Hey there everyone.
Monday again, eh? Where does the time go? Answers on a postcard please to the following address…also, please send money too! (And wine! And ice cream. Lots of ice cream).
I have another interview to help chase away the Monday Blues, so without further ado, let’s get chatting to Horror author extraordinaire MJ Preston, as we find out what fires up his writing motors and gets his creative juices flowing.
Thanks for reading folks and enjoy the show friends.
Hi there MJ, a pleasure to be chatting with you here today, as we find out more about the man behind your amazing writing in the horror genre.
Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here
Let’s start with your full-length novels “The Equinox”, which was your thrilling debut that was launched to much critical acclaim and “Acadia Event”, which was fuelled from your experiences as an Ice Road Trucker. Can you tell us more about your novels, their similarities/differences, their themes/premises and how you came up with the ideas for them?
Sure, THE EQUINOX is a straight up horror that combines the native American mythos and police procedural. It follows the quest of a Chocktee Native, named Daniel Blackbird, who has been banished from his community after he inadvertently unleashes a creature that can take any form and is driven to kill for food. Food being humans. Blackbird’s path leads him to the small town of Thomasville where an ongoing investigation into a serial killers burial ground that will inevitably end with plenty of bloodshed.
Acadia Event, on the other hand is more of a science fiction horror. I don’t like to say straight science fiction, because I am not a science guy and the hardcore science fiction folks might beat me up over such a claim. The story follows Marty Croft, a man whose past comes back to haunt him in the form of a brutal gangster named Gordon Shamus. Shamus forces Marty on a job where he must drive the world’s longest ice road and retrieve a package of stolen diamonds. Unfortunately for Marty and everyone else on that fateful piece of tundra, the Acadia Diamond Mine unearths an alien machine that they start and opens a portal setting off an invasion.
The similarities in the novels is that they both follow characters on a path of intersection. In the case of Equinox, the protagonist Daniel Blackbird is on a path of vengeance as he tries to stop the creature that he unwittingly freed. He carry’s this burden to Thomasville, where Police Chief David Logan is investigating a mass grave that holds the bodies of 17 children that have fallen prey to an imprisoned serial killer. As the story unfolds Blackbird and Logan are destined to meet and, by extension, the truth behind the killings. As a result, a showdown is in the making because the nefarious skinwalker has vowed to turn the town into a killing ground.
In the case of Acadia, I have a large cast of characters and parallel stories both at the Acadia Mine which is about to be overrun by bone eating aliens known as Skentophyte. Parallel to this we follow Marty’s plight to try and drive the ice in the company of unknowing veteran ice truckers do this one last job to save his wife and himself from the clutches of a sociopath gangster. Both stories are told from changing vantage points, but inevitably all will meet at a crossroads of conflict.
The Equinox took a very long time to write as the first 100 pages of the unfinished manuscript sat dormant for nearly a decade and a half. When I finally published it in 2012 and it was submitted to the Amazon Breakthrough Awards, I was already starting my first season as an Ice trucker. I was pleasantly surprised that it made it to the quarter finals out of approximately 30,000 entries. While I beat it up the ice, very much the way Marty does in Acadia Event, inexperienced, uncertain and white-knuckled. The characters I met, friends I made and the environment were a catalyst for a new creativity. I was so taken by the Arctic landscape and thought it would make a great backdrop for a new novel. What started out as a diamond heist concept soon morphed into a science fiction thriller because of inspiration by stories like John W. Campbell’s THING from the short story Who Goes There? And then there’s movies like Ridley Scott’s Alien. I just love monsters, whether they’re a mythological like the native Skinwalker or creatures that turn humans into livestock for food, like the bone eating Skentophyte.
So, with that in mind, I began thinking about what kind of creature I wanted to bring to story. My experience as a driver and a first-year ice trucker allowed me to tap into what I saw. As an amateur photographer, I took almost 10,000 photos that season and when I finished the season I got down to writing Acadia. The photos and the experience were key to bringing a credible tale of the real ice road and the isolation. There are so many levels to Acadia Event that are based in fact. In 2012 I was caught in a category 3 storm that marooned at a diamond for almost six days. The weather plays a key role in this story, along with the cast of characters, many of who are based on actual people I met during my time in the north. There really is no cooler way to research a writing project and I doubt I’ll ever get that close to a story again.
You also have collections of Short Stories called “Dark Passages”. How do these collections differ to your novels? What are the underlying themes in these collections that tie them all together and what sort of stories will we encounter within the pages of these terrifying volumes?
The first Dark Passages, which is a collection of six of my own previously published short stories, was really an experiment of sorts. I was always an enthusiastic fan of the old horror and science fiction magazines. Back in the day, I subscribed to Twilight Zone Magazine, Night Cry, even Omni. I loved the format and the art, so I put together Dark Passages and sent it out to some writers I knew around the country with an invitation. The first person I contacted was Doctor Alex Scully, the editor of Firbolg Publishing and asked what she thought of helping me with a second Dark Passages that included writing talent from various parts of North America. While Dark Passages was a collection of my shorts, Dark Passages II was a theme based project and invite only collection. The theme was, Tales from the Black Highway and I asked all contributors to give me a dark tale that related to the roads that interconnect our many cities and towns. The writers came back with some amazing contributions and of course I contributed as well both by penning the opening story and doing all the interior and exterior artwork. To name a few of those talented scribes: Gregory L. Norris, Patrick Lacey, a debut writer named Cody J. Spagrud and Jon Michael Kelley who penned probably one of the coolest ghost stories I have read in a long time.
If your novels were to be made into films (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?
Have you got any connections? Just kidding. I don’t know. I’d love to have the Native American actor Graham Greene somehow involved in a film adaption of The Equinox, but I haven’t really thought about who to cast in film or television. I just know I’d love to see adaptions to the screen, because when I wrote these stories that is how they always play out on the page for me. Like a movie.
What do you find most difficult about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
The difficulty is avoiding distraction. I sequester myself, turn off the web, no Facebook, no Google. What I find easiest is the first draft of any novel or story because that is where the creativity explodes onto the page. The aftermath, rewrites, paring down, looking for inconsistencies and polishing is always difficult, because that is when play time is over and the real work begins.
Who are some of the authors and historical figures that inspire you?
In my younger years, I’d have to credit great storytellers like Stephen King, Robert McCammon, and John Farris. Now, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, Joe Hill, and Joseph Boyden. As to historical figures. I can’t really say without coming off as contrived. I don’t really look to historical figures as inspirational, because often we find the people we place on pedestals aren’t always as they appear to be. People inspire me. The guy who busts his hump to take care of his family. The cop who takes down a serial killer. The woman who beats back an attacker.
Oh boy, doesn’t that sound contrived?
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
All sorts. I have read probably 50 books on serial killers, for my upcoming novel Highwayman. When I wrote Acadia Event, I read up on the Hadron Collider and how wormholes are perceived. When I wrote Equinox, I consulted with Native friends regarding mythos and lore surrounding Windigo’s and skinwalkers. Research is key to writing.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
The first question is one I usually ask myself when I’m in the throes of a third or fourth draft. “WHY? WHY DO I TORTURE MYSELF?” As to the second question. When I went to school as a youngster I hated the whole structure, especially math. Art and literature seemed to be the only thing that drew me in. I loved writing compositions and loved the idea of adding art to those compositions. It was about the only thing teachers ever complimented me on as they directed me to detention hall for my failure to do my math and science homework.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
When I am in a creative slump, I take the best medicine prescribed to a writer. I read and I read some more. Reading the works of other writers is extremely inspiring. Music plays a big part in my creative process as well, along with using my other artistic outlets which include photography and graphic art. Barring that, sometimes you just gotta walk away and wait for your muse to call you back.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Buy Microsoft! Buy Apple! Start investing for your retirement! As to writing: Keep submitting your work. Keep writing! I took 15 years off and I can’t get that back. Keep writing! Yep, that’s the one.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
I am an amateur photographer, and I also do conceptual artwork. These I do for pleasure mostly, but some has been sanctioned for publishing companies and magazines.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I am working on my third full-length novel: Highwayman which is the first of a two-part series dedicated to a serial killer named Lance who aspires to be the world’s most infamous serial killer. There will be a follow-up novel that has a working title: 4. I expect Highwayman will be ready for publication in the third quarter of 2017. The follow-up novel will hopefully be finished in 2018.
No word on a publisher yet, but stay tuned to my website: The Website of MJ Preston – Author & Artist at Large
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Keep reading. Keep writing. Don’t give up.
