Author Interview | JP Sloan


I recently had the pleasure of reading YEA THOUGH I WALK by JP Sloan, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After reading the first two books in his Dark Choir series, I was predisposed to want to read this, but after I read the preview chapter, I had to finish it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an author interview; fortunately, JP was gracious enough to agree.

  • Tell us a bit about YEA THOUGH I WALK. What would you say the primary story arc is, genre, etc.

On the face of it, YtIW is a horror/western crossover…a moody, existential thriller with monsters and outlaws in the Old West. It’s the story of Linthicum Odell, a Union Army deserter attempting to redeem his cowardice in the service of a cadre of monster hunters who call themselves the Godpistols. He squares off against a horde of cannibal wendigo, blood-drinking strigoi (Old World vampires), and a corrupt, land-grabbing justice…all of which terrorize the innocents in the valley of Gold Vein.

Digging deeper, it’s a story of redemption, an exploration of the nature of good and evil that prods at time-worn notions of loyalty, fidelity, and what it truly means to adhere to a personal code. It’s a bit subversive, something of a pitch battle between deism and humanism.

  • YEA THOUGH I WALK is a bit of a departure from the DARK CHOIR series. Where did the inspiration come from?

I’ve always been a fan of westerns. The first novel I read on my own as a child was Louis L’amour’s SACKETT…a book I pilfered from my Dad, who owned most of L’amour’s books. Though, I never seriously considered writing a western…until I was elbow-deep in researching monster lore for a conference panel, and found that wendigo are somewhat under-represented in horror and urban fantasy. From there, it was an easy step setting it in the Old West.

I decided to write a wendigo vs. vampires story (not a SyFy Original), as I found a nifty parallel between the encroachment of the Transylvanian style of vampire into the frontier and the decades of Manifest Destiny…especially as the wendigo are a native American myth.

  • You’ve got a few different supernatural creatures in YEA; how much of them is based on real world legend vs what you created to fit your world.

As I mentioned, I stumbled across the seed of this story as I prepared for a panel on Paranormal and UF as Folklore for the Mid-Atlantic Fiction Writer’s Institute’s annual conference. The more I read up on the wendigo, the more I crafted the story. I did enough research to realize that I had to shoe-horn the mythology a bit to fit the setting, but I ultimately decided that accessibility for the reader served the story better than absolute adherence to the language and time frame of the wendigo origins.

And if you’ve read the book, you’ll recognize that I spent no time “playing around” with the rules of the wendigo. That’s all part of the mystery that lies central to the plot.

As for the strigoi, I originally elected to represent a classic “upir”, but as things often go I spun my own mechanics and rules for the vampires in this story. Primarily, I needed the monsters to serve the story, as there are so many parallels involved with the plot.

  • Without giving away anything, the storyline requires a certain delicate touch in handling the scenes in the first two thirds of the book. Did you outline things to keep the story on track?

I’m a notorious outliner…I’ve published blog posts demonstrating my spreadsheet obsession. However, this story took a full year to write (my longest drafting period to date), and I admittedly only outlined up through Act II. By the time I reached what would become Part 3 of the final draft, I was winging it. This created a lot of revision for me, however, so I suppose I’ve learned my lesson.

  • What would you say was the most challenging aspect of writing YEA vs the least taxing?

The greatest challenge in YtIW was the language. I strived to create not only a strong voice, but one that was reasonably current for the time. I read several letters written by Civil War soldiers to get my hands around the frontier parlance I wanted, and was surprised to find a curious mix of elevated language and profanity. Hence, I strove to find a balance between florid and salty prose for Odell. Folger, on the other hand, was more of a polished East Coast type, and as such he was easier to write.

The least taxing part of YtIW was in the plot itself. The whole thing really landed on me at a point, once I’d hammered my way to the end of what I had outlined. For a plot with so many twists and turns, I was surprised at how easy it was to stitch together.

