Sunday, October 18, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: AMONG THE STACKS: John R. Little


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, John.  I hope you are doing well on this beautiful day.  Welcome to The Gal.  And thank you for being a part of The Gal's 31 Days of Horror.
            Tell us a little bit about yourself.

John R. Little:
Well, I'm a Canadian writer with 16 published books and dozens of short stories.  I love writing and I'm always grateful to hear from people who have read my work.  My most well-known book is a novella called Miranda, which won the Bram Stoker award in 2009.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

John R. Little:
My first publication was in Cavalier magazine in 1982, when I was 27 years old.  I was paid a ridiculously high amount for a mediocre short story.

I seem to be quite obsessed with 4:42 am.  It's a time that appears in most of my books at some point or another.

My university degree is from the University of Western Ontario.  I graduated with an Honours degree with a Major in Computer Science and a Minor in Math.

Some of my interests include cosmology and quantum mechanics.

I really, really wish I could invent a time machine and a transporter.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

John R. Little:
Earth Is Room Enough, a collection of science fiction short stories by Isaac Asimov.  I was about 15 years old and I still own that copy of that book.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

John R. Little:
A first novel from S. J. Watson called Before I Go to Sleep, which is a marvelous thriller.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

John R. Little:
When I was 12 years old, my older sisters took a typing class and had to buy a portable typewriter.  I saw it and my eyes lit up.  I borrowed it immediately and started typing short stories.  To this day I haven't the foggiest notion of why I had that burning desire.  It's lasted for the past 48 years.  It's just something I was born with.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

John R. Little:
My wife and I have a very large bedroom and we both have desks at one end of the room.  I always write there.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

John R. Little:
Nothing major.  I tend to keep a short outline for novels, with a single sentence for each chapter.  That keeps me on track without limiting me.  I think about a chapter for a few days and then madly write the whole thing as fast as I can.  Then the process repeats for the next chapter.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

John R. Little:
Finding an idea that is unique.  Ideas are everywhere, but I find most of them too boring to write about.  I need something that I've never seen before or I don't enjoy writing the story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

John R. Little:
I think I've been tremendously influenced by a number of writers in different ways.  Certainly Stephen KingRay BradburyRichard Matheson, and Thomas F. Monteleone has been pivotal to me. They've all been critical in how I've developed.  As for books, everything those gentlemen have written, but also many thrillers, such as Jaws by Peter Benchley.  I love a good thriller.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

John R. Little:
Interesting characters where we're concerned about at least one of them in a significant way and where there's a real story being told that has a beginning, middle, and end.  It's pretty much what we were taught in school.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

John R. Little:
I believe the very best characters make decisions and act like real people do.  I hate reading a book and finding somebody doing something completely out of character for the sake of the story.  I model my characters after real people and I hope that shows.  Sometimes, that means they end up in bad situations and my readers know that there's a very real possibility my characters won't end up being happy (or even alive) at the end of my books.  Real risk is important to keeping a reader caring.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

John R. Little:
Well, to be honest, none of them are very close to being like me, but all of them have a slice of me embedded in them.  I think that helps the characters stay grounded but still way different from each other.  I supposed the only one that's really very close to me is Jeremiah Moore from my latest novel, Soul Mates.  There's a few characteristics I borrowed from myself when creating him.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

John R. Little:
I've been very fortunate that my publishers have always asked my input for the covers of my books, and some have been abandoned based on me not liking them.  I have had fabulous publishers!  As for bad covers, it's much harder to convince me to read a book if the cover looks childish.  I try to not judge a book by its cover, but sometimes it's tough.  A bad cover could mean bad editing or bad writing.  Not always, but enough times that it makes it a tough sell to me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

John R. Little:
I'm not sure I learned this from writing, but it sure helped me to understand it better: life is short and you've got to make the best of every single day.  My characters don't always do that, and it's to their detriment.  (Of course, that's good for my readers.)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

John R. Little:
In my first novel, The Memory Tree, I had to write a brutal scene where the victim is a young boy.  The book was somewhat autobiographical, and that scene was terribly difficult.  After writing that part, I couldn't go back to working on the novel again for months.  I still believe it was necessary for the book, and I'm glad I did it, but it was difficult, for sure.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

John R. Little:
There's so many great authors in the horror field and I admire so much of their work.  I like to think I have published some very original stories that have believable characters and interesting plots.  Some of my work is unique in that it deals with twisting the nature of time itself, and I've loved all those books.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

John R. Little:
As a reader, when I'm flooded with choices, one of the first things I see about a book is its title.  If it's something that catches my interest, I look further, so of course it's important.  For some of my books, the title basically suggested itself.  I think of DarkNet, as an example, which is a novel about the dark side of the Internet.  Others, like The Memory Tree, are symbolic but hopefully interesting.  I sometimes change a book title several times while I'm writing, as events and ideas work themselves out.  Picking the right title is an art, and I'm still learning.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

John R. Little:
Actually, my preferred length is novella.  I find that to be the ideal length for a story.  It's long enough to really develop characters, but short enough to be pointed and precise.  Readers often read my novellas in a single reading, allowing them to feel the intensity of my work.  Novels are very rarely read that way, and short stories don't have the same ability to develop characters.  I enjoy all three lengths, but I'm best at novellas.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

John R. Little:
I have a number of stories and novellas being published in the next year or so, but none of the publishers have mentioned the projects yet, so I can't either.  My next novel will be out in late 2016.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

John R. Little:
My website.  I love hearing from fans by email to or on Facebook.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by today, John.  It was a pleasure having you.
            Before you go, do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

John R. Little:
I've had a great year with the publication of my novel, Soul Mates, but my biggest achievement is my wedding that took place in August.  I married my own true soul mate, and I couldn't be happier!


About the author:
John R. Little has been writing scary stories for a long time.  He sold his first horror story to Cavalier magazine in 1982 and has been publishing continuously since then.  John has published 16 books, including the Bram Stoker Award winning Miranda.  He has had three other books nominated for the Stoker as well (The Memory TreeUrsa Major, and Little By Little).

About the books:

Soul Mates
Genre: Horror
Publisher: JournalStone
Publication date: 8.14.2015
Pages: 228

Identical twins share a connection that even modern science doesn't fully understand.  Closer than mere blood can bind, deeper than any sibling bond, one cell, one mind, one beginning.
            Alannah Clark has found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with.  A magician - but magicians have secrets - secrets that might outweigh Alannah's own dark corners.  But nothing remains hidden forever.
            Magic, thrills, romance, suspense, and sorrow are the emotions of John R. Little's newest and darkest thoughts.  Fans are sure to get a thrill ride as he unleashes his newest adventure.

Miranda
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Publication date: 7.13.2011
Pages: 111

Michael is different from you and me.  He lives his new life in reverse, from the ay he died back to the day he was born.  It's hard to make friends when you're travelling in the wrong direction of time.  In fact, the only true friend he has is his little dog, Doof.  Until one day, Michael meets Miranda, and his life changes forever.

The Memory Tree
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Nocturne Press
Publication date: 2.2.2007
Pages: 319

A heartbreaking story of love and evil.
            Sam Ellis is a middle-aged stock broker living in Seattle, successful, married to a woman he dearly loves, with everything he could want.  But below the surface, there are scars.
            Then his world changes.  For reasons he doesn't understand, Sam is thrust back in time to 1968, the summer he turned thirteen.  He meets his parents and his own childhood self.
            That summer changed Sam's world.  Monsters walked the streets of his hometown, and now Sam will come face to face with those monsters again, this time as an adult.
            Nothing will ever be the same.

Ursa Major
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Publication date: 1.18.2012
Pages: 53

A peaceful camping trip turns ugly as a step-father and daughter come face to face with a blood thirsty, mindless force.  What happens when you have to make decisions that have no pleasant options?  It has the same kind of scary as The Terminator.  You know, like being chased by a relentless pursuer, a heartless android... who is getting closer, closer, and ending inevitably.

1 comment:

Charlene said...

The Memory Tree is one of my favorite books of all time. It was interesting to hear more regarding how it came about.