Monday, November 13, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 23: Among the Stacks with John Quick


John is another one of the fellas I was lucky enough to meet at Scares That Care earlier this year.  This guy's personality just pulls you in.  You don't even have to be talking to him... all of a sudden you realize that you are listening to what he's saying as well.  I'm so glad that he agreed to be on The Gal today because everyone needs to know this guy.


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, John.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

John Quick:
I’m a writer from just outside Nashville, Tennessee who has been actively putting stuff out there for just over two years now, and hope that I’ve managed to entertain a few folks during that time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

John Quick:
I'm pretty open about myself, so there's not a lot of secrets out there (at least that I'm willing to divulge), but I'll give it a shot.

  1. I've been married for just over nineteen years, and hope to stay that way.
  2. My original post-high school plan was to join the Army and let them pay for me to become a psychiatrist.  (I ended up choosing a family instead, and don't regret it at all.)
  3. I've had a variety of jobs over the course of my life, the most interesting of which was assistant manager at... let's call it an exotic dance club here in Nashville.
  4. The last time I cut my hair (aside from trimming dead ends) was nearly a decade ago.
  5. While I very rarely share the results, I ALWAYS do those stupid Facebook quizzes that people share out.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

John Quick:
Aside from the Richie Rich and Spider-Man comics I grew up with, I’d have to say it was Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I’ve always been into the weird and the strange, even as far back as early childhood when I was obsessed with the Universal monsters, even though I hadn’t seen any of those movies yet. I also remember picking up Stephen King’s Cujo from the public library when I was like 8 or 9, and being bothered by the foul language in it. How times have changed!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

John Quick:
Right now I’ve got Bryan Smith’s 68 Kill Part 2 loaded on the Kindle, and Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell and Bone White from Ronald Malfi set aside in the physical book stack.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

John Quick:
The Death of WCW by R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez. I grew up watching professional wrestling, and while I haven’t been a fan for many years now, I remember seeing the Monday Night Wars play out in real time, and found it interesting to read a behind-the-scenes account of why WWE ended up winning out, as well as how an organization that existed BEFORE Vince McMahon revolutionized “sports entertainment” could fall so far so fast.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

John Quick:
I’ve always loved reading, and got a huge kick out of telling stories as well. Since I was an only child, I tended to use my imagination to come up with people and places and events to amuse myself, so it only seemed natural to start writing them down. I started writing when I was a kid, just little goofy stories that I hope never see the light of day. Later, I was in a tabletop RPG with some friends, and ended up with 75 pages of backstory for the character I was playing. I expanded that into a 300+ page novel that was basically fan fiction, and figured if I could do that, I could do an original one, too. I decided to take a swipe at making writing my career, but the timing was off, and looking back, that novel I was shopping around trying to find an agent had some serious issues (probably why I got only nibbles, but no takers). Finally, I turned forty and decided if I was going to do it, I’d better get on with it. And here we are now, nearly three years later.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

John Quick:
While I can write pretty much anywhere as long as I’ve got an idea and something to put it down on, I really prefer to be out on my patio after the sun goes down, with my laptop and nothing but the silence around me to distract me. That’s where I do my best work, I think.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

John Quick:
When I worked second shift and wrote later at night, the process of moving the laptop outside, getting two beers, and setting up my little outdoor workstation on the patio was always my ritual to get me into the mindset. Now, it seems like I don’t have as much time as I did then, so I don’t really have anything. Afterward, though, I always back everything up to three cloud storage services, update my word count in an Excel spreadsheet that contains everything I’ve written along with the dates I started and finished each draft, then update the progress meter on my website.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

John Quick:
Sitting down to actually DO it. Sometimes life gets in the way of actually living, and with the millions of things demanding your attention, the things you want to do sometimes fall by the wayside. For me, when I don’t make time to sit down and exorcise the voices in my head (so to speak), I feel off, like there’s something not quite right about the world. Usually once I’ve had a chance to write again, that feeling goes away.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

John Quick:
There’s actually a few things that fit this pretty well. Finishing Consequences in a month’s time was pretty incredible. Finally getting the first of a planned fantasy trilogy done after letting the original manuscript sit untouched for five or six years, and then knocking out the second book of that series (that will hopefully be released in the next year or so). I’d tinkered with the idea for a “supernatural private investigator” series for years, and actually included him as a joke for myself as the TBI agent in Consequences. Doing that, giving him a concrete backstory, seemed to have allowed me to actually tell the story I’d envisioned so long ago, which was both satisfying and terrifying at the same time. He’s got four books finished in at least first draft form, so hopefully the Cochran Investigations series makes its way out to readers sometime soon as well.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

