Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 26: Among the Stacks with Jim Goforth


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Welcome back to The Gal, Jim.  It's been awhile since we sat down together.  What's been going on since last we spoke?

Jim Goforth:
It has been a while indeed, over a year or thereabouts, I believe. It’s been a busy twelve months or so, that’s for sure. Since then I’ve had three full length novels come out (The Sleep, Carnival of Chaos, and Festival of the Flesh. The latter two, which are part of J. Ellington Ashton’s mammoth Project 26, are part of the same story, one so big it needed to be told over the span of two books), edited four anthologies (Rejected For Content 5: Sanitarium, Rejected For Content 6: Workplace Relations, Zombies: Zero Hour, and Slaughter on the Seas. Again, the last two form part of the whole Project 26 phenomenon), and had a host of stories appear in various other anthologies. Among these are the likes of Masters of Horror (put together by the always brilliant Matt Shaw), Full Moon Slaughter 1 & 2 (helmed by the inimitable Toneye Eyenot), VS: US vs UK Horror, Suburban Secrets 3: Home Invasion (also co-editor), and several others, some of which also belong to Project 26. Other than that I’ve been kept busy with a whole slew of writing and editing. Multiple new novels are in the works, most notably Plebs 3.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Who are you outside of writing?

Jim Goforth:
I’m a husband, a father, an extreme metal aficionado and all-round music fanatic, a book fan and collector, devotee of horror movies and video games, rugby league, wrestling. That probably sums me up reasonably well.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?

Jim Goforth:
If they want to throw themselves right in the deep end like that, then by all means, I encourage it. I concede that for many my work is definitely not going to be their cup of tea, but if they want to read it, I’m not going to dissuade them. My parents have actually both read Plebs (and my dad has read Riders-Books 1 and 2), and they dug it, despite pointing out afterwards that it was the bloodiest book they’d ever read.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Jim Goforth:
I see it as a gift. I love it, and always have done. If I wasn’t writing books, I would still be writing in one form or another, as I largely have done for the vast majority of my life. I can’t envision me not writing in some capacity. The only thing I would view as a curse in any regard is being cursed with far too many ideas for things I want to write; I’ll never get the time I need to write all of them. Naturally, some are probably rubbish and would probably be best off remaining unwritten, but all the same, any little thing serves as inspiration to me, and I get hit with new ideas for potential stories or books pretty much daily. The curse of course being the fact that no way in hell are all of them going to come to fruition.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

Jim Goforth:
My upbringing was one in which music and books were plentiful, and explorations of both were encouraged from a very early age. Consequently I was reading quite early, and writing my own tales not long after that, which was also encouraged in my household. The artistic pursuits weren’t discouraged whatsoever, so I was always afforded plenty of space to explore my imagination. My upbringing definitely assisted in fostering a fond love for both books and music, which in turn has spilled over into my writing, though not in terms of the particular genres I dwell in. I gravitated towards the darker aesthetics of horror and heavy metal early by myself without any assistance, and found those things to be exactly what I was looking for. Environment hasn’t really played any major part at all. I could write the type of material I write anywhere at all and it wouldn’t have any bearing on the outcome. It all stems from imagination and finding inspiration in anything, regardless how miniscule, and that I put down to being allowed the freedom to venture into reading as a young child.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?

Jim Goforth:
Ah, to be honest, I couldn’t really say. Given what I write, I imagine many people would find just about anything I’ve ever researched as pretty strange while others probably wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow. To me it’s all par for the course.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?

Jim Goforth:
It all depends. None of them in particular stand out as the hardest to write, it’s more a case of different books presenting different challenges. Occasionally I might just sit down and start writing, and have the start of the tale well and truly underway, before being drawn into something else or finding myself wallowing around in the middle of it, waiting for the characters to give some indication of where they’re going with the damn thing. Other times it might be that the book is virtually complete and the end is presenting some issues. Nine times out of ten I don’t know how a book is going to end until it does, or even if I do have some idea how I want to close things off, it doesn’t always pan out that way. Then of course, there is always the added bonus of being struck with random new ideas mid-book which don’t fit in that particular story and require a new manuscript being created. 
            The same goes for the other side of the coin, as in which of the above is easiest to write. On different occasions each of them have come remarkably easy, though if I were pressed to choose just one I’d say the beginning is both the hardest and easiest to write. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you outline?  Do you start with characters or plot?  Do you just sit down and start writing?  What works best for you?

Jim Goforth:
I just sit down and write. Always have done, and probably always will. Working out any sort of outline, bar the rough seeds of ideas in my head, has never been something I’ve done, especially in terms of novels. I may have just a bare bones notion of a plot, I may have even less than that, but whatever the case, it is just a case of sitting down and starting to write and going from there. The characters take control of the story and once they do that, anything can-and usually does-happen. That’s what works best for me with novels, and each one of them I’ve written has followed that trajectory. Some of those weren’t even originally intended to become novels, they started off their existence as short stories that just grew and expanded and required a lot more attention. As for short stories themselves, they can be a different matter. Again, I usually just sit down and write them, but in some instances I might have the whole story already in my head, others, like novels, just a few seeds germinating. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you do when characters don't follow the outline/plan?

Jim Goforth:
Since I rarely use any outline or plan that happens all the time. My characters regularly run themselves into all kinds of trouble, whether it was supposed to happen or otherwise, and well, if they don’t manage to dig themselves out of it, then it means bad things are going to happen to them or everybody around them.
            More than once I’ve had characters who were originally just meant to have bit parts or walk on roles either grow on me to the point where they became so entrenched in the story, their role there had to be expanded, or they’d simply refuse to accept a small role and keep cropping up until essentially they became main characters of sorts... Dennis King from Plebs is a perfect example of this, Amber (Carnival of Chaos, Festival of the Flesh) is another. Both had very different initial plans for what was going to transpire with them, and that didn’t involve them becoming such big parts of each story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?

Jim Goforth:
For the most part I don’t require any motivation. I love to write, I find it relaxing, and it is fun for me. Other than that, deadlines are a fine motivator.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you an avid reader?

Jim Goforth:
I am indeed. I absolutely love to read and have done ever since I first picked up a book many, many moons ago. I was a voracious reader of anything and everything all through my school years, and beyond, with only intermittent occasions where I wouldn’t pick up a book. These days, unfortunately time doesn’t quite allow me to read anywhere near as much as I used to, but I still read a lot, just not to the extent I did once upon a time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?

Jim Goforth:
Predictably, I’m a massive horror aficionado. Splatterpunk and extreme horror are my favourites, but not to the exclusion of everything else. Horror is a massive umbrella of a genre under which myriad sub-genres exist, and I’m an enthusiastic reader of most of the different things that fall under it, but for the purpose of the question, it’s splatterpunk and extreme horror which I absolutely love to read most of all.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you feel about movies based on books?

Jim Goforth:
I dig movies based on books, and would much prefer that film-makers and so forth would look more at adapting books for screen rather than this constant unnecessary remake trend which seems to be all the rage these days. There are loads and loads of books out there that would translate well to the big screen if folks in the movie business actually looked around a little wider than they seem to. Sure, they aren’t all New York Times bestsellers or any of that nonsense, but that isn’t what is going to make a movie worth watching.
            However, when it comes to movie adaptations of books, it is a rare occurrence indeed when the film version is better than the book. There are probably a few occasions where it’s happened, but nine times out of ten, the book is always going to be better. Of course, this is coming from a reader’s point of view-somebody who eschews books in favour of watching movies is going to have the reverse opinion obviously, but books are always open to the reader’s interpretation, and no matter how richly detailed in descriptions and so forth they might be, there is always something for the reader’s imagination to colour in. That’s not the case in a movie adaptation; what you see is merely another person’s interpretation of said book, and it isn’t always likely to gel with how you envisioned things whilst reading. Multiple layers exist within books, details and descriptive turns of phrase that can’t be relayed to the screen. A movie version often misses out all those little facets and aspects that enrich a book, in trying to paint the picture with broad strokes, and I suppose that much is understandable if it’s a massive epic saga of a book serving as the source material, but all the same paying some attention to detail wouldn’t go astray.
            I could probably go on about this for some time, so in the interests of not rambling and keeping it as succinct as possible, I’ll reiterate, yeah I do enjoy movies based on books, but they aren’t all good. They range from excellent, and relatively faithful translations, to dismal disappointments.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Have you ever killed a main character?

Jim Goforth:
Yes, I have. Most of my books have a fairly large cast in them, so that usually means there are several main characters, and none of them are immune to being killed off. Survival is not guaranteed for everybody, main character or otherwise. There’s no reason to become overly invested in what happens to a character if one is certain they are going to survive or win or what-have-you just because they are a main character. Everybody can die. Nobody is safe.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

Jim Goforth:
Of course. How are they going to learn lessons, become stronger, or gain the fortitude, hatred, desire, or whatever it is they require to make it through things? Or at least attempt to make it through.
            Usually though, the characters take control of the story themselves and dictate where it goes or is likely to go, so any suffering they end up enduring is wholly their own faults.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the weirdest character concept that you've ever come up with?

Jim Goforth:
Most of my characters are just somewhat normal folk - or in some cases, abnormal - who end up in all kinds of harrowing and often extreme situations, so it isn’t so much a case of them being all that weird, more one where everything going on around them is unusual.
            However, I’ll have to make special mention of Desmond Drago from Carnival of Chaos and Festival of the Flesh. He has some pretty unorthodox things going on with him, but rather than delve into them here, I’m going to suggest people read those particular books to find out a little more about good old Dashing Des.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the best piece of feedback you've ever received?  What's the worst?

Jim Goforth:
I’ve had loads of great feedback from all kinds of different sources, including reviews, fans, and others, and I couldn’t exactly pick one piece out of all that stands above the rest. I’ve had myriad folk liken my work to several authors who have been influential and inspirational to me, including of course Richard Laymon, which is always an incredible honour, I’ve had others toss around terms like one of extreme horror’s best, the future of extreme horror, consummate storyteller, and similar things which again is always great to hear, but ultimately I’m not writing to aspire to be any of those, I’m just writing because I love to write and I love to tell stories.
            In terms of worst feedback - I wouldn’t really say this is the worst, though it was obviously intended as negative in a review - I have to make special mention of this cracker of a snippet from a review for Plebs.

'Starts out with violence porn and devolves into pornographic violence.'

It most likely was far from the reviewer’s intention, but that brilliant little line right there has been a source of promo gold for me, it’s helped sell books, and generate all sorts of interest, so there is bad feedback which is far from constructive, then there is bad feedback which can be put to use in clever marketing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do your fans mean to you?

Jim Goforth:
To an author, your fans are everything to you. They’re the ones buying your books, hanging out for your next releases, spreading the word about you to friends, family, and beyond, often the ones leaving reviews for your work and so on. I have some truly awesome fans who do all the above and more, and I appreciate every single one. It is true that I write for myself first, I write the types of things that I personally love to read, but the fact that so many other people are also digging what I write is fantastic, and I’m happy to constantly interact with fans, and frequently do. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?

Jim Goforth:
To be honest, none. As much as I dig certain characters from various books, it’s never been so much that I wish they were mine or were characters I’d created. No matter what I did to that character, or how much of my spin I put on them, I could never make them my own character. Somebody else has put their imagination to work there creating the character, just as I do with mine, and try as one might, they’re never going to be able to take control or ownership of the character in the sense the original creator did.
            Having said that, I have been involved with a book co-written with a handful of other authors where we did have fun playing with each other’s characters. That book was Feral Hearts (co-authored with Ed Cardillo, Amanda M. Lyons, Mark Woods, catt dahman, and Michael Fisher), a collab where each author wrote a chapter introducing a character, then a middle section tied everything together. After that we each wrote what were essentially alternate endings, in which all the created characters from each person were fair game to use. That was a hell of a lot of fun, but in terms of using other people’s characters, that’s probably as fair as I’d like to go with it. Otherwise, it seems a little too much like fanfiction to me, which I’m sure is cool for some people, but just not my bag. I love to create my own characters, and I love them as they are, good, bad or extremely reprehensible.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?

Jim Goforth:
Again, this would feel either like something a little too close to fanfiction, or a case of trying to emulate the style of the original series writer as much as possible so as not to alienate the established fanbase, or something along those lines. Playing around with somebody else’s premise, concepts and characters isn’t really where I could see myself doing much, and possibly not in any way to do the original series justice. Turning something classic into a visceral, bloody, splatterpunk opus probably wouldn’t sit too well with aficionados of the original.
            Something other than writing a direct sequel or book in an already well-established series, such as perhaps writing a tribute story or book in the style of said author (or my own interpretation of it) would be cool and something I’d consider, but tinkering around with other folks’ creations not so much.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

Jim Goforth:
Unfortunately my number one choice to collab with is no longer with us. That would be the late, great Richard Laymon who passed away in 2001, so well before I was even writing full-time. I have collaborated with others before (on the aforementioned Feral Hearts, as well as another similar styled book which never ended up being completed) and that was an interesting experience. A challenge for sure, but definitely a good time, and I wouldn’t be averse to going down that road again in the future, and any of those authors I previously worked with, I’d be happy to work with again. There are loads of others out there I definitely wouldn’t mind collabing with, but I suspect they would have to be somewhat planted in the extreme horror field or it could make for a major clash of styles on any project. 

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

Jim Goforth:
Lots more books, that’s a guarantee. I’m currently at work on Plebs 3, with calls for sequels to Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger and The Sleep, meaning I’ll need to get cracking on them at some stage too. I also have a number of other novels started, all completely different and in no way related to anything else I’ve previously written. In addition to that a creature novel will be surfacing sometime next year, there will be more from the Rejected For Content anthology series, as well as Dual Depravity (volume 2 will be out shortly, though I’m just editor there, I’ll have more novellas appear in future instalments), and another extreme anthology Triggered will be coming out on the WetWorks imprint. There are also a few more battle anthologies coming along shortly including the likes of Vampz vs Wolvz 2, Punk vs Metal, and VS: Extreme (in which I had the supreme honour of going head to head and doing battle story wise with the one and only Jack Ketchum). In concentrating on writing all the novels I’ve tasked myself to write I’ve put a ban on writing for any more anthologies for the rest of the year and probably well into the new year, but it remains to be seen whether I actually stick to that or not.
            That’s just a few things that will be happening; no doubt there will be an assortment of other projects crop up in between now and whatever comes out next, but the focus for me is on novels.

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

Jim Goforth:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Jim, it is always a pleasure having you on.  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 or the last?

Jim Goforth:
You keep reading ‘em, I’ll keep writing ‘em.


About the author:
Jim Goforth is a horror author currently based in Holbrook, Australia.  Happily married with two kids and a cat, he has been writing tales of horror since the early nineties.
            After years of detouring into working with the worldwide extreme metal community and writing reviews for hundreds of bands across the globe with Black Belle music, he returned to his biggest love with first book Plebs published by J. Ellington Ashton Press.  Along with Plebs, he is the author of a collection of short stories/novellas With Tooth and Claw, extreme metal undead opus Undead Fleshcrave: The Zombie Trigger, Riders: Plebs 2 - Book One and Two, The Sleep, Carnival of Chaos, and Festival of the Flesh, co-author of collaborative novel Feral Hearts, an editor for the Rejected for Content anthology series (taking over the reigns after Volume One: Splattergore).  He also has stories in both Splattergore and Volume 2: Aberrant Menagerie.
            He is currently at work on Plebs 3, and a handful of other novels.


About the books:
Obscure urban legends and monstrous myths abound all over the internet, and none are more obscure or bizarre than the one purported to haunt the strange, remote, and oddly named town of Growling and its surrounds.
            Here, the communities are plagued by freakish weather phenomena, aberrant lighting and something even worse that arrives in the midst of these irregular storms.  Here, all denizens adhere stringently with the unwritten rules of what they all know as The Sleep.  Here, the way of life for folk is dictated to by the BeastStorms.
            When a group of friends, including an amateur horror film maker, an urban legend and supernatural enthusiast, a sceptic and a journalist, among others, stumble across the vague tale online, each have their own reasons for wanting to discover the veracity of the peculiar legend.
            Now, they are on a road trip that's taken them thousands of miles from their comfortable city existences and right into the domain of The Sleep.  Where mistrusting, superstitious locals patrol the neighbourhoods in packs with ominous warnings for intruders and unwelcome passers-through.  Where dissenters are run out of town to live as outcasts on the fringe of civilization.  Where repercussions are severe for t hose who don't take heed of warnings to abide by the rules of the land.
            Where unholy storms unlike anything ever experienced before, dredge up something more than insane weather.  Something monstrous.
            Every so often, among all those many legends easily explainable, or proved to be nothing more than pure hoax, there's one with more than a kernel of truth to it.
            One like the BeastStorms.


