Wednesday, May 08, 2019

20Q7A: An interview with John Langan

20 Questions, 7 Answers is an interview series for writers of genre fiction. Each author receives the same batch of 20 questions, but they may only answer 7.

This week's guest is John Langan.


What's your latest book, and how does it differ from your previous work?

JL: My latest is a collection, Sefira and Other Betrayals, which brings together a new short novel (Sefira) with another seven stories, one of which is also new. As a whole, the book is perhaps a bit more focused than my previous two collections. In terms of individual stories, I hope each one shows me moving in a different direction from what I've done before. 

Do you have any creative endeavors other than writing fiction (art, music, knitting)?

JL: I love to draw, a holdover from my childhood ambition to be a comic book artist. I also practice a martial art called Tang Soo Do, which is a kind of blend of Shotokan karate and Tae Kwon Do.

Who or what is your favorite movie monster, and why? 

JL: You know, I love Godzilla in particular, and giant-monster movies in general, which probably connects to a childhood love of dinosaurs. (I've written a couple of stories with giant creatures in them, but have yet to write a full-length, Gorgo- or Beast-From-20,000-Fathoms-type piece.) That said, I seem to return to vampires in my viewing (and reading) a great deal; I'm less sure why that is. (Maybe simply that I've read a lot of great vampire novels and seen a lot of great vampire movies.)

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what? Is it different than what you listen to when you're not writing?

JL: I don't listen to music, which I used to when I was (much) younger and sat down to write. (Way back then, it was Springsteen's Born in the USA, or another such high-energy album, on vinyl.) These days, the only soundtrack I require for working consists of the background noises of my house: my wife, our son, the five dogs. 

What was your greatest Halloween costume?

JL: I think it was the year I dressed up as Dracula. I think I wore my First Communion suit, and for a cape one of my mother's long dark skirts, safety-pinned to the jacket's shoulders. I whitened my face and wore oversized plastic fangs that channeled the spit in my mouth out in ropes of drool. Oddly, that was the costume that most made me feel as if I had become something else, something closer to what I was pretending to be.

What's the best movie, new or old, that you've seen for the first time in the past 3 months?

JL: I recently saw the original Taking of Pelham 123. Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw ftw, as the kids say.

Have you traveled outside your home country, and if so, where? Where would you like to go that you haven't been yet?

JL: My family is from Scotland, so I've been there more than anyplace else. I've also visited England—London—a couple of times. I've been to France twice, once to Provence, and once to Paris. I've been to Canada as well, Quebec and Ontario. I would dearly love to visit Italy.


John Langan is the author of two novels, The Fisherman and House of Windows, and three collections of stories, Sefira and Other Betrayals, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters. For The Fisherman, he was awarded the Bram Stoker and This Is Horror awards. With Paul Tremblay, he co-edited 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. (Author Photo by Fiona Paton)