Author Interview: J. Stephen Howard on "Fear in Appleton"

Ana: Today we have J. Stephen introducing their book, Fear in Appleton. I haven't read this book myself, but J. Stephen was kind enough to agree to guest blog about their book to any readers who might be interested in the subject. J. Stephen, how would you describe your book to your prospective readers? In broad terms, what is your book about?

J. Stephen: Imagine a ghost who can find your deepest, darkest fears and make you face them.

Once you're dead, you have nothing to fear other than the truth of your mortal life. At the end of his, creative writing professor Terrence Crawford falls for his student Angela Lacey and can’t accept that she doesn’t love him in return. This unleashes a variety of fears he once kept at bay, ending in his mortal demise.

Then in his anguish as a ghost, Crawford forces people to face their fears, resulting in a haunting chain of events that will keep the people of Appleton, Kentucky awake for years to come.

Ana: What themes does your book explore and what do you hope the reader will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the reader? Essentially, do you hope your book will mean to a reader?

J. Stephen: I hope the reader will feel like he or she is on a roller coaster ride. Essentially, through the first half of the book, the reader is riding shotgun alongside the ghost. To me, it's not that scary if a see-through person is standing before you. If, however, this ghost can penetrate you, root around inside to get at your vulnerabilities, that's terrifying.

Ana: What prompted you to write this book and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain author or work that inspired you to add your voice to this genre? Besides the boatloads of money and rockstar fame, what motivated you to write this book? 

J. Stephen: I've been inspired by Stephen King and TV shows like, “X-Files" and “The Twilight Zone."

As for why I wrote the book, I did it to have fun. I find it enormously gratifying to practice the art of storytelling, and I had to do something with all the imaginative ponderings running through my head.

Ana: If you could compare your book to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why? If the one thing you could say to a prospective reader was, "If you like X, you'll love my book!", which work would be invoked so that a reader could judge whether or not your book is their cup of tea?

J. Stephen: Earlier, I mentioned Stephen King, “X-Files," and “The Twilight Zone." Essentially, if you enjoy discovering bizarre phenomena that will keep you on your seat in thrilling anticipation, you'll like my book.

Ana: Is this your first or only published work, or have you published other books? If you have published other books, how do they compare to this one? Do you have any more books planned, either as a follow-up to this one, or as a completely different book or genre?

J. Stephen: I've just completed a book of horror tales comprised of 11 short stories and a novella. It's called Frankenstein's Confessional because each story is written in the first person and involves guilt of some kind or another.

I found it fascinating to write from differing points of view. The range is from a twelve-year-old boy to a vampire fireman. Also featured are a female art student, a former football player-turned CSI agent, and many other divergent viewpoints.

Ana: Where can readers obtain a copy of your book for them to enjoy? How can they contact you with any thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can "sign up" to be notified when your next book comes available?

J. Stephen: They can go to Amazon. Around October 1, 2012, Frankenstein's Confessional will be available on Amazon. At some point, there will be a promotion when it will be free. Also, after three months, it will be available for all eBook platforms.

My email address is here. I have two websites: and

Ana: Thank you. I understand you have the first chapter of your book available as an excerpt for interested readers? Is there anything else you wish to add for our readers?

J. Stephen: Readers can go to the Fear in Appleton website to read an excerpt. There's also an excerpt from Frankenstein's Confessional on that book's website.

I want to say thank you for the interview. In addition, I'd like to thank all the readers of indie authors.

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