Saturday, January 4, 2020

John Hitchom publishes "The Ravens" Long After His Death! Seriously!


Dear Readers:

Are you ready? I think this is a first for my blog. Why? I am interviewing an author who died. Yep! That was not a typo by me. You're going to have to read the interview to find out more about this mysterious author, John Hitchom, and his book "The Ravens." And, no, this isn't "Mindfreak."

ABOUT THE BOOK

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“Joe felt the raven’s gaze penetrate his own, drilling deep into the back of his skull, planting something … it held him there, kept him close, would not let him go. He did not want to go, he felt no urge to rush home, to leave. He felt safe in the creature’s grasp, secure. Until the raven spoke into his mind.”

The village was perfect for writer Paul Darrington - quaint, out of the way, a place to retreat from the horror of his wife’s death, a place to bring up his son and move on with his life, his writing, his career.

But Paul soon discovers the place has a dark and malevolent past – a past shadowed in jealousy, murder and witchcraft, a past that will not remain dead and buried.
 
A electrifying tale of jealousy and revenge, a gory, glorious story that will exhilarate lovers of horror fiction. Only if you dare.


 
Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.
This is a little unusual. You see, I am not John Hitchom. John Hitchom is, in fact, dead and has been for some time.

But like George Stark from Stephen King's classic horror novel THE DARK HALF, John Hitchom has risen from the dead and is Hell-bent on recovering the career his departed soul feels so deprived of!

Let me explain...

One day in 2017, I came home from work and found my wife sitting at the kitchen table with a pile of boxes in front of her. The boxes were full of paper – notebooks, scraps, journals, but most notably a series of short stories and several longer works that had not seen the light of day since the mid-1990s.

They had belonged to a recently deceased and distant relative of mine, discovered packed away in a back bedroom gathering dust and silverfish. The writing itself was the work of John Hitchom, my relative’s only son, whom himself had died unexpectedly in 1999.

Some of the short stories were accompanied by rejection letters, and some were accompanied by tatty copies of student magazines and fanzines from the period, indicating that during John’s life, his works had seen a modicum of publishing success if not recognition.

In amongst the writings, were three novel-length stories.
What inspired you to author this book?
This book - THE RAVENS - was the last one he wrote from what I can gather (although there are notes and a partially completed work called DARK HARVEST).

THE RAVENS is quite a graphic and gory horror story focused on the culture clash between generations, teenage coming of age struggles, and a back story that reaches into witchcraft and Gothic horror for it's inspiration.

Against this backdrop, the writer who forms the protagonist struggles with mental health issues, alcoholism and the recent death of his wife (which may or may not be his fault). I wonder whether some of Paul Darrington's struggles, and even those of the young people caught up in the horror, reflect those of John himself in his last few years...
 
 
 
 
Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?
I designed the book cover myself having read the book. I wanted something that was refined and to the point but which reflected the weaving nature of the story fully within. Witchcraft, Satanism, elements of voodoo, murder, a forgotten, buried history. The black denotes the black nature of the story, both the horror that the characters experience and the mental vortex the protagonist falls into.
Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?
It is obvious reading THE RAVENS and his other works that John Hitchom had read and been inspired by writers of the time such as Stephen King and James Herbert amongst others and had sought to emulate some of their style and exploration of the uncanny, the sinister and the outright horrifying. His work is mostly horror or fantasy or mystery - or a combination of all three - and were ideally suited to the 1980s and 1990s horror boom when they were written.

Connoisseurs of the horror genre will spot influences from films as well as books - Halloween and the slew of slash and scare movies it inspired; Wes Craven's Nightmare on Elm Street films, the late 70s video nasty obsession with voodoo zombies.
What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?
My struggles, as the "executor" of this literary estate, was really making sure that the works were preserved and that they were seen. I loved horror as a teenager growing up in the 1980s and really saw merit in publishing John's work, even if it was self-published.

The writing remains - by and large - unchanged from what John wrote in the early 1990s when this story was first laid out. The only adjustments I have made have been to correct grammar and typos and the subtly refine some elements of the story.

The challenge after that was learning the basics of self-publishing via Amazon. I'm quite technically capable though due to the various jobs I've had over the years so the learning process was smooth enough.
Tell your readers about your book.
THE RAVENS is a story of witchcraft, murder, and revenge set in a small Yorkshire village in the early 1990s. If you're a fan of Stephen King, James Herbert, Edgar Allen Poe, Dean Koontz and those authors who dominated horror fiction in the 80s and 90s then you'll love this novel.

“Joe felt the raven’s gaze penetrate his own, drilling deep into the back of his skull, planting something … it held him there, kept him close, would not let him go. He did not want to go, he felt no urge to rush home, to leave. He felt safe in the creature’s grasp, secure. Until the raven spoke into his mind.”

The village was perfect for writer Paul Darrington - quaint, out of the way, a place to retreat from the horror of his wife’s death, a place to bring up his son and move on with his life, his writing, his career.

But Paul soon discovers the place has a dark and malevolent past – a past shadowed in jealousy, murder and witchcraft, a past that will not remain dead and buried. An electrifying tale of jealousy and revenge, a gory, glorious story that will exhilarate lovers of horror fiction.
Who is your target audience, and why?
THE RAVENS appeals to those a wide audience of horror fiction fans, new and old. I think newer fans of horror, younger fans who are too old for teen horror fiction and maybe venturing into their first adult horror novels will enjoy it, and identify with some of the characters in the story.

But, as I've said above, fans of older horror fiction will get a kick out of seeing the kind of horror novel that hasn't been around for many years now.

The cinematic revival in horror stories from twenty or thirty years ago, seen with things like the movie version of IT and Pet Sematary and the boom in horror more generally in the last ten years or so - all of this shows there's an audience there.
 
 
What do you consider your greatest success in life?
 
I think John's success is getting his stories finished. It's a tragedy they weren't more widely seen in his lifetime. His stories live within their own world, their own universe, much like Stephen King's do. The two completed novels (as yet unpublished) really do play on this idea that what is happening in these stories is linked somehow - John alludes to the locations of each story collectively as the Bad Places and gives some explanation of this in THE RAVENS.

But you'll have to wait for the other two books to be published to get the bigger picture.

If I can get his work seen, shared, enjoyed - that will be the measure of my own personal success with it.
 
What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?
 
I think the storytelling itself, the plot, is original. Stylistically they stand out as well.

I suppose the biggest difference is the circumstances in which these have reached the public. It's a unique story in itself, albeit a sad one. I hope that people can take John Hitchom's work on board and enjoy it though, even if he's been gone over 30 years.
 



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