John Langan is the author of two novels and three collections of stories. For his novel, TheFisherman, he was awarded the Bram Stoker and This Is Horror awards. With Paul Tremblay, he coedited Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters. He is one of the founders of the Shirley Jackson Awards, for whose first three years he served as a juror. Currently, he reviews horror and dark fantasy for Locus Magazine. He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife, younger son, and he isn’t sure how many animals, anymore. His next collection of stories, Children of the Fang andOther Genealogies is currently available from Word Horde.
His story, “Second Front”, appears in the Weird World War III anthology.
Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background?
I was born and have lived pretty much all my life in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley; the exception was a two year stint in Albany, the state capital. I am depressingly local. As a child, my dream was to be a comic book artist, and I spent much of my early years immersed in the Marvel comics of the 70s and 80s (and, when they were reprinted, the 60s). My dream changed when I entered high school, in part because my high school had no art program and in part because I discovered Stephen King’s fiction, which made me want to be a writer pretty much immediately. After that, I earned a BA, MA, and M.Phil in English literature. For many years, I was an adjunct instructor at a couple of local colleges, principally SUNY New Paltz. I’ve published two novels and four collections of stories. I also review horror and dark fantasy for Locus magazine.
What kinds of stories do you write? Why?
I write horror stories, because whenever I sit down with pen and paper, it’s where my imagination takes me.
Which of your short stories is your favorite? Why?
Currently, it’s a story called “Altered Beast, Altered Me,” which I wrote for Ellen Datlow’s film-themed anthology, Final Cuts. The reason is that it’s the story in which I stretched myself as far as I could as a writer.
What author has had the greatest influence on your writing? Why?
Reading Stephen King’s Christine made me want to be a writer, and gave me an example of how to write horror stories. Peter Straub’s work reinforced and extended that example. William Faulkner’s novels gave me a sense of the ways in which the deep history of a place and its inhabitants could foster and enrich narrative. As for why, I suppose the simplest answer is that these writers proved most useful for the longest amount of time to my own writing.
Besides yourself, which other contemporary authors would you recommend?
There are a ton of great writers currently at work. A woefully incomplete list would include Laird Barron, Nadia Bulkin, Michael Cisco, Jeff Ford, Glen Hirshberg, Brian Hodge, Stephen Graham Jones, Gwendolyn Kiste, Victor LaValle, Livia Llewellyn, S.P. Miskowski, and Paul Tremblay.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’ve loved the time I’ve spent in France; it would be lovely to live there for longer. If not France, then maybe Edinburgh, which is one of my favorite cities.
Each of the stories in this volume evoked certain themes and emotions that can sometimes be approximated with music. The below video is the editor’s best interpretation of the feelings and themes that this author’s story evoked. Please note that this is only the editor’s interpretation. The author did not know this portion of the blog post existed until the editor published it.