Interview with Horror Author Jim Goforth

I’m Jim Goforth, author of Plebs, Riders (Plebs 2 Books One and Two), Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger, The Sleep, and With Tooth and Claw.

I also run and edit the Rejected For Content anthology series. I write horror, predominantly what I like to refer to as grindhouse splatterpunk old school horror driven by heavy metal. In addition to this I run the extreme horror/bizarre imprint WetWorks.

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+ and my website

When and why did you start writing?

I started writing almost as soon as I was able to read. I had a massive imagination as a kid, and was always envisioning my own stories and creating them, inspired by just about anything at all. I wrote about anything and everything, though I suppose my tendency to conjure up tales of monsters of my own creation was probably a solid indication that I was going to gravitate towards horror much later on. I started writing because I had so many stories I wanted to tell, whether anybody read them or not. It was, and still is, great fun to me, entertainment for myself that I enjoyed reading. Completing stories was an achievement and a source of attainment, as well as being something I just loved doing.

What inspires your writing?

Just about anything is inspirational to me. I’m inspired by music (primarily heavy metal, but not to the exclusion of other genres; I’m into all kinds of music), images, daily events, random snippets of conversation, movies, pretty much anything can generate a story idea. I’ll often pull an entire story just from looking at a single image, in particular things like old, abandoned houses or a snapshot of a section of the woods. I’m not just seeing what is visible in a picture like this, I’m envisioning the myriad tales that exist within it, all the possible stories it has to tell. This goes for just about anything, so I’m never short of inspiration.

What has been your worst moment as a writer?

I can’t exactly specify anything I’d term as a worst moment. Like everybody else I’ve had a few rejections from various places for an assortment of reasons, but that all comes with the territory. I don’t see negative reviews as bad either, unless they are obviously not constructive or genuine in any way, but merely done as a personal attack. I haven’t any experience with that myself, but I have friends and know others who’ve suffered incidents like this. Personally, I’m of the belief that things like certain bad reviews can be spun into promo gold, where they have the ability to generate even more interest in a book than a positive, overly glowing one.

Do you have any writing rituals to get you in the mood for writing?

Not particularly, no. When it comes to writing, I just sit down and start writing. If it’s a short story I’m working on, I might have the whole thing already written in my head, if it’s a novel, I might just have the bare bones of an idea. Either way, I just start writing and see where that goes. I’m not one for meticulously planning or painstakingly working out precisely what is going to happen in each chapter, or how things are going to be resolved or conclude; often I haven’t a clue how the piece is going to end myself. I let the characters take control and see what kind of trouble they can get themselves into.

I wouldn’t say I have anything that could be construed as a ritual, since essentially I’m always in the mood for writing, but I do have a routine of sorts when it comes to the actual writing, at least with regards to the time of day I write. Almost all of my writing is done at night. During the day is when I’ll be doing things such as editing, formatting, other duties with the WetWorks imprint, anthologies, and of course, normal day to day activities which have nothing to do with writing.

At night, that’s when I start the actual writing, fuelled by immense amounts of coffee (I drink coffee all around the clock), sometimes accompanied by a writing soundtrack. Many folks prefer to write in complete silence, and now and then I’ll do likewise, but for the most part there’s always something going on around my house where complete silence is a rarity, hence the reason I have no problem writing with a soundtrack of something like extreme metal happening.

If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself as a writer starting out?

Without a doubt I’d go back and advise myself not to stop sending out manuscripts and submitting stories to publishers, in terms of seeking to be published in any case. When I first started writing way back in the day, it was merely because I loved telling stories and creating all kinds of worlds. It wasn’t until I was in my teen years that I developed an interest in having some of my work published, primarily around the time I discovered Richard Laymon and realised I could write what I want, how I want without needing to try and emulate others. Unfortunately, that was back in the days before social media, email and all kinds of electronic correspondence made being published somewhat easier to communicate, and essentially get published. Consequently I was sending off unsolicited manuscripts to all kinds of publishers, some who were definitely not the type who would be keen to look at what I was writing, let alone consider publishing it.

So after little success in those days, I ended up drifting into other pursuits, other occupations, working with the worldwide extreme metal community for a while as well. It was really only four or so years ago that I actually returned to writing horror full-time and found much more success than I did back when I started seeking to be published. I continued writing stories off and on through that whole period of other enterprises, but I wasn’t writing them to be published, or actively seeking to have them published, so I occasionally think back and wonder how much sooner I would have been entrenched in writing and publishing horror fiction, had I persisted with submitting pieces, rather than getting enveloped in all kinds of other things.

