John Mulhall is the author of the #1 Amazon horror bestseller Geddy’s Moon and the upcoming Dark and Broken Things. He is also a member of the geek-culture podcast Podthingy, as well as an award-winning video and event producer and the President/CEO of a creative agency.
FangirlNation: What draws you to the horror genre?
John Mulhall: Hope. I’m an optimist at heart, but my optimism is buried under layers of snark and cynicism. Horror is kind of like that too. It’s a genre that, at first glance, seems pessimistic, but in my favorite stories, there’s always a glimmer of hope, the thought that the hero will rise up against the darkness and emerge victorious.
It’s funny because, while I love good horror books and movies, it’s not my first love, genre-wise. I’m a superhero guy, a sci-fi guy, even straightforward dramas. Yet, when I write I tend to be drawn to dark things, creepy settings, irony. I try not to overanalyze it too much. Sometimes people will give you a raised eyebrow when they find out that you write horror, but I think I’m more well-adjusted than a large percentage of the people I meet. I let my demons out to play.
JM: There were several reasons, actually. One, early on, I knew that I wanted the first part of the story to take place in the center of the country, far removed from the coasts. Two, I loved the idea of setting it in wheat-farming community; wheat says renewal to me, crops are cyclical, and that worked thematically. And so Kansas became a natural candidate. Beyond that, though, I knew that the setting needed to feel fairly typical, in the sense that I was attempting to both embrace and, at the same time, twist the tried-and-true horror tropes and clichés we’re almost all familiar with.
FGN: What is the best thing about writing?
JM: Getting the stories out. There are so many stories floating around inside my head, and I can only go so fast. It’s frustrating sometimes. Writing itself can be glorious or it can be miserable, and it depends on the day. But ultimately, it’s a mechanism for storytelling. One of the things I love about writing, versus creating a film, for example, is that it’s so pure. You’re getting the story straight from the source, the author’s brain, unadulterated, for better or worse.
FGN: What is Dark and Broken Things about?
JM: Dark and Broken Things is about a man named David Grace who gets into a car accident coming home from a ski trip with his best friend. That’s where the story starts, mid-accident. We then follow David as he wakes up in a remote hospital in the middle of a snowstorm, cut off from the rest of the world. He is badly injured from the crash and must recover. But this hospital is running on reserve power at times, it’s kind of rundown, and he begins experiencing things he can’t explain. He starts to doubt his sanity, but he realizes there’s another possibility as well: that he’s being haunted.
It’s a very personal story, focusing entirely on David’s experiences post-accident. That’s very different from Geddy’s Moon, which takes place in different time periods and follows a number of characters. I think I wanted to do something very different, to vary it up from book to book. I’m now working on the follow up to Geddy’s Moon and it feels like returning to a familiar place, but I like the challenge of telling different types of stories.
FGN: On your website, you say that it is “Coming Soon.” Any ETA?
JM: Yes! We’re actually launching the book via Kickstarter this time, and it should be in the hands of the readers before the end of 2014. I love the idea of going direct to the readers, involving them in the process, so I wanted to give this a try and see how it went. The Kickstarter is live now and goes through November 16th and we’re offering the book in many different flavors, with sponsorship levels from $3 up. Y
FGN: What are some of your favorite reading memories?
JM: I still remember reading Boy’s Life by McCammon for the first time; that was really eye-opening for me, and it influenced my own writing, I think. That still remains one of my favorite books, and always will. I also remember being forced to read Lord of the Flies in high school, and thinking it was just going to be more homework. I walked away from that book stunned and confused. I loved it. I also remember reading Roald Dahl when I was very young and just being voracious about finding everything he’d written; what a fantastic, imaginative storyteller. There are others – Bradbury, King, Matheson – I could go on and on about reading. I think it’s such a simple thing, but the written word unlocks whole new realities.
FGN: What Halloween reading or viewing would you recommend?
JM: Oh man, I’m the worst at this stuff… I’m always the one asking for the recommendations!
One of my favorite horror films of the last 10 years is The Descent. It’s just absolutely brilliantly done, and relentless; I barely was able to breathe for the whole film. If you’re afraid of the dark or claustrophobic, go get it, don’t read about it, just go. And make sure you watch the uncut international version, which I believe is the easiest one to find.
I also quite enjoyed The Woman in Black. It was underrated, I think. It was an old-fashioned ghost story, atmospheric and creepy, which is what I love. I don’t need all of the computer generated critters and crazy gore.
I’m also reading Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill right now, and really enjoying it.
FGN: What is Podthingy? What sorts of topics do you cover?
JM: Podthingy is just fun for anyone who tends to consider themselves a geek or nerd, or even geek/nerd-adjacent. There are four of us – the lead singer of the industrial band Idiot Stare, Blayne Alexander; two bloggers, Geek Outlaw and Hot Nerd Girl; and myself – and we have cocktails and talk about the latest geeky news or we debate nerdy topics. Sometimes we have a guest, sometimes not. Recently we had Paul Schrier, who was Bulk on the Power Rangers, Todd Stashwick from Gotham (and others), Lina Carolla, who was the winner of The Quest, and Jon Cryer. That’s DUCKIE for crying out loud! That’s like having a patron saint of geeks on our show. It was great fun. If anyone wants to check it out, they can just head over to podthingy.com or subscribe via iTunes.
FGN: Where can people find your writing?
JM: Well, the Kickstarter for Dark and Broken Things is live now, and Geddy’s Moon is available through Amazon and other retailers. Signed copies can be purchased as well; just inquire through my website at johnmulhall.com.
And really, the best places to keep up with me are on my website or on my Facebook page at facebook.com/authorjohnmulhall. I post all super-timely news on Facebook and I have a blog on my website, so either is good. I also try to make it out to some of the west coast comic cons, as I really love meeting readers in person.
FGN:: Thanks for taking the time to talk with FGN!