Name Jim Goforth
Where are you from I’m from Australia. Born in Sydney. Both of my parents are from the United States.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Jim: I was born in the city, raised in the country, spent most of my adult life in the city and now I reside in the country once more. I graduated high school, then studied Law at university, attaining an Associate Degree. I’m a heavy metal aficionado (primarily extreme metal) and my wife and I used to run Black Belle Music, an entity created to promote, support and spotlight metal communities all over the world, prior to returning to write horror.
As the above might suggest, I am married and have two little children.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Jim: My most recent news would be the release of my editorial debut which is volume two of the Rejected For Content anthology series, Rejected For Content: Aberrant Menagerie, which actually came out today from J. Ellington Ashton Press. This follows on from the release of a couple of other anthologies which I have stories in, namely Teeming Terrors from Knightwatch Press and Axes of Evil 2: Rise of the Metal Gods (from JEA), the heavy metal horror themed epic sequel to Axes of Evil.
I’ve also just completed writing the follow up book to my novel Plebs, and with the size it turned out to be, I now have to have a look at it and see whether I actually have two books there or just one enormous behemoth.
It isn’t entirely latest news, but since it is relatively recent I will also make mention of the fact that I had a collection of short stories/novellas With Tooth and Claw come out around a month ago too.
I have a few more stories coming out in upcoming months in other anthologies and another full length novel at the publishers waiting for first edits, and shortly I will be announcing a submission call for Rejected For Content 3.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Jim: I started writing almost as soon as I could read. I loved to read and I loved to create stories of my own. I was always the kid in class who had their stories read out to the other kids, possibly to scare them into line. It wasn’t all horror, it was a vast assortment of genres and things I dabbled with, but from an early age, monsters and all things dark were pivotal in my writings.
I have been writing stories of some variety for as far back as I can remember and I wrote two novels when I was still in high school. Neither of them are published and since the first one was highly derivative of all the types of horror authors I was reading at the time, there is no chance that it ever will be. The second on the other hand is the first book I attempted to get published, a long time ago when sending physical manuscripts around to places was the norm. That was way before social media sites, email correspondence and all the technological advancements which make getting published and contacting presses a whole lot easier than it was back then. I still have plans to get this one published one day.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Jim: I always considered myself a writer, even back in those early days. It has really only been in the last few years that I’ve become a published writer, but to me, that is a reinforcement that I am a writer, rather than any sole defining point. I’ve written stories, poetry, novels, lyrics, hundreds of heavy metal reviews and many other things over my existence, so in some capacity I have always been a writer. I love to write and I always have.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Jim: Reading an abundance of horror novels and having a great passion for the written word. It was a pretty simple progression from writing stories to actually deciding, hey I may as well turn these ideas into a complete book. At the stage where I wrote my first book I was already working on a lengthy (and unlikely to ever be finished) story which I pretty much wrote all through my high school years on and off, and it was double the size of any book. So it was fairly easy to sit down and write a book as if I was writing a long story. I still tend to do things that way; in fact a couple of my books have originally been intended to be short stories.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Jim: I have my style which I suppose is unique to me, but I haven’t given it much thought as to whether it is specific or not. Reviewers and the like have made reference to the fact that my work is like ‘grindhouse splatterpunk, old school horror’ and I suppose that is pretty close to the mark. I write loose and fast, and I tend to write a lot. I rarely outline or meticulously plan; I usually hand the reins of the story over to the characters and let them see what sort of trouble they can get themselves into. I’m usually rooted in the extreme horror spectrum, meaning things are often explicit and visceral, and I don’t shy away from going into the darkest of corners. Occasionally I’m about as subtle as a sledgehammer, but I like to ensure there is a good solid storyline in amongst the carnage and bloody mayhem; it isn’t merely a shock value tactic. Shock merchants can be a dime a dozen, and though I prefer to dwell in the dark murk of extreme horror, I need that great storyline anchoring it.
I’ve had plenty of people liken my work to that of Richard Laymon which is perhaps one of the ultimate compliments. Laymon is my number one influence and inspiration when it comes to writing, and though I write like me rather than anybody else, I suppose elements of his influence must certainly shine through in some of what I write.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Jim: Titles are usually pretty easy for me. Like I mentioned earlier I used to write song lyrics and poems and I have pages and pages of possible titles I wrote way back in the day, for things to consider using as titles. I also used to do the same with stories, even to the point of writing out a bunch of synopsis’s and then picking which one I would write a story about.
For Plebs, I actually wrote eighty per cent of the book without it even having a title. Later on, I picked the word which is used by group of characters in the book to describe another group, to use as a title, and it worked well for me. It was short, punchy and obscure enough to encompass a couple of separate meanings (which it does).
Some people have difficulty with titles, but I rarely do. I love playing with titles, because I love words. Sometimes I might write an entire story without a title and then decide on something appropriate, other times I will have the title first and base the story on it. Of course, the fact that I have pages and pages of titles created years ago I can still draw from is extremely helpful.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Jim: In the majority of my works there are a plethora of messages, some which are blatant and obvious, others which are a little more ambiguous. In the latter case, it is more up to the reader’s discretion to interpret it as they see fit or to draw their own conclusions from certain things. Any overt messages are there to be grasped fairly readily.
When writing horror, there are myriad places one can go and explore, the possibilities border on infinite. It can be cautionary tales, it can be rooted in reality, it can be reflections or indictments on society, it can be sheer fantasy. Either way, there are plenty of opportunities to inject some kind of message, even in the most ludicrous of scenarios.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Jim: Some of my material is so outlandish that it might conceivably never seem plausible as something which could happen in reality, but at other times there are situations and scenarios with plenty of realistic potential to them. There are kernels of truth and real possibilities in all kinds of facets, regardless of how unrealistic things appear as a whole. For Plebs, the notion of encountering a bunch of mutant creatures dwelling in the woods in an uneasy co-existence with a band of fugitive women, is almost certainly something that none of us can imagine to be realistic by any stretch of the imagination, but looking at various other subplots and occurrences throughout the book one will see more aspects of realism resonating there. People can either identify with the choices, decisions or actions taken by various characters, or they can bang their head on the desk, asking why the hell did they go and do that? We all make stupid choices, none of us are infallible and these characters do likewise. That much is reality.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Jim: No, not particularly. Characters are all of my own creation, though occasionally some of the traits of their personalities may be influenced by an assortment of other people, usually never just one person. I draw from all sorts of experiences to enhance the situations and events and so forth, but I don’t really base things upon those experiences, more a case of picking snippets of them to marry with others, so the end result is ultimately quite different to whatever thing I was contemplating in the first place. I don’t eve use real places, countries or locations; everything of that nature I make up myself.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Jim: In terms of writing, everything by Richard Laymon. More specifically, it was Darkness, Tell Us which I first read by Laymon, which was most pivotal and influential on how I wrote. I’d written stories and a book prior to discovering Laymon, and these works were heavily influenced by the likes of Masterton, Hutson, old Koontz, Simmons, McCammon, and some of the books by authors of that ilk are still important to me. Along with all of Laymon’s work, I’d list Clive Barker’s ‘Cabal’, Dean R. Koontz ‘Watchers’, Graham Masterton ‘Walkers’, Thomas Page ‘The Spirit’ as a few influential books to me. There are also some works like John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, T.S Eliot’s ‘The Hollow Men’ and ‘The Waste Land’ and Dante’s ‘Inferno’ which have had influence on me, as well as a vast number of song lyrics from an assortment of bands (mostly metal, but not exclusively). I realize that deviated away from the original question somewhat, but those are a few of the things which helped honed how I write.
A mentor, no I never had one. Aside from the authors I loved to read, I didn’t get pointed in any particular right direction or received any tips from anybody, I discovered all of that myself.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Jim: Currently re-reading Bentley Little’s University, which I first read when it was known as Night School. I don’t read quite as much as I used to when I was younger, but I still do make time to read, either new books or re-read a few old favourites. I acknowledge that there are so many books out there and new ones coming daily that I will never get around to reading everything I want to and it might seem counterproductive to read something already read before again, but there are many books I love and can draw something new and different from each consecutive read.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Jim: There are so many great new authors out there now, that if I rattled off a list of names it would do a disservice to those I inevitably forget.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Jim: I just finished writing the follow up to Plebs which clocked in at a gigantic 280k words which makes it 100k longer than its predecessor. Though the writing part of it is complete, the editing and chopping down, slicing and dicing of words and so forth is yet to come, so technically that is still a current project and will remain that way until I’m happy with sending it off to the publisher, either as one book or two. My main goal this year has been to work on novels and I have two of them ready to start work on, though I will possibly find some time to write a couple of short stories for various anthologies before I submerge myself too deep in either of them.
I also have two other novels written (though one is essentially the first of a two part thing and requires the second book to be written) and several incomplete ones. I’ve entertained the notion of releasing a book of short stories/novellas in between each novel I put out, but at the rate I write I will probably have plenty of novels queued up ready to roll instead.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Jim: J. Ellington Ashton Press as a whole. Every single staff member involved has been nothing short of brilliant. Special mentions to Catt Dahman, Susan Simone and Mark Woods; they haven’t just been wonderfully supportive from the word go, they are all awesome authors in their own right.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Jim: Yes I do. I always wanted to be a horror author, even as a kid and after several sidetracks, detours and diverted paths off into other pursuits and occupations, I’m back on track with where I always envisioned I would be. Writing is what I love to do.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Jim: Nope. Nine times out of ten I don’t change anything; I’m usually pretty happy with how I’ve written and what I’ve written. I don’t agonise over alterations, changes, tinkering with the story, mostly I like the way things come out even if I have no idea where they are going as I write them. Using Plebs as an example; I submitted that as a first draft. Even after edits, there were minimal changes. Most of my work is written the same way. Because I write the type of books that I love to read, what I come up with is generally what I run with to publish.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Jim: Pretty much from the word go. Creative writing was always my favourite thing to do in the earliest years of school and that carried on away from school as well. Not only was I writing stories, I was creating my own books, comic strips and cartoons, all with their own stories to tell. My love for writing stemmed from my love of reading and books have always held a profound fascination for me.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Jim: The only challenge I have is finding enough time to write all the ideas I constantly have. I have a twisted, restless imagination which is always throwing new ideas and concepts at me, conjuring up notions and proposals for new books and stories to write. Most times I work on multiple projects at any given time, but apparently my imagination is not satisfied with that and has to insist on bringing up new things that it feels I should be writing as well. Consequently, I usually have a host of things happening at once, which is a handy tool for dealing with any perceived writers block. Though I don’t actually suffer from that alleged affliction, keeping a bunch of different things on the go means I can shift back and forth between them if any obstacle springs up in the writing of one particular project.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Jim: Richard Laymon is my favourite author and has been ever since I discovered him back in the early 90’s. His work hit me like no other authors had, and resonated in me in a way that reinforced that notion that I wanted to be a horror writer. He wrote horror, he didn’t skirt around topics and he delved into the darkness with style, yet he married humour and fun with brutality and fear without diluting any of those elements. Most importantly he always had a good, strong story anchoring the piece.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Jim: Only in the limitless domains of my imagination. As I made mention of earlier, I don’t use real places, cities, towns, locations etc; that is all made up, so I don’t need to be traveling to any particular place to add any ring of authenticity to the writing.
In terms of book signings or conventions, that kind of travel, I envision I will engage in that sometime down the track and considering I live in a small town where those sort of events are non-existent, travel will definitely have to be involved.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Jim: Catt Dahman designed the cover of Plebs and she brought the vision of an integral part of the story to life beautifully. We spent plenty of time discussing how to work it and I love the end result. For my latest release With Tooth and Claw, David McGlumphy (aka McG) was the mastermind behind that. There are seven pieces contained within that book, but the cover itself mostly pertains to the first story.
