This evening in the Library we have Jon Richter, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into their life as an author.
I’m Jon. I spend more time than I’d like pretending to be an accountant but, when I’m allowed out, I’m a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games; basically any way to tell a good (dark) story…I write whenever I can and have recently submitted my second novel for publication – so watch this space for another quirky thriller!
You can find me running around East London in an attempt to fend off a diet of ready meals and gin, spouting nonsense on Twitter @RichterWrites, or you can check out my stuff at www.jon-richter.com.
Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
To my shame, I used to read more as a child than I do now! I remember reading Lord of the Rings when I was ten and thinking it was the greatest thing ever created… I became very into fantasy at the time, and moved onto Discworld and Stephen Donaldson, as well as having a real addiction to the ‘choose your own adventure’ books (remember those??)
These days I still love reading, but there is less time and more distractions (although some of these are very good too… I think the quality of TV is at an all-time high). I’m more widely-read these days too, so although I do still love fantasy, I also adore psychological thrillers, science fiction, horror, graphic novels… the list goes on! As it says in my bio, any way to tell a good story…
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
My debut thriller, Deadly Burial, was published by HarperCollins earlier this year on their HQ Digital label.
Which genre do you write in and why?
I write thrillers, as well as disturbing short stories that at times veer into full-blown horror territory. I really don’t know why I like ‘sinister stuff’ – I can’t remember a time when I didn’t like dark tales, so you can probably blame too much exposure to video games and The X-Files as a child! If I had to get really ‘deep’ with my answer, I’d say a fear of and fascination with death is the one thing that all humans truly have in common, and I am drawn to works that explore this shared affliction.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
I love Iain Banks (and his sci-fi alter ego), and I also love Lee Child; both have a unique voice and an absolute mastery of plotting. I also love Stephen King, and stand in awe of the shadow he has cast across popular culture for the last four decades. The works of HP Lovecraft are another incredible source of ideas and chills.
In all honesty though, I am probably more influenced by psychological horror in pop culture than by any great literary works… I love David Lynch and Twin Peaks (the new series is a work of genius), but the absolute pinnacle of the genre for me is the video game Silent Hill 2 on the Playstation 2. It is a source of constant frustration to me that video games don’t utilise their uniquely interactive and immersive medium to create more truly affecting emotional stories… but this game stands as a testament to what the medium can achieve.
It is a masterful tale of dread, tragedy and grief that charts a man’s search for his dead wife after she sends him a letter… and could be best described as a Japanese take on what David Lynch might make if he directed a Stephen King adaptation. I would urge everyone, whether you consider yourself a ‘gamer’ or not, to add this masterpiece to your bucket list!!
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
I am British and used to travel to seaside resorts every year for our family holiday, as we couldn’t afford trips overseas. Salvation Island, the fictional setting of my debut novel, was inspired by these crumbling resorts, these faded and melancholic places that felt more like graveyards than carnivals. I think that faded glory, quiet dignity in the face of increasing global irrelevance, sums up our nation perfectly.
Of course, as a Brit born in the 80’s, I was also brought up on a lot of American TV, including WWE wrestling… another key source of inspiration for the book!
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
A lot of writers do a great job of writing ‘a little and often’. I really struggle with this – I like to have a whole day set aside with nothing to do but write. The plus side of this approach is that on these days I can churn out a very large amount at a quality I am really happy with… but the downside is of course trying to somehow fit these days into a schedule that includes a full time job, housework, keeping in touch with family and friends… it genuinely is a constant, guilt-ridden battle and requires a lot of sacrifice to carve out the time.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
I like to get cracking in the morning while my brain is fresh… although not before a couple of cups of coffee to get me going!!
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
The best thing is a genuine sense of having fulfilled a lifelong dream… although I may never publish another book, or write anything that I am even happy to submit, I can at least savour the enormous satisfaction of having ‘done it’ – I wrote something that was good, and someone wanted to publish it, and some people have read it and been kind enough to tell me they enjoyed it!
The worst thing, partly a reflection of my own worst traits I fear, is the sudden sense of competitiveness with other writers… I am thrilled for my label-mates that have had much more success than me, but I do find myself envious at times of their multiple-book deals and impressive sales figures… so to turn that negative into a positive, I need to make sure that the next book is even better!
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
I was a complete social media-phobe before my book was published, and still find it a distraction… but if you can avoid devoting too much time to it, it can be very useful and a great source of information and ideas. I really like Twitter because of its inherently ‘bite-sized’ format… and because it provides me with an endless supply of nostalgic Twin Peaks GIFs…
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
I would be an accountant, wishing he was an author.
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
The Secret History Of Twin Peaks arrived yesterday, a beautiful hardback ‘dossier’ of case notes and photographs… I absolutely cannot wait to get started on it, although it is such a gorgeous artifact that I may have to handle it with gloves! So I’d try to plough through as much of that as I could before the zombies made it through the front door.
Please tell us what you are working on, or your latest published work.
My debut novel, Deadly Burial, is a gripping thriller about a murdered professional wrestler. Detective Chris Sigurdsson visits the sinister and decaying island of Salvation in an attempt to work out which of Vic Valiant’s many larger-than-life enemies committed the crime… and finds himself drawn into a web of violence and deceit. It’s available now for your Kindle or e-reader via http://amzn.to/2uYIkc7