Monday, April 02, 2012

Horror, fantasy author J.R. Leckman interviewed

1.) What draws you to writing mainly fantasy and horror literature?

I have this philosophy about video games. I refuse to play sports games, because I can play those games in real life. Instead, I prefer to play games where you're the mighty wizard, throwing fire and lightning at monsters in the woods, because whenever I attempt to do that in real life, I get kicked out of Walmart ... again.

The same thing goes for books. I can create those experiences, not only for myself, but others. Fantasy is my "for fun" genre of choice, where horror seems to be something I am just better at. I have had a couple of (very generous) people refer to some of my horror stories as similar to Dean Koontz, who was one of my favorites growing up. There is something about exploring both the dark and beautiful places of my own mind, and then sharing that with others that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Likely, I will stray into some other genres (such as sci-fi, which is NOT the same as fantasy), and if I can ever find the necessary foresight, I would love to write something similar to Picoult.

On the subject of horror, I also want to be part of the change it needs. While few will dispute that King is the master, I think he is one of the few true teller of tales left. I love watching scary movies. I love reading scary stories. I often feel that the eighties and nineties were the golden age of horror, and we've lost touch with what truly scares us. There is a difference between what scares us and what grosses us out. Thrillers are great, but they aren't necessarily horror. When I ask people about what scares them, they seldom answer in terms of that feeling of helplessness, but rather discuss that scene from that one movie that had a lot of blood in it. Really good ghost stories are hard to find these days, but I do think they are making a comeback.

2.) Your blog mentions you want to be a high school science teacher. If one of your books suddenly made you somewhat wealthy, would you still want to teach? Or focus upon your writing?

I currently am a high school teacher! If I got wealthy from one of my books, it would depend on which one. If it was  one of my darker tales (I have a couple), then I would probably quit out of necessity. People don't want Chuck Palahniuk teaching their kids science.

If I could continue to work, I would most likely try and teach a couple of classes. That's actually what I am doing now, is working part time until the end of the semester. It gives me time to write and to interact with other people. Now, if I were to become J.K. Rowling type wealthy, it would probably be in my best interest to quit. That kind of wealth comes with fame that would make teaching a problem, in my opinion.

3.) Who are some of your favorite authors?

King and early Koontz were among my favorites, horror wise. Tad Williams, Terry Brooks, and Zelazny were also my favorites. Truthfully, I keep up with them all from time to time, but I'm trying to explore new options, particularly in horror.

4.) It's night when you hear a noise outside your house. You look out the front door and see a giant of a man standing there wearing a hockey mask and carrying a blood-drenched machete in one hand. He is staring right back at you. What do you do?

Tell him there are no teenagers here and quietly close the door. Truthfully, I would take one of two approaches. I am a big guy myself. If I believed I could close the gap, I would go for it. I've spent the last couple of years learning Hou Quan (monkey boxing). Those hockey masks have nice big holes for me to sink my fingers through. As long as I could dodge that machete, it wouldn't be hard to swing around, collapse the leg, and try to blind him.

If I couldn't close the gap, I would make a hasty run to the kitchen for a pair of skillets. That way I would have something that could deflect a machete, hopefully long enough to brain him. Now, all of this is fine, unless I'm dealing with a vengeful spirit. At that point, hit him with salt. If that doesn't work, run to the car, burn rubber to the nearest 24-hour Walmart, and hang out where plenty of people can see you. Preferably back in sporting goods. That way, if the power is cut, I'm by the guns and propane tank.

5.) Do you believe in ghosts?

I would like to. I've captured EVP before, but until I have a more definitive experience, I can only make assumptions. Personally, it would fall in with my own personal beliefs, but who knows what that bump in the night really is? I've actually done a LOT of research into the paranormal, even so far as trying to join a local group (who could only meet on kung fu nights, so I didn't go). If I ever did encounter one, I would try and avoid a negative reaction (such as screaming and freaking out). It seems like that disrupts the experience, causing the ghost to disappear.

Ghosts really are interesting. The idea that the spirit of the deceased can still be hanging around is an idea that stretches across the globe and centuries of experience. It is very rare to see such ideas spread across many cultures, and that usually tells me that there must be some truth to the tales.

6.) Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi, but I'm fairly indifferent overall. I prefer Mt. Dew and Dr. Pepper to either. Truthfully, I have had a hankering recently for Crystal Pepsi, but I don't think it's gonna happen.

Find out more about J.R. Leckman online at his blog and:

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I write fantasy for the same reason. Don't wanna write what I've lived. Don't wanna read it either.