Clockwork Wonderland Author Guest Blog Post: Jaap Boekestein

The Tick, Tock Story

By

Jaap Boekestein

Like any text nowadays: spoilers ahead! Those who enter with be corrupted with knowledge.
I need to write. When I don’t write, when I don’t create I get unhappy and I die a little inside. The never-ending urge to evade death by creating. Dear Sigmund no doubt would have had to say some interesting things about that. Or not, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Now am I in the happy circumstances I can purely write for fun. I make my living by doing things to computer systems and that allows me to be a non-commercial writer, photographer, and illustrator in my spare time. So basically I can be totally selective in what I write. For me, the theme for an anthology or magazine must be interesting, challenging or fun. Not too broad, not too restrictive and it must take me places in my mind I haven’t visited before.

Basically every evening I check a bunch of websites for interesting calls for short story submissions. When and where I first learned of Clockwork Wonderland I really can’t tell. Probably a few websites at the same time because there usually is a fair amount of overlap.
Alice in Wonderland…
Horror…
Time…

Now, that is interesting, I thought. Alice in Wonderland with Horror. ‘Real Horror’ said the submission if my memory serves me well.
Ah! And Time.
Aha!

Now does Alice in Wonderland lend itself easily for satire, adventure, humor even erotica (or porn, but you can turn everything into porn), but horror? For a good horror-story the reader needs to feel for at least one character. The reader must care so you can take grab that feeling by hairs and push it slowly towards the rotating blade of a lawnmower. (The blade is rusty, you feel the wind, you hear the engine. Slowly, slowly. You fight and scream, to no avail. What will be first? Your nose? How much will it hurt? And will that evil bastard push on, slicing up your face, breaking your jaw? How long will you feel before you pass out?). Yes, it is a dirty job to be a horror writer, but somebody has to do it. Sweet sadists like yours truly for example.

Anyway, I just didn’t see myself building up Alice as a character to care for. Way too much luggage, too many clashing images I had to overcome. Too many movies, books and games with Alice as the heroine. No, that wouldn’t do at all. But of course Alice needed to be a major character in the story, so I decided to make her the villain. What would happen to Alice when she was all grown up? A nasty, bloodthirsty, manipulative, murderous lady clad like a bad ass Dominatrix? Sure, why not. Always fun to write about your dream lady ;-).

The easiest way to get your readers to feel for a character is to use the love story. Or a slightly crooked but still sympathetic character. So I used both. Shot both barrels, so to say. Now I had the love story, I had Alice as the Big Evil, but I still needed to incorporate Time.

My twisted mind conjured up an image of a huge clock working like a kind of guillotine. Yes, I definitely would use that! Still, that was not enough. Time had to be part of the story, from the first to the last second. How?

Getting ideas for a story is just asking yourself a bunch of questions and finding original answers. It is not a big secret.
Anyway, when did Time play a role in the original stories?
Duh, right from the beginning! One white rabbit with a watch, remember?
Yes! But what to do with that nugget?
Well… I considered introducing Father Time somewhere, but the Alice movie that just came out around that time used that same idea. So no, that was out. Time, time, time…

That watch. What if it was a huge watch with people running around on it?
Or… What if it was a normal watch with a lot of tiny people running around on it? And when our heroes were hiding on that watch?
The story was born.
So dear reader, I hope you will enjoy or have enjoyed my story.
Let me know if you want more.
You can trust me.
I am a horror writer.
I will start the lawn mower.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544785518/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493493560&sr=8-1&keywords=clockwork+wonderland

 

Jaap Boekestein

http://jaapboekestein.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/jaapboekestein.com

http://www.moordenmysterie.eu/

http://www.wonderwaan.info/

 

Clockwork Wonderland Author Interview: James Pyne

Horroraddicts.net publishing has recently published our 5th anthology called Clockwork WonderlandThis is a book where anything can happen and time runs amok. In this book lies tales of serial killers, insane creations, a blood thirsty jabberclocky, and zombies. Clockwork Wonderland includes 15 tales that make Wonderland into a place of horror where all your worst nightmares come true. One of the authors in this anthology is James Pyne who took some time to tell us about the book and his writing:

What is your story in Clockwork Wonderland called and what is it about?

“Blood Will Have Blood” is about a large clock pendant once owned by the White Rabbit and now is the property of Alicia Henderson. This particular clock has a large appetite for blood. Without it, it stops ticking and if it stops ticking really bad things happen.

What inspired the idea?

Once I read the submissions guidelines for Clockwork Wonderland, the image of the original Alice hanging from a tree branch popped up and it went from there. I’ve been a Wonderland fan for years so this was right up my alley. I’m excited to be part of this anthology!

When did you start writing?

It all started with Hardy Boy books. One day I was walking home from elementary school reading a “A Figure in Hiding,” volume 16 in the original Hardy Boys series. I was bad for reading while walking home and it made me a target for bullies. One such bully blindsided me as I was walking across a wooden bridge arching over a brook. He pushed me on the snow and was ready to punch me silly until seeing my Hardy Boys book next to us. He started bashing my face with it, shouting how he hated people who read and how the only people he hated more was the people who wrote the books. He warned me I better never write or he’d cut my hands off. I didn’t listen and still have both my hands. That bully did me good in the end. I’d thank him if I could.

What are your favorite topics to write about?

Dark Fantasy and Horror are my comfort zones but I occasionally stray into other genres from time to time.

What are some of your influences?

I’m all over the place when it comes to my influences. John Gardner (Grendel. Sunlight Dialogues. The Art of Fiction). Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Knut Hamsun. Margaret Atwood. Sade. And tons of others. In the dark fantasy and horror fields: Karl Edward Wagner, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Lucy Taylor, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson. William F. Nolan. Harlan Ellison. H.G. Wells. One of my favorite short stories of all time is “Evening Primrose” by John Collier. We’ll give life in general and family and friends and strangers, especially creepy ones, the rest of the credit for my influences.

What do you find fascinating about the horror genre?

There are no limits if you’re willing to go there. I don’t live by the belief there’s nothing new under the sun. There’s always new ways in scaring people because we as a species find new ways in hating and killing each other and come up with new inventions that need to be scrutinized and exposed in the horror genre. I love the fact horror can be graphic but the best kind, in my opinion, is the kind that hits home no matter how fantastical it might be. I love everything about horror. Shades of horror can be found in the greatest literature. The dog hung by a handkerchief from Wuthering Heights is a perfect example. More times than not, you’ll find some form of horror in the greatest literature. Some kind of fear that hits home hard like a baseball bat to the face.

What are some of the works you have available?

To be honest, after many years of learning the craft, I just started submitting back in March 2016. I was slaughtered the first few months. Then my first horror story was published in James Ward Kirks Ugly Babies 3 anthology in May. Early June 2016, Dorthy Davies of Thirteen O’Clock Press gave me the best critique I could ever get. She showed me where I was going wrong and sixty-three published stories later, I haven’t looked back. This isn’t bragging. This is a shout out to anyone out there that doubts their art; don’t. You can do this. And if an editor takes time from their valuable minutes to bitch slap you awake, embrace it. Don’t run away from it.

What are you currently working on?

I have two novels on the go but haven’t visited them much due to flooding the market with short story submissions. I’m trying to make up for lost time and make new friends in the horror field along the way. But this month I’ll be working on both books. The first, Big Cranky, is a mythological soap opera and has a little of everything, from Lucifer to Death and his lovely wife Santa Muerte, with almost every pantheon of gods and goddesses throughout the world. It’s been a wild ride to write and you know what, it’s time to get back on. The other novel I’m working on is Woe, a very graphic horror novel with, I hope, a unique heroine who’s forced to adapt if she wants to survive in my version of Hell.

Where can we find you online?

The best place to keep updated on me is my Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jjamespyne  Feel free to add me, everyone.

Clockwork Wonderland Author Guest Blog Post: Michele Roger

 

Alice in Wonderland: the Bridge Between Reality and Fantasy

By

Michele Roger

 

It’s a Fine Line

           I discovered Lewis Carol and “Alice in Wonderland” later than most children.  While many of my friends tell me they read it with parents as a childhood bedtime story, I didn’t read the classic tale until high school.  Admittedly, by the time it was assigned to me, I was resentful.  Why was an Honors English class reading a kids book?

 

Thankfully, I was a goody-two-shoes and wanted to impress my teacher.  I dug into the story, assuming it would be a quick read, an easy paper and take me that much closer to kicking off my Spring Break.  Like so many things in my teenage life, I was wrong.  Alice in Wonderland consumed me.  It resembled many aspects of my real life and the people in it.  Epiphany hit me somewhere in the wee hours of the drive from Michigan to Florida as I sat reading in the car on a family Spring Break trip in April of 1988.  I was suffering the microcosm of my dysfunctional family crammed in the confines of a compact Ford Escort for eighteen hours when it hit me.  Lewis Carol took the extreme personalities of people he must have met somewhere in his life and turned them into the most fantastic creatures/characters to help tell a story.

