The need to create is what arguably makes human beings, well, human. While some view the creative drive as an almost mystical bit of inspiration from above, others view it as a quality inherent in all people. Mississippi author Josh Stricklin describes his creative process as “feeding the monster.” Now a horror writer based out of Hattiesburg, Stricklin graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with majors in English Lit and Advertising. When he isn’t writing, Josh performs alongside his brother Jeremiah in the band Oh, Jeremiah. For Stricklin, creativity isn’t always a pleasant experience.
“Sometime back in an artist’s life, the allure of security lost out over the monster inside of us, the monster that creates the drive, the monster that screams ideas — great ideas — at us from the back of our minds,” Stricklin said.
For him, as for so many, the siren song of creativity is inescapable.
In 2013, Josh was struck by a car while crossing the street. Not only was he left with a shattered tibia and a fractured hand, but he’d also been carrying his tablet at the time, which was completely destroyed in the collision. This may sound like an unimportant detail, but to a writer, the loss was heart breaking. Josh had two-thirds of his first novel on the computer’s hard drive. He managed to save 25 pages of his work. Most people would have given up at this point or simply started a new project. Josh Stricklin isn’t most people. He soldiered on and did what artists have always done: used his own personal experiences to create a more meaningful piece of art.
“One of my characters had to go through what I went through. It was a form of inspiration that I didn’t necessarily love, but it definitely helped me,” Stricklin said.
He used his experiences with the accident, and the physical rehabilitation that followed, to influence his writing. The result was Stricklin’s debut novel “Those Who Are Left.” It tells the story of Derrick Martin, a Louisiana farmer, who journeys through a post-apocalyptic Southern U.S. with a motley crew of fellow survivors in search of his wife. Along the way they have to survive attacks from Screamers — people struck by a sudden madness — as well as other survivors who have less than noble intentions.
Comparisons to such pop cultural milestones such as “The Walking Dead” and “Night of the Living Dead” are unavoidable, but Stricklin believes that the setting of his novel is enough to distinguish it from both the figurative and literal hordes of undead monsters that shamble across our collective consciousness.
“The South has a down home feel that’s not like most places,” he explained.
His second novel “King of Evil” delves further into Stricklin’s view on creativity. In the novel a young couple relocates in an effort at a fresh start. The move rejuvenates the husband, an artist whose new project becomes all consuming. Things get strange when what he’s created comes to life, a feeling that Stricklin relates to.
“King of Evil” will be released next month and will be available on Amazon.com as well as Josh’s website, thegreenroses.com.