Over the last couple years, it’s been a pleasure getting to know horror writer Jonathan Edward Smith. He’s very outspoken and insightful, which is why I reached out to him to do an interview for Horror Pride Month. It wouldn’t be the same without hearing his thoughts on things.
Learn more about how Jonathan’s love for horror developed, his favorite horror movie, the stories he’s written, why representation is important to him, and more.
PopHorror – Thanks for talking with me, Jonathan! How long have you been a fan of horror?
Jonathan Edward Smith – Thank you! I’ve been a fan of the genre since around the time I started kindergarten. At that time, my family lived in Ohio and my grandma lived in a different house. When I’d visit, she let me raid her VHS collection. I started off with Friday The 13th Part 2. I fell in love with it right away, jumped out of my skin at the ending window scare and the opening cat scare (which…also involved a window). I moved on to Carrie (1976) after that, followed closely by Halloween (1978) which was the first Horror film my grandma actually purchased FOR me on VHS from a nearby discount store. How she didn’t already have a copy is beyond me.
PopHorror – It’s refreshing to know that the horror classics are what made you fall in love with the genre. What is your favorite horror movie?
Jonathan Edward Smith – My favorite Horror film is The Devil’s Rejects. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it and how many people I’ve watched it with. Everything about the film works for me and I doubt I’ll ever get sick of it or that it’ll ever be “dethroned” as my favorite.
PopHorror – It’s one of my favorites as well. How long have you had a love for writing?
Jonathan Edward Smith – I first started writing in the 2nd or 3rd grade but I don’t count a lot of that since it was mostly just bad slasher fanfiction and stories about natural disasters. I did have one short story published when I was about 10 years old, titled “The Summer At Aunt Julie’s.” It was about a family who end up separated after a massive wedge tornado rips through their town. Fun stuff. I took a break from writing throughout middle school but regained my focus in high school, writing two novels, over 80 poems, 12 short stories, and three film scripts by the end of my senior year.
PopHorror – That’s pretty impressive! What was the first horror book you wrote and what was it about?
Jonathan Edward Smith – My first Horror novel, “One Night In October”, was based on a script I wrote (same title) in 2011. The book was completed in 2016. It’s a slasher story which takes place on three days. The day of a mass killing in a small Georgia neighborhood, as a madman targets a group of trick or treaters, an elderly couple, several cops, a family of eight, a group of nine friends at a party, and over 30 other people over the course of 9 hours. The day following the killings, as the FBI becomes involved and the massacre becomes known worldwide and the day one of the few survivors is interviewed by a serial killer expert are also covered.
PopHorror – Oh man, I’m already in love with that story. As a member of the LGBTQ + Community, what are some of your favorite horror movies that represent members if the community?
Jonathan Edward Smith – This is kind of a tough one since there’s so many stereotypical portrayals that I really don’t care for. Black Swan touched upon LGBT themes in an interesting way and May has one of my favorite lead characters ever (though both films felt more like character studies which involved exploring sexuality than something “concrete”, if that makes sense). Same goes for films like Martyrs and Hostel Part II. High Tension is one of my favorite films too but, yeah, it’s not a shining example of portraying LGBT characters in a positive manner.
PopHorror – Those are great examples. Do you think the horror community lacks representation?
Jonathan Edward Smith – We tend to be given more of a spotlight and a voice in literature than in film, I’ve noticed. In many circles, we’re still treated as “token gays” in stories though many indie artists are slowly shaping the genre to be much more inclusive. LGBT+ Horror FANS are more celebrated than characters within the genre, often.
PopHorror – This is true. What type of characters or stories would you like to see happen?
Jonathan Edward Smith – I would like to see more LGBT+ stories/characters in the Horror genre that aren’t 100% focused on the characters’ sexuality and whatnot. Often, it’s either ignored completely or we’re beaten over the head with it and it ends up being the only defining trait of the character. And to me, that’s kind of boring. I want more of a happy medium of sorts, where strong LGBT+ characters are featured but not in a token fashion or in a way that causes readers or viewers to not connect in any way. After all, there’s more to us than this part of us, important as it may be. In other words, give me some strong LGBT+ badasses who are heavily flawed but likable, tossed into a nasty situation, and just so happen to be part of the community. More positive spins on polyamory would also be nice. I’m in a committed triad with two men I love very much. I can’t say I’ve ever seen my exact relationship structure portrayed positively.
PopHorror – Thank you for such a thoughtful answer. I would love to see all of that too. Why do you think representation is important?
Jonathan Edward Smith – Representation is important to me for reasons that are kind of obvious, I guess. I don’t exactly NEED to see parts of myself in every character I see/read in a book or film (or even in my own works) but it’s really satisfying when I happen to come across LGBT+ characters I can connect with in a big way. Representation also encourages LGBT+ artists of all kinds to have more of a voice in and outside of the Horror community. It gives us a platform and the ability to reach an audience. Even within fiction, telling our stories can do a lot to raise awareness of very real causes as well.
PopHorror – Another wonderful response. Now for a less serious question. What’s your favorite film of 2019 thus far?
Jonathan Edward Smith – This is a tough one since I’m actually a bit behind when it comes to 2019 films (life got crazy). But I’m still torn between a few. Us is a truly powerful mindfuck of a film that I’m sure people will be talking about for years. The Prodigy was a surprisingly good, simple gem. Pet Sematary and Escape Room were better than expected too. Overall, the first half of the year was fairly quiet (though there’s a few, like Velvet Buzzsaw, I’ve not seen but are on my radar) but the next 7 months seem packed with releases so I’m definitely excited for the coming months!
PopHorror – Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and for these in-depth answers, Jonathan. I look forward to all your upcoming projects and adventures!
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