Getting even more personal with Justin Park
Justin Park aka.. J.R. Park is one of the friendliest people I have ever met. He always has a smile and is willing to help anyone that he can. He also can spin a great horror story. Some of the most suspenseful and chilling stories I have read have been his. If you haven’t read one of his books please make sure that you do. He is extremely talented. He is also part of the Sinister Horror Company where he works with various authors publishing and editing and making beautiful books. If you haven’t met Justin you are missing out on a really amazing friend and writer. Please take the time to read one of his books you won’t regret it!
Please welcome J.R. Park back to Roadie Notes…………
1. It’s been awhile since we talked what new books do you have out now? Latest release?
I’ve had a number of new releases. The Offering: An Introduction To The Sinister Horror Company is a short story collection by myself and Daniel Marc Chant, with a fantastic foreword by George Anderson.
Death Dreams In A Whorehouse is a short collection of my own. I’ve been selling it at conventions but it hasn’t been ‘properly’ released online yet. I expect I’ll release it before the end of the year, but haven’t firmed up a date yet.
Postal was a book co-written with Matt Shaw. This was a great book to write. Matt came up with an initial concept. I threw some ideas at him around it and he went off and wrote his part, whilst at the same time coming up with the structure of the book. He left me a lot of room to play and to add more ideas and concepts to the mythology. It turned out really fun (in a horror sense) and has had a great reaction since its release.
Mad Dog is my latest novella, a book that can be summed up as: werewolf in a prison break. It’s told from a series of interviews by survivors of the incident and is full of the spills and thrills of a pulp book/b-movie.
2. If you could pick any author alive or dead to have lunch with who would it be? Why?
So many to choose from…so many. I think I’d go with William Burroughs. I don’t know a lot about the man, but he seems to have been a fascinating, and his voice is strangely hypnotic. I could listen to him tell me strange stories of his life for hours.
3. What is the strangest thing a fan has ever done?
I’ve been sent an embroidered handkerchief once. I’m an advocate of handkerchief use, and I usually add one in every book I write. I won’t say what was on, but if you’ve read Upon Waking you might get an idea…
4. What is the one thing you dread to do when writing?
Unconscious theft. When you’re exposed to so much, it’s okay to be influenced, but sometimes you can rip something off wholesale and you the worst thing is you can be halfway through before you notice. Another pain is if you come up with a great and work on something only for someone else to come up with the same idea. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I have seen it happen, and it’s an awful position to be in.
5. Did you have imaginary friends growing up? Tell me about them
I did. It was an imaginary dog called Stripe (named after the Gremlin). The dog was small but not a real breed. It had neon fur, big teeth and a silver mohawk. I used to take him on walks with me, and secretly held his lead so others couldn’t see.
My imaginary friend was my secret.
6. Do you go to conventions? If not why?
I really enjoy going to conventions. Because I go as part of a publishing company I don’t get invited as a guest and therefore have to pay for a pitch etc. This means with all the associated costs I never make my money back, but that’s not the point. It’s real fun to meet old fans and make new ones. Meet up with other horror fans and have a laugh. I usually spend more money than I make, but I just can’t help myself. Artifacts from conventions adorn my writing desk – a unicorn, a mask of a nazi zombie of American Werewolf In London…
The craziest journey to get to a convention was in Dublin during 2016. Myself and Matt Shaw took a bus and ferry. We travelled all day and night, arriving at the convention an hour before it was due to start. We were so tired and then had to endure the Game Of Thrones theme on loop as we were pitched next to their stand. I think we both left that weekend slightly more deranged.
7. How many times did you have to submit your first story before it was accepted?
I never did! I went into self-publishing with my first book. I decided to let the critics guide me through reviews. So far it’s turned out okay. I’ve only subbed to a few other publishers. I had a rejection this year for a short story, and I was okay with that. They had a vision for their book and my story didn’t fit in with it – no problem.
Another publisher moved their submission date without telling me. They brought it forward. It was a real shame as I had set up a writing schedule in date order. I really wanted to sub for the book and was gutted when they suddenly had the book filled. It’s being treated this way that puts me off working with other publishers. But you can’t let one bad experience stop you from working with others; and on the whole they have been pretty good.
