I would like to introduce you to another amazing author. His books and stories are just phenomenal, I highly recommend that you check them out.
I would like to give a big Thank You to Jim for taking the time to answer my questions. Cheers, Jim!
Jim Goforth, ladies and gents…
Let’s start with getting the formalities out of the way-
Tell me a little about yourself; age, location, family, etc.
I’m 38, born and raised in Australia. My parents are both from different parts of the United States, with only me and my younger brother being born in Australia. I currently reside in a small country town called Holbrook, though the majority of my adult life was spent in Sydney. I’m more of a city kind of guy, so it’s a definite change of pace being in a little town, though I did grow up and attend schools in relatively small towns. I’m married with two little children, one daughter and one son.
What is something you’d like to share that most people don’t know about you?
Ah there is probably plenty that people don’t know about me and since I’m fairly open with most things, probably a lot they do already know, either from my online presence on various sites or from prior interviews I’ve done. I guess most folks wouldn’t know that I actually studied Law at university and attained an associate degree. Mind you, there was one stage where an excessive amount of partying resulted in me failing one entire semester. Fortunately I got all of that kind of insanity out of my system long ago. Good times.
What books have you published and/or had your works featured in?
My debut novel Plebs, the collaborative vampire novel Feral Hearts (along with Catt Dahman, Mark Woods, Ed Cardillo, Amanda Lyons and Michael Fisher), With Tooth and Claw (a collection of short stories/novellas) have all been published with J. Ellington Ashton Press. I also appear in an assortment of anthologies including Floppy Shoes Apocalypse, Axes of Evil 1 and 2, Autumn Burning: Dreadtime Stories For the Wicked Soul, Terror Train, Teeming Terrors as well as Rejected For Content: Splattergore and Rejected For Content: Aberrant Menagerie (which also marks my editorial debut).
What has been your favorite story or novel to write and what inspired you to write it?
I’m partial to a lot of them, since I write the kinds of things that I personally love to read, but Plebs will always hold a special place. It isn’t the first novel I’ve written, nor was it even originally intended to be a novel, but as that first book to get published, it is a special one. I started writing it in a period where I was writing a bunch of different short stories and had an assortment of ideas for them. I had the rough idea of what would happen in the tale which became Plebs (it had no title at that stage and didn’t until I was almost finished writing the whole book), though I’m not entirely sure where the initial inspiration came from, most likely a concoction of things. I had the general notion of a band of fugitive women dwelling in the woods in a refuge from the various indiscretions or circumstances in their lives they were seeking to escape, with the creatures that would become known as the Plebs also sharing those woods in a tenuous co-existence with them, along with a bunch of foolish, young men who would come along and inadvertently stumble across this.
It was going to start at the lake (just as in the book), but finish in the woods, wrapping up much earlier. As it turned out, the more I wrote and expanded the characters and situations, the more I enjoyed playing with them, so there was nothing else for it, but to turn it into a novel and one that ended up around the six hundred page mark.
Under A Clown Moon, the story I wrote for Floppy Shoes Apocalypse was also a hell of a lot of fun to write too. Over the top violent excess, psychopathic, murderous clowns, shapeshifting, gruesome splatter and fun characters to play with. I’m contemplating whether I might expand the whole concept for that story into a full length novel some time down the track. Both my stories for the two Rejected For Content volumes also have potential to have the tales spanned out into something more, but we’ll see how that pans out too.
I absolutely loved your book Plebs. How long did it take you to write it? There are so many unique and fun characters in this book, how did you come up with them, were they based on people you know? Which character is your favorite and why?
Plebs actually took quite a while to write, mainly because it wasn’t all written in one particular period of time. There was a time between starting the story and eventually finishing it as a novel, that it was on hiatus. For quite some time I was working in the extreme metal scenes and writing there, and I wasn’t involved in writing horror fiction at all. A lot of stories started were left unfinished and there was no work being done on any of them. Ultimately I picked the unfinished Plebs manuscript back up and read it again, deciding on the spot to finish writing it, submitted it as it was and it all happened.
Like the majority of my characters, all of those in Plebs are completely fictional creations, drawn out of the constant churn of my imagination. None of them are wholly based on anybody real or otherwise, though little facets of each of their personalities and things like that come from all kinds of experiences, encounters or events. People may read the books and think I know a person who is just like that, or acts similar, or has the same kind of personality, but that’s where any resemblance to anybody who hasn’t come from my head ends.
I have a lot of favourites in Plebs. The more I wrote involving them, the more I wanted to write and throw them into all kinds of trouble, and leaving them as characters in just a short story didn’t seem to do their personalities justice. Naturally, I love the three main women leads; Desiree, Blaise and Melissa; they are all very different and strong in their own ways, definitely much stronger than the majority of the male characters. Corey is pretty cool too, just an easy-going slacker of a fellow who needs to find some purpose in life and learn a few lessons.
Another favourite character of mine is Dennis King. To begin with Dennis was just supposed to have a bit part, and serve as a secondary character in the reasonably large supporting cast, as something of a buffoon, comic relief, sometimes unintentionally, but there turned out to be a little more to him.
What has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
Hands down, my two children are my greatest accomplishment to date and I can’t imagine that being topped any time soon, or in the future. In terms of writing, I still consider Plebs to be my greatest accomplishment thus far. It was my debut novel and the culmination of a lifelong ambition to have a book published. As I’ve made mention in numerous interviews in the past, I first set about trying to get some of my work published well before social media sites and the like even existed, with little idea on who best to send material to, and even less success. So Plebs wasn’t only the first book published for me, it was the start of what had been a long term goal to be a horror writer.
Have you had any disappointments that just really got to you? If so, would you care to share what it was and why?
No, not particularly. I’m pretty easy going for the vast majority of the time, and I take things as they come in whatever situation.
Who does the covers for your books and do you help in designing them?
A variety of cover artists with JEA. Michael ‘Fish’ Fisher has done all the Rejected For Content series, along with things such as Floppy Shoes Apocalypse, David ‘McG’ McGlumphy was the man responsible for With Tooth and Claw and Catt Dahman is the creator of the Plebs cover. I do work with them on concepts, ideas and general notions of the kinds of things I want on there, but ultimately all of the art magic is theirs. Though With Tooth and Claw is a collection of stories, the cover itself mostly revolves around the first tale in that book, ‘Dead Tree Creepers’. I seem to have a thing for woods and trees on my covers (must hark back to my days of being fascinated by the Steve Crisp artwork for Richard Laymon’s books), and that one captures the essence of that story well. Catt and I spent plenty of time discussing the Plebs cover and I love the end result. The church is an integral location in the second half of the book and it is brilliantly rendered there on the cover, a great snapshot of where key events take place in the story.
What author(s) inspired you the most to become a writer and at what age? What was it about them that inspired you? What would be your favorite book(s) by that author?
I started reading very early and gravitated towards horror fiction pretty early on as well. I started writing and creating my own stories not too long after learning to read too, and though it was a vast assortment of genres I used to deal in-adventure, sci-fi, action, horror, even western- it was horror that I was most serious about and started focusing all writing energies into that. Initially it was the likes of Graham Masterton, Shaun Hutson, early Dean Koontz and Stephen King, along with Robert McCammon and Dan Simmons who primarily inspired me. However, as soon as I discovered Richard Laymon (through the first book of his I read, Darkness Tell Us in the early 90’s) that I found my number one influence and inspiration, and he remains that most inspirational of writers for me, to this day. Laymon is a consummate storyteller, adept at marrying brutality with humour, shock with personality, and his tales were always character driven. He was a champion of the splatterpunk genre, a writer who was unafraid of going to dark places and he didn’t pull any punches, though it wasn’t just for simple shock value like many emulators have attempted. His writing was lean, sharp and punchy, and his knack for creating memorable characters, be they good or completely reprehensible, was uncanny.
He doesn’t have a book I haven’t enjoyed, though for the purposes of the question I’ll make reference to a handful of absolute favourites. Darkness, Tell Us, Endless Night, One Rainy Night, Funland, Body Rides and Blood Games are several in a list of well over thirty books he wrote over his career.
Are there any new authors that have become favorites of yours?
Ah there are quite a few great ones coming out, it’s awesome to see the horror genre in capable hands. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, listing a bunch of names would mean I’d inevitably forget somebody and that wouldn’t be on. Suffice to say, there are a whole bunch of new writers out there doing some wonderful things and mentioning names will do a disservice to those that temporarily slip my mind.
You write mostly horror/splatterpunk books. What characteristic of that genre do you feel is most important when writing? Or the most fun for you to write?
Telling a good story is important, no matter what the genre. I tend to work in the extreme horror and splatterpunk genres, so the work is visceral, often explicit and ultra-violent, but without a good solid storyline in there, it would all be to no avail, it would be shock and gore for shock and gore’s sake. There are a lot of works already out there which follow that trajectory, piling ultimately meaningless amounts of blood, guts and violence in without any consideration for anchoring a good storyline or anything of great substance, so I don’t need to add to that. I like to tell stories, I like working with character driven pieces, I like all the works to mean something, even if they are at times, mired in dark, murky places and comprehensively soaked in blood. Horror is horrific, so there’s no point in pulling punches with it, or at least that’s the way I approach it, though I acknowledge that there are many different styles and sub-genres under the whole horror spectrum and implied, quiet, creepy horror is equally as effective, sometimes more, in conveying fearful atmospheres.
Everything about it is fun to me, I just love writing in general and particularly writing horror scenes. It could be all out bloody carnage, it could be scenes involving a lot of back and forth dialogue, it could be completely over the top cartoonish violence, it might be an explicit sex scene, maybe even serious, pensive atmospheric scenes, I love writing it all.
Would you ever consider writing in a different genre? If so, what would it be and why?
Sure, I would never rule anything out, and way back in the day I dabbled with myriad different genres. Right now though I’m happy to remain in the horror genre, as I have an abundance of stories yet to write in the genre. Horror is an enormous genre with all different kinds of sub-genres and diverse styles, so it isn’t a case of ever feeling bogged down in one particular thing and feeling as though I’ve done all I can with it. There are many, many more horrors to come from me, so for the foreseeable future that’s where I will be. I haven’t ever given a great deal of consideration to what other genre I would work in, but I’d be open to trying my hand at a variety of things.
When writing, how much research goes into your work? What has been the most interesting thing you have had to research? What has been the most fun thing in your research?
It depends on the book or story itself. For the most part, when writing horror, an extensive, in-depth level of research isn’t essentially required, but again, that is wholly dependent on what sort of horror one is writing. I do research on certain things I might not be overly familiar with if I’m looking to add a touch of realism, or brushing up on knowledge of various topics, but I don’t-or haven’t yet-been required to-exhaustively research the things I’ve written about thus far. With horror and the potential for it to be utterly phantasmagorical, one has to suspend a bit of belief there, and acknowledge that it doesn’t have to be one hundred per cent factually accurate. On the other hand, if there are topics being explored that deal in more close to the bone types of horror, psychological horror, stories about serial killers and their methods etc. etc, then some research is going to be best.
I can guarantee my internet search history would certainly raise plenty of eyebrows or disturb souls unfamiliar with horror, but most other horror writers would merely nod and identify with that scenario quite well.
How do you come up with or what inspires you to come up with the ideas for your novels, novellas and short stories?
For the most part, it is my twisted, restless imagination which is in a perpetual state of generating all kinds of ideas and concepts to use in stories, either just the seeds of ideas or something which might be virtually complete and require no more work than a little fleshing out to become a finished piece.
Other than that I am inspired by a whole bunch of different things, ranging from the works of favourite writers, horror (and non-horror), films, random news reports, everyday happenings, interesting experiences of all kinds, you name it, there is probably something everywhere which has the ability to inspire me. Music, in particular heavy metal, is very inspirational to me, and I often merge it and its influence into my work. Reading through most of my stories, I imagine plenty of people would be able to see these musical influences and pick up on references littered throughout.
I am also greatly inspired by single images, predominantly things such as old abandoned houses or locations, graveyards, snapshots of woodland areas or a single highway lined by dark menacing trees. Pictures like this always fire up my imagination and I can write an entire story based around one image like this.
What are you currently working on and what else do you have planned for 2015?
Right now I am currently working on two novels, with another novella that has the potential to be pushed out to become another novel as well. The main one I’m concentrating on is going to be something of a creature feature, a monster tale. It won’t be any kind of departure from the grindhouse, splatterpunk excesses of Plebs, since those are the kinds of things I love to read and write, but I’m planning on making it a little shorter. We’ll see how that pans out. I’m also in the process of reading through the finished Plebs follow-up book and trying to cut down the size of it, since I completed writing it and finished with an end result in excess of 280 thousand words. There has been the consideration of splitting that book in two, and putting the option out there has seen a few differing responses. Some would prefer two shorter books, while some just want the whole thing as it is, a gargantuan opus.
I’m also in the process of seeking submissions for the third volume of the Rejected For Content anthology series which I will be also editing, and have a current open call out for those, with the deadline set for the end of July.
Though I’m predominantly focusing my attentions on writing novels this year I do have a few more appearances in anthologies coming in 2015; Ghosts: An Anthology of Horror From the Beyond, Suburban Secrets and Tales From the Lake Volume 2 (from the always exemplary Crystal Lake Publishing) being the next of those on the horizon. There probably will be another couple of stories surface in other anthologies, but those are all just around the corner, the Ghosts antho is actually only a few days away.
Another full length novel will be coming from me as well, currently in the stage of first edits. This is Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger and it is another big book. Just referring back to my remarks about being strongly influenced by extreme metal music, this one is very inspired by that medium. In fact, it isn’t so much inspired by metal, as an entity which revels and swims and thrashes around in it, considering the setting of the story is based in black and death metal scenes. I’m not a zombie author by any stretch of the imagination, with my only other foray into undead realms being the short story Apocalypticism (also inspired by metal-one song in particular), so my take on the undead is bound to be a little different from those who do genre specific explorations.
