Today I am honored to have J.G. Faherty (click on his picture to go to his Amazon author page) providing a guest post for the blog. I just finished reading his great novel The Burning Time and you can see the review for it here. I have also read Cemetery Club, which review can be seen here. Watch this blog on Monday for a giveaway for e-book copies of The Burning Time. Without further ado, here's J.G. Faherty!
Mythos and Monsters – the Importance of Being Bad
When writing horror, one of the most important parts of any book – possibly the most important, other than the plot – is coming up with a monster or villain who will really capture and hold the reader's attention. In many ways, the monster – the Evil – of the story is more critical than the hero. It has to be bad, it has to be nasty, and it has to be different, yet there needs to be some familiarity as well. That's why vampires and zombies and ghosts remain popular. We want to see new versions of them, but ultimately we also enjoy the familiarity of stereotypes.
When I started work on The Burning Time, I had a basic idea for my antagonist. He was a stranger who'd come to town, an evil man. That was the familiar part, the building block for the character. But I didn't want him to be something typical, like Satan or a vampire or a sorcerer. And that's when I remembered something from a trip I'd take to Sedona, Arizona. The Native American's have a sort of demi-god, Kokopelli, who, depending on the tribe and the legend, can be a fertility god, a Trickster, or an agent of Chaos.
That last one really sounded good. So I did some research and discovered that many people, from Native Americans to Eskimos to tribes from other countries, had a similar being in their legends. And so my monster was borne, an agent of Chaos who brought nothing but death and sorrow to each town he visited.
The next question was, 'why?' There had to be a reason for his actions. My Trickster was not some kind of mindless beast; he had to have an agenda. One that made sense for a being who'd been around as long as the human race.
And that's when I thought, how cool would it be to mix a couple of different mythologies together? Combine the Native American Trickster with the Elder Gods of Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. However, I didn't want the book to be a Lovecraftian tale; I just wanted this to be a part of the story. That's why, when you read it, the word Cthulhu actually only pops up once or twice; there are a few other quick references to some of the Elder Gods and their place of dwelling on the far side of the stars, but for the most part I kept things intentionally vague. Even my monster Asuggath is a combination of several Cthulhulian-type beasts rather than one of Lovecraft's own creatures.
Did my strategy work? I like to think so – early reviews are all saying that the book is a great entry into the Cthulhulian genre. So I guess my evil characters are resonating with people.
And when it comes to horror, that's where it all starts.
JG Faherty is the author of Cemetery Club, Carnival of Fear, The Cold Spot, He Waits, and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Ghosts of Coronado Bay. His latest novel, The Burning Time, comes out Jan. 18. Visit him at www.jgfaherty.com, www.facebook.com/jgfaherty, www.twitter.com/jgfaherty, or www.aboutme.com/jgfaherty.