Monday, October 26, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: Jon Jefferson

Thoughts on Horror
By: Jon Jefferson

So, Meghan approached me to write something for the fun of Halloween and what not.  And I spent my time trying to figure out what I should write about (really just procrastinating).   One of the things that ran through my head, though, was something I had heard a long time ago.
            Before cable became a thing, satellite was the latest and greatest thing.  HBO and The Movie Channel could be picked up on a satellite in your backyard, as well as tons of other stations.  But these weren't your little cutesy dishes like we see all over the place now for DirecTV.  No, these things were monstrous and cost thousands of dollars.  My wife's family had one and it was great 'til all these television stations started charging for their feeds, so it made these thousands of dollar hunks of metal into little more than lawn ornaments.  But this was before we dated and the world changed in the interim.  They still had the dish sitting in their backyard for probably 20 years after it had become useless, though.  But I digress...
            See, there are some smaller satellite dishes, too.  HBO and The Movie Channel offered private homes access to their programming if you subscribed to their service.  They would give you the dish (a different one for each service) and you could watch everything they offered.  Of course it was all about the movies back then.  They didn't have all the shows and sports they have now.  Of course, there was a time when MTv was actually about the music too...
            So I am probably running through tangents here.  I don't know where they come from other than my mind is filled with all this information and if I don't dump it all on you, I will never be free of the oppressive evil that it represents...
            I also bet you are wondering if there is a point coming up sometime soon.
            Where was I?  Movie channels, paid programming... I had friends that had subscribed to the different channels at one point.  That was a great time for me, at least.  I grew up going to the movies, quite often, several times a week.  Then to have access to movies in the home, the world was changing and we didn't even know it yet.
            Ya know, this is supposed to be about Halloween and monsters and all sorts of scary stuff.  I guess at some point I should bring it home to that, shouldn't I?
            My parents didn't pay into the dishes at the time.  I had to sneak out to my friends house to see the movie channels.  And then cable came to town.  It completely changed how entertainment came into our home and our lives.  And, at one point, we picked up The Movie Channel.  And in the roundabout way of the story, we are actually coming up to the point of this whole thing...
            There was a week, or maybe a month, I can't remember, and it might have even been during the month of October, that they did a return to the classics of horror.  Sure they were showing some of the newer stuff, but they made it a point to show case the old back and whites.  I remember it was the first time I had seen Psycho (still scares me today).
            During this event, they showed interviews with writers and directors and maybe even stars from the old world.  People talking about the movies and what scared them, even discussing the importance of horror stories.
            There was an interview that has always stood out in my mind.  I can't remember who it was or any other part of the interview except for this one little bit.  The man had been asked what he thought of as horror.  I vividly remember his answer.  There are moments of terror, moments of shock, that we can all relate to.  Sure a guy chasing you with a chainsaw is pretty damn scary.  But that type of horror is fleeting.  When the moment passes you can get on with your life span.
            He described a scene from the original black and white version of Cat People.  In the scene we see a girl banging on the door to get into the house.  And we see the approach of the monster.  The end of the scene is a cut away, blood washes under the door.
            It is that moment that we know what happened.  We don't have to see it, we don't have to have it shoved in our face.  But it sticks with us.  We come away from that moment and we are still feeling it.  And even later, we still get the chills from that one moment.  That is horror.
            (and now I drive another spike into the flesh of the thought)  In the early '90s, I worked as a third shift gate guard at the Welch's factory (yes jelly, and juice, that Welch's).  I spent quite a bit of my time reading, because late at night with nothing else to do.  One of the books I read at the time (and I have no idea what the anthology's name is or even the story's name anymore) had a story about a bombing run.  This might have been the story of the Enola Gay, but something happened in the history.  The bomber had gotten lost in the Bermuda Triangle.  When they reached what they thought was their target, they released their bombs.  The story ended with a mushroom cloud rising over the heart of the Emerald City of Oz.
            It was the moment of the perfect storm.  Oz was just nuked, it's the middle of the night, I am alone, and I am in the middle of nowhere.  That story hit me at a deep level and I can still picture the pilot's realization as he looked in the rear view mirror.
            Granted stuff like this isn't the pulse pounding, gasping for breathe of the shocks we know and love.  But it still hits you at a level deep down, a primal place that reminds us that the dark is scary.
            Mind you, I learned to stop reading Lovecraft when I was working.  There was one night when I called my wife and woke her up (maybe 3 or 4 in the morning).  There was a white rabbit out at the edge of the light from my guard shack.  When I looked at it, it reared up on its hind legs and I could see the blood and gore dripping from its fangs.  But maybe this is a story for another time...

About the author:
Jon M. Jefferson writes Speculative fiction with forays into Noir and Bizarro.  His stories have appeared in the Men in Horror issue of Siren's Call Magazine, and the Weird Tales Magazine website.  His work - anthologies, short stories, and novellas - can also be found on Amazon and Smashwords.  Flash fiction stories can be found at his site Misadventures in Strange Places.
            A longtime fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy stories in all their forms, he has spent most of his life looking for magic in the everyday moments of life.  He hails from the tundra of Southwest Michigan.  The monsters in his life include his wife, two daughters, and a granddaughter.

About the books:

Genre: Horror, Occult
Publisher: 10th Day Publishing
Publication date: 1.13.2014
Pages: 84

Ever crack a tooth on a piece of candy?  You know what I mean, that candy that you really love but it caused you pain.  Sometimes that bittersweet moment still hits just the right spot.
            The monster stories of our youth have a bit of that same bittersweet candy.  Magic and mayhem frightens and delights giving us moments that we seek to repeat.
            The stories in Hate Candy celebrate those bittersweet moments.  Embark on a journey into the darkness and maybe find some new sweets.  But always remember, Hard Candy bites back.

Genre: Horror, Occult
Publisher: 10th Day Publishing
Publication date: 12.17.2014
Pages: 168

Hate Candy bites back.  If you didn't know it already, this is the tagline of the series.  Seems a little strange, right?  What does this mean exactly?
            In the first installment, we were introduced to the familiar, monsters in many shapes and forms.  Classics we come to love, but at times we see them in a new light; a rediscovery, if you will.
            In the next round of stories, we will find much of the same.  Monsters and ghouls that seem oddly familiar, but at the same time, it is a chance to rediscover what made them special.  This is our chance to find those odd bits of candy that still have the sweetness we crave.

Genre: Horror
Publisher: 10th Day Publishing
Publication date: 2.26.2014
Pages: 49

Ever have a bad day?  Maybe wake up late for work, or get stuck in traffic?
            Sam Marsden is having a bad day.  Late for work, stopped by a traffic accident, then to find out that her mother is in the hospital with terminal lung cancer.  Can her day get any worse?


Jon Jefferson said...

This guy sounds like a rock star. I will follow him to the ends of the earth.

Meghan H said...

He's pretty genius, to be honest. I love having conversations with him. :)