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Friday, 21 August 2015

Interview with writer Jonathan Wood

I asked horror writer and top bloke Jonathan Wood over to answer some questions about his work. He kindly agreed. Read on, gentle reader...

How would you describe your writing style?

I think my style is constantly changing, and I think it's also an intrinsic element of being a writer that it inevitably changes as time progresses. It can also depend upon the type of story you are trying to tell. I suppose recurrent practices in my own style are to rely upon slow burning and dread techniques. I myself am much more frightened by slow dread being cranked up in a novel or story rather than out and out shocks, so I try to replicate this in my own style. I just try to give it “my voice”. My aim is always to try and unsettle a reader for what they don't see.

Which of your books/stories would you recommend as a good starting point for someone who hasn’t read your work?

I would suggest my debut fiction collection “Urban Chiller” because it would give a reader a chance to see my wares in their uncut format. Although many of the tales within Urban Chiller had been published in anthologies beforehand, the book gave me the opportunity to return to the originally intended vision I had for many of the tales and offer them in a one-off collection.

Do you have a favourite character from any of your stories?

I think it would be the narrator of my short story “Harlequin”, Jeff Devers. Although Jeff's character is fractured, developing how he sees the outside world was a particular challenge to execute.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

I think the best advice I've had is to be brave and not be afraid to “just write”. I've seen many fine writers become almost paralysed with self doubt and I often worry about this affliction myself. I'm trying to stick to that maxim and not be too self critical, these days. I think to have a trusted and constructive support network around you is also vital. You need that objectivity of your peers to draft changes and develop ideas.

Who are your literary heroes/heroines?

Oh, that's a hard one. There's so many authors I admire and seek inspiration from. I have a great deal of respect for Adam Nevill. Not only is Adam one of the finest authors working in the genre right now, but I also admire the journey he's been on to reach where he is now, and it's richly deserved. I've managed to meet Adam a few times at conventions and so forth and he's also offered me some personal advice with my own work.

What book do you wish you’d written?

The Ritual Adam Nevill
The Books of Blood Clive Barker

What book are you currently reading?

Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem. It's fantastic.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I have a number of hobbies. I play guitar(badly), but I have one of the best tutors on the planet, enslaved with the task of getting me up to scratch. He keeps putting up his fees in the hope that I'll go away but I keep coming back for more! I also like to read and dabble in a little photography and fitness training.

What advice would you give to new writers just starting out in the business?

It's a tough old game. Be prepared for the long haul, the rejections and develop a thick skin. Start by writing what you know. If it's easier to begin cutting your teeth on short stories, then do that. Play to your own strengths. Learn how the publishing industry works, both in digital and paper formats. Network with as many people as you can via social media. This can be invaluable. Above all, be brave and determined.

What do you think of the current state of the horror genre?

I think it's in safe hands. It's a competitive genre again and that's a good thing. Apart from the heavyweights, there are some great new writers coming through in amongst the plethora of self published stuff and there are some real gems out there if you know where to look. There is still a rather elite snobbery going on in my opinion in some quarters with better known authors always making the bigger anthologies because of their marketing appeal, but it's the way the biscuit breaks. I'm not suggesting the bigger authors don't deserve it, they worked bloody hard to get where they are, but in my opinion, there are some fantastic lesser knowns putting out some great stuff too and not getting the recognition they perhaps warrant because they lack marketing appeal on an anthology line-up.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm working on two novellas and my debut novel. As usual, I have a ton of short stories and flash fiction floating around in my head waiting to be plucked.

If you had the chance to co-write a novel with an author of your choice, who would it be?

That's a difficult one. Me being me, I'd probably worry about being the evidently weaker link in a collaboration with one of my favourite authors. But..I'd love the chance to work with Gary McMahon, John Arne Lindqvist or Joe Lansdale.

Finally, are there any nuggets of info about future works you’re willing to share?

Mmmm, ok. I hope to have at least one of the novellas completed this year and also a few short stories published in an anthology or magazine. A personal goal is to be accepted by Black Static. The bar is very high for this magazine and doubly difficult when you predominantly a more pulp horror author than a literary one. I see this as a personal challenge to impress Andy Cox enough at Black Static to get in there one day!