The J.G. Clay Interview
Many thanks to J.G. for taking the time to do this.
Q: Tales Of Blood And Sulphur is your debut. Where’d you get the idea to do a collection of short stories instead of a full-length novel?
It was out of necessity and impatience to be honest. My original plan was to write and release a novel but the ideas I had at the time weren’t up to scratch. I had a few short stories hanging about, so I decided to write some new ones and release a collection as a kind of showcase, just to show people what I’m about and what I can do. The original version of ‘Tales’, which is no longer in print, attracted the attention of Booktrope and I got a deal on the strength of the book. Rather than re-release ‘Tales’ as it was, I thought I’d put in some extra material and a ‘wrap around’ story to tie everything together. It was more of a happy accident, rather than a pre-planned pre-meditated idea.
I’m glad it worked out the way it did though.
Q: When did you discover that you wanted to be a writer? What are your main influences?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I could pick up a pen. It’s always been my ambition. At school, I used to write my own ‘Doctor Who’ adaptions. When I discovered horror, it was a ‘light bulb’ moment. I knew that this was the genre for me and I’ve never looked back. As for influences, I think you’ve noticed who my biggest influences are, judging by your review. King and Barker are definitely the main ones, closely followed by James Herbert, Graham Masterton, Robert R MccCammon and Ramsey Campbell. John Carpenter has also been a huge influence. His films, particularly ‘Halloween’ and ‘The Thing’, kick started my imagination in a way no other film maker has managed. The guy’s a legend.
Q: As a writer of darker horror where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere and anywhere, pretty much. It’s a difficult question to answer. Films, the music I listen, the books and comics I read; even day to day life. I think because I’ve been into the darker stuff for so long, my mind always look for the horror in everyday life and somehow I manage to find it. ‘L.L.T.C’, for example, just grew from a normal Friday night in a pub. I think you can find the Dark Side if you look hard enough
Q: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you outline anything or just write as inspiration strikes?
Generally, speaking I try to write for a minimum of two hours a day. I tend to get up early so I can cram in some writing time before work and then there’s a session in the evening. There’s no let up on weekends on either. This writing’s a seven day a week job as far as I’m concerned. But, if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it, so it’s no hardship.
Only novels get an outline, purely because I’d lose track of the characters, what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. I’ve had a couple of occasions where characters have been killed off only to reappear a few pages later without any explanation. I’m a bit of a day dreamer as well so if I don’t stick to a semblance of a plan, then things get messy. Short stories are done straight off the bat; no messing around, just straight into the mayhem. Any issues are ironed out during rewrites.
Q: Any weird writing rituals?
Ha! None at all, I’m afraid. Does that make me a little dull?
Q: Are there any current projects in the works?
Quite a few. I’m currently working on two novels. The first one, H.A.DE.S, will be my debut novel. In part, it’s a homage to the film ‘C.H.U.D’, a film which I still love to this day, but I’m also throwing in racial tension, shady government types, skinheads and the Brixton riots. It sounds like a strange mix and it probably is but it seems to be working. The second novel ‘Fool’s Gold’, is kind of a prequel/sequel to the ‘Tales’ story, ‘One Night in Mumbai’. Sunil and his Elemental friend, Lazlo will be returning and the majority of the book will tell the story of what happened with Lazlo in the Antarctic, as well as shedding some light on The Elementals, Archon Morbius and their histories. Once the two novels are done, it’ll be time for ‘Tales of Blood and Sulphur Volume 2. This time, I’m going for a slightly different approach. Instead of eleven short stories, it will consist of three novellas, each with a theme tying into the subtitle ‘Blood-Oil-Water’. I think there’s enough there to keep me busy in 2016.
Q: What advice would you give to writers looking to get published or just starting out?
All I can say is write prolifically, read avidly and never ever get disheartened or disillusioned. Writing is bloody hard work but you get back what you put into it. I’ll admit that there’s been a few occasions where I’ve thought ‘bugger this, I’m off to do something easier’, but I’ve kept at it. Perseverance, a thick skin and a massive library are key.Q: Have you had an opportunity to speak to any of your readers? I have, both in person and on social media. On the whole, my readers have been very positive and enthusiastic about what I do. To be told that your work has terrified someone had a morale boosting effect. It’s the readers that make it worthwhile. If they weren’t so enthused, I’d give it up and go sit up a mountain for the next 20 years not saying a word to anyone haha.
Q: What makes a great story?
The characters. You could have the most implausible plot in the universe, but if your characters are fleshed out and believable, you can pull it off. Conversely, you could have the best plot, one that flows seamlessly but if the characters are stilted caricatures or blatantly unrealistic, then the story will fall apart. That’s my opinion anyway.
J.G Clay is definitely a Man of Horror. There can be no doubt. Putting aside the reverence he has for the horror greats, such as King, Barker, Herbert, Carpenter, Romero and Argento, there is another fact that defines his claim for the title of the 'Duke of Spook'. He was born on Halloween night. By a quirk fate, it was also a full moon that night. Co-incidence? Here at Clay Towers, we don't believe in coincidences.
The 41 year old hails from the Midlands in the United Kingdom, is married with one step child and two dogs that bear a strong resemblance to Ewoks. Beyond the page and the written word, he is music mad and can hold down a tune on a bass guitar pretty well. He is an avid reader and also has an enduring love of British sci-fi, from the pages of the '2000A.D' comic to the televised wanderings of Gallifrey's most famous physician. Clay is also a long-time fan of the mighty Birmingham City Football Club and endures a lot of flak from his friends for it.
Eleven Tales steeped in Blood and reeking of Sulphur
J.G Clay takes you on a journey through the voids of Reality and into dark places where demons, mutants and inter-dimensional creatures taunt, taint and corrupt Humanity. Survival is not guaranteed, sanity is not assured and death lurks in every corner. These are the Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor; eleven twisted tales of terror and mayhem……
There are cracks in the skin of Reality. Some are microscopic, others are as wide as a four-lane motorway. As the fault lines increase and widen, the door to our world shines like a beacon in the darkness, a warm and inviting sight to others beyond our understanding. When They cross over into our realm, The Tales begin......
A gambler taking one last desperate throw of the dice. A struggling writer making an unholy alliance. An eternal being fighting to stay alive in the financial capital of India. A man burdened with a terrible town secret. The Law Enforcers who must never cry. The End of Days live and direct from the rural heartland of England. The blood is warm, the sulphur is burning, the tales will be told, the Apocalypse Minor is imminent!
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