Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Day 5: AMONG THE STACKS: Jim Goforth


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Jim.  Welcome to The Gal.  Thanks for being here on Day 5 of The Gal's 62 Days of Horror.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jim Goforth:
I'm a horror author and editor, long-time horror fanatic and extreme metal aficionado.  I decide in Australia with my wife, two little children (six year old daughter and five year old son) and a cat.  I currently live in a little country town, though the majority of my adult life was spent in the city.  Prior to returning to writing horror full-time, I was involved with the worldwide extreme metal community for many years.  I also run WetWorks, which is the extreme horror/bizarro imprint at J. Ellington Ashton Press.

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

Jim Goforth:
  1. I studied law at university.
  2. I'm Australian, but my younger brother and I are the only members of my family born here; the rest of my family, including my elder siblings, are all from the United States.
  3. I don't just write novels and short stories.  I also write poetry (which technically are things that were all originally written as song lyrics back in the day).  I've actually written far more poems than I have stories, though I imagine that will change over time.
  4. As well as writing, I also love drawing, though I haven't done too much of it for a while.  I used to draw my own comics, books and movie posters.
  5. I always swore I would never have a Facebook profile (and I still prefer the old MySpace to it), yet it's through a Facebook group that I first discovered my publisher.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Jim Goforth:
I couldn't rightly say.  I read a pile of books from an early age, so I don't exactly recall which the very first one was.

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

Jim Goforth:
I'm actually re-reading Midnight by Dean R. Koontz at the moment.  I love a lot of his earlier work and tend to re-read several of them multiple times, though I'm not so big on much of his later output.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Jim Goforth:
I have my favorite genres, but I read just about anything and everything, so there's bound to be a pile of things in there in the way of historical fiction, even romance, that I found myself digging more than I would have been expecting to.

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

Jim Goforth:
Reading made me want to write.  I started reading as a young child and I started making up my own stories and writing them not long after that.  I always had a vivid imagination - these days I refer to it as a twisted, restless imagination - so I'd always be reading different kinds of books and getting all sorts of inspiration to create my own tales.

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

Jim Goforth:
No, I will pretty much write anything and if I don't happen to have a notebook or a laptop or anything like that on me at the time, I write things out in my head.  I've written stories on trains, buses, in hospitals, sitting in parks, in bed, at work, you name it I've probably written or at least mentally write parts of a story there.

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

Jim Goforth:
Not particularly.  I just sit down and start writing.  Sometimes I might have a relatively fleshed out idea, other times it might just be the seeds there.  Either way, I just open up a document and start writing.  Sometimes I write to a soundtrack of music (primarily extreme metal, but not exclusively), other times to nothing.  Technically it's hardly ever nothing; there's always some kind of background noise happening, but for the most part that's all it is, background noise.

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

Jim Goforth:
Finding the time to write everything I want to get written.  There's never any shortage of ideas and new ones come thick and fast all the time, since I find inspiration in just about anything, which can be a little challenging when I'm trying to focus on one particular project and get it done.  At any given time I will be working on multiple projects, but sometimes it seems like there are more ideas than time to get them all written.  Other than that, I love everything about writing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Jim Goforth:
Everything.  I get the same satisfaction out of knocking over a short story as I do completing a novel.

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

Jim Goforth:
A vast array of authors inspired me back in the day when I first started getting enmeshed in horror (which was the genre I gravitated to fairly early on, despite dabbling in writing in all kinds of different genres).  Originally it was the likes of Clive BarkerGraham Masterton, early Dean R. Koontz, early Stephen KingDan SimmonsRobert McCammonShaun Hutson and myriad others who were very inspirational to an impressionable young teenager and I actually wrote a book or two back then after reading just about everything each of them had written.  Unfortunately those works were a little derivative of all those authors and were more of a mishmash of styles than anything.  It was when I first discovered Richard Laymon in the early 90s that I realised I could write what I wanted, how I wanted without trying to write like anybody else.  His writing was lean, punchy, brutal yet often poignant, bloody and extreme with plenty of humour and humanity in there as well, and it spoke to me more than anything else ever had.  To this day he remains my number one influence and inspiration, though it would be remiss of me not to mention others such as Edward LeeJack KetchumBryan SmithSimon Clark and Stephen Laws.  There are many books I've read over the years that I could be here all day listing them, but I have five in particular I mention all the time as being very pivotal in my desire to write horror.  They are Walkers (Graham Masterton), Cabal (Clive Barker), Watchers (Dean R. Koontz), The Spirit (Thomas Page) and Darkness, Tell Us (Richard Laymon).  The latter one is essentially Laymon's greatest book of all time, but it is the very first one of his I ever read and I still have the same copy I read over twenty years ago.

