A special thank you goes out to Rebecca Henderson Palmer for inviting me to participate in this blog swap. Rebecca is an author, book reviewer, and blogger living in central Ohio. She is currently writing a two-book series centered on the earliest days of the Tudor dynasty, and you can find her online at rhendersonpalmer.com.
What are you working on?
I’m excited about my newest project, a trilogy featuring the 19th-century journalist Lafcadio Hearn as my protagonist. Half-Greek, half-Irish Hearn came to the US in 1869 at the age of nineteen without money or connections. He lived on the streets of Cincinnati until discovered by a printer named Henry Watkin. The printer recognized Hearn’s writing talents and before long, Hearn found a job with the “Cincinnati Enquirer.” He lived in Cincinnati for just over a decade, writing about all sorts of things but discovering a penchant for the gruesome, the eerie, the metaphysical and macabre.
My kind of guy.
From Cincinnati, he moved to New Orleans where he spent another decade as a journalist, then to the French West Indies for two years, before finally settling in Japan. He married a Japanese woman, became a Japanese citizen and wrote extensively about old Japan. Today, he is revered in Japan and his house in Matsue, as well as his burial place in Tokyo are national memorials.
The first book in the trilogy, as yet untitled, concerns itself with his years in Cincinnati. Hearn tries to uncover the identity of a body found in the debris of a fire and finds himself entangled with spiritualists and body-snatchers, known as “resurrection men.” And is there a ghost in the story? Of course!
The second book will follow Hearn’s exploits in New Orleans and the third will be set in Japan. Both will have a metaphysical angle.
How does your work differ from others in the same genre?
That’s a broad question. I’m not sure there are common standards for what may be considered paranormal historical fiction. Obviously, the hallmark for such fiction will be some otherworldly creature: a ghost, vampire, werewolf, etc. But the historical element needs to be there front and center. My current work is thoroughly grounded in the history of 19th century Cincinnati and draws extensively upon Hearn’s life experiences. I have done extensive research on Hearn, including reading most of his vast oeuvre, and it seems entirely plausible to me that he could easily have been attracted to metaphysical and paranormal subjects.
Why do you write what you do?
I have always been drawn to history and to weird, offbeat stories as well, especially ghost stories. Growing up in New England I could not help but be influenced by the rich history of the region and its folklore. It should come as no surprise that I am the author of four nonfiction books about ghosts, but a survey of all my fiction will reveal a ghost in almost all of my short stories, even those that would not be traditionally considered ghost stories.
I write what moves me, what interests me, what speaks to me (literally). That is really the only way to write.
How does your writing process work?
I am fortunate to have been able to build a life around writing, although I didn’t come to that life until I was forty years old and had finally jettisoned the corporate life.
In the morning, after a meditation session, I generally work on new, creative material, working at least five days a week, more if I’m under contract. Not one to use formalized outlines, I try to get the first draft out in a hot rush, without revision.
For me, revision is where the story comes alive. It may be more creative than writing the first draft. The novelist A. J. Verdelle has a great systematic approach to revision that I have started using in my own work. It requires several passes through the draft but it’s an approach that makes sense. I do not revise until after the first draft has been complete and I’ve let it “simmer” for awhile.
I reserve the afternoons for the business end of writing: sending out queries and new material, communicating with other writers and editors, working on new marketing and promotion ideas (a never ending but essential part of being a professional writer), social networking for my books, etc.
As important as the work is, I try to make some time each day for something creative that is not writing. It might be playing my guitar, going for a walk, working out, reading (of course!), anything to keep my mind engaged without sitting at a keyboard.
John Kachuba is the author of six books of nonfiction, one short story collection, and six e-books on Kindle. Much of his work explores the paranormal and metaphysical realms and he is often a speaker on those topics on radio, TV, podcasts and at conferences, universities and libraries. His website is www.johnkachuba.com