Recently, I had an opportunity to review The Witch Hunter: Into the Outside by an upcoming Urban fantasy/horror author JZ Foster. The book releases on January 9th. In case you missed it, you may read the review here. I am beyond thrilled that I had an opportunity to interview him for PopHorror and he has generously offered not only his time but an awesome giveaway. Read on to get to know this talented upcoming author and a chance to win!
PopHorror: Thank you for sitting down with us, JZ. Let’s get started with this one. When did you begin writing?
JZ Foster: The twelve-legged writing bug crawled into my ear and started whispering madness into my head at a young age! I was writing stories when I was in elementary school, although I only began Witch Hunter in mid-2016. Been writing books ever since!
PopHorror: When you say twelve-legged writing bug crawling in your ear, I can’t help but think of that earwig from Star Trek: Wrath of Khan (laughs). In all seriousness, though. When did you decide to pursue publishing?
JZ Foster: At some point, I realized that bug had burrowed in too deep and just wasn’t going to come out unless I dug the bastard out with a knife, so rather than giving myself a lobotomy, I decided I better just get with the program! At this point, I’m not sure I could stop even if I wanted to.
PopHorror: Yes, the muse wants what it wants, when it wants. How did you get the idea for Witch Hunter?
JZ Foster: I’ve gone on some of those “haunted tours” and the people running them always act like they believe it’s real, and it just got me wondering, “Are these people full of crap or do they actually believe this?” Somewhere along the line, Richard, the main character in Witch Hunter: Into the Outside, showed up to answer that question for me.
PopHorror: I believe that most people are skeptical until you see something out of the ordinary with your own eyes. Richard Fitcher is a skeptic. Is there any of you in Richard Fitcher?
JZ Foster: Nope, not at all. I’m totally cool as a cucumber. I never get nervous talking to people or… Ahh, to hell with it! Yep, he has large parts of me in him! The things that make me nervous are quite odd. I often get stressed out having to be social or interact with people, but in other, far more dangerous or threatening situations, I’ve been totally fine. I lived in South Korea for eight years. Moving there and totally uprooting my life, transplanting it into a foreign culture, was no problem, but I often have to build a script for myself before I talk to people in the post office, and I still might sometimes mess that up!
So yep, he and I have a lot of similarities!
PopHorror: I can relate. The things that make me nervous or anxious are usually things that are so everyday and simple. One of my favorite characters is the defense attorney Jeff Minges. Was he based on someone?
JZ Foster: I can’t say Mr. Minges was based off any one person, but he was based off a type of person I often meet, an amalgam of dickheads if you will. For me, it always feels like the strange and unbelievable have followed me around. I often have weird stories that I’ll tell people that they won’t believe. They either think I’m making it up, exaggerating, or misremembering things. That’s what Jeff Minges is. He’s the dude that thinks all your stories are bullshit.
PopHorror: I am pretty sure when I tell people some of the weird things that have happened to me in real life, they think I am bullshitting them. So, I totally get that. I think that is what I liked about Jeff Minges though. He has a mannerism about him that you can’t help but like even though he’s kind of a dick. You have a fresh style in the urban fantasy genre. What draws you to that genre?
JZ Foster: Well, I’ve always been a fan of monsters, ghouls, and demons in literature. I’m really drawn to the idea that there’s something going on beneath the surface that we’re all only vaguely aware of, or the concept that our barbarous ancestors we all laugh at were actually right. I also like to include humor sometimes, and that will often move the feel of a book from horror to urban fantasy. So, I bounce between those two genres, depending on how I want the book to feel.
PopHorror: Definitely my two favorite genres. So, an interesting fact about you. Your mother, Lori Foster, is a NY Times Best Selling romance author. Has she given you any advice?
JZ Foster: My mother was my first fan and always gave me a lot of encouragement (my father too). The solid advice my mother gave me wasn’t precisely the mechanics of how to put things on paper or how to structure a story, but rather things NOT to do. “Do not let someone else try to write your story.”
