The Nightmare Engine Podcast

Jonathan Mayberry: A Masterclass in Horror Writing and Folklore

October 18, 2023 David Viergutz Season 2 Episode 1
Jonathan Mayberry: A Masterclass in Horror Writing and Folklore
The Nightmare Engine Podcast
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The Nightmare Engine Podcast
Jonathan Mayberry: A Masterclass in Horror Writing and Folklore
Oct 18, 2023 Season 2 Episode 1
David Viergutz

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๐ŸŽ™๏ธAbout the Episode
Get ready for an exhilarating journey as we sit down with New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Mayberry. Known for his expertise in a variety of genres, ranging from horror to action thrillers, Jonathan's experience and insights are sure to captivate listeners. Not only do we peek into his fascinating background as a writer and his journey to rediscover his passion for storytelling after a 20-year hiatus, we also unpack his robust knowledge in the realms of folklore and mythical creatures.

The episode takes a thrilling turn as we dive into the world of supernatural predators and the cultural implications of zombie stories. Jonathan regales us with his research on mythical creatures like the Benendante and the Strigoni Benefitsi and their portrayal in folklore. He also divulges his dream of accessing the Vatican Library archives. We further delve into the intriguing nature of zombie narratives, where societal structures collapse, revealing the authentic human character beneath the surface.

From the intricacies of writing horror anthologies to the evolution of action films, Jonathan's wealth of knowledge is on full display. We also touch upon the transformative influence of martial arts on his life, the power of empathy in dealing with bullies, and the significance of building a legacy. Donโ€™t miss this thrilling exploration into the mind of one of the most celebrated authors of our time. You're sure to find inspiration, whether you're an aspiring author or simply someone who appreciates a well-crafted narrative. Join us on this ride for an enlightening and entertaining experience.

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

๐Ÿ”—Connect with Jay
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

๐Ÿ”—Connect with Jonathan

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and let us know in your review who you want to see next on the podcast. Thanks!

You can also Tweet me @ViergutzDavid and tell me what horror author you want to hear from next, or what topics you want me to cover. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How did you like the show? Text us and let us know.

โญ๏ธEnjoy the podcast? Do your good deed for the day and leave a 5-star review here ;)

๐ŸŽ™๏ธAbout the Episode
Get ready for an exhilarating journey as we sit down with New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Mayberry. Known for his expertise in a variety of genres, ranging from horror to action thrillers, Jonathan's experience and insights are sure to captivate listeners. Not only do we peek into his fascinating background as a writer and his journey to rediscover his passion for storytelling after a 20-year hiatus, we also unpack his robust knowledge in the realms of folklore and mythical creatures.

The episode takes a thrilling turn as we dive into the world of supernatural predators and the cultural implications of zombie stories. Jonathan regales us with his research on mythical creatures like the Benendante and the Strigoni Benefitsi and their portrayal in folklore. He also divulges his dream of accessing the Vatican Library archives. We further delve into the intriguing nature of zombie narratives, where societal structures collapse, revealing the authentic human character beneath the surface.

From the intricacies of writing horror anthologies to the evolution of action films, Jonathan's wealth of knowledge is on full display. We also touch upon the transformative influence of martial arts on his life, the power of empathy in dealing with bullies, and the significance of building a legacy. Donโ€™t miss this thrilling exploration into the mind of one of the most celebrated authors of our time. You're sure to find inspiration, whether you're an aspiring author or simply someone who appreciates a well-crafted narrative. Join us on this ride for an enlightening and entertaining experience.

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

๐Ÿ”—Connect with Jay
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

๐Ÿ”—Connect with Jonathan

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and let us know in your review who you want to see next on the podcast. Thanks!

You can also Tweet me @ViergutzDavid and tell me what horror author you want to hear from next, or what topics you want me to cover. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

Speaker 1:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Nightmare Engine podcast. My name is Dave Rugguz, I'm your host, so we are actually doing a blast from the past. So as I'm recording this, we are going to release it before we release the episode we recorded before this. So we are all over the place on this one. But we want to do a very special introduction to a welcome back to the Nightmare Engine podcast after what seems like a few months now, but things have been a little bit crazy on our end. Unfortunately, my co-host, jay Bauer, is not going to be joining me, so it's just going to be me this episode, but Jay did send his warm wishes because he did want to be here for this one. So this is a really, really cool episode, friends. So we've got the one. The only Jonathan Mayberry on the line. John, how are you, sir?

Speaker 2:

I'm doing well, man. I'm glad to be back and glad to be here, and it's good to see you again. It's been a while, yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's been a bit.

Speaker 1:

It's been a bit, so we ran into each other last year just briefly after your talk was about.

Speaker 1:

I know the focus was a little bit on vampires, but it was last year at 20 Books Vegas, which is a huge independent publishing conference held every single every year and has been going strong and growing bigger every year. But at the end of it it's a really cool event as well, which is this huge author book signing that costs nothing from the author as far as dues go. I think it costs $50 or something, but there's 300 authors there selling their books and that was a pleasure to meet you at Vegas, you know, coming out to give your talks about your expertise, specifically about horror, which has been a little bit underrepresented just in general. It's a small genre but it's a voracious reader group. So I'd love to talk to you today about you, your books, your knowledge, which is clearly vast in the industry, and, you know, tell us more about you so that readers can get to know who you are if they haven't, for whatever reason, ever heard of you, which is which would be a shame. So please, jonathan, tell us, tell us all about you.

Speaker 2:

Well, the brief version of this is I'm a. I'm a New York Times bestselling author in a number of different genres. I write horror, science fiction, fantasy, epic, urban and dark fantasy, thrillers, mysteries. I write comics from Marvel, idw and Dark Horse. I edit a we're Tales magazine and we just put out a hundredth anniversary anthology. Writing teacher and a retired jujitsu master and college teacher.

Speaker 1:

Wow. So how long have you been in the industry, Like what was the first publication you had and what year was that?

Speaker 2:

So that's a little. It's a complicated answer. So let me, let me give you the career path. I actually went to school, to college for it, on a journalism scholarship. My intention was to be the intrepid reporter who tore down the corrupt, you know whomever. And while that I was graduated from high school, not that long after a watergate. So we wanted to be that guy. You know, woodward and Bernstein, every through college I switched my interest from newspapers to magazines. So, my friend, they always say write what you know.

Speaker 2:

So my very first publication was an article in Black Belt magazine, I think 1978. And then I went on to write about 1200 features, you know. Probably a third of them were martial arts or self-defense oriented. But I also wrote about everything skydiving, bartending, you know, families, all sorts of stuff. I also did, weirdly, greeting cards. The short, the short anecdote there is I was, I was a bodyguard for years and bodyguards tend to get injured because they have to protect the person they're, you know, in charge of, and sometimes that means you get the first stab, wound or cut before you then have to turn and fight.

