[Interview] Jon O'Bergh Discusses Latest Horror Novel 'Shockadelica'
Jon O'Bergh is an author and musician with a love of horror. His latest novel intertwines supernatural legends, as two horror podcasters embark on a quest to uncover the truth.
Jon O'Bergh is an author and musician with a love of horror. His latest novel, Shockadelica, intertwines supernatural legends from Ireland, Nigeria, and China to tell a story of prejudice, conspiracy theories and things that aren't what they appear to be. We'll join two horror podcasters—drag artist Kendall Akande and best friend Jenna Chen as they uncover the mysteries of their Victorian-era apartment building. The story features a companion album, Box Of Bones, by one of the characters known as the Bone Man. O'Bergh has written four groundbreaking books that link music and stories: the two horror novels Shockadelica and The Shatter Point, a memoir about the role of music in our lives titled Song of Fire, and the short story collection A Book of Hauntings. His supernatural short stories have appeared in several anthologies and magazines.
We sat down with for a campfire chat of horrors to discuss his latest novel Shockadelica, his writing influences, the novel's characters, LGBTQ+ representation in horror fiction and what readers can anticipate. We're thrilled to add the novel to our winter reading list. Shockadelica is availble now in Print and e-Book. You can listen to and enjoy the companion album Box Of Bones on Spotify.
Slay Away: Jon, welcome and thank you for joining me. Are you ready to chat horror with me today?
O'Bergh: I am and I'm thrilled to be here.
Slay Away: Jon, tell us how you discovered your love of horror?
O'Bergh: You know it really came from my mother. She loved telling ghost stories and on Summer evenings, she'd gather the neighborhood children on the lawn, on a blanket and she would tell us ghost stories. So I think it started with her.
Slay Away: What piqued your interest in writing horror stories?
O'Bergh: I was always interested in writing and grew up reading a lot of science fiction, some horror and I wrote some juvenile horror stories when I was a teenager. In fact, when I went to college, I originally started out as a humanities major intending to become a writer, but then I kind of lost my interest in college during my sophomore year. A counselor helped me reorient my interest and I ended up changing my major to music so most of my career after college was music related. It wasn't until I think, back in 2011 that I started delving back into writing again.
Slay Away: You mentioned some of the things that you were reading, do you have any favorite science fiction or horror authors that have influenced your writing?
O'Bergh: More recently, I love Paul G. Tremblay. So, he's influenced my writing and then specifically Shockadelica, my latest horror novel. There's a number of influences. Two of which were Grady Hendrix and Gemma Files.
Slay Away: Tell us about your collection of novels and short stories. Where can we find them just to get started because you have written multiple works.
O'Bergh: They're available at the usual places, Amazon or Barnes and Noble if you're in Canada, Indigo Books and Music and then there are a lot of independent bookstores that have an online presence as well. I've written two horror novels and I've written a small collection of short horror stories. I've had several short stories published in anthologies and magazines and those are also available in the usual places. You can connect with all my work on my website.
Slay Away: Speaking of 'Shockadelica', it's your latest novel and it has some wonderful reviews from readers so far including Sarah on Goodreads who called it, "This is a perfect read for supporting pride month, the author and one of the MC’s are both part of the LGBTQ+ community. A treat for horror lovers, imo, are the section titles within each chapter; every single one is a title to a horror movie, book or song." What horror influences can we find in the book?
O'Bergh: I pulled different things from the horror universe. I got an idea for one of my characters from Rue Morgue. I've mentioned two writers and Books In The Freezer, is one of the first horror podcasts I started listening to and I came up with the idea for the story about two horror podcasters from there. What else? Oh and the song by Prince, "Shockadelica", which was the B-Side of his single, "If I Was Your Girlfriend," in 1987, that song is about a woman who's so seductive that the singer thinks she must be a witch and I liked that title and that gave me the name of the title. Subsections are titled after different horror films, horror books and songs that have horror elements. So, I pulled a lot of different things into it.
Slay Away: The main characters of 'Shockadelica' are Kendall and Jenna, tell us what readers can expect from the horror podcasting duo?
O'Bergh: They are best friends who share a passion for art, fashion and horror. They've launched this podcast called, "Shockadelica" in which they discuss all things horror. They discover that their apartment building might be haunted, so they think that would be a great idea to explore for on of their podcast episodes. However, as they start interviewing neighbors and get into learning more about the haunted history of their apartment building, uncover something far more sinister than ghosts. They have to use their creativity to fight the evil existential threat.
Slay Away: I'd read that Kendall is a Drag Artist, what inspired you to create that particular backstory for Kendall's character?
O'Bergh: Yes, well I wanted to have an LGBTQ+ character and I've watched a lot of Rupaul's Drag Race. I thought you know there are drag queens in a fair amount of horror movies, television, music and they have a presence in a lot of other cultural things, but they do not have much of a presence in Horror fiction. So, part of my interest was to write that oversight. That's why I created the character of Kendall.
Slay Away: What kinds of horrors can we expect to encounter during our reading, we know we'll get things like the paranormal, but are there any other subgenres of horror we can expect to encounter.
O'Bergh: Yes, Folk Horror and this is where the influence from Gemma Files comes in. I was influenced by her novel Experimental Film. So, I've incorporated a whole folk horror element into the storyline. It's a supernatural being from certain folklore tradition and then there's kind of the not-quite-a-slasher, but a serial murderer kind of character. So, there's that part of the horror universe in there. There's definitely the occult, because one of the characters is a witch and there's the paranormal portion, involving a ghost. That's one of the questions too for readers, is it really a ghost or is it something else and I won't spoil the way the plot unfolds for everyone.
Slay Away: Did you have any specific message that you were hoping to impart on your readers by exploring any of those themes.
O'Bergh: Oh yes, definitely. One of the themes of the book is the dangers that exist in the real world. Especially things that are happening not only in the U.S., but around the world in the last few years. The book takes on the theme of prejudice. So, I wanted to craft a message about fighting that kind of evil and that's a lot of what the book is about.
Slay Away: Do you currently have anything else in the works that horror fans should be on the lookout for or anything at all that you can share with us.
O'Bergh: I've started three different projects and I don't know where they're going to lead or which one is going to actually play out, so they're only in the very beginning stages and it'll be a long time before they appear in print.