The King of Evil
Genre: Horror, Occult, Voodoo
Publisher: Silver Leaf Books
Date of Publication: September 1
Number of pages: 334
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Paul Tynes
After a horrific accident, graphic artist Jack Simmons and his wife, Cindy, have lost all sense of a normal life. With their marriage in pieces, their only hope in setting things back is by starting over. The two pack their lives in boxes and migrate to the Big Easy. Upon arrival, Jack and Cindy fall into the jobs of their dreams. The new start they were hoping for seemed to have been waiting for them in New Orleans, after all. But something followed them. Something Evil.
Jack is commissioned to create the artwork for a graphic novel about a voodoo king, The King of Evil. As Jack works diligently to create a masterpiece, drawing the images back and forth between paper and his computer, he starts seeing things. Images of his King appear in the corners of his vision. They spring up just as Jack falls asleep. Always only inches out of plain sight.
The King grows more powerful, and soon he unleashes his power on Jack, Cindy, and the people in their lives. The King slowly destroys everyone around them, showing the newly rekindled couple what it's like to be evil for evil's sake. Jack and Cindy will need help from the King's past victims to stop him.
The King of Evil is a heart-pounding, supernatural thriller. Its vibrant characters and intense action is certain to keep its audience reading well into the night.
Amazon Silver Lead Books
RIU: Hi, Josh! Welcome to Rising Indies United. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hey guys, I’m Josh Stricklin from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You may know it as the place where Brett Favre lives. Otherwise you probably know it as Mississippi (the one that looks like Alabama looking the other way). I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi (like Brett Favre) with a few degrees that I’m much too busy writing to really use. I like some sports, graphic novels, and pizza. I have a few dogs, and a somewhat healthy obsession with Dr. Pepper. I love being scared when I read. It makes reading exciting, and gives yet another reason to avoid doing it in the dark.
RIU: When did you first begin writing? Did you find it daunting or did you just jump in feet first?
I first started writing in junior high. It started with songs though. I was in bands constantly, and I always felt like I should make a point to have plenty of lyrics waiting in the vault. I slowly branched out to short stories and a stand up routine I never used. In JuCo I wrote a lot of TV show pilots. I can’t really say I jumped into writing books feet first, because it was a gradual evolution. It was just kind of like, “Well, this is just the next step.” It never really intimidated more or made me think I couldn’t do it. With my first book I definitely had a rough time finishing it. I was in a car related accident and was carrying my computer with the manuscript on it. I was winding the story down and lost pretty much all of it. It set me back a few months for sure, but the second round proved to be much better. It was very therapeutic for me mentally as I rehabbed physically. So if anything it’s given me more confidence and closure than anything.
RIU: What inspired you to write The King of Evil?
Like I said I live in South Mississippi. It takes roughly the same about of time to get to Jackson (our capital) as it does to get to New Orleans (not Louisiana’s capital). Jackson is fun. I lived there very briefly, but New Orleans is a completely different world. There’s a reason people still live there after Katrina. I love the city. The people there are almost suspiciously friendly. And of course there’s the food. New Orleans has a lot more things for my mind to latch onto, so naturally I prefer to go there. Especially when you can get Pelicans tickets for ten bucks. There’s a moment in The King of Evil when Joe says he saw a weird painting on a building. The painting is of a sketchy looking guy playing a warped piano at night in the woods, and at one point it really existed. It’s been painted over at least once since then. The last time I saw it, the building had a skinny, pale couple in all black in its visage. But when I saw the guy playing piano I stopped and took picture of it, because I knew I wanted it to make an appearance. I was already working on a book with Jack and Cindy moving to New Orleans. I didn’t originally plan for voodoo to play such a large role in the book, but I spent a great deal of time getting the lay of the city and it kind of forced itself into it. I actually started writing this book when I was working on another one (my next book) and the more time I spent researching the city and voodoo the more interesting the story was too me and eventually it took precedence over that one. So more than anything I’d say the city of New Orleans was the biggest influence for the route this story took.
RIU: Why Horror?
Vicent Price said it best. “It’s as much fun to scare as to be scared.” Stephen King, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, they all freak me out. I grew up watching horror movies. Friday the 13th seemed to always be on at least one channel at all times in the 90s. Are You Afraid of the dark was also in its heyday. So I kind of grew up with it all around. I didn’t start writing stories seriously until college and when I did it naturally migrated toward the horror genre. I just like it better than everything else I’ve read. Horror stories are the ones that come back to make you uncomfortable when there’s no reason to be. It freaks you out when the lights are off and something in your house makes a noise. It’s just the cat, but who knows. It could be a vampire. That makes me happy.