Speaker 2:

And I I won instant. I got smashed by a van. I was at home, I was all banged up and cast and everything. And I was going through a book called Writers Market and I saw that one of the listings there was that Hallmark was starting a new line called Shoebox. They were looking for people to write greeting cards and I love sarcastic greeting cards. So I contacted them with, you know, I sent out, sent 12, you know jokey, snarky card ideas and they called me and said look, we're launching within Shoebox this line of really nasty cards about this cranky little lady and we'd like you to retool them. So it would be her saying these snarky things. So the character's name is Edith. I was the. I wrote the first 12 in that line, didn't credit. The character wrote the first 12. So that was in another early publication thing, while I taught at Tempe University for years and while I was teaching there I taught martial arts, history, women's self-defense and jujitsu and I wrote the textbooks for my classes and. But the first book I ever published was the judo textbook for a class taught by my friend Norma Sharra, who's now an indie filmmaker, and that was 1991. After that I did a bunch of nonfiction books, some some of martial arts.

Speaker 2:

But the moment of change for me in terms of publication is. I had this four book deal with a small press in Philadelphia. I did three martial arts books and when it came time for me to tell, tell the publisher what I wanted to do with the fourth, I said I'd like to do a book about the folklore of supernatural predators around the world throughout history. And there was this long moment of just crickets chirping he's waiting for me to drop the punchline of this joke. And then he realized I was serious so he agreed to it because contractually he had to accept my pitch. But he did make me change my name for that one book. So he came out.

Speaker 2:

The vampire slayer's field guide to the undead came out in 2002, somewhere in there by Shane McDougall, being being the Scottish for John McDougall being one of the Scottish clans that my answers came from. But researching that, the weird, you know, the supernatural monsters, the folklore, the urban legends, cryptids, all that got me interested in fiction based on the folkloric versions of monsters as opposed to the Hollywood versions. But I couldn't find much and I complained about it enough at home. My wife said oh, you stop bitching about it and just write the damn thing. I sat down to write it took me three and a half years to write that book.

Speaker 2:

I had never taken a creative writing class. The novel Ghost Road Blues was what came out of it and I went up liking it so much I went to try to get an agent, got one quickly. She sold it to the second publisher, looked at it and then it came out in 2006, which is when my fiction career began and was nominated for two different Stoker Brom Stoker Awards. I lost the novel of the year to some cat named Stephen King. You may have heard of him.

Speaker 1:

Oh, if that guy, we don't talk about him.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, he's up and cunning guy. I think he has a future ahead of him and I want the category for best first novel and that was actually the one that mattered most to me because it kind of validated my whole. Should I try this fiction thing?

Speaker 1:

I just love to get beat out by Stephen King. I could just rep that like the only person that beat me was Stephen King.

Speaker 2:

Fine you know, the funny thing is when I when I met him first time I met him was at the Edgar Awards. He was being inducted as Grandmaster and we talked for about 40 minutes and he pointed out and I had one, he had one. He'd beat me by two votes, right, he pointed out to me that he had two sons who were voting members. Thank you so, but but it was a huge great guy, it was great fun. And now I mean that was 2006. Now it's 2023.

Speaker 2:

I am a third of the way through my 50th novel 50. Wow, I was a writer and I was a writer in my long the way. I started writing comics. I've done 150 short stories and a ton of other stuff. It's weird because I went from not knowing anything about fiction to it being my entire life. Right, I wish to how I started it earlier, like in my 20s, kind of like my buddy, kevin J Anderson. He started writing fiction when he was 26. He's published 175 novels. Wow, like an amateur. In comparison, I'm in the slow lane, but I'm working to catch up.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I've been. I've been blessed to be in a couple of his story bundles. Luckily I had genre hopped a few times where I was, had the ability to be in the same I wouldn't even say it's the same virtual company as somebody like him. So that was quite. That was quite amazing.

Speaker 2:

And if you're. I don't know if you've met him at 20 books, but he's one of the nicest guys, one of my closest friends. Now he's one of the nicest guys in the world and he's very, very supportive of up and coming writers because he's one of those people that believes we need more writers in the business. They are not competitive, it's under. It's under staffed. We need more writers, indy or traditional, doesn't matter. Get those books out there and he's all about it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and one thing that amazed me about him is the effort he puts into the creative writing program. He's got up there and as a Colorado state, there is it yeah.

Speaker 2:

Western Colorado, western Colorado state. He teaches the MFA program for, but he also co-founded the superstars writer seminar, which is right Springs. I'm now on the board of that and it's it's great because it was. It was founded by him, jim Butcher, brandon Sanderson, jody Lynn Nye and somebody else who's named James Arnott. What is his first name? James Arnott?

Speaker 1:

I think so a bunch of no names, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I don't know which end of a pencil to use. And it's become a really important conference because it focuses entirely on the business of writing for indie or traditional, how to get and print, how to do it right, how to build a career out of it.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, I looked into his MFA program. I happened to find one that was cheaper because I was in the service and then I'm a police officer, so they gave me huge discounts that allowed me to basically go to school almost on pennies, you know, whatever cost normally, and I was taking a huge interest because 20 books was putting out these scholarship opportunities as well. And so to Kevin's MFA program and had a low residency and so I'm like, well, I'm working full-time, so it would be excellent to have a low residency. So I ended up going to my school. I went to Liberty and finished my MFA in like 13 months.

Speaker 1:

I think I just finished that and I'll be teaching at my local community college. They asked if I could pick up a couple English courses. It's almost like pro bono at this point because of how much they can pay, but I'm like it's for the joy of it, you know, it's for the wonder of being able to share my knowledge of writing with young students, and being able to. It's not something you get into it like I'm going to get rich off of teaching creative writing.

Speaker 2:

Nobody gets off of teaching, but one of the advantages of teaching is it gives you an opportunity to see another side of the creative process. You know the academic world comes at it from a different angle than you know guys in the gutters like me who are just, you know, slogging at it. There's a lot to learn from teaching at college. As I said, I taught at Tampi University for 14 years, not writing, but martial arts and so on, and it taught me so much about organization and structural thinking. So the college experience is really useful for people. It's great.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm really blessed right now as well. So I'm a police officer. I just left patrol and left the agency I was with, and so now I'm over at a university I'm, so I'm at Concordia University with a police officer, and so they love the idea. So the word has gotten out that I've written I think I've written 18 or 19 novels at this point but they've gotten out that I do something other than police and so for the students to see, that is a really cool interaction to have, because now I have something to connect with them. I'm like, hey, not only am I, you know, I'm possibly adjuncting there as a position opens up, teaching English. But it's really weird. Apparently they go through adjuncts really quickly Apparently, everywhere does, but it is what it is. But it allows me to connect with them, especially young writers, and say, hey, look, I've been through the ringer. Like I tell everybody.

Speaker 1:

My story said I believed in this so much that I sold my gym. I had a gym, I sold my gym, I sold my business to jump 100% into writing and was and failed so miserably that I ended up having to donate plasma to pay for book covers. That's, that's how much I believed in it. And so now to this day, I can say my blood and sweat equity is in my books and I think that's that's something that's it's worth holding on to. So I was supposed to be one book quickly turned into 18 and basically the future for me is what I'm doing, and it's an amazing feeling because I was. I was like you, was very young and I was like I want to write and then something shut me down. You know and that's a longer story, but I got shut down for about 20 years. I didn't come back to writing until I was in my mid 20s and then it was like man, I wish I'd been writing that whole time. I wish I hadn't done that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean I writing until I did my first novel. Writing was never my full time gay, you know it was a bodyguard as a bouncer, taught women's self defense and other things at Tepi University, ran a dojo, even ran a program for police called cop safe, teaching law enforcement officers to arrest people, you know, in a way that keeps them the lowest rung of the force continuum while the officers safe. And plus, I did some training programs for SWAT and special forces over the years. So you know, all of that is fun stuff, but it wasn't right. Right, I've read the course materials, but that's not the same thing.