And that’s a wrap! Thanks for spending quality time with us MJ, we look forward to checking out all of your amazing books very soon 🙂
Thanks for the visit. Take care.
M.J. Preston’s debut novel: THE EQUINOX, published in 2012, was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Awards and rated a solid straight horror novel by a reviewer at Publisher’s Weekly.
His second novel: ACADIA EVENT, published in 2015, was inspired by his time running the world longest ice road, as an ice road trucker, in the Canada’s Northwest Territories.
His third novel: Highwayman, the first of a two-part thriller, is forecast to be published in 2017.
He resides in Alberta, Canada with his wife, Stormy and pet beagle, Dexter.
You can connect with him via the following Social Media channels:-
Facebook:- Author MJ Preston (FB)
Goodreads:- MJ Preston (Goodreads Author)
Twitter:- @MJPreston1 (Twitter)
Website:- The Website of MJ Preston – Author & Artist at Large
You can buy his books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Still want more? Well, MJ Preston has been known to collaborate with other talented authors for his Short Story Collections. For more articles on the theme of “Collaboration” then check out the links below:-
1. Quietly Complicated – LiveFree LoveOnPurpose
2. Sylvia S. Peltier – Collaboration Tools for Social Media Marketing
3. Taken for a Mug – Girl Writing
4. Work Together – The Icognito Writer
5. Collaboration – Melinda J. Irvine
6. You’re dismissed, woman. – awesomeloopy
7. Going Dark – Oiseaux Words
8. pennyforyourthotsblog – Collaboration
9. London Vlogs – Adil Musa Official Blog
10. Street Art – Run and Travel
11. theblackwallblog – Finding You…
12. Sagesse :|: Oblige – …Yet Cast Your #Bread…
13. Adventure to Greensboro NC Part I – The Alchemist of the Woods
14. Success Inspirers World – A Small World of My Own
15. A Small World of My Own – atrangizindagieksafar
16. My week in a snapshot – The Musing Monkey
17. From Dread to Bed by Merest Thread – Rhyme In Time
18. Le Drake Noir – Seven days of prompts
19. Jackie Smith – On Collaboration: Thoughts on Writing and The Publishing Industry
20. “A chateau’s final party and goodbye.” – Nomadic Adventurer
21. Angelic Hands – We’re all in this together, lets help each other out.
22. collaboration – erintypes
23. Dublin to Blarney – Thirty by Thirty
24. Collaboration Qualm – Positively Un-broken
25. Life Quotes and then Some – Dogs collaborate too
26. Soulful of Mind – Perceptive Poonam
27. collab – kwesi
28. Stepping Out Into The New: Advice for New Entrepreneurs… – Success Strategies
29. Unbelievable! – Creative Mind
30. Freshman Class 2017 – Kissxd By Me
31. Invisible Illnesses – Qualm – Daily Prompt
32. Collaboration – jacey caitlyn speaks
33. National duty – The Chaos Within
34. waltz of the lights – Tiny Fawns Writings
35. How the land, Collaborates to produce beauty. – Le Marche Magic
36. Giggles & Tales – The Daily Prompt – Collaboration!
37. “Doing nothing is as good as collaborating.” – This and That
38. Inner Collaboration – Compass & Quill
39. Internal Collaboration and successful Life – My Mehendi World
40. This Moment – Deep Breath
41. tuckedintoacorner – excite + karma + collaboration
42. Bookshelf of thoughts !!!! – mslazyboots
43. Trying to be a writer – Debbie Gravett
44. Me, myself and I. – “ Dimitra Pyromali’s Blog
45. Sisters in Crime! – Kaleidoscope of my life
46. Collaboration Can Be Corrosive – Rip Them
47. Backpack Station: Collaboration with my Husband – Adventures of a Busy Mom
48. Collaboration – The Bag Lady
49. Collaboration – Leigha Robbins
50. Over Anime – Compound Exorcises.
51. Let’s Collaborate… – StyleKemistry
52. The Danger with Self-Publishing, or Why Collaboration is Essential for new Writers – jmwwriting
53. Forever friends… – Mum’s the Word Blog
54. Traveling Wilburys: End of the Line – Lorraine’s frilly freudian slip
55. The Plane – Thomas Turnberry
56. Thoughts – Stories
57. andsoitisborn – All Good Things Must End
58. Love for Life – Love and Life
59. He Put a Ring on It…What’s Next? – Love and Life
60. In Collaboration – Beatrice’s Page
61. What Rhymes with Stanza? – Collaboration
62. #22 of 30-day Blogging Challenge – The Secret to Growing My Small Business
63. BEAST EAT BEAUTY WORLD – Beauty Mirrors Beast
64. Oiseaux Words – Going Dark
