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 passed the halfway point! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!
eSpec Books interviews Jonathan Lees, 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?
JL: Power Out, Wind Howling takes place in multiple points of time in the life of Anderson Mathis, an heir to extreme wealth and privilege, as he confronts something dredged up from his family’s legacy of greed and malice. I wanted to mix in a little of the creaky, haunted imagery I grew up loving into a very modern story.
eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?
JL: I do believe there is something watching me from the darkest corners of my room. I only sleep facing the bedroom door. When I flip to the other side I begin to hear things or sense something behind me. Are these ghosts or a psychological problem?
I’m the type to shout at the screen during horror films when characters make the worst decisions and then quickly realize I would be that kind of character.
eSB: Have you ever incorporated aspects of your own experiences in your fiction? Tell us about it.
JL: Always. Whatever my current obsessions are I tend to weave into a semi-personal narrative from something I’m working out myself or through observations of others. Basically, ranting through fiction.
eSB: What haunts you as an author?
JL: Not being around long enough to finally put to paper some ideas that have been terrorizing me for forever. I gotta prioritize. No excuses.
eSB: What drew you to appreciate the horror genre? What inspired you to write in it?
JL: It might have been the bright orange Crestwood House books on movie monsters that I refused to give back to my elementary school library or the hours spent watching Creature Double Feature on Channel 56, but my appreciation deepened in the tales of the author, John Bellairs. I felt a kinship to him, not only because he lived only a couple towns over from me, but also in the way he explores the curiosity of children. He maximizes the energy and precociousness in his young characters while escalating the tense, surprisingly scary, scenarios in what is considered a middle-grade read. I think he exceeded what was expected for that age group and probably scarred a couple kids along the way. Didn’t hurt that the books were illustrated by the incomparable Edward Gorey.
eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?
JL: I have been so lucky to stumble upon some of the greatest group of people I’ve ever met at conventions like StokerCon, organizations like HWA, reading series like Matt Kressel and Ellen Datlow’s Fantastic Fiction at the KBG in New York. No matter where you are on Earth there is always someone you can connect with.
Give your stories to people in the genre but more importantly give it to people who aren’t. They sometimes give you the best advice.
eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?
JL: Oh man. Easy. FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED. It’s worth the agony to push through something and a great way to learn your strengths in a first draft. It’s always going to transform. Embrace the edit. Challenge yourself. Make yourself uncomfortable. But if it’s really not working out, toss that sh*t aside and keep it moving. We don’t have enough time here.
eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?
JL: I’m so excited to see some of my work unleashed in anthologies such as Other Terrors (ed. Rena Mason, Vince Lugiano), Chiral Mad (ed. Michael Bailey), The Horrible Book of Hidden Horrors (ed. Doug Murano) and Even In The Grave! I’m always proud to be part of a book that is created by people who care deeply for the genre.
In addition to over a decade of creating strategies and video series for outlets ranging from Complex Media to TIDAL, Jonathan Lees has also spent twenty years championing filmmakers through his programming work with the New York Underground Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, TromaDance, and now, Final Frame hosted by StokerCon.
His first published story, The Ritual Remains, debuted in the NECON anthology, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and he is looking forward to ruining your dreams for years to come.
Follow Jonathan Lees on social media:
Twitter * Facebook * Instagram