Meghan: Hi, Jonathan. Welcome back to the Halloween Extravaganza… and welcome to the new blog. It’s been awhile since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Hi, Meghan! Thanks for having me back (and for finally dropping that restraining order against me). Since we last chatted, Books 2 and 3 of The Human-Undead War trilogy have been published, I’ve co-edited two more anthologies, have had over a half dozen more shorts accepted (mostly in paying markets), and recently appeared with both Stephen King and Guy N. Smith in It Came From the Garage!, an anthology of automotive horror from Darkwater Syndicate, Inc. In addition, I’ve edited two stand-alone novellas and a novel (with professional credit on the cover, finally!), lost my day job, and became a fur-father to a massive brown wiener (dog). Oh, and masturbation. Lots of masturbation.
Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Please see the final sentence in my answer to Question 1. Yep. I’m a sick weirdo in every way, in and outside the writing realm.
Meghan: How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I love it when they do, but I’m especially nervous anytime they mention wanting to read certain works. My stuff has progressively gotten more extreme and sexual and moral-bending, and some friends and relatives are too conservative to be the intended audience. But, at the end of the day, I want every reader I can get. Sometimes you just gotta bite down on the red ballgag and let friends and family find out how truly deranged you are.
Meghan: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: A bit of both. It’s a gift – any level of mastery over a skill is, whether it be writing or bagging groceries or laying brick. But it’s also a curse in that it permeates every aspect of my life even when I need to focus on other things. Work at the day job? Interrupted every 5 minutes for a random story idea, or a plot twist I hadn’t thought up before. Errands after work? I better give that character a more meaningful name while I’m waiting at this red light. Oh, and I should probably – Shit. Someone’s honking. Gotta roll.
It can also be a curse in that it affects my mood: If I know I can’t find time to write today, I’m miserable all fuckin’ day. If I’m able to write, I’m humping everyone’s leg whether they like it or not, goddamn it.
Meghan: How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: My past has eked into my last few stories in greater proportions than it used to, so I’ve found my work morphing to incorporate my environments and upbringing – almost subconsciously. It’s made for some interesting settings and situations, and I plan to continue cultivating my past for horrors to exploit.
Meghan: What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: For a scene in Patriarch (Book 2, The Human-Undead War), I had to do extensive research on blood transfusions. I had to use legitimate science and dormant math skills to figure out exactly how many liters of blood a person of X weight would have, how quickly blood flows inside the body, how quickly it can be pumped into arteries without blowing them out, the exact routes of the human circulatory system, what was a high enough blood pressure and heartrate to maintain life, what blood types meshed, and a lot more medical shit that was strange yet exciting to learn.
Meghan: Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end? (Explain.)
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I tend to have an idea of the beginning and end early in the process. However, that bridge between the two doesn’t always connect as I’d envisioned it, and that’s where my frustrations surface. Those middles, for me, can sometimes be as painful as these goddamn hemorrhoids.
Meghan: Do you outline? Do you start with characters or plot? Do you just sit down and start writing? What works best for you?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I’m not a good pantser, so outlining works best for me. I also don’t have a specific regimen for starting. The idea generally originates with a theme, which leads to plot, and then to character for me, though several of my works started with the character first – all depends on what impact I wish to leave on the reader. I’m not good at just sitting and writing, either. That evil fucking demon who resides within my gray matter requires me to reread and edit the previous day’s work before I can vomit new ink onto the page. He’s a mean SOB, so I listen to him, and that seems to work well for me.
Meghan: What do you do when characters don’t follow the outline/plan?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I break out the cat o’ nine tails and beat the shit out of ‘em, until they stop moaning in pleasure and screech instead in pain!
In all seriousness, a few have gone rogue on me before. Rather than reel them in to fit my preconceived mold, I let them breathe on their own. It’s led to many interesting character meetups and romantic interests, twists and turns. (It has also led to many an unplanned death, so maybe the defiant bastards shouldn’t have strayed, huh? THAT’S WHAT YOU FUCKING GET, KAREN!)
