Interview with Josh Reynolds

Our final interview of the month is with an author who hold one of the longest bibliographies you will ever see. With 13 novels, over a hundred short stories and even some non-fiction under his belt, not many can claim to have accomplished what Josh Reynolds has done. And that list is only going to get longer. But first, he has a few words for us.

Josh Reynolds. It's still possible to read everything he's written in this life time. But you better get started...

Josh Reynolds. It’s still possible to read everything he’s written in this life time. But you better get started…

He2etic: What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe the process in one word, what would it be?

Josh: I treat it like a job. I set a word count goal for a particular project, I reach it, I move on to something different. Sometimes that’s research, sometimes it’s working on another project, sometimes its promotional stuff.

If I were to describe it in one word, it’d be ‘mechanical’. I get up, I write, I have some coffee, I write some more, I have some coffee, etcetera ad nauseum. It’s all very boring, unless you’re me, and then it’s awesome.

He2etic: How do you approach character development? Do you prefer to see how the character evolves as you go, or do you put more planning into it beforehand?

Josh: It depends on the character, and the type of story it is. Some characters have evolved, some I’ve had to plan. I generally err on the side of having a basic personality-type in mind, and then letting the character work out his or her own voice as the plot unspools. It’s easier than it sounds.

“When in doubt, have a man with a gun come through the door. If that doesn’t work, try a monkey with a switchblade.”

 

He2etic: You’ve written work primarily set in the Warhammer fantasy universe. In ideas as to what you’d do in the Warhammer 40,000 setting?

The Whitechapel Demon, by Josh Reynolds! Coming soon.

The Whitechapel Demon, by Josh Reynolds. Coming soon from Emby Press.

Josh: Lots. Mostly involving big dudes in power armour hitting each other or other, smaller dudes. At the moment, I’d really love to write a Space Marine Battles book, just for the experience.

Or something with a Necron as a protagonist, because why the heck not, right? I bet I could get a series out of Trazyn the Infinite just wandering around the galaxy, stealing stuff and leaving sarcastic notes. Eight, nine books easy.

He2etic: If you could cast anyone to play the roles of main characters in your work, who would you pick?

Josh: Honestly? I’d pick the person(s) who could guarantee the biggest ratings/box office draw. I want that sh*t to do well opening weekend, you know?

He2etic: Do you have any long term projects for writing? For example, do you intend to someday spin your own franchise or complete a long novel series?

Josh: Oh several. I always have a number of long term projects on the go. Franchise-wise, I’ve already got the makings of a good one in the Royal Occultist series, I think.

“Don’t argue with the editor, unless you know you’re right, and not even then, unless you absolutely have to.”

 

The Royal Occultist is the man or woman who stands between the United Kingdom and dangers of an occult, otherworldly, infernal or divine nature. Whether it’s werewolves in Wolverhampton or satyrs in Somerset, the Royal Occultist will be there to confront, cajole or conquer the menace in question.

There have been many Royal Occultists, and there will be many more, thanks to the strong British sense of tradition, bloody-minded necessity and the ridiculously short life expectancy for those who assume the post.

Knight of the Blazing Sun, by Josh Reynolds.

Knight of the Blazing Sun, by Josh Reynolds.

The current Royal Occultist, Charles St. Cyprian, is basically Bertie Wooster by way of Rudolph Valentino. His assistant, Ebe Gallowglass, is Louise Brooks by way of Emma Peel. He’s the brains, she’s the brawn. He likes to talk things out, preferably over something alcoholic, and she likes to shoot things until they die.

I suppose the stories could be called ‘urban fantasy’, or even ‘historical fantasy’, what with them taking place in the London of PG Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh. That’d be the 1920s to you or me. The ‘Inter-War Period’ as historians call it. If that sounds interesting, you can find out more.

The first novel-length Royal Occultist adventure, The Whitechapel Demon, will be released sometime in the next two months by Emby Press and I’ve sold close to thirty short stories about St. Cyprian and Gallowglass since I wrote their first adventure, Krampusnacht, in December of 2010.

Several of these stories are available for free at the website above. There are also several audio versions of some of the stories available, which can be found here with more to come in the near future, and there’ll be graphic (i.e. comic) versions of one or two of the short stories coming some time in 2014.

He2etic: Who are your favourite characters amongst both those you’ve written, and by other authors?