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

Jim Goforth:
The foundation of a good story is a strong, solid plot.  It doesn't have to be a convoluted or extremely involved one, it can be the most basic premise under the sun, but as long as it has a strength to it, it's a great base for a good story.
            Obviously since I work in the horror genre I'm mostly referring to horror writers here, but sometimes, and I suppose it happens more frequently than it should, folks eschew story in favour of aiming for shock tactics or blood and gore or devices intended to be extreme.  In this case, they might be left with a weak story or maybe none at all, but a random string of events chained together by shock for the sake of it.  Anchor all of that with a solid storyline and plots and it becomes meaningful, depending on the context of the story, but otherwise, the story itself will suffer.  Engaging characters are also requisite elements.  Characters that make you feel something for them, weaver emotion it might be.  Hate them or love them, it doesn't matter, as long as you feel something for them and end up invested in what fate has in store for them.  There are plenty of other aspects that could be considered ingredients to the recipe for a good story, but personally for me, those two elements are of utmost importance.

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?

Jim Goforth:
Attitude, individuality, personalities.  They don't have to be good, they can be complete villains, but some of those I've at least really enjoyed having around despite the terrible things they might do.  Many of my characters end up taking on a life of their own, taking charge of the whole story and running it how they see fit.

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

Jim Goforth:
I suppose Seth from Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger is perhaps closest.  He's a metalhead, loves his black metal best of all, tries to do the right thing as much as possible albeit while making some incredibly bad decisions in the process.

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?

Jim Goforth:
I suppose that would depend on the author.  If it happened to be a terrible cover on a book by one of my favorite authors' works, it probably wouldn't dissuade me from reading it, but otherwise, yes it would likely make me give it a miss.  A good cover is important; it's the first point of contact for the reader and is often the difference between a potential reader wanting to pick the book up and investigate it or completely pass it by.
            I've been involved in just about all creations for my book covers to varying degrees.  With Plebs and With Tooth & Claw, I was looking for certain elements to be present on the covers and liaised closely with the artists (respectively Catt Dahman and David McGlumphy) of those books to get the right aesthetics.  Undead Fleshcrave was a different approach because it is a custom painting by the excellent artist Stephen Cooney.  I gave him the details of a scene I wanted and he managed to capture a pivotal snapshot of it beautifully.  It's a critical scene in the book and turned out perfectly.  Riders: Plebs 2 (Books One and Two), and the upcoming Dual Depravity (novellas with John Ledger) are all books where I selected what images I wanted, ones which capture the essence of the individual books and mesh well with the stories.

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

Jim Goforth:
I've learned that what I write isn't going to be for everybody, not by a long shot, but then again I'd say I already knew that and nor would I want them to be.

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

Jim Goforth:
None of them that I can pinpoint as such.  It's variable.  I don't outline or meticulously plot; I tend to just sit down and write, so when words are flowing, there's no issue ripping through scenes of any variety.  Other times I might find the words aren't either coming as smoothly as usual, or they're coming along a bit clunky, so I just switch to another project.  In terms of content, none of that has been difficult to write either.  It's a matter of going where the story is destined to go and while some might find it hard to put some of the horrific happenings into words, for me it's all part of the process.

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

Jim Goforth:
I refer to what I write as grindhouse splatterpunk driven by heavy metal and I'd be willing to bet there aren't too many others who term their work as such.  I write what I personally love to read, and I infuse a large portion of it with a heavy metal vibe.  It might be extreme, ultraviolent, explicit or hardcore at times, but not without a story and I'd like to think folks can still have fun with the books and be entertained at the same time as being drenched in a deluge of blood.  Whether it's for better or worse, I don't think anybody out there is quite writing the same way as I do.

