I’m so excited to be sharing this interview with the amazing horror author, J.C. Michael!
I have been reading stories and drabbles by this author for a few years now. When I heard that he had a short story collection coming out, I couldn’t wait to dive in! You may have read that review already as I just posted it recently, but if not, feel free to click here.
Let’s dive in to the interview!
Interview with J.C. Michael, author of Everything’s Annoying, and much more!
Who is J.C. Michael?
His debut novel, Discoredia, was published in September 2013 and re-released in 2018 under the new title – Pandemonium. He has featured in the Double Barrel Horror series from Pint Bottle Press and co-authored the novella, You Only Get One Shot, with Scottish writer Kevin J Kennedy.
A number of his short stories have been published in various anthologies from a variety of publishers, as well as within his recently released collection, Everything’s Annoying.
Citing Stephen King, James Herbert, and Clive Barker, as his greatest influences, Michael’s work sits firmly within the horror genre.
What is your first memory of writing for fun?
I remember way back, I must’ve been 9 maybe, when I wrote a story about a space battle at school and the teacher read it out as if she were reading to the class from an actual book. The only issue was the book she placed my work in to read from clearly had a cover that was nothing to do with the actual story. By secondary school writing wasn’t really fun as my teachers didn’t approve of such bad language and violence from someone my age, so creative writing took a back seat until I started writing a pretty scandalous, probably libelous, staff newsletter at work a good few years later. Properly writing for fun though really started in 2007 when I was challenged to write a novel “if I thought I was clever enough”. The result, at 90,000 words, was Discoredia, and even if it seems a little flawed now, in particular that first draft, I think it stands up well as a “first attempt”.
How many books have you written (this can be extended to stories & drabbles as well!)?
I’ve written two novels: Discoredia, now published as Pandemonium, and the sequel which was self published for a brief period but is now filed away under “badly needs revising”. Alongside that there’s the novella I co-authored with Kevin Kennedy, You Only Get One Shot, and quickly counting along my shelf I’ve featured in 33 different anthologies with pieces ranging from drabbles to short stories of various lengths, as well as a nonsense poem drabble and a horror remix of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Nine of those stories were then republished in my collection Everything’s Annoying, which also included a couple of new pieces not available elsewhere.
What are some of your other interests outside of writing?
Nothing that exciting I’m afraid. I spend too much time on my PS4, and too much time watching T.V. That’s when I’m not busy looking after my son, although now he’s getting older he’d sooner be gaming with his friends than playing with his Dad. I also love the countryside and often head out for a wander about, I’m lucky to live in a quiet rural area, as well as travel further afield where I’ve been fortunate enough to visit quite a few different countries in Europe as well as Africa, the United States, and Mexico.
Are you also a reader?
I think you have to be if you’re going to be a writer, but I don’t read anywhere near as much as I did when I was younger. If I’m honest I think part of that is because it’s harder to read purely for fun now. I always find myself analysing the story, or picking up on things I would have approached differently. I do however always read everything I feature in cover to cover, and like to have a couple of good books with me when on holiday for by the pool and when I’m away from all the other distractions there are at home.
What genres do you reach for the most?
Nearly always horror, although I’ve revisited some classic fantasy books, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia, when reading them to my son.
Do you have an all time favorite book or author?
Favourite author has to be Stephen King, as there’s nobody else whose work I’ve read consistently over the past thirty plus years. He can write short stories or absolute epics like The Stand, and can write out and out horror as well as thrillers, crime, and pieces that draw on a number of other genres. As well as that he’s created characters that have become an integral part of modern culture, and to me his impact is simply without parallel. If there’s one “dream come true” goal I have with regard to my own writing it would be for Stephen King to read something of mine, and say something complimentary about it.
Book Related Questions
I believe that the first time I read some of your work, it was the story You Only Get One Shot, which you wrote with Kevin J. Kennedy. What was the process like teaming up on that project?
It was fun, it was interesting, and it was challenging. Kevin’s a great bloke, and we worked well together, but I did struggle with having a vision that was then taken in directions that didn’t come from myself, but from someone else. Giving up that creative control was difficult, and the suspicion I had that I might struggle with that is one of the reasons I pitched the concept of stories within a story to him when he suggested we co-author something. That way we were working together, but wrote our own pieces, with the stories within the novella coming from either me or Kev rather than being co-written. Even the shared overarching story was written in chunks with each of us taking a section rather than truly co-writing. To be fair it was a first attempt at a collaboration for both of us, and we’ve never met beyond emails and chats despite how closely we’ve worked together, but I still think we put together a great story. We do actually need to meet and share a Buckfast at some point, as we were supposed to this at Stokercon last year but obviously things didn’t quite pan out as we all expected during 2020.
You’ve written various short stories, drabbles, and full length novels! Do you have a favorite format to write, or do you enjoy them all equally?
I prefer short stories for a number of reasons. One, they are easier to keep track of – less characters, less plotlines to tie up and interweave, and less scope for continuity errors. Two, and the flipside of one, is that when I wrote Discoredia it became very intense. I had notes upon notes of names, ages, backgrounds, details, sub-plots, and snippets of dialogue I’d come up with throughout the day. It was all I could think of for months on end and it was very draining, working during the day, then writing well into the night. Don’t get me wrong, a good short story can get its hooks into you as well, but that might be a week of thinking about it, mulling it over, and then a couple of days writing followed by a day revising it once it’s sat a while. So just as intense, but over a far shorter span when writing a 4,000 word piece as opposed to 90,000. Drabbles at the other end of the scale are a bit of fun, but 100 words is obviously limiting. Then as a final note there’s the practicality, as options for getting a novel polished up and published are a lot less than the options you have for subbing a decent short story.
Your latest release, Everything’s Annoying: A Collection of Dark Fiction & Horror, was just published on April 7th of this year. In this collection, you have re-released stories that had been previously published along with two brand new tales. First, how did you choose the stories to include here? And second, do you have plans to put together another solo collection in the future?
I’m a practical guy, so I started with stories from anthologies that were either out of print, not selling, or were released a good while back and sales have slowed right down. I then added in a couple of new pieces to freshen things up. I avoided anything published by KJK, as those anthologies are either seasonally themed so still sell, or are relatively recent / have good sales, and also decided not to use the two stories published by Pint Bottle Press as they are available as a “Double Header”. It didn’t seem right to effectively kill that as a product by including them.
I also discounted a few stories which I’ve written and which have their basis in local ghost stories or legends. My aim is to do a second collection based on these, and dedicated to my grandparents from where I heard a lot of those stories as a child. I’ve already written some additional pieces for this, and although they aren’t all retellings of tales people local to me would recognise I know that the genesis of the ideas come from my past and local area. I guess that covers off the second part of your question, and hopefully Everything’s Annoying will do well enough that there will be some interest in such a second collection in the not too distant future.
Just one last question; Where can readers find you?
And I’d also like to wrap up by thanking you for the chance to be interviewed, and for taking a look at Everything’s Annoying.
Thanks for reading!
And major thanks to J.C. Michael for taking the time to do this interview! I have to say that I was ecstatic when he said he would be interested. If you haven’t read any of this authors work, I highly recommend doing so!