James Everington mainly writes dark, supernatural fiction, although he occasionally takes a break and writes dark, non-supernatural fiction. His second collection of such tales, Falling Over, is out now from Infinity Plus. He has a black cat and cream carpets, which shows how much thought he puts into those parts of his life that aren’t book-related.You can find out what James is currently up to at his Scattershot Writing site.
Oh and he drinks Guinness, if anyone’s asking.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
I think I was attracted to writing before I was specifically attracted to horror writing; I read widely, not just horror but literary stuff, science fiction, philosophy books, poetry… When I first started writing as a student I tried to write lots of different things and most of them were crap obviously. There’s definitely some poetry from my student days and a kind of Martin Amis type novel that’s bloody dreadful. If I die, burn my papers.
That said, the very first story I can actually remember finishing was about a man being buried alive in a crypt with a vampire (equally bloody dreadful) so the horror was always there. Ramsey Campbell’s stories were a huge influence, and there was never a period where I didn’t write horror. In my mid-twenties I realised it was all I could write. Thank goodness I did realise eventually, otherwise who knows what crap I’d still be churning out.
What is your most notable work?
Hopefully it’s my most recent collection of short stories, Falling Over, which was published by Infinity Plus. Its certainly got some of the stories I’m most pleased with in, and I normally hate my own stories. (As I said, if I die burn my papers.) There’s ghosts and doppelgangers and Kafka-esque tabloid newspapers and all sorts of weirdness in there.
It’s got some pretty decent reviews too, each of which has left a massive smile on my face once the initial shock has worn off. I’m still amazed by a good review, and mildly bemused by the fact that no one seems to spot all the repugnant flaws that I see when I read my stuff after publication.
What are you working on now?
Typically, lots of things all at once. There’s a novella called Other People’s Ghosts which is proving a sod to get the right structure for, but I’m sure I’ll get there in the end. It’s my take on the poltergeist story, and specifically the idea that poltergeists aren’t really external spirits but the manifestations of a troubled person’s inner turmoil.
I’m also putting the final touches to a couple of longish short stories, one of which (‘Once And Ever After’) is something of a departure; it’s a modern day fairytale basically, but still pretty dark.
And, tentatively, I’m starting to think about a third collection of short stories as well – working out which ones I have available would fit together thematically and trying out some hypothetical running orders… I always spend ages working out orders, it’s like making a mix-tape back in the day. Sadly, I quite enjoy it.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
There’s a shed-load of people I could mention obviously, but for being consistently brilliance it has to be Ramsey Campbell. He writes like no one else despite the scores of wannabes who claim him as an influence (me included) and he’s been doing so from the early stories in Demons By Daylight all the way up to his recent novels and collections. I read awhile ago that at certain points in his career Campbell has had to support himself with part-time jobs – it’s a travesty, we should be erecting statues of Campbell in every town and throwing gold at this feet to encourage him to write more masterpieces, not making him slum it with the rest of us.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I like the psychological stuff, the stories that are infused with the sense that something in the world is askew… The vague doubt that the person with that face yesterday isn’t the same person today, that the world is only as it is when you are looking and something more sinister when you aren’t. The feeling that something was just behind you even though it’s not there when you turn around.
I don’t mind gore, if used effectively, but I certainly don’t think ever-escalating gore should be the point of a story. I just find it a bit dull, after awhile; diminishing returns and all that. Some people skip over descriptions of landscapes and scenery in books – unless there’s something special about it, I skip over the violent entrails-pulling and innards-eating scenes.
Why should people read your work?
Because I know where you live, what you did last summer, and what you see when you turn out the light.
Recommend a book.
So many I could mention here, so I’ll just pick the book that most recently blew me away – Alan Ryker’s Dream Of The Serpent which is published by Darkfuse. Its an extraordinarily accomplished what’s-real-what-isn’t headfuck of a novel, with a clever structure, some truly memorable scenes, and an emotional wallop of an ending. C’mon This Is Horror – you need to review this bad boy.
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