Interview with John Mulhall1. When did you start writing? Was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?
Seeing the original Star Wars in a theater as a boy was a pivotal event for me. It really opened my eyes to the power of myth and story. So, storytelling is really something I started doing as a child, and something I’ve been doing almost my whole life. I guess, on some level, I knew that I’d eventually tell stories for a living, but I don’t think I realized that I’d be a writer, per se. I dabbled with it early on, but I didn’t really sit down to write seriously until I was already out of high school. And even then, it took me a while to really get going. In this case “a while” means over twenty years.
2. What’s Geddy’s Moon about?
It’s about a man with amnesia who wanders into a small town in Kansas called Geddy’s Moon and begins a new life there. He starts making new friends, developing a new relationship, all the while attempting to regain his old memories. But when he finally starts getting little flashes of things from his past, they’re not so great; they’re actually more like nightmares. So, he begins to question whether remembering is really the best idea, after all.
3. What inspired you to write it?
I was in a college psychology course, and we were studying psychogenic fugue states. And I found the idea utterly fascinating. In some cases, the people suffering from fugues would wander away from their old lives and just…erase their old memories. Then they’d create new personas and begin living new lives elsewhere. I found myself wondering what could happen in someone’s life that would be so horrible that they’d just erase their life to get away from it. That was really the original inspiration for the character of Tyler in Geddy’s Moon, and then the rest of the story kind of developed out of that.
4. Tell us a little about Tyler.
Well, that’s tricky. It’s hard to talk about Tyler without giving too much away. The book actually starts at a place where the central mystery really involves him searching for clues as to who he is. Is he a good person or a bad one? Was he a participant in some horrible event before he lost his memory? Or was he a victim? A witness? The secrets are lost in his memories. The reader discovers things about Tyler as he does.
5. Tell us a little about your process? Do you outline before you start writing?
I do outline. I know some authors are very critical of too much outlining, but if you’re writing something that is fairly intricate, plot-wise, I really think it’s necessary. For me, it’s akin to designing the blueprint for a house before you begin construction. If you don’t do that, things can go horribly wrong. The trick, I think, is to still allow the characters breathing room in that process, to allow them to speak for themselves. And I definitely think you can have both. Using the house analogy, it’s kind of like I’m the general contractor, and my characters are the new homeowners. They may not have huge influence on the basic blueprint once we’ve started building, but they’re still the ones deciding all the “detail” stuff. While I know that the house has two stories, a circular staircase, and 3 bathrooms, they’re the ones deciding on the floor coverings, wall colors, and light fixtures.
6. What is the hardest part about writing?
I think the hardest part for me is just starting, honestly. Knowing the ultimate destination, knowing how far I have to go, it’s sometimes difficult to just put one foot in front of the other and begin the journey, so to speak. It think that’s why my process is typically such a slow simmer. I’m not a writer who writes daily, I never have been. I tend to process for a long time, linking diverse story elements together, breaking down the story in my mind. When I finally start putting my ideas on paper, that’s when I know it’s getting real.
7. Where do you get the inspiration to write?
Inspiration is the easy part, for me. I get inspired a dozen times a day, and it can come from anywhere: a news story, an arcane bit of history, a joke. The trick is taking that inspiration and figuring out what to do with it. If something sticks in my brain, if it keeps popping up, then I start to explore it. What it is about that thing that appeals to me? What is the core of it? The more I continue thinking about something, the more excited I get to put my own spin on it. Typically one idea will eventually connect to another, and it all takes on a life of its own.
8. Who is your favorite author and why?
I don’t know that I can point to one favorite. I’m inspired by so many authors throughout history. I can tell you that my favorite book is Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. I give that book as a gift to people I respect and care about, people that I hope will get the same thing out of it that I did. I think that novel definitely influenced my desire to tell the kind of story I did in Geddy’s Moon.
9. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your ultimate luxury?
Sadly, I’m not really very good about luxury. I’m kind of a workaholic, actually. I haven’t taken a legitimate vacation in over 4 years. But when I do get out, watch out; I tend to live in the extremes. But I do love good movies and good books. I love stories that are well told. And I cherish being taken on a trip by someone who is an expert guide. Discovering a wonderful story is like finding treasure.
10. What kind of reaction are you hoping for from readers of Geddy’s Moon?
Well, I’ve already gotten some really amazing reactions, and I’m very thankful for that, but I think the comments that I appreciate the most are when people say, “I don’t typically like horror, but this was different.” Now, I honestly don’t think my book is that different. I just think horror is a misunderstood and misperceived genre, and people find it easy to dismiss. It’s really unfortunate because when someone dismisses a whole genre, there are so many amazing stories that they’re missing out on. And people tend to forget that some of our most beloved writers wrote stories in the horror genre: Shelley, Stoker, Lovecraft, Poe, Melville, Wells, etc. My book isn’t terribly nihilistic, so maybe that’s why they perceive it as “different.” Or maybe it just doesn’t sync with their perception of horror, which likely stems from the awful, gory b-movies that litter late night cable. Whatever the reason, if my book can serve as a gateway for new readers to start exploring the genre, that makes me very happy.
Social media and buy links:
Connect with John Mulhall: Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon / Goodreads
Geddy’s Moon: Amazon / Amazon UK / Goodreads