Speaker 2:

But that, that book on monsters I did changed the entire direction of my life. And now I am not only making a really good living as a writer, I am so freaking happy these days. Right, you know this is this is I truly found what I wanted to do when I grow up. Right, I figured it out at 48. I'm now 65. But you know I'm going to keep writing. I often joke that when I die I want to be buried with a laptop and a good Wi-Fi connection.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's, that's a. It is a weird. It feels when it clicks, it feels like a piece that just fit in right, you know, and there's a labor. To the love. I would say that, like there's, there are times that I'm like man it feels like a slog.

Speaker 1:

I'm like that what I just put down is crap. But I think everybody deals with that, especially when they're doing something that they love. Yeah, because there are points of it that you're not going to love at some point. You know, at some point in time you're going to be like this is work and it is work.

Speaker 2:

It is work that you love, but it is still work and that's one of the things I try to talk, to try to explain to younger writers or newer writers coming up. A lot of them think it's all about it's some sort of magic, that they wait for the news and they mythologize the process of writing. And yes, there is a certain I guess you could call it magic in the creativity that happens in your brain. But that's writing.

Speaker 2:

Publishing is a different thing. Publishing is a business and it was Ray Bradbury who told me this when I was 12. He was one of my mentors when I was a kid and one of the things he told me was that writing is an art. It's the intimate conversation between the writer and the reader. It's all about art. Publishing is a business whose sole concern is selling copies of art, Whether they, you know, they can get into business for love of books, but it's at the end of the day, it's mercantile. So when I get up in the morning to write, I am going to work. I even say you know, even in my office, as you're in my condo.

Speaker 2:

I tell my wife I'm going to work and she doesn't bother me.

Speaker 2:

And you know I turn off my phone ringer and I'm at work. And that focus on business not only I mean people think that it's some sort of a selling out or cheapening of the creative process. It's just the opposite. Every writer you can name whose books you've seen in bookstores and libraries, approach it like a business. None of them were just like magically. Suddenly their book showed up. You know, even Jack Kerouac had a literary agent and they that's how they get to the point where they can write for a living is being able to manage the business side of things as well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean managing reader expectations as well. You know, whatever your genre just gives us an idea of what people want to want to read and what the boundaries generally are set. And your skill that you develop the art allows you to bend and break and kind of get in between those genre lines but still tell a story that people will read, that will inevitably sell. I mean that's and that's.

Speaker 2:

That's a big argument for education. You know, learning not just like. All people come to writing with a natural storytelling gift, I mean those of us who do this.

Speaker 2:

We have something we're born with, but the more you learn the craft of it, the actual elements of storytelling and look for those elements in the works of successful books, the more easily you're able to manipulate the language to be able to tell not only the story but but a story that carries the components of emotion and empathy, depth, layered content and so on. If the more you know about the structure of it and how it works, the more stories you can tell, and you can tell them in a way that are more easily received by the reader. So education is a huge part of that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I would say that part of my education into the craft and into the businesses is not just reading books on sales and on mindset, but also on picking up every great literary work that I can from any genre, adding it to my list of need to be read and studying it and reading it. And I have that curse now where I can't read anything as a reader anymore. I read it now as a writer, which means that I get a little bit of the entertainment. Then I'm otherwise. I'm like that's a really good paragraph.

Speaker 2:

I mean, that's kind of how I got my start with fiction because, as I mentioned earlier, I had never taken a creative writing class.

Speaker 2:

So when I sat down to write, what I did is I took the six books that were the closest to the genre I wanted to write. I was writing Small Town Horror, american Gothic is the genre, and so I you know Sounds Lopak, stephen King, ghost Story, peter Straub, the Haunting of Hill, help, the Shrink of the Action, et cetera, read them as a reader and then read them multiple times as a writer, looking specifically for elements of craft. You see, like what is the balance of dialogue to narrative prose in action scenes, the way, say, stephen King does it, the way Robert McCammon does it, and you know, not to copy but to understand how different skill practitioners of the craft are able to manipulate things. So reading as a writer is a key element. You should read, first for entertainment, sure, and then, you know, deconstruct it. And I even took it all the way back to writing outlines, for you know what I think might have been the bones of the book.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I've shown a couple of those. Like Peter Straub, I had shown him the outline for Ghost Story and it matched his outline like about 75%. Wow, because there's an internal logic to storytelling. It's an equation of cause and effect. This action plus this action plus this action inevitably leads to this conclusion. And if you know, if you understand that, understand what the equation is, you can look for it in other books. You can see where the first and the second act end. You can see how they build in motif and allegory and subplot and so on. You see where they lay clues and you see the carpentry. That is how the thing got built and to me that not only informs me as a writer but it deepened my appreciation as a reader to see how skillfully that was managed.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it becomes one of those things where you recognize patterns in things that you enjoy. You know, you start seeing like I started writing the books that I wanted to read or that I did read, and not for, like you said, not for copying, but almost for like emulation, for understanding the story structure it gives. You know, I didn't get my MFA until 14 books late it, 14 books in. But even then I don't feel like the MFA gave me anything that I couldn't have picked up from reading enough, from writing enough and from searching for the information in craft books and that sort of thing. So it just condensed the information, the bare basics of it, into an eight-week period and said here you go, do the best you can with it.

Speaker 2:

It's a tool in your chest use it, and now you know how to use that tool, so that makes you more skillful at your trade, right, and that's what it's all about, you know, I mean.

Speaker 1:

So I love this story that you tell us. You've been telling about this first lore book. So I it was really impactful and I've been talking about it for over a year to my friends and to my writing group. I have a small writing group, you know. You talk about Brandon Sanderson.

Speaker 1:

One of the things that Brandon Sanderson did was he influenced me to go get a writing group, and so I did. I went and I searched for five people who were like me, in my similar situation. You know, kind of kind of my ilk, you know, and said I need, I need help, I want to help you. Let's help each other, let's critique, let's be objective, not subjective, and let's share our writing. You know, before it's polished, before an editor's had it, let's share it. You know, and I would say that's probably been my greatest source of any kind of step forward in my career has been having that group. So I really thank him for that and so I take these tidbits from people like him and people like you.

Speaker 1:

And one of the things you talked about was I don't know what and I've been meaning to ask you this, so I'm really excited to do it here what was the piece of lore? What was the? It was a vampire, but it was a head that detaches it's what country to come from? Detaches from the body and starts floating around the room.

Speaker 2:

It's.

Speaker 1:

Vietnam, From Vietnam. So the Vietnamese believe that a vampire is what? Can you explain it?

Speaker 2:

It's kind of a energy being. It the head and entrails, tear itself out of the body, looks around and finds a victim and, depending on which part of Vietnam, and sometimes they have similar beliefs in Laos and Cambodia. Some of the versions of the vampires feed on blood. Some eat I don't know how they eat if it's just a head and entrails, but they eat people. But most often they take out some life essence, the life, energy or breath or something, and that's what they feed on. Then they return to their bodies. It's, I mean, and there are variations of this around the world the Lugeru Lugeru, depending on the spelling again in Haiti, it's different variations of it, where an old crone will tear her skin off and become a ball of light like a will of the wisp and fly around and again attack people for life energy and then she returns to her body. So there are variations of that around the world and that's one of the things. And after I did that first book, I actually wrote five more.