Josh: Okay, lessee…

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Caitlin Kiernan’s Dancy Flammarion, Manly Wade Wellman’s John Thunstone, Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise, Derrick Ferguson’s Dillon, Chester Himes’ Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, Richard Stark’s Parker, more, lots.

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you enjoy it, own up to it, unless it could get you arrested, in which case we shouldn’t be talking about it.”

 

I really dig series characters, so I’ve got a lot of favorites. More than I could comfortably list here.

As to those I’ve written? I think my top three are Mr. Brass, the American Automaton, John Bass, the Ghost-Breaker and St. Cyprian and Gallowglass, from the Royal Occultist stories. Mr. Brass is, in essence, ‘steampunk Robocop’ set in a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen world. That’s the high concept pitch.

John Bass is a darker character—a crotchety old farmer who fights ghosts and evil spirits in the Depression-Era southern United States. And Charles St. Cyprian and Ebe Gallowglass, as I mentioned above, are occult adventurers who fight monsters, magicians and madness-inducing entities in Jazz-Age England.

Neferata, by Josh Reynolds. Coming soon from the Black Library.

Neferata, by Josh Reynolds. Coming soon from the Black Library.

He2etic: Are there any books, movies, television series or even games that you think are mandatory viewing for struggling writers?

Josh: All of them? If you’re writing in a particular genre, it behooves you to read widely in said genre—old stuff, new stuff, indy stuff, popular stuff. Read all of it.

Television is good for helping you with dialogue and condensed plotting, especially sitcoms or family dramas—they’re not to everybody’s taste, but think about how little time the average sitcom has to tell a story, and how they go about doing it. That’s a lesson worth learning.

Movies are good for helping you understand how to plot longer form stories (or how NOT to, depending) and how to set mood and scene, if you’re attentive.

Basically, if you think you can learn from it, go with it.

He2etic: Is there anything you consider to be a guilty pleasure? Something that is trash, but you love reading it anyway?

Josh: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you enjoy it, own up to it, unless it could get you arrested, in which case we shouldn’t be talking about it.

Also, don’t try and rationalize the problematic aspects of said pleasure in order to make yourself feel less guilty about enjoying it. That never works out. But to answer the question, I love me some sitcoms. I will devour whole DVD box sets of everything from Leave it to Beaver to Amen, the latter starring the irrepressible Sherman Hemsley and lasting five glorious seasons.

He2etic: Any advice for new authors?

Dracula Lives! by Josh Reynolds.

Dracula Lives! by Joshua Reynolds.

Josh: Write everything. Try your hand at every genre, especially ones you don’t like. Don’t argue with the editor, unless you know you’re right, and not even then, unless you absolutely have to.

Embrace formula, cliché and stock characters. They’ll make your job easier, when you start out. When in doubt, have a man with a gun come through the door. If that doesn’t work, try a monkey with a switchblade. Everybody writes something a bit crap on occasion. It happens. Move on, do better next time. Last but not least, always get paid.

A giant thanks to Mr. Reynolds for his time! Follow the Bolthole at @BLBolthole. And follow Josh Reynolds @JMReynolds.

Interview with Emby Press

It’s October. You know what that means. Monsters, ghouls and goblins. Horrors and haunts galore. I won’t bother disguising the fact that Halloween is my favourite holiday. So what finer to celebrate than with an interview with Miles Boothe, manager of Emby Press and its monster filled books?

Emby Press. The stuff of your nightmares!

Emby Press. The stuff of your nightmares!

He2etic: We usually start with a qualifier. Can you tell us about your background in writing and publishing? Other projects and releases you’ve worked on both with Emby Press and before?

Miles: My father was a magazine publisher and I grew up spending a lot of time lurking around his company’s art and photo departments (they were the most fun – the advertising and circulation departments not so much…).

I was also an avid reader and was bitten early by the “Hey, I could write a better story than that!” bug.

For many years I just kept all of my ideas locked upstairs. I don’t remember what instigated the sitting down and pounding out of my first true attempt at a story, but I was surprised and delighted when the first draft sold upon my initial inquiry to a major publisher and went on to become an NYT bestseller!

Wait, that’s not what happened at all… It was terrible, of course, but I was still unaccountably proud that I had written it and became completely obsessed with how to make it better.  I wound up submitting it to a writer’s workshop to be critiqued by A.C. Crispin (a day I’ve thought about a good bit since her recent passing) and she was very helpful in pointing out what needed work, what should go and what could be salvaged. But, there was a part that she liked, and she said so in front of the auditorium. Loudly enough so that everybody could hear…

“Monsters are how we express so many of our conscious and subconscious thoughts, feelings and desires.”