65. Red’s Wrap – The First Baby
66. Push me Pull you … – jansten56
67. Collaborating With Music…Success. Collaborating In Politics…? – kindergartenknowledge.com
68. Vox Humbug – Group Work
69. Collaboration = Hay – The Bridged Life
70. The Soul Spa.. – DeepikasRamblings
71. Collaboration – wordsareallihavesite
72. Trump Collaberating to Make Russia Great Again – A lot from Lydia
73. Honing skills and loving the ride – Collaboration, The Thirtieth
74. PLEASURE BANDWIDTH – Beauty Mirrors Beast
75. RICHARD BERKSHIRE – Enviable Hexes
76. Wishing Bones Poetry – Dysfunctional Collaboration
77. Why shouldn’t we collaborate? – stbarbebaker
78. juantetcts – Daily Post
79. Group Work Builds the Skill of Collaboration – HSC Mentor
80. As above… – Inner Whispers
81. Many times collaboration IS the answer – Your Nibbled News – 2017 YNN
82. Step into the spotlight of your life… – missy miller
83. The Langar of the Golden Temple – iball round the world
84. Two Feet – Dream Desire Achieve
85. Collaboration – thehouseofbailey
86. The Showers of Blessing – Wonder of Brain Maze
87. Make money from the air you breathe – littleborneogirl
88. Cookies & Moo – Just An Idea
89. The many layers of Jen – Roller Coasting
90. Swell Time – One wins or we both win
91. The Sleeping Reading Beauty – Poppies In Front Of My Home
92. tylershepard1991 – word of the day – Collaboration
93. Yo-Yo Ma on Successful Creative Collaboration – Wells Baum
94. Mainline_Matter – Technical Collaboration
95. Collaboration – Bits and Pieces
96. Mother’s Day – ALPHA BUTLER CHARLIE
97. Collaboration – Victoria.K.Gallagher
98. 1 Haiku, 3 Tanka/Collaboration – 25more
99. Cat on Lap – Written by Beth
100. Margret’s Life Journey! – Collaborate
101. Collaborative Care – aroused
102. Telling the Truth – Slippery words
103. How to Design a Free Website on WordPress – LifeBlog
104. The GS Blog – Walk Alone, Walk Fast!!!
105. Notes to Women – Tired
106. My Mixed Blog – In Head Collaboration
107. The View From My Window – An Invitation
108. Kerrstee – Collaboration
109. The Ubiquitous Burrito – Making the Most of the Time Together: A Mother’s Day in Remembrance
110. Why 13 Reasons Why – Expressions
111. Collaboration – Book Meets Girl
112. Na’ama Yehuda – Collaboration
113. Betcha Didn’t Know! – A Life Without obstacles?
114. Kalaripayattu: martial art form of Kerala – Don’t hold your breath
115. Originality in Collaboration – thepathtocreativity
116. Collaboration – Sugunag’s Blog
117. Grammy Writes – The Ancient Monks of Clonmacnoise
118. ~134 Of 365~ – ……….365 Days………..
119. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Collaboration
120. Working Together – [134/365] – Rambling Kori
121. Collaboration – Follies, Nonsense, and Whims
122. I Only know the Me I Have become to Be (Daily Word Prompt is Collaboration) – My Loud Bipolar Whispers
123. Urban Poetry a digital art and poetry wordpress blog. original poems copyright by linda j. wolff Poetry: The Little Old Man and His Rubber Mallet
124. Charmed Chaos – Profound Beauty
125. Every man for himself and god for all – lovelyricism
126. The Beauty in an African Family… – Pauline Njah
127. Collaboration – The Daily Post prompt – Field Notes From Over The Hill
128. Collaboration – A Sawyer’s Daughter
129. Living Abroad – Spa Days Ahead
130. The Wandering Poet – Hand in hand
131. City #3 (Metro Haiku) – Thoughts of Words
132. PLAN IS SIMPLE – Rainbow
133. SHINE MAGAZINE – 3 Reasons to Love Yourself
134. Journey My Brain – Poems I Co Wrote With Others
135. Exploring the World around us – Collaboration
136. Tangled Webs – ***Reading List 2017-Part 4
137. Status Quo – Smell The Coffee
138. Gregory Josephs – The Theft of Beauty
139. The “C” Word We Need to Use More – Goody Gal Blog
140. No better Collaboration… – A Place to learn and grow together
141. Moederdag voorbij, nabeschouwingen // Mother’s day over, after-school visits – theo herbots
142. Collaboration – CD-W, Author Flawed to Perfection
143. Haibun: Passing Places – whippetwisdom.com
144. Dee & Al – Charron’s Chatter
145. The Last Job (Part – I) – Beautiful Mind
146. B_ live – Vigorous Bread
147. Everything and anything – Together We Are Brilliant
148. Awl and Scribe – Collaboration
149. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: Non-corroborating felines
150. Bricks and Mortar – I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am!
151. Together We Shine – Wings Of Poetry
152. Collaboration – emotionsoflife2016
153. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Collaboration
154. Pink bundles of happiness – My little storybook
155. Life On The Skinny Branches – A Turncoat Collaboration
156. It’s Monday! – stoneronarollercoaster
157. thelonerose – A team
158. Guest Post – Silas from The Kayastha Journal – The Mundane Teenage Life
159. Himalayan Kiwi – Don’t hold your breath
160. A Collaboration of Personalities. – Adoption – Happiness is egg shaped
161. WOTD collaboration – Kimo’s Den Of Iniquity
162. The Daily Post One-Word Prompt: Collaboration – Ellen Grace Olinger – Haiku Art Site
163. Curious Hart – Social Compact ~ Collaboration
164. CRISPR Enhanced – Zeckrombryan
165. Relationships – the ultimate collaboration? – escapingperfection
166. Jupiter Star – Collaboration Vs. Opposition
167. Forced into Collaboration – Your deevibes
168. Peaceful and effective collaboration in writing – Bird Flight
169. Collaborate To Empower – travel387
170. Christine’s Collection – A United Defense
171. Fear and Shame – Just Writing!
172. Devil Doll Musings – Solitude (Haiku)
173. slideaways – On Reaching Oxwich Bay: A Collaboration of Thoughts
174. Zachary W Gilbert, Author – Boneyard, Writers Garden
175. We’re Making Music – Flowing Like Milk and Honey
176. LadyLebz – THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE DATING YOUR FRIEND’S EX
177. Just Brittany Moments – Dolphin Collab!
178. A message from behind the door – Afterlife Love Story
179. Collaboration 101 – Train Of Thoughts
180. Relax – When hoped should become a plan
181. Collaboration – Margaret writes about life and everything else
182. Turn your workouts into a routine – tips from the OP – art of being fabulous
183. Recanati, Loreto & Sirolo a collaboration of 3 beautiful villages…. – Le Marche Magic
184. Donald Trump, James Comey & the He-Man Woman Haters Club – Realswampmonster
185. Zombie Flamingos – Mother’s Day in a Nutshell
186. Dear Betrayer: Open Letter to Jack Merridew… – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
187. Character/Fiction Blogs – The Mind of Nox
188. the15thday – just because it’s popular doesn’t make it right. or good.
189. Yum! – Reactionary Tales
190. ….on pets and prisoners….. – happy Monday
191. Piper’s Adventures – Collaboration: A Dream of Living in the Moment
192. sonja benskin mesher – .this is a new story.
193. Word Party! – Free The Truth
194. Southern By Design – Helping My Children
195. Don’t Break A Promise. – Redux Of Rex
196. All About Writing and more – Collaboration
197. Frank Prem – concert
198. Collaboration Tools for Social Media Marketing – Marketing With Sylvia
199. And then there was one – It Takes Two
200. Frank Prem – time comes (a line in sand)
201. Frank Prem – on peaceful streets
202. Designer Sophisticate – I’d rather work alone.
203. If I could go back in time for one day only. – xxwakeeupxx
204. With a little help from my friends… – fibijeeves
205. 3-Season Flower Garden Plan with Details about Plants – Cottage Garden Living
206. Cimmerian Sentiment – #1 Rude Awakening (Waking Up Jayla)
207. I wrote a book. Now what? – How It Began
208. Lost Property Repository – Desert Rescue: Driving Wheels