• Gaby Triana

Bram Stoker Winner JOHN EVERSON Likes it Hot

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

I'm excited to bring you today's interview with an all-around talented author who's written some creepy-ass novels about haunted places and won a Bram Stoker Award in 2004. His passions transcend writing and spill into everyday life, but here, let him tell you. Please welcome JOHN EVERSON!

WH: Hi, John! Please give us a brief introduction of your fabulous self:

I’ll give you the horror Personals version: Let’s see… I’m a Pisces, so I’ve written about seductive creatures of the ocean, like the Siren. I’m very open-minded and enjoy good conversation, especially about Italian horror and giallo movies from the ‘70s and goth and new wave bands from the ‘80s. I love dark nights, black candles and Satanic rituals around the campfire. If I had to describe myself in one word, I’d say I like it “hot.” I like everything hot – hot sun, hot peppers, hell… In my free time, I garden (I grow peppers!), play pinball and write horror novels like Covenant, The 13th, NightWhere and The House By The Cemetery.

WH: *Imagination runs wild* Well, then. I'll be sure to keep a firehose nearby while reading your books! So, if someone was new to reading the works of John Everson, which book(s) should they start with?

That kind of depends on the kind of horror you like, really. What’s your “intensity” quotient? I’ve written a lot of books with demons, witches and the occult as centerpieces (the Covenant trilogy, The 13th, NightWhere, The Pumpkin Man, The House by the Cemetery) but I’ve also written an erotic horror novel about a mythological creature (Siren) and a creature feature novel in Violet Eyes (mutant spiders and flies). Most of my novels include some erotic horror elements, with NightWhere being the most intense, over-the-top novel and The Family Tree (essentially about a backwoods fountain of youth) being sexy but much less extreme.

WH: I love that you don't stay in one groove but explore different types of fear. What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?

I would be the keyboardist and occasional singer in a pop-rock band. Music has always been my first love, but I never quite found the right bandmates so… my music career never got out of the garage and a couple rundown rented practice spaces in Chicago.

WH: I would love to read a book about a rock musician whose life changes when he brings home a haunted vintage keyboard. Make it happen? :) I’ve put your latest release, The House By The Cemetery, on my TBR list. Gothic tales of haunted houses and witches are my thing. Is it more horror or gothic, and what inspired you to write it?

It’s definitely more horror. It’s basically about a group of people who turn an old, abandoned house near a cemetery into a haunted house attraction for Halloween… only problem is, the place is already really haunted. You know that can’t go well for the new “haunters.”

The inspiration for it was a famous haunted cemetery near where I grew up. When I was a kid I used to hear stories about the ghosts of Bachelors Grove Cemetery, and when I was a reporter I wrote a feature story for the newspaper about the place. After that, I wrote a couple of short stories set in the cemetery and touching on some of the ghost stories that have been shared for over 50 years about the place. After writing the last one for the Cemetery Riots anthology, it occurred to me that I could write a whole novel set in Bachelors Grove – and use the famous story of a “ghost house” that appears and disappears to people as the centerpiece. (Only, in my novel, the house is a solid structure, not the “ghost” of a house.)

WH: This echoes how I wrote my first ghost book, a middle grade kids' novel called Freddie and the Biltmore Ghost. I was inspired by a local haunted hotel and after featuring it in a couple of short stories, finally set a whole novel there.

If you could interview any author, gone or alive, who would it be?

Back when I was first starting out and still working for a newspaper, I got to have tea with Clive Barker while doing an interview at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. I’ve gotten to have dinner with another of my idols, Edward Lee, on a couple of occasions. So I’ve already gotten to interview two of my major influences. I would love to walk a New Orleans cemetery while talking to Anne Rice or have had the chance to talk to Clifford D. Simak or Isaac Asimov, two of the classic science fiction authors that I grew up reading.

WH: So awesome! I've actually been inside of Anne Rice's home in the Garden District in NOLA. Her cousin used to give tours in the 90s, and I was there while Anne was upstairs writing. Didn't get to meet her but being inside her home was an interesting experience.

How have you changed as a person from your early life until now?

I don’t really know because I’ve always felt like me, but I suppose I’ve gotten more tired and cranky! I’ve always been a cynic, but over the years I’ve seen more places, and met more people and maybe those experiences have simply made me even more cynical about the virtue, or lack thereof, in most humans. I do wish that I’d been more sure of myself and more of a risk-taker when I was younger, so that maybe my music career would have taken off or my fiction career would have taken off sooner. I’d been writing throughout my later 20s and 30s but while the book was completed in my 30s, Covenant didn’t come out in mass market paperback until I was 42.

WH: What is something few people know about you? Any secret talents?

I don’t know about secret… I’m pretty open about my life and loves. I am always creating something, whether I have talent at it or not. I love to cook, garden, write music, design photo collages (I’ve designed book covers for several presses). I’ve even dabbled in woodwork – I built a large oak bar in my basement a few years ago.

WH: Creatives will always be creative, no matter where they focus their energies. I ask everyone this now... How do you like your coffee? What’s your favorite dessert? Food choices tell so much about a person.

Coffee with a splash of cream. And none of that flavored shit.

Favorite dessert? Crème Brulee or Peppermint Ice Cream. I don’t like sugar in my coffee, but my dessert needs to be full of it!

WH: That would be like having sugar in your hot peppers. :) What is the witchiest thing about you, John?

I have an antique Ouija board that one of my friends scored for me and a real human skull in my office that another friend of mine found in the back seat of a junk car (his family owns an auto junkyard). As dark as that sounds, it was a skull that apparently was taken from a biology class – there is a spring screwed into the jaw and a couple screws sticking out of the sawed off top of the cranium.

I thought about naming it, but decided that might be going too far.

WH: Now I want you to write me a story about what happens when a guy assigns a name to a skull found in the back of the car. :))) What do you feel makes a horror novel scary/compelling?

Different people are moved by different things. If you write about fears that a lot of people have, you’ll probably strike a nerve. If your characters are likable, people will want to go along for their (harrowing) ride.

WH: You received the Bram Stoker Award in 2005 for your novel, Covenant. Has winning the Bram Stoker changed the way you write or perceive yourself in any way?

It didn’t change the way I write. I don’t know how to write any differently than I do because my “voice” is my voice! It didn’t change the way I perceived myself either… if anything, it made me feel nervous that I didn’t deserve it and didn’t want people to read the book and say “oh, c’mon, THAT won?” That said, it definitely opened doors for me – because of winning the award, the book was picked up and translated in Poland… for a couple years, there were more copies available there than there were here, since the original U.S. publication was a limited 250-copy hardcover on a tiny press. And certainly all of my publishers have used that “Bram Stoker Award-Winning Author” plug as a marketing tool.

WH: It would make me feel like an imposter, too, but it won for a reason! What is the most awesome thing happening in your life right now that you’d like to share with us? What’s next for you? We can’t wait to see what you have coming up!

I just finished the final edits on my 11th novel, The Devil’s Equinox, which is coming out in June from Flame Tree Press (the same publisher who released The House By The Cemetery last fall). I can’t wait to hear what readers think of this one, as it’s a novel I’ve wanted to write for a decade. I first sketched out the outline for the book back in 2008! It’s kind of an over-the-top Rosemary’s Baby kind of devil, dark magic, evil rituals kind of story!

I can't wait for this and would love to feature you again when the book is released! In the meantime, good luck with your writing, John. Thank you so much for joining me today. It's been a pleasure!

Links to John Everson...

* Website: www.johneverson.com

* Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/John-Everson/e/B002BMHL52/

* Latest release: http://www.johneverson.com/books/the-house-by-the-cemetery/

* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johneverson

* Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnEverson

* Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nightwhereman/

John Everson is a staunch advocate for the culinary joys of the jalapeno and an unabashed fan of 1970s European horror cinema. He is also the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of eleven novels, including his latest occult thriller, The Devil’s Equinox(due in June 2019) and The House By The Cemetery, which takes place at a real haunted cemetery -- Bachelor’s Grove -- in the south suburbs of Chicago. His first novel Covenant, was a winner of the Bram Stoker Award and his sixth, NightWhere, was a finalist for the award. Other novels include Redemption, the conclusion to the trilogy begun in Covenant, as well asSacrifice, Violet Eyes, The Pumpkin Man,The Family Tree,Sirenand The 13th. Over the past 25 years, his short stories have appeared in more than 75 magazines and anthologies. He is the founder of the independent press Dark Arts Books and has written novelettes for The Vampire Diariesand Jonathan Maberry’s V-Warsuniverse (Books 1 and 3), the latter of which is currently being developed for NetFlix. He’s also written stories for The Green Hornetand Kolchak, The Night Stalker anthologies.He has had several short fiction collections, including Needles & Sins, Vigilantes of Love, Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessionsand most recently, Sacrificing Virgins.For more on his obsession with jalapenos and 1970s European horror cinema, as well as information on his fiction, art and music, visit www.johneverson.com.

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