TIH 463: Tyler Jones on Criterium, Burn The Plans, and Portraying Addiction

TIH 463: Tyler Jones on Criterium, Burn The Plans, and Portraying Addiction

In this podcast, Tyler Jones talks about Criterium, Burn The Plans, portraying addiction, and much more. 

About Tyler Jones

Tyler Jones is the author of CriteriumThe Dark Side of the RoomAlmost Ruth, and Burn the Plans.

Show notes

Click the timestamps to jump straight to the audio.

Thanks for Listening!

Help out the show:

Let us know how you enjoyed this episode:


Podcast Sponsors

Horror on Main

A brand new horror convention coming soon. Guests include Tim Lebbon, Sarah Pinborough, Jeff Strand, and Jessica McHugh.

It Was All A Dream: An Anthology of Bad Horror Tropes Done Right

It Was All A Dream: An Anthology of Bad Horror Tropes Done Right, available October 18th anywhere you buy books online. Pre-order now!
Use code THISISHORROR for 20% off through the month of October when you order direct from hungryshadowpress.com.

Michael David Wilson 0:07

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat we're masters of horror, about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Today's guest is Tyler Jones, the author of criterium the dark side of the room, almost Ruth, and burn the plans. And this is the third and final part of our conversation. But as with all ladies, you can listen in any order. And in this episode, we talk a little bit about portraying addiction realistically, some of the life lessons that Tyler learned working in health care. We get into burn the plans a little bit, but I certainly want to get Tyler back on the show to talk about it in more depth. And we talk about that dichotomy as to whether to plot or two pans. But before any of that, a little bit of an advert break.

Sarah Pinborough 1:46

Hello, hello. Hello, this is Sarah Mara, very much looking forward to being at Hora on May I fully expect to see you all that I want to see every single one of you there. Thank you very much for excited by

Advertisement 2:00

horror on Main, a new weekend convention for the horror community. We explore all the shadows within horror entertainment, including writers and actors but also artists, publishers, directors and composers. We've been going to conventions for over 20 years and are changing up the little things to make the big picture amazing. Join us Memorial Day weekend 2023 in Hunt Valley, Maryland, come to the block party and meet the neighbors see horror on main.com for details.

Bob Pastorella 2:32

Tried and True or done the debt it was all a dream and anthology of bad horror tropes done right revives even the most exhausted cliches with stories from some of horrors biggest names like Chima files convenio glaces and Haley Piper it was all a dream and anthology of bad horror tropes done right available October 18. Anywhere you buy books online preorder now use his code This Is Horror for 20% Off to the month of October when you order direct from Hungary shadow press.com

Michael David Wilson 3:00

i Okay Well with that said here it is it is Tyler Jones on dare says hora. And when you made that decision to put criterium out, I wonder what commercial ascetic and artistic concerns did you have?

Tyler Jones 3:22

Then you're asking good questions. Okay.

Michael David Wilson 3:26

I'm trying.

Tyler Jones 3:29

It's almost like you do this a lot.

Bob Pastorella 3:30

I know. So naturally, yeah.

Tyler Jones 3:35

It is. It truly is a great question. Okay, it was with criterium first book that I'm putting out. So yeah, there was a certain certain way that I wanted it to be to read to be seen all of it, including debt right down to the art, which was done by the wizard David Mack. It sounds good, well known. Yeah, he's phenomenal. And I'm so so eternally grateful that he would agreed to do that because it just captured that book perfectly like that artwork in that story to me just go hand in hand. But I wanted it to have some depth of some substance but I wanted it to be fun and one of my all time favorite writers is Joe Hill. And I think that that's something he does really well he he puts the pedal to the metal and tells a really good story. And so I wanted it to have that sort of feel like and I wanted it to feel like it from from page one that I don't know how to say this like you're in good hands, especially when you're it's the first publication you're putting out like you're hoping that people when they open the book that it doesn't feel like like something half assed I want to I wanted it to feel like some some love and some care went into this package into this book into this Story, the whole thing. I hope it looks nice on your shelf. And I hope that you enjoy what's on the inside. I really did. Think about that. And then at the end of the day, I just thought, you know what I told the best story that I could in the best way that way that I could. And now it's time to just put it out in hope that it finds the right readers. Yeah. But I wanted to have some energy. You know, like, here's, here's me, here's what I do. If you liked this book, maybe you'll like the next one, too.

Michael David Wilson 5:31

Yeah. Yeah. And was this one of the stories that you weren't shocked in your group with CAC?

Tyler Jones 5:41

Yeah, it was actually it was. It was originally a short story. And it felt like too long of a short story. And also not long enough. So in workshop, I would only ever bring in short stories just because it gets a little too the the feedback you get from your fellow writers becomes a little less useful when you're bringing in chapters of something, you know, like you bring in a chapter. And a couple of weeks go by, and they're trying to remember what happened in the last chapter and scenes and objects and characters and all that stuff and tension that you're trying to build. It just it kind of all falls apart, at least for me if you're bringing in the novel. So I only brought in short stories. And it was originally a short story, but it was kind of long, like I think it was approaching like 10,000 words, which is a bit long for a short story, you know, but it also didn't have enough room to breathe. And that one? Yeah, I just felt like it needed, it needed to be told in a larger space. So I took some of the feedback that I received and incorporated that and then expanded the story into three times three or four times its length.

