# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
John James Minster was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He commenced a successful international business career since the 1980s in the technology sector, all the while publishing horror short stories in major magazines and horror anthologies since 1990. In July, 2018, his first middle-grade full-length horror novel, Dreamjacker, which met with five-star reader reviews, was born of nightmares.
As a child he walked in his sleep; his parents found him at the top of the stairs about to leap down, dreaming that he could fly. Every night since childhood he still talks and punches walls in his sleep during nightmares, which he describes as “Nightly mini horror movies. Terror is feeling dread at the possibility of something frightening; horror is the shock and repulsion of seeing the thing: Hello! This is my head every single night of my life—so no writer’s block on the horizon or chance that I’ll run out of stories.”
The Undertaker’s Daughter
A Novel of Supernatural Horror
Release date Halloween, 2022.
Presale Link (or preorder from local bookstore) https://www.sunburypress.com/collections/all-books/products/the-undertakers-daughter?variant=40580204593245
Don’t play with dead things.
Anna Dingel is an introverted, socially inept 18-year-old raised in the family funeral home. And for some reason, her classmate Timmy—the one in the band—likes her too.
After a makeover from her best friend Naomi, Anna breaks away to see him perform live, but the leader of a bad school clique attempts to assault Anna in the parking lot. Once the leader is released from jail, so begins an ever-widening maelstrom of cruel retribution, turning Anna and Timmy’s summer of love into a nightmare.
In an attempt to frighten the bullies into peace, Anna and Naomi experiment with recently revealed old Jewish magic. But this ancient Abrahamic ritual doesn’t go as planned. The eldritch power Anna has unleashed takes dark and unexpected turns, endangering those she loves and forcing her to decide who she is and who she wants to be.
This spine-tingling supernatural horror story is about love, forgiveness, and consequences. Expect surprise twists throughout, as children learn not to play with dead things.
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
The Undertaker’s Daughter was inspired by ancient Hebrew magic as described in the Old Testament; and also in the Sefer Yetzirah, a work of mystical studies, perhaps the oldest and most mysterious of all kabbalistic texts.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Dreams! Nocturnal and daydreams. In the words of the greatest fiction author in world history: ‘Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.’
# How do you deal with creative block?
Sorry, I cannot on any level relate to creative block. It’s like my head gets a radio signal from somewhere 24-7 that never turns off!
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Writing a boring first chapter. Introducing characters late in the story and only giving them one appearance. Writing cliché, one-dimensional characters. Writing too much about the characters versus allowing characters to tell their stories. Writing inconclusive or unsatisfying story endings. Authors need to murder their egos; make themselves subordinate to the characters and story. While on a killing spree: if words do not move the story forward, no matter how pretty they seem, murder them, too.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Covers should be about feel, not a literal representation of story characters. Aim titles at the target reading audience, not too vague, not too specific. Titles should engender curiosity. Err on the side of subtlety.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Both give me joy. I thank every reviewer for the honest feedback.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
Professional copyeditors have improved my craft. Overall, my process has never changed. Write the story, let it sit a few months, go back, fill holes, fix nits, add a bit of polish and pizzazz, then submit.
# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
Best: copyeditor feedback. Worst: publisher delays. Surprising: that The Undertaker’s Daughter is rated R+ (I felt like I was holding back!)
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I write to feel something. If it makes readers feel, or think—even better! The story is a movie in my head; the job is to get it down on paper. To amuse, entertain, enlighten, horrify, terrify, gross myself out—marvelous if readers draw the same from it. The process of writing is an end in itself that brings pure satisfaction. Marketing books feels like work, but writing never does. May they find my cold, dead fingers resting on my computer keyboard—a fine death—but while here, writing is life.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
Characters must exhibit the full range of human emotions to be relatable. Acting even the slightest bit out of character destroys the thin ethereal connection between writer and reader. To write real, extraordinary characters dealing with supernatural forces acting upon them, it helps to really see people, and love them, including all of their differences.
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
My writing chamber is large, cold-year-round, dark, infested with spiders which sometimes rappel down onto my head while writing. Sole illumination is an orange salt lamp, a beeswax pillar candle, four giant sparkling Christmas bulbs (white, blue, green red) all to my left, and an overhead string of blue Christmas lights directly above and before me. I listen to downtempo electronic rhythms and melodic deep house free from focus-breaking lyrics. Nora En Pure is a reliable favorite artist for this, and Anjunadeep. I don’t feel the hours passing at all. Entire sunup-sundown days slide by while writing. When I start making grand mistakes, I know it’s time to rest.
# What are your plans for future books?
I continually write. My well of stories is bottomless. Need three complete, polished manuscripts? Give me forty-five days.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
Been plant-based for over ten years, which means zero animal products. (The best prepared vegan fare I’ve found is in West Bank, Palestine, and in Jerusalem, btw, fellow vegans!) I take hands’ full of herbal and vitamin supplements daily. I do not drink or use drugs. I pump heavy iron. Complete Howard Hughes germaphobe. Now, none of these are unusual or quirky, but the combination kicks me outside the norm. I dream in color every night and remember vividly dreams from as far back as age six, seven, eight-years-old, like memories of actual events. As years wear on it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish lucid dreams from actual events, as both play like mini-horror-movies in my head. Recall the show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, back in 1988, with Joel and his three robots Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and Gypsy, commenting during campy Eighties horror movies? I recall a dream which would’ve happened in 1969 or 1970 about three robots, which looked remarkably like Joel’s three, chasing me at night in the neighborhood of my youth. I was peddling my five-speed bike, had to stop to rest. I’d look behind me, and in the streetlamp glow I’d see them round the corner, coming for me to kill me. That show, and the first Terminator movie, wouldn’t happen for decades later. Too bad I had no writing skills back then!