Authors come from all walks of life: maybe you’re a single mother trying to make ends meet, working on what would become one of the most universally known and highly recognized book/film series of generations to come; maybe you’re a person who enjoys writing as a hobby but may be afraid to take the next step. Maybe you have a totally different background than writing but have secretly had a penchant for it and decide to make it more known. The great thing about being a human being is that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is what you share with the world- words can certainly do damage, but they can also connect us in some of our more basest forms. This is why authors want to write, to be able to connect their stories with people who can relate to their characters. We want to read about other people’s problems- real or fictional- to help give us perspective on whatever may be going on in our own lives so we can say things aren’t as bad as we thought. Perhaps we want to read scary stories because we like to be entertained without actually being put in that situation ourselves, or so we can think about what we would do ourselves if we were in that situation. Our guest today, Josh Sheets, shows us that it doesn’t matter what background you come from- if you’re passionate about things, life can be rewarding and your possibilities are only as limited as you make them.
DS&JM Reviews: For our first question, I see that you used to be a journalist and that it goes back to college days, what about journalism made you think that it could be a career?
Josh Sheets: I think that the back alley service entrance type of aspect was what appealed most to me in journalism. That you get a pass to places and events that most have to pay for, and that you’re there to do a job. There is also the rush and skullduggery of print journalism that I find impressive, the rush being “write good, write fast”, which was always our motto in college.
DSJM: You like to write screenplays from what I’ve come across, what is your favorite that you have worked on/are working on?
Josh: I love screenplays. Before I started in novels seriously, I began adapting Crichton’s State of Fear and Lumley’s Necroscope. I found a website called Daily Screenplay .com and still love browsing scripts on it today. My favorite original script might be Blood House, it is a twenty page sequel to Blood Night that I wrote in one afternoon for a script writing competition from Eat Crow Horror. I think it stopped at the fourth round of judging, but it was fun to write it and drink cup after cup of coffee to make the dead line. The script for Blood Night was written in a day, and it is eighty pages, I think. Also, lots and lots of coffee consumed during as well.
DSJM: Sounds like it’s a hell of a rush but very worth it, so you’ve always liked to write then?
Josh: I guess I could say that I love writing on nights when I can sit alone with beer and a pack of cigarettes and hammer away at the keyboard with cigarette smoke burning my eyes.
DSJM: Your books, Blood Night and The Follower has everything from zombies to aliens to creepy dolls, ghosts and more- did you have a personal experience that made you interested in the supernatural and legends worlds?
Josh: When I was very young, my parents bought all of us boys (myself and my five older brothers, plus two from my dad’s first marriage that visited on weekends and holidays) a Time Life book that covered things like mind over matter, aliens and crop circles, etc. It was fascinating and scary to me; and I was hooked. I would find and pour over any material I could read about: urban legends, ghosts, Bigfoot, et al, and still do today. As for personal experiences with things of that nature, I have indeed. Enough to fill a book.
DSJM: Hopefully, we will see that someday, I’m sure it would be fascinating. What made you want to write your own stories and were any based off of legends?
Josh: I have always constructed my own stories, while either on long walks or at work while sweeping floors and shovel work, etc. There are always tall tales and local legends thrown in the mix of books or scripts that I write, but one in particular stands out: a short story titled The Devil’s Videotape that I wrote where a student filmmaker makes a documentary called With Earthed Feet about devil worshippers where he lives. The story became the films Chasing the Devil and is based loosely on a case out of Gilmer, Texas, where a teenage girl disappeared around 1991 and a cult of cannibal Satanists were exposed, only to be covered back over by paperwork and legal red tape; the case remains unsolved. While filming Chasing the Devil the first time, I stopped because of overwhelming paranoia, only picking the film up after moving to a different town years later.
DSJM: What would be your favorite legend and why?
Josh: My hands down favorite is that of Spring Heeled Jack. A turn of the century monster in England that could leap over buildings and had a fondness for tearing open the shirts or blouses of unsuspecting young women who walked the streets at night, and who also slapped a soldier on century duty on the face lightly back and forth several times before leaping away into the night, he was never found. Other favorites are the Beast of Gévaudan and the boggy creek monster- especially so in the case of the latter because Fouke, Arkansas is only a couple of hours from where I grew up.
DSJM: I see you had some training to be a movie director and you have produced a couple of movies, what kind of experience was that?
Josh: My first film was a short called Vampire Rising, which I was the writer and director, and acted as the villain. I bought gear, makeup, and casted the film myself. Next, was a feature length film called The Runaway Woods which I was AD and producer, and once again stepped in to fill the role as the villain. Both films had difficulties, but Runaway Woods ended up costing thousands of dollars and was never released, so it was a lesson on what not to let directors do with their films. A few years later I made a film called Chasing the Devil, which was a Blair Witch sort of deal where I was writer, director, and starred in. The film was made with no script, only me keeping the running story in my head and directing my actors who constantly wanted to know “What the hell is happening in this movie?” so it was a lot of fun. Chasing the Devil may have distribution soon, but it’s not concrete.
DSJM: We’ll have to keep up with that one, sounds very interesting! I see that you have mainly done low budget horror movies, did you have any inspirations that made you decide to do low budget? If so, what were they?
Josh: I think that low budget movies, when created honestly according to ones love of filmmaking, are the best and most charming forms of filmmaking. I love in camera creature effects and gore makeup. A low budget horror film is its own art form. My films were NO budget horror films, but I think they still had the prototypical “scrappy charm” to them. I think that as time progresses, I will continue to make low budget films; I love the integrity having a low sum of money can force an artist to have.
DSJM: You also like to search for ‘treasures’ in your free time, have you found anything that had a profound effect on you?
Josh: When I was working in Houston as a contract scuba diver, I once found a sunken truck for the Dickinson Police Department. It’s a great story. I was once invited on an actual treasure hunt in Florida for a sunken ship, but declined on grounds of trust in the other hunters. I’m also a junker and amateur archeologist. Once while spending the day filming with some of my hippy mystic friends I was handed a leather cutting stone dug right up from the ground on an Indian burial mound, it had a profound effect on my heart and I have kept the stone for years. I recommend the book Dragon Teeth by Crichton for wanna be diggers.
DSJM: Lastly, but certainly not least, Night Shift Stories was your first published book- what have you learned since that was first published to when your two latest books came out (Blood Night: with hot sauce and The Follower) that you can tell our readers?
Josh: Stay sharp.
Josh’s newest books, Blood Night (with hot sauce) and The Follower are available on Amazon now, in both kindle and paperback editions; click the links below to get your copies today! A special thank you goes out to Josh Sheets for participating in this week’s Who’s That feature, it is an inspiration to see that you can do anything that you set your mind to but still enjoy life to the fullest- because in the big scheme of things, life is way too short to spend wishing you were doing more of what you enjoy. Take the time to find what you’re passionate about and do it!
Get Blood Night (with hot sauce) on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Night-sauce-Josh-Sheets-ebook/dp/B073DH35M1/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503509065&sr=8-1&keywords=blood+night+josh+sheets
Get The Follower on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Follower-Josh-Sheets-ebook/dp/B073WNBRN7/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503509159&sr=8-1&keywords=the+follower+josh+sheets