RIU: Who have been your biggest supporters?
My brother actually read the first draft of The King of Evil and told me what would be better. I’m incredibly grateful for that help. My friend Toby probably does as much as anyone in the ways of spreading the word. I can always count on him to post a solid review. I also have some pretty hungry readers. I work with some of them, and that helps because I see them regularly. The Odum twins are especially active. When Chris isn’t asking about the next one, Charles is sending me messages about bookstores I need to hit up for a signing. People like that area always motivating me.
RIU: What is the hardest part of writing? What is the best part?
The hardest part of writing is trying to get anything else done. The stories are always coming. They’re always pounding on the door to get out even when I’m busy. I always have a pen and notepad on me because it’ll interrupt what I’m doing. It’s very disrespectful sometimes. Church, work, gym, it doesn’t care where I am. It just wants me to get back to work. The best part is meeting someone new, because of my books. I mean it feel great to finally get back a copy after months of work. But when someone tweets me or befriends me on Facebook it means they liked it enough to actually seek me out. It’s a good feeling when a stranger affirms your confidence in what you do.
RIU: Who has been your biggest influence?
Stephen King. No doubt. I’ve read all of his multiple times. Every summer I read Under the Dome, It, and Salem’s Lot just to make sure they don’t change. Musicians are also fairly responsible for parts of my stories. They Might Be Giants and Rob Zombie both have their influential fingers in The King of Evil even if they don’t know it.
RIU: What is your writing process?
I don’t have one. I just turn everything off—music, TV, Internet—and sitting down at the keyboard. The main issue is actually sitting down to do it. I describe writing like the Bruce Banner/Hulk relationship. I have to keep it tamped down just I can be a person in public. It’s constantly trying to get out, so pretty much anytime I sit at the computer I’m playing catch up with the story in my head.
RIU: What advice would you give a new writer?
I’d suggest outlining the story and creating a really intense character profile for anyone who shows up—stuff that probably won’t even make it into the story—you never know when someone will want a spinoff. It’s a good thing to have those things so you’re prepared for where the story goes. I know that isn’t going to work for everyone. I don’t even go too in depth for side characters, but a good outline keep me focused. Having said that, I’ll say this…Always have some way to make a note. Pad and paper, voice recorder, a text thread to yourself, something. I can’t count how many times just having a pen has bailed me out big time. It’s incredibly simple and it’s a gigantic advantage to be ready at all times.
RIU: If you could have dinner with any 5 writers (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
They Might Be Giants, Amy Poehler, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Brian Michael Bendis, in that order too. It’ll just keep the flow going in a constant direction. I’d have to do it one at a time or none of us would ever leave. With the Giants I’d talk about writing about obscure subjects, and if they have to do research on the things they write about. It’s always something out of left field with those guys. With Amy I’d talk about comedy. I use comedy in my stories, and she’s mastered it. She’s just relentlessly funny, and I’ve admired it since I’ve known who she was. I know a lot of what she does it on the fly, but I’d love to just watch that in action. I don’t know if I’d be able to have a conversation with King. I’d be to focused on not fangirling out in front of him. I feel like what’d I’d learn from him in a single dinner would change how I write forever. Ditto that for Neil Gaiman. I love his fantastical mind. He has a way of creating a world that no one else does. I’d also get him going about writing graphic novels. That would effortlessly lead me into time with Brian Michael Bendis, and comics. All my favorite characters have been done by him at some point, and I’d love to talk about what it was like bringing them to life.
RIU: What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ve got a lot coming up. My next books will be a trilogy. All my books are going to link up in some way, but the next three will be a continuous story. I have a sort of ghost story/western on deck after that, but somewhere a long the line I’ll start releasing the center story that all these stories revolve around. They’ll all feed into that story, and that story will add a little to the ones that are already finished and later ones. But I have to do it a specific way. I don’t want to release that one too soon. I have an idea for a comic book character, also based in New Orleans. That’ll be a little ways down the road though. But the next ones are going to be different. They’re more along the lines of mystery/thrillers than horror stories. I’m enjoying them a lot so far. It’s new.
RIU: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Much continued Success!
No problem. It was fun!
About the Author:
Josh Stricklin is an American author and musician with degrees in English literature and advertising from the University of Southern Mississippi. His first novel, Those Who Are Left, is available online and in person. The King of Evil is his first terrifying novel with Silver Leaf Books. He's currently hard at work finishing his first series…or more likely reading comic books and wearing a Seahawks jersey.