Name: John Everson
Where are you from: I grew up in Tinley Park, Illinois, in the South Suburbs of Chicago.
A little about yourself – i.e. your education, Family life etc: I’m a journalist by training — I always knew I wanted to write, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, so I got my bachelors degree in Journalism from the University of Illinois. I married my high school sweetheart, Geri, 26 years ago, right after college, but we didn’t have our son until nine years ago.
Tell us your latest news?
This fall, I’ve had a couple new stories come out in anthologies — “Amnion” a SF/H tale came out in the book Equilibrium Overturned (http://greymatterpress.com/books/equilibrium-overturned-anthology-main/), and “Voyeur” has just been released in a book called Qualia Nous, which also includes stories by William F. Nolan (who used to write for the original Twilight Zone) and Stephen King! http://www.amazon.com/Qualia-Nous-Michael-Bailey/dp/0578146460/
And this month, my new novel The Family Tree has just been released from Samhain Publishing. http://www.amazon.com/Family-Tree-John-Everson-ebook/dp/B00N3TTVT6/ It’s my eighth novel!
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always written, it seems like. I remember writing some short stories in grade school, and then in high school I kept a journal, wrote poems and song lyrics and the occasional vignette. In college, I worked at the Daily Illini, our student newspaper and wrote a lot of news and features articles… that’s when I started doing music reviews; I later started a music review column called Pop Stops (http://www.popstops.net) at my first newspaper job out of college. I wrote that column every week for the paper for 20 years. It was after I left the newspaper, in 1993 that I started writing more fiction, and my first short stories appeared in Gaslight and Eulogy magazines at the start of 1994… so this is my 20th anniversary as a published fiction author.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
High school. I was an editor of our high school newspaper, and was an editor of my college newspaper as well. I always knew that I would make my living writing in some way.
What inspired you to write your first book?
A newspaper article, actually! I had been writing fiction for a couple years when my boss came to me one day with a newspaper article about a cliff in England where people would go to have their last drink at a bar near the precipice, and then go off to jump to their deaths. It was the most famous “suicide spot” in England, and the image of that stuck with me. I turned it into an occult story, but that’s where Covenant came from.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m not sure that’s something for me to say! I write in the way that’s natural to me. Hopefully… that’s a readable style! I do tend to work in the subgenre of erotic horror. My sixth novel, NightWhere, has been called “Fifty Shades meets Hellraiser”… it’s the most extreme book I’ve ever written, and was actually a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award last year.
How did you come up with the title of your latest novel?
The Family Tree is literally about a tree that an old country Inn is built around. Scott Belvedere’s family has owned the Inn for generations and when he inherits the place (which he’s never been to before) he must learn about both the dark history of his family… and its tree! So the title really plays off both the genealogy conceit as well as the physical location.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Temptation comes in many forms… and the sweetest release can be deadly. That’s really been a common theme in my novels, from Siren to NightWhere to Family Tree.
How much of the book is realistic?
I don’t think there is an Inn in Appalachia that’s built around an ancient tree that potentially has life-giving powers. But I do think that people are tempted by the promises of sex and the illusion of youth all the time. And I think, in spite of those selfish allures… there is still love that sprouts in the most unlikely situations.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
What books have most influenced your life most?
There are a lot of books… I mean, like… a metric ton… that have influenced me. I grew up an avid reader, though largely in the science fiction end of things. Richard Matheson’s short fiction influenced me a lot growing up… but it was probably Stephen King’s Carrie, which I found in the library at my high school at the start of my freshman year that really opened my eyes. I was amazed by what King did with characterization and inner dialogue. Later, Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game creeped the hell out of me, and made me see the potential for how far you could go in horror. And then still later, Edward Lee’s erotic horror novels like Incubi, Succubi, Coven made me dream of writing stories that were half as over-the-top and entertaining.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
That’s tough. I can’t say that anyone really “trained me” or took me under their wing to give me lots of advice. But there have been many writers who have been kind and supportive of me — Charlee Jacob, Edward Lee, Gerard Houarner, P.D. Cacek. I really looked up to them when I was first starting out, and they all were wonderful to me — giving me blurbs and book introductions and such. I never asked them to critique manuscripts or stuff like that… but they certainly helped me along the way.
What book are you reading now?
50 Shades Darker. I figured after NightWhere got the “50 Shades meets Hellraiser” blurb, I should read the 50 Shades books. They’re totally different from what I do and normally read. But I’ve been enjoying them!
What are your current projects?
I am finally working on the sequel to my first two novels, Covenant and Sacrifice. I’ve wanted to write this book for a long time — really, ever since Sacrifice was first published back in 2007. But my publisher at the time felt I should build my audience with some standalone books before returning to that “world.” So since Sacrifice, I’ve published a half dozen standalone novels. Now… seven years later… I’m finally returning to the world of the demonic Curburide.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Newcastle Brown Ale.
Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is my career. I was a newspaper reporter and then magazine editor for several years, before going into trade journalism, and these days, web site writing/editing/management. Fiction writing is a “side business” for me, since it is not the writing that actually pays my mortgage. But I’ve had a decent amount of success there.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It all started because I loved to read. And after awhile I decided I wanted to try to make the same magic for others that I had gotten out of reading.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The Family Tree started off as a novella… but it kept growing! It was supposed to be a quick side project, and turned into a novel. Here’s the back cover description:
Its roots are old…and twisted!
The blood of the tree is its sap. It has sustained Scott Belvedere’s family for generations. It’s the secret ingredient behind the family’s intoxicating ale and bourbon, among other elixirs. But only when Scott inherits The Family Tree Inn, deep in the hills of Virginia, does he learn anything about his family, its symbiotic history, or the mammoth, ancient tree around which the inn is literally built. And after he stumbles upon the bony secrets hidden in its roots, while in the welcoming arms of the innkeeper’s daughter, he realizes that not only is blood thicker than water—it’s the only thing that might save him from the hideous fate of his ancestors…
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keeping my ass in the chair long enough to finish it!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Edward Lee is one of my favorite current authors. His books are the literary equivalent of a rollercoaster – filled with speed, crazy sexual situations and violence and unexpected turns. And supernatural creatures. His books keep me on the edge of my seat – his novels are the only ones since high school that have kept me reading start to finish in one sitting.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
When my first few novels appeared, and there was a healthy chain bookstore market… I used to do a lot of “weekend” booksigning tours throughout the Midwest of the United States. I had a dayjob, but I would drive from Chicago to St. Louis or Indianapolis, or Springfield, or Cincinnati or Milwaukee to do signings at Borders Bookstores. Since the collapse of Borders Books chain of stores and the rise of the e-book, I sell more books online these days than in actual stores… so I don’t travel too much to do signings anymore.
Who designed the covers?
For most of them, I have no idea. My first five novels were issued by a mass market paperback publisher in New York City (Leisure Books), and their art/marketing department had a stable of graphic artists who did their covers. For my Samhain Publishing novels, they also have their own stable of artists, but they always list the names of the cover artists — so I know who did those. My last two, The Family Tree and Violet Eyes, were done by an artist named Scott Carpenter.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Carving out the time to write it! As my son has grown older and my dayjob grown more and more intense… it just gets hard to closet yourself for the many hours it takes to write a novel. But I did it 🙂
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you want to read. In the end, you’ll have people who love and hate what you do, no matter what. So you should always focus on entertaining yourself. As long as you enjoy the final story, after all is said and done… that’s really all that matters. You can’t “chase the pitch,” as they say in baseball. If you do, you will never be happy, because most likely, you will always miss.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy my stories! LOL… All I have ever wanted as a writer is to bring them the freeing escape that I always got out of good books as a reader.
Do you remember the first book you read?
No. I read hundreds of books in grammar school and I have a bad memory, so there’s no way I’d remember the first. I don’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. 40 years ago hasn’t stayed with me either!
What makes you laugh/cry?
Monty Python makes me laugh. Douglas Adams makes me laugh. Robin Williams made me laugh. The fact that Robin couldn’t stand it? And the reality (we see stories every day) of human cruelty – to kids, to animals, to each other – makes me cry.
Is there one person pass or present you would to meet and why?
I wish I could meet John Lennon. I’ll never forget the day he was shot (I was in high school). I was crushed. “Imagine” is one of the most perfect songs ever written. Nevermind the output of the Beatles. I’d like to meet William Shakespeare, too. I used to love performing Shakespeare monologues in high school. I bet he was great fun in a bar!
What do you want written on your head stone and awhy ?
“Let it stay forever now” I think that lyric by the Psychedelic Furs is the perfect summation of the human condition. We want the good times to always be ours… but the reality is, they all slip by too soon.
Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love to garden. I have vegetable and flower gardens all around our house. I also love to cook (hence, the gardens). I don’t know if it’s a hobby, but I’m a big movie buff too. I have hundreds of horror movies on DVD in my basement – and a healthy bunch of them are obscure euro-horror from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
None. I haven’t watched TV (regular, adult sitcom/drama kind of TV) in probably 10 years. The last regular series I watched was “Farscape.” Since then… I figure, I could better use that time writing, so I don’t get involved. I’m sure there are lots of good shows out there… but I just never turn on the TV — except to watch movie DVDs on the weekend. I did watch the first season of “Vampire Diaries” last year so that I could write a V-Diaries story I was contracted to do, and loved the series. I wanted to watch the rest of it… but just never found the time. I did get this story out of it though: http://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Diaries-Trapped-Kindle-Worlds-ebook/dp/B00CS7HL6Y/
Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m kind of a fanatic about all of the above. I’m a huge fan of southwest cuisine… so give me New Mexican Chilis (Christmas, please – put both red and green on my food!) … and I’m ecstatic. I’m a huge fan of purple… so my home office is painted purple, and most every book I’ve ever signed has been signed with a purple pen. As for music? I was a music critic for a Chicago Newspaper for 20 years. I have a lot of opinions there. But my favorite all-time artists range from Kate Bush, The Cure and New Order to Psychedelic Furs, Dire Straits, Kansas and Styx.
If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’ve written songs since I was in high school, and I’ve played in a couple “garage bands.” I wish I could have found the right mix of guys and really pushed forward as a band. But… that never really happened… so I focused on the “solo” act of writing.
Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Of course! My website is www.johneverson.com and my blog is hosted there as well. Thanks for putting me on the hotseat, and I hope some of your readers will check out some of my “dark dreams”!