press, celebrating over a decade of short story highlights. NIGHT OF 1,000 BEASTS is also now available.
He won the Bram Stoker Award© in short fiction in 2016 for “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop”. More short stories have appeared in anthologies from Cemetery Dance, PS Publishing, Independent Legions, DarkFuse, Crystal Lake, Terror Tales, Lovecraft eZine, Horror Library, Bizarro Pulp, Written Backwards, Dark Continents, Big Time Books, McFarland Press, Darkscribe, Dark House, Omnium Gatherum, and more.
Non-fiction pieces have appeared in BLUMHOUSE, FANGORIA, BACKSTREETS and DARK DISCOVERIES magazines.
He is currently serving as the Vice President of the Horror Writers Association.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
Multi-pronged creative person who loves writing fiction. I live in Los Angeles, on a hill that overlooks the Universal Studios back lot and the ‘Psycho’ house.
I have played and toured with bands as a guitarist since my teenage years. I also work for several animal rights organizations. Last? I watch way too much reality TV, which means I am constantly disappointed in real life.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Big time into music and playing with my band. I’m one of two guitarists and love that world. I spend way too much time looking at obscure guitar gear online. Last year I built a Stratocaster. Funny thing is that I have met so many authors that are also musicians. I had the honor to play bass in SLUSH PILE, a band that plays occasional conventions.
It was started by Heather Graham, who sings, F. Paul Wilson on drums and Dave Thomas on guitar. Sometimes the members change, and it’s mostly covers, but it’s fun when it lines up. We had guest vocalists, including Alexandra Sokoloff, Heather’s son Shane, and even Rio Youers did a Ramones song with us. I think the world of music and writing are very intertwined. Another dear friend, Jeremy Wagner, plays in a very successful hardcore metal band. I think there are just folks who are wired up a certain way, and writing and music seem to be two sides of that coin for many of us.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
This is a tough one. Honestly? The first books I loved were the Judy Blume Fudge books. Me and my brother devoured them and thought they were hilarious. I also loved ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ during my childhood. My parents really gave me a lot of great stuff to read, especially once I hit my teenage years. A huge moment for me was when my mother passed along a new bestseller to me about someone interviewing a vampire in San Francisco. She’d kept it for me for when I was old enough, and I fell in love with that series. Recently, I was lucky enough to have the author sign it for me. No. I’ll never sell it!
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I’d probably go with “Darkness on the Edge of Town” from Bruce Springsteen. It is just so damn pure and raw; it’s seen me through many a tough jam. Bruce’s music means a ton to me. Growing up on the east coast, we had pilgrimages to see Bruce. My first was at Madison Square Garden, and boy was it a cooker! Music plays a huge role in my work. I don’t write to music, though, I will very often compose and work on soundtracks to my books. Each book has had an extensive scoring. I use a keyboard synth and my guitar. For my first novel, “Nerves”, there is a character who is in an old R&B band. To make it authentic, and as the songs played a big role in the narrative, I composed the entire group’s album. It only appears in bits and pieces, but it’s all been written.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
“Alien” from Ridley Scott remains a top favorite. It changed me profoundly when I saw it. The world was so unique and strange and unforgiving. Plus? The style and artistry in that movie is off the charts. Oh? And I swear it still scares me when I watch it. When I first came to Los Angeles, I had an internship with Ridley, and it was everything one could ever hope for!
KR: What are you reading now?
Reading Ann Radcliff’s “The Mysteries of Udolpho” for the Gothic Book Club I run at the Last Bookstore. Although I am apt to have several titles I dip into at any given moment. My TBR list is out of control. I have books from college I still haven’t gotten to, but I know I will one day. Having books nearby gives me great comfort. They speak to me. They are like little boxes of consciousness that gather round a weary soul! Hah-hah-hah. That was mighty pretentious!
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Stephen King. I’ll never forget seeing the cover of ‘Night Shift’ at the local Waldenbooks and taking it home and reading the stories. I’d found my thing! Also, Anne Rice is a major influence. I just love her works. In addition to the Vampire mythos, I adore the Mayfair Witches saga. Just brilliant and captivating. Clive Barker had a huge hand, as well. I felt anything was possible after reading his works. ‘Imajica’ was a huge turning point. Douglas Adams! John Steinbeck! Judy Blume! So many. Something must also be said for finding authors that inspire you down the path a bit. For me, they include Joe R. Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Sarah Langan, Poppy Z. Brite, Octavia Butler, and so many more.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I almost always develop an outline and do character sketches before embarking. And I almost always end up deviating from the outline about 2/3rds of the way into the project. I also usually will sketch a few scenes (primitively) to help me develop the ideas. The more I know before typing, the better.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Honestly? I hadn’t done a whole lot of pre-research when writing the novels or stories until the one I’m working on now. I drew mostly from locations and things I was very familiar with. The newest book took a lot more research, but it was well worth it.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
I don’t have full days to write. Ever. I have to make time when I can. If I have an hour lunch, I’ll try and take half to work on something. If I am in a doctor’s office, I’ll work while waiting, if possible. I’ll try to sneak in a half hour or an hour in the morning when possible. I don’t have that luxury of waking up, brewing coffee, and sitting in front of a computer. Which is fine! I am compelled to tell these stories, so I find a way to make them happen!
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
Right now, it’s “Song of the Cephalopod” which is forthcoming from Cemetery Dance magazine. It hit all the marks for me emotionally and thematically.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
I admit that I do, and likely I should not. Some of the bad ones are brutal on me! Even though I should know better at this point in time, I can’t resist the temptation. Hah. Hah. Hah.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
Read a lot, and read far and wide, subject wise. Write. Revise. Submit. Write. Revise. Submit. Worry about the words your writing vs the likes on your social media. Don’t share nuthin’ til it’s done and the best you can make it. Unless it’s with your close-knit writing crit group.
KR: What scares you?
Heights! Alligators! Possessed babies! I can give you a whole list as long as Kerouac’s original On The Road scroll!
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
All of the above. I like switching it up. I’m not evangelical to any format.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
Night of 1,000 Beasts takes place on the longest night of the century. While skiing in Deer Springs, Colorado, a group of friends get separated after an avalanche. They find out the elements are the least of their problems as strange animal-creatures hunt them one by one. On this night, the animals take on semi-human forms and do to people what has been done to them for centuries. They’re out for blood, and boy do they get it. It’s my most violent book, by far, although it’s really metaphoric and done with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
KR: What are you working on now?
I am about ten chapters away from finishing my latest book. I’m very superstitious about talking about any details of what I’m working on until I at least have a first draft completed. For me, the intimate power the story has inside my head gets diminished, and I find myself selling it too early. Many other authors don’t have this issue, but some do! I am definitely not one of those writers who puts up segments of their works in progress. I’m way too paranoid to do that! Plus, feedback of any kind can color the story, even subconsciously.
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.
Diana from Night of 1,000 Beasts because I know her hunting skills would come in handy. Although, she’d likely hunt and kill me if things got desperate!
b) One fictional character from any other book.
Ford Prefect from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Because we’d likely have a few pints, he’d have some great reading material, and if anyone could get us off a deserted island, it’d be him! Don’t Panic!
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
Probably Brooke Shields from when she was in The Blue Lagoon, because that movie always comes to mind whenever I think about being on a deserted island!
KR: Thank you very much John.
You can find out more about John by visiting his Official Website www.johnpalisano.com
John’s author page can be found here
Find John on Facebook here
Follow John on Twitter @johnpalisano
During the longest night of the century in Deer Springs, Colorado, the native creatures turn into the hunters, targeting a group of vacationers, and turning their winter vacation into a living hell.
You can buy Night of 1,000 Beasts from Amazon UK & Amazon US
For a while, it looked like the living had won. The war against the walking dead lasted almost a decade, but it’s mostly over. There are only a few straggling zombies left to take care of. Los Angeles has returned to its lattes and long commutes. It’s up to a small Reclamation Crew to clean up the Zoms left behind. But when the undead dry up, their skin turns to dust. Now the hot Santa Ana winds deliver a new threat…because the Zoms were only the beginning of something far worse.
You can buy Dust Of The Dead from Amazon UK & Amazon US
Live fast, die young, and leave a bloodthirsty corpse.
That’s the saying of a new pack of fiendish predators infesting a New England town. They’re infected with the Ghost Heart, a condition that causes them to become irresistible and invincible…as long as they drink the blood of the living. But these vampires don’t live forever, and as the Ghost Heart claims them, their skin loses color and their hearts turn pale. When a young mechanic is seduced by the pack’s muse, he finds falling in love will break more than his heart.
You can buy Ghost Heart from Amazon UK & Amazon US
NERVES is a journey through a secret world, where some have the gifts of shooting their nerves from their fingers to use as weapons or healing . . . where a down-on-his luck soul singer can bring afflicted back from the brink . . . where a loving touch can prove deadly . . . and where a wound may offer a last chance at life.
Two brothers, one born with the gift to bring life to whatever he touches, the other, death, meet after living apart for decades, come together again when the dark man who gave them their gifts returns seeking sacrifice. It’s up to Horace and Josiah to fight Ogam the dark man and heal their family.
Their journey brings them all over America, from California, from Istanbul, from Whistleville, Connecticut, to Pepper, Louisiana, through an alternate reality, and into the mystical other-verse known as Alta as they gather a team and chase the dark man . . . Ogam . . . the witch . . . the bringer of lies and pain.
You can buy Nerves from Amazon UK & Amazon US
Bram Stoker Award winner John Palisano’s first collection, All That Withers, the stories range from Lovecraftian musings to terrifying explorations of the inhuman condition, with Palisano creating vivid images of desperate people engaged in ordeals which could happen to many of us… how they respond is the difference between their survival and oblivion. Including several Bram Stoker Award-nominated tales, as well as the 2016 Stoker winner for Short Fiction, “Happy Joe’s Rest Stop.”
You can buy All That Withers from Amazon UK & Amazon US
I very much enjoyed the interview. Thanks. And these books scream read me!