DEATHSCRIBE X – A Few Words with Jim McDoniel

FIrst-time Deathscribe finalist Jim McDoniel is a writer of weird, funny things. A literal Master of Writing from DePaul University, he has spent the last eight years writing molepeople and mad science for the award-winning audio drama Our Fair City. His radio plays have been produced by Midnight Audio Theatre, The Whiskey Radio Hour, and now, Deathscribe. He is also the author of the novel An Unattractive Vampire.

What additional projects do you have, previous or pending, that we can brag about for you?

I write for the audio drama Our Fair City, I am a three time winner of the Midnight Audio Theatre Scriptwriting Competition (sometimes with my Deathscribe rejects), and my novel An Unattractive Vampire was published with Inkshares as part of the Sword and Laser Collection. (For more information, you can visit or follow me on Twitter @jimmcdoniel.)

How did you get into horror? What excites you most about writing horror, compared to other genres?

I have always liked monsters. As a child, I would go to the library and check out the books with bright orange covers detailing the plots of old Universal monster movies like The Deadly Mantis and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman. I remember being very confused by The Murder in the Rue Morgue, because it didn’t have a monster in it…just an orangutan. What’s so scary about an orangutan? It wasn’t even a giant like King Kong.

What was the hook for you in this story? What came first, the story or the sound?

Oddly, the message. I tend to shy away from overt themes in my writing, favoring character and plot. But what with the state of the world these days, anger and frustration and helplessness and hopelessness have all been building up in me. This year, my submissions served as a way to vent.

What sound would you most like to see/hear performed in a Deathscribe piece?

I mean any time someone gets eaten or bashed is fun: the audience loves it when the fruit goes flying. My two favorites from the past have been thousands of tiny insects spilling out of a head and skittering away and the explosion of the pumpkin girl with the bits of flesh sporadically flopping to the ground.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Deathscribes?

Keep at it. Keep trying. This is my fourth attempt to get into this competition. I’ve been close to giving up in the past: looking at what I submitted and thinking I can never write anything good enough, that it’ll never happen, so why bother. But obviously, now it has: I am a Deathscribe. So if you didn’t get in, take your time to mourn, complain to your friends, let that wound heal a bit, and then when summer comes around, when the pain has dulled, try again. (Also, there are plenty of other competitions out there for radio plays. If you have surplus scripts lying around…submit them around.)

What scares you?

Ghosts. I am really quite afraid of ghosts. I once ran from a coat rack, because in a dark stairwell it was just a shimmer and a red eye. I’ve slept with lights on a number of nights because of scary movies or blurs of vision after nightmares or the man on the Ghost Tour saying “Be careful, something might come home with you.” I am fascinated by and love ghost stories, but I NEVER want to have one of my own thank you very much.

DEATHSCRIBE X will take place Monday, December 4th, at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. Click the link below for more information.
Jim McDoniel