Johnny Mains: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

August 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bury Me With This Book 

The twenty first Bury Me… features young whippersnapper Johnny Mains, a man who has risen to notoriety in horror circles thanks to his enthusiastic resurrection of The Pan Book of Horror Stories.

blue_highways1“The book I’d like to be buried with is a non-fiction travel book called Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon. I stumbled across it in a charity shop when I was 18 and it has become one of the most important books I own.

In the early ‘80’s, after a painful divorce and redundancy from his job as a Professor, Least Heat-Moon buys a van, decks it with a bed, table, cooker and toilet so it is liveable and in accordance with Native American resurrection rituals, calls it Ghost Dancing.

He then drives for 13,000 miles on the ‘Blue Highways’ of America, the small back water roads (coloured blue on the old Rand McNally maps) that take him through forgotten and lost towns; he purposely steers clear from the fast motorways and big cities. He retells the histories of the areas he passes through, talks to the people he meets along the way – be it a born again Christian who hitchhikes for no other purpose than to spread the word of God, a family who have a book recording every death in the community for several generations and take solace in the fact that one day their names will also be added to the book – to Brenda, the waitress he meets in a roadside diner, with whose dialogue (as with everybody he meets) he recreates on the page, and it’s beautiful to read.

Blue Highways is wistful, witty, heart warming and painful. The knowledge that many of these people knew that they were the last of their kind before they were swallowed up by faceless consumerism that lurked at the edges of their communities is extremely sad and touching.

The book inspired me so much, that I took my own road trip, at 19, all around the UK. I spent one year on the road, just me with a tent and a rucksack and I hitchhiked and found work in whatever town I landed in and met many amazing people, some who I’m still in touch with 15 years later. And the book went with me every step of the way, and it holds pride of place on my best bookshelf, battered and dog-eared, next to the signed Pan Horrors and the Not at Nights…”


JohnnyAbout Johnny Mains:

Johnny Mains is a relative newcomer to the genre. He has had a couple of short stories published in the Black Book of Horror series, has written for SFX and interviews cult authors and artists for  The Paperback Fanatic Magazine.

He has just edited Back From the Dead: The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories and has written the introduction for the re-issue of the 1959 Pan Book of Horror Stories, out in October.

He lives in Norwich with his wife Lou and dog, Biscuit.

Mark Morris: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

In the eighth instalment of Bury Me With… Mark Morris tells us about the book that has influenced him more than any, the book he’d like to take to his grave… or does he? It’s obviously been a difficult decision:

“Am I assuming that if I’m to be buried with this book, then I won’t be alive to read it? In which case, I might choose one of my own, just so that bodysnatchers get an idea of who they’ve dug up before carting away my mortal remains to be used in macabre experiments.

11PanBookHowever, if the inference is that this will be the only book I’ll have available to read throughout eternity, whilst sitting on my heavenly cloud, then that’s different. There are many books that are very dear to me, not always because they’re especially good, but simply because they retain a certain nostalgic resonance. Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks is one such example. This was the first Doctor Who book I ever bought, and its joyful impact — on my life and subsequent career — has been immense. Similarly the stories in The Eleventh Pan Book of Horror Stories scared me utterly shitless one New Years Eve many years ago, though in such a thrilling, life-affirming way that they sparked off a desire and a love for horror novels, stories and movies which has never since wavered. And talking of movies, Horror Movies by Alan Frank, a book I received as a Christmas present in 1974, and which still sits on a shelf in my study today, was the first of many movie books in my collection. Other favourites include A Heritage of Horror by David Pirie, English Gothic by Jonathan Rigby and The Hammer Story by Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes. Then, of course, there are novels. The Shining by Stephen King and The Fog by James Herbert were probably the first ‘modern’ horror novels I read as a teenager, and as such were massively influential. Away from the genre, What A Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and the various works of Magnus Mills, Rupert Thomson, James Lee Burke, Cormac McCarthy and David Mitchell have all enthralled me in recent years.

dark companionsBut if I had to choose just one book, I think I’d probably go for a short story collection. My favourite single author collection is probably Dark Companions by Ramsey Campbell, but I wouldn’t want to restrict myself to just one writer. I’m going to cheat here and choose as my book an anthology which doesn’t actually exist. It’s got at least 1000 pages and contains around 100 stories, each individually chosen by me. It would contain stories by all of my favourite authors, many of whom have already been mentioned above, and added to which would be the likes of Ian McEwan, Graham Joyce, Nigel Kneale, Nicholas Royle, Conrad Williams, Michael Marshall Smith, Robert Shearman, Stephen Volk, Tim Lebbon, Sarah Pinborough, Christopher Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Carroll, Joel Lane, Peter Straub, Mary Danby, Rosemary Timperley, Dennis Etchison and…oh, many many more. I’m not sure any book would be sufficient to entertain me throughout eternity, but I’m sure that such an anthology would give me a few thousand years of pleasure, at least.”


mark_morrisAbout Mark Morris:

Mark Morris became a full-time writer in 1988 on the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, and a year later saw the release of his first novel, Toady. He has since published a further sixteen novels, among which are Stitch, The Immaculate, The Secret of Anatomy, Fiddleback, The Deluge and four books in the popular Doctor Who range. His short stories, novellas, articles and reviews have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and magazines, and he is editor of the highly-acclaimed Cinema Macabre, a book of fifty horror movie essays by genre luminaries, for which he won the 2007 British Fantasy Award. His most recently published or forthcoming work includes a novella entitled It Sustains for Earthling Publications, a Torchwood novel entitled Bay of the Dead, several Doctor Who audios for Big Finish Productions, a follow-up volume to Cinema Macabre entitled Cinema Futura and a new short story collection, Long Shadows, Nightmare Light.