I am very excited to present to you an interview with J.G. Clay. It was a real treat to talk to him and if J.G. Clay isn’t an author your familiar with please go and pick up his book Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalyse Minor it’s a fantastic read. J.G. Clay is definitely a Man of Horror. There can be no doubt. Putting aside the reverence he has for the horror greats, such as King, Barker, Herbert, Carpenter, Romero and Argento, there is another fact that defines his claim for the title of the ‘Duke of Spook’. He was born on Halloween night. By a quirk fate, it was also a full moon that night. Co-incidence? Here at Clay Towers, we don’t believe in coincidences.
The Scary Reviews: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from? What propelled you to start writing?
J.G. Clay: I’m from the Midlands in the UK. My parents are originally from Punjab in India. Their families came over in the Fifties and Sixties and I was the first of the new generation to be born here. I still live in the Midlands which is great because I love it around here. Best area of the country and I make no apologies for saying that.
I first started writing when I was a kid in junior’s school (that’s elementary school to you folks in the States. I think). I was, and still am, mad on ‘Doctor Who, so I’d write my own adaptions of the serials that I was watching at the time. Then along came horror and that changed things for me quite radically. My first brush with horror was a UK comic called ‘2000AD’ which was crammed with mega violent stories and quite dark themes. For a child, it was quite dark and disturbing. I loved it! From then on, I became more and more engrossed with the genre and my writing began to change from there.
TSR: Can you tell me a little about your writing process, do you let the words flow or do you like to have an outline?
JG: With a lot of coffee and procrastination. Just joking. I don’t have a fixed ritual, as it were. I try and write as much and as often as possible. With short stories, I dive straight in. Novels, however, need a little more planning. I tend to sketch out a rough guide; what’s going on in each chapter, who’s doing what, who going to die etc.), and once I’ve done that, I crack on with it. The great Joe Lansdale once said that it’s better to edit as you go rather than going back and redrafting, so I’ve stolen that idea and incorporated into my own routine.
TSR: What is it you love about writing and is there anything you don’t like?
JG: I love the whole process, to be honest. Right from the moment an idea popes into my head. Writing’s been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. This is what I was born to do. To me, there’s nothing to hate about it. If you hate writing, you’re in the wrong job and you should find something else to do with your time.
Having said that, the moment you start a brand new work, whether it’s a short story or a novel is the scariest part for me. It’s just you, and a blank screen. No one can help or comfort you. Other than that, I love it!
TSR: OK JG here’s a hard question for you, how does your work differ from others in its genre?
JG: Difficult question. I suppose the unique thing about my brand of horror is that there’s a sense of dark fun about it. By that, I don’t mean out and out parody. There’s a dark strand humour beneath the gore, the creature and the grim situations I put my characters in. There’s some pretty cool creatures knocking about in my fiction as well. And the obligatory zombie. These days, you’ve got to have a zombie somewhere.
TSR: I imagine there must be books you’ve read growing up that influenced you, if so which ones?
JG: Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, The Fog by James Herbert and Weaveworld by Clive Barker. The first two were the first horror novels I ever read. To me, Salem’s Lot was and still is, a masterclass on horror writing. The Fog showed me that us Brits can do horror extremely well. The cover was gruesome too. A severed head being held up by persons Unknown. You could get away with that sort of stuff in the Eighties. If you tried to put out a cover like that now, Twitter would implode.
Weaveworld blew me away. Barker’s writing showed me that there’s no limit to imagination. The man’s fearless in his writing.
TSR: Who are some of your favorite authors and which if any had a significant impact on you growing up?
JG: See above haha. The Unholy Trio as mentioned above along with Robert Mccammon, Graham Masterton, Ramsey Campbell and the King of Pulp Horror, Guy N. Smith. If you’ve never checked out his stuff, do yourself a favour. Fun and gory. Along with those guys I’d throw in Ray Garton, Ed Lee (officially the sickest mo-fo on the planet) And Joe Hill.
TSR: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
JG: Any of the writers I have already mentioned. I couldn’t pick one out because they’ve all been out there, paid their dues and done well. They obviously know their stuff.
TSR: Can you tell us a little about your re-release of Tales of Blood and Sulphur and your latest work in progress?
JG: I’ve just re-written and re-released ‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur’ under the Forsaken imprint. Forsaken is the horror imprint for Booktrope and they gave me a deal on the back of the original ‘Tales’ so I rewrote it, added some new stories to the mix and let it loose back in July. I’ve currently got two novels and a novella in the works. I’m hoping to release ‘H.A.D.E.S’, the first of the novels before the end of the year on Forsaken. The others? You’ll just have to wait and see what’s going on.
TSR: I have always wanted to know how did you come up with the title?
JG: For ‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor’? No idea. The ‘Tales’ part just came to me and I really can’t remember when or where. Probably after a few pints, I’d imagine. The subtitle ‘Apocalypse Minor’ is part of an ongoing thing. ‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur’ is going to be an ongoing collection of short stories each with a different subtitle and what I plan to do is release one every year probably around my birthday. Which is Halloween funnily enough. Karma was definitely at work there.
‘H.A.D.E.S’ is my little homage to the Eighties film ‘C.H.U.D’, a film I love. I won’t tell you what it stands for. You’ll have to wait until it comes out.
TSR: With all that writing going on what book are you reading now?
JG: I’ve just ‘Horns’ by Joe Hill. Awesome bit of work there from King’s boy. I couldn’t put it down. Next up is ‘Reinheit’ by Thomas S. Flowers who is one of my stablemates at Forsaken and a load of books about London’s docklands and sewers. That’s research for ‘H.A.D.E.S’ by the way. Docklands and sewers aren’t really a speciality subject or anything like that.
TSR: I know you are a long time Horror fan so what is your all-time favorite horror novel and film?
JG: Favourite novel has to be ‘Salem’s Lot’. To this day, I can’t sleep facing a window because of the ‘Danny Glick floating outside Mark Petrie’s window’ scene. My favourite horror film has to be John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. To this day, there still hasn’t been a film that’s captured the sense of paranoia and doom that ‘The Thing’ has. Superb story, direction, acting and effects. I wasn’t overly impressed with the prequel but that’s no fault of the director or the cast. Studio execs with massive egos are to blame for that one.
TSR: Can you tell us what is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
JG: Most of the advice I’ve had runs along the same sort of lines; ‘Read lots, write lots’. That’s the only piece of realistic advice any writer can give you.
TSR: Who is your favorite character from your book and what makes them special to you?
JG: Fortuna Devoratum, the Eater of Luck. He features in the story ‘On the Beach’ in Tales of Blood and Sulphur’. There’s a smugness, an arrogance and a confidence about him that I like. He’s not just an every-day jobbing demon. He’s got a bit a class, charisma and cheek about him.
TSR: With everything you have written what piece of your work are you most proud of?
JG: ‘The World Stops When The Smiling Men Cry’ also from the new Tales. Definitely one of my proudest and finest moments. I really struggled with the original story it grew from but then something just clicked and the whole story fell into place. It’s one of my more science fiction type stories with horror elements but it’s a great little story and there’s some genuinely creepy and unsettling moments. I hope readers will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
TSR: For all your Clay-World fans can you tell us what’s coming next and where people can buy your books?
JG: Next up, we will have ‘H.A.D.E.S which should be out before the end of the year. Going into 2016, we will have two novels and another Tales of Blood and Sulphur. The novels will be ‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘Caarnival of Monsters’. ‘Caarnival was originally slated for this year but I couldn’t get it to work. I put it to one side and will be going back to it with a vengeance around Christmas time. I’m also writing a lot of short stories as well so those that don’t make it to next year’s ‘Tales’ will be released in one form or another. Forsaken, my imprint, are doing a monthly e-zine called ‘Horror Hooligans’ so I’m sure a Clay story will pop up in one of them at some point.
In fact, the inaugural ‘Horror Hooligans’ edition has one of my offering’s called ‘Nothing To Fear In The Dark’, as well as great pieces by my fellow authors Robert Pruneda, S.E. Rise, Christian Jensen and AJ Aalto. It’s a great read and can be found here: http://amzn.to/1OzoNpA
I want thank you for taking the time to talk with me today since you are obviously knee deep in your writing mode. I can see you have a very busy year ahead and I can’t wait to read the next installment of ‘Tales’ and your novel ‘Fool’s Gold. Plus I’m eagerly awaiting the ‘Caarnival of Monsters’! To pick up your copy of J.G. Clay’s book or follow him check out the links provided below.
You can get ‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor’ here:
Kindle US : http://amzn.to/1TX8Jhu
Paperback US: http://amzn.to/1CZpm7F
Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/1RYqLlM
Paperback UK: http://amzn.to/1KoFNKP
Nook (Barnes & Noble)
And if you’d like to keep up to date with what I’m up to, head over to my internet home Clay’s Place. All are welcome. Some even leave alive: http://www.jgclayhorror.com/