An Interview with Justin Boote

Justin Boote has been writing for almost Ten years, and has carved out a niche for himself in the “Gross out Horror,” market he has many, many short stories out there and has recently publish a novella Badass.

1.       What made you decide to focus on Horror and what do you think are the secrets of writing great horror.  Have you ever thought of writing in other genera? I’ll bet you could write a great romance story?

I write horror for the simple fact I’ve loved the genre since I can remember. I saw Salem’s Lot on T.V. when I was about 11 and, apart from being terrified, I was pleasantly terrified. I loved that feeling! I’ve been looking for that same buzz ever since. Although there are many subgenres of horror, for me the best horror stories are those that create a build-up to the coming horrors—the atmosphere and sense of great, impending terror approaching. The sense that you know something terrible is coming and the main character/s either aren’t aware of it or make foolish decisions that lead them to it.

Apart from horror I do occasionally write suspense, non-speculative stories that focus more on the person rather than an actual supernatural event. And romance is a big NO! Never written a love scene and never will (unless someone dies during the process!!)

2.      There is an element of comic relief in all of your work. Why do think that is? Do you think humour makes horror more or less terrifying? Does it make it more real?

I think humour works sometimes just to lighten the tension a little. You can’t have the reader holding their breath all throughout the story! If done well, it can put the reader off their guard also. Just as they’re smiling at the humorous scene, you throw the horror back at them again. A good horror story should be like a roller-coaster ride; ups and downs, letting the reader take a breath before the next plunge.

3.       Place plays a huge part in your work with most of it being set in and around the fens. Why is place important and how do you manage to put that sense of Norfolk/Cambridgeshire/Lincolnshire into all of your work? Also I know you have haven’t lived there for many years. Do you think the memory is more important than the reality?

I was born in Great Yarmouth in East Anglia in a small village and yes, all my stories are based on the surrounding villages. Being a typical farming county, the whole area is interspersed with woodland, rivers and farms which make for great locations. When I started writing, these were the areas I knew best so used them accordingly. I then had the idea of setting every story in the same places automatically using my fictitious mental hospital Northgate Hospital for the Mentally Impaired as a background. I thought one day I may write a novel bringing all these characters together. Eventually, I did!

I’ve lived in Barcelona for 25 years now but remember my childhood around those villages like yesterday which just makes life easier when imagining settings. As I said I can use the town itself, the river, woods, farmland, whatever; it’s all there.

4.       Now that you live in Barcelona, do you think that you might set a story there? I can imagine Barcelona being quite a creepy place at times. I’d love to read your wicked take on that city and its inhabitants.

Living in a dense city like Barcelona can be scary on its own! Especially if one is used to tranquil, scenic village life. Even so, a story set in Barcelona or any city has never occurred to me yet. I recently wrote an apocalyptic novella but that was set in my little villages as well. I guess I’m just waiting for the right story and circumstances to come along. Or because I usually write short stories, it’s easier to do so in a more intimate setting like a village.

5.       You once told me, “Love is temporary, Fear is forever.” What do really mean by that and if it is true, why are we not constantly scared out of our minds? This world is a scary place.

Ah yes, ‘Love Wanes, Fear is Forever’-the title of my collection! This phrase was actually spoken by a character in a story, then I got to thinking about it. My thinking behind this concept is based largely on my own fears; be it bugs, spiders, heights, flying, horses…I was scared of them as a kid, I still am now, and always will be, although perhaps scared isn’t the right word at least as far as creepy-crawlies go! Uncomfortable perhaps, or just downright disgusted in some cases! And fear is present always, it will never go away. I think it was Lovecraft who said, ‘the greatest emotion is fear, and the biggest fear is of the unknown.’ It may come in many guises; blatant as in physical fears like my own, or psychological; the fear of losing one’s job, home, wife/husband/loved one, dying, illness. The media as we know uses this to great effect as fear sells. And in a way, we do live in constant fear, but maybe it’s rooted deep in our subconscious, hidden away. We teach ourselves to hide it, yet it’s always there. We watch the news to see who is worse off than ourselves and thus, feel better and safer about it.

An argument can be made that love equals all the above but the majority don’t spend the day smiling and laughing because they are in love; they spend it worrying and fretting for the most part about the reasons given above. Especially now.

6.       What motivates you to write? Have you any rituals you go through while writing? What advice would you give to any one starting to write?

What motivates me to write? The simple answer of course is that I enjoy creating scary or horrifying scenarios, and thus scaring others. I love getting an idea suddenly and thinking, ‘wow, now that could be good!’ but the truth is I do it as a simple hobby. I don’t watch T.V. much so this is an enjoyable way of passing the time. I’ve always loved reading so I guess it was inevitable that at some point, the idea of writing my own stories would come along. As for rituals, no. When I’m fully awake, have done the social media thing, answered any e-mails, got enough coffee inside me, then I’ll turn to the current work in progress. Usually I’ll read a couple of stories from our writer’s forum first also to get in ‘writer’s mood’, then just get on with it!

Advice for new writers, there is much. Don’t start thinking you’re going to write great stories straight away—it takes time to develop one’s voice. One thing I did a lot of at first and always regretted it was comparing myself to other, famous writers, believing I could write just as good as them. Don’t; you won’t. At least not to begin with! And be prepared to face criticism when you tentatively start showing your work to the rest of the world. You need a very thick skin in this business, you can’t please everyone so don’t worry when someone says they don’t like your story. It happens to the best.

But most important, I guess, is write for yourself, first, for your own pleasure, not for others, or trying to write stories that fit the current trend and are more marketable. That comes later. Listen and learn, read a lot, write a lot. Join a writing group. I wouldn’t have written half my stories if it wasn’t for the group I’m in; having a weekly deadline to post stories gave me added motivation when it wasn’t there, put me in a routine of writing daily, if only for twenty minutes.

7.       What are you up to next with your writing? You are a master of the short story, will try longer formats or do you feel you have found your niche? Where can we get hold of your work? Any exciting projects we should know about? 

At the moment I’m just continuing to throw out the short stories and edit a couple of novelettes for submitting somewhere. If a longer story idea comes along, I’ll happily tackle it, but I don’t think there’ll be any more novels for a while. But then, who knows? Maybe I’ll wake up with a great idea tomorrow for a novel! That’s the wonder of writing; one never knows when and how the next idea will pop up.

On August 1st, my first collection of stories is published on Amazon, titled, coincidentally ‘Love Wanes, Fear is Forever’! It’s a collection of 4 drabble trilogies and 12 short stories. I’ve written over 150 stories by now so I should have done this a long time ago! Probably, in 6 months time, I shall start preparing the next. Hopefully soon, the first of the three novellas will be ready for publication so that would be very good and might prompt me into trying to write more.

No website yet, but I can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and my Amazon author page.

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