Horror Feature with John Claude Smith

A treat for horror fans this morning, as our very own Donald sits down to chat with horror author John Claude Smith. Be sure to read through to the end, and then stick around for a few brief reviews of Smith's dark, fantastic work.

1) What kind of research do you indulge in?

Depends on the story. Depends on what’s needed. Depends on what I am reading. Sometimes reading about a certain subject will trigger a story and, hence, I will read more about the subject, so I can get the details correct. I just wrote a story that required specific details from Los Angeles in the 1970s, so a fair amount of research was needed, of which I used it sparingly. I often want to imbue a story with just enough info to lend it a sense of verisimilitude. Of course, ‘just enough info’ might be a whole lot in some cases.

2) I haven't read you debut collection, but of all your shorts, which one is your favorite? 

I most always think whatever I have just finished and/or whatever short story I am currently working on is the best one I have ever written. I want to feel like I am always moving forward. The latest completed tale is called “American Ghost,” and will be included in the Leaves of the Necronomicon anthology. Quite excited about this.

That said, I’ll list just a couple more of my personal faves. “I Wish I Was A Pretty Little Girl” from my first collection, The Dark Is Light Enough For Me, because it goes to places not often explored, as well as the title story from Autumn in the Abyss. I find myself veering toward longish short tales or novelettes more often now—“Autumn…” is a novelette—as I enjoy giving stories room to breathe, so many of the longer short tales resonate in good ways with me.

3) Tell us what's next for John Claude Smith.

Omnium Gatherum, the publisher of Autumn in the Abyss, will be publishing my debut novel, Riding the Centipede in May of 2015. I’m doing the first stage of edits right now. This one includes three perspectives: two third person and one first person; the first person ‘might’ be unreliable. It’s a hallucinatory road trip through the dark frontier of drugs and dueling perspectives on reality (and much more), a chase that includes a private eye, a runaway, the runaway’s sister—she’s a Hollywood socialite—and one other character who will forever be known as the wrench that gets thrown into the mix. A horror icon of sorts, something I thought I would never do, but he insisted. Part human, part…something else. William S. Burroughs also makes an appearance. Kind of… It’s Literary Horror with a strong nod to drug fiction (of course, what with the subject matter), Weird Fiction, particularly in the middle, and other diverse elements. A complex, dense, layered tale.

4) Best piece of advice for writers that you have received. 

That’s easy. Paraphrasing the great Joe Lansdale: “Sit your ass in the chair and write.” The basic truth. Of course, there are dozens of other pieces of advice we take in or discard that make up our individual writing methods, and since my methods are still evolving and I expect they always will—depends on mood, discipline, the story, etc.--I’ll leave it with Lansdale’s words for now.

Thanks for this, Donald. I had fun.

Thanks for hanging out with us, John Claude Smith.


About the Author

John Claude Smith originally wanted to be a horror writer; now he’s not sure what it is he writes, he just knows it is dark, and he’s the one holding a flashlight, shining light on those places most people would want to avoid, scribbling notes.

He has written fiction, poetry and bad lyrics for as long as he can remember. At a point when he decided to get serious with fiction, sending out stories and getting a few acceptances in the early 1990s, he was side-tracked for many years by music journalism (as JC Smith), including stints as the industrial, experimental, gothic, metal, and all fringe categories reviewer for a variety of magazines including Outburn, Industrial Nation, Side-Line, and Alternative Press. He believes the over 1,100 reviews, articles, profiles, etc., he wrote helped hone his skills for the fiction gig. Finally back on the fiction path, he’s had over 60 short stories and 15 poems published, as well as a debut collection of “not your average horror,” The Dark Is Light Enough For Me. His second collection, Autumn in the Abyss, was published by Omnium Gatherum in March of 2014. He is presently writing his third novel, while shopping around the other two. Busy is good.

He splits his time between the East Bay of northern California, across from San Francisco, and Rome, Italy, where his heart resides always.



Autumn in the Abyss 
by John Claude Smith

This is some hardcore strangeness at its best. Smith takes on horror in a different way - not the typical scare from a haunting, or vampires (you know the normal clique madness), he gives shorts with powerful story telling such as;

Autumn in the Abyss: (Title novella) Takes the search of an ugly man during the Beatnik days with (Burroughs, Ginsberg, & Bowels) and turns it in too an hallucination of weird horror.

Broken Teacup: Thinking with your **other brain** can lead to eternal death, so you better show her love when she crosses your path. Read this and find out who "SHE" is.

Becoming Human: Evil has a new name. Krell is a madman and needs to be laid to rest....or something to make him suffer.

Those are my top favorites. The title novella I had a huge interest in, since I have gotten into the Beatnik writings (I have a list of authors from the genre to checkout one day). This collection needs to be read by all!!

by John Claude Smith

A well deserved vacation, turns into a field of lost souls, screaming into endless air.

Imagine "Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who" hammered over the head with a deadly nightmare. Smith blows readers away with this short. A path leads to a field of dandelions, but after seeing them a couple can hear their screams calling for something......something they need to spread in its continuous growing and multiplying landscape.

A weird horror that will make you think next time you pick a dandelion and blow its top off into the air.

Vox Terrae
by John Claude Smith

Two researchers hunt down a woman who goes by the name of Mrs. Blackthrone, who has the knowledge to translate a book called "Vox Terrae." What they discover will haunt their souls, if not extinguish them for life.

Deathly lines, occult horror that opens doors to a new level of fiction. Smith has a style that gives him his own chart of Horror Writers. Check this out!


  1. William S. Burroughs is in the story? Now that's an odd mix indeed.
    I'll pick up Dandelions first. The premise really grabbed me.
    Congratulations on your upcoming book, John.


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