Friday, September 4, 2015

Author Interview: Jim Goforth

Today I would like to welcome Jim Goforth, author of Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger and several other upcoming projects.

Natasha: Tell me about yourself. How long have you been writing? When you are not writing, how do you like to spend your spare time?

Jim: I’m an author and long-time fanatic of horror fiction, writing primarily what folks have termed grindhouse splatterpunk. I reside in Australia, with my wife, two little kids and a cat. I’m currently based in a small country town in the middle of nowhere, though most of my life I spent in the city. I’m a massive extreme metal aficionado and prior to returning to writing horror fulltime, I was involved in the worldwide extreme metal scenes for many years.

I’ve been writing the majority of my life. Not quite as long as I’ve been reading, but just about. Whether it has been writing stories, poetry, song lyrics, novellas, novels, reviews, I have been writing one thing or another, off and on, my entire existence.

Being published is still a relatively recent thing however; it wasn’t until January 2014 that my debut novel Plebs was released, but the floodgates have certainly opened up since then.

Spare time isn’t exactly something I have an abundance of; along with writing and editing, putting together anthologies and other duties with J. Ellington Ashton Press, I’m in charge of WetWorks the extreme horror and bizarro imprint for that publisher. On top of that are all the normal everyday things outside of writing that have to be done, but in the free time I do get I enjoy spending time doing things with my family, watching movies (predominantly horror, of course, though not to the exclusion of everything else), listening to music (again, primarily extreme metal like black and death, but glam/hair metal, industrial, horrorcore, hard rock, old sixties rock, blues, some dance, thrash, all kinds of things feature heavily), reading of course. I don’t watch a great deal of television, but I do have a handful of shows I rarely miss.

Natasha: Tell us a little about your current project. What was your favorite scene to write? What was your least favorite scene?

Jim: I have a host of current projects on the go at the moment, which is pretty standard; I’m usually working on multiple things at any given time. Right now I have two novels I’m working on, though one of them is getting a bit more focus on it than the other. That one is something of a creature feature, with the working title of The Sleep (not the title I’ll be going with, but it’ll do for now). It’s a monster story of sorts, though nothing like the usual oft-travelled vampire, werewolf, Bigfoot what have you, kind of thing. I’m around 70k into that one, hoping not to pull my usual stunt of blowing the word budget way out beyond 150k, but we’ll see what happens there. The other novel is a whole lot darker and revolves around a sixteen year old kid who discovers some disturbing history to his family and what it means for him. I haven’t progressed as far into that one yet, as the other book wrestled most of the attention away and demanded to get completed first. Again, that’s not set in stone, either one could see the light of day first. I’m also working on a bunch of different short stories, some which are for specific anthologies, and others which are to be compiled in another collection of shorts/novellas. I have something of a goal to release a collection of shorts between each full length novel, though whether that comes to fruition is yet to be ascertained.

In terms of favourite/least favourite scenes, I can’t say I really have any of either end of the spectrum. I love writing everything, whether it might be over the top grotesque gory horror, ultra-violence, sex scenes, humorous spots, more restrained, poignant moments, even dark or uncomfortable scenes which some might find disturbing. If I’m on a roll, I usually get ensconced in any scene I’m writing, whatever variety of scene it may be, so picking any one to identify as a favourite or otherwise is difficult. I refer now and then to the fact that I write the kinds of things that I personally love to read, so I’m enjoying all of it, even if it’s a reasonably emotional type of story or something with dark, disconcerting themes.

Natasha: Do you have any other exciting projects coming out?

Jim: I do indeed. I’ll have some works appearing in a few upcoming anthologies from J. Ellington Press, namely MvF (which was a whole lot of fun pitting male authors against female authors in writing stories with a handful of simple criteria), Drowning in Gore and Doorway To Death, among others. I’ve also put together the next instalment of the Rejected For Content series (we’re up to volume three now), so that’s skulking around the corner. A lot of interest was garnered in the call for submissions for that, so with quite a few good stories which I didn’t have room for in that particular volume means RFC4 will be off to a great start some time down the track as well. There are loads of great anthologies and ideas being tossed around that I would love to write something for, but I’ve had to pull out of several and pass up others. Last year was a case of writing a bunch of stories for an assortment of anthologies and though the plans were to focus mostly on writing novels this year, I still ended up knocking over a host of stories as well.

The collaborative project Lycanthroship, which is a work co-written by several of the same authors who featured in collab vampire book Feral Hearts is also in the works. That one was actually started some time prior to Feral Hearts, but a line-up change and everybody having a bunch of other projects on their plates meant that it was shelved up until recently.

