Jonathan Wood is an English horror author and ex UK lawyer who resides in Sweden. His dark fantasy and horror tales have been published a number of times in print and digital formats. An avid horror fan, he is also a frequent blogger on the subject and likes to dabble in photography in his spare time. This Is Horror met with Jonathan to talk about what drew him to the dark side.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
I guess my earliest memories of being attracted to the horror genre began when I saw old James Herbert paperbacks on my Dad’s bookshelves and I often stole them to read when he wasn’t looking. I was around 12 at the time and he wouldn’t have let me take them had I asked! Having enjoyed creative writing at school as a kid, I realised that the horror genre was my passion when I started reading it and watching horror movies on TV. I moved on to Stephen King, Clive Barker and many others from there. The horror genre just feels organic for me to read and write about.
What is your most notable work?
I think it’s always tricky to evaluate your own work, but based purely upon feedback, I would say it is my short story ‘Pretend Girlfriend’, which appeared in an anthology titled Soul Survivors, a few years back. I attempted a more psychological take on the zombie theme with very little gore or violence and made it more character driven. I also recently completed a short story titled ‘Harlequin’ which is probably the darkest piece of fiction I have written so far. ‘Harlequin’ was a difficult write as it was a first person narrative told from the perspective of a character who’s sanity is literally unravelling before the reader’s eyes.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently putting together a selection of short stories and flash fiction for a book titled Urban Chiller, which includes re-edited and previously cut material. I am also working on my debut novel, a supernatural horror thriller based on Ouiga.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
Oh, there’s so many writers I aspire to, however at the moment I would say the stand out guys are Adam Nevill, Gary McMahon and John Ajvide Lindqvist. All incredibly talented authors and great storytellers. Each of these authors bring to the table different qualities in the craft of their storytelling, but all qualities I look for in a great horror story.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
Most definitely psychological chills. I feel often that what you don’t say in a story can be just as powerful, if not more disturbing, than what you do say and an over-use of gore and violence just becomes gratuitous and bland. My own work often relies upon the psychological build up of tension and a slow burner technique which I feel gives scenes of violence and gore more punch when they do occur.
Why should people read your work?
Again, a difficult one to answer as it’s purely a matter of taste, but if you like your horror dark, psychological, atmospheric and creepy, my work may be something you’d like to try. I like to explore traditional horror themes with urban settings and often my tales contain twists.
Recommend a book.
There are so many but forced to choose, I would say The Ritual by Adam Nevill. This novel has all the elements in abundance that you need to create a great horror story. Solid investment in characterisation, a terrifyingly realistic setting from an author who did his research properly with pace and plot all right on the money.
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