Threatened, assaulted, and ultimately dismissed from their jobs, a group of disgruntled ex-carnival workers swear vengeance on the sinister new boss responsible for their state.  Coercing even the most unwilling amongst them to join in on the revenge mission, the collective wait, biding their time before returning to the carnival grounds under cover of darkness.  Plans for regaining lost property and enacting some simple retribution swiftly turn deadly when a series of grisly discoveries are made.
            Now, having unwittingly involved themselves in something insidious and monstrous, this miscreant collective are being hunted by a relentless force.  As more people are sucked into the maelstrom, innocent and nefarious alike, they're all about to find themselves on an escalating nightmare journey into a brutal world of unimaginable pain and perversion.
            Snaring a ticket to this carnival doesn't ensure fun and frivolity.  It only ensures carnage and chaos.  Survival is not guaranteed.


Hidden within a seemingly innocuous horror-themed carnival exists something far more disturbing.  Where those with dollars and depraved desires find everything they seek catered for.
            Hunted by mutant backwoods freaks, pursued relentlessly by the malevolent ringmaster who usurped their former boss, stranded in the deep woodland, and fast running out of options, the remaining few free ex-carnival employees are about to be forced into a bloody battle that is only the beginning of a descent into sheer terror.
            Having discovered the truth behind the carnival's existencethese desperate should know there is only one way to save any of their friends from becoming prized exhibits, and perverse playthings for the sick and bloodthirsty.  They must gain entry and take part in the gruesome enterprise that lurks behind the garish trappings and faux horror extravagances of the carnival's new and improved version.
            Blood is going to pour like rain, to a symphony of screams.  Bodies are going to stack up.  The entertainment to be had here is enjoyed only by the most sadistic and degenerate of souls, and from all walks of life they come, from every corner of society, seeking to indulge their sickest, bloodies impulses.
            Peel away the bright, colourful facade of the carnival and you'll find the hideous heart that is the Festival of Flesh.


Ever had that one job you absolutely hated?  When the thought of getting out of bed in the morning to go to work filled you with dread?  Underpaid, under appreciated?  Sick of seeing others advance while you stagnate?  What about a job you absolutely loved, and couldn't bear leaving?  How about no job at all?  No experience.  No prospects.  No future.
            For volume six, Rejected for Content is heading off to work.  When good jobs go bad.  When bad jobs get worse.  Bastard bosses.  Disturbed co-workers.  Places where the most unhinged of souls would never dream of working in their wildest nightmares.  When workplace relations break down beyond fixing.  Or strengthen, in ways that are just plain wrong.
            Warning: Strong Violence, explicit sex, coarse language, blood and gore.


Notions of the undead have fascinated and terrified humanity for centuries, and none more so than those tales revolving around zombies.  From the very root of the zombie myth back in the Haitian slave days, to a saturation through popular culture, zombies have crawled their way up out of their graves, refusing to stay interred.  Now, as their hordes increase and their hunger grow, the undead plagues cannot be stopped.  It isn't just a case of no room left on Earth.  The apocalypse is here, and it's time for humanity to abdicate their positions as rulers of the planet to those monstrous reanimated ghouls from the tomb.  Humans have had their day.
            Time's up.  The world belongs to the zombies now.  It's zero hour.


Filled with monstrous entities from the deep, both real and fabled, and sailed by marauding pirate ships with bloodthirsty souls looking to plunder and destroy, the great briny blue of the ocean is one of the most terrifying places imaginable.  With almost three quarters of the Earth covered by sea, this vast expanse is home to myriad horrors.
            From hundreds of fathoms down, or lurking just beneath the surface, to brazenly navigating the nautical domain, these deadly threats are just waiting for unsuspecting souls to take to the waters.
            So come on, take the plunge.  Dive on in.  The water is fine. What exists within it is another story.

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