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.