What do you believe make for great writing?

That depends on whether the question refers to great writing, as in textbook classic with a superb command of grammar, punctuation and so forth, or a great story. I’ll go with the latter and say, that to me, great writing involves a solid, captivating storyline, with the ability to hook one in and keep them reading. Characters are important, and they need to be characters that the reader cares about. This doesn’t essentially mean you love them, you might well despise them, but at least you are feeling something for them, which is imperative. An ability to make readers care or feel something for the characters, whether it’s genuine fondness or a savage hatred, is key, for nobody really wants to trudge through a book where they are ambivalent about the fates of the characters and care nothing for them either way. Great writing makes you wish the story would keep going and never end, something you want to stay immersed in for days. It makes you walk away after finishing it with profound feelings (whatever type they may be) and it lodges in your head. Great writing is memorable and leaves a long-lasting impression.

How do you measure success as a writer?

Personally, I write because I love to write and always have done. I love to tell stories and I write the type of things that I personally love to read, and that has always been my principal objective in writing. Finishing novels, stories, all of those things are what I consider as various forms of success, they are things I’ve achieved and set out to accomplish. If others also dig reading what I write, then that is supremely cool, and essentially that is how I measure success. If I’ve created a story that somebody else loves or enjoys, then that is a fine achievement.

What’s your biggest fear as a writer?

That people will stop reading. That doesn’t merely refer to my books, it refers to reading as a whole. These days folks are absorbed with their technology, instant gratification, television, gaming consoles, all of those kinds of things, and for many, reading seems like a lost art.

Too many people don’t consider picking up a book or delving into reading, not when they have all these other sources of entertainment right at their fingertips and easy disposal. It is irksome to see people on social media or elsewhere going on about films or television shows, and often not being aware of the fact that many of these things they have their eyes glued to have been adapted from books.

Not enough people are reading these days, and even many of those that are, seem to be afflicted with short attention spans, hence the rising popularity of the novella. Reading is a whole new world, it enables one to truly submerge themselves in universes and the lives of characters and to envision things their way, to use imagination and feel a whole gamut of emotions, whereas something there on the television limits one to what is portrayed directly in front of you. Unfortunately, reading has become an option some would select last, if at all, presented all the other immediate options. Naturally, that isn’t an umbrella that covers everybody, and some would certainly choose to read before anything else, but it sadly does refer to a large percentage of folk.

Describe your latest book to our readers

My latest book, The Sleep, released in January this year, is something of a monster tale, a creature feature if you will, albeit, written with my usual grindhouse splatterpunk style of horror. It is probably a little more accessible to most mainstream horror fanatics, than some of my previous works have been, though it’s certainly not any less gruesome and bloody.

It revolves around a group of friends who are habitual urban legend chasers. This bunch includes an amateur horror film maker, an urban legend/monster/mystery creature enthusiast, a reporter looking for a story, any story, a sceptic and an assortment of others, and the lot of them have ventured on previous several, ultimately unsuccessful, treks to discover the veracity of various urban legends or freaky tales.

This time, one of their number has discovered an obscure tale online in the vast nooks and crannies of the internet, referring to a bizarre phenomenon known as The Sleep, which is said to happen around the oddly named township of Growling and its surrounding areas. Here, the folks who reside in these places are frequently beset by abnormal weather and terribly violent thunderstorms. When storm season hits these locations, and it does so with alarming regularity, the communities take cover, engaging in The Sleep, fearing what other terrible things are going to be blown in along with the wind and rain.

Naturally, the intrepid collective of monster hunters, urban legend chasers and debunkers, are thrilled to have stumbled across such an unusual tale, because they’ve been after something a little left of centre. Bored with the mundane stories, the usual old wives tales or fables, they immediately make plans and set off on a road trip, hoping to finally uncover some truth in one of these eccentric stories.

They’re going to wish they hadn’t.

Storm season isn’t the time to be stranded outside. It isn’t just hellish rain and gale-force winds blowing in when the skies turn black. These storms bring something monstrous.

Some urban legends are true.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?

First and foremost, the enjoyment of a story, or the appreciation of it. Granted, there are going to be things in there that disturb, frighten, or horrify people, but that is the whole point of horror. One can most definitely have a great time with it, but ultimately, it aims to be horrifying. There are plenty of other things in the form of various messages that exist in my stories, some which are quite clear, others which are open to the reader’s interpretation, and for them to draw their own conclusions. There are cautionary tales and occasional social commentaries in there, and then again, some are just for simple, sheer entertainment value. There are plenty of different things readers can take away from the tales, so as long as they manage to get something, I’ll be all good with that.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Write. If you want to write, if you need to write, if you love to write, then just write. Don’t give up, don’t become discouraged by things like rejection because that all comes with the territory, it’s all part of the process. There are many different reasons for publishers rejecting pieces, so it doesn’t necessarily equate to the fact that your writing is terrible and you should go ahead and quit.

And of course, once you have published a book, or gotten a few story acceptances, ensure you’re making folks aware of them. Promotion and marketing and those kinds of aspects are the less fun parts of writing, but nonetheless, they are requisite elements, and can be a lot of work. Writing the greatest book under the sun means nothing if people don’t know about it, or aren’t made aware of it in order to be able to read it. Writing the book is fun, it’s the enjoyable part, but it doesn’t end there. Don’t think that typing or writing The End as you conclude your manuscript actually is the end. There’s a whole lot more work involved, so be prepared for it.

Also, if you don’t have a thick skin, be prepared to cultivate one. Learn to accept constructive criticism, be open to suggestions and helpful advice, and be aware that your writing isn’t going to be to everybody’s tastes. Always do your research (into prospective publishers etc.) and understand that there are different types of publishers out there, some who don’t exactly have the writer’s best interests at heart. If a publisher is asking you for money to publish your book, avoid at all costs. That’s not how it works.

Finally, and importantly, if you get offered a contract, read it thoroughly, go through it with a fine tooth comb or have somebody do so with you. Ensure you understand all the terms set out in it, and are comfortable with them. Don’t let the thrill of being offered a contract cause you to overlook something important that might not be so beneficial to you.

What’s next for you?

Multiple projects. I’m always working on a number of different things at any given time and right now is no exception. I have two novels which will definitely be out a little later this year, though I’m unable to disclose any information about them. I’m also working on no less than four other novels, though they’ve been taking a backseat to the other projects of late. There are also plans to work on sequels to Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger as well as a third instalment of the Plebs saga (technically it will be a fourth book, since Riders: Plebs 2 was comprised of two separate books released simultaneously). In addition to that I’ll be writing a bunch of short stories for myriad different anthologies I’ve committed to, as well as opening up submissions for volume 6 of the popular Rejected For Content series. I also have enough material to put together a new collection, largely comprised of new stories and some which were published in lesser-known or not so widely read publications, and Volume Two of Dual Depravity will be on the cards too. I have a couple of novels which aren’t sequels or offshoots of anything else I’d like to focus on at some stage too, but I’m not sure there are going to be enough days in the year to get everything written that I want to.

The Sleep

By Jim Goforth

Obscure urban legends and monstrous myths abound all over the internet, and none are more obscure or bizarre than the one purported to haunt the strange, remote and oddly named town of Growling and its surrounds.

Here, the communities are plagued by freakish weather phenomena, aberrant lightning and something even worse that arrives in the midst of these irregular storms. Here, all denizens adhere stringently with the unwritten rules of what they all know as The Sleep. Here, the way of life for folk is dictated to by the BeastStorms.
When a group of friends, including an amateur horror filmmaker, an urban legend and supernatural enthusiast, a sceptic and a journalist, among others, stumble across the vague tale online, each have their own reasons for wanting to discover the veracity of the peculiar legend.

Now, they are on a road trip that’s taken them thousands of miles from their comfortable city existences and right into the domain of The Sleep. Where mistrusting, superstitious locals patrol the neighbourhoods in packs with ominous warnings for intruders and unwelcome passers-through. Where dissenters are run out of town to live as outcasts on the fringes of civilization. Where repercussions are severe for those who don’t take heed of warnings to abide by the rules of the land.

Where unholy storms unlike anything ever experienced before, dredge up something more than insane weather. Something monstrous.

Every so often, among all those many legends easily explainable, or proved to be nothing more than pure hoax, there’s one with more than a kernel of truth to it.



About the Author

Scott Mullins is a freelance writer and digital content manager. When he’s not finding ways to distract himself from writing his novel he writes killer copy for companies all over the world. Connect with Scott on Twitter @ScottMullins86 or LinkedIn. He’s always looking to connect with other writers.