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)?

Jim Goforth:
I love titles and I do believe they do are an important part of what makes people want to read books, though possibly not on the same level as cover art and synopsis's.  Having said that, I suppose a terrible title could end up hamstringing a books chance as surely as a terrible cover can.  I don't find choosing titles too difficult at all and I think for the most part so far, I've ended up picking those that have best suited my books.  A lot of the time I have the title of the book or story before I even start writing it, other times I write with a working title that I later change to something more fitting, and in the case of some, such as Plebs, I wrote the whole book without it even having a title.  Different things usually come into play when deciding on a title, whether it may refer to a specific event that happens, a place, the name of an entity, a play on words, all kinds of things.  Like I say, I love titles so I always have fun playing with them.

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

Jim Goforth:
I love writing both.  I'm known for writing long tales, whether they are novels or short stories - it's a perpetual running joke with many of my associates and friends in the horror community, the length of my stories - but I don't exactly have a preference for either.  I would like to say I'm more of a novel type person, but by the same token writing shorts is just as fulfilling and satisfying to me.  Completely different disciplines are required to write each, and while some folks are cut out to write either one or the other, some are adept at both.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Jim Goforth:
I write (as mentioned above) a combination of grindhouse splatterpunk horror and old school horror, albeit not exclusively.  I've dabbled in quiet and literary styled horror, but more often than not I find myself dwelling in the more extreme end of the genre.  My books are usually character driven and for the most part I write big books (in excess of 100k words).  My target audience is anybody who digs reading that kind of thing, folks who want a good solid story to sink their teeth into and a book they can immerse themselves in for days, rather than a quick blink and you'll miss it read.  These days novellas are all the rage, but when I was a kid I was into the mammoth epic opuses written by the likes of Dan SimmonsRobert McCammon and so on, and those inspirations still linger in my desire to write big lengthy books.  There are abundant things readers can take away from my stories, some which are quite evident and others which are a little more obscure and open to a readers own interpretation.  Cautionary tales abound, along with various other messages on social commentary, and each individual reader might take something different away from the work.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Jim Goforth:
I write long books and they're usually even longer when I first finish writing them, prior to any edits or cutting down of the word count, so there's almost always a fair bit of stuff that ends up on the cutting floor.  Not too much gets cut out after they eventually hit the editors, but back when Plebs was first in that process an explicit sex scene was trimmed down somewhat.  Mind you, it didn't really end up any less explicit. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Jim Goforth:
I have plans to get back into the drawing thing at some stage because I want to tinker around with the idea of doing some graphic novel adaptations of some of my own books.  I might start with some of the short stories I've had most fun writing to see how that pans out, then maybe launch into the Plebs series.  I'll also be writing a sequel to Undead Fleshcrave and expanding that into a series with an as yet undecided number of books, but that isn't in immediate plans.  Anything like that will happen off in the future, since my plate is pretty loaded with projects right now.

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

Jim Goforth:
A whole lot of books (both novels, collections, appearances in an array of anthologies).  I've kickstarted a new line of books for WetWorks which will see the first of those, Dual Depravity Volume One, coming along very soon, I have a new novel in the edits process, I'm currently taking submissions for the fifth volume of the Rejected for Content series and juggling writing no less than three other novels along with slipping in a few stories for anthologies in whatever spare time I can dredge up.  No rest for the wicked.

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

Jim Goforth:
Amazon ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Goodreads ** Blog ** Google+

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks again for stopping by, Jim.  It was a pleasure having you.  I look forward to seeing what you give to us in the future AND having you on The Gal again.
            One more thing 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?

Jim Goforth:
Stay tuned and keep reading.  There's a pile of new material headed your way.