 

That really stoked my fire and I’ve been writing since then.

I’m in a handful of anthologies, but I’ve always been more interested in writing about what inspires me instead of what’s being called for, and that’s how the whole monster-hunter thing got started.

The Whitechapel Demon, by Josh Reynolds! Coming soon.

The Whitechapel Demon, by Josh Reynolds! Coming soon.

This part is pretty well documented, but one day I was reading Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter by Brian P. Easton, and it hit me like a lightning bolt that there were just not enough monster-hunting stories out there, and that I wanted to write some, and that there should be an anthology dedicated to monster-hunting stories!

I pitched the idea to a publisher (the now defunct Pill Hill Press), we put out the call and got a ton of stories.

When PHP closed, I had the 3rd volume of the monster hunter series half done, and there was never any question that I had to finish it and get it out there.

Emby Press was born and the rest is monster-hunting history! There are currently three volumes of the Legends of the Monster Hunter series in print, with an omnibus of 1 and 2, and a 4th and 5th in editing. I have three more currently accepting submissions (attention writers!) and that’s only the tip of the monster-hunting iceberg.

The big news is that Emby’s first two novel releases are scheduled for release this fall! We’ve just announced Josh Reynold’s The Whitechapel Demon and I cannot wait to release it! Fans of Josh’s Charles St. Cyprian Royal Occultist stories are going to be very excited to get their hands on it!

The second novel is Black Fox In Thin Places by Scathe meic Beohr and is an amazingly beautiful work set in 17th century Ireland based upon the history of the Seelie and Unseelie people, told through the eyes of a young girl. It is written in a style that will remind readers of Tolkien, Lewis and Carroll. But the story is timeless and is a joy to read. There is a great deal more to it than that, but suffice to say that I am thrilled to be able to publish it!

“You’re much better off writing and making those mistakes – that’s how you learn. Especially when you are just getting started, the more you get out there and mix it up, the better writer you will become.”

 

Last, I just had a serial novel accepted by JukePop, a site that I absolutely love, and am psyched to get back to the serial style, which is how I wrote my first novel.

He2etic: Most publishers really aim for a wider reaching genre, like horror or fantasy. You’ve really hit it with the monster niche specifically. What inspires this passion?

Miles: All of the works I’ve described above include a bevy of monsters. The majority of what I’ve read and loved usually has a monster or two in it and the movies and television shows I love the most had and have monsters in them, so it seemed like a perfectly fine idea to devote a press to the theme of monsters.

Use Enough Gun, from Emby Press.

Use Enough Gun, from Emby Press.

Monsters are how we express so many of our conscious and subconscious thoughts, feelings and desires. Monsters have been present in the storytelling of every culture, going back as far as figures drawn on cave walls.

How each era presents monsters is always a fascinating reflection of the struggles, triumphs and collective wisdom of those times, and no matter what facet of culture you are looking at, a monster will usually pop up at some point. From ancient mythology to theology, to folklore to pop-culture, the theme is nearly always present in one form or another, and intertwined with daily life.

There are so many ways to present monsters that I have to believe that the storytelling possibilities are endless, so I let my monster flag fly.

I also very much appreciate when an outfit delivers what it promises.

You like to read stories about monsters? Emby Press has monster stories for you. Problem solved.

He2etic: On a personal note, what is your all time favorite monster? If he or she has ever been on the big screen, what is your favorite rendition?  

Miles: It’s really not that easy… Monsters in film and literature are like a lavish buffet, loaded with all of your favorites. On rainy, foggy nights you just need a classic ghost story, and sometimes you get a little thrill from the rumor of some creature spotted on a road not far from where you live.

Leather, Denim & Silver, by Miles Booth.

Leather, Denim & Silver, edited by Miles Boothe.

Then Halloween comes and you have to mix documentaries of 18th century vampire stakings, witch burnings and the Beast of Gévaudan with the Universal classics and Hammer films.

I started with and will always love Harryhausen’s work as well as watching movies with lizards and ants blown up to the size of busses. I begged my father to take me to Bigfoot docu-movies in the 70’s. There was King Kong, and then came Jaws and Alien. How do you choose between those? The original Salem’s Lot blew my mind and seared the image of vampires into my brain. The Howling did the same with werewolves.

