I’m J. R. Park, an author of horror and strange fiction. I’ve been writing since 2014, when I’d finally had enough of the story ideas bouncing round my head, and thought it would be amusing to inflict them on the rest of the world.
I was always going to do it.
From an early age and throughout my life I have loved horror and monsters. Going back through my childhood I can blame it on a number of things. Micheal Jackson’s Thriller was a video that came out when I was young, and that certainly didn’t pull its punches. I also used to play Horror Top Trumps and had colouring books like the one featured below.
My love for writing happened at roughly the same time. My Primary School teachers used to marvel at the strange things I used to write about from the age of 8 upwards, and nicely they encouraged my literary dreams. I even received an award from my headmaster for writing “An Epic Adventure Of Nightmarish Dimensions”.
The books I read in Primary school were equally a cause of my own output. It was nice to be catered for with horror as a child. The Fighting Fantasy series was a favourite choice with its menagerie of monsters, but the title amongst the fifty odd that endured the most was at odds with the rest. Not set on the Tolkien-esque world of Titan, The House Of Hell was a tale of a demonic house, set in modern times. Even the child-friendly Ladybird books produced a ‘horror classics’ series; Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles being my most beloved. I even wrote a Sherlock Holmes tale at school based around a mysterious dog at the time. Now where did I get that idea from?
During my teens I explored many types of literature; reading Douglas Adams, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Shakespeare. But I never drifted far from the horror section in our local library. Slime by William Essex was the first horror book I read, a well thumbed copy given to me by a friend. I tried a few others at the time, and although I never really got on with Stephen King’s works, I was floored by the dark majesty of Clive Barker – particularly Cabal and Weave World. Shaun Hutson was another author that would provide inspiration in the years to come. His graphic descriptions of death were so vivid , yet beautifully written. The prose was at once disgusting and beautiful.
By the time I’d left education I was put off from writing. I was forced to read books I didn’t care for, and not once did they ever explain how to go about becoming a writer. To make matters worse I used to find myself talking with people that would explain they were ‘going to be a writer.’ So what have you written? I’d ask. Oh I haven’t actually written anything yet, but I have these great ideas, they replied. Their wasted time made me think being a writer was a joke. An excuse to sit on your ass, smoke weed and pretend you are some undiscovered genius. These people were full of dreams, but never made the effort to create anything; never committed their ideas to paper and let the world judge them for it.
Did I say they were full of dreams? Maybe I meant something else…
So as the years went by I got myself an office job, enjoyed my life and satisfied my horror obsession with films. Allan Bryce’s Video Nasties book became my bible during this period as I set myself a challenge to hunt out and watch all the uncut versions of the films that appeared on that infamous list. This led to a wider search for similar movies which helped to develop my love for exploitation cinema of the 1970s & 1980s. The crazy plot lines, over the top gore and fantastic artwork all made for an entertaining ride. I can remember seeing some of these titles in the top shelf of the local video store when I was a child, so it felt to me like a rite of passage, finally seeing what dark secrets lurked beneath the lurid cover images that once teased my imagination.
Modern horror movies began to lose their charm when cash strapped studios grew scared to take risks and began to almost exclusively deal in remakes. I mourned the originality and began to wonder whether I could write a horror movie that was any good. The more I watched the old films, the more the itch to write grew. The dream hadn’t died. And so with an idea that had bounced around my head for a while I set about writing a screen play for a slasher film based around Punch and Judy. It took me weeks to write and perfect it, but I enjoyed the process of creating and reviewing from feedback. Eventually I had the script completed. I was proud. It was the first thing of any value I’d written, and above all, I’d finished it. Despite my accomplishment however, what I learnt thereafter is that getting a script read by anyone that might take it on is nigh on impossible. And making a film yourself is a very complex affair.
So the script gathered dust for six months.
Then two things happened almost simultaneously. Firstly Dark Side Magazine had started back up and in its pages I came across an interview from an author by the name of Guy N Smith. I was loved his pulp style, his lurid covers and the sheer number of titles he’d produced. I realised I could still make stories like the strange ones from the exploitation days, that there was a market for it, and what was even more encouraging – that it was possible to make some kind of money from it. Being a writer wasn’t stupid. It could happen. And here was a man that had showed it was still possible.
The next thing that happened was my brother showed me a photography book he had made. It had been printed by a self publishing company called CreateSpace. You uploaded the contents, kept the copyright and they printed each copy on demand. It was a revelation. Whatever happened I would finish up with a physical book. It didn’t matter if no one else read it or bought a copy; the fact was I could write a book, get it printed and have it sat on my shelf next to Barker and Hutson and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.
So I wrote and released Terror Byte.
And people enjoyed it.
Since then I’ve met heroes, made new friends and written more books.
People liked them too.
I hope you do.