Today’s author describes a chilling paranormal experience that has the potential to be a horror novel – kind of a book within a book, and I suspect his nightmare neighbor tops many lists. Welcome Will MacMillan Jones!
All families have secrets or skeletons in the cupboard, hidden away from view. Most of those secrets are better left undisturbed, for very good reasons. When Mister Jones agrees to deal with the Estate of a recently deceased cousin, he finds that the secrets hidden by his family are very dark indeed, and that the skeletons in this cupboard are very real – and not yet entirely dead.
Drawn once more by Fate into a world where magic and myth are all too real, and danger lurks at every turn; Mister Jones confronts a past that seeks again to become the present, and to plunge his future into a rising Darkness. The father he has never known is imprisoned in a web of failed sorcery, but believes that he has now fashioned a key that will allow him to escape from the half life he has endured for decades. Mister Jones is an integral part of this scheme – but is he to be a participant, or a victim? Can he escape the Demon’s Reach?
What’s the best horror/thriller movie you’ve seen this year so far?
I’ve been on a bit of a retro kick (I refuse to use the word ‘journey’, and am organizing a petition to make the use of the word outside of a travel program a criminal offence with a mandatory prison sentence) recently, reading older and classic works and watching the associated or derived films. So the answer to this one is ‘The Woman in Black’. The original story is cold and frightening, and the film takes on the themes brilliantly. It is beautifully, hauntingly, shot: perfect gothic horror viewing for the coming season.
Any paranormal experiences you’d like to share?
My grandparents’ home was haunted, or maybe possessed is a better word? I had a lot of exposure there to the world of the paranormal – not that it was ever explicitly discussed. But I eventually managed to use the experiences in a book – ‘The Showing’ . That book fought me every page of the text. I ended up having to save every hour’s writing in three separate places, or else the day’s work would vanish from the files overnight, or become unusably corrupted. I often woke up with night terrors as I wrote, until finally it was nailed down. Rather a cathartic process, and also a bit scary in itself, as if whatever had been held within the house was using the writing process to break free and indulge its hostility towards me. The result was worthwhile, though. The house itself could feel either friendly, or – within a heartbeat – terrifyingly dangerous. I was glad when it was sold.
What fictional character would be your nightmare neighbor?
Pennywise. I have a thing about clowns, which I was relieved to discover is actually a recognised condition, called coulrophobia. Stephen King used it in his book ‘IT’ to devastating effect, of course. Can you imagine living next door to Pennywise? To know that at any moment you might look up and see that face peering through your window, observing you in your most intimate moments? What if you heard him mowing his lawn, looked over the fence and saw the lawn mower moving around on its own? I for one would not sleep easily, I can tell you!
Biggest horror/thriller novel influence?
It’s a toss up for me, between Stephen King and Susan Hill. Hill can write with such atmosphere, creating the spell by her choice of words and phrases, while King is a brilliant (if over verbose) story teller. I myself do a lot of performance storytelling, both for children and for adults, and so appreciate the skill. On balance, I suspect that I’ll choose Susan Hill.
Which horror/thriller novel do you wish you’d written?
Oh, that’s a hard one! There are so many, and so often one’s favourite novel is a question of mood, isn’t it? Lovecraft has to be there, so does Matheson’s work (I said that I was on a retro kick, didn’t I?), Shirley Jackson, Sheriden Le Fanu… but in the end I’ll go slightly off the wall and choose Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’. Horror, terror, and a coming of age novel all wrapped up in some of the best prose you could hope to read.
If you could change one thing about your writing career, what would it be?
This is an easy one: I’d start earlier! Well, actually I did start in time. I started the process of submitting my first novel forty years ago. But after collecting the inevitable (and I must confess, well deserved) rejection notices, I stopped. Back then there was no internet, so the support networks that we all take for granted these days were few and far between, hard – if not impossible – to find. Certainly I found it impossible to find one, and as a result became discouraged and stopped. If only I had persevered! That’s one of the very few regrets I have in life. So there is a change. I could have produced much more work, for my pleasure and hopefully for the pleasure of others. That explains, really, why I am so driven to write now: to catch up for lost time.
Will Macmillan Jones lives in Wales, a lovely green, verdant land with a rich cultural heritage. He does his best to support this heritage by drinking the local beer and shouting loud encouragement whenever International Rugby is on the TV. A just turned sixty lover of blues, rock and jazz he has now fulfilled a lifetime ambition by filling an entire wall of his home office with (full) bookcases. When not writing, he is usually lost with the help of a satnav on top of a large hill in the middle of nowhere, looking for dragons. He hasn’t found one yet, but insists that it is only a matter of time.
When not performing as an oral storyteller and poet, he writes Dark Fantasy, fantasy he fantasises is funny, and books for children. Some of his pieces have won awards but he doesn’t like to talk about that as it draws attention to the fact that other pieces haven’t.