  • There is some similarity in the supernatural elements between YEA and your DARK CHOIR series. Do you foresee the events of YEA ever becoming a factor in a future DARK CHOIR book, or are they separate worlds?

No, I fully intended YtIW to be a stand-alone from the very beginning. This book was more of a labor of love, an attempt to write something with a bit more pith than the Dark Choir books…which are page-turners in spirit. Once I’d wrapped up revisions on YtIW and had moved on the Book 3 of the Dark Choir series, the kernel of an idea for a sequel to YtIW actually needled its way into my brain. We’ll see if that ever bears fruit, but for now my focus is on finishing the Dark Choir series.

  • Tell us a bit about what motivates Linthicum Odell. How would you say he differs as a character from Dorian Lake? (aside from not being a practitioner).

Lin is a bit of a mess. One could say the same for Dorian, but in a wholly separate, and one might say more literal, sense. The character of Linthicum Odell from the beginning of the book is on a quest to satisfy a higher authority…in this case Gil McQuarrie. His character navigates his way through impossible odds to discover ultimately that his sense of worth can, and must, come from within.

Dorian Lake’s through-line is in many ways the inverse of that. Dorian begins as a loner, adheres to his sense of superiority to the detriment of his relationships and practice. And as the books progress (I’ve just wrapped up Book 4), he finds that to succeed he must rely on and cultivate relationships with those he never trusted before.

These two would NOT get along…

  • If YEA were a movie, who would you pick to play the major roles?

I took Sam Elliot as my mental and vocal model for Linthicum Odell, and even though he’s the perennial go-to for leathered sumbitches in westerns, I know that the dialogue was written for his voice.

Denton Folger, the milquetoast intellectual from Baltimore, could be portrayed by the likes of Adrian Brody. Give him shoulder-length locks, spectacles, and a printing press…and I think you’d have a winner!

Katherina Folger was written to be a strong Hungarian (which housed modern-day Transylvania at this time period), with remarkable tenderness for her husband, and Hell’s absolute fury for anyone (or thing) who would lift a finger against him. I wonder if Fairuza Balk has time between seasons of Ray Donovan?

As for Richterman, well…read the book, and you’ll know why that’s a difficult question to answer!

  • Can you give us some insight regarding the cover design / symbolism there? Did you suggest that cover or was it something the cover artist came up with?

The symbol on the cover is a solar cross, which is the symbol of the Godpistols. That was my only contribution to the cover design. Beyond that, I feel the artist simply captured a texture and typeset that reflected a gritty, bloody western feel.

  • Do you have any idiosyncratic habits around your writing? (Need certain things in place to be able to write, or tend to do something while writing like my first word thing?)

I’ve developed a new schedule for writing since going part-time at my day job. I now have two hours carved out of each day to dedicate to nothing but writing. This new schedule has allowed me to wrap up Book 4 of the Dark Choir series in short order, and hopefully I’ll keep the pace going!

As for idiosyncrasies… I require absolute silence when I write, and so I banish myself to my upstairs office when the family watches TV downstairs. An odd exception to this is when I take my laptop to write out and about. In the past, I’ve been known to hunker down at local brew pubs and bars to hammer out some word count. Alas, I’ve recently given up liquor, so I’ll have to find a nice coffee shop somewhere to haunt!

  • I’m with you on the silence thing. When I’m drafting I can’t even tolerate music being on. Also, kudos to your effort for health.
  • How long have you been writing and what inspired you to first write a novel?

I first decided to pursue long-format fiction in earnest about twelve years ago. I’d been writing bits of fiction since high school, and even took a couple courses in college. Somewhere around 2004, I returned to the quest, realizing I’d probably have to write some drek before I had anything publish-worthy. The Curse Merchant was my eighth complete novel, but the first I felt was ready to pitch to agents. It was ultimately picked up by Curiosity Quills Press, and they’ve been devouring my manuscripts ever since. YtIW was the first non-series property I pitched at them, and as you can see, they felt it was worth a gamble.

  • What would you say is your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your preferred genre to write?

