John McCuaig is a forty-something engineer, born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland but now living in London, England. He has four novels published along with over twenty short stories, all within the horror genre. His stories cover everything from werewolves to vampires, sea monsters to zombies and everything in between. Details of his past, present and future work can be found at the John McCuaig website.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
I was an avid reader, probably getting through a dozen horror books a year until I thought I would write one of my own. It was not like I was thinking I could do something better than others – I just wanted to join in with the fun. As I was writing I started posting chapters of my zombie novel The Church online. Before I knew it I had written the novel – it was published back in 2010.
Unfortunately I don’t read as much as I used to, there just doesn’t seem to be the time anymore. I need to get back into that rhythm.
I’m most proud of Meta-Horde, a collaboration with Sean Page which has recently been released from Severed Press. This took 18 months to complete and has been a very rewarding experience which hopefully shows in the finished product. Doing such a novel with someone else may not be for everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would gladly do it again.
The horror world is awash with zombie novels at the moment but Sean and I believe we have brought something a little different to the table. We see it as an old fashioned ‘ripping yarn’ in some ways as the action spreads all over Europe but the threat from the undead has now notched up a level or two. The sales are going fine and the reviews are starting to flow, and thankfully most seem to be positive.
What are you working on now?
Firstly I’m doing a follow up to my supernatural novel, Fallen Angel, published by Post Mortem Press. Hopefully this will be an ongoing series – the working title of the next one is Rise of the Valkyrie. Book 2 is about half done with book 3 in the outline stage.
I also need to write a follow-up to my Severed Press novel, Escape from Dead City, and there are a couple of short stories I would like to get done as well.
Also to my own surprise I’m starting on a children’s book! I’ve got a 4 year old granddaughter called Kaitlin and would love to write something for her. Apart from horror I’ve dabbled a little bit in sci-fi and thrillers but I never thought I would do something for kids. It’s only some rough ideas and a bit of an outline at the moment with the title The Butterfly Princess. I doubt it will ever see print but as long as she enjoys it that’s all that really matters.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
It has to be the part-time writers, the guys and girls who work full-time jobs and try and find some spare time to write. Deep down they know they will probably never get rich and famous but just the love of the genre, the joy of seeing their name in print and the knowledge that even just a few people will read, and hopefully enjoy their work keeps them at it.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I think that on the whole the threat of something bad happening can be more powerful than the actual act. I have written a lot of zombie stories and even there I keep the gore to a minimum, although that can also lead to some complaints!
My stories may have the soldiers or police in there but it’s the ordinary person and how they cope with adversity that really interests me.
Also I like strong female characters, far too many times it seems they are in stories just for someone to cry or as a romantic interest. I believe women can be, and usually are, mentally stronger than men, especially when it comes to protecting their own.
I’d imagine this is down to the strong women in my life – my mum, three older sisters, my partner and step-daughter.
Recommend a book.
Well it has to be a zombie book I’m afraid and this is a bit of a strange one that has not received a lot of critical acclaim. Tomes of the Dead: The Words of their Roaring by Matthew Smith is something I never thought I would like, it has talking zombies who sort of carry on with a ‘normal life’. A friend talked me into reading it and I loved it, it really hit the spot and is one of the few books that I have read multiple times. If you fancy something different in the zombie genre you should give it a go.
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