JAY: I am a full-time fiction writer living in Evanston, Illinois, with my wife and two sons, and I love what I do. I became a writer out of a secret, illicit, deviant lust for reading. I became a writer because I would sneak a flashlight to bed when I was a boy and read Homer Price Mysteries when I was supposed to be getting my rest. I became a writer because in high school I would position an H.P. Lovecraft pulp inside my dusty volume of Beowulf and pretend to be studying when I was actually reading about demonic creatures from another dimension. I became a writer because I am one of the few men who actually does buy Playboy Magazine in order to read the articles. I became a writer because I adore reading. And I'm talking anything. Cigarette packs, cereal boxes. Anything. But mostly I love reading the masters of my favorite genres: Thomas Harris, Bill Blatty, Harlan Ellison, Ed Gorman, Stephen Hunter, Joe Lansdale, Dan Simmons, David Schow, Tom Tessier, Stephen King, and Peter Straub. These people made me want to become an author. Its all about the feeling. The feeling I get when I crack open the latest work from one of these guys, and I start getting caught up, and the hours start melting away. To me, that's what makes life worth living. In fact, no matter how far I might fall in life, I don't think I could ever kill myself... for two reasons: My family, and the fact that most of these authors are still producing, and I would just kick myself in the ass if I missed one of their books. Why did I become an author? I couldn't help it. I needed to create something new to read. And did I mention that the latest thing I've created is called THE SLEEP POLICE from Signet Books?
Q: Why do you like horror fiction?
JAY: The most appealing thing about horror fiction to me is the way it envelopes you and draws you into its spell like no other genre. And I will defend this position to my grave. For me, when great horror is really cooking-- ie, GHOST STORY, IT, CARRION COMFORT, PET SEMATARY-- you care more about the characters than any other category of fiction, and I think that's because you are sharing their nightmares, their worse fears, their primal traumas. Hence, you are rooting for them on a primal, inchoate, almost visceral level. All other genres are either intellectual or sentimental. But horror is the only primal genre. It is the culmination of cave men trying to share their experience of terror at the hands of the unknowable forces of nature. Or, perhaps more appropriately, it is a genre that taps into the emotions that we first experience as children-- and never really shed no matter how sophisticated we become.
Q: How much is your writing affected by your real life experiences?
JAY: No writer can ever create something that is not wholly influenced by their own experience. Sure, it might simply be imitation. It might merely be derivative of some other author they love. But its always about your own experience, and what imprinted you. And at its best, it can be a beautiful re-imagining of real life experiences and people and places that are so unique that they become indelible... which ultimately makes them universal. Poe is the perfect example of this kind of horror. Poe is probably the father of method horror writing. Stanislavski for goth crowd.
Q: What is your new book?
JAY: I've written a book that am extremely excited about called OBLIVION that is caught in a kind of literary limbo. Revolving around a burned-out priest who is hired by a shadowy consortium to secretly cleanse the White House, it has just been published in hardcover in England by Pan Macmillan. You can find it on my web site (www.jaybonansinga.com) or by mail at Stars Our Destination books (847-570-5925). OBLIVION is a full throttle supernatural horror story that pays tribute to the work of Blatty, King, and Straub... with a little Frederick Forsythe thrown in for good measure. It is also being developed by Will Smiths production company and Universal Studios into a major motion picture. But for some reason that is eating away at me, I cannot find a publisher in this country to publish it. If there's anyone out there who wants in on the ground floor, please let me know. Ill send you a manuscript. I also have a new mystery/thriller (my other writing hat) coming out on March 6th, 2001, called THE SLEEP POLICE. Its a paperback original from Signet Books, and its a pitch-dark, hard-boiled police procedural that goes into weird, Jungian, psychological territory-- a little like RED DRAGON meets Sam Fullers SHOCK CORRIDOR. I highly recommend this book for people who are fans of my horror fiction. And at only 6.99, its a great entertainment value!
Q: What is the weirdest thing that happened to you that would read like fiction?
JAY: You know, its an interesting question, and Id have to say that EVERYTHING that happens in life is weird and would make great fiction if you could just capture its weirdness on paper. That is my current challenge. To try and capture something more lifelike... which is always, as we all know, stranger than fiction.
Q: Which of your novels is your favorite?
JAY: My first novel THE BLACK MARIAH is my favorite. Its the least well written, and the most superficial, and probably the worse artistically. But it has the most wonderful enthusiasm running through it. A sheer lust for story. A certain kind of joy to be practicing the craft. And that's what makes it so fun to read. I WAS HAVING A BALL. I was writing for myself. And besides, its my first-born!
Q: Who is your favorite horror author?
JAY: My favorite horror author is Stephen King. A hundred years from now, he will rightfully hold a seat in the pantheon alongside Charles Dickens. (Not that I love everything either of these men have produce, but its not about that; its about the body of work!)
Q: How do you think the horror industry is at the beginning of the new millennium?
JAY: I have no idea how the horror industry is doing at the beginning of the new millennium, but I think its probably still pretty dismal. I think the movies are going to rescue the genre commercially (which has nothing to do with recognizing quality, by the way). WHAT LIES BENEATH made something like 200 million. And look at BLAIR WITCH. SCARY MOVIE. SCREAM. Etc! You do the math.