Member Profile – Jonathan Maberry
Posted by Dark Whisperer on August 21, 2007
QUESTION: Favorite writing quote?
ANSWER: “Tell the story that you most desperately want to read.” –Susan Isaacs
QUESTION: How did you start writing?
ANSWER: I’ve always written since I could hold a pencil; but I started selling in college. I figured if I was pulling good grades in journalism classes then I should logically be able to sell to the mainstream magazine market. After all, we’d been told time and again by our professors that the average reading level of newspapers was sixth grade, and ninth grade for magazines. I was writing A-level papers in college. So I took a shot. I also used the advice of ‘write what you know’, and as I’d been doing martial arts since I was six I pitched an article about that. It sold, and off I went. I sold my first book (a martial arts textbook) in 1991. Since then I’ve sold over 1000 articles, three times that many column entries, seventeen nonfiction books, six novels, two plays, as well as a grab-bag of other stuff, like rock n roll lyrics, poetry, greeting card text, package inserts…you name it. I’ll try anything if it involves writing.
QUESTION: Who are some of your favorite authors?
ANSWER: That’s a long answer because I read a lot of different genres and I read a hell of a lot of books. My must-read list is a mixed bag of horror, thrillers, and crime fiction… I read Joe Lansdale, John Connolly, Lee Child, Ken Bruen, F. Paul Wilson, Peter Straub, John Lutz, Randy Wayne White, Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Brian Keene, Gary Braunbeck, Scott Nicholson, Peter David, Yvonne Navarro…the list goes on and on. Lots of stuff by the newer generation, too, like Sarah Langan, Nate Kenyon, Alaexandra Sokoloff, Kaelan Patrick Burke, Bob Fingerman. I’m forgetting dozens of folks, but really…there’s such an amazing number of great writers in the genres I read, for both long and short fiction.
QUESTION: Most influential work?
ANSWER: There are two. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson and Something Wicked This Way Comes. As a very young teen I had the chance to meet with both authors and they sat me down and explained writing and the process of creative thought as they saw it. These two events were life changing for me. I have the signed copies of the books they gave me, and I’ve read Legend well over a dozen times; and I’ve read Something Wicked every Halloween since 1973.
QUESTION: Which of your works is your favorite and why?
ANSWER: I have two answers to that. The simplest and truest answer is: “The book I’m currently writing.” I’m always passionate about what I’m doing at the moment, and I feel that my writing, especially in fiction, is evolving. But if I had to pick one completed book, it would be the last of the Pine Deep novels, Bad Moon Rising, which wraps up the trilogy begun with Ghost Road Blues. That third book is one huge, rolling action story with my heroes up against a whole army of vampires and zombies. I had one hell of a good time writing it.
QUESTION: Advice to beginning writers?
ANSWER: Yeah, don’t revise until you finish a complete first draft. Ever. It’s crucial to stay in ‘storyteller’ mind until the whole story is out; then go back and work on languaging and all of the other craft elements. But get the story out first.
QUESTION: What is your most recent novel about?
ANSWER: Dead Man’s Song is the sequel to Ghost Road Blues, and it’s a different kind of book than the first one. Ghost Road Blues was a chase story –each of the characters in that story were hunting for something; Dead Man’s Song is more of an unraveling mystery as the characters begin looking forward (and backward thirty years) to try and understand what’s happening in the town. It’s a more overtly supernatural book than the first one, but it’s more character driven, with an emphasis on exploring and deepening the relationships between the characters. The middle book of a trilogy is always a different book than the first or last because action is less important than story; but it does have quite a lot of action and some really creepy moments.
QUESTION: What is coming up next for you?
ANSWER: I have a new nonfic book out this month: The Cryptopedia: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange and Downright Bizarre (Citadel Press), which is a dictionary of the occult and paranormal that I co-wrote with fellow HWA member David Kramer. I’m also writing two books. I’m wrapping up Zombie CSU: The Forensic Science of the Living Dead, which is a nonfic pop-culture book that speculates on how forensics and law enforcement would respond to a zombie crisis; and I’m also writing a bio-terrorism novel, Patient Zero, which will kick off a new series for me to be published by St. Martins Press.