Meghan: What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Motivation to sit and write has been my bane for the past year. My productivity has halted due to the daily grind of life. However, recent fan adoration has rekindled a fire. Perhaps not working for a greedy corporation and spending most waking hours embedded in their bullshit might be the final spark now . . .
Meghan: Are you an avid reader?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I used to be, but have found my free time severely limited. And instead of novellas or novels, I’ve transitioned toward anthologies. I enjoy being able to rip through a short here and there without having to remember plot points or characters and whatnot when I pick the book up again. I’ve also been discovering more and more authors this way, which is always pleasant.
Meghan: What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I don’t stray far outside horror these days, and the darker and more hardcore, the better.
Meghan: How do you feel about movies based on books?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I think they’re mostly great. Yes, the adaptation from page to screen often requires plot or character changes (sometimes major, too), but movies based on books inject creativity and originality into the Hollywood atmosphere, which is currently drenched in remakes (and remakes of remakes, or remakes of movies already once adapted from books). This can also drive sales for authors who write in the same or similar genres, which is great for the writing community. I just wish Hollywood would look at the indie scene more, especially in horror. There are some stellar fucking works out there that don’t have Big Name on the cover but would make for mind-blowing, action-packed gorefests on the big screen.
Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Yes, I’ve killed many. Sometimes the acts of the main characters – including their deaths – are necessary elements regardless of how much I or a reader may love them.
Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Does a paraplegic wish she could diddle herself while watching Fifty Shades of Grey?
Suffering – pain – makes us remember that we’re alive. Everyone must suffer in some way to transform. As for why I enjoy it, I guess I’m just a sick fuck who gets off on putting my characters through the wringer when possible. Increases the tension, makes the character come to life, and gets the blood pumping to extremities I haven’t seen in over a decade.
Meghan: What’s the weirdest character concept that you’ve ever come up with?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: The sole female jackal from The Human-Undead War series was a strange one. The jackals themselves are genetic pieces of gorillas, boa constrictors, hyenas, and human mashed into one giant two-legged undead freak closely resembling a troll-werewolf hybrid, and the female jackal had to stand out from them. She’s larger, has protruding nipples that dribble at will, is protected fiercely by the primary antagonist, and her sole purpose is to breed and produce. She is able to procreate and birth a human-sized jackal within a couple hours, and then she is ready to do it all again. Since she had to have a penchant for the horn and vampires needed to evolve, she required a (somewhat vague) bestiality scene at one point, which got really fuckin’ weird.
Did I mention that she rips off her victims’ cocks and swallows them whole when she is finished with them? I didn’t? You’re welcome.
Meghan: What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received? What’s the worst?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: The best feedback was from an editor of a recent published story. She had commented, “NOOOO… This is so cliché in contrast to otherwise fantastic writing!” This from someone at a place who saw my work as worthy enough to pay me pro rates for it, and it was the only thing she really called out in the piece. Made my day knowing that she found it fantastic otherwise, given the caliber of the press.
I can’t recall the worst feedback, so it must not have been that bad. I either ignored it or learned from it.
Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: There have been many moments in the past year where I wanted to bow out of the writing scene entirely due to depression and anxiety, slumping sales, and whatnot. But then I attended a couple conventions as a vendor and got to meet my fans face to face like I have in the past, and it pulled me out of my funk, to a degree. Seeing their sparkling eyes, their genuine interest and excitement in my work – it gives me a massive heart-on (also known as “the feels”). It reminded me of why I do this and has brought me some sanity again, so I thank the few I have!
Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I’d yank the original concept of Dracula away from Stoker and turn him into a true horrifying creature of the night, not some lamenting, compassionate elf that hisses every once in a while but otherwise does little or no harm to others. (I know Dracula helped horror go mainstream, but come on – Dracula is a bit of a pussy, ain’t he?)
