The Kendall Reviews Interview
Kendall Reviews: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
Jackson Arthur: My name is Jackson Arthur and I write horror and supernatural fiction. I’m not good at talking about myself, so bare with me. Please and thank you.
I was born and raised in the rust belt of Northeastern Ohio, where it is cloudy 300 days of the year. That is probably where I get my doom and gloom lifestyle. There is a reason why seasonal depression is a huge problem where I live. And I still live in the same area with my wife and child, where my day job is as a factory worker.
Up until the 7th grade, I wanted to be a police officer or scientist when I grew up. But a creative writing assignment for a junior high english class changed all that. I still remember the day the teacher read my short story to the class and the feeling it gave me. It was like a drug. I wanted more. And I have been writing off and on ever since.
I have a B.A. in Psychology, with an English minor, from Kent State University, and a M.A. in forensic psychology from Argosy University.
Over the years, I have had a few short stories published in Ezines and chapbooks, and several stories narrated for Youtube channels and podcasts. A little over a year ago, I buckled down and began self-publishing my work, with mostly positive response. I currently have three short story collections published and a short novel in the works.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
JA: I am a fiction addict, so when I am not writing my own, I love to read, watch tv shows, or go to the movies. I have been teaching myself how to play the guitar and bass, but my lack of natural talent has held me back a little. I have an Xbox One which I play occasionally. I used to play video games a lot more when I was younger, but not as much lately.
KR: I find I’m playing video games a lot recently. I find it a fantastic way to relax. What is your favourite childhood book?
JA: That is a harder question than it should be. I don’t know if I have an actual favorite. But I do remember the first book that really sucked me into reading scary stories. It was a Goosebumps book called Let’s Get Invisible. I remember reading it in 5th grade and it was the first book that I couldn’t put down. I read it every chance that I could. R.L. Stine was one of my all-time favorites growing up. I read a ton of Goosebumps and Fear Street. But then I discovered Stephen King in the 9th grade.
KR: I don’t believe I’ve read any Goosebump books. I’ve enjoyed the movies with my kids. What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
JA: Rock music is my favorite to listen to, especially stuff from the 90’s and early 2000’s. My favorite bands are Metallica, Soundgarden, Breaking Benjamin, Foo Fighters, and Linkin Park. RIP Saint Chester. If I had to pick a favorite album, it would be one of these three. Ride the Lightning by Metallica. We Are Not Alone by Breaking Benjamin. Or Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park. When I was younger, I listened to music while I would write, but I now find it too distracting. A lot of my story ideas have come from rock songs, though, so music does play a part in my creative process.
KR: I used to avoid rock music but I’m listening to it more and more as I get older. Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
JA: I love the classics, obviously. Halloween. Nightmare on Elm Street. Alien. I think that Wes Craven and John Carpenter were masters in the genre. I love M. Night Shyamalan when he makes a good movie, like Sixth Sense or The Visit, but he is hit or miss. Jordan Peele is a good recent writer/director of horror, and I look forward to seeing more of what he does.
KR: I’ve yet to watch a Jordan Peele movie. The trailer for his latest, Nope, looks fantastic. What are you reading now?
JA: I am actually not reading horror, right now. I have decided to get back into The Wheel of Time, which I haven’t read in a few years. I am currently reading book twelve: The Gathering Storm.
KR: That’s a genre I’ve not really touched upon. I have a few in my TBR pile which I’ll get to eventually. What was the last great book you read?
JA: Oh man. That’s a hard one. I loved Later by Stephen King. It was a short, subtle novel, but it was powerful and well-written. I’ve heard that it is being turned into a movie or mini-series, but that doesn’t surprise me.
KR: I’m collecting the new UK King paperback reissues. E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
JA: Ebooks are convenient. But I will always love the feel of holding a paperback in my hands or seeing hardcovers of my favorite authors on my bookshelf.
KR: You and me both. Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
JA: Stephen King was my biggest inspiration. I have been reading him since I was 14 and have read everything that he has written. I even drove to New York City from Ohio to see him at Radio City Music Hall years ago. His imagination is amazing, and he created a fictional multiverse before it was cool.
KR: I’ve criminally only read 4 or so of his books. I used to find them too bloated as a kid. A full reread is planned. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
JA: I don’t normally work with a full outline, because I like to experience the story as I go. I enjoyed being surprised when characters take the story to unplanned places. It’s exciting. I once heard Stephen King say something that has stuck with me for years. I’m paraphrasing. He said that writing a story is like finding the end of a string sticking out of a mouse hole. Little-by-little, you pull on the string until you eventually reach the end. You won’t know what the next section of string will look like until you have pulled it free.
KR: Wise words. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
JA: All my research tends to happen as I am putting the story together. If I reach a chapter or section of the story that involves something I know nothing about, like strip mining or medieval doors, I will jump over to the internet. Proper research definitely adds a layer of realism to what I am writing. Sometimes what I find can drastically alter the direction of a story.
