If you ask his wife, John Quick is compelled to tell stories because he’s full of baloney. He prefers to think he simply has an affinity for things that are strange, disturbing, and terrifying. As proof, he will explain how he suffered Consequences, transcribed The Journal of Jeremy Todd, and regaled the tale of Mudcat. He lives in Middle Tennessee with his aforementioned long-suffering wife, two exceptionally patient kids, four dogs that could care less so long as he keeps scratching that perfect spot on their noses, and a cat who barely acknowledges his existence.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I’m an author from middle Tennessee, and I do this because I think I’d go insane otherwise. Depending on who you ask, I may be there already.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
My life consists of working to pay the bills, and writing to hopefully take that role one day. Because of that, I love to spend time with my wife and kids when I get the chance. I don’t care if it’s watching a TV show or movie, visiting with family, or just walking around our back yard picking up dog poo with my wife; when the opportunity arises, I love to spend time with them.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
It may sound cliché, but the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. Those influenced me more during my formative years than anything else I can think of.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
Music absolutely plays a role in my writing. I usually have something playing in the background while I work, and will create a Spotify playlist for certain scenes or sequences in my current work. As to a favorite album, it varies depending on my mood. Some consistent contenders are Savatage’s Streets: A Rock Opera, GnR’s Appetite for Destruction, and lately, Halestorm’s Into the Wild Life (specifically, the song “I Am The Fire”).
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
I always find myself going back to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and the shorts that led to it, so I’d have to say Raimi.
KR: What are you reading now?
Thanks to my job allowing me to spend a good bit of time driving, I tend to have both a physical book and an audiobook going at the same time. Physically, I just started Catfish in the Cradle by Wile E. Young. On audio, thanks to it just being released in that media, I’m listening to Jonathan Janz’s The Dark Game
KR: What was the last great book you read?
Not to come off like too much of a fanboy (even though I totally am), but Janz’s The Siren and the Specter. I was a little late to the game with it, thanks to my never-ending TBR pile, and I so wish I’d tackled it earlier!
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
I know there are folks that are devoted to one format or another, but honestly, I don’t care, so long as the story’s good. That said, I tend to go for eBooks lately, just because of the cost.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Oh, man, where do I start? I’d say the biggest ones were the original splatterpunks: Schow, Skipp and Spector. I wanted to be a rock star as a kid, but lacked the talent. Then I saw them in Fangoria, dressed in the leather and sunglasses, and suddenly I saw a way to do it without playing an instrument that well. Also, like countless others of my generation, Stephen King’s On Writing kind of gave me permission to attempt it at all. Then I discovered the Leisure guys like Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, Bryan Smith, JF Gonzales and Jack Ketchum, and I found the tools I was missing to give it a shot.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I’ve got a fantasy trilogy I’m working on, and that made me work to an outline. I did the first book by the seat of my pants, but once I opened up several plot threads with the second one, I realized I needed a way to keep them all straight or I’d lose one.
Generally speaking, though, I prefer to just write and see where it goes. I might have an idea in mind, and maybe a scene or two further down the line, but I try not to think more than a chapter ahead. I figure that if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, my readers won’t either.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It really depends on the book. For example, the story I’m working on now features a real version of Slenderman / Momo, and I researched the hell out of that phenomenon before I started on it. In most cases, though, I simply start writing and look up anything that comes up that I’m not sure about.
KR: How would you describe your writing style?
I want my readers to feel like I’m simply telling them a story across the table or a campfire or something. I try to make my writing feel that same way. I’ll leave it for them to decide if I pulled it off or not.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Much as I wish otherwise, I have to work a day job to pay the bills. Because of that, my typical writing day is: wake up, go to the day job, come home, have dinner, spend time with the family, write until I have nothing left, then go to bed and repeat the process the next day. I do try to write every day, whether I manage many words or not. Any forward progress is still progress.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
I have two, actually: the first is called “Doors”, and was written with a specific anthology in mind. I don’t remember which anthology, and I think the company doing it went under before I could submit it, but I do love the story. It’s a guy sitting alone in his living room, staring at the closed doors down the hall, working up the nerve to go through them. As the story progresses, we learn that his wife and kids were killed in a car wreck, and he hasn’t been able to go into their rooms since. It took a good bit of Scotch to get the story out of me, and I went out back and bawled my eyes out once it was finished. It may be the most emotionally raw thing I’ve ever written.
The other is called “The Hole in the Skin of the World”, and was inspired by a huge depression behind a hotel my wife and I stayed in once. In my mind, it turned into a massive pit, but I didn’t know what was at the bottom of it. The story was my way of finding out. It’s a fun little yarn, and also ended up being my first foray into cosmic horror.
I do hope both of them find their way out there one day. Maybe I’ll do another self-published collection and include them.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
I’m one of those insane folks who do read their reviews. I don’t much care what the book gets rated, so long as there’s something constructive in there. I use that to insure the next release is better than the last.
KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?
I first tried my hand at getting published back in 2005. I thought the story I’d come up with was pretty decent, and felt it was a good effort as far as the actual writing went. Looking back on it now, I can clearly see why I didn’t get any takers for it, and am embarrassed that I let anyone I don’t know see it at all. Part of the problem was that I was too conscious about writing for an audience. I wasn’t telling the story I wanted to read, I was telling a story I hoped someone else wanted to read.
When I tried again with my debut novel, Consequences, back in 2015 (it came out the following year), I was telling the story for myself. This time, it worked. And thankfully, other people seem to have liked it as well.
From there, it’s just been practice and absorption. The more I work with editors and other writers, the more I see the mistakes as I’m making them, and tend to correct them on the fly. One of my beta readers actually commented not that long ago that my first drafts are getting much cleaner than when I started out, so apparently something’s working, lol.
KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?
There are two, actually. The first was reading Laymon’s A Writer’s Tale and coming across the line “write the story you want to read.” That opened the floodgates for me, and allowed me to finally start putting all the stories in my head onto paper. Later, I heard both Joe Lansdale and Brian Keene say that you shouldn’t worry about writing horror, or fantasy, or science fiction, or whatever—you should write your stories. After thinking that over, I realized it’s all part of the same thing, all a part of writing the story you want to read. That understanding has affected my approach to the craft more than anything else, I think.
Close behind it was something I heard Jonathan Janz say to a friend of mine who was trying to write as well, back at Scares That Care Weekend a couple of years ago. His advice was: “Give yourself permission to suck.” That didn’t hit home at the time, but later I found myself writing a passage and feeling it wasn’t that great. Then I remembered his advice, and it reminded me that a first draft is just getting the story out there. Cleaning and polishing is why you edit and do future drafts. Now, whenever I do that passage that feels weak or clunky, I remind myself that it’s okay for it to suck in the first draft. Get the story done, and then make it shine.
KR: What scares you?
As you can figure out by the short story I talked about earlier, I’m horrified at the thought of losing my wife and / or kids. The older I get, the more that becomes the most frightening thing I can imagine. I’m also terrified of spiders, and once intended to shoot one off its web next to my front door until my wife talked me down and dealt with it for me.
Hey, it’s a fear. Rationality kind of goes out the window sometimes.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
My latest release is through Sinister Grin Press, and is called Demon at the Window. To me, it feels like a strange cross between the pulp detective novels of the forties and fifties and the X-Files. Honestly, all you have to do is look at the cover to see that pulp influence coming through, and my thanks to Zach McCain for making my vision come to life with that!
The book is the story of former Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Jack Cochran. After losing his job, he decides to try his luck as a private investigator. His first case looks like a simple stalking incident, but as the story progresses, he discovers that he’s not dealing with your normal stalker. Instead, he’s facing off against a literal Demon from Hell, come to take out his clients.
The book was a blast to write, and—to my mind, at least—a good blend of humor and horror. Not that I’d label it a horror comedy, but there is a lightness to his tales that doesn’t pop up much in my other work. Interestingly, I think that’s because the story was largely an accident.
I’d thought of Jack Cochran several years ago, but I could never seem to get his story out there in a way I was happy with. When I did Consequences, I needed a TBI agent, and threw him in because I didn’t think he’d be doing anything else. Little did I know that by giving him a past, I was going to unlock his future. Now, I’ve got four stories featuring him and his assistant, Alexis, in various drafts, and could probably come up with more if there’s a call for them.
KR: What are you working on now?
At the moment, I’m doing a complete re-write of the third Cochran Investigations book. I went to edit it, and found that I hated what I’d come up with. I’m hoping this time around, it’s going to be better. So far, I think it is. I’m also trying to finish up the final book of my fantasy trilogy. The outline’s done, I just have to fill in the blanks.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
Woof. Time for hard choices. Okay, here goes.
For a fictional character from my writing, I’d have to say Jack Cochran. There’s so much of my actual personality in him, I’m sure we’d always have something to talk about to pass the time.
A fictional character from another book. That one’s tough. I’d say Ben Hanscom from IT. If there’s anybody who could come up with a way to get off that island, it’s probably him.
As for the real-life person? I had to really think about this one. There are several I could pick, which makes it really hard to narrow down. Ultimately, I think I’ll go with Patrick Rothfuss. If he’s cornered, maybe I can finally learn what the end of his Kingkiller Chronicle books is.
KR: Thank you very much John.
Official Website: www.johnquickauthor.blogspot.com
Demon At The Window
Jack Cochran was actually relieved when he was fired from the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation) following one of the strangest cases he’d ever encountered. He decided to try his luck as a Private Investigator, and live out a long-time dream.
What he didn’t expect was that his first case would be to track down a stalker who may be an actual, birthed-from-Hell demon intent on killing his clients off one by one. This isn’t the case he wanted, but it’s the one he ended up with, and he can only hope to survive the DEMON AT THE WINDOW.