One book I am very much looking forward to, which is probably the next thing folks will see me appear in, is Tales From the Lake Volume 2 from the excellent Crystal Lake Publishing. This was slated for release in August, but I understand it’s been pushed back a fraction. I’m over the moon about appearing in this one and sharing a TOC with the likes of horror masters Ed Lee, Jack Ketchum, Ramsey Campbell among others, and the story I have in it has a little more emphasis on the emotional rather than the visceral, so I’m intrigued to see what folks think of that.

I do have another full length novel coming this year, currently in edits. This is Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger which is, as the name might suggest, something of a zombie exploration. However, I’m no zombie genre writer, so people expecting to see the standard zombie thing with that book, won’t, not in any zombie paint by numbers sense. It’s my own spin on the undead and it’s based in black and death metal scenes, so it’s going to be loaded with my ‘grindhouse splatterpunk driven by heavy metal’ stylings, rather than adhere to too many standard zombie tropes. Metal aficionados, zombie fanatics, horror obsessives, folks who dig all the above, this book should be right up your alley. I’m excited about this one too, though like With Tooth and Claw it’s been hampered a little by assorted delays out of my control, but hopefully, it won’t be too long until I can unveil the beast.

Other than that I’ve also completed the follow-up book to Plebs, which in actuality is going to become two books. After writing it I acknowledged that it was a monster clocking in well over 280k in total length, so even after cutting down the word count extensively, there’s no other way around it, but to have it split into two separate books. That won’t see any activity now until next year, but maybe both books will surface then, I’m not too sure how that’s going to pan out.

Natasha: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
Jim: Quite simply, just write. Keep writing. If you love to write, then you must write. Getting published these days isn’t quite as difficult as it once was, back when I first considered, and then attempted, to get published, especially with the advent of social media, and the increase of self-publishing has made it even more accessible, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If one is looking to be published the traditional way, then it’s a case of honing your craft and researching what particular places are going to be most likely to accept, or even look at, the kind of material you write. Submit work to open calls, whether they are for anthologies or publishing houses seeking novel manuscripts, but always, and this is most important, always adhere to their specific guidelines and criteria. Nothing will get your query ignored faster than disregarding everything a publisher lists on their submission guidelines and if you’ve written a truly great piece of work worthy of being published, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by not paying attention to detail.

Rejections are going to happen, so never let that be a discouragement. Some publishers will provide feedback as to why a piece has been rejected, some won’t, but either way, don’t let it knock you down.
If you’re constantly receiving rejections in one particular area or genre, perhaps broaden your scope.

Never send unsolicited manuscripts. If a publisher isn’t open for submissions or aren’t actively seeking anything, then rest assured that unsolicited manuscript is probably never going to be looked at and that’s going to be the case if you are targeting the biggest names in the publishing industry. Setting your sights on those biggest names might be a lofty ambition and commendable, but for an untested new writer with no track record, setting more realistic goals is probably a wiser move.

Getting a story or two in anthologies is a reasonable way to start off and get a few publishing credits under your belt, and while plenty of folk decry the ‘for the love’  or exposure concept of anthologies, sometimes they can be handy for giving a new writer that boost they’re after. Granted, submitting to those isn’t going to make you any money, but for many, it is a place to start. Probably not a place to stay of course, but there is some value in these types of books and if you’re a struggling writer trying to crack into anything, having a few published stories to your name has to feel somewhat better than a pile of rejections and an endless chase for an unrealistic advance at a big name publishing house. That isn’t to say, don’t stop chasing whatever you want to chase in a publishing goal and don’t just settle for a parade of exposure work, but getting something on the board is bound to be a confidence booster.

Natasha: What is the best way for readers to reach you?
Jim: I can be found all over the place, usually lurking in dark corners, hiding in shadows where one might least expect me, but more often than not, the easiest way to reach me is through Facebook. I also have profiles on Amazon, Twitter, Google+, GoodReads, WordPress and assorted other social media places, but 

I remain most active on Facebook. I have a personal profile there as well as running an author page, and pages for Plebs, WetWorks and Rejected For Content. I’m happy to converse with readers there, or wherever else they might find me, dispense advice (both good and otherwise) and talk upcoming projects or random gibberish. Topics such as Richard Laymon, extreme metal, splatterpunk and horror in general in all mediums are some of the topics which engage my interest.

I’m on a variety of other sites such as BookLikes, AuthorsDen, even still on Myspace as well as those failed experiments which were TSU and Ello, but I’m there so sporadically, using them as a means to contact me isn’t going to prove overly successful.

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