Speaker 1:

On Lour around the world.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, folklore. Four are about folklore. One is about what would happen if zombies were real, and that was all about asking experts what would we do and how would we research and so on. But the others are about supernatural predators of various kinds, ranging from hundreds of different variations on vampires and werewolves. Ghosts Like zombies are interesting because the only true zombie is the Haitian zombie from that religion.

Speaker 2:

But the ghoul that George Romero created, the flesh eating ghoul, is actually based on or they called it a zombie. He didn't, but they put that name on it but he actually based it on ghouls from Middle Eastern folklore. You see, it's something he had read in college the Al Ghul, desert Demon and there are a number of flesh eating creatures that are sometimes grouped under vampire, but they're actually closer to the fictional version of the zombie that we have from the Romero films. And that's the fun thing about this folklore. There are hundreds and hundreds of variations of every kind of monster. My favorite monster variation is actually a werewolf creature called the Benendante. It means the Goodwalkers, and it's from Livonia. You'll find traces of this in Italy, poland, a couple other countries, germany, a few other countries have like pockets of beliefs where there are werewolves who claim that, people who claim they're werewolves and they say that at night when they become a werewolf, they go to fight evil. So they're actually the guy werewolves and I love that concept.

Speaker 2:

I've written a whole bunch of short stories about a Benendante character and in fact I even added a Benendante character into a Solomon Kane short story. I did for part of the Robert E Howard anthology. But I find it fascinating that you know they're also known as the Hounds of God, which I think is a really cool name, and they show up all over. Nowadays the Benendante families who claim to be descendant of Benendante no longer transform. They're more like Wiccan these days. They come to the house and so on. But these are family histories that go back to the Etruscan times.

Speaker 2:

Wow, I mean like ancient, ancient beliefs of people who were evil, fighting monsters, and some of them got arrested by the Inquisition and tortured to try to force them to admit that they were apostates of hell. And there was a couple that they couldn't the Inquisition could not break and, believe me, they tried. You know they were not half measures. And there's one guy, tyce. They couldn't break him. They finally released him and he's the one they called the Hound of God because they could not believe that anyone could endure what they put him through were he not protected by God. I don't think. Well, that's badass yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

That is the Strigoni Benefitsi, by the way, and that's actually part of Catholic church history, where they would have warrior monks who would go out and capture vampires, torture them until they drove the evil out of their systems and then these vampires would then embrace God and they'd become essentially assassins for the church and it's an actual church history. I love that it's in church history.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, I would really love to see what the archives are. That's the one place I want to go in this world. It's not just to see what's if there's anything revelatory there, it's to see what the church thinks is worth hiding.

Speaker 2:

That's what I'm interested in. Yeah, and the fact that you are intrigued by that just shows you're a writer, because all of us have been hit with that at some point or another. Like damn, I wish I spoke 10 ancient languages and had a key to the Vatican Library.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, yeah, it's one thing to be able to get in there, it's another thing to actually know what you're looking at, and it could take a lifetime to. I mean, I think I read a story about a guy who it took him a lifetime to learn the language needed to transcribe one article and he had to go and become part of some sect rise up to the top in order to get access to that section to read that article. And then the story is hilarious because at the end it said it said it was basically a recipe for pea soup. He thought it was going to be.

Speaker 2:

And that is. That's an awesome story and that's probably what some of it is, and some of it may be histories that there isn't necessarily anything, you know, life changing. It might just be stuff that they used to believe that's so stupid they don't want people to know. They used to believe it. Go ahead, you know. But I just love the fact that there are so many types of monsters out there.

Speaker 2:

One of the curious things is that almost everything that people know about, like, say, fighting vampires and werewolves, is based on what fiction people have created, Right Folklore.

Speaker 2:

Some quick examples it nowhere except in China, except in the juncture of China. No other vampire species around the world throughout history is afraid of sunlight None If sunlight was added to the vampire lore. When they were filming the silent movie Nosferatu, most of the crew had just walked off because they weren't getting paid. The lighting guy is one of the last guys there and they couldn't afford to fill the big ending. So he said look, we've been shooting the vampire in darkness, let's just make it that he can't abide the light and have sunlight kill on the director's like sure, fine, let's do that. So the whole thing about a vampire not being able to enter unless he's invited, was made up by Brahms Stoker. A little side note there the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia has all of Brahms Stoker's research notes, so every Halloween I would give a lecture there, you know, and talk about the writing of Dracula. Well, he had made Dracula so powerful in the first third of the book that by the time he got to ink England he would have just killed everyone.

Speaker 1:

Right, right.

Speaker 2:

Stoker, you know, had to go back and create limitations on his power, not being able to walk around. I'm sorry, not being able to enter unless invited was one. The other was making them afraid of a cross. That was folklore. In fact, there are quite a few vampires in different parts of Western Europe, Just as an example, who live a normal life by day, go into church and everything else, but they're also vampires Interesting. A lot of things were added to it and because we most people learn about monsters from books and movies, they don't know that there is a different version of those creatures and folklore, which is going back to my first novel. It's why Rook Goes Red Blues, because I wanted to pit human characters against vampires when all they knew about how to fight them came from books and movies. Pretty high attrition rate as a result.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, and it's doing something different. Right, and I think that was the topic of your lecture was one way I read 20 books was do something different with what's out there. You know you're talking about maybe a vampire that feeds people and instead of takes from them, it feeds them. You know, kind of like blood type O, universal donor, that sort of thing, you know. And so I think that's really, really fun because it gives you a lot to work with it, lets you stand out and also, at the same time, is that you pay respect to the lore, the fiction, the literature, because you're saying, look, I know what the opposite was, or I know what the real thing is, let's do the opposite, and if I did it well, then the reader is going to be like man, this was something different and I really appreciate that.

Speaker 2:

Yep, and also in when we look at some of the folklore creatures and then write fiction based on it. We get to explore themes that are often overlooked. Like you know, dracula is 500 years old. How the hell do you stay? How do you not go crazy? Being an immortal, you're going to live forever. That can't be fun, right? Because if he has any kind of an organic brain, it's about only so much storage capacity. It's like a computer, you know. Once it gets full, it's done. So you know, you just have a full brain and you're just moving through life century after century. I think vampires are cranky because they're bored.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we always see them as these. They're always depicted as high class and sophisticated, because sophisticated people tend to live in. You know, they live for the. I would say they live in the moment, as they savor every moment, but also, at the same time, they're perspective towards the future.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and, by the way, that is also a fictional construct. The Highborn Vampire was invented by John Paul Adori and Sheridan Lafano and Brom Stoker. None of the vampires prior to that in folklore were highborn. They were. You know, most often the vampire is just somebody in the village who became one for whatever reason, making different ways to create a vampire and they become the predator. But the Highborn thing, my guess was it's an attempt at social commentary, the way the rich feed off the poor.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think. And horror is an interesting vessel too, because you can. You can do so much with horror. That especially because horror is an emotion, a close cousin to romance, which is also a emotion you have to.

