Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
John James Minster was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He commenced a successful international business career since the 1980s in the technology sector, all the while publishing horror short stories in major magazines and horror anthologies since 1990. In July, 2018, his first middle-grade full-length horror novel, Dreamjacker, which met with five-star reader reviews, was born of nightmares.
As a child he walked in his sleep; his parents found him at the top of the stairs about to leap down, dreaming that he could fly. Every night since childhood he still talks and punches walls in his sleep during nightmares, which he describes as "Nightly mini horror movies. Terror is feeling dread at the possibility of something frightening; horror is the shock and repulsion of seeing the thing: hello! This is my head every single night of my life—so no writer's block on the horizon or chance that I’ll run out of stories.”
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Adult horror novel, The Undertaker's Daughter, is due to hit bookstores in about a month, from publisher Hellbender Books. Anna Dingel, raised in the family funeral home, turns eighteen. Israeli archaeologists unearth an ancient stone fragment; on it, a name missing for millennia. Anna’s best friend Naomi uses it to piece together old Jewish magic. The exceedingly creepy, supernatural, violent eldritch power the two friends unleash takes dark and unexpected turns. Children learn about love, forgiveness, consequences—and never to play with dead things.
I decided to write a story about a golem, something I've wanted to do for a long while. Deep research turned up a treasure-trove of fascinating Old Testament magic. When I sat before a formatted Word .doc on my screen, the entire story (characters, plot) came to me in under a minute. The author job involved writing down the 'movie scenes' in my head, which sometimes come from nocturnal nightmares but in this case a powerful, detailed daydream. It took about 100 hours to get it down, polish it up and make it submission-ready.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
From hobnobbing with fellow authors, who spend hundreds of hours writing a novel-length story, I complete mine in 3-4 weekends, which is unusual. I write in a dark mancave illuminated only by blue lights, an orange salt lamp, and a beeswax pillar candle. Sometimes baby spiders dangling from threads attached to the ceiling come down only to my head, my computer keyboard, or their big spider mamas jump down onto my paperwork with an audible 'plop.'
What authors, or books have influenced you?
The New and Old Testaments. Though I urge all to read the Quran; Rehat Maryada, the Sikh manual for living; read about the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama; and about Hindu. And world history. I’ve read over 30,000 pages about Abe Lincoln. This is how to learn about and appreciate all people by understanding their core belief systems, and what makes people tick. Fascinating stuff. For fiction, I’d say Edgar Allan Poe’s complete works, all of his short stories and poems. Best longer fiction: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Today, of all recent or current authors, best of all I think is probably Neil Gaiman. The man can turn a phrase like nobody else. I would describe many of his sentences as ‘delicious’ with an almost musical quality. Like most writers I love to read and buy just about everything published. Erin Morgenstern nailed it with her debut novel, Night Circus. J.K. Rowling’s Potter books are labeled Kid’s Lit, but no, they are simply excellent literature for the ages. Of those active in my lifetime: Stephen King, Clive Barker, Cormac McCarthy, Anne Rice, F. Paul Wilson, Isaac Asimov, Lawrence Block, Mario Puzo, Nelson DeMille…I love their product and always learn a little something from each. And who doesn’t love Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books?
What are you working on now?
Polishing up three completed novels: The Vengeful Dead, The Hand of Hubal, and The Rise of The Golgoths.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
My aggregate link site is https://linktr.ee/johnjamesminster
When The Undertaker's Daughter hits bookstore shelves in a month, interested readers should patronize their local bookstores! These folks took a MAJOR hit during the pandemic. At least one of my owner-friends had to sell his biz because of it. PLEASE support your local booksellers!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
In the entire history of civilization it has never been easier for a writer to publish (Kindle self-publishing, etc.) but also it has never been harder to market books. If you're not with one of the few remaining big publishing houses, then your options are submit your manuscripts to hundreds of independent publishers until one accepts, or self-publish on Kindle, which I did in 2018 only for the experience. WAY better working with a real publisher. You still do your own marketing for the most part, but they partner with you. Also their editors are like auditors: never feel put-off by their findings; in the end you’ve learned something new and should feel grateful for the fantastic free advice. Plus they’ve upped your game.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Writers who make it (make their livings at it full-time) all give the same sage advice: keep reading, keep writing, keep submitting. The ones who succeed are those who once said, "I will make it in this biz and nothing can stop me!" are those who do. Thicken thy skin, acquire new skills, and never stop.
What are you reading now?
Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament
What’s next for you as a writer?
Scheduling about a dozen book signing events and horror conferences.
What is your favorite book of all time?
The New Testament
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