Sunday, December 22, 2013

Interview with James O. Cannon.

Full Name:
James O. Cannon

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Most of them call me Jimmy, my wife calls me Jamie, and a few good friends from the Hood of the ATL call me Jimbeazky.
Alright, Jimmy and Jamie I understand.  But “Jimbeazky”?  What’s up with that?
Hahaha, there’s a story there.  I was working in a call center for Macy’s and made a good friend with someone in Atlanta.  She was a trip (and very… I can’t think of a better word than Ghetto.  I mean that in the best possible way, of course).  I would call her “Gangsterlicious” and after a time, she started calling me Jimbeazky.
Oh, well that makes perfect sense now.

Clearwater, Florida

Current hometown:
Largo, Florida… yeah, I know.  It still sucks.
Haven’t been to Largo.  Closest I’ve ever been is Orlando.  What’s so bad about Largo?  I checked it out on Google and it looks pretty nice.   Walking distance from any number of beaches.   What’s not to like?
I suppose the trouble is that I’m not all that fond of Florida.  It’s just so flippin’ hot here all the time.
Tell you what, we’ll trade places from November through May.  Better bring a shovel.

Favorite city and why?
I’d have to say that my favorite city is probably Gunnison, CO.  It is the post beautiful place on the planet.  There are mountains all around, the air is fresh and clean.  I’ve never felt more inspired than up there.
What were you doing in Gunnison?
My wife’s grandfather had a summer home up there for years.  We visited once and I’ve been wanting to back ever since.

Birthday / Age:
I was born December 1st, 1989.  I suppose that means I’ll be 24 by the time this gets read.
Yeah, I fell a bit behind on my interview homework, but at least you won’t be 25.  Not that there’s anything wrong with being twenty-five.  Twenty-five was a pretty good year for me from what I can remember.
Haha, it is.  I guess birthdays just lose their luster after 21.
Nah, 25 can be a pretty good one, but after that you just reckon the decades.

How would you describe yourself physically?
I look and walk like a fat Shaggy.  Needless to say, I no longer walk my dog in the day.
That’s great!  Now if only you rode around in a van with a jock, an airhead and a closet-hot nerd you’d be onto something!
Ohhh, the stories I’d write.
I imagine you’d probably write a lot of mysteries, but the endings would probably be kind of predictable.   And to think that the caretaker probably would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you crazy kids!

How would someone else describe you physically?
Much the same as I describe myself, I suppose.  I had a girlfriend in high school whose mother thought I was retarded because of how I walk.  It’s how she got away with dating me.
Like, as a charity kind of thing?  Well, take it however you can get it I always say.
I guess so, it’s weird in high school.  A lot of girls aren’t “allowed to date”.
I grew up in the 80s.   Everyone was allowed to date.  Some parents would even make it a point to make scarce so you could “have the house to yourselves.”
Wow… I wish I’d grown up in the 80’s.  In the early 2000’s there were over-protective parents everywhere, putting an end to every teenage boy’s dreams.
It’s because they remembered the 70s.  Everyone was fucking everyone else.  That’s why they were parents of high school aged kids in the early 2000s.  I remember in 1995 when I was working at a Taco Bell, a female co-worker asked if I wanted to hang out at her house after work.  Her parents had a family room that was a completely separate part of the house, connected by a short corridor so we had the place all to ourselves for the night.  That was a pretty awesome night.

The first thing people notice about you is…
My voice.  I’ve never understood why, but there’s something about my voice that people love.  I worked in various customer service jobs and you’ve got no idea how much a guy can get hit on in a place like that.
You should do your own audio books.  I can help you produce them if you can get relatively clean raw reads recorded.
I think that will be something big in my future career.  Fingers crossed.