Other books I’ve been involved in, including the latest Rejected For Content, as well as the first one, Floppy Shoes Apocalypse and the collaborative vampire novel Feral Hearts which I co-wrote with five other authors have all been designed by cover artist extraordinaire Michael ‘Fish’ Fisher.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Jim: Finding the time to do it. Almost all of my writing is done at night, often late into the night. With two little kids who love to try and monopolise my time and attention during the day, along with the usual array of day to day things needing to be done, writing in daylight hours rarely happens.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Jim: I’m learning constantly, all kinds of different things. It would be difficult to pinpoint anything in particular, but each new piece of writing dredges up new things to learn. I’m always learning and I’m always open to keep learning.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Jim: If you want to write, just write. If writing is what you love to do, then do it. Don’t be discouraged or put off, or disheartened by critiques and rejection, it’s all part of the game. And definitely ensure you have a thick skin. If you are prone to be discouraged by any little constructive criticism, negative remark or things of that nature, you will find it hard going. Ultimately, just write.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Jim: No, I honestly don’t. I was a voracious reader as a kid, right through teenage years and beyond. I read so many books and though certain ones definitely stick out as memorable, I can’t say I recall the very first one I read.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Jim: Everything makes me laugh, even things most would probably deem inappropriate. I like to have fun and joke around, and be light hearted with plenty of stuff, I can see the humour in just about anything. My children are constantly making me smile and laugh as well, all the funny little things they do.
I don’t think I’ve found too much to make me cry yet, I’m mostly immune to onions too, though a couple of strong ones have managed to get under my skin before.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Jim: Not really no. I’ve never been one to get starstruck by anybody in any capacity.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Jim: Can’t say I’ve ever given it much consideration.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Jim: As I’ve mentioned once or twice, I love heavy metal-most music as a whole in fact-so I have an enormous collection of compact discs and vinyl records, a lot which were sent to me during my time with Black Belle Music. Also into horror movies, drawing, reading of course, spending time with my wife, kids and cat, watching rugby league and wrestling, martial arts etc. It’s a fine balance ensuring there is time to do everything and dedicating as much as possible to everything.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Jim: I’m not a massive watcher of television shows, but there are a few I watch religiously. Grimm, The Walking Dead, The 100, Z Nation and Hemlock Grove are a few more recent ones that I always catch and I’m also a wrestling tragic so I never miss WWE Raw and Smackdown.
As for movies I’m a horror aficionado first and foremost, but I also enjoy comedies, thrillers and action. The Lost Boys, Natural Born Killers, From Dusk til Dawn, House of 1000 Corpses, The Devils Rejects, Dog Soldiers, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ginger Snaps, Dead Snow, Nightbreed, Wrong Turn are a few of my favourite movies.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Jim: I love all things bakery related, I have a hell of a sweet tooth, so cakes, pies, any kind of baked goods are right up my alley, the bonus being that my ultra-fast metabolism ensures I never put on weight. I’m also a big fan of Mexican, Italian, Indian, Tex-Mex, I pretty much love all food. I love coffee, I’m fond of bourbon and Southern Comfort.
Favourite color. Black. I’m fond of a variety of colours, reds and dark blues and so on, but black is my favourite.
I am a metalhead through and through, and have been for a very long time. I’m a big fan of music in general, from blues, to industrial, old sixties rock, to some dance, old school rap and horrorcore, but my ultimate styles of music are extreme metal, predominantly black and death metal. My writing soundtracks usually run the gamut through all of these things, but extreme metal, hair metal and thrash are usually most prevalent.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Jim: Aside from always wanting to be a horror writer, I fancied being in a metal band, but having been involved in those scenes before for many years, the reality of that soon stripped away the mystique of it.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I’m also on a lot of other sites, including Google+, Goodreads, Booklikes, Authors Den, even Myspace still, but these are my most commonly used ones.