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Thursday, May 16, 2013

STOPPING ALONG THE WAY: A Guest Post by Author John Everson

Today I will part of the Adult Reading Roundtable's Genre Boot Camp at the Naperville Public Library.  I am both a host, as a member of the Steering Committee, and a speaker at today's event.

I am also honored to be introducing our final speaker of the day, horror author and Naperville resident John Everson.

John is an award winning Horror author who I called a "Pulp King" in my book.  Here's how I defined a "Pulp King:"
This heading refers to the fact that they write mainly paperback horror novels. They are the best of the newer generation of these writers; in fact, all of the authors and titles included here are critically acclaimed if not award winners.  Although they each have their own style, all six authors rise above the mass of paperback horror offerings due to their above average character development and their originality in storytelling. They also all use a fairly high level of gore in their stories, incorporate a large coming-of-age theme, and have their protagonists fighting villains both human and supernatural. Finally, it is important to note that these authors can be expected to release at least one, if not more, novels a year and contribute to a few short story collections, all, quite possibly, for different publishers. 

Everson fits this mold. He is an author whose novels should be included in any public library collection that has any horror beyond Stephen King already.  His novels are crazy scary, featuring well developed characters that readers come to love, especially some of the best female characters you will find in paperback horror.  He is also one of the masters of setting an uneasy stage from the first page and then steadily, relentlessly builds the dread and anxiety to a level that literally overwhelms and envelops you as a reader. [For those librarians out there who are not horror readers themselves, I need to remind you that this is a good thing for horror fans].  Everson uses a lot of blood and sex to drive home his chills.

Earlier this year John and I did a book swap.  I gave him a copy of my book (which features him and his work in multiple places) and he gave me a copy of NightWhere for our collection. It is not just me who likes John's novels.  Our copy of NightWhere has been off the shelf since we got it, only returning this past weekend.  I wanted to write a review of the book, but I had to interlibrary loan it in order to get a copy. Speaking of, look for that review soon. In the meantime, NightWhere has also been named as a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award in the category of BEST NOVEL.  See, you really need to check this guy out.

I am honored that Everson took time out of his busy schedule (see below, he is off to New Orleans soon to, hopefully, take home his second Stoker Award) to not only appear at the ARRT event, but also for allowing me the chance to introduce him to a whole new audience of potential readers.  I am also happy to report that while John's books are evil, violent, and terrifying, he is a great guy.  He proves my adage that horror fans are not monsters, we just like to read about them.

I know not all of you could make it to Naperville, so in preparation for the today's event, I asked John if he would share some of his thoughts with my readers, near and far.  

So thanks John and take it away...


By John Everson

I really hate it when people pronounce pithy platitudes like “It’s all about the journey.” (I really like alliteration though).

They just sound so pat, so smug . Would you be out of your comfy chair taking the journey if you didn’t REALLY want to reach the destination?

There is, of course, some truth in the old saw though. Life really is a million little journeys to this, that and the other, and you spend a lot more time getting to any of the goalposts than you do actually enjoying those moments of victory or defeat at the end. So it is important to focus on what’s going on this minute… not to always be looking ahead. I used to be horribly impatient about it all. Still am sometimes, but I find my “zen” a little more often now.

Early in my writing career, I wrote a story about someone who goes nutters while “Waiting for the Mail.” The story was really about me, inspired by my obsessive impatience in waiting for those acceptance (and rejection) letters from magazines for my stories. Back then, I always had a dozen different stories shipped out to all sorts of books and magazines and I was constantly waiting and hoping for a reply on one of them. Every day I spent hours wondering if a good letter was going to arrive in the mail. Every day, I used to talk to my wife on the phone from work in the afternoon and ask “Is there anything for me in the mail?” Sometimes I made her open the notes when they came in, too impatient to wait until I got home from work. More often than not, they were “thanks, but…” letters. But now and then, there was a “Dear John” letter that said “Yes, we’d sacrifice small rodents for the privilege of putting your vile tale into print so 137 people can read it via mail order…”

Obviously, this was long before the age of e-mail and webzines. But you get the drift. I was always impatient about “the score.” It consumed me.

I’m starting to get more patient these days about actually reaching the goalposts… and enjoying the places in between. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still impatient when it comes to the status of my books and stories and I look forward to getting responses from editors (and sometimes I still prod them!). But I’m finding it easier to wait, to enjoy the simple things like listening to Internet radio while having a beer at night in my home office, after a long day at work.

Today I’m giving a talk to a group of Illinois librarians on the topic of my personal “author” journey… and horror fiction. It was an honor to be asked and I’ve been looking forward to this event for several weeks now. It’s at my local library, and I’ll be meeting librarians from all over the region – a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to my work (and hopefully, of course, they’ll then introduce it to their patrons). But part of me hates for it to actually get here… because once this blog is posted and the event begins, the day will flash by in a heartbeat. Sure, I’m a little nervous about giving the talk – what if I stumble, lose my train of thought, face a room full of blank stares? What if nobody laughs at my jokes and they all walk away thinking I’m an idiot? What if I discover at the end of the address that my zipper was open the whole time?

But those are honestly not big concerns.

I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of fellow booklovers, and it will all be great. But it will all be over too soon. Sometimes reaching the destination can be bittersweet, because, to quote another old saw, nothing lasts forever.

Likewise, the upcoming Bram Stoker Awards on June 15th.

This year, my sixth novel NightWhere, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award in the Novel Category. Back in 2005, my first novel, Covenant was recognized for achievement in a First Novel, but this is the first time any of my books have been nominated in the general novel category, so naturally I’m excited. The awards are being given out in New Orleans next month, and I’ll be attending the ceremony, but part of me almost doesn’t want the event date to appear. For the past few weeks (and for a few weeks more) I’ve been a Bram Stoker “nominee”! There’s a good feeling to that – almost like, at the moment, everyone on the ballot is a winner. But once the announcements are made, a lot of authors will tighten their lips in a hard smile, and feel loss.

It would be amazing if NightWhere won – this was a novel I first envisioned a decade ago, but was frankly, too afraid to write for a long time. The plot called for it to be an over-the-top extreme, erotic horror novel, and I wondered “what would people think” if I went through with it. Now that it’s been out in the world for ten months with probably the most consistently positive reviews of my career and an award nomination, I guess I have my answer.

But I’m not impatient right now. I’m just happy it was nominated and enjoying the days leading up to the awards ceremony. Whatever the outcome, I’ll toast my fellow writers after the ceremony is done. It will be a great night of fellowship with a lot of people I respect as both writers and friends.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy talking books today with librarians – the people partially responsible for NightWhere coming into being, since librarians helped feed my thirst for stories of imagination as a kid. Oh, the hours I used to spend in the library!

So I guess I am enjoying the journey. There’s a story in every stop along the way.

Who needs a destination?

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