Sexual orientation?
Heterosexual.  Absolutely no doubt about it.  There’s a story there.  When you get smashed with a good friend that you know is gay, it’s good to know ahead of time that he has a crush on you.
I’ve never had a problem with the gays.  Sure I’m a bit of a catch since I’m often considered kind of bear-ish but it’s never been a major problem.  As long as the hugs take place over the waistline and the kisses are on the cheek then it’s all good in West Hollywood.
I agree there, hahaha.  Bad experience and all that.  No opinion changes about the whole thing in general.  I still proudly support equality.
As well you should.  Life’s too short and the planet’s too small to live any other way.

Religion, if any?
Christian, though I fear that the name of that religion will draw a few scoffs.  I believe it, enough said.  If nothing else, Christian lore is one of the absolute best launching platforms for horror.  (The Exorcist??)  I spent a lot of time with a traditional grove of Wicca students as a student, so I have a vast respect all beliefs, even for the most hateful of atheists.
Even though I’m an antitheist, I’m not one to scoff.  It’s a decent philosophy that’s simply incompatible with the philosophical evolution of our species in modern times.  As a “How To Make Friends And Influence People” from a thousand years ago you could do worse.  As long as you’re not delusional enough to think that your beliefs should be enacted into laws for other people to abide by then God bless and good speed.  Problem is, it’s never that simple.  If God, the all powerful creator of everyone and everything, didn’t want there to be homosexuals, he wouldn’t make them.   If he didn’t want humans to be able to terminate pregnancies, we wouldn’t be able to.  The concept that an invisible all powerful being would create the entire universe just so our species could inhabit an almost infinitesimally small mote of matter that’s not even in the center of it all is so small-minded that it makes my brain hurt.  So I guess I am scoffing just a bit, but maybe more of an eye-roll.
Funny thing is that most of what’s negative about Christianity isn’t even in the bible.  A Christian stance on homosexuality won’t work in the world.  There’s actually a bible verse that tells Christians that we are not equipped to make judgments on the world.  We can judge only other Christians to help them get back on the right path.  Basically, (not trying to get into a serious religious discussion) a good Christian will never judge you or tell you how to live your life.  If you are a Christian, you have the Bible (more or less a guidebook on how to live a moral life for God).  You’ll never catch me judging the masses on my soapbox.  I accept everyone for who they are.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
Yeah, I’m a bit superstitious, I guess.  I don’t walk under ladders, open umbrellas indoors, and whenever I spill salt, I throw a bit over my shoulder.  That second question isn’t fair.  Yes, I have phobias… I am terrified of sharks.  I’ve never been bitten, but I can’t even go deeper than my ankles in the ocean because I start shaking.
I used to have a lot of superstitions, but then I challenged most of them and overcame them.  Except for Friday the 13th.  I don’t even like to leave the house on Friday the 13th if I can help it.  Then again, I don’t like leaving the house in general, so I guess I just like leaving the house on Friday the 13th that much less.
I also only pick up pennies if they’re heads up.  Good luck is better than bad and it’s only a penny either way.  But I’ll pick up a nickel either way because, fuck it, free money!
As for the second part of the question, I think it’s entirely fair.
It’s an interview, and sometimes it leads to an interesting answer.
You wouldn’t believe the dead flat answers I sometimes get in response to the first pass survey.  At least you’re giving me some decent material to work with.
I think that anyone that’s ever seen Jaws is scared of sharks.  That film is terrifying and terribly effective.  Even though, realistically, you’re more likely to die from a cow attack than you are a shark attack.  That’s how effective that movie is.
Yeah… It was Deep Blue Sea that instilled the initial fear, I think.   Let’s just say I legit peed myself at the beach when I cut my foot on a shell in the water that was chest high. Haven't been more than ankle deep since.
You’re not missing out on much.

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
Smoke?  Drink?  Bad habits?  I am a writer, you know.  To give a straight forward answer, the best I can do is “Occasionally”.
That’s a fair answer as far as answers go.
As a follow-up question, I’d like to discuss the stereotype that the majority of authors are alcoholics or drug addicts or some other kind of crazy.  Do you think that the stereotype holds true?  If so, why?  Do you think that some people need chemicals to reach the critical velocity to create?  Is substance use and sometimes abuse a job requirement?
Yes, no, no.  My reasoning is simple.  We’re crazy people that are wired to make other people feel crazy.  Drinking is how we slow our brains enough to process our thoughts and develop our stories.  I’m an ex-smoker, but it used to help me focus.  That was all I ever needed, but I’ve had my share of drugs in the “other” category (nothing too hardcore, mind you) and I got off it quick.   Anything besides drinking and smoking is just getting high.  It’ll help with productivity, but it won’t help you be a better writer.

Current occupation / Dream job:
I would love nothing more than to make a living off of my writing and be a stay-at-home dad with my kids.  That’s my dream and my goal.
Keep your eye on the prize and keep writing and you’ll get there someday.
Eyes are both wide open.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Besides writing, I spend time with my kids playing or watching movies.  My wife and I will occasionally spend some time together, but that's usually “writing time”.  Oh, I think I got to play some video games a few months ago, too.
On the rare occasion that you play video games what games do you like to play?
Fantasy or Horror games and the occasional bash at Call of Duty.  Usually I play a game in the same genre I’m writing.  It helps the creative process, I think.
That’s an interesting approach.   I do the same thing with music.  Kind of a “set the mood” kind of thing.
Exactly!  If I know that I need to write an action scene, bring on the heavy metal, hardcore, or dubstep (depending on genre).  Love it.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Take my crossbow pistol and all my neighbor’s guns with my family and find an old fort or prison.  Survive.
You own a crossbow pistol?  Any good with it?
Getting better every day.  My wife also has a hunting bow (50 pound draw weight compound) that I get to play with on occasion.

Weapon of choice:
Crossbow pistol

Do you have any special skills?
Aside from my writing, I cook some pretty bitchin’ chili and a mean cheeseburger.
I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m down your way.  I do love myself a solid chili cheeseburger.
Oh yes.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
Nope, I started my family young instead.  My son was born when I was 17, my wife and I married at 19, our daughter was born at 20, and here we are, trudging through life at 24, planning our next (and final) child.
Three’s a charm.
Gonna get your pipes cut to prevent any future accidental “love children”?
Quite possible.  Hahaha, that’s a mutual decision that will be reached at a future date.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
Oh, God… Loki the cat (A smug little bastard, he is), Harvest the cat, Smokey the cat, and my good friend Stanley.  He’s a dog.  He likes to fart on the cats and eat their food.  I like him.

What is your favorite animal?
Um… a Griffin… No, I would have to say that it’s the monkey.  I don’t care what kind of monkey, they’re just so fun to watch.
You can totally go with a Griffin if you want to.
I think if I’m ever asked again I’m going to change my answer to Displacer Beast.
Love it, hahaha!

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
None to speak of… except, perhaps, people who bring their relationship problems to social media to seek pity and attention.
Well, that’s what some people use their social media for.   That’s the positive/negative thing about it.   Someone wants to post a lot of pics of their pets or their kids or them making out with their significant other you can always take them out of your News Feed.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
Oh, there is NOTHING like a good pizza.  Little Italy, here in St. Petersburg is amazing.  I loathe stir-fry and water chestnuts.  I always have…
I like how water chestnuts don’t taste like anything but they make most Chinese food better.  A lot better than the celery they put in chow mein.  I don’t know what that starchy gloop is that serves for sauce in chow mein but it’s my least favorite thing that they serve at every Chinese food restaurant.
Hahaha, I always shoot for the dumplings.  Nothing like good steamed dumplings.
***Oh man!  I love me some dumplings!
Chinese, German, Southern, or Northern… doesn’t matter. I just love them.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”  Don’t ask why, because I have no idea.  It’s always been my favorite quote.  Maybe because it ties Poe to Alice in my mind?

