John F Leonard- Author Interview (2019)

Hey guys, Jaye here again to bring you another amazing author for you to go check out: horror author John F Leonard. John hails from the England and is an author who can spin an incredible read from the usual and the mundane by turning the topics on their head. Beautiful character crafting and scenarios that will have chills running up and down your spine and leave you thinking about them long after you are done reading. A dash of social commentary, a morsel of suspense, and a huge dollop of terror will have you clamoring to read more! So let’s get to the questions for him:

Why horror? What got you interested in writing in that genre?

The simplest answer is that I like reading horror and I think you’re best writing something you would like to read. That was all I ever really wanted to do when I started out – write something for myself. A book I’d see and think, yeah, I fancy reading that. I’ve still got the same ambition.

It also depends on your definition of horror. For me, it has clear cross-overs with science fiction – apocalyptic and dystopian stuff – and yet goes beyond that. Elements of horror are found in a lot of the ‘mainstream’ genres. I wouldn’t want to tackle a romance, for example – believe it or not, I have been asked – but a horror romance, now that’s not entirely out of the question. : )

Who are some of your favorite authors, or inspirations or who inspired you?

Too many to list them all. Some of the earliest include James Herbert, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Stephen Donaldson, A.A. Attanasio, Robert McCammon.

It’s a toughie – the early ones are the easiest and still difficult – how far back to go, how do you identify/isolate influence?

I’m holding off on mentioning newer writers because I haven’t read enough recently. That’s a sad admission, but it’s the truth. There are only so many hours in my day and I’m spending most of them writing/working – that’s set to change, once I’ve got through my backlog of work/rejigged my schedule.

Your art work is amazing, any formal training?

I had an excellent education, and it included art. Your strengths (to whatever degree) are invariably your interests – Art, English, History. They were all subjects that fascinated me. Of course, that was a long time ago.

As far as art goes, I sold quite a few sculptures and paintings and came to the awful realisation that it wasn’t going to pay the bills. I drifted away, like you do. Got lost in trying to survive the world.

Sometimes you go back though, rediscover your first loves. Sculpture, drawing, painting – I wasn’t sure what I had left in me for those.

Language, the written word, was a different matter.

It felt like I’d never really explored what I could do there. I think the desire to write is probably the last great motivation I’ll have in my life. When that urge is spent, I’ll be happy to watch the grass grow.

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Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere and anywhere. I have a list of ideas – it grows nearly as quickly as my To Be Read books and To Be Watched movies list. Reality and its subversion is something currently grabbing my interest. The Scaeth Mythos/Dead Boxes have their foundation in that concept.

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What frightens you?

Mortality – my own and that of my loved ones. There’s a terrible fragility to life. It wasn’t something that concerned me when I was younger, but I worry about it a lot these days.

There are other things. Stupidity, for one. That scares the brown stuff out of me. Not being able to intelligently reason is a surefire recipe for bad decisions and worse outcomes. It’s great friends with greed, you often find them skipping hand in hand through the wastelands they’ve created.

Heights is another, more prosaic one. Not in and of themselves – nothing wrong with simply being up high, its height combined with a feeling of vulnerability. Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower is an amazing experience. Beautiful and breathtaking. Stuck at the top of a stepladder trying to fix your roof is insane!

Thinking on it, probably doesn’t count – comes under mortality.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Nothing very exciting. I love to read when I’m not knee deep in my own writing.

Television – I can vegetate in front of the box with the best of them. My viewing mostly consists of horror, science fiction, comedies. Some drama, although a lot of it is dross. Some sport, football and snooker. Current affairs (when you can filter the truth from what the networks want to give you).

I like a drink and relaxing with family and friends. Don’t do enough of that.

Sleep! I know that sounds factitious, but there’s nothing like a genuinely restful spell under the duvet.

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Do you have a writing muse or mantra?

I don’t think so. Not sure I actually subscribe to the idea (on a personal level). I believe the need to create exists in most of us. How it comes out is down to the individual – art, writing, learning how to fix the plumbing. Whatever.

For me, the process isn’t always easy. It’s often hard work. Putting in the effort and hours. What makes it worthwhile is the end result. Well, sometimes anyway. Now and again, you finish up, wipe your hands on the oily rag, and find out you’ve written a turkey. Or the damn tap is still dripping : )

Whilst I love it, writing doesn’t belong on any sort of pedestal. It’s an admirable ability, but ultimately just another skill.

Where did the Scaeth Mythos come from?

It began with me asking family and friends to suggest a name for an Irish vampire (I’m of Irish heritage and very proud of the fact).

I was inundated by ideas – seems my folk can’t resist taking the pee. ‘Mick the Biter’ was one suggestion that made me howl with laughter.

Anyway, I cogitated and researched and eventually got to ‘The Scaeth’.

The vampire side of it also morphed into something else. Broadened into a bigger concept. The Scaeth is a kind of cosmic vampire. A parasite infesting the walls of reality. It’s hollowed out a space for itself and no longer resides in any universe, just plunders those it can access. Dips into them to interfere and feed. It loves to feed.

If you could have dinner with any 5 people, living/dead/real/fiction who would it be and why?

That’s a killer question! Can’t even begin to factor in fictional. This would change with my mood, but here we go:

  1. R. Giger – The mind that created Alien, that’s all I need say. Plus, I’d try to persuade him to get me a Harkonnen chair.

George Best – knew how to enjoy himself and my favourite footballer.

Peter Cushing – a gentleman, part of the Hammer Horror crew so lots of gossip/insights.

Siouxsie Sioux (from the Banshees) – a punk presence.

James Herbert – ignited my love of horror and struck me as a bloke with hidden depths.

We’d need an extra seat – my wife is usually at my side for big events.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve been busy lately with some shorter fiction, novellas of varying lengths. I may put together a collection of what’s already out there along with new, unpublished stuff. After that a novel is most likely.

My latest is A Plague of Pages – another story from the Dead Boxes Archive. In the same territory as Bad Pennies and Call Drops. Old school horror, to my way of thinking anyway, about the perils of writing under diabolical influence.

What happens when a normal guy wants to redefine himself and become a horror writer …it doesn’t work how he plans. Not surprising, there are supernatural, cosmic forces cooking the books, so as to speak : )

I want to thank John so much for taking the time to answer my questions and may I say his dinner guest list was inspiring. If you would like to know more about John, read his works or connect with him on social media, just follow these links:

A Plague of Pages:

AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07N7MPMGN

AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N7MPMGN

Get in touch with John on Twitter – https://twitter.com/john_f_leonard

John F Leonard Author Pages:

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B01BHUE6Z6/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/John-F-Leonard/e/B01BHUE6Z6/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14953570.John_F_Leonard

 

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