Michael David Wilson 7:07

And I mean, one of the themes, of course, is addiction. So I wonder, what did you draw upon whether real life experience or other art forms to portray that in as realistic light as possible? Which I mean, you've succeeded masterful, masterfully.

Tyler Jones 7:28

Thank you. Yeah, you know, it was it was to twofold two things. I, number one, I work in health care, which I see all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, and it gave me an awareness of addiction in a pharmaceutical sense. And we're at an interesting point in our history, as a, as a culture in which we are moving from overdose deaths and addiction problems moving from street drugs to pharmaceuticals. And we've kind of reached to this peak, where you see, you know, the overdose death numbers that came out recently, within the last couple months were like primarily fentanyl, which is a prescription medication. So we're moving beyond this, like heroin and cocaine, and even meth to an extent into pharmaceutical medications being sold on the streets and causing significant death. So anyway, long story short, I saw this happen in a number of patients who became addicted to pain meds, unintentionally, meaning they had some an injury that caused them pain. And sometimes they'd have to wait six weeks or so for before a surgery. And then in the meantime, they'd be taking these pain meds, and they'd never go out on the street and try to score heroin, you know. But they're given heroin in the pill by their doctor. Same stuff, you know, and then they realize like, it awakens something in them. I like this. I don't hurt so much, not just physically but like, emotionally, spiritually, I'm not as in as much pain and the addiction persisted even beyond the surgery. And I saw this happen with a number of people that got me really thinking about that deeply. And then the other part of it was just being a dad, and looking at my kids and worrying like we were talking about being honest with ourselves and doing soul searching and looking at my own flaws, and wondering which parts of me end up in my kids? It is it is Is it hereditary? Is it passed on through genetics? Or is it behavior? Like, if they see me get frustrated at every little thing? Do they end up becoming frustrated at every little thing? Like, what is it? In my life and in my behavior, and how I act that influences who they will become? And what flaws they'll have? And then you just naturally started thinking about them, what would it be like if you grew up in a home where your dad's addicted to pain meds, or addicted to drugs in general, just addiction in general. And that kind of took off from there and became the story that it did. And you guys know how it goes, when you're writing a story. There's certain elements that you put there intentionally, and then they sort of grow threads and connect, and subconsciously, you're telling a story, that it's almost like it was just there. And you're simply writing it down?

Michael David Wilson 11:03

Yeah. I mean, sometimes it does just feel like we're almost excavating certain length, you say they're found the story is there waiting to be found by us that sound job? We're a kind of literary archaeologist?

Tyler Jones 11:18

Yeah, yeah. And I and I wanted to make sure, like, as I was talking about my, my working in healthcare, like I didn't, when you're working with patients, like there is no judgment. You know, I, I'm always curious about people and how they end up where they end up. But it's like I'm, I'm there to take care of a patient, I'm not there to, to counsel anybody. So therefore, I end up having an enormous amount of compassion for these people that I meet in the situations they find themselves in, whether it's because of their own decisions, or whether it's because of something else. But I wanted to make sure that that was a part of it, that we're not talking about, like you drug addicts on the street, you know, we're just talking about humans who have a problem, we all have them. This just happens to be this particular problem that we're addressing in this story, but there, it was really important to me that I'm talking about people struggling, not not going. Yeah, I didn't want to make it just a thing that's happening to someone else. You know, the guy with a cardboard sign that you pass on the freeway, asking for money, you know, where you can just drive by and ignore it. Now, this is people, these are people that we know, and I'm sure that many of us know addicts, and we probably know addicts without even knowing that we do.

Michael David Wilson 12:48

Yeah, yeah. And I mean, of course, towards the start of the conversation, I asked you about life lessons growing up, but I'm wondering, what life lessons have you gleaned specifically from working in health care?