I dig modern movies like Predator and Pitch Black, and this summer was a blast watching skyscraper-sized robots battle Kaiju in Pacific Rim.

One of my favorite children’s books is David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd. I loved the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books and movies. I wanted to read The Terror by Dan Simmons in one sitting, but it’s, you know, Dan Simmons.

Right now I’m waiting for the third book in Easton’s Autobiography of a Werewolf Hunter series and wondering why no television series or movie has been made of these yet.

I’m also currently infatuated with early 20th Century Spiritualism. Did you know that Houdini was also famous for his efforts to debunk spiritualists, but evidently promised his wife that after death, he would try to contact her? That he and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a spiritualist, were said to have argued vehemently over what is really out there? Mind-blowing, fascinating stuff, all of it…

“Clichés get a bad rap. Clichés work – that’s why they’re cliches, and the only real sin in using them is to present them the exact same way as someone else.”

 

It’s impossible to name a favorite out of just those, and there are so many more! I’m just glad that they’re all out there.

He2etic: What’s the single biggest mistake most budding authors make in your opinion?

Miles: The single biggest mistake, in my opinion, is to spend your time worrying about making mistakes, or listening to other people lecture on the evils of mistake making. You’re much better off writing and making those mistakes – that’s how you learn. Especially when you are just getting started, the more you get out there and mix it up, the better writer you will become. Just get those words on the page!

Write what you want to write. Write when you want to write it.  If it comes together in the way that you wanted it to, show it to someone. If they like it, write more and show it to more people.

The Trigger Reflex, edited by Miles Booth.

The Trigger Reflex, edited by Miles Booth.

You won’t get too far before someone points out a way to make it better, and you need to acknowledge and implement those observations. Then get on with making the next mistake!

It’s inevitable that along the way you will either learn the lessons of grammar, plotting, character development and so forth, or your writing path will come to a stop. This is a process that every writer must go through, it’s just tough when half of the blog posts you see are titled “More Reasons Than Science Can Count On Why Your Writing Sucks.”  Don’t let them distract you or get in the way of your story.

He2etic: What’s your opinion on the value of literary cliché’s versus something that’s too original (ie, kind of out there)? Any advice on striking a balance?

Miles: Clichés get a bad rap. Clichés work – that’s why they’re cliches, and the only real sin in using them is to present them the exact same way as someone else. If you are working from an idea born of your own creativity and passion and giving it your own voice, you are usually going to be okay. Clichés can offer a lot in terms of structure and formula and are a great way to learn how to navigate these.

Having said that, going for something completely original is always a goal and is usually required to some degree to sell work these days. But, you need to have a very detailed understanding of clichés to know how to avoid them and to create something that works as well.

Never forget that you have to keep the reader with you and that the more you get away from their comfort zone, the better you have to be to keep them on the page.

See where I’m going with this? Of course you do, because so many have said it before…

He2etic: Finally, any tips or advice on getting ahead?

Monster Hunter: Blood Trails. Coming soon from Emby Press.

Monster Hunter: Blood Trails. Coming soon from Emby Press.

Miles: It’s a total cliché, but if you want to be a writer, then you have to write! Don’t worry about mistakes. Write about the things that you are passionate about. Stay open to and thankful for the advice that others give, right up to the point where it is no longer given in a benevolent spirit.

And, these days, it’s important to have some of idea of what kind of writer you want to be! I know some writers that have published a couple of short stories, and that’s enough for them.

I know others that bang out word counts that can only be matched by telephone directories from major cities.

But they’re all writers. Don’t get swamped because you didn’t get 2,000 words written by lunch.  Set a goal (get a story published), and meet that goal before you decide to give Jack Kerouac some competition.

Last, take full advantage of and enjoy the hell out of the digital wonderland that we live in now. The ability to research is unparalleled, networking on social platforms is amazing and expressing graphic art on your website to match your story can be almost as satisfying as the writing itself. You can find just about every open market there is between Duotrope, Ralan, Dark Markets, and Horror Tree (and others!).

The water is fine, so just jump on in.

Of course, that’s coming from a guy picturing a host of monsters lurking just beneath the surface, but that’s what makes it fun!

That’s it for today! A huge thanks to Miles Boothe for his time and thoughts! Follow the Bolthole @BLBolthole.