|Illustration by Luke Spooner, © LVP Publications|
Welcome to The Pulp Horror Author Interview Series. Today's interview is with JG Faherty who explores the fear of dead things in his short story "The Cemetery Man" in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias.
LVP PUBLICATIONS: What draws you to horror, both as a writer and as a reader? Who is your favorite horror creator? Who are your inspirations or influences?
JG FAHERTY: I’ve always been drawn to horror as a fan—my parents used to tell me that as early as 1st grade I was enthralled by monster movies on TV. I think I just like losing myself in the story. It’s an escape from the real world, and let’s face it, monsters are cool!
For fiction, I cut my teeth as a kid on authors like Mary Shelly, Bram Stoker, Jules Verne, and HG Wells, while at the same time enjoying lighter fare such as the Hardy Boys mysteries. Later, I moved on to Alan Dean Foster, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Blish, Robert Bloch, Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, and Peter Straub.
Among today’s authors, I count Michael McBride, Chantal Noordeloos, Preston & Child, Joe Hill, David Morrell, and F. Paul Wilson among my favorites.
LVP: What were your biggest fears as a child? Do you have any current phobias or fears now as an adult?
FAHERTY: Oddly enough, my fears/phobias that I have now are pretty much the same as the ones I had as a kid. I’m not too fond of heights, spiders, leeches, and ticks.
I think the big change is that at around 40 or so, I developed a fear of death. Not the pain, not the loss, but rather the idea that I could die. “I want to live!” So that’s led me to becoming a much more careful driver, I no longer take risks like I did when I was younger, I eat healthier, and I visit my doctors regularly. My goal is to live forever, and I’m counting on science to make that possible. I have too many things left to do, and too much to learn.
LVP: Horror has a million sub-genres, from psychological to splatterpunk. Which sub-genres have you written in? What's your favorite flavor of horror?
FAHERTY: I’ve probably written in all of them, although some far less frequently than others. I’ve done a couple of splatterpunk/extreme horror short stories, and some of my novels have had splatter scenes in them, but that’s not my main area to write in. I tend toward very traditional horror: supernatural occurrences and monsters, psychological horror, suspense, even paranormal romance. The one type of horror that I stopped enjoying in my college years is the crazy killer/torture porn horror. Stories about masked psychos (Saw), tourists in remote areas stalked by mutant killers (Wolf Creek, Hostel), or people trapped in houses (The Purge) are not only repetitive, but they have no real plot other than “kill!” and thus there’s no suspense. Great stuff for teenagers, but not for someone who’s been there, seen that, wants more.
My favorite kind of horror is the kind that evolves as the plot moves, it’s complex, it has twists and turns, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. And there’s no specific genre for this. The Haunting of Hill House, Insomnia, the Repairman Jack novels, It, Ghost Story, Untcigahunk, Wolf’s Hour, Sunglasses at Night, The Watchers, and Heart-Shaped Box are all radically different types of stories, but they all have one thing in common: They keep you reading.
LVP: Is there any sub-genre or area of horror that you won’t go anywhere near? Any one area that is completely off-limits?
FAHERTY: When I write, I simply put down the story that is in my head. If it’s quiet terror, Lovecraftian, supernatural romance, urban fantasy, or splatter, that’s how it’s written.
The only things off-limits for me are animal abuse/torture and pedophilia.
LVP: In your opinion, what is the scariest or most terrifying thing you’ve ever written?
FAHERTY: Wow. That’s really hard for me to say. I’m not a good judge, because I haven’t been scared by anything in a book or movie since King’s Pet Semetary came out (the book). I read that my junior year in college, and I couldn’t go to sleep until I finished it—and I had to read it with the lights on!
I’ve made myself cry, laugh, and feel creeped out by things I’ve written, but never out-and-out scared myself. However, my readers say I write some scary stuff. So I guess it’s me being jaded to horror. Some of my more creepy works include Castle by the Sea, The Cold Spot, and a short story I wrote, The Lazarus Effect.
LVP: Have you ever had an idea for a story so scary or disturbing that you couldn't bring yourself to write it down? Tell us about it.
FAHERTY: No, that’s never happened. Like I said, nothing written or in movies scares me. I can appreciate the horror of things, the scare effect, but I don’t get nightmares or anything. At worst, a shiver goes down my back during a particularly good scene. If I came up with something so terrifying I thought people would faint from it, I’d drop all my other projects and write the sucker!
LVP: Are there any ways that your interest in horror bleeds over (so to speak) into other areas of your life? Do you throw legendary Halloween parties, do you dress like Alice Cooper when you go grocery shopping, do you have a pet albino snake named Nosferatu?
FAHERTY: Ha. For the most part, I’m a pretty ordinary person. I do have a snake, a ball python named Severus, but he’s not an albino, and he’s pretty shy. I have Halloween tree I put up every October, and a big collection of horror books and movies. I built 2 guitars last year and painted them with stencils of the Frankenstein monster and Dracula. I’ve got some funky skeleton and skull statuettes in my office, and some t-shirts with skulls on them. But I don’t wear that stuff all the time; usually if you see me, I’m in jeans and a sweatshirt.
LVP: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to try dabbling in horror writing for the first time?
FAHERTY: Know your genre. Be well-read and see a lot of movies, otherwise you’re likely to write something that’s already been done. Don’t try to cash in on trends; write the story that you want to write, in your own voice. Avoid clichés. And most of all, make sure your story has a beginning, middle, and end. Nothing is worse than reading a book, or seeing a movie, that has such an ambiguous ending that it ruins everything.
LVP: What would you like your legacy to be? Or alternatively, what should your survivors engrave on your tombstone?
FAHERTY: Well, like I said earlier, I’m going to live forever! So hopefully my tombstone will read “Be back soon.”
As for a legacy, I’d like to be known as someone who produced consistently strong, entertaining work. Because at the end of the day, that’s really what books are: entertainment.
LVP: Anything else you'd like to say or add? Any final thoughts?
FAHERTY: Yes. If you’re a fan of horror, please remember that the genre is huge. Read different types of horror. Expand your horizons. There are a lot of specialty and small presses today putting out books that are as good or better than the big NY publishers. Discover new writers!
~ A resident of New York's haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award (The Cure, Ghosts of Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time), and is the author of 5 novels, 9 novellas, and more than 60 short stories. He writes adult and YA horror, science fiction, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. His next novel, Hellrider, comes out in August of 2019. Follow him at www.jgfaherty.com.
Pre-order The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias (paperback or hardcover) from your local indie bookstore through IndieBound, from Barnes & Noble or Amazon now... or come see us at Crypticon in Seattle, WA and StokerCon in Grand Rapids, MI to read this story along with all the other madness contained in The Pulp Horror Book of Phobias (including limited edition autographed phobia card sets, available at conventions only)!