Tyler Jones 13:06

Oh, man, healthcare is such a strange environment. And it's populated by a bunch of strange people. I was at no joke. I was actually thinking about this the other day, I was at work on Friday. And I just witnessed some just crazy circumstances and a lot of death and violence within the hospital. And I thought, man, it's what it what a strange thing for, like the human mind to, and I'm sure there are other vocations like that, as well, where you find your your brain, like almost reprogramming itself to, to deal with and cope with the insane amounts of sadness that you see. Man, I think I've gained a greater understanding of, I have just a lot of compassion for people in the situations that they find themselves in. I think one lesson in particular, maybe maybe the most important is, and I was actually talking about this the other day with my youngest son that we can have a tendency to react in exaggerated ways to things that are not very important. Whether it's traffic, or not getting the parking spot close enough to the grocery store, or someone said this to me and just making a really big deal about it, and how it can affect our mood and our countenance and how we treat other people. And then I go into the hospital, and like I'll go to the oncology Ward, and I will meet people with terminal cancer like they are not going to be alive. for much longer, and some of them are young, like, you know, 40s. And I see how they treat people, the smile on their face the way that they are completely accepting of their fate and determined to go with dignity and grace. And they're in an enormous amount of pain, and yet they're still treating everybody with respect. Like, what's my excuse? And again, I don't mean it to sound cliche, like, oh, somebody else has it worse. But there is truth to that. And I think that that's just perspective. But I get to see it in a very real life way, like I'm holding the hand of somebody who's going to die. And there's no question about it, they do in a couple of months. And I'm seeing how they are processing life, and how they are living right then in that moment in enormous amounts of pain. And it's really, really over the years. I mean, I've been in healthcare for 20 years. It's influenced how I view my own problems, my own struggles. There is a way to, to handle this with grace and courage and dignity, and kindness. I don't need to take anything out on anyone. So that perspective is really invaluable. I think. Now, I'm lucky to have it. I'm lucky to work in an environment where I do get that.

Michael David Wilson 16:34

Yeah, yeah. Do you think your mother working in healthcare was something that kind of pulled you towards a career in health care?

Tyler Jones 16:45

Possibly, probably, but in ways that I don't fully recognize but yeah, for sure. I mean, when I was when she worked in health care. Yeah, I would, I would visit her at the hospital have lunch with her. So it was always a familiar environment. So it seems natural to follow into that. Yeah, absolutely. And she's a incredibly compassionate woman who just has devoted her life to helping people. So yeah, if I dug into it enough, unsure that that's the the reason, I'm sure. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 17:22

Is that the vocation you've always had? Or was that something in between school and then healthcare?

Tyler Jones 17:31

Oh, yeah. I mean, I've worked all kinds of odd jobs, concrete work, landscaping, I worked at a nursery, radio DJ for a little while. All kinds of stuff. Handy. Handyman painter, but primarily healthcare. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 17:48

Yeah. Even in terms of the writing, would you like to move towards doing that full time? If you could? Or would you want to kind of have a part time writing part time in another industry? Because I mean, there's pros and cons to, to everything. And I think the biggest con about writing full time is if you're not careful, if you don't, if you're not intentional, then it can be that isolation.

Tyler Jones 18:21

Yeah. Yeah, that's a good point. In fact, you know, recently, I actually cut back my hours a little bit at the hospital in order to write more, I have several projects that are on deadlines that I have to work on, and I just didn't have enough time in. So I made the decision with the, with the supportive of my wife and my family, just to step back a little bit, and focus on writing more, give myself the time to work on the things I need to work on, but also continue to work. And I think that that's important, I it is nice to be able to step into a work environment and it's important to I think, keep a foot in real life, you know? Because otherwise everything is just invention. And I think you can I think it's it has the potential to cause you to lose touch with with reality in terms of how people live and behave and just the real emotions of people and in the hospital, like you are surrounded by nothing but emotions.

Michael David Wilson 19:33

Yeah, yeah, we're lending shark has it right when you need to immerse himself in that kind of thing he'll write in emergency rooms. I mean, maybe people who work in emergency rooms would argue that prepared he didn't, but it was just, you know, immersing yourself in real life in conflict to a point in real stapes because yeah, if you're just In your room, if you're effectively in solitary will, like the science, just the imagination, and the imagination is important, but it will only take you so far.

Tyler Jones 20:12

Right? Yeah. You know, I think a really perfect example of that. Our politicians, right, everybody agrees politicians are out of touch with the people they represent. How does that happen? You remove yourself from those people, and you rarely if ever interact with them. So their concerns, their hopes, their fears, all of that is some really distant bell that you can't even hear anymore. And I think the same could be true of writing that if you're too distant from reality, and they're the real struggles, not like you're above it, but you know what I mean? They interacting with it in a very tangible way. Be outside your own home. I mean, we are where, wherever you live, you're you're part of a community, whether you like it or not, and to be aware of what's happening within your community, I think makes you a better human, but also probably a better artist as well. Yeah. Like we were talking about Oasis, you know, in that whole era of Britpop. And then if you really dig into it, all of that, that era of music was was like blue collar, poor kids, with crappy instruments writing songs, to get out of where they were.

Michael David Wilson 21:39

Yeah. Yeah.

Tyler Jones 21:42

There's something really, really valuable and alive about that. It's got some urgency to it.

Michael David Wilson 21:48

Yeah, well, I think the vast majority of good music genres they come out of you poor circumstances or conflict or dissatisfaction?

Tyler Jones 22:06

Yeah, yeah. kicking against something, whether it's internal or external.

Michael David Wilson 22:12

Yeah. It makes sense. Because, you know, if you're just living a kind of really happy life, I you're gonna want to kind of create a revolution as it were. Right? No, is it? It's a difficult one, because, you know, I don't think we should glorify the starving artist. I think some people do. I, I don't think they would if they knew the kind of realities of it. But there is something to be said for, you know, when your backs against the wall creating good art.