John Quick:
That list is waaaaay too long. For books, everything I read inspires me, even if it’s an inspiration to make sure I avoid writing a certain way. That said, though—like for many others—it was On Writing that made me think I could actually write something that was worth letting other people read. For authors, it goes in levels based on when I found them. At the top are King and Barker, followed by the splatterpunks: Skipp, Spector, and Schow. Then comes the Leisure crew of Keene, Smith, Laymon, and Ketchum, and finally the ones from this generation like Jonathan Janz. There are dozens more, naturally, but that’s a good baseline.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

John Quick:
If I care about the characters and what happens to them, I’m invested. When a story makes me do that, and then runs me through the ringer over what those characters go through and experience, for me, it was good.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

John Quick:
They need to have some quality I can  identify with strongly to drag me in. I think that’s why so many people love coming of age tales—we were all young once, and can generally remember what it was like then. I always try to make sure my characters are genuine, warts, flaws and all, which allows readers to connect to them as real human beings instead of just dolls moving around on the page.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

John Quick:
All of my characters have a piece of me in them somewhere, but the one that’s the closest to my actual personality would be the TBI Agent from Consequences, Jack Cochran. He appears in a few other stories I’ve done which will hopefully find their way into release sooner rather than later, and it was in those where I discovered how much his personality is comparable to my own in real life. Writing him and getting into his mind is so easy, because it’s no harder than imagining how I’d respond to those situations if I was the one in them.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

John Quick:
Yes and no, because for me if the synopsis hooks me, I’m willing to give it a shot no matter what. That said, a cover is the thing that draws your attention first, so I think it is important to have something that stands out from the pack. For the self-published stuff, I did the covers myself, and I think they serve as an example about how much I learned between the two. The cover to Consequences is extremely simple in retrospect, and is a case of having absolutely NO money to invest in it. The one for Three Shots and a Chaser was a vast improvement, and was me lucking into some public domain images I could blend together to create something awesome. Jeremy Todd was done by Matt Davis for Sinister Grin Press, and he did ask me every step of the way what I was looking for. That one turned out almost exactly like I’d originally pictured it in my mind, and I’m extremely grateful to him for that!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

John Quick:
The two biggest lessons I’ve learned would be that the real work actually starts once you publish the thing and have to go out and convince people to buy the thing, and that everyone who’s in this business, no matter how long, still thinks they have no idea what they’re doing, lol. That last one was a real eye-opener, let me tell you!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

John Quick:
There was a short story I did called “Doors” that I’m still trying to find a home for, where a man sits in his living room staring down the hallway at a series of closed bedroom doors. Over the course of the story, we realize that his wife and child were killed in a car crash, and he hasn’t been in either of those rooms since. The story is him working up the nerve to go in there so he can start to heal. It took a good bit of Scotch for me to write it in the first place, and when I finished it, I went out onto my back patio and bawled my eyes out. That was quite possibly the rawest and most emotional thing I’ve ever written.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

John Quick:
One of the things I try to do is make it feel like the two of us are sitting around a table with a nice meal and a glass of wine, a beer or two, or some bourbon—or, if alcohol isn’t your thing, maybe a cup of tea or coffee—and I’m telling you a story. I do my best to keep my writing intimate and personal. Whether or not I succeed at it, well, that’s for everyone else to decide.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

John Quick:
Nowadays, with social media being what it is, people will often get a title before they ever see a cover or a synopsis, so I’d say it’s extremely important. Finding one that fits can be exceptionally hard for that very reason. It has to be catchy and it has to encapsulate the essence of the story without giving anything away at the same time. I tend to come up with working titles, and the final just appears over time. For The Journal of Jeremy Todd, as an example, I originally had no intention of naming the narrator. He was following his shrink’s suggestion of writing a journal addressed to the person he thought would be most accepting of it, an “ideal companion” as she put it. The title, then, was going to be “The Ideal Companion Journal”. Once I realized that even I couldn’t identify with the main character without him having a name, it changed to The Journal of Jeremy Todd, with Jeremy Todd being the name the main character revealed to me as I wrote his story. Another example is Consequences. Since it was based on the old 80s slasher movies, I was going to name it according to the endless supply of those. The working title was “Graduation Summer”. That never felt right to me, so as I was working on the second draft, and noticed that every single character in the story has to face the consequences of their actions, the title became clear.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

John Quick:
I’d have to say a novel. There’s something about investing that much time and brainpower on a story and coming to a point where you see it all come together into something fantastic. I do like the immediacy of short stories, but I really thrive when I’ve got room to let the world, characters, and narrative breathe.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

John Quick:
I like to think that if you enjoyed the old pulp paperback originals from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, or even the Leisure line from the early 2000s, then you’ll like my work. Consequences is best described as an 80’s splatter movie, only the kids are smart instead of ready-made victims. Three Shots and a Chaser is my take on the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Darkside variety of general weirdness, with a frame story tying everything together. The Journal of Jeremy Todd was my response to kids killing themselves because they were bullied, and to bullying in general. And the forthcoming Mudcat is the SyFy / Be-Movie silliness of a killer human / catfish hybrid. While there may be messages in them somewhere, my intent when I wrote them was mainly to entertain, and I hope that’s what readers take away from them. There’s also probably something there about the real monsters being the ones that we coexist alongside every single day, but I’ll leave it for smarter people than me to figure out if it’s actually there or not, lol.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