KR: How would you describe your writing style?
JA: That’s a hard one. My stories are generally a mixture of supernatural/horror and drama, sometimes with a hint of fantasy. I don’t normally write over the top ultra violence or gore, like splatterpunk. But I have been known to slice a throat or two. I often describe my style of writing as a mixture of The Twilight Zone and Stephen King, often with a sprinkle of fairy tales and folklore.
KR: That’s a writing style I could get behind. Describe your usual writing day?
JA: My day job and family normally takes up my week, so I don’t get a lot of writing done Monday through Friday. Most of my word production happens on the weekends. I am often found at my desk Saturday and Sundays with an energy drink at hand.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
JA: Years ago, I wrote a short story titled Remember the Horses, which was initially published in Bewildering Stories Magazine. As a family learns how to move on following the passing of a family member, a young girl bids farewell to her beloved horses and returns home. The story is not technically horror, but contains supernatural elements of an afterlife. I wrote it as an homage to my late Great-Grandmother and it might still be the best story I have written. When I published my first collection of stories, A Splash of Crimson, I placed it as the last story.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
JA: I do. I am still figuring myself out as a writer. Reviews, negative or positive, helps me navigate the world of fiction, and it gives me an idea of what I am doing right, so that I can keep doing that. I try not to let negative feedback bring me down, as long as there’s something to learn from it.
KR: Negative reviews if written well and are not spiteful can be incredibly useful. My reviews are for the reader but if the author takes something from them then that’s great. How do you think you’ve developed as an author?
JA: I believe that my stories have become more well-rounded, in both structure and narrative. I am far more patient when it comes to proofreading and rewrites than I once was. When I first started, I always wanted to get a story right on the first draft. Now, I understand the process better. I am not afraid to take my time. You gotta slow down and just put in the work, because writing is actually a lot of work.
KR: It makes sense to not be afraid as an author. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?
JA: Some of the best advice that I’ve received recently wasn’t about my writing but about marketing and promoting. Once upon a time, I thought that just writing a story was enough, that everything else would fall into place. Wrong. If I don’t work hard at marketing and promoting, no one will ever notice my stuff hiding among the million others. And don’t be afraid to spend money, because I am only investing in myself. Readers won’t come to me willingly. I will have to fight for every reader, one person at a time. It’s a slow process, unless you are lucky enough to blow up right away, which is rare.
KR: As long as you are spending that money in the right places. My only piece of advice here would be DON’T PAY FOR REVIEWS. What scares you?
JA: The first book to really scare me was Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. I read it when I was 15 and the vampires freaked me out. Now that I am older, fiction doesn’t scare me anymore. I don’t like horror because it scares me. I like it because it challenges me to face the darker side of human nature. Real world stuff that still scares are sharks, being buried alive, other people, and failure.
KR: If you want a good scare and to be left unnerved I’d recommend you read Adam Nevill. Can you tell me about your latest release please?
JA: My latest release is a short story collection titled They Come When They Are Called, which can be found on Amazon in both paperback and ebook. It contains a range of stories, from tiny killer clowns to a young woman who can speak to the dead. I tried to make this collection feel eclectic, so that it doesn’t grow stale by the end.
KR: What are you working on now?
JA: I am currently working on a YA ghost story that combines small-town folklore with the style of R.L. Stine. I hope to have it out sometime this 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.
JA: Hannah from Remember the Horses for very selfish reasons. I would love to see my grandmother again.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
JA: Roland from the Dark Tower Series. The man knows how to survive just about anything. And he can train me to be a badass gunslinger.
c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.
JA: Stephen King. Obviously. He is smart and funny and we would have a great time hanging out. I would love to pick his brain.
KR: Thank you very much Jackson.
They Come When They Are Called
After a raging storm knocks out the power in the backwater town of Witch Elm, phantoms of the past return to once again carry out primitive vendettas.
When a lonely boy’s new best friend is struck by a careless driver, his fear and anguish breeches the veil between life and death.
Strange and unnerving events unfold through a series of messages from a local school.
And as a sorrow stricken father goes for a run following the untimely death of his son, he soon discovers that fate is guiding him toward something bigger than his own grief.
These are just some of the haunting tales found in this thrilling collection of supernatural stories.
After being brutally mauled by a dog as a toddler, Jackson Arthur grew up with a stutter, which caused him to be socially awkward. Instead of interacting with people, he chose to hide his nose in books, causing him to fall in love with fiction. At an early age, he began to read Goosebumps and Fear Street, before graduating to more adult novels like The Stand and The Green Mile. His love of scary stories blossomed into the desire to scare people himself.
Jackson Arthur currently lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, mean cat, and old chinchilla.
Goodreads: Jackson Arthur