Tyler Jones 22:57

Yeah, and not and Yeah, exactly. And not just art for people whose circumstances are all fine and dandy. You know? I think it's been a couple years now. But, you know, the show was made of Joe Hill's novel, Nosferatu. And never I never saw the show. But I love that book. It's one of my favorite books. I tried to read it, like once a year. And when the show came out, Stephen King tweeted something that has stuck with me ever since. He said, some I'm paraphrasing here, but that the show does something that very few shows do anymore. Which is it? How did he put it? It shows you a blue collar family with blue collar problems. Yeah, it does. So with compassion, not looking down on them. And that's something the book did as well. And I love that because that yeah, I don't know. That's just that's, that's my heart. You know, I mean, that's my that's me. That's where I come from. So I like I really reacted and responded to that, like, yes, that's so important is to not just depict people who live in New York, or London. Yeah, wherever, you know, and other rich young artists or whatever, like, tell me about the guy who works at the gas station. Yeah. And then he has to, he encounters some supernatural thing, like Marone I guess, way more interesting.

Bob Pastorella 24:35

I was gonna tell you, you can equate it to music, in a sense that I mean, think about this. Think about every manufactured band that's ever happened. And, you know, you know, the bands I'm talking about? Oh, yes, I do. But they all have one thing in common. They don't play instruments. They don't want any instrument. Okay, that's one and two. They are break up. Pretty much every manufactured band that has ever happened, will do two to three albums, they break up almost like clockwork. So 10 years later, they can have the reunion tour. And so and then bands break up all the time. But new members come in and things like that. And when you have people who can create something from nothing, compared to people who have everything, trying to create something to cash in, you can tell the difference. There's no fucking substance there.

Tyler Jones 25:32

Now, yeah, for sure. Yeah, there's, there's Yeah, it doesn't feel quite real.

Bob Pastorella 25:40

Exactly. There's no authenticity to it. Whereas when you have writers, and you have creators, there's, there's something something to be said, about people who take nothing. And, and create something that can be timeless. I mean, a great examples, the thing I mean, I think, you know, John Carpenter, you know, did like multiple mortgages on his house just to make the movie and didn't make a splash when it hit. But now it's considered, you know, a classic film done literally on a shoestring budget. And, you know, the, the appeal that film now is, is massive. And you see these manufactured bands, I could care less about them. Because there's no substance there.

Tyler Jones 26:33

Right? Yeah, there's no there's no substitute for for substance. A grade.

Michael David Wilson 26:42

Yeah. And I think it's no surprise that you mentioned Nosferatu, because I think there are many parallels and in a way, I could see if you were pairing books together, you might well put criteria. Man. Nosferatu together.

Tyler Jones 27:03

That's very cool. Yeah, that'd be that'd be a cool pairing, huh? Yeah. dinner and dessert.

Michael David Wilson 27:09

Yeah, but I, you know, I kinda like this idea of pairing books together, particularly like a really fucking lung book and a short one. So it is. Yeah, it is dinner. And does that. Actually, yeah, actually what it is,

Tyler Jones 27:25

even the artwork has some similarities. Yeah, the stark white and the reds. Yeah, that's cool. And I'm a big fan of the idea of of certain works, being in conversation with other works as well, like, almost written. You can you can see, as we know, as artists, when you're excited by another artists work and you want to go create your own as a reaction to it, not to like to try and top it, but just in that electricity of of being inspired by what someone else has done. Like, I want to create some intuitive that has that same kind of feel.

Michael David Wilson 28:04

Yeah, yeah.

Tyler Jones 28:07

Yeah, I love rereading books for that very reason. Like, I've got a couple projects that I'm working on. And I've made the stacks of books to read while I'm working on those projects, specifically, because that's the kind of feel that I want to go for. So I see. Like, what I'm working on is in conversation with that. Like saying, Hey, Josh Malerman I love what you did in, in, in Goblin. You know, I want to I'm going to try and do something that's like, totally different. But I love how you told the story. I love the characters. I love these ideas that you're playing with. Now, I want to riff off that,

Michael David Wilson 28:48

huh? Yeah, yeah. And I think in conversation with it's such a great way of putting it in terms of these pairings. Yeah. You know, talking about criteria. I mean, I understand that your predecessor was that one is that you? Can't stare so you weren't sure where it was going any more than Zach was. But then if we contrast this with the dark side of the room, you had the ending before anything else. So, I mean, I'm wondering, I mean, now as things stand, and perhaps having an ad and publishes, it might be a little bit different. But I mean, do you tend to plan do you tend to what we term pants? Is there a kind of amalgamation of the two, or does it purely depend on the project?

Tyler Jones 29:51

Another great question. Yeah. Depends on the project. So yeah, criterium? Totally pants Hey, I wanted to be along for the ride. I never plot anything. As time has gone on, I will make notes to myself occasionally. If I'm being like 100% Honest, I, okay, there's a project, I can't talk about it yet, like in specifics, but I'm working on a book right now. That'll be coming out next year, early next year, and I had to pitch this book. And I had an idea that I was really excited about. And the publisher got really excited about the idea too, and agreed to publish it. And then I freaked out, because I had no clue where it was gonna go. All I had was like this really, very general idea. And the idea was exciting, but the story wasn't there. And that really freaked me out is because there was this deadline, and I didn't have the the scaffolding for it like, okay, there's an I, it's like, it'd be like saying Star Wars. There's an empire and there's a rebellion, it takes place in space. Like, okay, that's a cool idea. What's the story? Yeah, you know, and that's kind of what I pitched was this idea without a story. And so that one I was really freaking out about. And then I just spent some time almost in meditation mode, like just sitting thinking. And I had some, some breakthroughs. Just a couple visuals, really just a couple simple ideas that were enough to say, Okay, now, that's a point I can get to. And then if I can get to that point, then I can move to the next point, like there's going to be story in between these points. So it does depend on the project. Midas, I had no clue where it was going, none at all. I was surprised about the things that occur within that book is anyone. In fact, that book started with a single image of a horse, walking out of a mist, like a fog, of a really, really thick fog. And this horse head comes out of the mist. And someone's watching it walking, waiting to see the who's riding it. And then as the horse fully emerges, this person realizes there is no rider on the horse, but it's saddled. And from there that like I just went, almost Ruth was the same way I had no clue where that was going. The dark side of the room, an image flashed into my head. That turned out to be the ending. And so that book became a sprint to find out how we get to that point, which was also a process of discovery, but unique in the sense that I didn't know where it ended. And not to bore you, but like more and more with a couple projects that I have coming up. I am seeing where they go more now. Yeah, meaning I have a vague idea of the ending, but I'm not fully committed to it. So it's like I have a general idea of the direction we're moving in. But I don't know how we're gonna get there. I don't know what happens along the way. And whether we end up at that original idea, I don't know. But it's given me like it's almost like pedaling a bike. You know, like when you first get on a bike. It's it's hard. It's harder to start the pedals going. And then once you're moving the momentum carries you. Yeah, so it's like, I need something that motivates me to start moving the pedals.

Michael David Wilson 33:50

Yeah. Just don't get on a bike if you find yourself in criterium,

Tyler Jones 33:56

right if it's a bright red bike.

Michael David Wilson 33:59

Yeah, yeah. But I wonder sometimes you see the ending and sometimes you don't? I mean, those times where you don't do you think you feel more fear and dread? As you said you've experienced before? Or do you think typically you feel more excitement because you know, you're gonna get on that bike and the possibilities are endless.

Tyler Jones 34:27

Yeah, I do. I love the excitement of that. I love the discovery process. I love the it makes sitting down to write each day an absolute joy. I love it. Anyway, I absolutely love it. I find so much joy in the actual process because I'm telling myself the story first and foremost, so I'm excited. And then yeah, like with the one I was mentioning, that really scared me part of that is that that story will belong to a publisher. And I want to do right by them. And so there's that pressure as well. Whereas like, say with almost Ruth, which is a novel, I could write that at my own pace. And there was no pressure. And once I was happy with it, I could put it out. So it does feel a little different. And maybe that's just me psyching myself out with this, this new thing that I'm working on. But who knows, like there is that pressure of I want this to be good, not just for me. But for for the publisher, I want to do right by them, I want to give them something that they like in that I'm proud of. Yeah, in the end, and with that, I'm also the, as I write more and more, I want to experiment with different methods as well. Like I at some point, I'd love to really write an outline of sorts and write to it like maybe actually give a whole lot of thought to how the story is going to go before I write it out. And not not not follow it like paint by numbers. But I'm open to trying anything like I just want to continue to improve and write the best that I can. So I want to I don't want to just keep doing what I've always done because it works for me. I want to I want to be a little uncomfortable in the process as well. I do like that pressure on finding. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 36:35

yeah, I think if we're too comfortable, that's perhaps something might be missing. I think the sweet spot is somewhere between absolute discomfort and comfort.

Tyler Jones 36:48

Yeah, I think you're probably right about that.

Bob Pastorella 36:53

I think there's a lot to say about momentum too. To me, that's I mean, I wrote like you do, I don't use an outline. I'll have notes. But it once I get like the story in the angle that I want to go. And there could be quite a few start overs. But once I get there, it's this momentum carries me through. And it's it's it's discovery, it's its creation, it's telling myself the story in such a way that, that it's like you as you do it more and more, you begin to actually set up things that you don't realize that you're going to use later. Oh, yeah. You know, subconscious. It's already there. It's like, oh, fuck, I can use that. Yeah. And that's to me, that is like, Okay, I'm starting to get something here. Because they have people who are like, you know, Joe Lansdale. You know, he could probably write a book about how to write. And but it would probably be the most difficult thing he's ever done, because I think storytelling comes naturally to him. And he knows how to do the peaks and valleys and things like that. And I think he's one of those writers that probably just comes naturally to him, where it's a lot of us have had to learn through trial and error, and things like that, and reading books about writing, like, how do you do this? How do I make what I read what I write equal to what I've read from other people? I think, probably the key to that is that momentum that discovery, and so, and so cool to hear, you know, your process and my process are almost the same. I'm like, Okay, I'm in the right track. Yes, yeah.

