AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jonathan L. Howard

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

It’s about Cannes, the famous town on the French Mediterranean shore, playground for the rich and famous. There—how many more reasons do you need to destroy it?

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I saw the Kickstarter, thought it was a lovely idea, and naturally wondered what sort of strange KS would appeal to me. Next thing I know, I’m pitching the idea.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Quite the opposite, it was a joy to write. It’s silly and I have no trouble doing silly. Ask anyone.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

Do they? Oh. I feel a bit left out now. My stories are only personal in as far as I write things that I’d like to have read if somebody else had written them.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

Very little, really. A bit on Cannes itself and that was about it. The rest of it was in my brain.

What are your thoughts about crowdfunding generally? Do you back a lot of Kickstarters, or at least find a lot of interesting projects because of crowdfunding? 

I’ve backed far too many Kickstarters. I’ve had to call a moratorium on backing any more for the time being. It was getting silly. Crowdfunding is an excellent idea. I’ve got a couple of projects I’d love to crowdfund when I get a minute to organise them. I’m a little bit chary because I understand it’s a lot of work to administer a project, and I’m too busy to give it my full attention at the moment. I’ve got a sort of children’s-picture-book-for-adults I worked out with the artist Linda “Snugbat” Smith I’d love to go ahead with, and a middle grade book I’m very proud of, but which is apparently a bit outré for publishers. 

How do you think Kickstarter and self-publishing platforms (like Amazon’s KDP, etc.) are changing publishing?

I think they’re broadening options rather than killing anything. Admittedly, there’s only so much of a market out there, and broadening may well mean thinning, too. There’s little use in crying about it, though. It’s here, so we’d best adapt.

BONUS: What are some examples of fiction you like in which the format helped dictate the story? (i.e., like the stories in HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!, or like a found footage movie, or like Jake Kerr’s “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince,” etc.)

It’s an open secret that I’m a great John Sladek fan and, given the nature of Limbo in Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, it’s apparent that I have a horror of filling in forms. In his collection “Alien Accounts,” Sladek has a couple of things—you can’t quite call them stories—that chime with that. “New Forms” is a collection of surrealist forms that sit on the page and glower menacingly at you, and “Anxietal Register B” is a lengthy form apparently intended to identify the anxieties of the respondee, and then ruthlessly exacerbate them. “Q.62 Why do you believe that you have been asked to fill out this form? Q.63 If you are merely reading this form, why do you believe you have not been asked to fill it out?”