Basters, Bad Jokes & Botany? The Zombie Review Interview

JUST BEFORE ALL hell broke loose…

OK, before I went away for the past week-plus to work the convention my “dayjob” puts on every year (and no, it’s not horror related in any way!), I did an interview with The Zombie Review that was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had answering a bunch of questions. Silly, irreverent, and including turkey baster citations, you can read it here if you so choose:

 

Sharing nightmares with John Everson

Turkey basters, bad jokes, and…gardening?

John Everson does more than write; he edits anthologies such as Sins of the Sirens and In Delirium II, he is the co-founder of Dark Arts Books, he loves art and has designed several book covers, he loves jalapenos (me too!) and Eeyore. Isn’t he just precious? Anyone who has read any of John Everson’s work knows that he can turn a great descriptive phrase and entertain you at the same time. Which is why his first novel, “Covenant” has won the Bram Stoker award. But what you didn’t know however, is that he is a terrible comedian, is afraid of aliens carrying turkey basters, and would rather be gardening.

Gabby Goff: Let’s break the ice first. Tell us your worst dirty joke.

John Everson: There are no dirty jokes, only dirty minds.
OK, whaddya call Jessica Rabbitt when she gets it on with the Wolfman?
Hare of the Dog.
See? There’s a reason I don’t write comedy.

Gabby :One of your stories has been turned into a musical, which one is it?

John: None. I wrote the incidental stage music for a friend’s play about two serial killers in love once though. It was called “The Jackie Sexknife Show.” The music’s on my MySpace. I’m proud of the music, but Martin Mundt’s play rocked.

Gabby: If one of your stories was ever adapted for the big screen, which one would you hope that is?

John: “Pumpkin Head.” I want to see how they treat the scene where the boy carves a hole in the gourd with a bottlecap as his guide, so that he can literally… screw the pumpkin.

Gabby: Would it be live-action or animation? If live-action (using humans and overly-used CGI) who would you have direct it? If animation is the way you would like it to go, who would you have animate it and—why not go a step further and use puppetry such as the kind used in the Dark Crystal, for example.

John: I can’t take animation seriously, especially when sex is involved. And there is always sex involved in my fiction (hey, it’s fiction, right?) I want real humans, with quirky makeup. Preferably directed by Tim Burton. I love his stylism. And he has yet to film Christina Ricci naked.

Gabby: What is horror to you: blood and guts, aliens, psychological…? (Feel free to compare forms of entertainment such as films vs. literature)

John: Horror is fear. Fear is the feeling that something is about to happen which is going to be unpleasant. So blood and guts isn’t horror – that’s the aftermath of horror. Horror is about the fear of ending up so much blood and guts.

Gabby: Your worst nightmare comes true. What is it?

John: I’m singing an ABBA song while standing naked in front of my high school English class? Meanwhile, an alien with elongated black eyes approaches from the back of the room with a long steel prod that he keeps jabbing between the circle of his joined thumb and forefinger. I know that as soon as I stop singing, I’m going to meet the alien’s turkey baster.

Gabby: Who is your favorite woman horror author?

John: I have to cheat. My favorite woman author is, hands-down, Nina Kiriki Hoffman. But while she dabbles in dark fantasy, she doesn’t do horror much. My favorite horror novel author-ess is (or was until she began re-writing the Bible instead of writing her own fiction) Anne Rice. Her sense of imagery and gothic history make you taste the scene.

My favorite horror short story writers are four women I’ve published through my own press, Dark Arts Books. I asked Loren Rhoads, Maria Alexander, Christa Faust and Mehitobel Wilson to be the “sirens” of the SINS OF THE SIRENS anthology I edited this year, because I adore their voices in short fiction. And I’m really proud of the resulting book we created.

Gabby: Speaking of women, what are your thoughts upon feminism?

John: Women rule. No really. They rule. Regardless of whether a man holds office or “brings home the bacon,” women run things because men follow behind them panting like winded dogs. Women (understandably) don’t want their rule to be dependent on the hold they have over men sexually, which I grasp. They want to rule for their intellect and good sense. Nevertheless… they still rule, for whatever reason.

Gabby: Fans——you love and hate them, so share with us your worst fan experience ever. A better option would be to tell us why YOU are the worst fan ever. But I’ll take either/or…or…both.

John: Being a fan is a horrible thing. You love this person’s art, and want to spew out all your love for them when you see them. Unfortunately, when you see them, usually your tongue gets as tied up as if you’d just pounded three marguerita’s on an empty stomach and you say something stupid like, “um, you’re really good, ya know?” Then you walk away kicking yourself for not saying something intelligent.

I don’t have a particular bad fan moment that I’ve had… just a litany of stupid grins, shaken hands and “um, you’re really good, ya know?”

Gabby: A cliché moment: you’re sitting at a bar and some hot chick comes up to you with gleaming red fingernails, lips to match, a killer figure, a strange accent and a need for a light…

John: I pull out my keychain flashlight and blind her, just before feeling her up?

Gabby: Do you dress up for Halloween or is that just kid stuff?

John: Kid stuff. I just can’t seriously put effort into dressing up. I think if I had the right peer pressure group, I’d get into it… but I don’t. I live in the suburbs, you know?

Gabby:If you were stuck on one of those undiscovered one-palm-tree islands out in the middle of the ocean, which author’s works would you most hope washed ashore for you to read?

John: Neil Gaiman or Edward Lee. They’re wildly different, but wildly entertaining.

Gabby: Tell us more about John Everson, where did he come from?

John: He was the runt of the litter in the epitome of suburbia. Instead of getting beat up repeatedly on my front lawn while my mother talked obliviously in the house on the phone to equally shallow people, I decided to take solace in books that imagined places and situations as far from suburbia as one could get without switching galaxies entirely. And sometimes, actually, they did switch galaxies.

I later figured, if these people could create far-away lands where kids didn’t get beat up on their own parkways, so could I… and after collecting a paycheck for transcribing the lies of the local politicians for “nonfiction” articles for my local newspaper, I began writing and selling fiction.

Gabby: Do you think that where you were raised had an impact upon your writing?

John: No doubt. I’m a Midwest boy and my mother was a born-again Latin Mass liturgist. That’s a chronologically challenged Catholic for the uninitiated. After being forced to help picket abortion clinics when I was 10 and spending dozens of nights at “All Night Vigils” in a convent where they said the rosary and burned a lot of incense but didn’t actually ever do anything to follow their creed and help others, I came out the other side with a somewhat jaded view of humanity and its potential afterlife.

Gabby: Which author “spoke” to you and gave you the writing-bug?

John: Isaac Asimov, Richard Matheson, Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Anderson, Robert Heinlein, Clifford Simak, Keith Laumer, Charles Eric Maine, Ray Bradbury, James Blish, Hal Clement, Eric Frank Russell, A.E. Van Vogt. You might notice that they’re all known as science fiction writers… that’s because their amazing imaginations are what transported me from the parkways of suburbia to another place when I was a kid. And I wanted to do what they did when I got older. Problem was, I didn’t really write good aliens. Instead, I seemed to channel Twilight Zone stories.

Gabby: Did you ever write for the school paper, did you college and if so, did you write for any publications/circulars/school papers there?

John: I wrote for the high school paper (where my first fiction was also published) was an editor for my college paper (I was a journalism major at the University of Illinois), and in my early career contributed news articles to the Chicago Tribune, Southtown Economist and The Star Newspapers, where I ended up writing a music column every week for almost 20 years.

I also got assignments from the Chicago Sun-Times and People Magazine and served as a music editor for the Illinois Entertainer for four years, as well as a contributing editor for the national Metal Revolution magazine. My bylines popped up in a bunch of music magazines around the country for a couple years, until I moved to “corporate journalism” in the mid-90s to make ends meet easier.

Gabby: What do you do when you are not being “John Everson, the author”?

John: I listen to music really loud, garden, count the minutes until the weekend, and think of new food combinations that would benefit from the introduction of the jalapeno.

Gabby: What does your family think about your writing?

John: They’d rather not.

Gabby: Okay now that we’ve had our fun, tell us about your first novel, “Covenant”, it has won the much coveted Bram Stoker award. Tell us why we should buy it and for extra points, tell us why Bram would pimp this book.

John: Covenant is about a reporter who bails on big city journalism to take solace in the backwaters…only, he soon finds a series of suicides going on off the cliff-side near the quiet seaside town, and it seems that the deaths have a cycle about them that would defeat even the most determined serial killer. Joe takes the bait and digs in trying to solve the mystery of the murders, along the way coming into close contact with a fake gypsy fortune teller, the ex-girlfriend of one of the victims and a handful of other women whose children have taken the plunge from the cliff outside of town.

Bram would say, “It’s a very good read, yes, but, where are da vampyres? Hmmm? Hmmm?”

Gabby: Tell us about other projects that you have——upcoming works, blogs, myspace, fanclubs, whatever. Plug yourself (but use some lube, okay?)

John: Covenant is out now and for the past few weeks I’ve dedicated all my free time to a book tour to promote it. Sacrifice, the sequel, will be out in June of 2009. This summer I finished a new unrelated novel called The 13th, which I’ll be turning in to Leisure this month (I’m doing some final proofing and edits now). That will be out in 2010, I would imagine.

I’ve also got some short fiction due out any day — I co-wrote a Halloween tale for Doorways Magazine with Gary Braunbeck and JF Gonzalez. My novelette “In Memoryum” should be out in the next couple weeks in the Dark Hart anthology Fearful Symmetry, Deadly Beauty. And another novelette, “Fish Bait,” which wrote after a visit to some of my old CyberPsycho’s Magazine friends in Denver a couple years ago, will be out soon in Cutting Block Press’s Horror Library Vol. 3 anthology.

My own small press, Dark Arts Books (www.darkartsbooks.com) released two anthologies this year — Sins of the Sirens, an erotic horror anthology, and Like A Chinese Tattoo, a combination of literary horror and over-the-top humorously gruesome horror. Those books each feature multiple stories by four authors – a great way to get to know the breadth and depth of some phenomenal short story writers.

This winter we’ll be gearing up to put together and release our fifth Dark Arts volume for the World Horror Convention next spring, while at the same time, I’ll be starting work on my fourth novel.

So… it will be a busy next few months for me! Anyone who wants to check in about my projects, read some free fiction or check out some of my horror-related art and music can visit www.johneverson.com where you can also read my blog and signup for my monthly e-newsletter.

Gabby: One more thing: What’s on your tombstone?

John: He always wanted to feel the heat. Now he’s six feet closer.

Indeed.
Thank you John, for this interview. Thank you, readers and horror lovers, and wear a smile!

About John Everson

John Everson is a Bram Stoker Award-winning horror author with more than 100 published short stories and 10 novels of horror and dark fantasy currently in print. His first novel, Covenant, won the Bram Stoker Award for a First Novel in 2005. His sixth novel, NightWhere, was a Bram Stoker Finalist in 2013. His tenth novel, The House By The Cemetery, was released in October 2018.

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