Greetings from the Ethereal Plane,
Let the interview commence!
CP: Can you tell us a little bit about your story “The Little Dead Thing?” What inspired it and how did it come to fruition?
JM: My stories often are inspired by a visual image or a phrase that sticks with me. I have a vague memory of an episode of the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents show called “The Jar” where a simple country boy visits a carnival and buys a sideshow gaffe consisting of a jar filled with hair, doll’s eyes and other murky stuff, imagining it to be something real. That image stuck with me and inspired the story. My 2010 historical horror novel, The Black Garden, was set in a cursed, forgotten French Colonial town on the Mississippi called Ste. Odile. A couple of years ago it occurred to me to enlarge upon the town and it’s county and create a new type of horror story unique to my own vision and the isolated village I created. I wanted to take damaged, ruined personalities, pariahs exiled from their communities, consumed by loneliness and add an extra horrific element, almost as an addendum to their already fear-filled lives. “The Little Dead Thing” is the first of these stories.
CP: While speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to become a writer? And what authors helped carve your path to horror?
JM: I have always loved stories and language. Early on I read lots of Poe and H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, 19th century horror including Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker . . . and Sherlock Holmes. My novel The Black Garden is a homage to 19th century horror.
CP: What are your goals and aspirations as a writer? What does the future hold for John S. McFarland?
JM: I travelled to South Carolina this year to research a sequel to The Black Garden. I have a ghost story set during the Great Depression, I am working on, and several more Ste. Odile stories percolating around in my head. My wife and I just bought a historic house in Washington, MO which has a brick outbuilding in back. I am turning that into my writing study. Can’t wait to put it to use.
CP: Tell us something that not many readers know about you.
JM: I would be immensely flattered if readers knew ANYTHING about me, but lets see . . . A story I published in The Twilight Zone Magazine years ago is a favorite of horror fans in Rekyavik, Iceland. I have been anthologized along with Stephen King and H. P. Lovecraft.
CP: Your story, “The Little Dead Thing” is very reminiscent of Lovecraft’s works and its narration is told in letters. Why did you choose this style and this form of narration for the story?
JM: The style of the narration originally appears in The Black Garden as a nod to Dracula, which is also told in that style. I sort of like the limitations of it somehow. I was very flattered to be compared to Lovecraft by a reviewer of that novel and I have always found H. P.’s intense, heartfelt, operatic style to be very gratifying.
CP: Do you have any other works releasing soon that our readers can look forward to? If not, are you currently working on any pieces?
JM: My story “Porphyria” will be appearing soon, thanks to you, C.P. I would love to re-issue The Black Garden ahead of writing its sequel, Azmiel’s Daughter. The book was originally published by a small press run by an elderly widow who regretted she didn’t have the resources to publicize it better. She, and I believe it deserves a wider audience. My novel about Bigfoot for young readers, Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom, will have its sequel published later this year, (Annette was just published in Croatian). Other than this, I am working on the projects mentioned above.
CP: If you could meet and converse with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
JM: Shakespeare, LeFanu, Lovecraft, James Joyce, Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor. My inspirations.
CP: What is your favorite novel or work, and/or author? Why?
JM: In spite of my love of classic horror, if I only had one to pick from, it would probably be Flannery O’Connor. I visited her homes at Andalusia Farm and Savannah, Georgia this year. A pilgrimage for me. I discovered her at 19 and she resonated with me: a reflection of my small town life and family connections and the absurdities, failings and horrors inherent in them.
CP: What is your writing process?
JM: I am up early and do much of my writing before dawn. Occasionally in the evenings and definitely on the weekends. When I am writing a novel I work every day whether I feel like it or not. Discipline!
CP: If you could give advice to new, young authors concerning the publishing world, what would it be? And why?
JM: Read! Read and read some more. Connect with other writers, you need feedback. Join groups and for heaven’s sake, read. Pick a favorite writer and know more about him or her than anyone else. Make yourself understand why their work is successful, and more importantly, why it resonates with you.
Read John S. McFarland’s “The Little Dead Thing” today in Hinnom Magazine Issue 002!
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