John Everson gets his mack on with Christa Faust… You know I had to choose this image.
Insanely disturbed author, John Everson gave me a few moments of his time to discuss his latest release, NightWhere and remind me that it’s the fact that he is indeed insanely disturbed that enables him to work his craft with such dark magic. This man reaches into a bleak erotic realm that is often traveled in modern works, yet rarely proves as unsettling as the novels produced by John
This guy is a freak of nature, and if he continues to pump out works of this caliber,he’s going to find himself resting atop best seller lists for years to come
1) Tell me where the idea for this novel came from?
Well, I visited this swingers club one night, and I wondered what was going on in that back room where people were screaming behind the red curtain…
LOL… You know with this one, I can’t really put my finger on where the idea came from, because it’s been with me for so long. I first came up with the idea to do a novel about a kinky couple who discover a sex club that is much darker than it is seedy over a decade ago. The idea revolved around a husband who loves his twisted wife so much that he basically will descend into hell to try to rescue her, and I was plotting that in my head before I had finished my first novel, Covenant. I probably saw an ad for a swingers club in a men’s magazine or a billboard on the highway for some strip joint or something back then, and in my naturally twisted way, turned the image into a sinister place which is both hard to find, and hard to leave… NightWhere is both the Hotel California and Brigadoon of sex clubs!
2) This is really a primal novel. More so than anything I’ve read from you thus far in fact (which says a lot because we both know you’re a sadistic gent 🙂 ). Would you consider this some of your most vicious writing?
Absolutely. There were a couple of scenes where, as I was writing them, I was thinking… “Can I do this? Should I do this? And if I do… can I really put my name on it?” But whenever I’d consider pulling back, I said to myself, “hey, you dove into this project, and THIS is what’s about. Muscle through.”
3) There’s an introduction in the book in which you mention that you threw this idea at someone in the past (who encouraged you to write it), but it seems you took some time to really tackle the novel. First, is that correct, and if so, why the hesitation?
Well the hesitation has a lot to do with the answer to Question 2. I liked the idea of this novel and it stuck with me for a long time… but in some ways, I was afraid to be connected to the idea!
Here’s the background to the story you bring up: in the ‘90s, when I was first writing short fiction, seemingly EVERY magazine I submitted to had a story by Charlee Jacob in it. She was amazingly prolific… and as darkly poetic an author as I’ve ever read. Her gross-out scenes rival any that I’ve ever read by anyone and yet she’s an amazingly quiet and sensitive soul. I met Charlee at World Horror Convention 2000 in Denver, because she came to my very first horror con reading – I read a story called “Bloodroses” aloud to an audience and that story appeared later that year in my first collection, Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions. Most of that book is filled with stories of erotic horror, so it makes sense that that period of my life is when I first envisioned NightWhere.
Anyway, Charlee and I kept in touch and became friends after that and a couple years later, at the World Horror Convention in Chicago, I was griping to her about the problem I’d been having in trying to sell my first novel, Covenant. The book had been rejected by a number of agents and publishers. She asked what I was working on next – because writers can’t, should never, sit still – you don’t wait til the last one sells, you move on and work on the next project and the next and the next… sooner or later, unless you write gibberish, you will sell something to someone, if you keep working at it.
I told her that I wasn’t working on a new novel yet, but I had this idea about a book revolving around a twisted sex club… and a husband who loses his wife to its deeply evil allure, and how the husband needs to walk through the fire to try to save her. But I said at the time that I was thinking of just throwing in the towel – the first novel wasn’t going anywhere, and the NightWhere idea… well, that was pretty twisted; I wasn’t sure if I had the experience or knowledge really to tackle it.
She literally teared up and told me that I HAD to keep writing. That I COULDN’T give up. She believed in me… and she told me to sit my ass down and start working on NightWhere, because it sounded like a great concept.
I didn’t exactly follow her advice, but I didn’t give up on the book either. As it turned out, Covenant came out two years later on Delirium Books and won a Bram Stoker Award, and then was picked up by Leisure Books and put out in mass market paperback. And when I did sit down to write again, I opted to do Sacrifice, a sequel to Covenant and then three other books before I was brave enough to tackle the twisted sexual world of NightWhere. But I’m glad I finally did it. I think the final book is intense, over-the-top, and definitely uncomfortable at times. But I think it turned out right. After all that time of “sitting on it,” I was worried that it wouldn’t turn out even close to what I originally envisioned.
4) Now you know I wasn’t a huge fan of the novels two leads, Mark (gaping pussy) and Rae (selfish cold hearted bitch) didn’t lure me into the story so much as the actual circumstances they fall into. I want to give you a chance to address this: do you think I’d be more inclined to find qualities in these characters after I’ve gotten around to reading the novel again, or do you think these are the kind of personalities that will work really well for specific individuals, while perhaps not so much for others?
