Interview : John Costello 13 Ghosts of Christmas

Right here goes folks, here is the first of the reviews / interviews proper.  First up is John Costello.  John Costello is a freelance lecturer in Film & Media Studies and Creative Writing; occasional lecturer in Modern Art; screenwriter; script analyst & mentor; electronic musician and artist. He has written features, essays & reviews for magazines and journals including Crimetime and Matrix,
and textbooks including Writing A Screenplay (2002, last revised ed. 2006), David Cronenberg (2000) and Science Fiction Films (2004), all published by Oldcastle Books, plus David Lynch (2002) for Taschen.

Can you tell us little bit about yourself?

Freelance lecturer in Film & Media Studies & Creative Writing; occasional lecturer in Modern Art; screenwriter; script analyst & mentor; electronic musician and artist. Lecturing includes the universities of Warwick, Coventry, Birmingham, Central England and Sheffield; also FE colleges in Coventry and Manchester. I’ve written features, essays & reviews for magazines and journals including Crimetime and Matrix, and textbooks including Writing A Screenplay (2002, last revised ed. 2006), David Cronenberg (2000) and Science Fiction Films (2004), all published by Oldcastle Books. I also wrote a book on David Lynch for Benedikt Taschen in 2002 which didn’t see the light of day thanks to some characteristic eccentricity from its subject. I’ve analysed scripts for the UK Film Council, regional screen agencies and several production companies, and mentored projects for clients including the Script Factory. I’ve written two original screenplays, one of which was optioned by a UK production company. I was also commissioned to adapt the eco-horror novel MEAT by Joseph D’Lacey for a feature film script and treatment.
Why did you decide to submit a story to this anthology?
It was all very coincidental. For several years I’ve been too busy to find much time to write. The little I have done has revolved around screenplays, articles, reviews and textbooks; I rarely write prose fiction, and never horror. Much of ‘An Odd Number At Table’ arrived in a dream that I just had to get down on paper at 3am. It’s a double xmas story in the sense that I began writing it on Boxing Day and finished on New Year’s Eve. Once I’d written a second draft, which took a couple of days, I wondered what to do with it. In January I attended a This Is Horror event at Warwick university where Adam Nevill, Gary McMahon and David Moody were giving readings. I’d never read anything by any of them, I went along because my good friend Joseph D’Lacey was going. Afterwards he introduced me to Simon Marshall-Jones and we began talking about ghost stories. I raved about the 1976 BBC adaptation of Dickens’ The Signalman, which Simon had never seen, and I went on to mention my own newly-finished piece. He asked me to send it to him because he was preparing a Christmas ghost story anthology, so I did. A few days later I received a lovely email saying how much he liked it, and now I’m proud to say it’s the opening story in a really high-quality field. For once, I was lucky enough to find an outlet for it without even trying.
Can you tell us what to expect from your story?
I don’t write in horror normally; as I said, this is my first genre piece. Nor have I read much horror literature since my early explorations of big-name writers like Stephen King and Clive Barker – I was a huge science fiction fan in my teens and early twenties, and since then I’ve read mostly modern literature and textbooks. I guess the story reflects the long periods of time I’ve spent in the USA over the last 15 years; it’s set there, and the film industry features quite strongly in the background. It’s a contemporary piece, with undercurrents about how the past can bleed into the present in unexpected ways. It’s a ghost story of course, so there are inevitable supernatural elements, but with some crafting (I’d like to think) and without gore-for-the-sake-of-it excess. It’s also a love story, a very intense experience for the protagonist, but the romance is given an unusual genre twist. I’ll not say more to avoid spoilers, I just hope that readers enjoy it.
Can you tell us about any future projects?
In the summer of 2012 I gave up lecturing after over 20 years to concentrate full-time on creative endeavours: writing, art and music. I’m blocking out a novel and writing more short fiction, including within the horror genre. I have two music projects being released in 2013; a solo album and another – as ENGRAM – with Martin Bowes of Attrition. The rest of my time is devoted to producing large-scale paintings, with the aim of securing my first solo exhibition within three years.

You can read the real time review of this book HERE 

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