8. Ever consider not writing? If so what made you continue?
I enjoy writing, and in some capacity I always will. Sometimes my creative energy will be spent elsewhere; maybe making films or writing music. But I’ve always enjoyed writing and never go anywhere with at least a pen and pad on me.
9. Ever thought about writing in a different category?
Yeah, very much so. I was writing poetry before I started writing horror, and I may go back to that. I love how one line of poetry can disarm you, so much more than a whole passage of prose in a book. It’s like concentrated emotion. Boil everything down. Strip the words back further and further until you’re left with the essence. That’s powerful stuff.
I’ve also considered writing a different way.
I write horror under the name J. R. Park. Why? Because it’s me, but not all of me. It’s only a part of me. To write under my full name Justin Park, it would have to be a full expression of me; unconfined from any particular genre.
I’m currently reading a number of non-horror books and so we’ll see what influence these may have.
10. Any new additions to the family?
Not for me. I live in a shared house, much the same way as I did when I left University. I know at my age most people have settled down with a partner and live with them. Maybe they have a dog or cat. Maybe a child or two. I used to think there was something wrong with me for not living like that. Like I was some kind of failure. Of course that’s nonsense. There’s more than one way to live your life, and this is the way I’m living mine.
11. What is coming up next for you?
All planned book releases are out for the year. I am considering releasing Death Dreams At Christmas – a collection of Christmas horror stories. I love Christmas so it would be nice to get involved in the festive season.
The other thing that I have coming up is the production and release of the Sinister Horror Cards. Based on Top Trumps, it’s an idea I had ever since I started writing. We are halfway through the art production at the moment and they are looking beautiful.
12. Do you do release parties? Do you think they work?
I don’t, so I don’t know if they work. I attended one once, and my Facebook feed got so full I couldn’t keep up. So as a reader and horror fan I didn’t like them, so I won’t do them for my own books. I’ve donated some books as prizes for other’s launch parties, but it’s not something I’d interested in.
I’m sure it works for other people, and good luck to them.
I think I’d rather have a real party. If I could set up an annual horror party that would be fun. Currently there are meet ups like FCON which has a good gathering of authors and readers.
13. Do you have crazy stalker fans? Have you ever had one you wish would go away?
You haven’t made it until you’ve got a stalker.
Thankfully, I haven’t made it yet.
14. Do you still have a “day job” ? If so what do you do?
I do. I work for the Government. I can’t tell you anymore; if I did, I’d have to kill you…
15. What is your process for writing? Do you have a voice in your head?
I usually start with a scene of two. These make pivotal points in the story. Then a write a paragraph describing the story. I expand it to a page with a beginning and end. Then I brainstorm to work out more detail before writing a chapter by chapter plan. Each chapter have notes that last a page and a half. It’s stream of consciousness so it can veer from notes to lines of dialogue to actual prose that gets used in the book. I do this so when I start writing I don’t accidentally write myself in a corner. I have read many books with unnecessary chapters and events that hold no relevance to the plot and I’m left wondering what was the point other than padding. It’s like an author starting writing a bit because they thought it was cool and then got bored, wrapped it up and carried on in a different direction. I decent editor would take those pages out, and it annoys when plots meander with no purpose.
I like my stories to be well thought out from the start. ‘Not a word wasted’ is a comment I’ve received on a couple of times; and that makes me proud.
Anyway… once I’ve got the plan I’ll write out chapter by chapter. Things may change and alter in that process, but I make notes as I go.
Flow is important to me, and although I don’t have a voice in my head, I actually read a lot of my own work back aloud. This helps to get the feel of the flow, and find out if there are any cumbersome sentences that need re-working.
16. Is there a book you want to make a sequel to you haven’t yet?
I’d be tempted to write sequel to many of my books. Punch would be great to have a follow-up as there is a dangling plot thread no one notices that I’d love to tie up – mainly just to point it out, and then everyone will go ‘oh yeah’.
The Exchange has a mighty follow-up swirling around my head. It involves many creatures and weird things. Think occult-style Star Wars.
There’s also an idea for a follow-up to Mad Dog. Most likely called Mad Man, it will take the themes and styles of Mad Dog and push them to their inevitable conclusion.
You can connect with Justin Park here:
Some of Justin Park’s books: