An Interview with John Everson

An Interview with John Everson

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with John Everson, Bram Stoker award-winning author of Covenant, Sacrifice, and The 13th. He was kind enough to talk with me about his writing experiences, his influences, and his new novel, Siren.

Q: “Can you tell me a little about yourself? When did you start writing?”

A: “I sort of always wrote. My first story was in grade school. I was a huge reader, and I always wanted to do what they did. I loved stories, and I tried to emulate it. I always thought I would go into writing in some fashion, I was on the high school newspaper, and my major in college was journalism. My first job was on a newspaper.”

Q: “What kind of stuff did you cover when you worked for the newspaper?”

A: “The usual boring stuff. School board meetings, police beat, obituaries. Actually, the main character in my novels Covenant and Sacrifice, Joe Kieran, is a newspaper reporter, so everything that Joe does for his job in those books, I did.”

Q: “When did you first start getting published?”

A: “I am forty-four now and my first published piece of fiction was back in 1993 when I had two short pieces come out back to back. Over the next three years I wrote constantly. I was turning out nearly twenty stories a year back then. Then in the mid-90’s someone handed me a newspaper article about a cliff in England that was the most popular suicide spot in the country. There was even a bar near the cliff, so people would go in, have their last drink, and then leap off. That image stuck with me for months until I decided it could be a jumping point for a story, and that eventually turned into my first novel, Covenant.”

Q: “Did you ever get rejection letters for your work?”

A: “I shopped the first draft of Covenant around for a while, back when it was called The Cliff, and no one was interested. I couldn’t get an agent; I couldn’t get a publisher. So I took a week and sat down and worked on the book. I added 10,000 words, changed stuff on every page, and renamed it Covenant. I shopped that around some more and still couldn’t get much interest, until I approached Delirium books, who had just started publishing novels. Covenant first appeared in 2004, in a small publication.”

Q: “So persistence is the key to getting published?”

A: “It totally is. You’re going to get far more rejection in the writing world than you will acceptance. It seems that everyone is a writer, so competition is huge, but the more you stick with it, eventually you’re going to find a home for your work.”

Q: “When you write your stories do you plan them out ahead of time?”

A: “My stories all start with a certain scene in my head, and I usually know how they’re going to end. The fun for me is figuring out all the stuff in between. Recently though, I have sold my books on an outline. So I have gone from an idea based author to being more structured.”

Q: “Can you tell me a little bit about Siren? I know that is coming out soon, and I was wondering if you had anything you wanted to share with us?”

A: “Sure! Siren was a bit different for me. Covenant and Sacrifice involved demonic ritual, and even The 13th had some occult, demonic, sacrificial background to it. Each of those books tried to one up the other when it comes to intensity, and blood spray. For Siren I didn’t want to be known as a one trick pony that only writes about demonic rituals, so I thought about other creatures I could use. I didn’t want to do vampires, or werewolves or zombies; everyone does those, and I came up with the siren.”

Q: “What did you like about the siren as a focus for your book?”

A: “Sirens have roots back in mythology. They’re sexy and seductive, and they lure men to their deaths. Originally, sirens were half bird and half woman, hence the idea of the siren song. Over time they kind of evolved in popular culture, and most people nowadays picture a mermaid out on the rocks. There is this painting I saw, and it depicted the three original siren sisters, nude on the beach, with a pile of male corpses in the background. It’s sort of a statement about desire and gluttony and the lures of the flesh, but for me it was a wonderfully monstrous image. So I started thinking, what if a man in the modern age encountered a siren?”

Q: “How would you best sum up the plot of Siren?”

A: “A woman scorned is one thing, but a siren scorned is just mythically bad.”

Q: “Do you have certain authors or certain books that influenced you as a writer?”

A: “Growing up I was a science fiction kid. I loved the awe factor of old science fiction, like the Wild West of space, and I loved the unknown. That love of the unknown is what interested me in telling stories. I want something that comes from another dimension, and grabs you. I discovered Stephen King in high school, and his combination of science fiction and horror, like in Firestarter really grabbed my attention. Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game was a huge book to me. It was so descriptive and scary, and he had so many great ideas about what the unknown might look like, so Clive is a huge inspiration for me.”

Q: “What kind of stuff do you read now?”

A: “Edward Lee is probably my favorite working horror author today. I pick up his stuff and I can’t stop reading. The first Infernal book is one of my favorites. I read that cover to cover on a 4th of July.”

Q: “Do you have a favorite horror movie, or director?”

A: “I am a huge fan of the Italian horror stuff from the 70’s, directors like Argento and Fulci. Probably one of the key modern films for me is the original Alien movie. It is filled with wonderful imagery, and it is the perfect merger of horror and science fiction.”

Q: “Is there anything you want to say to your readers?”

A: “Keep reading. Keep exploring new authors. And thank you!”

Siren is available today! You can pick it up here.

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