I met John Everson through the zine Cyberpsychos AOD and the Death Equinox conventions at the end of the 90s. We used to run into each other over the years at the World Horror Conventions. John gave me my first big break in publishing, when he asked for four short stories for an anthology he wanted to assemble called Sins of the Sirens. He’s also the author of a book that scarred me more than any other, his novel NightWhere.
John Everson is a staunch advocate for the culinary joys of the jalapeno and an unabashed fan of 1970s European horror and giallo cinema. He’s also the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and ten other novels. Over the past 25 years, his short stories have appeared in more than 75 magazines and anthologies. He has written novelettes for The Vampire Diaries and Jonathan Maberry’s V-Wars universe, which has since been developed into a Netflix series. For more on his obsession with jalapenos and exploitation cinema, as well as his fiction, art, and music, visit www.johneverson.com.
John’s latest book is The Devil’s Equinox:
Austin secretly wishes his wife would drop dead. He even says so one boozy midnight at the bar to a sultry stranger with a mysterious tattoo. When his wife later introduces that stranger as Regina, their new neighbor, Austin hopes she will be a good influence on his wife. Instead, one night he comes home to find his wife dead. Soon he’s entranced with Regina, who introduces him to a strange world of bloodletting, rituals and magic. A world that puts everything he loves in peril. Can Austin save his daughter, and himself, before the planets align for the Devil’s Equinox?
Did something in the real world inspire The Devil’s Equinox?
Not overtly. I haven’t seen any news stories about real demonic cults that want to sacrifice a baby to get unearthly powers…though I suppose there has to be one out there somewhere. Certainly there are touches from the real world that don’t involve the fantastic element. The idea of a young couple who have grown to resent each other over the isolation that having a baby can bring…that happens. The opening scene, where Austin is getting drunk at a bar and wishing his wife was dead…that kind of post-fight angst happens in most relationships at some point. The guy who is lured by the quiet sexuality of a mysterious, Bohemian woman…absolutely!
What is your favorite scene in the book?
Well, my favorite scene is probably the end, so I’m not going to give that away. But I am proud of some other moments. There is a scene when Austin’s girlfriend introduces him to a strange, underground club filled with erotic and demonic rituals by his new girlfriend where he sees “nuns” wearing transparent habits. He tries to play nonchalant, but then in a “club within a club” room called “The Cloister,” he is faced with a menu of drinks that include ingredients that seem…unsanitary at best:
Selene’s Spell: Lavender-infused Three Women Vodka with 7 drops of aged Blood Orange aired for power beneath the light of the last full moon. Sensual and serene.
Red Tide: Three Women Vodka aged with Samsara rose petals and shaken with crushed raspberries and 3 drops of Sister Evangeline Lust Oil and one splash Coitus Burgundy wine. Prepare to be naked.
He looks for the beer menu, and it gets worse:
Seminal Milk: Cask-conditioned Irish stout brewed with vanilla beans used in the Dark Night Festival and semen spilled on the Venus Altar. Drink the milk of life.
Bitter Love: Mosaic Hops steeped in the gold of the Cloister Servants during the Maypole Celebration. Steam-brewed for clarity. Earthy, bitter, and bright at the same time. See with the clarity of lust.
But the drinks are just the faintest hint of the obscenities he will soon witness.
I just love this whole scene because it’s the first introduction of the naïve innocent to the secret society. And as such, he’s both repelled and fascinated by elements. As I think most with a little prurient interest and a touch of curiosity about “the dark side” would be.
What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?
This is a novel that I’ve wanted to work on for a really long time. I first brainstormed and jotted down ideas for it 13 years ago. That same brainstorming session also generated the original idea that would become my eighth novel, The Family Tree. I wrote a nine-page synopsis for The Devil’s Equinox 11 years ago, right after I signed with Leisure Books. At the time, after writing three “demon” books in a row, my editor and I opted to table this one at that time in favor of a couple books that were a bit different. After doing a handful of other books, it seemed like the time was right to come back to it finally last year.
The writing process itself was actually pretty calm. A lot of my books have a kind of “travelogue” behind them, which has always been fun to summarize after the fact. For a lot of years, I traveled a lot for my day job, so each book’s preface listed a half dozen cities and bars where I worked on the novel at hand. (I hate sitting in hotel rooms, so I tend to write in Irish pubs — good music, good food, good beer!). I also have a few local haunts that I’ve spent many hours in working on books after heading home from my day job. Last year, however, I didn’t travel much and I put in long hours at the office, so I didn’t even go out to write at my local pubs after work. So aside from a couple nights with my laptop at local bars, I really wrote nearly all of The Devil’s Equinox at the oak bar I built in my basement, or at the glass-topped outdoor bar that sits on my patio, with a steady soundtrack of Elsiane, Delerium, Cocteau Twins, and other dreampop artists. This novel was probably written more at home than any other.
What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?
I wish you had asked me that LAST year! For my novel The House By The Cemetery (which was set in a real, historical haunted cemetery that I grew up near called Bachelors Grove) I ended up going to Book Expo in New York City for a special pre-release book signing in the spring. The book was one of the “lead off” books for a new imprint and thus got a lot of attention. That’s the first time I’ve ever gotten to go to Book Expo. My publisher actually brought me in to do it. Then in the fall, the publicist for Flame Tree Press got me interviews not only with the Chicago Tribune, but with FOX-TV in Chicago, who did a live broadcast with me about the book on location at Bachelors Grove Cemetery. THAT was probably the “promo moment” of my career thus far. I also stopped in at my local FM rock radio station (95.9 The River) to do an interview about it on the morning drive show. They’ve had me in before, but not for a few years.
The Devil’s Equinox has had a much quieter launch, since the imprint is more established now and the book didn’t have the “local Chicago-area haunted place” tie-in to raise area media interest. I also had to skip going to Book Expo this year because it was the same day as my son’s 8th grade graduation. I did, however, “debut” it at the venerable Flashback: Chicago Horror Convention held here every year and do a couple of fun signings at Chicago-area Barnes & Noble stores. As I write this, I’m looking forward to signing in Chicago at Bucket O’ Blood Books and Music, an awesome store that has always been supportive. (It’s scheduled for October 24.)
What do you have planned next?
I’m currently working on a novel called Voodoo Heart. It’s another book I’ve actually wanted to do for a long time. It’s based on the title story to my second short fiction collection, Vigilantes of Love, and revolves around a detective and a voodoo curse that is claiming more and more people every month on the night of the full moon. I’m hoping to finish it be the end of the year (my editor would likely suggest that “hoping” is not the right operative word here. I will. I will finish it by the end of the year!) It’s due out from Flame Tree Press just in time for Halloween 2020.
Thanks for asking me to do this, Loren! Really appreciate it!
Pick up a copy of The Devil’s Equinox for yourself: https://amzn.to/2P0vZBv
See all John’s books on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2nTGCLd
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Check out his homepage: www.johneverson.com
Oh my goodness, the drink menu! The Devil’s Equinox sounds like a fun read. I really enjoyed Everson’s creepy crawlies in Violet Eyes/Violet Lagoon.