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
My wife.  She, quite literally, saved my life.
Sounds like there’s a story behind that one.  Care to elaborate?
Well, I was on a bad track. Heavy drugs and drinking are kind of a family trait. She got me to keep my drinking light and quit smoking. She makes me smile every day and that’s enough of a high to last lifetime.
D’aw!  You’re making my cavities ache!

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Spastic Colitis.  If you don’t know what it is, don’t ask.  It’s painful.  I would prefer to go through my real-life Weeds (the tv show) experience again than ever have another flare up.
I just spent the last four or five days with a stomach virus, and I know that that doesn’t even touch Colitis but at least I can sympathize.  I swear I lost at least five pounds of water weight as my body bloated trying to wash out whatever evil decided to try to vacation in my intestines.
Funny story…
I had a room-mate that decided he wanted to come out on the road with me when I was working as a traveling horror-genre merchandise salesman at conventions.  I decided to give him a shot with an upcoming show I had planned in Indianapolis.  It’s about a fourteen hour drive from where we were in Rhode Island.  We stopped at a convenience store to get snacks and drinks for the road and he stocked up on Smartfood cheese popcorn and cheesy poofs.  I raised an eyebrow at his purchases and commented, “You sure about that, boss?  I thought you weren’t supposed to eat that kind of stuff.  It’s a long drive and a long work weekend ahead of us.”  He said he was sure so I just shrugged it off.  He ate both bags of processed carbs on the way out to Indy, topping it off with rest-stop fast food burgers and fries, and spent the whole weekend complaining about how bloated and uncomfortable he was.  Nonstop.  I get it.  You’re uncomfortable.   But unless you want me to stomp on your stomach to help things along there’s nothing I can do, so suck it up, buttercup.  He decides to take a laxative… before the fourteen hour ride back.   And God bless his big fat-laced heart he almost made it.   Until about an hour away from home when he had to pull the van over and make a mad dash for the treeline, trying to hold his ass cheeks shut until he painted the seat of the sweatpants he had borrowed from me with about a gallon of hot wet diarrhea.  He spent about a half hour hunched over leaning against a tree letting four days of fast food and alcohol make its less than graceful way out of him in a shit tsunami.   The moral of the story?   If you have colitis, don’t fill up on junk food before a fourteen hour drive and a three-day work weekend.   Maybe opt for some fruit instead.
Hahahahahahahahaha!   Oh, God, I’m dying!   Valuable lesson indeed, good sir.  I’ve got nothing to compare.  When I was diagnosed, I thought I was dying.  Hot doctor lady had to shove her fingers up my ass to make sure nothing was cut, swollen, or otherwise wrong in any way.  My wife was sitting right beside me. There was no “playing it cool”.
On the rare occasion that someone has to put their fingers in my asshole I find that it’s easiest to just try to relax and go to that special place in your head where you’re not having someone finger-fuck your brown eye.
I’ll have to remember that for next time.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Yes and no.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Yes. I was a dick.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Selflessly fed the homeless.
Well, you did get that little self-esteem boost from doing something altruistic, but all things considered, good on ya, chum!
Hahaha, it was fun and I didn’t ask for anything in return.  Just helping those ladies and gents get some food in em’ made my year.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Gotten high on painkillers at my old job.  My customer service scores were AMAZING that day.
Were they prescribed or “recreational”?
Hahaha, both in a way.  I thought it was a tylenol, but it was a higher dosage of vicodin that my wife had been prescribed after her gallbladder was removed.  God only knows how long they had been in that bottle.  Accidently took two of those bad boys.

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
The nearest child molester or rapist.  Because… I’m passionate about these things.

