Friday, September 2, 2011

Interview with MJ Preston

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

I'm 46, married and have been writing since I was a kid. I have always had a fascination with the horror, and feel comfortable picking at the things others might find uncomfortable.

What is it about the paranormal, in windigo's, that fascinates you so much?

Native Culture has a number of stories about their people fearing the Windigo sickness or psychosis. The Windigo is said to be conjured up when a community indulges in cannibalism, there is so little written about this frightening creature and the more I researched, the more I begin to see the story unfold.

What inspired you to write this book?

The story came from a couple places. One of those harkens back to a childhood friend I had who was abducted by a child predator. My friend was found alive, thankfully, but his ordeal was that of torture and they never captured the monster who had abducted him. For me that monster lurking in the shadows was always more terrifying than the creatures I conjured up in my stories. That stranger became the model for which I would fashion one of my main characters after.

Please tell us about your latest release.

True crime meets monster hunting is a way you could put it. There is a dual story about a town that is coming to grips with a number of unspeakable crimes and a native man chasing after the shape changer who killed his grandfather. You'll have to read the book to see how it all relates.

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

Most of the aboriginal names were researched to lend some authenticity to the Chocktee people and a few names are based on people I know. Others just ring true when I say them aloud.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

As mentioned earlier, one of the characters is based on a child predator. Finding my way into the mindset of that particular character was difficult and of course there are limits to what I will write about. I had to work extra hard to avoid generalizing while at the same time knowing that there are limits we must all consider when breaching a difficult subject.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

There are a few characters who popped up in the writing of this book that I became very happy with. One of those characters names was Old Jake Toomey and he really came as a surprise, because he did not appear until later in the novel and as a result I ended up including him in the beginning. In another interview I mentioned that I like Old Jake so much that there may be another novel based on him.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

How I find a character is I draw them. They may start out as a virtual sketch with just a first name, but eventually they begin to live and breath within my subconscious. I don't use lists. Instead I wrote about them in excess. These character building exercises did not make it to the final draft, but were useful in me finding out who they are.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

I don't have any favorites, but one that stirs great emotion in me is that of a quarrel between husband and wife as they come to terms with the death of their child. It is a scene filled with such anguish and heartache. It is also written from the heart as my departed Mother lost one of her children, my brother, at the age of 7 years-old. I was very young, only 3 years-old, but my oldest brother was 8 when it happened. While I did not experience the loss on the day it happened I was able to see first hand how it haunted my Mother to her dying days. No parent should have to bury their child, but it is a horrible reality.

Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?

I have learned that the North American Native People are a treasure trove of fascinating tales and history. I have learned a few things in researching this book and I now feel that we must move to reconcile the mistakes of our ancestors so that we may bring peaceful resolutions to signed treaties. I did not always think this way.

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

I haven't yet, but I hope one day to attend a native pow wow and with their permission take photographs and even involve myself in some of the ceremonies.

Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?

(Devilish smile) I have been told that I have a scowl which can be somewhat intimidating. I picked this up in the army as a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) teaching recruits. This is an attribute that hangs well on my Police Chief David Logan. I suppose there is a little of me in all of the characters, even my nefarious skin-walker, although I have yet to dine on the lower intestinal tract of one of my victims. (Wink)

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I don't know that I suffer from Writers Block in the traditional way where you stare morosely at a piece of paper with nothing to write. I write when the voice awakens in me and when it doesn't I do other things like draw, listen to music or make videos.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

Music plays a large role in my writing experience. I like to listen to it as I write.

Do you write in different genres?

Novels will likely always end up in the horror genre, while short stories are all over the place. Dark humor and short pieces that tap into key emotions are always interesting. I do write serious pieces as well that are non fiction and I have penned a few blogs relating to personal stuff.

Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

No, for me it's all writing.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

The day I stood over my mother's grave and tried to sum up her life in a few short minutes. She had always asked me to write her life story and that was the best I could do.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

In one interview I mentioned beer, but I have a passion for white cake with sickeningly sweet icing. If there is a Birthday cake in the house I rise like a malnourished vampire and descend on it without mercy. I think my eyes actually roll back in my head when I feed.

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

I love Halloween. All year long I am collecting all sorts of nasty things to display on my lawn come October 31st. The kids under the age of 6 usually walk right on by, while the more adventurous ones make it up the driveway past the severed limbs, werewolves, demon babies and chainsaw maniacs to score some candy. Most the parents around my burb think I'm disturbed.

What was the last amazing book you read?

I'm reading Stephen King's UNDER THE DOME, but recently I read Joseph Boyden's THREE DAY ROAD after finishing THE EQUINOX and I'm glad I did. Boyden is an amazing storyteller.

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

Graveyard dirt.

What can readers expect next from you?

I am working on a new novel I call the The 4th Horseman. It is in the horror genre and I'll leave it at that for now.

Where can readers find you on the web?

I have two websites: MJ Preston - The Equinox and The Black Galleries I really would like to encourage people to visit both sites, but more so MJ Preston - The Equinox. There are a good number of videos and lot's of artwork there free for the viewing and if you're interested in getting THE EQUINOX this is an awesome way

to check it out.

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Excerpt from: THE EQUINOX

Chapter 10 - Misery


“I can’t believe he’d be this irresponsible,” Olivia exclaimed.

John was now standing in the doorway to their son’s room. “What?”

Tap. Droplets of blood fell to the hardwood floor rhythmically from the two bandaged fingers on his right hand. The gauze was already soaked, sopping with claret, and every three or four seconds it released a fresh droplet. Tap.

He couldn’t hear the splash of blood: his focus was on his wife, who stared at him defiantly.

“Who are you talking to, Olivia?”


“I specifically told him to clean up his room before he went out, John, and I have had enough of being ignored.” She stared right at her husband – but she didn’t see him.



“You’ve got to talk to him, John. Set him straight.”



“- tell him that he can’t cut corners –”


“Olivia, Tommy is gone. We buried him two days ago,” John croaked.

But she kept going. “-like this. He’s been getting away with too much, John.”


He moved forward and took her by the shoulders. His right hand left a bloody mark on the shoulder of her robe.

“He’s dead, Olivia! You were there! We buried him. Please stop this: I can’t do this alone.”


She fell silent, his words finally breaking through, her face dawning with comprehension – and then she started to scream.

“Stop it!”

John drew up his hand, ready to slap her, an arc of blood spattering on the World Series Pennant that hung above Tommy’s computer desk.

Then she said something that stopped him.

“He came out of me,” she cried. “He always listened to you and loved you more, but he came out of me. I carried him all those months, Johnny. I loved him just as much as you, but he loved you more.”

John Parkins stood frozen, his eyes welling up with tears. Then he dropped his hand in shame and pulled her toward him.

“He loved you too, sweetheart. Every boy loves his mom.”

“I want my baby back, Johnny! I want him home!”

“He’s gone, Olivia. I’m sorry. It’s my fault! I should have taken the day off. It’s all my fault!” he cried. “He’d be alive right now if I had been a good father!”

“He came out of me, he was my baby and I want him back!”

They held each other in the emptiness of their son’s room, drowning in despair. Surrounded by the memories of what was taken from them, little league pictures, baseball trophies, and from all sides pictures of their smiling little boy. Gone forever.


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