Forgive me if I’m a little late replying to comments over the next few days – I’m at a writer’s retreat (woo hoo!) until Sunday. Hoping to get a lot of work done.
Will Macmillan Jones is a Bad Moon alumnus, and shares the first book in his paranormal mystery series. He enjoys competing with his dogs in howling at the moon, and, in keeping with family tradition, looks forward to haunting his son. Welcome Will!
Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, or zombies – which would you least want to meet in a dark alley?
A zombie, of course. Look, you have to maintain a certain sense of style, especially as a horror writer. Without style, there’s no fear or fun, just a gorefest. Which is all right in its own way of course, just not my preference. If you are going to meet a potentially gruesome end at the hands of a supernatural adversary, I think the victim has a right to expect a decent level of service and some quality conversation first. Neither of which you are likely to receive from a zombie. The ghost may be a bit quiet: but considerably less messy than the zombie. The werewolf’s conversational skills may be somewhat limited but his or her standards of hygiene and hair care are likely to be substantially better than that of the zombie, and that rather matters, doesn’t it? The vampire, being an urban dweller, is likely to be the most sophisticated of the lot. And finally, zombies are so last year; and I do like to keep abreast of fashion, even if I then choose to ignore it.
Creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?
My bed once started moving across the room in a jerky and uneven fashion. I was alone that night. There was no sound, and the thin curtains allowed but a weak and inadequate light from the street lighting outside to enter the room. It was however quite clear that there was no one else present to account for the bed’s movement – or not at first. Then, when I was thoroughly awake and discomforted my father appeared at the end of the bed, smiling in a gentle fashion, as though to reassure me that all was well and that no harm could come to me. The bed returned to its original place against the wall, this time more smoothly. What was creepy was that my father had died peacefully in a nursing home, holding my hand, some hours earlier that day. Although he had told me once that it was a family tradition that the newly dead should visit the eldest son on that night I had temporarily forgotten that information. I should remember to tell my eldest boy sometime, in the vague hope that he might remember when I visit him.
If you were paid to spend the night in a haunted house, would you do it?
As long as the fee was right and paid in an appropriate currency and location of my choice, of course. In my other life I’m a consultant in international taxation, and I’d like to benefit from the rewards of this endeavor. As a working tax consultant I’ve been threatened by experts. Occasionally the clients, but more commonly the taxation authorities and their employees and agents. I strongly suspect that the average spook would have to head off for some serious Professional Development Training and Study in order to compete with the Revenue. I’ve never been scared of the dark, or the noises that can be heard in the silence of the night. Nor have I been frightened by the full moon, although my partner insists that my habit of standing on the patio and howling in competition with our dogs when the moon rides high and full is evidence that Her influence affects me more than I might admit. (Her in this context being the moon, not my partner, who influences me in other ways.) Certainly the quality of my dreams change and I think that my scariest scenes have probably been written at that time of the month. Sorry, I digress. Yes, after life with my ex wife, a haunted house would hold no terrors for me. I’d be there for the right fee.
What is the hardest part of writing?
Not becoming distracted by shiny stuff, Facebook, and tea. Not coffee. Never coffee. Yuk. Writers need to try and keep focused, and particularly for those (like myself) who work at home, avoiding distractions and maintaining a level of self discipline is vital. Whatever environment you select, distractions will drive in upon you like the Greek Furies, intent of ripping you apart from your manuscript, tearing your vision apart and scattering the remains upon the floor before you. It is your task to dismiss the distractions, focus and create.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
An imagination. There are lots of artificial aids we can all employ, like word processors, speech to text software, spell and grammar checkers (not forgetting the indispensable aid of an editor of course), but first and last is an imagination. I write horror thrillers, and comic fantasy. Both are rooted in the real world, but without a sprinkling of imagination neither will come to life on paper. I’m also an oral storyteller, and I need to be able to close my eyes and see the scene I am weaving for my audience – imagination does that. All the other tools that are available and nice, but second rate compared to an imagination.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I do a lot of walking. Not just in the classical sense of ‘solvitur ambulando’, but getting out onto the high hills and fells of Cymru (South Wales), where I am lucky enough to live. The peaks here are by turn dramatic, beguiling, beautiful and full of myth and mystery. In a land where dragons, heroes and elves can be found around an unexpected corner, across a strange stile, or through a previously unseen gate: where the tarns and lakes are likely to hold strange and wonderous (if slightly soggy) maidens or monsters, who wouldn’t want to walk the hidden paths? Even at the risk of meeting a druid seeking his latest sacrifice… Writing is best done while sitting comfortably at a desk with a laptop or a notepad. But the inspiration for the words, ah that is to be found where the wind stirs the heather on a lonely moorside or where the high peaks glower down contemptuously on the lowly valleys.
‘His visit to the house has awoken that which was sleeping: how many must be taken before IT can be laid to rest?’
For Sale again is Mister Jones’ family home: a house he had known and feared since his childhood. On a nostalgic whim he decides to visit the house, with disasterous results. The house reacts to his appearance and the estate agent who is showing him around vanishes. Shortly afterwards the next agent appointed to handle the sale of the property also disappears.
Mister Jones wants nothing to do with the property. His visit has awoken old memories for him, and the memories are not pleasant. But it is clear that something else has also been awoken by his visit, and when he is begged to help find the young agent who has vanished, he can no longer avoid the responsibility of facing his legacy of evil, and dealing with the curse laid upon the house.
But what will happen when he faces IT, and who will emerge alive?
If you knew just how much of this story is true, how well would you sleep tonight?
The following books in the series of Mister Jones Mysteries are:
Portrait of a Girl
The House Next Door
The Curse of Clyffe House
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 sixty lover of blues, rock and jazz he has just 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.
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.