 

I knew people like the caterpillar. I had parents of friends who smoked hash and made it look enlightening.  Caterpillar people loved parties, where jazz played softly in the background and martinis, were served in the library or study where guests could check out all of the books they had read.  These same people rarely spoke to their kids (my friends), drove expensive cars and paid for things with large wads of cash from their wallet.  All the while, they seemed to sit in a lofty leather chair and do nothing.  How they made their money was a mystery to me.  Caterpillars seemed addicted to the excitement of impending metamorphosis and bragged about their state of great change, telling their children they should aspire to it.  In reality, caterpillar people never turned into anything beautiful; much to the disappointment of their children.  I, on the other hand, thought they were entertaining.

 

The rest of that sophomore year and through my first summer job, I decided to find fantasy characters in my own reality.  There was no option out with a glass that said, “Drink me”,  to avoid driving in a hatchback with my parents, younger sister and two German shepherds to go places.  Heading to summer family events certainly felt like I was falling down a rabbit hole at sixteen.  I had the same tumbling feeling when I got my first summer job testing water samples and writing mind-numbing reports for the State of Michigan.

 

Mad Tea Party

The summer of 1988, I met my own personal Cheshire at a beach party. While drinks were flowing under the cover of darkness, I was drunk on a boy. One part bad boy, one part overwhelmingly charming and kind, stunningly handsome one minute, gone the next, not to be seen for weeks; leaving me with the memory of his smile.  He was well read but only shared his love of books quietly, unlike the caterpillars.  As I waited for him to materialize, I read books in his absence, hoping it would give us a chance to have something to talk about.

With all of the reading of classics and sci-fi, something inside me stirred, I was afraid to leave the safety of summer and high school.  Wonderland, Orwell’s versions of earth, the worlds of Omni magazine short stories had become a refuge.  Every college application, scholarship essay and step towards graduation, college and looming adulthood threatened to take my fantasy characters and imaginary places away.  My parents were pushing hard that I change my major from special education to law.  Secretly, I longed to be a writer.

One simply didn’t spring changing my parents well thought plans for my future.  They had their hearts set on a family lawyer.  I couldn’t just change and be a writer. Suggesting such a thing took cunning and skill.  I took an assessment test and had it sent to my mother at home so she would open it.  I waited until the weekend when I knew the cocktails would be flowing and pressed her about my results.  In reality, the school librarian had already informed me of the results, but I wanted to present my case with hard evidence.

As she stirred her drink, prepping dinner, she told me that she nor my father believed in such tests.  It said I should become a writer or a journalist.  Everyone knew girls couldn’t make any kind of living doing either of those things.  All the big work went to men.  I sighed.

 

Return to the Realm of the Queen of Hearts

It’s fair to say that I didn’t understand the Queen of Hearts and the notion of yelling, “Off with their heads!” until I heard my inner motherhood scream, “if I see that kind of behavior again, young lady, heads will roll.”  Fast forward to 2009, I was a mother of young teenagers and unknowingly, I had returned to Wonderland.

As an act of preparation for life, I read Alice in Wonderland to my kids.  We had moved into an old farmhouse in the country.  It was easy to see the characters that real people could be. Raising teenagers required escape.  I began to write, using everything I had learned from my trips down the rabbit hole.  Parenthood was the white rabbit, always in a hurry but never the less, magical and maddening and a beautiful chaos.  Lines between reality and fantasy were blurred from exhaustion but it made life all the more like Alice’s; adventurous and full of discovery.  Three novels and one children’s book later, I am thankful for Lewis Caroll.  I would have made a lousy lawyer anyways.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544785518/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493493560&sr=8-1&keywords=clockwork+wonderland

 

Michele Roger is the author of the Sci-Fi novel, “Dark Matter” (2009), “The Conservatory” (2013) and “Eternal Kingdom: A Vampire Story” (2015).  She is also the author of the “Mr. Kiwi” Children’s book series under her pen name, Michele Beresford.  When she isn’t writing, she is a harpist; performing and teaching in Detroit.

https://www.amazon.com/Michele-Roger/e/B00FJQIMJ6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1492955702&sr=1-5

 

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant Naching Kassa

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

 

What do you love about horror?

