Interview with Jonathan Winn
Conducted by Anthony J. Rapino
Looking up from a lovingly dissected and butter-doused Nephropidae, I acknowledge the arrival of–what was his name?
AJR: What’s your name again?
Winn: Little Lord Fauntleroy Potter Hogwarts Hermione Longsword Sheffield-Smythe. The third.
I look at him, this rushing tumble of words tinged with sarcasm more than a bit confusing.
Winn: Jonathan Winn.
Oh, that’s right. The pain in the ass, Winn. Weeks of phone calls, then unannounced visits to my office, and now this. Interrupting what could have been a sensual Communion with that most coveted of crustaceans. I drop my fork next to the rapidly cooling lobster.
AJR: What the #&@ do you want, Winn?”
Winn: If you’d listen to your voicemail and answer your emails, you’d know. Proseuche, remember?
AJR: Right, right. The book. Well, go on then. Give me the elevator pitch. I’ve got lobster to eat.
Winn: Haunted by ghosts, an immortal man fights his demons surrounded by the religious chaos and pagan magic of 3rd century Antioch.
I poke at my meal and it feels rubbery. My appetite has fled, but admittedly, I’ve become curious. Religious chaos AND pagan magic? Perhaps this Winn fellow was more than a passing amusement. So I bait him.
AJR: Where do you get your ideas?
Winn: I’m blessed with a staggering creativity and an enviable imagination. Where do you get YOUR ideas? I mean, seriously, out of all the questions you can ask, that’s what you whip out?
I raise my hands in the air.
AJR: Whoa, whoa. Just kidding. Okay, here’s a serious question. Are you obsessed with belly button lint? If not, why?|
Winn: I’m talking about immortality and a man stumbling through millennia hounded by ghosts, a prisoner of an ever-changing world that shifts and bends yet always stays the same, a soul driven to cut a bloody swath through history because the pain of Life Everlasting is too much to handle, and you’re asking about belly button lint? Dude, seriously, pick up your game.
AJR: You’re right, not very professional of me. I indicate my forgotten lobster dinner. How long have you been writing?
Winn: I started writing screenplays in 2004, included playwriting in 2005, added fiction writing in, like, 2009 or 2010 or something, and published my first book, Martuk … the Holy, in 2012, with The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of short fiction, following in the summer of 2012.
AJR: That’s quite the curriculum vitae. Impressive, actually. Do you consider yourself a genre writer?
Winn: I’m a genre writer in that I write Dark Fiction and Horror. But since I’m not writing about sparkly vampires or ravenous zombies, I’m not sure the genre knows what to do with me. And, frankly, I don’t really think Martuk cares. He’s carving his own place in literature. No doubt the readers will find him when they tire of perpetual teenage angst and stumbling half-dead half-witted carnivores.
AJR: I think we may have that in common, Winn. You put it ever so elegantly, so I’ll summarize: genre labels can eat a fat one. Speaking of eating fat ones. Sushi: raw fish or delicacy?
Winn: Amazing and wonderful and incredible. I love sushi. Delicacy, absolutely. A delicacy to be inhaled with abandon and pure joy.
AJR: You disgust me. What’s your favorite genre to read?
Winn: I love horror, of course. The predictable Stephen King and early Anne Rice when I allow myself the luxury of reading for pleasure. But I’m also a huge fan of research, mainly anything written by Susan Wise Bauer. Her ability to dust off history, even ancient history, and make it seem alive and fresh continues to astonish me.
AJR: Do you ever pretend you’re a guest on a talk show?
Winn: Yes, and that lamp behind you is camera 1. (cue laugh track)
AJR: I check over my shoulder. I’ve always thought of the lamp as camera 3, but whatever. Okay, last question: If you could be a bug, what bug would you be?
Winn: The kind that makes people shit their pants when I land on their arms or crawl across their floors. And I’d only eat croissants and donuts and drink lemon tea or Venti Caramel Half-Caf No-Whip Mocha Frappucinos.
AJR: Dammit, Winn! You’re not supposed to actually answer the stupid questions. Don’t you know anything? I mean, take this lobster for instance. I pick the crustacean up and shake it until butter splatters Winn all over the face. Do you suppose he just gave up when I told him I wanted to eat him? No! He fought back. He clawed my left earlobe for cripes sake!
Winn: I am not a lobster, sir. I’m not something you coat in melted butter and put in your mouth. Nor do I splatter innocent bystanders in the face when you shake me. And now I’ve forgotten what we’re talking about. Is there a point to any of this? Because if there is, I’ll ignore your outburst and have an adult conversation. If not, well, I’ll cold clock sucker punch you and steal your lobster. Politely, of course.
I place the lobster on the plate. There’s a joke somewhere in there about coating him in butter so he can be put into someone’s mouth, but I decide against it.
AJR: You are a gentleman and a scholar, Winn. I throw a napkin at his face. Would you tell me why you’re here, really?
Winn: As you know, I’m a writer. I write books. I’ve devoted a considerable amount of the past six months, if not more, carefully crafting Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche, the sequel to my debut novel, Martuk … the Holy. And, honestly, you know how it is. You want your work to be read. You want it to be enjoyed. You want it to, in some small way, perhaps, make an impact, or even just help someone escape for a brief amount of time. That’s why we do what we do, right? That’s why we share our insanity and give a voice to those whispers in our heads. To entertain, to enlighten, to help people think, to make people doubt, and, in the end, to help them escape.
So, really, that’s why I’m here. Because you do what I do and you know how difficult and frustrating it can be. Especially if you’re that falling tree in the forest that no one hears. So I’m standing before you for a nod, a small smile. Maybe even a handshake. One survivor of the War of the Page welcoming another comrade to its ranks, if you will. That’s all, really.
I stand from the table and stick my hand out for a shake. Winn cautiously does the same. He has a firm grip and appears congenial, even in the face of my many insults. He can hold his own, that’s for sure. And maybe he’s even a good writer. I make a mental note to look into that, and if worse comes to worse, I know I can always track him down when he’s about to eat dinner and force him to interview me.
AJR: I can’t say it’s been a pleasure, Winn. But it has been interesting.
Winn: No, no. The pleasure has been all mine. Enjoy your lobster, Mr. Scarpono.
Screenwriter, playwright, actor, and author of Martuk … the Holy and The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn was born in Seattle, WA. He currently lives in the US. Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche is his second full-length novel and can be found on