You know, I was worried some people wouldn’t be able to identify with Mark and Rae, which was part of my trepidation in writing the book. The setup and people who would be involved in such a setup are not the kind of people you and I generally relate to! But I do think they are real characters – there is a whole subculture of guys who want to be dominated and abused by women, and while Mark isn’t THAT, he certainly gives Rae more leash than he should have. And Rae? She’s a sex addict. If I had changed the “obsession” of the novel, and written Rae as a heroin addict and Mark as her hopelessly adoring husband who would wade through any hell to save her from the pushers… I bet he’d seem a lot more sympathetic. Hell, it’d probably be an Oprah book of the week. Read Mark that way if you revisit the book, and I think you’ll be more sympathetic to him. I don’t see Mark as a “gaping pussy” at all, but as a guy who really, totally, loves his wife as a flawed but needy human being and will give her anything to make her happy and feed her darkest needs, no matter what it takes. Maybe he gives too much and waits too long to take a stand but… let’s face it, he has certainly gotten some kicks and kinks of his own from the lifestyle Rae dragged him into, so… to me, it’s easy to understand why he falls into the rat maze that NightWhere becomes. And I honestly love Rae too – she makes the mistake of allowing that darkness that’s been festering inside her for all of her life to overcome her. But all she was ever trying to do was address that obsessive need inside her, that drove her to desperation day after day. She’s not selfish OR cold-hearted… she’s driven by something inside her that she’s never fully understood. A consuming obsession.
I had a couple people write me after reading the book and they told me things that made me feel like maybe I did paint Mark and Rae correctly. One guy told me that he’d lived with a stripper in his younger years – and so he totally understood Mark’s blind acceptance and support of Rae. He’d been there himself. And I had someone from the BDSM scene write me and say that Rae was dead-on right – she was the ultimate sub, who was given her dreams of BDSM on a silver platter… with hooks. How could she say no?
Mark and Rae aren’t your normal couple in a normal relationship. But… the parts that I know you like about NightWhere could never happen to a normal couple… because a normal couple would never be in a position to answer the invitation of NightWhere in the first place.
5) There are a few sequences in this tale that are actually nauseating and stimulating simultaneously. I think that was the obvious goal, but to know that you were very effective in actually making that a reality… how does that feel for you? And before you answer, take into account that I’m not evenly remotely near drawn to the idea of S&M, yet I was actually, physically stimulated by certain passages throughout the novel.
I have achieved my ultimate goal!!! From now on, future copies of NightWhere will be adorned with the blurb: “NightWhere was so sick, it gave me wood!” – Matt Molgaard.
Seriously – that’s cool to hear. It was a fine line to walk because, let’s face it – why would Rae be so drawn to NightWhere if there wasn’t something about it that was a turn-on. But that turn-on is ultimately a deadly thing. I wanted to try to make at least a tiny piece of Rae’s turn-ons make sense to a reader who wasn’t drawn to that sort of thing. So the fact that it did something for you? That means I really did achieve what I was trying to do.
6) So, I think the question of the day (I hope you don’t aim to plead the fifth) is this: is the S&M scene something that you are personally intrigued by? Any whips for John Everson?
I plead the 69th.
Ha. The S&M scene is certainly something I’m intrigued by, but I can’t say that I’ve ever participated. I’m really just fascinated by all the strange kinks and sexualizations that humans put on things. Let’s face it. We’re all drawn to sexual connotation. Even the most prudish ol’ schoolmarm laughs at a good dirty joke. And our billboards are filled with half-naked women and men sporting six-packs that I’ve never seen on any of the guys in my neighborhood pool. I was in a supermarket the other day and saw them advertising a new Russian beer that was in stock with a poster of a barely clad girl that might have been pulled from a men’s magazine. What the hell does that have to do with beer? And it wasn’t even a tasty looking dark beer J
Humans are obsessed with sex. And we all find different oddball things and positions and situations to sexualize. I mean, is having your lover dress up as Princess Leia and seduce you in character any more twisted than having her flog you with a leather whip? I don’t think so. But I’ve read about people doing both.
Animals do a little mating dance, strike the bargain, do the deed, and it’s over. Humans can build an entire lifestyle around their sexual fantasies. Some build bondage chambers in their basements or pay to gain entrance to someone else’s dungeon. And of course, the more they obsess about these things, the more they disappear down the rabbit hole of the bizarre. That’s what I’m fascinated with. I even wrote a blog about our obsession with wanting to break the rules and “get dirty” for my publisher called “Lured By Lust. Seduced by the Dark. How far would you go?” I don’t want to hold or feel any whips, but I’m happy to be a fly on the wall and witness the strange places that people will go to in the name of sexuality. I’m the ultimate voyeur – that’s why they call me a writer.
7) Before I let you go, after the release of The Pumpkin Man we talked and I had mentioned it would make an insane movie, and you responded by letting me know that there may actually be a few film leads out there. Any word on that? Could we see The Pumpkin Man hit the big screen at some point?
Shadowcast Pictures in Los Angeles has signed on to script and produce The Pumpkin Man. Last month they were halfway through the script, so with any luck production will begin before the end of the year. You can read about the director, Jay Ellison (who mentions the movie in his bio), here: http://www.shadowcastpictures.com/directors.html
8) I want to hear it: Why should readers buy this book, and where can they get it?
Readers should buy NightWhere because it will titillate, disgust, excite and creep them out. I hope it will take them on a ride through a world they’ve probably never imagined, and will leave them with a new understanding of love… and hope.
And, they should check it out because it’s a crazy, fun, rollercoaster ride of a “Don’t show your mom” kind of read!