The best thing about horror is the fun. I enjoy watching a movie and identifying with the girl who creeps through the haunted house with a killer on her tail. I love cheering for Ash as he revs his chainsaw or Kolchak as he fires a crossbow at a shape-shifting monster. I can’t wait to turn the page of a great Dean Koontz, Stephen King, or R.L. Stine novel and see whether the character falls victim to a killer or triumphs over him. Most of all, I like to scare those who read my work, to make them question the creak in the floorboard or the scratch of skittering feet. Horror entertains and I love that.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

The first horror movie I fell in love with was Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi. I saw it on TV when I was five and I loved it. I liked Vampires for a long time after that. (When I grew older, I liked werewolves but that’s another story.) My first horror story was told at bedtime. It’s called “Where’s My Golden Arm?”. The ending was especially startling. My first book was “The Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux. Eric was frightening and tragic. He’s an all to human monster. And, my first horror TV show was “Kolchak: The Nightstalker” starring Darren McGavin. The first episode I saw featured a female vampire. She was frightening. The scene where she killed her sister was just brutal and I loved that a clumsy guy like Carl Kolchak could vanquish such a monster.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I write stories of good and evil, of hope glimmering through the darkness. My stories are character driven and entertaining. If the reader isn’t deriving some pleasure from my story, I’m not doing my job.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I listen to a lot of rock (mostly Journey and Kiss). I also listen to some country. Tim McGraw’s “Southern Voice” album is haunting and kind of macabre. (There are several songs referring to death.) Bernard Herrman is great. (He composed music for Alfred Hitchcock films.)

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I bead, cross-stitch, and embroider.

What is your favourite part about writing?

My favorite part of writing is meeting the characters for the first time. I don’t use an outline so everything is a surprise. I just go where the characters lead.

What is your favourite word?

My favorite word is LOVE.

What is your least favourite word?

My least favorite word is HATE.

What turns you on in a book?

Strong emotion turns me on. (Watchers by Dean Koontz is a prime example of a book that evokes strong emotion.) I have to care about the characters or I won’t enjoy the book.

Why should people be on team Naching?

I’m going to give them chills and thrills. This contest isn’t about me. It’s about the people listening and I want them to have fun. A good writer serves the reader and I’m going to do just that.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant Jess Landry

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

 

What do you love about horror?
That’s a tough one to pinpoint, but I suppose the love is a nostalgic one. My childhood was full of horror, from the Goosebumps books that gave me nightmares, to TV shows like Tales from the Crypt that I used to sneak around to watch — I have nothing but happy memories when I look back at my upbringing. That, and I’ve always had a strong infatuation with strange things.

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?
The first movie, in general, I remember falling in love with was Army of Darkness — it definitely shaped my taste in film (and totally leveled up my sarcastic abilities). Book-wise, my first memories are from a kids book called Popcorn. In it, a little bear is left alone on Halloween night while his parents head out to a party. He decides to invite some bear friends over, and everyone brings popcorn as a gift. There’s so much damn popcorn that it fills the whole house and the kids have to eat their way out of it. When his parents come home, they bring him a gift for being a good kid while they went out. And yup, it’s popcorn. I actually still have the book, and it’s now in my little one’s library.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?
I tend to write stories about family bonds, be it between sisters or a father and daughter, any combination, really. I try to focus on having strong yet believable characters that go through extraordinary events. Usually, the characters do not come away unscathed.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?
When I’m writing emotionally charged scenes, I put on Max Richter. He composes some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. I usually listen to instrumental songs only, as I find lyrics can sometimes be distracting (I’m a toe-tapping sing-a-longer).

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?
I’m a voracious reader and movie-watcher: I will read and watch anything, good or bad (I actually love terrible movies. It’s weird.). And, because I had a baby last June, I’ve now taken up crawling as a hobby. It’s a great way to see all the disgusting things living in between your floorboards even though you just cleaned (or, at least, thought you did).

What is your favourite part about writing?
It’s definitely the creative expression. I love being able to put down the images that pop up in my mind onto paper — it’s like taking a weight off the old shoulders.

What is your favourite word?
“Bescumber.” It’s the fanciest way to talk about flinging poop.

What is your least favourite word?
“Moist.” Nobody likes that word. I feel gross having typed it.

What turns you on in a book?
Nothing turns me on more than Canadian spelling. It’s a delight to my eyes to see a “U” where it’s supposed to be.

Why should people be on team Jess?
If you’re going to be on a team, be on Team Everyone. Sure this is a competition, but writing is tough. Hell, writing and putting it out into the universe is even tougher. I’m already a fan of everyone participating in the contest because it takes guts to pursue your dreams. So, go Team Everyone! I’m rooting for you all.

 Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant Timothy G Huguenin

Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!

What do you love about horror?

Part of that has to do with the themes that can be dealt with in horror in a unique way, like death, the afterlife, the supernatural, evil, the darkness in human nature. It is true that I like to read and write horror to explore those themes, even though I don’t usually like stories that are simplistic and overly moralistic (I do love complex layers of meaning when you don’t notice until you really start mulling over the story after reading). I keep that answer ready for most people who ask because it’s easy to understand and package even if one isn’t really drawn to the horror aesthetic.

But honestly, I mostly like spooky, creepy books, for the same reason I like vanilla ice cream over chocolate, even though my dad thinks I’m crazy for it (chocolate rules in his house). I just, you know, like it (you remember the old Apple Jacks commercials?). My grandfather always says, “Everyone goes crazy different.” Some people like to read high fantasy. Some people like to watch Hallmark Christmas movies. Some very strange, disturbed souls think Florida Georgia Line plays good country music. I like to read books with a creeping sense of dread.

Okay, so maybe there might be something a little weird about that…

What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?

My parents bought me a collection of stories by Edgar Allan Poe one year for Christmas. I think I was in middle school at the time, though I’m not certain. I’m not sure if that was the very first, but I do know that Poe was highly influential in my desire to write horror.

Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?

I don’t necessarily limit myself to this, but I tend to set my stories in the Appalachian Mountains, where I have lived most of my life—West Virginia, in particular. I feel a deep connection to the area, and I often like to integrate its culture and myths into my fiction, as well as kind of be a creator of new Appalachian lore, if I can. So there is that about my work, that makes it a little more distinct. A bit of my fiction falls into pretty standard categories like haunted house or ghost stories, probably because that’s the kind of stuff you grow up hearing as a kid late around a campfire on a cool summer night in West Virginia. On the other hand, some other short stories I’ve been working on fall a little more into the realm of weird fiction, or if not that, than some other murkier category that is hard for me to pin down. I’ve written stuff with really twisted human villains, too. I don’t really gravitate toward monster fiction as much as the supernatural or weird. But I’m open to almost anything.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?

I wish I could be one of those cool, rockin’ writers jamming to favorite tunes while cranking out novel after rad novel. Unfortunately, I find music too distracting. It’s hard enough sometimes to get the words to really flow even in complete silence. Even classical music makes it hard for me to write.

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I like a lot of outdoor activities. I love to ski in the winter. I grew up next to two downhill ski resorts and did a lot of that in high school. Lately, I’ve gotten more into cross-country skiing. I’ve done some rock climbing, but I’m not really dedicated to it like most climbers are, so I’m not very good. I like to go backpacking, I like to fish, and even better if I can do both of those at once. I’ve run a couple ultramarathons, but over the last few years I’ve gotten out of shape, and I’m hoping to get back into trail running when the snow melts.

As a kid, I was interested in building and programming computers, and while I haven’t stayed current with that kind of thing these days, once in a while I’ll tinker around with installing different Linux distros on my Macbook.

What is your favourite part about writing?

When your characters really come alive, saying and doing things that take your story in a direction you didn’t expect, that is so cool. There are a few scenes in When the Watcher Shakes near the end (I would describe them but I don’t want to spoil anything), that just kind of happened, and I remember just stopping and thinking, This is really cool, I don’t even feel like I thought of this myself, it just happened on its own this way.

What is your favourite word?

I was a kid in the nineties, so I say “dude” a lot. I also get all warm and fuzzy inside when I hear the phrase, “Do you want some ice cream?”

What is your least favourite word?

“Irregardless.” It’s not changing or adding to the meaning of the word “regardless,” and it isn’t shorter or easier to say. It doesn’t even sound better. It’s just a wasted syllable that immediately compromises the speaker’s credibility.

Now, “dude.” That word makes you sound like a genius, dude.

What turns you on in a book?

Characters that feel like real people. Not just characters that are realistic. The ones that are real. You finish a book and you’re sad because you feel like you’re saying goodbye to friends you’ve known your whole life.

I’m also a sucker for terrible, depressing endings. Especially if an ending depresses or unsettles me in a new, creative way.

Why should people be on team Timothy?

Alliteration is always a good reason to follow someone, right? Listen peeps, join my fan club, and I’ll even let you say “Team Tim.” That’s quick and catchy enough to win over anyone, I’d reckon.

Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!

#NGHW News: Interview with Contestant: Jonathan Fortin

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?

Aberrant.

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.

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