Meghan: If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I’d write the next book in The Human-Undead War series that I had planned to do years ago. It would pick up 20 years after the events of the first trilogy with some familiar faces and many new, and with new apocalyptic turmoil brewing beneath the surface.
Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: David Owain Hughes. We’ve co-edited and appeared in many anthologies together, but we have yet to co-author anything. We’ve entertained the idea, and if we do, it’ll be a bizarro novella of orgasmic proportions…
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I’ve been promising a short story collection for a few years now and have finally amassed enough to make it happen, so hopefully 2020 will be the year for it. I’m also working on a novelette and short story collection that are all tied together in a series tentatively titled Plumb Fucked Conspiracies. (Get your tinfoil hats ready!) In addition, I’ll have a racially charged revenge story in Shadows & Teeth Volume 4 from Darkwater Syndicate, Inc (release date TBD), and my overseas bearded brother from another mother David Owain Hughes and I will be unleashing Deranged, a horror/bizarro anthology that explores fucked-up sexual kinks (cover photo below), later this year.
After that, who the fuck knows? I may not be a bestseller, I may not be a household name, and my output may have dwindled to a GRRM-esque drip, but I’ve been around for years and ain’t goin’ nowhere. You’ll see me around, ya poor suckers.
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Website ** Amazon ** Facebook ** Twitter
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 or the last?
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Said it last time and I’ll say it again: Fuck the rat race. No point in toiling away for a greedy prick in a suit if it means giving up your passions. Live while you can.
Jonathan Edward Ondrashek is a horror/dark fantasy writer and editor who hisses and screeches at sunlight. He’s the author of The Human-Undead War trilogy (Dark Intentions, Patriarch, and A Kingdom’s Fall). His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including the highly acclaimed VS: US vs UK Horror series, Nothing’s Sacred Volume 5, and It Came From the Garage!, which featured Stephen King and Guy N. Smith, among others. He also co-edited Deranged, F*ck the Rules, What Goes Around, and Man Behind the Mask, boundary-pushing anthologies featuring work from established and new voices in the horror genre. If he isn’t reading, editing, or writing, he’s probably drinking beer and making his wife regret marrying a lunatic. Feel free to stalk him on social media.
Most of us have sexual fantasies. They are normally harmless, but what if the status quo wasn’t enough? What if your proclivity for climaxing tipped over the edge and into the extreme?
Would you fancy shagging a mermaid, or an otherworldly creature from another dimension or planet? Would you seek sexual revenge if some thing raped you? Maybe you’d let a ghost have its way with you, if the mood struck? Perhaps your penchant for asphyxiation would bleed over into guerrilla interrogation tactics?
What if you weren’t a necrophiliac but found yourself sopping wet after gazing into the milky white eyes of a pristine, hunky dead man?
The ten tales in this horror/bizarro tome will shock, disgust, and make your toes curl in unexpected ways.
Everyone has a kink. Some are just more deranged than others . . .
The Guilty Sickos:
Antonio Simon, Jr ** Sarah Cannavo ** Jonathan Butcher ** Colleen Anderson
Sidney Williams ** John Paul Fitch ** W.T. Paterson ** Annie Knox
C.L. Raven ** Suzanne Fox
Shift your fear into top gear.
Set your pulse racing with this collection of automotive horror that fires on all cylinders. This bad boy comes fully-optioned with fifteen tales of classic cars and motorcycles behaving badly; and the star-studded lineup is sure to provide all the nightmare fuel you can handle.
So strap in and hold on, because we’re going pedal to the metal. It’s blood-soaked horror or bust, and we aren’t stopping for anything. You’re in for a ride.
The authors who contributed to this anthology are: Stephen King, Guy N. Smith, Antonio Simon, Jr., Apara Moreiya, Stephanie Kelley, David Owain Hughes, Paige Reiring, R. Perez de Pereda, Sarah Cannavo, Alana Turner, Douglas Fairbanks, Jonathan Edward Ondrashek, Richard Ayre, Michael Warriner, and Nicholas Paschall.