Tyler Jones 38:40

Yeah. And there's, there's, like what you were talking about, where you're almost leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for yourself? Mm hmm. And I think there's something really, really important about recognizing that, right? Rather than saying, oh, I need to add this, I need to add that will take a look at what you already have present in the story, and then use that. And sometimes, I mean, we all know as you're writing, you'll come to something and realize, oh, my gosh, I have laid the groundwork for this perfectly. For this next point that I'm going to bring, and I didn't even see it coming. But subconsciously maybe I knew, maybe I knew that it was going in this direction. And it had to, like there's there's a story in my collection burn the plans called Full Fathom Five. And that was originally a much longer story at least twice as long. And I reached out to the publisher, cemetery gates, and said, What do you guys think about releasing this as its own novella, and their response was, cut it in half, put half in the collection in Then, like write a full novella, using that first half of the story. And in that story, which is one of my favorite things that I've ever written. There's the way that that story ends as it is in burn the plans that, at least to my mind, was subconsciously set up to where, when it came, it surprised me and moved me deeply. And I realized I knew it all along. But I didn't, not in a conscious way. Right. And all the breadcrumbs were there, I just had to make sure that they made sense logically within the story. And it was like, it's exciting when that happens, you know, and I, boy, that feeling is something that, you know, it's something that Tom span, Bauer would often say he would often he called him horses. So every book, like he used the example of back in the day, like Oregon, trail days, where you if you wanted to go from the East Coast to the West Coast, you'd take a team of horses, and you use the same horses along the journey. Right, you didn't just constantly switch horses every time you cross state lines. And to him, those horses were the theme of a book. So whatever you start with is what needs to carry the story through. But it also refers to objects and things that occur with it within the story. And so if you started piling too much into your story, he would say, like, Okay, well, where's the paintbrush, because you introduced a paint brush, and it seemed to have significance in chapter one. And now you're talking about other things, but you haven't mentioned the paint brush sense. And so that, really, it's trained me a little bit, I'm still still learning constantly about how to make what I present on the page, have meaning and make sure that it comes back in other ways, and gains gravity with each appearance. So that I'm not constantly like overwhelming the reader with these new things. But when the paintbrush pops up again, they're like, oh, yeah, that paintbrush. That's the paintbrush that the character used to paint the picture of her father, right before he died. And she's hung on to that paintbrush, whatever it is. Mm hmm. Yeah,

Bob Pastorella 42:42

I mean, it has to be it has pier organically. That's that's the thing. It's, I think, I think readers can tell when you when you start playing, you know, planting things. So that's like, you know, to me, it's like, just on the lines of recognizing what you what you've written before, that you that you're subconsciously laying out these little tools that you're going to use later, that's going to change possibly the dynamic in your story, whether it's something that's going to be internal or external. And using what you have, instead of like, going behind went, golly, what do I need to do now is I need to have my characters build a catapult, you know, when you actually don't need to have them do anything, you have the mechanism there. And as you grow, you learn to recognize that, and to me, I think it's cooler when you when you when you recognize it after the fact it's like wait, can I do that? Oh, fuck, they're already there. Okay, cool.

Tyler Jones 43:45

I got it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And analyzing your own work and looking at it and going, Okay, what do I have? What's, what's on the page? And what can I use and what's present and making sure that as you're telling the story, and like you mentioned, the momentum moving forward with it, making sure that you're constantly keeping those things present, whatever it is, whether it's characters, emotional ties, objects, whatever it is, using what you've already put down, because you put it down for a reason it was important. So make sure it retains its importance throughout the story. Which maybe that's the difference between story and plot. I don't know maybe that's probably a question for somebody who's written a lot more books, but I think there is a distinction between story and plot. Plot seems to be like, I don't know if you're going to write a mystery. It seems like a plot would be important because you'd have to know where things are going. Maybe. But with a story like you're just telling the story of something that's happened and it's interesting. Like you mentioned Lansdale Lansdale, you're right is just a natural storyteller. Like I don't care what's happening in his his book, it's still interesting to me. Like there are moments in happen, Leonard where it's just happened, Leonard hanging out. And it's so great. You know, because he's just telling you the story.

Bob Pastorella 45:14

Yeah, it's I don't know, it's like this. Oh, man, I can't think of the right word. Like, he's almost like a modern date. folklorist, you know, yeah, because he, he is like the master of the tall tale, but he puts it on a personal level, you know? And, but to me, I just feel like that stuff just comes naturally to him. Oh, for sure. And it's like, man, if you could, if you could get it and bottle it, you could sell it and drink it.

Michael David Wilson 45:53

I know that we come in up to the time that we've got together today. And this has been such an interesting and far ranging conversation. I mean, I feel bad because we haven't even got into a lot of the books and really into the meat of your stories. But the things we've been talking about have been so fascinating. So you know, I always want to follow the conversation rather than artificially, you know, jump into to burn the plans or whatever.

Tyler Jones 46:28

Yeah, yeah. No, this has been awesome, don't ya? Don't worry about it at all.

Michael David Wilson 46:33

Yeah. But I mean, the good thing is because we haven't really jumped into the stories in any depth. We need to get you back on the show at some point. And

Tyler Jones 46:46

yeah, anytime you guys I would absolutely love to. This has been such an honor and a pleasure.

Michael David Wilson 46:52

Yeah, well, you've got my test coming out next year. Is that right? Is Is there a date set?

Tyler Jones 47:00

Yeah, that'll that'll be coming out as part of earthlings Halloween series. So last year was for caceis boys in the valley this year will be Marla by Jonathan Jan's and the next year will be minus 2023. And then, like I mentioned, the Full Fathom Five novella that will be coming out later this year from cemetery gates. We're looking at December. We haven't officially announced that yet. So I guess this is the official announcement that it will be coming out in December. And then I've got a collection like a really limited edition collection from thunderstorm.

Michael David Wilson 47:44

And I love thunderstone that doing such good work.

Tyler Jones 47:47

Yeah, yeah, in this it's really cool. It's It was fun. So the it's a collection called turn up the sun. And it collects the two novellas that make up criterium, like the the complete criterium, and the two novellas that make up the complete dark side of the room and collects them into one volume, along with a brand new novella set within the Criterium world. So it's bringing all those stories together because they do take place within the same universe. In fact, there's like a blink and you'll miss it line in the dark side of the room where the main character Betsy is watching the TV and she she hears about a body that was burned alive on this on Archer way, which is the street where criterium takes place primarily. Yeah, so there's this indication that they're, they're within the same version of Portland, Oregon. And so I thought it'd be cool to just put them all together as is like all the Criterium stories they take place on the east side of the river. There's a river that cuts through Portland that divides it in half. And the dark side of the room stories take place on the west side. So it's kind of this just haunted version of Portland that ends up being collected into one volume. Yeah, and if you go on on to Twitter right now you can see and you t Jones writer. You can see the artwork for the book, which was done by a good friend of mine named Ryan Mills, and it's phenomenal. We had so much fun putting that together just bouncing ideas back and forth and we wanted to pay homage to the original artwork for the stand. You know, the one I'm talking about with it's blue. I can't remember the artists name but it has like the eyes with the beak. Yeah. Yeah, so we there's a front front cover our Back cover art. And I wanted it to be sort of abstract but bold, and also have connections to all the stories. So it's a lot of fun to look at. And he just did an incredible job. So that'll be coming out from thunderstorm this fall. And it'll be a really special edition too, because it'll, it includes the introductions. So Jeremy, Robert Johnson wrote in Introduction to the criterion extended edition. And for costs, he wrote one for the dark side of the room extended edition, those will be included in this volume. And both those guys are going to sign the signature sheets for the book as well. Oh, wow. So it'd be a really, really fun, just cool, beautiful book, you know, in thunderstorm, they do these oversized editions. Yeah. Yeah. And then later next year, Midas will be out. And, boy, I hope it's I hope it's something that readers connect with.

Michael David Wilson 51:00

Yeah, when there's gonna be plenty of opportunity to get you back then you're certainly not resting so much that you're, you're doing. But I mean, it's great that you're working with cemetery gates media, who I think are one of the best independent presses you know about today, full stop.

Tyler Jones 51:24

I mean, we didn't they're so driven. Yeah. Yeah. They really genuinely care about their authors they want to do right by their authors. They're just open to any ideas. Like, I've had lots of ideas that I've thrown at them. And they, the answer has been yes to everything. Which is just, it's so fun, because it gives you that freedom. And like, I wanted illustrations and burn the plans for every story. Yeah. They're like, Yeah, sure. Yeah, whatever you want to do, we'll do it.

Michael David Wilson 51:57

Yeah. And I don't imagine every press would just, you know, respond like that. But I mean, Vanda plans could be a great place for people to start with your fish, and if they're not yet familiar, and I mean, don't take my word for it. About the word from from another Michael, we're free name's Michael Marshall Smith. And I mean, I don't think anyone could conceive of a better forward. I mean, you're getting this from one of the best writers today. And you brought him back to his early years where he has that excitement of discovering a new writer, to such a point where it's infusing him with a desire to write, and I know exactly the feeling he's talking about. So I'm guessing when you read that forward, there were celebrations.

Tyler Jones 52:57

Man, I was absolutely floored. It was yeah, it was so cool. And, you know, he, he was the very first person to read criterium. Hmm. So I had reached out to him and asked if he'd be willing to take a look at it. And he had no clue who I was. You know, I was just a nobody reaching out to him. And he was so gracious to agree to read it. And he offered this wonderful blurb, so it was really cool. Yeah, that he was willing to write that introduction, and it has meant a lot to me.