Speaker 1:

I think in horror you are naturally expected to feel some sort of emotion, worst most other genres. You have to inject that emotion through character. You have an expectation already, what you're going to assume. You know then, and that's, I think that's really interesting because you know the vampires being this symbolic right of the rich on the poor. You have other lessons that are taught, like I was. I just watched Stephen King's new release movie and I was kind of like at the beginning of the movie I'm like good luck, good luck, please do good. You know, and and this one was on his bloodlines the introduction to Salem slot or, excuse me, is, it sounds no, no introduction to I'm so blanking on the name right now, I'm so sorry, pet cemetery, excuse me, that's right, right and so the the thing that stood out the most to me was the end narrative from the main character.

Speaker 1:

He said sometimes dead is better, you know. And so that made me really, you know, think to myself. I'm like man, like what would be so bad in life that you'd prefer it dead, you know, and that's kind of the thing it's like you, kind of like you're talking about with the immortals, and like what, what would your life be? You know, ask those those types of questions what could, what could go wrong, you know, if you don't live, if you live forever, or what if you do live forever, but your body still kind of deteriorates over time? Like what is that like?

Speaker 2:

I had a story that I'm going to be. I get invited to a lot of anthologies. I have a story that I've already plotted out dealing with immortality, where a vampire is bitten when they already have AIDS and the AIDS progresses, though slowly, it doesn't go away. It's part of who are once they become a vampire. So the vampires feeling themselves get sicker and sicker, but they're never going to die, and that that puts a different slant on immortality.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, that's some horror, allows you to ask those questions and allows you to channel it through a vessel of some sort, normally through paranormal, or it's through a creature feature. You know, one of my favorite, favorite books I've ever, and there's only two things in the world that really scare me. They're really weird. But I, I don't like trains, like trains, the locomotives, not like Metro, but like old steam locomotives, and I don't like the creature, the Wendigo. I think that creature to me, especially the old Lord the Wendigo, that terrifies me and you know, especially because when you think about what the Wendigo spirit has to do, or what the person has to do to be infected basically by the wind of spirit, they have to be at a point of starvation, so, so much that they're willing to eat their companion, their friend, their, their family, whatever, whatever they have available.

Speaker 1:

So that situation is so tense and so dire, and then they get to reap the consequences of it. Which is you become, this, this creature? And so for me, I'm like. People get put into situations all the time and it says what? What is our situation going to be in that moment? It's, it's, you know. People say we don't judge each other at our best, we judge them when they're at their worst. You know, what did you do when everything was bad versus when everything is good? And so I think horror allows us to ask those questions. It allows us to present them in a way that people can kind of personify and embody.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it does, and that's one of the reasons I love zombie stories so much, because in the zone in the typical zombie story you have Monsters that you know present and, as a result of the spreading infection, the infrastructure collapses. When you can no longer call for help, you are on your own. And when you are completely on your own, you're also who you really are, not who you want to be perceived as. So one of the examples I use been talking about this If there's a zombie apocalypse, you have a captain of industry, right Person who can pick up a phone or snap his fingers and anything is done for him because he pays everyone around him and can afford the best. Every you know his toilets clogged. He gets the top plumber in the area to come when the zombie apocalypse happens and there's no one answering his calls.

Speaker 2:

Who is he? You know what is his real identity and he may not even know until all of his comforts and all of his First responders taken away. But then you get a guy who's down down the street running a hot dog truck. You know he's. He's. He's the one who fixes the toilet, he's the one it does all the stuff, because he can't afford to call anyone else. He learned how a whole bunch of skills that are basic survival skills that stretch a dollar, find you know what food has the most value, you know for the dollar. Because he needs to stay healthy, needs his kids to stay healthy, doesn't have much money and there's all the different reasons. He's learned to become self-sufficient. He may wind up being the charismatic leader that leads a group of people to safety, because he's always been Closer to his true self. It's true as self as he's a survivor.

Speaker 2:

And you know, in zombie films, when our affectation is stripped away, we get to as writers, we get to explore drama. When you have characters laid to the bone, you know personality is gone and it's what made movies like night of the living dead so effective. George Romero the side note is was a good friend of mine the last eight or nine years of his life and we talked endlessly about how this works. The, he said, the characters of Ben, barbara and I forget the name of the guy in the cell, or Dan maybe, I'm not sure Would probably all like each other had they met in any other circumstance, because nothing was pushing them to the edge of their psychological stability or Nothing is highlighting their inability to make good, clean decisions, decisions in a crisis. So they would probably have gotten along if they were on three seats at the diner that Ben talks about in the movie. They would probably just chat, you know.

Speaker 2:

But then you put them in a crisis where they can't be that and, like you know, the guy in the cell or his Daughters dying, his wife is, is freaking out because they can't do anything for her. Ben is, you know, he's trapped and White rural Pennsylvania. That can't be a good thing in the 60s. And Barbara to solve her brother murdered and she's freaked out. She's in post-traumatic stress like in Sun Onset. None of them are the versions of themselves they play day to day and that made that movie so compelling. It's still watchable all these years later.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and zombies. Zombies provide that medium. That's. That's a perfect example. It's never the zombies. The zombies are the easy part stick them in the head and they're done.

Speaker 2:

It's not.

Speaker 2:

It's never the zombies, it's always the people right, which is why in most zombie films you set it up Zombie, zombie, zombie and then you have this long middle act where it's all about the cat, the people interacting. But even shows like the walking dead they had a whole episodes where the zombies were not only incidental, they were almost irritating. Yeah, zombie would come in, you'd kill one just to see. You can remind the audience. Yes, we know it's a zombie story, but the story was about the character. You know, the humans. The zombies have no personality. You know. Sure, if you're watching something like girl with all the gifts or warm bodies or something, a zombie has personality, but they're very variants on the theme.

Speaker 2:

In in the straight zombie story, eventually the zombies become kind of one note. That's why, for those funny, a lot of people talk about the zombie rules, as said to have by George Romero. They never get those rules right. He changes the zombies nature in every single film. Each time the zombie is getting closer to a new, evolved state by Day. Of the dead. There they're talking and using our gun. In in land of the dead they lead a revolt in diet, in diary. That's kind of rebooted the first film. But skip forward to survival. The dead, the zombies even learn how to Negotiate with humans and use animals as a food source instead of humans. It shows evolution. That's what are always intended, because he said otherwise. They would be and I'm quoting him directly boring as fuck.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I, in my thesis paper, I wrote about something and I don't think I was the original pointer of them, of this type of idea, and I don't think I'm the only one to recognize it. But zombies provide that situation where you take a bunch of people and you stick them in a confined area and let them just explode on each other and see what happens. Stephen King did that. It's called the King method, is what I called it in my paper. If it's, yeah, and what it was was, you know, under the dome, is a perfect example. What happens if a dome comes over and all these people are first to interact with it? What happens if you take two people, stick them in a hot car where a dog is trying to kill them? You know what happens when you take a town you serve, you know, and the vampires you can't go outside because the van, the vampires, are owned.

Speaker 2:

The night, you know right.

