These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign has launched! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!

eSpec Books interviews John P. Collins, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.

eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you came up with the idea?

JC: Old Spirits and Fine Tobacco is a story of three friends who have their own little secrets that they keep from the world and each other. Private secrets which sometimes can affect others. The idea came from little monthly get-togethers that I would be a part of. Most of the time, we would meet at one particular friend’s house that I had always thought would be the perfect setting for a ghost story.

eSB: What was the greatest challenge you had coming up with an idea that would stand out among the other submissions?

JC: To be honest, I wrote this story months before I became aware of the collection. This story sits a little closer to the heart for me because those gatherings meant so much to me so that when it came time to write it, I wanted the characters to be as real as possible. There was an effort on my part to be a little more restrained than I normally am. A little more suggestive rather than graphic. As much as I love set pieces, I wanted to drive this with dialogue and mood.

eSB: Is your story a part of a greater universe stemming from other stories you have written, or does it stand alone? Whichever your answer, can you tell us about what makes that universe unique?

JC: I think everything I write could exist with each other in one large shared universe. I look at my stories a lot like living on Long Island, life is very different living here than living in Manhattan but there are only a few miles separating them. The things that happen in one story happen in the same world as another story and have zero effect on each other.

eSB: Do you foresee writing more stories with this character or in this world? Whichever your answer, why?

JC: No, but you never know what the future holds. Something may pop up where I come back here.

eSB: Okay, first off the top of your head, who is your favorite ghost and why?

JC: In fiction, Mark from Peter Straub’s Lost Boy, Lost Girl just broke my heart. In Film, Blake and his crew from John Carpenter’s The Fog never fails to give at least one chill per viewing.

eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?

JC: Yes, I do. I’ve seen a few things over the years that have cemented my belief in ghosts. The story that always gets to me was being in an empty house and hearing a child’s laugh and footsteps come from a room I had just left.

eSB: Have you ever incorporated aspects of your own experiences in your fiction? Tell us about it.

JC: My fears and passions are important to me and sometimes they dictate my actions so I would be foolish to not think they have not been included in my writing.

eSB: What haunts you as an author?

JC: Time. The clock is the great enemy for me. It’s always a balancing act. Between working a full-time job and being a husband and father can be tough enough. Add writing into the mix and it’s an insane juggling act, but I’m managing so far. On the actual craft of writing, my dialogue is still something I struggle with.

eSB: What drew you to appreciate the horror genre? What inspired you to write in it?

JC: Horror was the thing that attracted me. I had always felt like the outsider, the expendable friend, so when it came to the monsters, I had always felt a kinship to them, I rooted for them, they were my friends. I was obsessed with the image of Lon Chaney as the Phantom. I was raised by that blueish glow that came from the twelve-inch black-and-white television because I would stay up late to watch Creature from Black Lake… again. I was that kid who carried an  issue of Fangoria with him in his backpack. I was blessed to grow up with a mother and two grandmothers who encouraged me to read. They never forebode anything from me so I read a lot. The first story to really hit me was Your’s Truly, Jack the Ripper by Robert Bloch. It was such a stunning story and from there the floodgates opened. I was always a story teller, I just waited several decades to start writing.

eSB: Other than horror, what genres do you write in? Tell us something about your other works and what makes those genres different from writing horror.

JC: There’s other genres? I’m trying my hand in something that could be considered a thriller but I think there is a very thin line between the two. Read Andrew Vachss, that stuff is as horrifying as it gets.

eSB: What is your least favorite aspect of being an author, and why?

JC: In fighting, especially social media in fighting. Horror has a hard enough time being respected, it certainly doesn’t need creators fighting amongst each other.

eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?

JC: I’m extremely lucky to have met and struck up friendships with other writers that I can bounce ideas off of, talk about writing in general, and just have good conversations with. I find that most of the people I have met in the genre want you to grow and succeed with your writing because they are fans too. That’s how we all started, by being a fan. I have met some truly wonderful, gifted, and nice people in the genre

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?

JC: Just keep writing. Read a lot, write a lot. And just as important: Be cool.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

JC: I just finished the first draft of a novella that I have been working on. It’s going to go in a drawer for about two months and then I’ll pull it out to go over. In the meantime, I’ll be working on a few short stories that are begging for release.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

JC: I’m sure there are some cave drawings around that might answer a few things. Or look me up on Facebook or Instagram where I try to be amusing. Twitter is kind of a lost cause for me but I’m there as well.


John Collins has been telling stories since he was a child, he loves the feeling of uncomfortable creepiness that comes from dark basements and staring at abandoned houses. When not watching horror films or reading 80’s splatterpunk, he’s haunting used books stores.

Follow John P. Collins on social media:

Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Instagram

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