As well as robots, clowns, and living statues, John Watson has an extensive list of things that terrify him. He is of the belief that writing about these horrors will make him immune to their evils, but it is still a work in progress. Mr. Watson spends most of his time hiding out in the closet space beneath the stairs, where he is currently working on a series of scary short stories. He resides in Atlanta with his chef wife Penny and a pair of equally skittish fur babies.
1. What inspired you to start writing? – My mum got me into reading by handing me down her old Agatha Christie books. That led to me wanting more, which meant getting a library card. At that point, I was reading a lot and beginning to wonder what happened to characters after the end of a story. I started coming up with ideas, which led to me writing them down and creating stories of my own.
2. In your opinion, what are the most crucial elements of writing? – There are things, such as character development, plot, and pacing that make for a great book when they all come together. It helps to pay attention to them all, but I love a great setting. I often think of my settings as characters in and of themselves, like the hospital in Cradle Robber.
3. How did publishing your first book change your writing process? – Deadlines became a thing. The process remains mostly the same, but now I hear a ticking clock when I write.
4. When your first book was accepted, how did you celebrate? – The acceptance email came in pretty late at night. I woke up my sleeping wife, terrifying her in the process, as she thought something was wrong. I got out of bed and had a couple of beers as I tried to stop shaking.
5. What is your writing process like? Are you more of a plotter or a pantser? – More on the pantser side of things, but I usually have a basic idea of the beginning, middle, and end before I start. The end rarely stays the same as I initially imagined it.
6. What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused? – I don’t really need anything. I like to have some ambient music playing in the background, but that’s about it.
7. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing? – There are a couple. One of my English teachers in high school kept me behind after class and told me that he loved my class work and that I should write every day. Years later, an editor told me not to fear submitting my work because I thought my grammar was lacking. He said that he wouldn’t have a job if every submitted manuscript was perfect.
8. When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood? – Given that I am mostly a pantser, I often arrive at those scenes emotionally unprepared. I just tend to plow through it. With Be Kind, Rewind and Swimming Upstream, both of which contain characters and elements from my life, it was a little tougher. There were days with Swimming Upstream where I had to talk myself into writing.
9. What do you do to get inside your character’s heads? – They get inside mine and start talking even before I write. Jennie Olson from Murder Maker was, and still is, the loudest.
10. Which one of your characters would you least like to meet in real life? – Jennie. I’m not sure she would have very much time for me.
11. I’ve been a follower of your work since the beginning. 2021 has been a busy year for you as far as writing goes. Will 2022 look the same? – 2022 will be a good deal quieter. For now, I have 4 books planned. That might change, but I’d also like to move away from novellas and deliver some longer stories.
12. Given the violent nature of the horror genre why do you think so many people enjoy reading it? – There is a certain comfort in reading a story where something horrible happens to the characters, safe in the knowledge that it can’t happen to you. I’m sure some people imagine people they don’t like being the victims in those violent ends.
13. If you could erase one horror cliché, what would it be? – Helpless female characters. I try to write strong female characters, maybe because I have so many in my life.
14. What are your top three reads so far this year? – Stolen Tongues by Felix Blackwell, The Slob by Aron Beauregard, and Scalp by Carver Pike.
15. Can you tell us anything about your future projects? – I am currently writing a haunted house story based on an old Scottish legend. Next year I’ll have books about a UFO cult, vampire cowboys, a journal style story about a man with a flesh-eating disease, and a Bloody Mary retelling.
16. How can people learn more about you, find you online, and/or help support your writing? People can find all my online presences at www.linktr.ee/authorjohnw. As far as support goes, there is nothing a writer loves more than getting a review. It also helps with getting your books seen on Amazon.