Saturday, April 21, 2012

Exploring the Darkness with James A. Moore

When James A. Moore handed me a copy of his book SMILE NO MORE I treated it every other book that a fellow writer hands me. I tossed it in my passenger seat to read first paragraph when I got home, expecting that to be the last time I ever opened the book. I even e-mailed him later to tell him so.

You see, I'm a difficult reader to please. Writers get one paragraph to grab me. It's like my friend James Tuck said at Connooga this year, "Life's to short to waste reading shitty books."

But let's get this straight. SMILE NO MORE wouldn't let me put it down. Trust me. I tried. It grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

And that's why you need to get to know James A. Moore.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Currently I'm working on a couple of projects. First, I'm writing away on BLOODSTAINED WONDERLAND. Christopher Golden and yours truly teamed up a while back to write BLOODSTAINED OZ and have been working on the two sequels for a while now. WONDERLAND is almost finished on the first draft. I'm also currently working on a trilogy of dark fantasy novels, tentatively called the SEVEN FORGES trilogy and, of course on a few YA titles and on a sequel to DEEPER and well, really, I'm working on a lot of stuff. I like to keep busy.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

I try hard NOT to revisit too much, actually. But I'd have to say one of my favorite recurring themes is simply violent upheaval. I love watching what happens when a seemingly ordered world is altered without warning.

What would be your dream project?

I would dearly love to do a regular horror comic or a dark hero comic book. I'm very, very fond of the old supernatural titles that Marvel and DC comics did and would love to explore those settings. For DC I'd love to write a CREEPER comic. Yeah. I'm a comic book geek.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

All of them. I'd love to write them all again. Not because I could make them better so much as I'd simply make them different. The thing is, I made myself a promise a while back to leave my older projects alone. i think there's always a temptation to rewrite everything, you know? And I promised myself that I wouldn't because I think that's cheating. Bloodletting Books is currently reissuing all of my books with the recurring character Jonathan Crowley, and I decided to let them come out as is, with the exception of minor edits for grammatical correction, because as awkward and as clumsy as some of the writing seems to me now, it was what I wanted to say when I wrote them. Believe me, there are parts of UNDER THE OVERTREE that I would gleefully rewrite until they were unrecognizable, but that's not fair, I think. Han shot first and I don't want to alter that until suddenly Greedo is the trigger happy one.

What inspires you to write?

I absolutely love writing. I love telling stories. On a cynical day I might tell you that the need to pay my bills inspires my writing, but the truth is I'd do even if I never got paid. It's how I try to make sense of the world, I guess. It's also just a lot of fun.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

All of them. Every last one that I've read. Some for better, some for worse, but I think all of them have their impact. That said, the ones I enjoy the most and who I suspect influence me the most are half the writers in comics over the last several decades, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Christopher Golden, Stephen King, F.Paul Wilson, Edgar Allan Poe, Fritz Leiber, Robert Aspirin, Richard Mattheson, Harlan Ellison, Peter Straub, Isaac Asimov, Clifford D. Simak, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander and a few dozen more. Seriously. I'm a voracious reader.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

I'm for the art part of the equation. If writing were a science, anyone could apply that science and make a great novel. Science is a direct and quantifiable thing. Writing is not. You have storytellers, who can capture you with the tale they tell and make you empathize with their characters and you have wordsmiths who can mesmerize with the skillful application of words in exactly the right poetic order, and I don't think either of those is something you can learn in a book or even from a teacher. You can learn formats, yes, but the actual act of creating something with your writing? That's art. At least it is for me. I am trying to master that art, like every other writer out there. Personally, i think I have a long ways to go before I can match up with some of the greats, but I also tend to think I've at least got a little rudimentary talent.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I'm working in a couple of really cool anthologies for IDW, including V WARS, edited by Jonathan Maberry, and the Zombies Versus Robots anthology THIS MEANS WAR. I think both of those are going to be a lot of fun. Also, i'm about to release the vast majority of my novels in e-book formats over the course of the next year, which means that some of my books that have only been available in rather expensive limited editions are about to be available at an affordable price for the first time. That makes me very happy. Chief among them are CHERRY HILL and SMILE NO MORE, neither of which have ever been available in a mass market format. And of course, people can get regular updates at my website: