Ever since I was four or five years old, I’ve loved ‘things that go bump in the night’. I’ve said in other interviews, and I’ll say it again: I’m sure it was my Dad’s fault, as he was the one who thought it was a good idea to take a four-year-old to see The Incredible Melting Man. I was hooked, from that point, no turning back! My Mom says as far back as when I first learned to read and write I was always making up little horror stories, often with drawings to go along with those stories.
What is your most notable work?
Midnight Rain seems to be the one that my readers love the most. It’s not really a horror novel at all, but a coming-of-age thriller about a boy who witnesses a murder in the woods bordering his hometown. I’m still very proud of Midnight Rain, even though it was my first novel so of course I would hope I’ve gotten better since then.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently finishing up a novel called Ugly As Sin. I’ve had so much fun with this one, and I think there’s a good chance it might turn into a series using the same recurring character. It’s another story that’s not quite horror — I’m calling it ‘white trash noir’ — but there are definitely some dark things going on.
Ugly As Sin is the story of a former pro wrestler whose face is horribly disfigured after he’s kidnapped and tortured by two psychotic fans who think his lifelong heel character is real. And that’s just in the first ten pages! Two years later, after Nick ‘The Widowmaker’ Bullman has (somewhat) recuperated from his ordeal, he is called back to his hometown by a daughter he barely knows – she’s crying, has a big problem, and feels that only Nick can help her…
Who do you admire in the horror world?
I think I admire most those writers who have transcended the genre, perhaps they’re not even writing horror much anymore if at all, but their die-hard fans couldn’t care less because they can appreciate a great storyteller. I’m thinking of a few of my favourite authors like Robert McCammon and Joe Lansdale, guys who started off as horror writers, but these days aren’t really that at all. It doesn’t matter, though, to those of us who love their work, because they’ve hooked us through the years with their inimitable style and voice, never let us down, so we’ll follow them wherever they go. Their work will always be dark, of course – I don’t think they could shake that if they tried – but it’s not really horror anymore. At least, it doesn’t say that on the spine. I think that’s pretty darn cool.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
Definitely psychological chills. That’s not to say that I don’t get a kick out of buckets of blood flyin’ around now and then — heck, movies like The Evil Dead, Re-Animator, Hellraiser, and Return of the Living Dead are some of my favourites – but gore isn’t scary. Just fun. It evokes that ‘ewwww’ reaction, but it doesn’t give you goosebumps like scary will. As far as books are concerned, I’m really not a fan of the extreme stuff at all. I usually just shake my head, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. The only exception would be Edward Lee; I’ve been a fan of his work for many years, but Lee’s got the talent to back up all demon copulation and innards flying around. In the interest of full disclosure, I did write one story that would apply, a novella called Night of the Loving Dead (which, I should mention, just saw its first release recently in e-book format), but it was a one-time thing for kicks. I had a blast with it, but it’s not the kind of story I’ll ever write again (I blame it on peer-pressure from my co-writer James Futch).
Why should people read your work?
I think folks who take a chance on my work will discover a storyteller with a simple, unassuming style, a style that flows smoothly and without pretension – almost like I’m just sitting there in the room with you relating something that happened to someone I know. That’s the kind of story I like to read, so naturally it’s the way I like to write. At least, I hope that’s what folks get when they pick up a James Newman novel or story collection.
I’d like to urge folks to check out my latest novel Animosity which was just published by Necessary Evil Press. I think your readers will really like this one. Animosity is the story of a bestselling horror writer whose neighbours start turning against him after he discovers the body of a murdered child not far from where he lives. I’ve said on more than one occasion that this novel is my love letter to the horror genre, and to the often thankless job of being a horror writer. I think it says a lot about how normal people view those of us who love this stuff. It also takes a disturbing look at the things our friends and neighbours are capable of when they allow themselves to be influenced by rumours, gossip, and misinformation. It’s my suburban take on I Am Legend and Night of the Living Dead, but without the undead.