On a more personal note –
What are some of your likes and dislikes in movies, books, food, drinks, activities, music, etc, or anything else you would like to let us know about you?
I’m a horror aficionado in all its mediums, so that includes movies, television shows and books, but of course that’s not to the exclusion of all other genres. Movie-wise I also enjoy a good comedy, action, martial arts, thrillers and many others. Not so big on drama, period sagas, war, and overly fluffy things.
I love all food, but my favourites are Mexican and anything from a bakery. There’s not too much in the way of food that I don’t like, aside from maybe a couple of things. When I was a kid I learned to eat everything on my plate, like it or not, so I learned to appreciate and try new dishes, hence the fondness for foods from all kinds of different spectrums. It’s also a bonus that I have such a fast metabolism that I can pretty much eat as much as I want without gaining weight. I run on coffee and pretty much drink it all around the clock, morning, noon or night. I like Coke best when it comes to soft drinks and in terms of alcohol my preferences are for spirits, namely bourbon, Scotch, vodka, Southern Comfort though I don’t drink as much as I did once upon a time. Back then I would drink just about everything alcoholic and remarkably large quantities of it all.
When it comes to music I’m a metalhead first and foremost, particularly metal of the extreme variety (namely black and death metal), but I’m also a big fan of thrash, glam/hair metal, industrial, hard rock, sixties rock, blues, horrorcore, oldschool rap and even some dance music. I appreciate most forms of music, and grew up surrounded by it, so while I certainly have my favourite genres and types, I can find something of merit in almost all forms. Sometimes I write in silence, but other times I write to a soundtrack of music and it will usually be a mixture of things drawn from these genres and styles. I used to work in the worldwide extreme metal scenes and built up a great network of musicians and people also involved in those areas from all around the globe, which was handy when I returned to writing horror, as many of those were keen to check out the work.
Name a favorite and least favorite memory from your childhood and from your adult life.
I had a pretty good childhood, certainly no complaints about it whatsoever. I guess being in a car accident, breaking my arm and ending up with a load of stitches in my face, leaving scars for quite some time probably wasn’t a highlight. In terms of highlights, there were lots of highlights, I have loads of great memories and no one in particular stands out.
Favourite adult memories would definitely be getting married and the births of both of my children.
As for non-favourite memories, well I’ve had a few rough times over the years, but I tend not to dwell on them at all. Every experience has helped shape who I am.
If you could change anything about your life, past or present, or both, what would it be, if anything?
No, not really. I’m pretty happy with the way things have panned out as it is, so I can’t really envision it going any other way. If I was pressed for one thing to change, I suppose it would be the fact that I would have liked to have been published and writing horror full time a long time ago. Of course, I had a shot at it years and years ago, without too much of a clue how to best go about it at that stage and then let it go by the wayside while I was involved in other pursuits. Other than that, no complaints. Nothing I would change.
What is the best thing a fan has said to you? The most funny thing? The worst thing?
Some of the best things I’ve heard from people have related to comparing my work to that of the late, great Richard Laymon, who is of course my number one influence and writing, and has been for many, many years. There were a few others who came before him in terms of driving me to write horror, but reading his work helped hone and alter the way I wrote, and it is an enormous honour to hear my name in the same breath as his.
I’ve heard all kinds of things, the majority of them favourable, some not even related to writing, but it’s a matter of keeping some over exuberant souls at arms length. As for particularly bad things anybody has said, can’t really say I’ve encountered anything of that nature to date. I’ve had a couple of less than positive reviews here and there, but those are the kinds of things that are absolute gold for promo and marketing opportunities. For example, I had a review for Plebs with the classic line ‘Starts out with violence porn and devolves into pornographic violence’ kicking it off. Using that in promotional posts generated some nice sales for the book, so I can’t really say I’ve heard anything yet that could be classified as ‘the worst thing’.
What do you like most about living in Australia? what do you like the least about Australia?
Australia is a great country, I pretty much like just about everything about it, aside from the fact that anything and everything in the way of wildlife is out to kill you, but you get used to that. The fact that it is so isolated from the rest of the world and such things as the big horror conventions is a bit of a drawback. The major cities tend to get anything of interest confined to them (in the way of concerts, events etc), while smaller cities, remote towns and that sort of thing generally miss out. That wasn’t a problem when I was living right in the city for many years, but now that I’m not, it presents more of an issue.
Where can fans find and contact you on the web? Blogs, websites, etc.
I have a lot of others, but the above links are the most frequently used Ppl