Hey everybody! I had the great fortune to interview an author and a phenomenal musician Jon O’Berg, He began playing piano at age 7, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine. He has done over a dozen albums ranging in style from atmospheric, to jazz, from funk to experimental, and from electronic to ambient. He has played with the amazing band Gemini Soul https://www.reverbnation.com/geminisoul. And he has written some absolutely fabulous books. I really enjoyed his horror novel Shatter Point which is a ghost story wrapped around the premise that everyone does in fact have a breaking point especially when an extreme haunt is involved,. So I wanted you to get to know him and for you all to check out his works, so let’s get to the questions!
My first obvious questions for horror writers, why horror?
I inherited a love of horror from my parents. Whether it was my mother telling ghost stories to neighborhood kids on warm summer evenings or my artist father painting skeletons, ghostly figures, and deserted buildings, horror surrounded me growing up. Horror speaks to one of our strongest emotions and often symbolizes issues such as social dysfunction and guilt. But even more significantly, for me, it provides the perfect vehicle for exploring the tension and ambiguity between what is real and what is imagined or unknown, which we must grapple with daily. That’s why authors like Paul Tremblay and Gemma Files especially appeal to me.
Do you have any favorite horror films or books that have influenced you or your work?
Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”—both the novel and the 1963 movie. The shocking twist in Thomas Tryon’s novel “The Other” made a huge impression on me. And although it’s not a horror book, I love “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has nightmarish elements with the Boo Radley house. Its concern with prejudice and social justice influenced my newest horror novel, which I hope to publish soon.
Have you ever gone to an extreme haunt like in your book The Shatter Point?
Are you crazy??? I wouldn’t last two minutes. Not my idea of a good time. I got the idea for the novel after watching a documentary on extreme haunts. That was close enough. I do like conventional haunted attractions, though. Living in Toronto, I’m fortunate to be near one of North America’s premiere haunts at Casa Loma, a castle that sits on an escarpment overlooking the city. Every October, the proprietors turn the castle and grounds into an impressive haunt. What could be a more appropriate setting for fright than a real castle?
Why do you think people are so intrigued with being scared?
I think it safely allows us to explore certain feelings and provides an emotional release. Kind of like riding a roller coaster, or the laughter after being frightened at a haunted attraction. I also think it helps us tame fears we have, such as fears of death and the disintegration of the body, and fears about loss of control. As one of the characters in my new novel says, horror is sort of like a vaccine that inoculates us. For a while.
Does anything frighten you?
Wasps. I can’t even be outside in the vicinity of those insects without coming unglued. Murderers. I’ve had close encounters with a serial killer, a mass shooter, and a colleague who chopped up his girlfriend—a triple whammy that continues to haunt my stories. And madness. The first time I experienced panic attacks, I thought I was losing my mind. These incidents, when they occur, are terrifying beyond anything I can describe.
You are a very talented musician, can you tell my readers a little about why you love music, how you pursued it in college and what your favorite styles and influencers are?
My mother wanted me to take piano lessons, which I did for seven years starting at age 7. I’ve always had a creative streak, and music provided an additional outlet beyond writing, making up games for my friends to play, and designing floor plans. In college I started out intending to become a writer, but after two years switched my major to music because, at that time, it came more easily than writing. I love how music and words go hand in hand to enhance each other. A very powerful combination. My tastes are eclectic, and I appreciate most styles of music from classical to rock to pop to jazz to rap. The style isn’t as important to me as the artist’s vision and how well it’s executed. Who’s influenced me? Meshell Ndegeocello, Tori Amos, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Herbie Hancock, Laurie Anderson, Todrick Hall, Esperanza Spalding, RuPaul, Joni Mitchell… I could go on.
Have you ever considered adapting your music to soundtracks for films?
I often get comments that my music (at least some of the instrumental stuff) sounds like a soundtrack. It would be fun to write music for a film.
You have done music for television, can you tell us more about that?
I wrote some background music for a couple of programs years ago—very light, inconsequential wallpaper music. It’s difficult because you’re trying to please a client who can’t necessarily articulate very well what he or she wants. So I didn’t enjoy that. But songs I’ve recorded have been used in programs on NBC, BET, Telemundo, the Hallmark Channel, etc.
Like your album Ghost Story, if it could be the soundtrack for a film what would you like to see happen in the film?
Hmm… Trying to tie together the different threads, it would be about demonic forces that unleash ghosts from catacombs under the earth to usher in the apocalypse. The ghosts cause people to do horrific acts against one another, like chopping off heads that they keep in a box. (Idea for a new novel?)
What new projects are you working on, or anything else we should be on the lookout for?
I just completed a novel about a drag queen and his female friend who run a horror podcast and share a passion for fashion, art, and horror. When they learn their apartment building might be haunted, they investigate with the help of their quirky neighbors, but uncover something sinister that threatens them all. And there will be a companion album of horror songs written by one of the characters in the story. I’m currently seeking a publisher. I also have an idea for another novel that I’ll start writing soon.
“The Shatter Point” is available at Amazon (https://amzn.to/2IAFL79) and other online retailers. My music is available at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and most online sources.
The Shatter Point: https://shatterpointhorror.com
Song of Fire music blog: https://obergh.net/songoffire/
I want to thank Jon so much for taking the time to answer my questions today; I encourage you to read all of his works and definitely check out his music; I enjoyed it all immensely.