Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!
What do you love about horror?
There are a lot of reasons. I like how free it is content-wise, and I’m a sucker for anything with a pretty gothic visual style or a unique, well-developed monster. But on a deeper level, I think it’s because it makes me feel like I’m facing my fears. When I was young I was too scared to watch horror movies, but as I got older I forced myself to do it more and more until I was totally desensitized. It made me feel brave to take myself out of my comfort zone. Good horror frightens us, but in so doing it also makes us feel strong because we faced something we were afraid of and lived through it. And that is, ironically, extremely life-affirming.
What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?
I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but it was probably the Goosebumps books. I think even as a kid I knew they were stupid, but still, I got a kick out of them. I mean, where else could you read about a tornado made out of werecats? My favorites were the Give Yourself Goosebumps choose your own adventure books–the ones where almost anything you did would lead you to a horrible fate with “THE END” written in big bold letters. You’d make the wrong choice and end up becoming a wax figure or getting eaten by a vampire poodle or whatever. I loved it.
Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?
Primarily dark fantasy and gothic horror. I’m big on dark magic, bloody rituals, demented characters, macabre visuals, and otherworldly monsters that call into question our very beliefs about reality. Gothic horror also tends to be highly plot-driven, building complex mythologies and twisted worlds that we can really dive into, and I enjoy that. That said, my sense of humor is pretty sick, so I’ve also been known to write horror/comedy. I’ll also write erotic horror now and then.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?
All the time, partly because whenever I want to write in public it’s too noisy for me to concentrate. I’m very easily distracted by sound and tend to find music with discernible words too distracting to write to. So I’ll often listen to movie and video game soundtracks, as well as ambient or instrumental music. Metal is also great to write to–bands like Alcest, Opeth, and Wolves in the Throne Room are always nice to have in the background. Black metal is also a good bet, not only because the dark tone matches my writing style, but also because the growled lyrics are difficult for me to understand without paying attention, so it isn’t very distracting.
Do you have any hobbies besides writing?
Acting, voice acting, playing video games, watching anime, dancing (poorly), doing death growls (poorly), and wasting far too much time on the internet. I also really like cute animals. No, seriously. I squeal like a kid when I see red pandas.
What is your favorite part about writing?
Connecting the dots in my head. I tend to plot novels like delicate houses of cards, and I love that “ah-HAH!” feeling of realizing how the ideas I’ve come up with can link together.
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
Toss up between “Chagrin” and “Preternatural”–the former because Twilight overused it, and the latter because Anne Rice overused it. Those words are dead and gone.
What turns you on in a book?
I like it when a book grabs me by the throat and never gives me time to get bored. I want lush prose, a fast pace, and interesting characters. I want action and mysteries and hanging threads of suspense that build to explosive crescendos. I want sub-plots tying together in interesting, unexpected ways. I want stories that fill my head with incredible visions, and take me to worlds beyond my imagination. I want to laugh and cry and bite my nails in fear. And I don’t want to be bored, not even for a second because then I might never finish reading, even if everyone tells me “it’ll get better.” I have a stack of half-finished books next to my shelf that I keep telling myself I’ll finish someday, and then years have passed and I still haven’t done it because, for whatever reason, I got bored with them.
I really admire books that feel like they take place in unique worlds, but also do a good job of orienting the reader in them. China Mieville’s Bas-Lag books and Dan Simmons’ Hyperion series blew my mind and made me rethink what speculative fiction could be.
Why should people be on team Jonathan?
You know, I think that’s up to you. The other contestants are all very talented writers who are more than worthy of your support. Do I hope to win the contest? Oh, absolutely. But I respect my competition too much to act like I’m better than them this early in the game.
Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!