Speaker 1:

So it's, it's, it's the King method is is forcing the interaction through the medium of the scary thing, and I just think that that's it's so much fun and and it's so different than you know. There's there's werewolf knocking at the door. You can do more. You can do more with what you have and and and I don't think in, especially in George Romero's for films is like if it weren't for the people, it's just zombies wandering around.

Speaker 2:

It's it's all about the people all about people and I, like you know, he and I loved working on on some projects. We did a project called nights plural, nights of a living dead anthology and it's Moderately close being picked up by MGM plus for a TV series Wow. And we just asked some of the top zombie writers around To write stories and all of them gave us character driven stories. The zombies were there. The zombies are the crisis. They're the canvas on which you paint a story about human, you know Survival. And it goes back to a saying that one of the first things I ever learned about fiction, richard, I mentioned that Ray Bradbury was a mentor of mine. So Bradbury and Matheson were, for three years, mentors of my, from age 12, one for three years. And one of the things Matheson told me is that he said we're not in the business of giving happy characters a good week. Our job is to step in, kick, kick the door in, break all the furniture, chase them out of the house with a hatchet and let them survive on the main streets. And this is that's, that's fiction, because Writing fiction is crisis. Even a romance boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl. Crisis. Boy finds girl again, maybe, but the crisis is the turning point of the drama and you know, look at kids books. The pokey little puppy lost loses his ball. Right Curious George does something and he's in a crisis. It's all about crisis.

Speaker 2:

The zombie stories just make it a little easier. Monster stories make it a little easier. It's strays from the point a bit when the monster is Retains its personality, which is why often vampire stories are carved out From a lot of horror stories. Unless they're, you know, pretty edgy, like 30 days of night, it's a pretty edgy film. Twilight's not an edgy film, you know the vampires are. There are bad guys, good guys, but you can reason with them to a degree, right? So it that becomes a conflict story, not a monster story right, yeah, the.

Speaker 1:

But I had a, I had a co-writer, one of my co-writers. He said he said, man, I'm really stuck, like I don't know what to do next. I'm like, throw a problem in there, something small, throw any kind of problem, it could be anything. Just, you know, this one's a space horror. So we're talking, we're we're writing about. Our inspiration is event horizon, which is one of my favorite movies ever and the only movie that's ever managed to scare me and Damn good movie.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and it went under the radar. I try to tell everybody about it. I'm like man, you got to see this movie. If you hadn't seen it, you're missing out, and so it it. So I just told him to put a rip in the suit. He's walking by a jagged piece of metal, rip in the suit and then he's like man.

Speaker 2:

That work, just a little bit of a problem, and it forced a conversation between the characters a great example of that not a horror film, but, but a great example of that point is the Martian. Things just certainly go wrong for him and if they didn't, it would just be a guy waiting for rescue, you know, but his potatoes died because the you know, the habitat rips, etc. Etc. That makes a story. You know you always want that extra thing and anytime a writer is, he doesn't know what to do next. Have you know, either invent a new character and have him cause a problem or just have something go wrong, and that now you've got pages of problem solving and character explanation that evolves during the problem solve. It's great.

Speaker 1:

So here we are, readers giving away our solutions. So if you wonder why everything keeps going wrong, it's because we got to a writer's block. If it seems like we're not getting anywhere, well, it's because we came to a stopping point. We needed something to move the story forward.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, and by the way, that's also one of the things that editors are good for. A given example of this in my fourth novel, patient Zero, the first of my Joe Ledger thriller series, I had had a villain that I thought was really you know, I thought I had crapped them really well and he was, you know, an elegant nuance, a lot of different. You know characteristics, but he was, he was a loner character and he was always in his own head and my editor said that's great, but he's not interacting with anyone. Give him someone to talk to. Create a Watson for him. And I created a character for him to talk to. Not only did it bring my villain much more to life and give him more dimension, it also suggested new ways in which the two of them could amp up the troubles for the good guys. So editors, you know, are very cognizant of the fact that you may need to put more characters, more subplots, more twists, more events Into your story. To take it from the story you wrote to the one that should be published.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, I think that's. Um, you know, circle back a little bit. That's that. That becomes the effort, right, the creative energy that we inject into these stories, as we say we need something here and we add more. And we, but we had to add the right thing the Watson. You know, you mentioned the Watson. Let's, let's give a little reveal. I know what the Watson is, but I don't know anybody else knows what the Watson is. So can you explain your version, what you think the Watson is?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, if this, if the Sherlock Holmes stories have been written, you know, in third person about Sherlock Holmes, we none of us alive today would know about them. They, the fact that Watson was there to constantly ask questions, to be the person that that Holmes and his theatricality was fooling you know, and or sort of stalling for the big reveal, that's what makes the story so well. I mean all those moments when Watson, you know it's Holmes to say to I see you've been to the betting office, you know how, do you know that that he'd go through all the different reasons, right, and Watson would be amazed and he becomes our proxy. A second character creates that role. So a Watson is a great, great foil for the main character as well, as maybe the fact that the Doyle made him the Biographer for Holmes allowed Watson's personality, which was much richer and more complex than Holmes, to drive the narrative. He's likable and approachable. Is is not at all likeable. He's. You know, if you knew him in real life you'd be like you could have told me this shit at the beginning of the case Rather than stringing me along. But you know that that's, that's Victorian era. You know Drama. But Doyle did something very progressive. He moved the whole Sherlock Holmes type of story into the 20th century by having that, that foil.

Speaker 2:

There's two characters Little side note, just pet peeve. I hate when they make Watson into a bumbling idiot in movies. My favorite Watson was Edward Hardwick in the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes. He was an intelligent, reasonable, accomplished individual who just was not a super genius and he was in the presence of super genius, but he often challenged Holmes in some of his moral and legal decisions. They, they argued so and that gave them not only a reality in their relationship, it showed the evolution of an actual friendship, a believable friendship, and we like Holmes more for his affection and respect for Watson. Yeah, the battle rathbone. Nigel Bruce, sherlock Holmes. You know Nigel Bruce was a was it was a. The character play was an idiot. Yeah, yeah and and Watson's a doctor.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, he's a medical doctor and a former soldier. Yeah, you know, man's got a whole lifetime experience. You know Martin Freeman's Watson was pretty good in the in the Benedict Cumberback Holmes. They went a little overboard with the Jude Law version in the Robert Downey juniors, but at least they went in the direction of having him more intelligent rather than less.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, he became kind of the subject of Sherlock's pranks and jokes and stuff like that.

Speaker 1:

But he kind of viewed him as an equal and almost like I need you. And there was that, there was that arc in there too. It was like hey, like you need me, kind of a thing, and that worked out great. Oh yeah, but you're exactly right, if without, without Watson, I mean, we'd be absolutely bored, you know.

Speaker 1:

And so one of the things I like to to point out and this is one of the lectures I plan to give, and I asked this question and I say the parts of the Caribbean movies, are you, are you familiar with them?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I asked people say who's the main character and they're like Jack Sparrow and I'm like, well, it's Captain Jack Sparrow and no, it's not, it's actually Will Turner. Yeah, whole movies about will turn up, but will Turner is so boring and he is the subject of everything that happens in there. He doesn't do anything proactive ever, minus a couple of sword fights. Yeah, it's Jack that's actually going after the things that he wants. And then he's flamboyant and funny on top of it and he's kind of got this superhero-esque quality to him or everything kind of I like to associate him with, like Domino from X-Men, where he just got luck on his side. That's his superpower, because the dude's been killed a couple of times, eaten a couple of times. I mean it just somehow makes it, you know, and without, without you know him it's just about will turn and we'll turn, doesn't do anything, and so.

