THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
with JOHN FOSTER
Without telling us what your favorite passage / scene in the book is, can you describe how it felt when you wrote it? Was there anything unique about your writing set-up when you wrote this passage?
It was the absence of any particular set up that made writing this scene so special. I heard the dialogue in my mind before I even knew how the scene was going to unfold – and before having coffee or getting dressed or anything, I was at the computer writing an exchange between two characters, one who hadn’t existed in any meaningful way until that very moment.
Can you briefly describe an experience that played a role in how you wanted to develop NIGHT ROADS?
I encountered one of my few periods of writer’s block (or what I think of as writer’s block) during the previous novel, DEAD MEN, when I tried to force the character of John Smith to adhere to my preconceived notions instead of letting him have his head. I was determined to let each character dictate their own decisions in NIGHT ROADS, even when it presented challenges and shook up my plans. Needless to say, characters like these wreaked all sorts of havoc but I avoided a repeat of the blockage.
If you could ask any deceased artist one question, what would it be?
I think the question would be, “Was it worth it?” Because so many of my favorite artists found their success posthumously and created their art while living difficult lives, be it from poverty, addiction, mental illness or what have you.
Do you think fiction has any function or purpose outside of the entertainment realm?
Absolutely. Good stories seek to find the truth in the fiction and provide the reader with a wonderful tool for learning, in part because the reader is likely exploring the story for entertainment, not for a lesson. It’s a riff on the “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” idea. It can also provide relief and escape from the stress of real world events. It certainly did so for me, when I was younger and unable to exert control over my life – it may have helped keep me sane.
Of all the entertainment media available, pick a SUB-GENRE and explain why you like it or hate it.
Maybe you enjoy cosmic horror disaster films. You can choose from any type of media (film, books, music, etc.)
1970’s and 80’s martial arts movies are amazing. I mean, many of them are ridiculous (I’m looking at you “Revenge of the Ninja”) and the acting can be pretty shaky (Chuck Norris should talk less and kick more) but these films wielded undue influence on me and my Gen-X peers and propelled me into lifelong training in the martial arts. I still quote from “The Octagon” (Chuck Norris as ninja) when I’m walking my dog, “You know the path.”
I feel sorry for anyone who didn’t grow up with these movies.
Which book do you think is overrated?
Can anyone be a “good” writer?
Nope. Without some level of native talent, you won’t be a good writer – the same goes for any art form. No matter how hard I try, I could never be more than a functional painter. I just don’t have the instinct for it.
That being said, talent alone won’t do the job. Talented people are a dime a dozen. It takes training and work to hone that talent into something useful.
Like all media, genre fiction is trendy; what is one literary trend that you despise? Is there one that you think is interesting?
With the exception of the recent film “Only Lovers Left Alive” I’m thoroughly bored by the moody, moping eternal vampire trend and will be happier when they return to being monsters. I don’t want to indentify with vampires, I want them to scare the shit out of me.
As for interesting trends, in the past several years we’ve seen the emergence of writers like Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, female thriller writers who give us female anti-heroes that can veer so far into darkness that it becomes hard to continue reading. I love these books and am always on the lookout for women who write in this vein. Ruth Ware is another. Just brilliant.
Which book or other piece of art do you think is underappreciated? (misunderstood)
Stephen King’s novel The Dark Half is rarely mentioned when people list out their favorite King works, but I think it’s among his very best novels and would rate it alongside The Dead Zone, one notch behind the “big three” of Salem’s Lot, The Shining and The Stand.
John C. Foster’s novel Dead Men was published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing in 2015 and his novel Mister White was published by Grey Matter Press in April of 2016. His debut collection of short stories, Baby Powder and Other Terrifying Substances and Night Roads, sequel novel to Dead Men were both published by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing in 2017. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Shock Totem, Dark Moon Digest and Dread – the Best of Grey Matter Press among others. He lives in Brooklyn with the actress Linda Jones and their dog Coraline. For more information, please visit www.johnfosterfiction.com.