About the author:
Jim Goforth is a horror author currently based in Holbrook, Australia.  Happily married with two kids and a cat, he has been writing tales of horror since the early nineties.
            After years of detouring into working with the worldwide extreme metal community and writing reviews for hundreds of bands across the globe with Black Belle Music, he returned to his biggest writing love with his first book, Plebs, published by J. Ellington Ashton Press.  Along with Plebs, he is the author of a collection of short stories/novellas With Tooth & Claw, extreme metal undead opus Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie TriggerRiders: Plebs 2 - Book One & Two, co-author of collaborative novel Feral Hearts and editor of the Rejected for Content anthology series (taking over the reigns after volume one Splattergore).  He also has stories in both Splattergore and Aberrant Menagerie).
            He has also appeared in Tales from the Lake Vol 2Axes of EvilTerror TrainAutumn Burning: Dreadtime Stories for the Wicked SoulFloppy Shoes ApocalypseTeeming TerrorsGhosts: An Anthology of Horror from the BeyondSuburban Secrets: A Neighborhood of NightmaresDoorway to Death: An Anthology from the Other SideEaster Eggs & Bunny BoilersM v F: Death PersonifiedDrowning in Gore and edited volumes 2, 3 and 4 of Rejected for Content (Aberrant MenagerieVicious Vengeance and Highway to Hell).  Coming next from Jim will be appearance in Full Moon Slaughter, Trashed, another collab novel Lycanthroship, a host of undiscovered projects, as well as Dual Depravity (with John Ledger) and Rejected for Content 5: Sanitarium (editor).
            He is currently working on several new novels.

About the books:
Corey Somerset, Tim Hayworth and Lee Hunger have had one hell of a good night.
            And it isn't over yet.
            Celebrating their friend's birthday with drunken debauchery and intoxicated antics they've just stumbled through a mini-wave of mindless vandalism and though they've wandered far out of the realms of civilization they are keen to keep the party vibe going.
            When they encounter a band of mysterious fugitive women who call a bizarre encampment deep in the woods their residence it appears a strong likelihood that continuing the party is on the cards.
            But it won't come without a price.
            The collective of unnerving lawless women are open to the suggestion but not without the threesome completing a request first, a seemingly straight forward barter proposition that will bring the boys face to face with something else that dwells in an unorthodox co-existence with the girls in the wilderness.
            These are the Plebs and the shocking violent encounter the trio are unwittingly pitched into with these freakish feral fiends may be their first but it won't be the last.
            As the shiftless young men become inextricably entwined and involved with the agenda driven dangerous women so too do their fates, with them unravelling killer secrets, duplicity, bloodshed and brutality along the way that encompasses not just them but more of their friends, new enemies and old enemies.
            A simple night of bad decisions escalates and snowballs into an expedition of terror spanning all the way home and beyond with Corey and his friends engulfed in a nightmare where the lines between man and monster blur.
            Depravity, death and destruction reign supreme and it isn't just the Plebs that want them all torn limb from limb.


Chad, Vincent and their friends are going camping.  Chad doesn't even like camping.  The only reason he is even here is because the delectable Denise has come along too.
            Now they are all assembled around the campfire drinking and trying to scare one another with lame horror stories.  None of which are particularly scary.  Chad is hoping they hurry it up and move along to some more risqué games, preferably involving Denise.
            However, Vincent has one more tale to tell...
            Nick and Maree just want to have a good night together.  But people won't stop messing with them.  The town bully, the self-perceived beauty queen, even the local cop want to give them some sort of hell.  Maybe that is a very bad idea...
            Stu just wants to get himself as drunk as possible and visit all the strip clubs in town, ogling and deriding all the naked dancers he can.  Pretty much the same thing he does every night.  He thought he knew all the exotic dancing bars and strip clubs, but apparently not.  Club Styx isn't somewhere he has ever been before...
            John has come home from the war, a deserter, sneaking back into the country.  He hasn't come back the same as he went away.  He's brought something with him, a curse, a contagion.  And it isn't something he can contain.  When it starts to spread, it is going to spread like wildfire and there will be no stopping it...
            Cody & Jeff are supposed to be on a simple stakeout mission, warned by their brutal criminal boss to follow his orders to the letter.  Boredom and curiosity are going to get the better of them, and this basic job is about to get a whole lot more involved...
            Donna can't let herself fall asleep.  Because when she does, the same thing happens every time.  People die in a grisly violent fashion.  She's tried everything to halt the inevitable, but she's so sleepy.  And drifting off...
            Josh and Megan are hiking with their group, aiming to reach the peak of notorious Mount MacGinnis.  When a freakish thunderstorm drives them all to seek sanctuary in the many caves existing in the mountainside, the duo take the opportunity to explore their developing relationship.  however, there are others in this group who appear to know a little more about the mysterious cave network than they are letting on.
            Before long, it isn't just going to be heavy rain and blustery wind pouring havoc down on these unwary shelter seekers...
            There is a whole lot of gruesome death and violence inflicted within this collection of microbe tales, but the majority of it contains one common element.  Weapons and tolls are not utilized here, bloody havoc is caused, with tooth and claw.