I’m sure I’ll catch hell for this, but I actually rarely ever read Urban Fantasy. My favorite genre to read is Science Fiction, actually. I’ve recently enjoyed Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN, Hugh Howey’s WOOL and SHIFT series, and Joe Haldeman’s THE FOREVER WAR.

I also devour horror…my favorites include Koontz’s THE TAKING, Max Brooks’s WORLD WAR Z (that dreadful movie notwithstanding), and most everything Blake Crouch writes.

I have a series waiting in the wings once the DARK CHOIR series is complete, which blends elements of science fiction and fantasy. I also have two science fiction stand-alones in partial states, waiting for me to return.

  • What’s been the most surprising reaction you’ve gotten to your writing? Best? Worst?

The best reaction I’ve ever received from something I’ve written was actually nothing that I’ve published, but rather a wrap-up fiction I wrote for a role-playing game I ran for a year and change. I wrote it for my players as a sort of “farewell and thanks for playing”. I sent it out to my players the same weekend that Rowling released the Deathly Hallows. I had a dyed-in-the-wool Harry Potter fanatic tell me that she actually put off reading Deathly Hallows to read that wrap-up…and told me it made her “ugly-cry.”

The worst reaction isn’t really a reaction, but an overall disappointing return on some of my books. I knew going into publishing that it takes a while to gather a readership…but my last two releases haven’t really stirred the pot the way I’d expected them to, and it’s disheartening at times.

…then there’s that guy who insisted that I invented the term “lowball glass”, and mocked me on Amazon for it. Alas…the man clearly isn’t a whiskey enthusiast. That, and he has no access to Google.

  • Did you have the title YEA THOUGH I WALK in mind before or after finishing the story? What led you to choose this as the title?

I come up with most of my titles before I begin writing. I chose “Yea Though I Walk” most clearly as a reference to Psalm 23, reflecting the deep spiritual journey Odell undergoes in the story. But I also had a notion early on to include traditional zombies in the story, and the term struck me as a fun way to reference “walkers.” I cut the zombies from the outline early on, but kept the title not only because it sums up the character journey, but also because it just looks creepy in a bloody western font.

  • In YEA, it seems the lines between good and evil are pretty well blurry. One of the most benevolent-seeming characters is one most would expect to be something evil. Did you make a deliberate decision to keep characters from embodying too much vice or virtue, or did the characters evolve naturally to where they wound up on the page?

I began the whole manuscript with the notion that what we perceive as good and evil can often (but not always) be the opposite of our prejudice. I’m a humanist at heart, and as such I often enjoy turning the tables on man’s reliance on God or any manner of Kantian ethical scheme.

Also, I require that my ancillary characters possess full ranges of virtue and vice, largely up to the perspective of the reader and/or the protagonist. That’s just a guideline I adhere to.

  • What’s next for JP Sloan writing wise?

The mission right now is to wrap up my current Urban Fantasy series. THE CURSE MANDATE, Book 3 of the Dark Choir series, will be released this December, and I suspect I’ll be drawn well into the marketing machine around the end of the year. I’ve recently wrapped up my first draft and revisions for Book 4 of the Dark Choir series, THE DARK INTEREST. Once I finish a short story project I’m working on, I’ll dive directly into Book 5, THE DARK PRINCIPLE, and then on to the final book, THE DARK CHOIR.

Once Dorian Lake is in my rearview mirror, I plan to embark on that sci-fi/fantasy super-setting I mentioned earlier, which will likely involve four novels and several short stories that I plan to release as “membership” materials for my loyal fans.


JP’s Website:


JP’s Bio

My Review

I have read JP’s prior novel, The Curse Merchant, so I was already a fan of his work. When YEA came out, I gave a quick glance at the preview chapter and decided to buy it to keep going.

Yea Though I walk is an expertly crafted story set in the old west (1800s) where a man is forced to deal with supernatural creatures plaguing a quiet town under the thumb of a land-hungry justice of the peace. Gravely wounded, Lincthum Odell winds up under the care of a woman who nurses him back to health. In doing so, he gets tangled in the local creature problem. The woman has secrets, and despite being another man’s wife, he falls for her.

So as not to spoil anything, this bit is going to be deliberately vague: The story contains a twist, and the ‘expertly crafted’ part comes into play how all the events leading up to the reveal weave together into that truth. While I can’t say I’ve ever read “western horror” before, I quite liked what I read here, and would recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of cowboy westerns, vampire novels, and horror.

The story is full of well developed characters, none of whom can really be called completely good or completely bad. It’s a thought-provoking commentary on the nature of human (and sometimes inhuman) morality.

Check out the publisher’s website here –

Interview | Jeff Musillo


Greetings 🙂 Today I have the pleasure of interviewing author / artist / actor Jeff Musillo. His latest novel, The Eternal Echo, released a few months ago (Feb 10).


The Eternal Echo is a terrifying story, equal parts literary and horror. Doctor David Ravensdale is a madman who conducts an experiment by adopting a baby and raising him from infancy to adulthood, strictly by use of technology. The Good Doctor believes he is attempting to discover the key to the human psyche, and conducting one of the most significant experiments known to man. In actuality, he’s raising a murderous monster. The Eternal Echo is a millennial mix of Frankenstein and American Psycho. You will never look at your computer the same way again.

  • Hi and thanks for stopping by my blog. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Thanks for having me! My name is Jeff Musillo. I’m currently living in Brooklyn. I’m the author of The Ease of Access, Can You See That Sound (poetry), Snapshot Americana (non-fiction), and my latest novel is The Eternal Echo. I also paint and have had the chance to show my artwork at various shows in NY. I sometimes act. The next project I’m in is a pilot for HULU called, Shelter. They’re doing the final edits for that pilot now. I’m excited to see how it all comes out.

  • I believe The Eternal Echo is your latest release. Where did the inspiration for this story come from, and can you give us a brief overview of it?

With this book, at first, I wanted to make a story that was a bit more lighthearted. But that didn’t happen. The more the protagonist developed the more he took control and guided the story to where it was supposed to go, which is into darkness and horror. The protagonist – Doctor David Ravensdale – is a madman who conducts an unusual experiment. He adopts a baby boy and raises the child from infancy to adulthood, strictly by use of technology.

Ravensdale believes he is attempting to discover the key to the human psyche, and conducting one of the most significant experiments known to man. In actuality, he’s raising a murderous, psychotic monster.

  • Your writing appears to span quite a breadth of genres and styles. Do you have a favorite or ‘most comfortable’ genre?

I don’t really have a most comfortable or favorite genre. I like playing around with different ideas and feelings. I try to not overthink what I should do or even what I want to do. If a story feels authentic I pursue it, no matter the genre. I suppose it’s all about what clicks at a certain time.

I recently finished reading a memoir where the author wrote about how her emotions and viewpoints are similar to an old school radio, the type with a dial, and how she just keeps turning the dial until something clear comes through. I think writing is sometimes like that.

  • What would you say your most significant influences are toward shaping your genre and writing style?

There have been a number of writers who have influenced me a great deal. Hunter S. Thompson. Charles Bukowski. Kurt Vonnegut. John and Dan Fante. Chuck Palahniuk. Bret Easton Ellis. Hubert Selby Jr. Marquis De Sade. To name a few. But I also think of my home state as a major influence. I grew up in New Jersey. A friend of mine who is not from Jersey once looked me over and said of my outfit, “You Jersey guys are weird. You never know if you’re going to a club or a dive bar or are going to build a house or teach some class.” He said this because I was probably wearing something like work boots with jeans with a light sweater under a blazer and some gelled up hair. But I think there’s something to that. There are a bunch of individuals from New Jersey with the ability to exhibit a whole range of different personalities. And that has definitely influenced my writing.