What do you do?
I write novels.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I started writing short stories in the fifth grade.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Unless you’re ready to take all of the rejection the planet has to offer and live a poor, starving existence, don’t be a writer.  If you want to be the next Stephen King or George R.R. Martin, please, don’t become a writer. BUT, if you can’t stop. If you find yourself writing stories all the time and can’t do anything else… welcome to the club.
Great advice.
Whenever anyone asks me what my advice is for aspiring authors, I say… don’t.
It’s one of the most competitive things I’ve ever tried to do and there’s relatively little reward for all of your time and effort and guys like Stephen King and J. K. Rowling essentially won the lottery, and then won another lottery that only other lottery winners were allowed to participate in.  Unless you love it so much that you’d do it for free, and the act of writing itself brings you pleasure, then find something else to do with your time and effort.
Amen to that, brotha’.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
First there was my short story compilation “The Key of Dark Whispers” (horribly edited by German-Based publisher, Just Fiction! Edition).  Then there was “The Drums of Hanhau”, then “The Scimitars of Icarus” (My best published work yet), and, finally, I just finished “The Awakened”, my Nanowrimo project.
Congratulations on finishing your NaNoWriMo project!
I didn’t officially participate in NaNoWriMo as I think it’s to book writing what New Years Eve is to drinking, but I did manage to get down ten or fifteen thousand words towards my latest project between working on everything else I’m working on and holding down a wage slave job that covers the rent.
How many words do you write a day on average?
I like to ask that question of all of my author interviewees.
Holidays excluded, I don’t write less than 2000 words a day.  Even if it’s complete crap, it’s writing.
2K per day seems to be about standard for a lot of the writers I’ve interviewed.
I blame Stephen King (perhaps “credit” would be a better term).  In his book “On Writing” he gave some fantastic advice and I think he lists 2K a day as the most productive speed.
If anyone knows anything about cranking out books I guess it would be him.  I just listened to the audio book adaptation of “On Writing” and, like most of his books, I was of the opinion that it could use some heavy editing.  The whole first third which was more autobiographical than instructional should have been saved for his autobiography.  He’s much too seasoned an author to have made that amateur mistake of thinking that people care about your life story, especially in a book that’s supposed to be about writing books.  There was some decent advice, but a lot of it I had already discovered on my own so it was redundant to anyone already writing.  As I often say, “You can’t learn to fuck by reading books.”  If you need someone to tell you how to write, it’s probably not something you should be doing.  Either you’re a writer, or you’re not a writer.  It’s something you either know about yourself or doubt, and either way, no one can ever tell you differently for good or for bad.  Either you will or you won’t.  The choice is yours.

What projects are you working on now?
I’ve about half-way through “The Scythe of Kelepias”, book three of the Severed Prophecy Trilogy.

What are you watching?

What are you listening to?
Some random dubstep station on Songza.  I am a huge rock/metal/ska/punk/hardcore fan, but I’ve got a weakness for the dubstep.

What are you reading?
Black Melt by Indy McDaniel.

Favorite author / book?
All time favorite has got to be “Fellowship of the Ring” by Tolkien.  I loved the dark atmosphere of the Lord of the Rings in general, but nothing could compare to the first one.

Favorite band / song?
Iron Maiden, Dance of Death.

Least favorite band / song?
There are too many to count, but I think Sublime takes the cake for me. I don’t even remember the name of the song, but it was all the local radio played from the time I was in 6th grade until well after I graduated high school.
Yeah, Sublime is pretty awful.
I don’t hate their music half as much as I hate their fans though.
I wish there was a like button for that reply.  Hahaha.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
I wouldn’t.  The only things that really make me happy are my family and writing.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Dead - Edgar Allan Poe.  Do I need a reason?

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Best - (so far) Macy’s Furniture and Bedding Customer Service.
Worst - McDonald's.

Got any questions for me?
Nope.  This was fun!

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.


About the Interviewee:
James O. Cannon is an author from the Tampa Bay area of Florida. He has three books on the market (The Scimitars of Icarus, The Key of Dark Whispers and The Drums of Hanhau) and is currently completing the "Severed Prophecy Trilogy".  When he is not writing or working on writing, editing, and marketing his beloved series, he is raising two children with his wonderful wife.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
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Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
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Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
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