Armada.

Thriving metropolis with a population including more than its healthy share of extreme heavy metal aficionados, which is why this city is the ideal location to kick off the inaugural tour of mysterious death metal super group Undead Fleshcrave.
            With a concert to play to a sold out venue, the brutal metal collective have the metalhead denizens right in the palm of their hands, ready to unleash musical mayhem for Armada's headbangers.

Among the capacity crowd are Seth, Mark, Julietta, Miranda, and their friends, all of whom belong to a different metal community to the death metal crew, that of black metal.  Nonetheless, they will have more than a casual interest to witness the must-see show which has been the talk of the town for weeks.
            Only this headbanger's heaven isn't going to be any ordinary concert.  It is about to turn into headbangers hell.  Undead Fleshcrave have a little thing they call Zombie Trigger which is something to be unveiled right here in Armada, and all true death heads are going to be treated to an orgy of bloody brutality and terror beyond any of the ultra-violent lyrics in the songs they adore.

Hopelessly ensnared in the crush of a concert turned cruel trap, Seth and company are just about to find Armada has been earmarked as the epicenter of a deliberately planned out undead apocalypse.

And this is only the beginning.  Undead Fleshcrave has a calculated plan which will see them continuing their tour of terror all across the country, bringing the Zombie Trigger and its undead repercussions to every town they visit.  Unless somebody can figure out how to stop them.


Very few survivors walked away from the fiery inferno and hellish bloodbath at the abandoned wastelands of St. Agnes.  And for all intents and purposes, while Black Widow Justice and the Twilight Twins might be dead, from both the ashes of those personas and the ashes of the old church, come the Riders of the Apocalypse.  Still hell-bent on eradicating scum and degenerates, they ride on motorcycles dubbed War, Famine, Pestilence and Death, seeking to do just that.  Meanwhile, in the wilderness around Kallesin County, something is not right.  A secluded domain, Kallesin County is home to many suspicious, guarded folk who like to keep their business private, but this time events transpiring around there are making the news.  Bodies are turning up, badly mutilated and partially eaten.  Some say it's the work of wild animals, others say a rogue pack of dogs, while other outlandish claims suggest a cannibalistic serial killer in stalking the region.  While quietly celebrating another successful mission and discussing a holiday, the Riders and company catch wind of the unusual incidents via a television news report and most of them share the same initial thought.  That these grisly discoveries are not the work of animal attacks or cannibal murderers at all, but instead, something far worse.  As the Riders holiday plans go ahead, so too do other plans.  To travel to Kallesin County and confirm their suspicions about the unusual spate of deaths.


The Riders have been ambushed.  Split.  Outwitted.  And in the hands of those who want them dead.  Terrence 'Terror' Strawn, strip club kingpin and criminal entrepreneur, has those he came to wreak brutal bloody havoc on, right where he wants them.  With his trusted army of thugs and several unlikely alliances on hand, Terror is calling the shots and his shots spell depravity and disaster for the Riders.  However, as thorough and ruthlessly efficient as the attackers have been with their unexpected raid, they haven't quite ticked every box in contemplating the job.  In their rush to get their prized captives to a secluded location for extensive torture and perverse purposes, they have not only left one of their allies behind, but they haven't quite rounded up all those foes they came to bring terror down upon.  Now the team despatched to tie up the loose ends at the remote Kallesin County residence that first ambushed the Riders and those they've been sent back to eliminate are about to discover that there is something more lurking in the deep of the woods surrounding the sprawling property.  Something horrendous.  Something remorseless and insatiable.  Something with the unquenchable desire to rip, tear, mutilate, and devour.  Soon, the blood is going to pour down like rain, and nobody is going to be safe.



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