Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Author Interview: JG Faherty, author of Ghosts of Coronado Bay

Mr. JG Faherty, the talented and witty author of Ghosts of Coronado Bay is joining us today for a little q&a...  I would like to extend a warm welcome.  Everyone make sure your feet are covered (am I the only person who can't watch a scary movie if my feet are exposed?) and hang out with us for a bit! :-)

(In case you missed it, you can check out my review for Ghosts of Coronado Bay HERE.)

Author Interview
Ghosts of Coronado Bay
By:  JG Faherty

GL:  First off, could you please tell us a bit more about yourself?

JG:  Hmm. Let’s see. I have spent the majority of my life living either in the Hudson Valley region of NY or the Northwest portion of NY, so coming from a rural background influences a lot of my stories - I like to write about small towns, where everyone thinks they know each other and so they’re surprised when secrets come out. Also, small towns are usually near woods, which always make great settings for horror. But I’ve also set a lot of my pieces in cities and in the south. I especially like southern gothic tales.

GL:  How did you begin your writing career?

JG:  If you ask my parents, I began it in the 3rd grade, when I started writing gross-out fiction stories, mysteries, and spoof comics. But after reading King’s ‘Salem’s Lot in high school, I didn’t think I could ever write that well, so I sort of stopped. At least with the fiction. I’ve always had jobs that required a lot of writing - laboratory procedures, marketing reports, etc. Then, in 1999, I got a freelance job writing grade school educational materials for The Princeton Review. I ended up writing 4 books for them, and in the process discovered I had a knack for short fiction, so I started writing it again.

GL:  What inspired you to write Ghosts of Coronado Bay?

JG:  I was watching a commercial for ‘The Ghost Whisperer’ and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if she could not only see and talk to ghosts, but make them real, at least temporarily. And after mulling that idea, I felt it would work better if the protagonist was a teenage girl instead of an adult. The rest just kind of worked itself out.

GL:  Do you have a favorite character?  Anyone you really relate to?

JG:  Actually, Lucy is my favorite, even though she’s not the main character. She’s sassy and totally not politically correct. I think without her, Maya would have grown up to be a stick in the mud. Lucy is the devil on Maya’s shoulder, the one telling her it’s okay to drink a wine cooler or cut class.

GL:  Lucy is my favorite too!

GL:  What is your favorite “scene” from the story?

JG:  It’s hard to say, since having just finished the book a few months ago the whole thing is still very fresh in my head, but probably the scene in the library where Maya isn’t sure if ghosts are following her or not. There’s some real suspense there.

GL:  What didn’t make the cut?  Was there anything that you wanted in but just wasn’t going to work out?

JG:  Actually, with this book it was just the opposite. My first draft was too short, so I had to go back and add some short scenes, and also some descriptive content to set the mood more.

GL:  What are you working on now?

JG:  I’ve got a few projects going. I am doing my edits on a book that will be released by JournalStone Publishing this fall, called The Cemetery Club. It’s about four friends who, in their teens, accidentally released evil spirits in their town. Now, 20 years later, the spirits are back and the friends have to solve the problem once and for all, before it’s too late. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the first draft of another book, pitching two books to publishers, and working on a couple of short stories. In my spare time, I’m holding down a job and trying to find time for friends, family, meals, and sleep.

GL:  I am eagerly looking forward to The Cemetery Club!!  Sounds fantastic!

GL:  Do you have any personal “quirks” when you are writing?  An open window?  Music? Sitting in the Eastern corner of the room? ;-)

JG:  I guess all writers do. Most of the time when I write, I like it quiet. Occasionally, when I feel the need for inspiration, I might put on some hard rock or 80s alternative ‘goth’ rock. But usually the music distracts me. I do sit by a window - I look to look outside when I’m thinking. And if I’m getting low on energy I’ll make a cup of coffee or have a piece of dark chocolate. Too much of that, though, combined with sitting at a desk all day, can be very bad on the waistline.

GL:  Do you believe in ghosts?

JG:  Absolutely. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a couple.

GL:  I hope they were nice...

GL:  Is there anyone (family/friend/someone famous) you would like to visit you from the “other side”?  What would you talk about?

JG:  Hell, yeah. All sorts of people. Family. Friends. Famous musicians. Historical figures like Einstein or Poe. What would I talk about? That would depend on the person. The same things as I would if they were alive. Except, you know, for that whole how is it being dead thing. That’d probably be an important question to ask.

GL:  As far as the famous/historical people - I'd be kinda afraid they weren't as great as we'd like to think they were ;-)...

GL:  Who would you say is your number one role model?  How have they inspired you?

JG:  I don’t really have role models. My parents instilled in me at a young age a love of reading, and a taste for dark science fiction and horror, although that last one wasn’t on purpose. I had a professor in college who was sort of a mentor to me, and he taught me that hard work is a lot more important than brains when it comes to getting ahead in life. He also taught me to make sure I had fun, and not just devote my college career to studying. In writing, my mentors have been F. Paul Wilson, David Morrell, and Thomas Monteleone, all of whom have gone out of their way to help young writers and pass along the knowledge they’ve gained over the years. And Howard Stern has been an influence as well, because he’s someone who worked his butt off to get what he wanted, and didn’t conform to the ‘rules’ of political correctness. You can’t let people dictate what you write; you have to go with your heart and hope that at least some of the reading public enjoys it. Otherwise books and art will become like a cheap ice cream store - they’ll only have vanilla.