  • Some writers have little idiosyncratic habits. For example, the first word in each of my novels is a statement reflective of the mindset or situation of the main character at the outset of the story. Do you do anything like this or have any ‘easter egg’ type things you insert into your writing? (If not, do you have any particular habits – e.g. a particular cup of tea you /must/ have in order to write?)

I like that! Like a treasure hunt. Now I’m going to be looking for that in everybody’s books. The only habit I have is that I go outside to smoke a cigarette after I complete a page. So these damn words are killing me. But, in actuality, I do find that taking a step away every now and then helps me a lot. It sometimes helps me see an angle in the story that I wasn’t noticing before.

  • Tell us a bit about Ease of Access. I noticed it’s classified as a psychology / counseling title. Is this a fiction novel?

Is it labeled as counseling somewhere? That’s pretty funny. I hope no one finds a counseling vibe in it, at least not in the sense of obtaining advice. The story is about an apathetic male prostitute who is hired to service reality TV stars. It’s dirty and peculiar but I think it does have some philosophy in it as well. It was published a couple years back by an independent financier, but people have said there’s some similarity between one of the characters in the novel and someone who is currently running for President.

  • For your fiction writing, do you tend towards being an outliner or a seat-of-the-pants type writer?

I hardly ever outline. It might be because I can occasionally be a bit impatient. The thing is though, I love letting the story take itself where it wants to go. When I overthink things the writing stops being fun for me. And that’s really the main reason I’ve been writing for as long as I have – because I find it really fun.

  • Which of your writing projects was the most fun to work on, and which the least?

Each project was a lot of fun simply because I had the desire to do it and wasn’t being pushed into it. But there have been moments or sections in certain projects that I didn’t necessarily enjoy working on. There’s a scene in The Eternal Echo that involves sexual abuse and I found it really difficult to write. It made me incredibly sad.

  • Have you ever had a reader comment “make your month?” If so, tell us a bit about what the reader said and why it resonated with you. If not, feel free to share the best (or most wild) thing a reader has said about your work.

Oh I don’t know that phrase. What’s that mean?

I’ve had a lot of funny conversations in connection with The Ease of Access. Due to the content in that book, a good number of people have informed me about some of the unusual sexual scenarios they’ve had. Their stories were sometimes humorous. They were also sometimes pretty damn uncomfortable.

  • Between when you started as a writer and now, what’s the most surprising or unexpected thing you’ve encountered about getting published?

The most surprising thing I found is how each book after the first one is still difficult to get published. I was naïve. I thought it would be smooth sailing after publishing my first novel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s become slightly easier, but it’s still hard work to get the stories out there. But that’s good. I believe the struggle keeps me hungry and pushes me to write better. It makes me learn more. I think discomfort goes a long way. It keeps people on their toes. Possessing total convenience is a good way to become indolent.

  • Do you have any future projects or ‘stuff-in-progress’ you can share a few words about? What’s next for Jeff Musillo?

I’m currently writing a story about the return of Jesus, but in this story no one knows he’s actually Jesus, so he’s treated almost as if he’s homeless as opposed to supernatural. It’s a strange one so far.

  • If you could be any of your fictional characters, would you? And who/why?

Hell no! My characters are creepy and dejected and often alarming. I think they’re fascinating from a distance, but I wouldn’t even want to be in a room with them.

  • Do you have a favorite novel that you’ve read?

That’s a tough. There are so many great novels. But if I could read only one book for the rest of my life I think I’d have to say Ham on Rye by Bukowski. It’s got everything. Humor. Sadness. Relatability. Perseverance. Although Bukowski probably wouldn’t use that word – Perseverance. I think he would just call it living.

  • Assume that The Eternal Echo becomes a movie – who would you pick to direct it?

I’ve actually been speaking with a Finnish Director about a possible adaptation. He made a really interesting horror/comedy film called Bunny the Killer Thing. He’s a cool guy, so it would be amazing if that all came together. But if that doesn’t work, I was thinking about stalking out and begging Darren Aronofsky. That shouldn’t be a problem, right?