Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
A little about me… well, I am fond of fine literature, nineties gangster rap, cannabis and tobacco mixed together, women with southern accents, psychedelic mushrooms, and Dr Hook. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever laid eyes on is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and my favorite time of year is Christmas.
Which one of your characters would you least like to meet in real life?
I would like to meet all of my characters. Even the ones that scare me. Wisdom can be passed on from the unlikeliest of people.
Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
More than horror or any other genre of literature, music has always been a major influence on my writing. Music and drugs.
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
I think the term horror is a subjective label, like heavy metal, that generally applies to material that is dark or evil in nature. Which does indeed carry with it heavy connotations, but personally I think it should carry with it heavy connotations. It’s horror. It should frighten people, at the very least.
A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
Movements aren’t really my thing. Nor are politics, or society for that matter. That said, I don’t have much hope for horror or any other genre these days. Based on current trends I would say story telling is as close to death as Christianity in the United States. Cue yet another Spiderman movie. Yet another reboot. However, if things keep getting worse in the world, horror will be the first to go. Who needs a good scare when life is a walking nightmare.
Given the dark, violent and at times grotesque nature of the horror genre why do you think so many people enjoy reading it?
People enjoy horror for the same reason they drive so slowly past car accidents. We like to get as close as we can to death without experiencing it ourselves. It allows us to explore that often hidden part of our nature.
What, if anything, is currently missing from the horror genre?
What is missing in the horror genre is the same thing missing in all genres. Heart. Too few of us write with enough heart. My motto – if you wouldn’t have it engraved on your tombstone, dig deeper and try again. Craft every sentence like it was your last.
What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
I think people should focus less on what is new and more on what is great. Too many people still think Frankenstein was the monster.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
The best review I’ve gotten is, “This book is why we read books, why they hold a certain magic over movies.” That stayed with me because that was my intention, to write a book worth reading in a world now dominated by films.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
The aspect of writing that I find the most difficult is maintaining the sweet spot, that ever so fine line between a solid buzz and a stone cold drunk.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
Graphic rape scenes have always disturbed me, for what I would hope are obvious reasons, and I tend to avoid them in my writing. However, I don’t think anything is off limits in art. A story requires what it requires to be authentic, and it is the writer’s responsibility to provide it.
Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?
Over the years I have developed the most important tool in a writer’s arsenal. Discipline. The muse won’t always be there when you need her, but discipline doesn’t give a damn about how inspired you may or may not feel. Its simple. When it is time to write, you write. Or you stare at the blank page. But you do nothing else. You either stare or write. Well… maybe have a few drinks and get stoned but nothing else.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
The most valuable thing I have learned over the years when it comes to writing is that unnecessarily using big words doesn’t make you sound more intelligent. It makes you sound like a dick. See there? I could have said, “It makes you sound like a pretentious narcissist”, but I try not to be a dick.
Which of your characters is your favourite?
My favorite character is Black Lavender Luci, short for Lucifer, the blunt smoking, afro picking, fur coat wearing, big-dick king of Hell. It’s fun to write a character who does what ever he likes with no regard for the consequences. The options suddenly become limitless.
Which of your books best represents you?
The one of my books that best represents me is Thee Sixes and a Forked Tongue. It’s the book I would have killed to get my hands on when I was sixteen.
Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
A passage from my novel Three Sixes and a Forked Tongue :
Life is boredom masked by decay. Boredom is laziness masked by indifference. Laziness is apathy masked by nihilism. Apathy is fear masked by comfort. And fear is the unknown masked by death. We grow bored in life, not because we lack entertainment or because time passes too slowly, but because death, in its possibility, is ever present and ever pressing, and it casts its shadow over life, forever maintaining the potential to corrupt any moment left uncherished. And Death, Death is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one. It wears no mask because it is the mask. It is the truth. Death is the truth. Death is.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My last book was Three Sixes and a Forked Tongue. It was recently released on December twenty first, twenty twenty three. My next project is going to be getting the cult up and running.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
If I could erase one horror cliche it would have to be the in which the killer, or monster or whoever cannot be escaped even though they are slowly walking, and the victim is running for their lives.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
The last great book I read was Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. It may actually be the all time coolest book I have ever read. The last book I read that was a disappointment was the Bible.
What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
The one question I wish I would get asked but never do is, “how would you like to turn your work into a major motion picture?” The answer would be, “mmhmm. Sure would.”
Three Sixes and a Forked Tongue by James Tyler Toothman
The year is 1971. Lost deep in the woods of West Virginia, a desperate young girl discovers a book of witchcraft and pledges herself to Satan. But the Devil’s checking into town, and he’s got something special in store for this new little witch.
When Black Lavender Luci, the Devil himself, rocks up to Clockmaker, West Virginia in a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, wearing alligator boots, a chinchilla coat, Porkpie hat and a gold-plated grin, he’s got his sights on only one thing: fifteen-year-old Miss Priscilla Carpenter, the baddest witch in town. Tired of being on the receiving end of Old Red—her father’s favorite paddle—Priscilla doesn’t hesitate when she stumbles upon a book of witchcraft and stains the pages with her blood.
At first, signing her soul away to Satan was just an opportunity to have some fun, help the people she loves, and get a little revenge on the townspeople that turned their backs on her and her mother, Lavinia. Flanked by her childhood best friend Joseph and her loyal disciple Big Tommy, Priscilla makes her way through the increasingly demanding spells of her beloved grimoire. But when the Devil calls in his favor and seduces Priscilla deeper into the world of dark magic, drugs, and desire, she unwittingly unleashes a torrent of death on Clockmaker, causing dams to break, women to go missing, and rabbit piss to fall from the sky. And pretty soon, she finds herself the baby mama of Hell himself.
Badder than Louisiana Lightning, flyer than Sly Stone on a seven-forty-seven jumbo jet—THREE SIXES AND A FORKED TONGUE is a thrill ride through the mountains of Appalachia laced with sex, drugs, hard rock, and a double dose of witchin’.
James Tyler Toothman
James Tyler Toothman was born in a small town in West Virginia. The only son of Jimmy T and Pammy K, James was raised by his father in a house built out of cinder blocks and tar paper. He received a Bachelors in Marketing from University of West Virginia and Fairmont State University, and after graduation, spent most of his twenties were spent traveling the world, from Arkansas to Asia, Pokhara to Paris, Doha to Alpharetta. He followed good times and music wherever they led him. James has written songs of all genres throughout his life, several short stories, and has been published in multiple magazines. He was awarded the 2019 Best of the Rockies Award for Journalism and now lives in Denver, Colorado. Three Sixes and a Forked Tongue is his debut novel.