Today we have the opportunity to speak to John Haas
He is a fantasy and horror author who has been writing since he was young, but started professionally twelve years ago. He's published 25 short stories and 5 novels in this time. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
-John, what first attracted you to horror writing?
I was one of those kids who was scared of everything. Even a commercial for a horror movie (or mildly spooky) could give me nightmares. I remember the Headless Horseman in Disney’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow giving me many sleepless nights. In any case, when it came around to writing as an adult, I found I had a bit better sense of what was scary than some people.
-Who were your favourite authors at the time?
Stephen King has been a favorite author of mine since I started reading him in my late teens. Other favorites of mine (in and out of the horror genre) were Robert Heinlein, Charles L Grant, David Eddings & H.P. Lovecraft. I also loved the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators novels I read when I was in high school.
-Name three of your top books, and why they are your favourites.
Hmm, let’s see… only three? I will choose favorite as something I have come back to read more than once.
- The Stand by Stephen King. It has such a huge cast of characters that start out all over the United States but slowly come together into two groups. I love the way it goes from normal life to apocalypse, and ends with a rebuilding of society.
- The Final Winter by Iain Rob Wright. Another lovely apocalyptic tale, this time in snow. I appreciate the group of characters who all start out in a normal day with a snow storm starting to build outside. Some are good people, some are not, and I like how they all need to start working together against whatever is out in the snow.
- Mark Frost’s The List of 7. A wonderful bit of historical supernatural mystery/adventure. The main character is a Sherlock Holmes type with a partner who is none other than Arthur Conan Doyle. I like the blending of actual historical characters in a fictional setting.
-Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plotter for sure, mostly. I outline a bunch of it, at least as far as I can get, then I start writing. Once I have a better idea of the characters and what is going on I will stop and online more of it. I have tried pantsing in the past but find I end up doing more editing afterwards.
-Who's your favourite horror villain?
A specific villain? Hmm, not entirely sure. I do have a type of villain though: One that is committed to being a villain, or to their villainous goals. They may not see themselves as a villain but their actions say different. This is a villain who will not change their mind, though they may make errors along the way. A smart villain.
-What are your two favourite virtues in a character?
Loyalty and the selfless sacrifice.
-What is your idea of happiness?
Home and family. The ability and time to spend my time here, even if we’re all busy doing other things I love knowing my loved ones are close by.
-What are your ideal writing conditions?
I like to have long periods to write in. Some writers can make the most of 15 minutes, but I’m not one of them. Generally I need to be free of distractions when I write so I will seclude myself in my office with my headphones on.
-Where or when do you feel most inspired?
Inspiration is everywhere. Every little thing I see can lead me to that what if? moment. Sometimes an idea will lead nowhere but often it will snowball into something exciting.
-What do you appreciate most in your friends?
People I can count on. Those who will just reach out with a quick text every so often just to say hello. I don’t expect anyone to drop everything and come running, but a note to ask how’s life is huge.
-Where would you like to live?
I’d love to be able to move around and live a bit in different places. A year in England. Some time in France. Italy. Australia. New Orleans. But I am a Canadian boy at heart and would always want to come back home in between adventures.
-Who are your greatest influences?
My mom, who always told me that I could do it, whatever it might be. My two sons who give me the inspiration to keep going and be more than I am.
Literature-wise I would say Stephen King and Isaac Asimov. The sheer amount of works which they have written and published in their careers is astounding.
-If there was one recommendation you could give to authors starting out, what would it be?
Get started and don’t quit. It’s not easy to write, but it isn’t easy to have not written either. If there is a drive to write then just do it. Get those words down on paper and keep moving forward. If you don’t have a passion for writing then maybe step back and discover what your real passion is.
-What are the characteristics you believe make a great horror story?
A feeling for the reader that this could have happened to them. One wrong choice, one decision to go left instead of right, and their entire world could be turned on its head.
-What is the title of your latest story?
My latest book is Book of Death and Madness. This is the sequel (are second in a trilogy) to Cults of Death and Madness.
-Can you give us a synopsis of it?
The trilogy is historical, Lovecraftian horror and follows the adventures of Doctor Archibald Shaw and his young Indian friend Singh. The two have found that that the world around them is not what it seems, and there are beings out there, older than humankind, that are just waiting to come back. They met in 1878 India in the first book and have travelled to London, England in this second book in the year 1888. They are in pursuit of the cult leader who they encountered in India, and who escaped with a book which holds everything these old gods need to return. They must wrestle no only with supernatural monster, prophetic dreams, and grisly murders, they must also determine the answer to one question: How far will would one person slip into madness and horror to save the rest of humanity.
-What sparked the underlying theme?
I have a friend who is a big Lovecraft fan and suggested several times that I should write a Lovecraft inspired piece of fiction. One day I sat down with the faintest glimmer of an idea, and the thought of giving him what he had been patiently asking for (Got to keep the fans happy after all). That story was The Damned Voyage, which was published in Writer’s of the Future vol. 35. So many people wanted to know more about the characters of Shaw and Singh so I decided that a prequel was in order.
-Are you working on anything else at the moment, or have the germ of an idea for another story you’d like to titillate your audience with?
I also write humorous fantasy and had an earlier trilogy published which was also quite enjoyable. I have an idea for another book which takes place in that world with new characters. So far it is just an idea, but it keeps returning to my conscious mind.
-Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish you all the best of luck in your writing endeavours!
Thank you so much.
If you'd like to learn more about John Haas, you can find him and his books here:
Wordfire Press: https://wordfirepress.com/books/cults-of-death-and-madness/
If you enjoy cosmic horror, you may also love paranormal. You should try Afterdeath!
If you liked this interview, you will certainly enjoy my interview with Kate Heartfield: