Interview with John Mosby, author

John Mosby and James Horan at the HLDU/HLWW event in Brisbane!

Interview with John Mosby

JS: How did you go from being a person who knew there was this movie, Highlander, starring Christophe Lambert, to being a person absorbed in Highlander and all its wonder?

John: I don't remember the first time I saw Highlander, but I know it wasn't actually at the cinema originally. As show-runner David Abramowitz later noted, it's a basic concept that a) can appeal to everyone with the idea of living forever and b) has the potential to explore a lot of other subjects that the concept of immortality raises. On one hand you can have a kick-ass action element with great swordplay, high-stakes and a touch of the fantastical, but on the other you have the spiritual questions: would you WANT to live forever if you fell in love and then had to watch that person die? Could you maintain a moral centre as the world and culture change around you? Should you? I liked the original film on a basic fun level and as the series explored them further, I came to appreciate the entire package and potential and it snowballed from there. My first professionally-printed interview—in a long since defunct monthly UK title 'Fantazia' was with Christopher after a screening of Highlander 2. That was interesting!

I'd also say that helping out and meeting fellow fans at early events like the Chronicles events in the UK helped with life-long friendships which cemented that Highlander itself was something special.

JS: Highlander World Wide I think you're the only man on this page. How are you involved with them?

John: The HLWW group is a pretty diverse group of people, scattered to the four or five winds with people in America, the UK, Australia, Europe and beyond. Carmel Macpherson is the lady who somehow manages to run it all, but she's got a great team who always shared the load. It is mostly ladies who (wo)man the battlements but there's also the likes of John Bierly. 'Big John' is one of the nicest people you could meet and a great writer. He's worked for Impact, with Adrian Paul for the PEACE Fund and, I believe, is currently writing a screenplay. Clearly women and people with the name 'John' are incredibly talented. :)

JS: How did you progress from meeting the wonderful Jill to having a relationship?

John: I actually met Jill at the big Anaheim event in Los Angeles in 1998. We had lots of mutual friends through the internet forums that were around at the time (the Rysher Forum was the main pivot of fandom at the time). There was an immediate friendship but given the distances—Jill was from Iowa, I was from the UK—and the fact we had our own separate lives—it never seemed likely to go beyond that. It was a decade later after always staying in touch that we thought 'Life's too short...' After spending more and more time in her native Iowa, we worked out all the logistics and paperwork and I moved there last year—but in some ways I like to consider myself a 'Transatlantic' citizen.

JS: Where can fans purchase or download issues of Verbatim? I'm interested in reading those.

John: Verbatim was a fanzine I created to make better use of some of the material that couldn't be placed elsewhere or hadn't been seen for a while. One of the business arrangements I made over the years with titles like Impact (the national magazine I edited) was that I'd retain the actual copyright to my work so I could use it myself later. That allowed me to repackage and consolidate articles years later. I'd love to have continued Verbatim but it took up too much time. I consider it a dry-run for the books I've done since then, though if there was a way to do it time/cost-effectively today, I'd still consider it.

I still have some copies left—though some miraculously sold out!—I may put what I have on ebay at some point.

JS: You spoke of your brother and his books in The Buzz interview, but the URL given there is no longer valid. How is your brother doing?

John: Steve's career actually continues to eclipse mine. Though I've had parts of a novel in my drawer for twenty years, I went into journalism rather than fiction. Steve, who is eight years younger than me, went ahead and became a tremendously successful author himself. He's had nine novels released by major international publishing house Orion and several of those, I believe, have been optioned with an eye to making movies somewhere down the line. They are largely in the 'crime' genre—dark, gritty and often disturbing in a clever psychological way—but with a twist of some kind that makes them stand out. He's rightly received a lot of plaudits and awards for his work from readers and other top authors. His latest book I Know Who Did It will be available in the US soon under the title 'The Reckoning On Cane Hill' .

His website is the left room (www.theleftroom.co.uk) and is definitely worth a visit.

JS: One of the great difficulties in researching you is your doppelganger John Singleton Mosby. Both his and your books come up in any Amazon search. Actually, Fearful Symmetry does not come up. Have you ever met?

John: Actually, I should clarify this. John Singleton Mosby isn't actually an author himself but was an American Civil War Colonel. Being from the UK I hadn't heard of him before I did that inevitable Google search of my own name (c'mon... we've all done that!). There have been so many books about him (and even a film) that any Google search always tends to bring up a raft of books to do with his history than anything to do with me. He's buried near Washington and I've had the unusual experience of standing on my own grave, so to speak.

JS: You have published "Gods, Monsters & Mutants" as well as "Fearful Symmetry", what other books have you published?

John: The first book I ever wrote was "X-Men: The Essential Guide" for Boxtree Publications. It was an official tie-in for the Marvel Comics characters around the time that they had their own Saturday morning animated series. I'd approached them with another idea and they contacted me a few months later with a straight-up offer to do the X-Men book. The catch was they needed it in about eight weeks—but for that they paid me a nice amount. I then did another official tie-in, this time a 'Making of...' for the Barb Wire film (which starred Pamela Anderson), also for Boxtree. Both of those are now out of print and Boxtree was folded back into a larger publisher, but sometimes they can be found second-hand on online stores like Amazon.

I then did The Cutting Edge book—essentially a special, large, softbound edition of Impact which looked at the use of swords in the movies and television. There was some coverage of Highlander in there, but that was just a small segment of a larger overview. It was a limited print-run, but I still have some copies available if anyone's interested and I believe Impact still has a box in its basement somewhere!

I did Gods, Monsters and Mutants (which brought together a lot of the 'superhero' related interviews I'd done over the years) and I also designed the packaging for Jill's novella Etta Etc. which is set in the American Mid-West after a plague has decimated the population. It's a zombie-esque scenario, but very character-based. That's available on Amazon as well.

JS: Impactonline.co is a wonderful website, and I lay the blame on you for the fact that I want to see Nighthawks. Tell me about it.

John: I took over the editing of Impact Magazine around 1999 and due to increasing paper costs the title moved online a few years ago. I continued to edit it for the original publishers and the new owners that bought that company last year. I'm very proud of the site content and what we've generally managed to do with 'Impact' over the years. It's now produced on a budget that's a fraction of other similar sites and the content is predominantly the work of myself and Hong Kong writer Mike Leeder. We really do put our heart and soul into making sure there's a balance between interesting content and it looking its best... and the site recently got a nice wash-and-brush-up and redesign by the new owners, so we look even better than before. It can be tough for keeping new content flowing on a daily basis and the technical side is basically still run out of Huddersfield UK, but the content and news comes from projects around the world. A lot of our previous writers moved upwards and onwards, sometimes moving into writing for television and film and it's been an important part of my career in some ways.

JS: Going by decade, what, to you, have been the best movies of the 80s, 90s, the first decade and so far the second of the 21st Century?

John: Tough question as those kind of lists always depend on mood etc. It might be easier to list some of the films I can go back to again and again. Clearly Highlander was a big 80s movie for me. The Usual Suspects remains one of the cleverest movies I've ever seen. I like another movie 'Identity' but I can't explain why without spoiling it. I have soft spots for animation—including The Lion King, Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Big Hero Six that are pitched to have something for adults as well as kids.

I think the real problem today is that so many films are created from an interesting singular idea, but just don't have a third-act. Far too many create interesting puzzles or dilemmas and then they just fail to resolve the pay-offs. Stories need some sort of structure... it's not enough to have a big star, a tag-line and a poster. I want a film that makes me FEEL something and one that doesn't spoon-feed me the story. Good films make you work a bit.

JS: What have been the best TV series?

John: Again... lots of different criteria, but the ones I can watch again and again are: Highlander, Firefly, The West Wing, Doctor Who (when it's not trying to be too smug). Person of Interest had some amazing moments that were high-points in structure and story-telling (so frustrated it's being cancelled). I just finished binge-watching Breaking Bad and I currently watch the likes of Limitless, Billions, Bosch, Daredevil... all of them clever and character-driven in their own way.

JS: The Zoom Page about you still has some mixing of you and the long-past John Mosby goes on... also, most of the links are no good any more. What was this about?

John: Actually that was me too. I was a guest at the Marcon event that year in Columbus, Ohio (fellow guests included Kevin Sorbo and Rick Faraci). Rick and I became good friends and I stayed with he and his wife in Vancouver. Rick passed away last year but he had so many fans. He was a guy who worked on both sides of the camera.

Follow John Mosby on There Goes the Day on Twitter and enjoy his work at Impact Online!