This week on Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley, I’m interviewing J.G. Faherty, author of the immensely entertaining horror suspense thriller The Cure.
J.G: No, I’m a relatively peaceful guy, as long as you don’t try stealing food off my plate! I guard tacos religiously. JG stands for James Gregory. When I first started writing, I didn’t want to use the same name as what I use for business (Greg), so that when people search me they don’t get confused.
SRW: I have to say I really enjoyed The Cure. Why don’t you start by telling the readers what the tale’s about?
J.G: In The Cure, Leah DeGarmo is a veterinarian with the ability to cure animals—or people—just by laying hands on them. But there’s a twist. She only has a few hours to pass on whatever illness or injury she’s taken in or she suffers it herself. Some very bad people get wind of this and decide she’d make a great weapon, and she ends up on the run from both criminals and the military. Along the way, she discovers her powers are more complex than she ever realized.
SRW: Now, The Cure is being marketed as horror. While there’re definitely some horrific elements to Leah’s predicament and curse, I found it to be more of a suspenseful conspiracy thriller with light science-fiction overtones. It reminded me of some of John Farris’s earlier works (The Fury, etc.) and of Stephen King’s Firestarter. Am I way off base here? Is that what you were aiming for?
J.G: I never considered it horror. To me, it’s a supernatural thriller, or maybe a paranormal thriller, whatever they’re calling them these days. I think it got labeled horror by so many people because I’m known more for that than anything else, and because it came out through a publisher that does mostly horror (Samhain Publishing). I think Firestarter is an apt comparison; so is F. Paul Wilson’s The Touch.
SRW: I’m a sucker for colorful villains. In The Cure, you’ve created three: Tal, Del and Marsh. Bad guys every one of them. Not to take anything away from your protagonist, Leah, but when the trio of villains took center-stage, things become really interesting. Are you a villain fan? And where did you dream these bad boys up?
J.G: You can’t have a great protagonist without an equally strong villain. Yin and Yang. As for where they came from, Marsh was easy. I needed a corporate bigwig. Del and Tal came about because they are again two side of the same coin. Both evil, but Tal is stone cold and stubborn whereas Del is more complex, he has a sense of humor and is very adaptable, yet he’s just as nasty.
SRW: We share an affinity for four-legged pets (particularly dogs in my case). In The Cure, there’re a few scenes that made me cringe regarding animal cruelty. (Movie-makers can kill off the entire boat-load of occupants of the Titanic and I don’t shed a tear; put a dog in peril and I lose it). From your forward in the book, I know you’re against cruel animal exploitation and experimentation. Did you write this book in part as a pro-animal message?
J.G.: I don’t think I wrote it with that kind of message in mind, although it does seem like it. I am a big animal rights person, though, and for me nothing is worse than hurting an animal. I can’t even watch Will Smith’s version of I Am Legend because the damn dog dies. So, for me, there couldn’t be anything more evil than a villain who hurts animals, and nothing more gut-twisting than a veterinarian who can only cure the sick if she hurts another animal.
SRW: Furthermore, you’re pretty cruel to your heroine at times (and the hero as well). Nature of the genre, I suppose. As a writer of horror and suspense myself, at times I wonder if I’ve gone too far by torturing my protagonists. But sometimes you have to “kill your darlings,” so to speak. Level with me…did you want to pull back at all?
J.G: I don’t believe in pulling back, although I don’t believe in going too far, either. Whatever is appropriate for the plot, both from the writer’s standpoint and the reader’s. I’m cruel to the characters in the book, but never gratuitous.
SRW: You paint a pretty negative image of today’s U.S. military super-power. As a person (not a writer), do you believe the military’s capable of kidnapping a civilian and putting her through horrific scenarios as you’ve created?
J.G: Of course. I don’t think there’s anyone today who doesn’t think that. Our military buys and sells cocaine, supplies anti-US militants with weapons, and regularly co-opts academic research for weapons and defense purposes. You’d have to be foolish not to think they’d want to study the perfect assassin. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but my head’s not buried in the sand, either.
SRW: Without giving anything away, you’ve left the book open for a sequel. Hedging your bets, J.G? Or is one planned? If a sequel's forthcoming, what can you tell us about it (again without giving any spoilers! A hard task, I know.)?
J.G: I’d like to do a sequel someday. I have some ideas. But as of right now, it’s not in the works.
SRW: And here I thought I’ve been prolific! You’ve written a volley of other works, J.G. Tell the readers a little about your work over-all. And do it in iambic pentameter for fun! (Or anything else you can think of to break up the monotony of listing a huge paragraph about your other books.)
J.G: I won’t do a huge paragraph, not my style! 5 novels, 9 novellas, more than 50 short stories. Compared to some of the other people who started writing around the same time as me, I’m a turtle in a race with hares. If you want to get an idea of what I write, start with Carnival of Fear, my first novel, or my book of short stories, The Monster Inside. If you’ve got a tween or teen in the house, my Stoker-nominated YA novel Ghosts of Coronado Bay would be a good choice.
SRW: You have an interesting and varied background, J.G. How has this played into your writing? How about your haunted upbringing?
J.G: Well, I personally wasn’t haunted. Not that I know of, anyhow. But living in the Hudson Valley of New York, I grew up in an area known for ghosts, hauntings, monsters in the woods, cursed lands and roads, and Revolutionary War cemeteries. It’s also the UFO capital of the East Coast. So... yeah, lots of fodder for stories!
SRW: What’s next on your laptop? What can readers look forward to?
J.G: My next novella, Death Do Us Part, comes out Jan. 5th. It’s an homage to the old Tales from the Crypt stories, full of revenge, mayhem, and the living dead. After that.... who knows?
SRW: There you have it, folks. Go get The Cure and check out J.G.’s other tales of horror and suspense while you’re at it. J.G. can be found here: