Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and John Inman
January 14

Genre Talk with Carole Cummings and John Inman

Greetings all, and we hope you had a fantastic New Year! I’m here today with DSP Publications’ answer to Stephen King, John Inman, author of the newly released horror novel Willow Man. Actually, he’s kind of DSP Publications’ answer to lots of things, so let’s get right to it, shall we?

Carole: You’ve written a range of works in different genres, from romance to mystery to zombie humor, and now horror. The common thread through most of your work seems to be gay lit, so with that in mind, tell us about your genre.

John: The way I see it the gay genre isn’t much different than straight lit as far as the writing goes. The same principals of construction apply. The same plot devices are brought into play. It’s still just as tricky in gay lit as it is in straight to create a story line from start to finish that doesn’t fall flat on its face somewhere along the line. The only real difference is that in the gay genre, a predominance of the characters are gay, natch. And being a gay man, that to me is what makes the writing of gay lit fun. I don’t have to pretend to be anything I’m not. I can truly draw from my own experiences, whereas delving into the thought processes of a straight person always makes me feel like I’m walking on pudding, just a teeny bit unsure of every step I’m taking. When you say, “tell us about your genre”, the first words that come to my mind are this — writing gay lit makes me feel at home. It’s where I belong. It’s where I love to be. And that’s what this genre means to me.

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Carole: Tell us about Willow Man.

John: The idea for Willow Man was born from an actual experience of mine. One September morning all the way back in 1978, I was standing at my dining room window when I heard a loud boom in the sky. Looking up I saw a jetliner, with flames spewing from the side, angling down toward the earth. And to my left I saw a small plane tail-spinning straight down in freefall. When the jetliner struck the earth less than half a mile from where I stood, shaking the very floor beneath my feet, the explosion was deafening and the sky across the city grew immediately dark with black, billowing smoke. 144 people died that day when PSA Boeing 727 Flight 182 collided over San Diego with a small Cessna. It was 9:01 in the morning. I’ll never forget it. When the idea to write a horror story came to me, I knew, since that plane crash was one of the most horrific things I had ever witnessed, I would somehow have to incorporate it into the story. So I did. There was no prisoner on board PSA that day as depicted in the book, or none that I know of. Nor was there a detective taking him to justice. But I thought, what better way to bring a monster to life? And wouldn’t it be fate’s greatest irony, to let the one truly evil man on board be the only one to survive the crash? In malevolent spirit, at least. And now that I had the bad guy, I had to find his adversaries. And to me, one of my favorite aspects of horror stories is the juxtaposition of good and evil, purity and cruelty. That’s why much of the story is told from the viewpoint of children. For what good is horror, without innocence for the horror to prey upon?

Carole: So, as with most DSP Publications books, we shouldn’t mistake this for a romance, then.

John: While there is a love story in Willow Man, it is most certainly not the main crux of the story. I suppose that is why this book fits better in the DSP Publications imprint, rather than the more Romance-oriented DSP. But to be honest, it is a fine line that is often a little blurred in my mind. Why DO some books fall under Romance, while others don’t quite make the cut? And rather than drive myself nuts worrying about it, this is where a writer’s faith in his publisher comes to bear. I leave it up to DSP to steer my books in whichever direction they choose. Hell, I’m just thrilled to death to be published at all. And the wise souls at Dreamspinner Press know what they are doing far more than I do. I just write. That’s all I do. That’s all I WANT to do. I envy those writers who are masters at marketing themselves. I truly do. But that’s not me. I don’t much worry about the business end of the trade. That’s why, when you are lucky enough to find a publisher you trust completely, as I have done, you can just concentrate on the writing. And to be able to do that, my friend, is a treasure like no other.

Read more at The Novel Approach.