John Quick:
I honestly don’t have any deleted scenes, per se, as most of what I write ends up in the finished product. That said, there are things I knew and wanted to work in at some point, but the story either just didn’t give me a place for it, or there wasn’t a space to put it where it would make sense without slowing the narrative. A prime example is for Consequences. The killer’s revealed pretty early, and there were some scenes in mind that would give more of his backstory than what’s in there. The problem was that adding this stuff would have been boring exposition and would have slowed the narrative where it was starting to speed up. The closest to an actual “deleted scene” for that book would be near the beginning where two characters are walking past a body of water that was too big to be called a creek and too small to qualify as a stream or river. They’re on the verge of a romantic relationship after years of dancing around it, and the guy is overthinking this body of water to an insane degree. I cut it because it felt superfluous, but my wife—who read the first draft, naturally—wanted me to keep it since she felt it showed how his mind was jumbled ahead of this moment where he knew he would confess his feelings to the girl of his dreams.  Ultimately, I left it out, but I have to wonder how it would have worked out in the long run.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your "trunk"?

John Quick:
I actually do. The first original novel I finished was called Homecoming, and was a story about a guy who ran away from his backwoods South Alabama hometown at sixteen to become a rock star. He’s on the cusp of achieving that dream, but he comes down with a serious case of writer’s block. His therapist sends him home again to face his past and get over his mental hurdles, but what neither of them expect is that the town has a curse on it, and that’s what’s causing his block. Looking at it now, it wasn’t written very well, but I still think the story is decent, and could be made into something better by applying the skills I’ve learned since I first wrote it. I’ve been tinkering with it off and on for years, trying to rewrite and modify it into something I’d be willing to let people see. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish that project or not, but it’s there for when I feel brave enough to try.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

John Quick:
The next thing up will be my killer human / catfish hybrid novel Mudcat from JEA Press, which is currently in edits. I’ve got a few other things that are in submissions, and a couple of things I’m looking at putting out independently, but nothing I’m ready to discuss quite yet.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (STaLKeR links.)

John Quick:
I’m everywhere. The easiest places are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or my website.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

John Quick:

Just a sincere and heartfelt “thank you” to anyone who’s read my work or cares enough to read my rambling answers for interviews like this!




About the author:
John Quick has been reading and writing scary and disturbing stuff for as long as he can remember, and has only recently begun releasing some of his creations upon the world.
            His debut novel, Consequences, is available now in paperback or digital format.  At the end of 2016, he published a small short story collection, called Three Shots & a Chaser, with a unique idea of wrapping those stories around a main story.  It's available in digital or print formats as well.  He's excited to have now released his next novel, The Journal of Jeremy Todd, with Sinister Grin Press.  He lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife, two kids, and four dogs that think they're kids.
            When he's not hard at work on his next novel, you can find him online at his blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
            You can find his work at his Amazon Author Page.

About the books:
It was a summer of blood and terror...
            For seven friends, graduation night was supposed to be a time to celebrate the end of their high school careers and the start of their real lives.  But when an accident while partying at the local haunted house results in tragedy, they find themselves being hunted by a maniac for whom the stakes are decidedly personal.  Thirty years ago, Crazy Freddy hung his family  up with barbed wire and skinned them alive.  Now, the survivors can only hope for such a kindness as they are forced to accept that for everything they do, there will be CONSEQUENCES.

Three twisted tales to tempt your palate...

A man who drives the back roads looking for something interesting finds more than he bargained for...
            A woman with a very special gift for her husband on their wedding day...
            A couple headed for the beach who finds themselves tasked with a responsibility they never anticipated...

These are the tales told by the patrons of the Last Hope Bar, a way for them to pass the time while waiting for another new face, someone looking for a drink, or a place to wait out a storm, or just someone unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
            Someone like you, perhaps?
            Step right on in, have a seat at the bar, and order up THREE SHOTS AND A CHASER.

"I've had some issues.  That I won't deny.  But am I crazy?  I suppose that's going to be up to you to figure out.
            This is what happened to mea round the time of my high school reunion.  This is what I did, and why I did it.  The story not only of that reunion and the events surrounding it, the ones you've probably read about in the papers, but about the things that happened during high school that made it necessary for things to play out the way they did.  This is what happened to me, and to all those kids who thought I was simply a target in school.  This is the true story of what they did to me, and what I did to them in return.
            Once you've read my tale, I'm sure you'll agree that I'm not crazy.
            And who cares what the judge thought, anyway?"

THE JOURNAL OF JEREMY TODD, found by Riverview Mental Hospital staff, has now been made public.

No comments: