I’ve always been drawn to the horror genre, even from a very young age. One of the first movies that my dad took me too was 1979’s Dracula, and my love of the genre just grew from there. I was 9 years old and gravitated toward all the Universal monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Wolfman. As I got older, I began to peruse my parents’ bookshelf, which had a good number of Stephen King novels and a tattered copy of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. The novel of The Exorcist really appealed to me because it was terrifying, but also accessible. Since then, I’ve learned a lot from that book about lean prose, effective word choice, and horrific imagery, and it played a key role in the shaping of my novel The Devil and My Daughter. I also enjoy the psychological underpinnings of the genre and the ways in which good horror fiction capitalizes on our greatest fears.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
When I plan a novel, I take a lot of notes and construct an overly detailed outline that includes every potential scene, character, conflict, and so on. I make lists of words, phrases, and images that appeal to me that might find their way into the book. That process can take a long time and I find it quite challenging to create original characters and climaxes. The outline will usually run for several pages. But once I’ve completed that process, I find the writing of the novel itself to be quite fun and relaxing. I’m fortunate that I rarely have to produce something for a deadline—if I did, I would imagine that would be a major challenge! But I write at my own pace and try to let the words come naturally.
When and where do you do your writing?
Oddly, in bed. I rarely write at a desk or table. I write almost exclusively at night, but I don’t have a set schedule that I maintain. I’ve been an English teacher for over 20 years, so I get a lot of writing done during my summer vacation and other breaks. But even during the academic year, I’m always writing at least 5-6 days out of the week.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
Just that promotion is essential. I never really used Facebook or Instagram prior to publishing my first novel, but now I use them regularly to reconnect with friends and hopefully discover new readers. My most favorite type of promotion is to appear at horror conventions and sign books for those kind enough to drop by my table. I’ve met so many supportive and friendly people through appearing at events like ScareLA, Midsummer Scream in Long Beach, or Sinister Creature Con in Sacramento. Even as I write this, I have an appearance at Bakersfield’s Heroes and Horrors this weekend, and then another convention in mid-October. I would encourage any horror writer to attend these events. You’ll not only sell a lot of books (most likely), but you’ll get to meet lots of interesting people.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
My two novels, The Girls of October and The Devil and My Daughter, are epistolary novels, so they are told entirely through letters, interviews, police reports, essays, articles, short stories, photographs, and more. In other words, they’re not traditional books by any means. I’m most proud that I was able to write the kind of books I wanted to write, and that I found a publisher who believed in them and who supports me (and the other authors on their roster) in every way possible.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
A difficult choice, but as of today I’d have to go with Bret Easton Ellis, the author of Less Than Zero, American Psycho, Glamorama, Lunar Park, and many more. He’s been one of my most favorite authors for a long time, even before he wrote American Psycho. I’d love to talk to him about the process involved in writing a book like American Psycho, and the challenges he encountered while documenting such a dark and sinister world. I think it took a lot of courage to write and publish that book, and I’ve always admired him for it.
Josh Hancock is a teacher and author. His first novel, The Girls of October, was selected as one of the top ten horror novels of 2015 by Horror Novel Reviews and garnered enthusiastic reviews from Rue Morgue Magazine,Horrorcabin.com, Gorestruly.com, Nightmarish Conjurings, and We Are Indie Horror. His second novel, entitled The Devil and My Daughter, was inspired by several cult horror films, including Amando de Ossorio’s underground classic, Demon Witch Child.
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