I firmly believe that stories of revenge are a catharsis for the average person. The idea of a protagonist exacting justice on the villain who harmed his friends and family is beautiful! Should any of us try that in real life, an annoying situation would go from bad to worse to deadly.
That’s why it’s great to read a book like J.G. Faherty’s Hellrider.
When Eddie Ryder is burned alive by fellow members of the Hell Riders motorcycle gang for ratting on them, he vows revenge with his dying breath. He returns as a ghost, with his custom motorcycle, Diablo, by his side. After he finds out he can possess people, he launches a campaign of vengeance that leaves plenty of bodies in its wake and the police in a state of confusion. Spouting fire and lightning from his fingers and screaming heavy metal lyrics as he rides the sky above the town of Hell Creek, he brings destruction down on all those who wronged him, his power growing with every death. Only Eddie’s younger brother, Carson, and the police chief’s daughter, Ellie, understand what’s really happening, and now they have to stop him before he destroys the whole town.
Mr. Faherty is a life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley and the author of six novels, nine novellas, and more than 60 short stories. He’s also been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award for The Cure, and Ghosts of Coronado Bay and ITW Thriller Award for The Burning Time. At this time, he’s written adult and YA horror, science fiction, dark fantasy, and paranormal romance, and his works range from “quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness.” To the surprise of no one, he admits that, as a child, his favorite playground was a 17th-century cemetery.
I had to track down Mr. Faherty and talk with him about his hell-raising book!
PopHorror: What was the impetus to get the wheel turning for Hellrider?
J.G. Faherty: It was far less horror inspired. I was watching Sons Of Anarchy, and I got this idea, What if one of the murdered bikers came back for revenge? And what if that was a movie co-made by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez? The ultimate horror grindhouse movie! Blood! Action! Politically incorrect characters!
And right then… I knew I had to write the book.
PopHorror: Why set the story in Southern Florida?
J.G. Faherty: My last couple of books were based in upstate New York, and I wanted to change things up. Also, that area around the Everglades is a haven for bikers, smugglers, and small towns. No one else around for miles, which places everything on the shoulders of the town cops. It’s isolation, and then [with the Florida] heat added on.
PopHorror: How much research did you have to put into the story?
JG Faherty: Very little, which is how I like it. Some general research to make sure I had my geographic facts right, a couple of news stories about drug smuggling in the Everglades, and some work on police procedure.
PopHorror: How much fun was it to write your own heavy metal lyrics? It seemed like you enjoyed that!
J.G. Faherty: That was one of the best parts of writing the book, creating my fictitious metal band, Devil Dogs, with their hit, “Hellrider.” On the other hand, just as much fun was getting to include some other metal lyrics in there from Richard Christy of Charred Walls of the Damned. The mix of his songs and my original songs allowed me to set mood in two different ways as the book progressed.
PopHorror: On a more serious note, you deal with the topic of revenge. As much fun as it was for Eddie to have his revenge, you showed that revenge/resentment actually can destroy people. I have heard that resentment is like you drinking the poison and expecting it to hurt your enemy. Did you have any of these thoughts as you were writing the story?
J.G. Faherty: I think in Hellrider, revenge is shown as a part of all of us, part of that darkness we all carry to some degree. Who wouldn’t want revenge if they were savagely murdered? Or if someone framed you for a crime or did something terrible to your family? So, the desire for revenge isn’t what’s wrong with Eddie; it’s the lens for us to view his descent into madness. Carson wants revenge, too… against Eddie, for what Eddie is doing/has done to him, his mother, the girl he loves. But he never crosses the line into total darkness or anarchy. Eddie, however, is going mad. Literally. His supernatural powers come with a price, and that is his sanity.
PopHorror: Which makes sense. Now about you as writer and into the spooky stuff, I read you played in a 17th century cemetery.
J.G. Faherty: Growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley region, I experienced many strange occurrences in my childhood, from seeing ghosts to UFOs to other things. But oddly, never in a cemetery. We used to play hide and seek there as young kids, and when were older, it was a place to just hang out, sneak a beer, and listen to music. We never vandalized anything—although, as a prank one time, we locked one of our friends in an old mausoleum for a couple of hours! It was just part of living in that border area between real backwoods country and the suburbs. No malls, no big center of town. Nothing to do but make your own fun.
PopHorror: Who are your favorite horror writers? What about horror movies?
J.G. Faherty: As a kid, I cut my fangs on the classics: Stoker, Poe, Verne, Shelley. I read a lot. I also loved horror movies as far back as I can remember. I watched all the black and white Universal monster films, then graduated to the Hammer films. Then it was Bradbury, Bloch, Wellman, and Wagner. When folks like King, Straub, Koontz, and Rice hit the scene, I was in that prime horror reading age of 15 or so. From my teens to my 30s, I devoured all of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s paperback horror. Along the way, I developed certain tastes. I really love monster horror—ghosts, vampires, werewolves—and supernatural horror rather than slasher and serial killer type stories. Same goes for movies. You’ll never catch me watching anything like Saw, Human Centipede…
PopHorror: You have written all kinds of horror stories. Is there one style or novel that you would like todo?
J.G. Faherty: More than one! I have a YA coming-of-age supernatural story I want to write. I have a couple of action-oriented horror stories, kind of like what Hunter Shea and Michael McBride do, that I’m dying to write. I’d love to try my hand at more weird fiction and military horror. Too many ideas and too little time!
PopHorror:: What’s next for you?
J.G. Faherty: After Hellrider, my next novel out was Sins of the Father, a monster tale that sort of incorporates themes from Shelley’s Frankenstein and Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, set in 1800s Innsmouth. I recently turned in my next book to Flame Tree, which will probably come out either late this year or early 2022. It’s about some ghost hunters dealing with a haunted house and a possessed girl. It’s based partly on some true stories told to me by a priest/exorcist when I was in college. And right now, I’m working on a novel about a mummy loose in NYC. But in between those stories, I’ll have some short stories out.
PopHorror: Going back to Hellrider, what do you hope people take away from the story?
J.G. Faherty: I hope they’re madly entertained, and when they’re done, they’re exhausted, out of breath, and smiling. This book was written as pure entertainment, no moral, no hidden context. I want them to feel like they just watched a crazy movie, the popcorn kind. That they laughed, gasped, cried, and more than once went, “Oh, my God!” and covered their eyes.
PopHorror: This was so much fun for me! And I really enjoyed Hellrider. Thanks so much for hanging with us!
J.G. Faherty: Thanks for having me, this was fun!
J.G. Faherty is on social media, and Hellrider is available on Amazon.