GL:  What is the best piece of advice you have received that you could pass along?

JG:  If there is something in life you want to do or be, you have to go after it. Work hard and become good at what you do. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. A lot. Don’t expect anything to be handed to you - no matter what you do, there are a lot of people in the world who are better at it than you are. Your job is to get better than them. Someone recently said, and it’s true, you have to do a lot of work and have a little luck to succeed in any business. Lots of people work hard, but they have no luck, so they don’t succeed. But if you don’t work hard, you have a zero chance of succeeding.

GL:  Is there a book that you really want to read but just haven’t gotten to yet?

JG:  A book? Hell, there are probably 20 or 30. My to-be-read pile gets larger every week, because I spend most of my free time either writing or editing. Reading is for vacations or while my wife is watching Desperate Housewives.

GL:  Word. :-)  I have over 70 books on my review list right now.  Forget about the ones I just want to read for my personal enjoyement! :-)

GL:  Why do you think there is a bias against horror when it comes to books, but not when it comes to movies? Everyone loves a scary movies, but a lot of people won’t read a book that has ‘horror’ on the label.

JG:  I think the problem has to do with two things. First of all, more people go see movies than read books, so your audience for any book, even before the genre is identified, is cut in half. If you’re lucky! Second, the whole slasher phenomenon has been detrimental to written horror. Teens love slasher movies, but again, they’re not buying tons of books. Adults will go to other types of movies - ghost stories, aliens, monsters, zombies, etc. - but when they think of ‘horror,’ they often automatically think of blood and gore and knife-wielding maniacs. And so they automatically shun anything that smacks of horror. Yet, if you look at a lot of books that are out there today, they’re pure horror, they just aren’t being marketed that way. Writers need to learn to market themselves differently, and readers need to understand that horror can still be good, mainstream fiction.

GL:  I am actually one of those people who tends to shy away from ‘horror,’ although I have started easing back into it.  You are very right about a lot of fantasy and paranormal actually being horror…but the 'label' makes it feel safer to read ;-)!

GL:  Your Goodreads blurb mentions that you volunteer as an exotic animal caretaker.  What is the most exotic animal you have encountered?

JG:  I don’t actually get the chance to do that anymore, but I have done it many times in the past. A friend of mine runs a last stop animal sanctuary where she rescues tigers, lions, bears (no ‘oh my’ jokes, please!), cougars, panthers, and other exotics. I’ve bottle fed tiger and lion cubs. When I was younger, I was studying to be a field biologist, and I regularly handled - or cleaned up after! - venomous snakes, black bears, beavers, coyotes, bobcats, and all sorts of wild animals.

GL:  Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

JG:  A few. Aruba. Ocean City, MD. Las Vegas. New Orleans. Anyplace that’s warm in the winter!

GL:  Have you or would you ever sky dive?

JG:  No way! I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff in my day, including handling rattlesnakes and African vipers, racing my car on the NYS Thruway, exploring abandoned buildings, and eating food from roadside vendors in foreign countries. But I don’t do skydiving, parachuting, or upside down roller coasters.

GL:  What has been your craziest, most creative Halloween costume thus far?

JG:  Good question. I’ve been known to be very non-PC when it comes to Halloween. One year I was Jesus on the cross. Another year three of us dressed as Hassidic rabbis. I went to a party once as John Wayne Bobbitt (look him up and you can imagine the costume). You get the idea. Nowadays my costumes are more traditional, though, because my wife and I go to house parties where being an extreme costumer doesn’t win you any prizes!

GL:  You should have passed along some of these pictures ;-)!

GL:  Assuming that you are or can be a prankster…what is the wildest prank you have ever pulled off?  Please give lots of details!

JG:  Yes, I definitely am. When I was in middle school, there was an old 18th-century graveyard near our neighborhood (it was leveled for a new development). We used to lay down by the tombstones and cover ourselves with leaves, and then when the younger kids came along, we’d jump out and scare the you-know-what out of them.
As a teen I routinely put baby powder in my parents’ hair dryer, so when they were getting ready for work, BLAM! In college, we not only wrapped toilets in plastic wrap late at night so that people would make terrible messes in the morning, but we also would roll brownies up into fake poo shapes and then sneak into the girls’ bathrooms and stick them on the toilet seats. These are the fun things I’m teaching my nieces and nephews, now that they’ve hit their teenage years. Another fun one in college was to buy a box of crickets at the pet store and then dump them into someone’s room. Or buy a box of white mice and let them loose in a movie theater or donut shop.
Possibly one of my favorites was one I did recently, but I’ll never know if it worked. A hobby of mine is urban exploring, where you find abandoned buildings and sneak through them. While exploring a deserted (and supposedly haunted) mental institution, I found a box of Halloween decorations, plus a box of those plastic dummies that are used for training people in CPR. I took a bunch of stuff and went around the building, placing bodies and faces behind doors and under bed frames, so that the next people who come through will get some real surprises when they enter those dark rooms.

GL:  Too bad there are no hidden cameras in that asylum!!  

I knew when I was preparing for this interview that I was going to have lots of laughs!  Thank you so very much JG for sharing some of yourself with us.  I loved Ghosts of Coronado Bay, and I am looking forward to reading all of your future work!

You can learn more about Ghosts of Coronado Bay at JournalStone's webiste.  You can also learn more about JG Faherty and his life and work at http://www.jgfaherty.com/.