When I was first beginning, a lot of people heard my idea of a horror comedy for Witch Hunter and told me it couldn’t work, and that I needed to try to aim for just one or the other. I’m glad I didn’t listen, though.
PopHorror: Sounds like you have a wonderful support system and that is great advice! And yes, I am glad you didn’t listen to them, too. Have you thought of writing a book with her?
JZ Foster: Yes! My mother has written urban fantasy before under the name L.L. Foster, and we’ve talked about writing a book together at some point. No definite plans yet, but it’ll probably happen sooner or later!
PopHorror: Oh! I didn’t know she wrote urban fantasy! Hopefully that will happen in the future! Are you interested in writing in other genres?
JZ Foster: Oh, yeah. I’ve written two children’s books, but I’ve yet to find an artist I’d like to work with. If you know of any, tell them to find me on my Facebook page! I also have a historical ‘based on a true story’ idea in my head that I may get around to at some point in my life. For the most part, though, I see myself sticking in the urban fantasy and horror genres.
PopHorror: Hopefully you get an artist you’d like to work with! Tell me, are you a “panster” or a “plotter”?
JZ Foster: I’m like a hot cup of coffee with some cream inside. Actually, I only drink black coffee, so it’s like that but… You know what, let me just start over.
I’m a little bit of both. I do have copious amounts of notes and scenes in my head, and I do generally know how the book is going to end as soon as I start it, but the characters also talk to me and sometimes tell me that I’m an idiot and they’re not going to listen to my directions anymore. In those situations, I give them free reign to dictate the path.
PopHorror: I am definitely both… probably at this point, more of a panster. Sometimes you just have to see where the story and characters take you. What advice can you give to aspiring writers out there?
JZ Foster: This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Only a lucky few hit success right away – most people have to drag through it broken and bleeding. Agents and publishers will constantly reject you without even looking at your book or reading your synopsis. You have to have a thick skin; you have to pursue your own success because no one will hand it to you. Not every part of the job is fun, but it is rewarding so stick with it!
PopHorror: So true. We often expect success instantly, when in actuality, it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. What made you choose your initials as your pen name?
JZ Foster: I’d like to tell you the formation of how I sign JZ is an important pattern in sacred geometry, or that I bartered with a fey for a name imbued with astral energies, but the truth is my dad suggested it and I thought it sounded cool. Thanks, dad.
PopHorror: Well, that was lucky! (laughs) What’s up next for you?
JZ Foster: Well, this year starts off with a bang with Witch Hunter: Into the Outside in January, The Wicked Ones: Children of the Lost in February, and Mind Wreck: Shadow Games in March. I hope to have a few other novels this year after those releases.
The Wicked Ones is my first straight horror novel about horrible creatures that replace children in the middle of the night, and a group of hunters who are tracking them. Mind Wreck is a story of people known as Shadows. They’re people with mind powers beyond us simple humans, and the games they play against each other.
All of the novels exist in the same universe, though their tones are different. Be on the lookout for characters crossing paths! If you’re interested, find out more about me on my website and these social media platforms. I love to interact with readers.
Thank you, JZ Foster! It was fun getting to know you and your books! So now, the moment you have all been waiting for! JZ Foster has a giveaway for you to enter. Do you see this bad-ass knife prop?
It could be yours! To enter, you must email your mailing address to JZ Foster at BoogeymanComes4U@gmail.com. Feel free to ask him any questions you may have about his books. The email serves as your entry into the contest and the bonus you will receive this bookmark!
The deadline to enter the contest is January 22nd. JZ will draw a winner on January 23rd. Good luck!
Hurry and get your FREE bookmark and a chance to win the prop knife! Be on the lookout for a future review of The Wicked Ones here on PopHorror. In the meantime, pick up your copy of Witch Hunter: Into the Outside here.