The Jones Drive-by: Stephen Jones

Painting by Les Edwards

Few things are more frightening than an awesomely put-together horror anthology … except, possibly, the person who puts said anthology together. Coz I mean, really, dude! The brain that can put together a labyrinth of fear is awesome indeed. In the annals of editors, legendary status affixes to a few – and Stephen Jones is one of those few. The tomes The Mammoth Book of Werewolves and The Mammoth Book of Vampires have graced my shelves for a long time and introduced me to the works of Kim Newman, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Steve Rasnic Tem and many others well before I even knew I wanted to be a writer. In fact, my mother will be rather pleased if I claim that my becoming a writer was the fault of Mr Jones, rather than her.

His body of work includes:
Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels & Heavenly Hosts
Zombie Apocalypse!
ong of the Necromancer
A whole slew of Horror Best Ofs
Dark Detectives: Adventures of the Supernatural Sleuths
The Essential Monster Movie Guide
Conan’s Brethren: The Classic Heroes
Coraline: A Visual Companion
Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft
Stardust: The Visual Companion

There are more. Many, many more. Many!

Much to my humble joy (and a few ‘I’m not worthy’ moments) he consented to answer random questions and posits the controversial idea that donuts are not a lifestyle.

1. If I wasn’t an editor I would be …
A bum, most probably. I don’t have any discernible skills other than editing or writing, so I’d probably have ended up living in a cardboard box under London Bridge. I guess if I had a choice – and the income to support it – then I’d like to run my own bookstore. However, although I love acquiring books, I wonder if I would be able to part with them quite so readily . . .?

2. You get to edit your complete dream anthology, with no commercial or other demands, it’s just the writers you want: who are the ten authors you select? May be dead or alive, but keep in mind the dead ones are very bad with deadlines.
I presume that we are talking genre here? So, in alphabetical order . . . Ray Bradbury, Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Robert E. Howard, M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Michael Marshall Smith, Karl Edward Wagner and Manly Wade Wellman. To be honest, even some of the live ones on that list are not so great with deadlines!

3. The top three ways to piss off an editor are …
1) Try to do them physical harm. 2) Try to fuck them over. 3) Don’t buy them a drink.

4. You’re an editor with a highly-tuned commercial sensibility as well as a highly-tuned grasp of the genre – have you ever bought a story you wished you hadn’t?
Good question. And weirdly the answer is – so far as I can recall – no. When I started out all those years ago, I vowed that I would be true to myself and my own values, and I think that I have pretty much stuck to that promise – even when it has potentially hurt me or my career. Sure, there are people out there who hate me (and that’s not too strong a word, believe me), but if you scratch the surface even slightly then you would probably discover that that is because at sometime they have tried to do me or someone I care about a disservice. I have no problem with people not liking my work – as a professional you put your head above the parapet with every project you do and, as a consequence, you should be prepared to accept any and all criticism – either good or bad. But if you are confident within yourself that you did the best job you could, and you’ve not hurt or ripped-off anybody doing it, then it is much easier to accept other people’s opinions. You don’t necessarily have to agree with them. I’ve always attempted to do the best I can, given such limitations as I am working within (usually money and/or time). I only buy what I want to buy, and I’ve never sold an anthology idea based on simply the names involved. So yes, I think I can say that I’ve never bought a story that I wished I hadn’t. Did you have one in mind . . .?

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
Doughnuts, definitely. But not those disgusting Krispy Kreme things. I’m talking about traditional, golden, English doughnuts with a sprinkling of sugar over the top and a blob of strawberry jam in the middle. The kind of doughnut that brings back memories of childhood, brilliant summer days, and holidays by the seaside. In my opinion, however, doughnuts should always be a treat, never a lifestyle.

His corner of the web is here.

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