Jason LaVelle is an author and photographer from West Michigan. When he’s not spending time with his beautiful wife and four children, LaVelle works at a veterinary clinic, helping animals of all kinds. With his two pugs, Dragon and Mr. Sparkles, his Chihuahua, Mari, and his annoying dachshund, Lady, LaVelle pretty much lives in a zoo. After he’s done playing with the dogs and tucking the kids into bed, LaVelle ventures down into the basement, where his cat, Leah whispers in his ear like a demonic muse, forcing him to explore the paranormal world inside his mind.
Jason is a wonderful writer with a sharp mind. We spoke of writing, podcasts, and Stephen King.
NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, Jason! Thank you for joining me today.
JL: Thank you for having me, I’m very glad to be here.
NTK: How old were you when you first discovered horror?
JL: Oh goodness, probably too young. My dad read a lot of King, Koontz, and Barker, and by the time I was in 6th-7th grade, I was pilfering books from his shelf.
NTK: Who is your favorite horror writer?
JL: Good question, I think Stephen King was always my favorite growing up, but now the lines between horror, dark fantasy, and psych thrillers are being blurred. I would still say King, but some of my favorite authors (Pierce Brown and VE Schwab) write fantasy with many horrific elements.
NTK: Did King influence your writing? Why did you become a writer?
JL: I think King has certainly influenced me, but not necessarily in the types of stories I tell, but how emotion and fear can be used to create horror without necessarily needing blood and gore. I started writing in 8th grade, just trying to let out creative energy, I was a hyper kid and writing let me channel some of that extra energy.
NTK: What is your favorite horror novel?
JL: Wow, I do not know. I can tell you which one has affected me most profoundly recently. Duma Key, a King novel, I read it a few years back, and the climactic scenes in that book really shook me to the core, stayed with me a long time.
NTK: What is your favorite horror movie?
JL: I don’t actually watch much horror, my wife doesn’t like it and we are quite joined at the hip. I enjoy movies like I Am Legend, Bird Box, and A Quiet Place, but most of the time we watch WW2 documentaries or Brooklyn 99!
NTK: What inspires your writing?
JL: Ah, the old question we all fear! It’s life though, that inspires me. I hear stories from family and friends, I see things in the world, and I use those experiences to build the foundations of my stories. So at their core, everything I write has truth.
NTK: What inspired “Teddy Bear Picnic?”
JL: Ha! Actually a dream my wife had, she told me about it and I decided it would make a cute story.
NTK: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
JL: Mostly a pantser, but I’ve been plotting my current WIP. That said, it’s not going well, (Laughs) so I’m not sure if plotting is going to work well for me. I like to keep the plot in my head, if that makes sense.
NTK: Do your characters have free will? Or do you decide their every movement?
JL: Eh, people talk about characters doing their own thing, but really it’s all me. Sometimes I wish they’d take over and do a little writing for me, but they’ve been reluctant so far.
NTK: (Laughs.) Who is your favorite monster?
JL: Hannibal Lecter.
NTK: Do you enjoy realistic horror as opposed to supernatural horror?
JL: I do, and that’s what I like to write. I enjoy realism with a touch of the paranormal, just enough to scare me, but not so much that it isn’t believable.
NTK: You mentioned Dean Koontz earlier. He’s famous for the inclusion of dogs in his books. You’re an animal lover, do animals play a part in any of your books and stories?
JL: Oh yes, I love including animals. They are a wonderful and enriching part of our world, and I like including them in fiction. I have a whole story, “The Life of Pets,” which deals with the treatment of animals in our society, consent, and ethical care.
NTK: You have a podcast, don’t you?
NTK: Is it difficult running a podcast?
JL: Ha! No, running a podcast is actually pretty easy nowadays, and fun. Talking to new people every week, learning their stories, and enriching our lives with them, that’s good, that’s fun. But there are a lot of podcasts, so getting mine in front of people who will enjoy it is the tough part. Without a large advertising budget, podcasts like mine rely on word of mouth growth.
NTK: Who is your favorite guest? Your best interview?
JL: Ha! I’ve had many wonderful guests. My favorites are usually authors, because they really know how to tell a great story. On the Unafraid podcast, Amanda Jette Knox joined me, and she gave a fabulous interview. On Spilling Ink, I hosted Ellen Hopkins, and the conversation with her was just brilliant.
NTK: What is your favorite curse word?
JL: Definitely fuck.
NTK: (Laughs.) And what is your favorite curse?
JL: Hm, that one’s a bit tough, never really thought about it. In my current WIP, one character is a Romani woman, and she uses a curse. I actually learned quite a bit about Romani curses. She says “May I suffer, may I suffer if I can’t protect you.” It was an emotional scene, and I like that. But most Romani curses are like that, they aren’t something that’s flung onto someone else, they are usually about the user.
NTK: What does the future hold for you? What works do Horror Addicts have to look forward to?
JL: Sometime next year I’ll be releasing a novel co-authored with Rebekah Jonesy. This will be a paranormal thriller based on actual events. It’s very dark, very cool, I think you’ll love it.
NTK: Thank you for chatting with me, Jason! You’re a great guest!
JL: Thank you for the interview, that was nice.