Meghan: Hi, JG. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
JG Faherty: Let’s see. I’ve been writing fiction since 2000. My first novel was published in 2010. I write primarily in the areas of horror, supernatural thrillers, YA, and paranormal romance, plus a little dark science fiction and fantasy. My hobbies are playing the guitar, watching bad sci-fi movies, visiting wineries, and reading. I own a rescue dog, I’m married, and I live in a very haunted region of New York State.
Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?
- I studied herpetology in college and used to own more than a dozen venomous snakes.
- I have built four guitars.
- I have been published three times in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.
- I used to write an advice column many years ago.
- I enjoy exploring abandoned buildings.
Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?
JG Faherty: Try as I might, I can’t remember the very first book. I know I started reading at a young age. I know that by the time I was 7 or 8, I was already checking out books on dinosaurs from the library and I was reading short stories by Poe. My first novel was probably either Frankenstein or Dracula. And as a young kid, I also read all the Hardy Boys mysteries (I still have the whole collection!).
Meghan: What are you reading now?
JG Faherty: I just got back from a vacation and I read Demons, Well-Seasoned: Book III in The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy by Patricia V. Davis (it’s a cozy supernatural mystery) and The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories, edited by Stephen Jones. I recommend both of them!
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?
JG Faherty: When I was young, I wanted to be a comic strip writer. But I can’t draw well enough. In college, I tried to write a horror novel, but it was terrible and I didn’t know at the time (this was before the internet) that you had to practice, have editors, etc. So I just stopped writing. Then, in 1999, I got a job writing test preparation books for The Princeton Review, and that required writing fiction for the reading passages. I really enjoyed it, and it came easy. I tried my hand at a short story, and got some good comments from editors I met at a horror convention. So I kept at it, and started getting published. I began writing in 2000, and my first professional publication was 2001, a 2000-word short story. Little did I know it would be almost 3 years before my next one, and not until 2005 until I’d start getting published on a regular basis.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
JG Faherty: I always write at my desk, on my computer. No laptop for me. Hate them. If I’m on vacation, I bring a journal-type notebook and write long-hand. Usually, that’s how I work out story problems or put down ideas, but I’ve also written some short stories that way. Interesting fact – my first novel, Carnival of Fear, was written entirely long hand and then I typed it into the computer later. Only time I’ve ever done that.
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
JG Faherty: It has to be absolutely quiet. No music, no noise. I don’t mind music when I’m editing, but it distracts me when I’m writing. Same with TV, people talking, etc.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
JG Faherty: All of it. It’s hard for me to maintain a long attention span, and usually I think everything I write sucks. It’s not until the editing phase that I start to think the book is good.
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
JG Faherty: My first novel will always be the most satisfying, because it proved I could do it. Every novel since then is satisfying because it means I overcame all the obstacles and did it again. And, of course, being nominated for several industry awards has meant a lot.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
JG Faherty: I particularly have always enjoyed writers who have a down to earth style – Stephen King, Brian Keene, and several of the science authors I enjoy. While I’ve never tried to copy anyone, I think that my style is also down to earth, casual, and realistic in terms of dialog. I like characters that seem real, like people you’d meet.
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
JG Faherty: A good story should have a plot that makes sense, move quickly into the action, have a strong middle, and a strong ending. Too many books are great right up to the last 30 pages, and then they don’t make sense. Or worse, there’s no ending at all. Most of all, a good story keeps the reader interested from page 1 to the last page.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
JG Faherty: For me to love a character, they have to seem real to me. I have to be invested in them emotionally, whether they are good or bad. They have to make me laugh, or cry, or shout, or all three. I can love a character whether they are evil or good – we all love Hannibal Lecter and Dracula, and they aren’t good at all. And that’s what I try to do with my characters, both protagonists and antagonists, and even secondary characters. Put the reader in their shoes, so that when good or bad things happen, they are feeling what the characters are feeling.
Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
JG Faherty: Wow. That’s a tough one. I try not to put too much of myself in any character, because I’m always trying to be in other peoples’ shoes, to think like my characters would. In terms of how and think and feel, perhaps JD, the main character in Carnival of Fear. But I don’t come from the wrong side of the tracks like he did, and I don’t have an old football injury. I’ve put a lot of other people into my books, though, under fake names. I’ve never told them, and they’ve never let me know if they’ve noticed!
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?
JG Faherty: I am incredibly turned off by bad covers. I’ve had a couple of books where I hated the covers and I couldn’t wait to put new ones on them once I got the rights to the books back. I firmly believe those bad covers are partly responsible for poorer sales than I anticipated. As my career moved along, I have made sure to be as involved in cover art as possible, and to that extent my time with Samhain Publishing and now Flame Tree has been very rewarding, because in both cases the staff artists were/are astounding and I’ve had to fill out lengthy cover art worksheets detailing my ideas, plot, character descriptions, and more for the artists. And the result has been 9 books in a row with covers I love. And that readers tell me they love, too.
Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?
JG Faherty: That writing is hard! Also, that, like my mentors in this biz have said over and over, your first idea usually is either not good or it’s already been used. You have to look beyond the obvious, find twists, make a story your own. Don’t rewrite Dracula, create something that’s never been done before. Also, that I have no idea of what is scary. I keep trying to scare myself with my stories, and it never happens. But my readers say the stuff is way scary. So I’ve learned not to trust my own judgement.
Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?
JG Faherty: Military horror is kind of tough for me, because it requires non-stop action. In Hellrider, I had to write a scene where a character threatens a minor with physical and sexual violence, and we had to make sure it portrayed the character as bad but didn’t step over the bounds of what you’d normally expect in a grindhouse story. In Carnival of Fear, I had to write a death scene that was supposed to be tragic, and I kept working at it until finally I re-read what I’d written and I started to cry. That’s when I knew I’d nailed it.
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
JG Faherty: They’re by me. My style, my words, my ideas. No two writers are the same. I’ve written a lot of ‘classic’ horror, the kind with supernatural bad guys and people trapped in impossible situations. Same as King, Mary Shelley, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and a thousand other horror writers. But none of it’s the same. There’s really no other way to say it. My haunted carnival novel is not the same as anyone else’s. My novel about a veterinarian who can cure animals by touching them (The Cure) is not like anyone else’s novel about curing with a touch. My novel about six friends reuniting to stop a supernatural terror (Cemetery Club) is not like IT once you get past the one-line description. And Hellrider is nothing like Ghost Rider, even though they are both on motorcycles. My story is more like Sons of Anarchy with ghosts, if Robert Rodriguez directed it.
Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?
JG Faherty: I think the book title is very important – it has to convey the basics of the story to the reader, even if they don’t know it at the time. Can you imagine if The Shining was called Danny’s Life? Or if Dracula was called Harker’s Journey? Or if Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus was called Experiments in Anatomy?
For my own books, I’ve always put a lot of thought into the titles. Carnival of Fear – a demonic, haunted carnival. The Burning Time – an evil entity incites a town to extreme violence during a summer heat wave. Cemetery Club – a group of outcasts form a club that meets in a cemetery that sits over haunted ground. The Cure – a veterinarian can cure with a touch, but more than that, the whole book is about her trying to ‘cure’ her own feelings of inadequacy and her loneliness.
Hellrider has a quadruple meaning – Hell Riders is the gang Eddie belongs to, Hell Creek is the town he lives in and he’s a ‘rider,’ his last name is Ryder and he comes back from Hell, and Hellrider is also the name of his favorite song.
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
JG Faherty: I love writing short stories. That’s how I got my start. I still think that a short story imparts the most emotional impact because it has to hit hard and fast, no wasted words. Novels are great for delivering grander stories, expansive plots, and deep concepts. Personally, I feel that the novella is the best length for a book – long enough to have secondary characters and a subplot or two, but short enough that you can read it in one sitting and still get hit hard by the story. I’ve written 10 so far, and I look forward to writing more.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
JG Faherty: Well, I think I’ve covered the books in answering previous questions. My novels and novellas range from downright traditional and scary (The Burning Time, Cemetery Club, Death Do Us Part, Winterwood) to thrillers (The Cure, Fatal Consequences) to YA (Ghosts of Coronado Bay) to grindhouse (Hellrider) to Lovecraftian (Legacy, the upcoming Sins of the Father) to suspense (Fatal Consequences). My target audience is really just people who love an entertaining story that will send some shivers up your spine and keep you at the edge of your seat. When they’re finished, I’d like them to say, ‘wow, that was cool, and maybe I won’t turn the lights off tonight.’
Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?
JG Faherty: There’s not really a lot. Things get cut out of every story when you’re writing it, but usually if it’s not good enough to be in the published version it’s not good enough to create a later, unabridged version! One exception would be with Carnival of Fear – I cut that one from 120,000 words to 90,000, and I saved the excess to use in the sequel that I plan on writing someday. It was a sub-plot with some characters that don’t appear anywhere else in the book and so eventually they’ll get their own story.
Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?
JG Faherty: My trunk is about the size of Fort Knox. I have at least 7 half-finished novels, a few novellas, and a couple of dozen finished short stories, plus unfinished ones. I write in a very OCD style, so if I get stuck working on one project, I’ll root through the old ones and see if something strikes my fancy to work on for a while.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
JG Faherty: My next novel, Sins of the Father, is currently in the pre-editing phase with Flame Tree Press, so I imagine it will come out some time next year. My collection of short stories, Houses of the Unholy, and my current novel, Hellrider, are both available now. Beyond that, who knows?
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?
JG Faherty: For fans and readers, I just want to say thank you, you are the ones we do this for and you make it possible for people like me to do what we love. And if you read a book you enjoy, please leave a review on Amazon and tell your friends – spreading the word is what keeps writers able to write.Beyond that, remember, Halloween is right around the corner, so read something scary today and tell your kids a scary story tonight!
A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG Faherty has been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award (The Cure, Ghosts in Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time), and he is the author of 7 novels, 10 novellas, and more than 75 short stories. His next novel, Hellrider, comes out from Flame Tree Press in August of 2019. He grew up enthralled with the horror movies and books of the 60s, 75, 70s, and 80s. Which explains a lot.
The carnival is in town… What was supposed to be an evening of fun and laughter for JD Cole and the other students of Whitebridge High turns into a never-ending night of terror. Trapped inside the Castle of Horrors by the demonic Proprietor, good friends and bitter rivals must band together to make it through the maze of torturous attractions, where fictional monsters come to life, eager to feast on human flesh. Vampires, zombies, werewolves, and aliens lurk around every corner as JD and his friends struggle from one room to the next, fighting for their sanity, fighting to survive, fighting to escape … The Carnival of Fear.
She was born with the power to cure. Now she’s developed the power to kill. Leah DeGarmo has the power to cure with just a touch. But with her gift comes a dark side: Whatever she takes in she has to pass on, or suffer it herself.
Now a sadistic criminal has discovered what she can do and he’ll stop at nothing to control her. He makes a mistake, though, when he kills the man she loves, triggering a rage inside her that releases a new power she didn’t know she had: the ability to kill.
Transformed into a demon of retribution, Leah resurrects her lover and embarks on a mission to destroy her enemies. The only question is, does she control her power or does it control her?
In this new collection of stories, genre favorite JG Faherty takes you on a tour of unholy houses, where you’ll find:
– A man struggling to discover why all the people in his life are disappearing when he falls asleep.
– An accident in a mountain pass that turns into a deadly encounter with a mythical beast.
– A man who learns that the only thing worse than being a passenger on the train to Hell is being the engineer.
– A town where the dead coming back to life isn’t the worst thing that can happen.
– A young couple who uncover a terrible secret in the town that has ostracized them for their sins.
– A science experiment gone wrong that could spell the end of mankind.
The collection also includes “The Lazarus Effect,” a chilling post-apocalyptic story where survivors face off against godless undead, and a brand new novella-length sequel, “December Soul.”
After being burned alive by a gang, the Hell Riders, he used to belong to, Eddie Ryder returns as a heavy-metal spouting ghost with a temper that’s worse now than when he was alive. At first he is nothing more than a floating presence, depressed he has to spend eternity watching his teenage brother, Carson, and ailing mother struggle without him. Then he develops powers. And he can control electricity. He can conjure the ghostly doppelganger of his motorcycle, Diablo, and fly across the sky, but he can’t escape the boundaries of his hometown, Hell Creek.
Eddie decides to exact his revenge on the bikers who killed him. Before he can do more than scare some of the bikers, however, he discovers something even better: he can posses people. He uses this ability to get the gang members to attack each other, and to deliver a message to the current leader, Hank Bowman: Eddie’s Coming.
Spouting fire and lightning from his fingers and screaming heavy metal lyrics as he rides the sky above the town of Hell Creek, he brings destruction down on all those who wronged him, his power growing with every death. Only Eddie’s younger brother, Carson, and the police chief’s daughter, Ellie, understand what’s really happening, and now they have to stop him before he destroys the whole town.