Speaker 2:

And you know I have nothing against Orlando Bloom, it's just the character was written to be a dull duller. I mean I think they may have been so afraid that he'd be so heroic he'd outshine the scripted version of Jack Sparrow, and then one, of course I was just Tells his name, the actor I play, sparrow, johnny Depp. When Johnny Depp just went whole hog and went, you know, full Keith Richard in In the role. It even made the other characters paler still, you know, to the point where you can't wait for his, his part to get over. So we get back to Sparrow and also the rest of the crew of the various ships, because they become interesting.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they did that. Later on in the series. I think they started, you know, making the other characters more interesting. They even gave Barbosa an arc to like who it. I think they did well to dev to evolve the series. It became entertaining enough that I would watch all the way through, you know all of them just to see.

Speaker 1:

And they and lich and of course, because I'm I love anything to do with lore they enrich the lore of the world and they made the world bigger, you know, like they're supposed to do in a series, so that that just felt good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there are a couple other Things, going back to the horror world, that that make horror such a unique and fun genre, one of which is, you know, the Van Helsing character and it's been borrowed that. That character been borrowed by almost every thriller movie we've had since. Even if it's not horror, science fiction, just a thriller movie, there's usually somebody who knows what's going on and Stoker built him so beautifully into the story that in a lot of ways it is. You know, he rivals Mina and Dracula as the main character. Everything he does Makes the story pivot because of his knowledge and he's the one that gives us the information, the rules of the story.

Speaker 2:

I love, I love building in characters like that. In various works I've done, I've had them be kind of blatantly Van Helsing's, even with the point where characters joking that refer to he's our van Helsing Having characters that are giving information on the fly and they serve that role without it being Too much of a narrative dump, you know, like info dump and I love. I love that sort of thing and I'm one of those people that my favorite parts of, say, a Dracula movie is not Dracula, it's always the Van Helsing right in the air of Peter Cushing is Van Helsing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah my second favorite is Frank Finlay from the Louie Jardin Van Helsing illusion on Dracula movie. Yeah, and it's. It's a great character that has a lot of potential, a lot of twist to it and there's usually a bit of innate dignity to the character too. He's that, the end product of us having learned, and therefore you know the proof that knowledge is power.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and that's, um, you know, horror can do that with, with just just the knowledge of something unknown, right? Because that's that's what it becomes down to with with the horror genre specifically. It breaks down to the fear of the unknown, right? Because we, because at some, at some point, we understand how, if we can understand how to kill the thing, the fear goes away, because now we're imbued with confidence.

Speaker 2:

So a lot of times it comes adventure story at that point.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, and so you have to be very careful where we put that adventure in, and we still have to make sure that our heroes are not Exactly heroes. The horror point of Horror is not to defeat the villain, is to survive the villain, and that's what horror is about.

Speaker 2:

And and that's one of the reasons that we have so many bad horror films out there because a lot, of, a lot of script writers Don't understand that what they do is they, they, they have the, the characters learn the rules, follow the rules, kill the monster and then, for some reason, the monster is alive again in the post credits moment. And that's Lazy storytelling, it's lazy writing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, perfect example is the first alien movie. Alien is a 100 isolation creature feature in space and it is essentially the same Same start. A build up as a like a haunted house would be right. But she gets tools to defeat the thing along the way. But it costs her every step of the way to get those things and she fails miserably every single step. The, the creature, is a perfect creature and we are human, and that's the thing that that makes it so terrifying is that it is designed Specifically to be our counter and the only thing you can do is survive. But then you get into the later films and it's like now she's a super soldier because somehow she only only her Knows the inf. Only she knows the information about the alien. And then it's like that's why people complain so much about whatever. The alien number I think is number three, with all those space marines. I think that's.

Speaker 2:

I think that's what I think it would come to was that number two.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so the the prison was a little bit better, but still alien. Number two was like I was like, okay, this is just more like an action sequence, but I like, I like the alien creature, so I'll watch it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, might, might, take a minute. I've been. I've done a lot of work with the aliens license. I edited alien bug hunt and aliens versus predator anthologies uh, aliens.

Speaker 2:

The second film was actually my favorite action film of all time. Um, because it was shot as an action film, was never intended to be a horror film, but james cameron like, I got to meet him a few years ago and he talked to me. I asked him about that because you know I was working on the anthologies and he said he said ridley scott made a perfect horror movie. Why would I go and try to write it, do a sequel? Perfect film. There is nothing about that movie that needs needs repairing through a sequel. I just wanted I love action. I, you know terminator was an action film. I wanted to write an action movie and this is what I did and it was a perfect Act. Well, almost perfect action film. There is one Real flaw in that movie and it bugs all my friends around the navy. They leave nobody on the ship, seriously nobody. Apart from that, I love everything else about that movie. Um, and it was. You know, it wasn't intended to be hard.

Speaker 2:

Right from then on, I don't think the script writers really grasped Either the value of either the two films. They had movies with lots of action and they had movies with jump scares, but they did not create a good horror film or a good action film. And the only movies in the in the alien franchise I like are the first. Two predators is the same way. I only like one and three incredible Because they're they're similar and you know a bunch of really tough characters up against an unbeatable foe and the only way you're going to win is through ingenuity, and that's a hard sell when you have something an advanced race, that is their entire culture is hunting you. How do you defeat? First film was was a lot of fun. Second film got a lot of fun. The rest of them Could be bothered.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think that and this would be a good point to leave off on that that the thing that allowed the especially the predator film to, that allowed the character that was Arnold Schwarzenegger to survive, was it was Listen to the words he used come, kill me, come on, kill me. He was reducing himself down to the one from this huge muscly action figure Guy that was capable of doing you know insane Things on the combat, in combat and in general, just being ultra strong, and all this they reduced himself down to the sniveling covered in mud, hiding in a hole kill me, kill me, kill me. But that was the moment, that human moment, that he basically knew, like I'm either going to die or this is going to work.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, without that moment it would have been as bad as commando Humanize the character. That's what made it work so well. And he put a little bit of that humanity into the first Conan movie. Second one's on and the remake sucked. But the first one he he got broken all the way down and then he had to build himself up and it's his loss of confidence in who he believed he had become Faulted. Yeah, we had to reclaim his confidence and, uh, I thought that that was really really well done. And, by the way, I don't know if you can see Listeners camp right behind me Is a book on my shelf. It's currently on the wanderer very first book ever bought.

Speaker 1:

Wow, and you still have it.

Speaker 2:

I still have it. I actually started out with Conan as as my preferred reading other than what was assigned in school, but it when I was eight, I think Wow, incredible. But even the character in the story wasn't. He wasn't always a good guy and he wasn't always right right.

Speaker 1:

Well, excellent, Jonathan man, we've run the gambit, holy crap. That flew yeah.

