Although often described as a crime writer, John Connolly’s unique blend of mystery with more than a hint of the supernatural, puts him firmly in my top ten horror authors (anyone still disputing this should pick up a copy of John’s Nocturnes collection). His bestselling Charlie Parker series has gone from strength to strength but John has also produced Gaimanesque adult fantasy in The Book Of Lost Things and humerous young adult horror with The Gates and the forthcoming Hell’s Bells. It is an absolute pleasure to welcome John Connolly to The Black Abyss.
1 – Which book has been most influential in your career?
Blimey. Well, the first book I ever read was one of Enid Blyton’s SECRET SEVEN novels, so you might say that set me on the path to writing the books I now write, along with Ed McBain’s LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE DEAF MAN, which was the first adult crime novel I ever read. In the end, though, I don’t think there’s any one book that’s been so influential as to stand out utterly from the rest. Ross Macdonald and James Lee Burke were probably the biggest influences in terms of style, and at a push I might pick THE CHILL by the former, and DIXIE CITY JAM by the latter. But what about the ghost stories of M R James, or Dickens’s BLEAK HOUSE? Sorry, that one is just too hard.
2 – Which writer has most influenced your style?
Macdonald in terms of my approach to subject matter, Burke in terms of literary style, I think.
3 – What’s the future for the horror genre?
More hybridization, with writers from other genres recognizing its potential and importing elements of it to their own areas. I’d like to see mystery writers be more open to such influences too, but there remains a hard core of rationalist conservatives who deeply distrust and dislike other genres influencing mystery writers.
4 – Which book do you wish you had written?
None, just because the books that I love would be worse if I had written them.
5 – What writing equipment could you not live without?
I’d find it very hard to return to writing long-hand, I think. I can touch-type, so I type faster than I write. I imagine that I’d become very frustrated if I had to slow down. Then again, my writing might improve if I was forced to take longer over that first draft.
6 – Do you plan in detail before starting a new piece of writing?
No, never. I’ll usually know how the book begins, and maybe one or two incidents along the way, but part of the pleasure for me lies in discovering the book as I write it.
7 – Ebooks or Paper Books?
I prefer paper. I love the artifact of the book, and I like being surrounded by books. I think they’re an outward manifestation of something deeply personal within each of us. You can’t do that with a Kindle. Then again, the e-book is now with us, and is not going to go away, but I think that e-books and paper will co-exist more comfortably together than, say, CDs and MP3s simply because books are still good technology, and people have affection for the physical object of the book.
8 – Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Er, I’m not sure what any of that means. I prefer not to use the term ‘horror’, as I think it’s off-putting to some readers. Its the only genre named after a visceral response to a stimulus, and not necessarily a pleasant one either. It’s also very limiting. For the same reason, I prefer ‘mystery’ to ‘crime’ as a name for the genre in which I mainly work.
9 – Who should I read next?
Ross Macdonald if you haven’t already. Likewise M R James.
10 – What was your last book and what is your next book?
My last book was called THE WHISPERERS, and this year I’ll publish two new books: HELL’S BELLS in May (known as THE INFERNALS in the US) and THE BURNING SOUL in September. The former is a kids’ humorous fantasy novel, and the latter is a mystery.