Jason Parent is an author who wears many different genre hats, having written horror, sci-fi, mysteries, and thrillers. A New England native, his debut novel, What Hides Within, a genre-bending dark comedy, was an EPIC and eFestival Independent Book Award finalist, and his work has earned acclaim from such outlets as Cemetery Dance and Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews. His short stories have appeared in the Halloween-themed Bad Apples anthologies, as well as Year's Best Hardcore Horror Volume 1. His latest novel, They Feed from Sinister Grin Press, is hot off the presses and available now. (You can read our review of They Feed here.)
Welcome to the High Fever Books blog, Jason! Tell us a bit about yourself and your background as an author. You studied at Barry University School of Law and were an attorney for several years. How did you discover you’d been bitten by the writing bug?
Still working as an attorney… sort of. It’s a skill that comes in handy sometimes. But writing is my passion. I tried it long ago as a tool to cope with something and didn’t really know what I was doing. But even as I moved on, my desire to write never did.
One of my favorites of your work is the short story DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, which appeared in Bad Apples 2. You’ve written a number of short stories, including a piece for the recently released Wrestle Maniacs, and novels, like you’re latest title, They Feed. Do you have a preference in terms of format? Are you more comfortable with short stories or novel-length work, and does your approach in writing differ between the two? Tell us a bit about your approach to the craft.
I come up with a story idea first, and the size of the idea will dictate the number of pages needed to represent it. I don’t have a preference—I enjoy writing short stories and novels, but I do find completing a novel much more rewarding. Lately, I’ve been typing up my first drafts of short stories, but for novels, I hand write them.
They Feed has all the earmarks of a classic creature feature in the making. A densely populated campground, a woman seeking revenge, and creatures who see it all as an all-you-can eat buffet for their bottomless stomachs. Where did this idea come from? What inspired this and what was your elevator pitch?
Two of my favorite movies are Night of the Creeps and Slither. This is, in part, an homage to those, but obviously I wanted to make my creatures my own. And I just wanted to write a fun story—fast-paced, action-packed, compelling characters, easy plot with a bit of a surprise to it. They Feed won’t win awards from the highbrow literary types, but it is a well-written wild ride through horror-filled fun.
Oh, it's definitely fun! I had a blast reading They Feed. That sucker kept me glued to my Kindle. What can you tell us about these creatures? Are they something you invented whole cloth or are they based or inspired by something in mythology or literature or, worse, reality?
Well they most closely resemble slugs or leeches, but what really interested me in their creation was their amorphous character. If I do more with the story, I will do more with that. So though Night of the Creeps and Slither have somewhat similar villains, Gloop and Gleep from the old Hanna Barbara cartoons might be more analogous.
I did love Gloop and Gleep.
Over the course of your writing career thus far, you’ve written horror, mysteries, and sci-fi. Horror blog The Haunted Reading Room said of you, “Jason Parent has a vast imagination, demonstrated in everything he writes.” What’s helped influence that imagination? What are some of the touchstones in books and/or film that inspire you?
80s horror and camp definitely influence my humor, and I do like to interject some dark humor where I can. Films like Evil Dead 2 and Fright Night, and also Tales from the Crypt, have definitely influenced my style. I’m not sure you can do anything today without someone saying it’s similar to something else. I know my writing style has been compared to some authors I’ve never read.
What can you do? Certainly not please them all. So I just try to write what I want to write, and if the idea is similar to something else, I give it my own spin and voice.
Give us all your links! Where can readers stalk you?
The night uncovers all we wish not to see.
A troubled man enters a dusky park before sunset. A young woman follows, hidden in shadow. Both have returned to the park to take back something the past has stolen from them, to make right six long years of suffering, and to find justice or perhaps redemption—or maybe they'll settle for some old-fashioned revenge.
But something evil is alive and awake in those woods, creatures that care nothing for human motivations. They’re driven by their own insatiable need: a ravenous, bottomless hunger.
The campgrounds are full tonight, and the creatures are starving. Before the night is over, they will feed.
An unrelenting tale of terror from Jason Parent, acclaimed author of People of the Sun and What Hides Within.