Speaker 2:

Are you going to be at 20 books again this year? Yes, sir, I am, yeah, you're going to have to do more talking.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, I think it'd be great. I think this is just a fun, fruitful conversation and I think I think our readers will enjoy to see pull pull back the curtain a little bit. We went a little bit more into the craft and stuff like that. I think the readers are, our listeners are really going to enjoy that, and so that's a little bit different than we normally do and I'm starting to feel like they're interested in that kind of thing. A lot of readers are writers, or a lot of writers are readers. You know, all writers should be readers, but I think I think that's that's very cool to see behind the mind as well, of what we come up with.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And why exactly? And we're you know. It's more than just asking where do you get your inspiration? I think that's kind of a boring question. I'm like it's kind of dead. You know, let's, let's go deeper, you know.

Speaker 2:

Well it's. It's like one of the most common questions a horror writer gets is from people who don't yet understand I say, yet understand the genres. They say you know what makes you write about monsters, make you love monsters so much? I don't love monsters. I don't write about monsters, I write about people. I write about people who fight monsters. Right, I grew up in a very poor, very abusive household. My father was career criminal who ran a local chapter of the KKK. Terrible environment to grow up in. Wow. I got involved in martial arts as a kid because I knew one day, one of these days, I was going to have to fight him, and so I wound up at age 14 defeating my own monster. I understand what it's like to grow up in the presence of something that appears to be overwhelming odds. It was six foot eight, three hundred and eighty pounds of muscle.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'm six four. I was six two by the time I was 14, but you're still tired over me. I beat my monster, so I write about stories. I write stories about people who are confronting something that appears to be insurmountable. It's a horror novel, a disaster novel, deep space, science fiction, apocalyptic story. They're up against something that nothing in their life has prepared them for that moment. So how do they level up? Yeah, and those stories are my favorite kind of story when you have to become better than you are by not holding on to who you think you are, become who you should be. And you know, van Helsing was my hero as a kid. Yeah, he told them how to beat a monster.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, what an incredible, incredible story, and thank you for sharing you know about, about your childhood, and what you know brought you to be the person you are today. I think that's that's really important for people to know. I have no shame in telling people I was a soldier and now I'm a police officer, and there are people asking me why do you want to be a police officer? And so I don't like bullies. I've never liked bullies and people who you know, people who steal from people, people who beat their wives, people who who hurt animals and people who litter these are all bullies in some respect and I don't like them.

Speaker 1:

And so I don't write about I don't like monsters, I don't like bullies. I write about them because they're real and they're, and you know, and sometimes it may take the form of a when to go, sometimes it might take the form of a vampire, but this is just one bully that we got to, we got to deal with. You know, and often the bully bullies use power. That's what they use over you is to is is power.

Speaker 2:

And and a superpower that that people can use against them is actually empathy Understanding what it means to under empathy for yourself, empathy for the bully, not necessarily sympathy. You're standing and then finding out how to be in the path of that so that it does not do harm to somebody standing behind us. Yeah, empathy becomes an incredible resource in a lot of different areas of life, but also is a great resources. Or, as a writer, you have to feel what the characters feel good and bad and inhabit the skin so you could write a story that is no matter how fantastically elements, believable sort of at real people in extraordinary circumstances. And it sounds like you're doing that and that's what I do, and that's why we're probably both going to continue writing and writing and writing until they, as I mentioned earlier, they bury us with our laptops.

Speaker 1:

Yep, I have to. I have to. I don't have a choice. I'm actually one of my processes right now is is writing down where all of my stories are, so that way they can, my, my family, whoever has access to them, can finish the ones that I was writing, and I'll leave instructions on how to finish it so I don't leave any of them undone.

Speaker 2:

I have a writer friend I'm not going to mention names yet because they it's not publicly announced, but who's who's? In really dire physical circumstances. He may not survive, and I'm one of the people that will probably be completing some of his uncompleted works. That's that's. That's an interesting legacy. Sometimes, you know, we want to do that, so our stories can not only live on beyond us but can be completed in a way that speaks to the same humanity that that we were striving for, and we wrote them or started them.

Speaker 1:

What an incredible ask. You know. You know you've reached somebody and this is I know this is a little aside and we're going a little bit over here, but I think it's worth it. But what an incredible ask when you say I think you know me and my story and the way I write and what I stand for enough Will you finish my novel? Will you finish my series? Look at what Brandon Sanders did with Robert Jordan I mean, we're talking about a massive series, exactly, and what an incredible feat.

Speaker 1:

And you know, and so that's congratulations to you. That should be something I'm sorry about, your friend, but that should be something we're celebrating that you were, you were potentially asked to finish somebody else's novel or their works. I don't know what he's working on, but you know, congratulations to you. That means that you've connected with that person in a way that they feel comfortable with something, that that this is, this is their dying breath, right, or something close to it. I mean, you know their names on it and that's going to be, that's going to be something forever. So congratulations to you and I'm sorry, if you're a friend, I'll pray for him, but that's, I think that's man. We'll talk about a tender note, but definitely, definitely a great place to say you know what. This was totally worth it and I think that the conversation was worth it. It was all a blast and I'm really, really appreciate you taking your time out of your business schedule. I don't think you said you had to interviews every single week.

Speaker 2:

Every single day this week, yeah, and next week. I've got 11 in the next 12 days. But you know, and some of them are, you know, overseas as well. And the first thing I will say for any readers, any writers who are out there listening, if you go to my website, which is Jonathan mayberrycom, and spell my last name right, it's MAB, not M a, y, b, m a, b or Y. On my website there's a one of the pages is free stuff for writers how to format a novel, sample of one of my comic book scripts, how to write a query letter, how to write a synopsis really useful stuff. They're all downloadable, free PDFs. Go grab what you need, share with your writer friends.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. I'll see if I can link that in the comments below. So, ladies and gentlemen, Jonathan, I know you told us, but give us the name of the book that you want people to pick up if they never heard of you.

Speaker 2:

They've never heard me patient, zero patients. It combines horror and action and science my three favorite things and it's the first of my Joe Ledger thriller series. I am writing the 14th book in the series right now and have the next couple sold already, and it's it's a fun, relatable character. He's emotional damage goods who uses his damage to be able to be really good at his job. So and I think you can use ex soldier, ex cop, now spec ops guy for international troubleshooting organization.

Speaker 1:

Very cool. So, Joe Ledger excellent, I have seen it. I've got the first book. It's actually in my in my libraries I definitely it's my. My bump it up on my to be read list. That's um. Thank you for that, Jonathan mayberrycom. I'll make sure there's a decent link in there so that people know how to spell your name correctly. But, John, thank you for your time tonight.

Speaker 2:

I appreciate it my pleasure, brother, and this has been quite a lot of fun and I hope, hope to come back someday.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Yeah, we do bring repeats on. I know we've got a couple of scheduled, so I'll definitely keep you in the loop. So, ladies and gentlemen, you're listening to the night marriage podcast. This is going to be episode number one, season two of the podcast, and I'm calling in from October 16, so I will be publishing this one as soon as possible. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time and have a good night.

Speaker 2:

Take care guys.

The Return of Jonathan Mayberry
Writing and Publishing Discovery
Exploring Folklore and Fictional Monsters
Exploring Humanity Through Zombie Stories
Crisis and Character Development in Fiction
Discussion on Horror and Action Films
The Importance of Reading and Writing