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James Melzer

James Melzer

What first attracted you to horror writing?

When I was a kid I read The Exorcist, Swan Song, and ‘Salem’s Lot fairly close together; those three books were what did it for me. I loved the subtly of The Exorcist – the way Blatty used his words to paint a mental portrait that scared the hell out of me. Swan Song was an epic horror story about good and evil done on such a grand scale that I got lost in it for weeks, and ‘Salem’s Lot (whilst not as epic as Swan Song) also had the same effect. I thought to myself, “Man, I’d love to be able to do that one day.” So far, I haven’t even come close.

What is your most notable work?

I’d have to say Escape. I started podcasting that novel for free online in September 2008, and two months later I had a three-book deal with Permuted Press. In June 2010, the novel got picked up by Simon & Schuster and it will now be coming out late 2011. The free podcast has had close to 2 million downloads so far, and people still call me “the zombie guy” even though I’ve only written one zombie book to date. It’s what I’m known for.

Hulls Landing by James MelzerWhat are you working on now?

I just released a supernatural thriller novella called Hull’s Landing, and now I’m at work on another novel for Permuted Press that is tentatively titled Teenage Wasteland. It’s the company’s first young adult zombie novel, and it’s a project I’m really excited about working on.

Who do you admire in the horror world?

Well, there’s Stephen King, of course. I’ve seen the man speak twice in person and he never ceases to amaze me. Robert McCammon is another one of my favourites, along with Clive Barker, Jonathan Maberry, Brian Keene, and David Moody. I’ll leave it at that since these things always make me feel like I’m giving a speech and I know that I’m sure to leave someone out. I probably already have so if that’s you…sorry!

Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?

I prefer whatever suits the story I’m reading. I remember the first time I picked up Jack Ketchum’s Off Season. That book made me want to vomit on so many levels, and I loved it. Few novels have been able to do that. The gore suited the story, and it couldn’t have been done any other way. At the same time, you read a book like Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, and if the gore factor had have been higher, it wouldn’t have worked. It was meant to scare you on a deeper level. I loved both books equally, but for different reasons. So I guess the short answer is, “Whatever I’m in the mood for.”

Why should people read your work?

Well, right now the only thing available for people to read is Hull’s Landing and a few short stories I’ve published online. I think Hull’s is one of the best things I’ve ever written, so that’s a good incentive for folks to check it out. It’s got gore, mystery, and suspense. Most of all I’m proud of the language I used to put that novella together. I’m not speaking about the swear words (though there are a fair share of them), but the words I used to paint the reader a picture of a small town with secrets. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on that one, and I think folks new to my work should check it out. Plus I’ve been told by one person that it gave them nightmares, and by another that they couldn’t get past the first chapter. Two of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received as a writer.

Recommend a book.

I’ve already mentioned several in this interview that I feel everyone should check out, but more recently I’ve really enjoyed Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines, and Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. Fantastic reads.

James Melzer

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