Michael David Wilson 53:33

And I mean, when you reached out to him, What was your pitch? Was that any connection? Or were you literally and nobody was some tenuous connection that you could bring in?

Tyler Jones 53:45

No, there was none other than I'm a big fan of your writing. And I think I had just finished the anomaly when I reached out to him, you know, he wrote under a different name. But that is so much fun. And I just I absolutely devoured that book. And I just reached out to him, just say, Hey, I absolutely love your work. I'd be honored if you'd be willing to take a look at this. If not, I totally understand. I imagine you're crazy busy. And he's like, no, no, send that along. I'd love to take a look. And he did. It's one thing to agree. It's another thing to read it, you know? Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 54:23

Yeah. And he's such a good offer. And I mean, in many senses, it's a massive anomaly that we haven't had him on the podcast yet. I want him on the podcast I I think about oh, it'd be good to get him on a podcast. So you know, the next step is bloody well writing to him and inviting him on the podcast.

Tyler Jones 54:45

Yeah, you should. You should he's a I assume you've listened to some interviews with him before.

Michael David Wilson 54:52

haven't actually listened to many interviews with him? Mostly because if I want to in interview someone I almost want to come in quite cold to that I want to devour Sure. It's a fiction. I'll probably read a lot of written interviews to get some information to glean. But I almost, yeah, I'm reluctant to listen to too many. Because I don't want it to taint the experience because of course, you know, people have stories that they retell. So I want to react to that in the Purist kind of way hearing it for the first time.

Tyler Jones 55:33

Yeah, sure. Yeah, well, you should, you should definitely reach out. He's, he's a really thoughtful. Yeah, he's a blast to listen to. He's very intelligent, of course, and just really thoughtful in his responses. It'd be a good fit for you guys.

Michael David Wilson 55:50

Yeah. Okay, well, it's happening. I'll read. Then you go. Well, where can our listeners connect with you?

Tyler Jones 56:04

Let's see, my website is Tyler jones.net. And I've got a newsletter that you could sign up for, and links to any social media. Yeah, I'm bad about the newsletter, but hopefully, I'm gonna get better at it within the next couple of months.

Michael David Wilson 56:22

Me too. Me too. I get it early people like. Yeah. All right. Do you have any final thoughts to leave our listeners with?

Tyler Jones 56:36

Yeah, final thoughts, I would say that it truly is. It has been an honor to hang out with you guys and chat with you. And I meant everything that I said about it's just a cool full circle moment for me to to have started listening to This Is Horror as a as a listener, and someone who just love books, and writing and writers, and learning from all the guests that you've had on to now being a guest myself and getting to chat with you guys, has been just an absolute thrill for me. So I'm really, really grateful for this opportunity. And it's been a blast chatting with you both.

Michael David Wilson 57:21

Thank you so much for listening to our conversation with Tyler Jones. Join us again next time when we will be chatting with Jason pagine. About his new John Dies at the End book. And if you want to listen to that ahead of the crowd, if you want to listen to every episode ahead of the crowd, then become my patron on patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you can become a member of the writers forum on Discord. You can submit questions to each and every guest. And you get exclusive episodes such as story on bots, the horror podcast on the craft of writing, and the Q and A's sessions and myself and Bob Pastorella is only $3 that can't even get you a good cup of coffee, but it can get you a good audio dose of literary goodness. And that is why we want you to become a patreon a patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. And if you sign up this week, you can let me know did that analogy? The kind of cup of coffee comparison did that make you go over the edge? Did that make you become a patron? If not, what was it why did you join us? Let us know. All right before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break.

Bob Pastorella 58:50

Tried and True or done the debt it was all a dream and anthology of bad horror tropes done right revives even the most exhausted cliches with stories from some of Horace biggest names like Chima files, convenio Iglesias and Hayley Piper. It was all a dream and anthology of bad horror tropes done right. available October 18. Anywhere you buy books online preorder now, use this code This Is Horror for 20% Off to the month of October when you audit direct from Hungary shadow press.com. Or on Main a new weekend convention for the horror community. exploring all the shadows of horror our guests include writers actors, but also artists, publishers, directors, composers and more. Women go into cons for over 20 years and are changing up the little things to make the big picture amazing. Young guests contests, movies, panels and podcasters. Our layout and programming are designed to further incorporate the very idea of community. Join us Memorial Day weekend 2023 and Hunt Valley Maryland. Come to the block party and meet your new neighbors horror on main.com.

Michael David Wilson 59:53

Now recently, I've been writing some rules for life, just little things that I follow so that I have a decent time. And I find that that can be helpful, particularly if you're going through something rough to set up rules or to set up principles, things that can guide you through the day. And he is one of my rules for life. Decide on the most important task for the day and do it as early as possible. That way if you only achieve this, then you've already won. And let me know if that rule for life helps you out at all. If you do incorporate it, I'd love to know how you get on. Well, that about does it for another episode. But until next time with Jason Parchin. Take care yourselves, be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thisishorror.co.uk/tih-463-tyler-jones-on-criterium-burn-the-plans-and-portraying-addiction/

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.