Being the new kid on the block, I thought I’d tell you a bit about myself. I am what could be categorized as a horror/science fiction/thriller author. I have always had a fascination with the darker side of humanity, and I suppose that is what led me to write in these genres. My love affair with storytelling reaches all the way back to my childhood. Early influences were authors, like Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, and Richard Matheson.
I started writing at the age of eight, penning short stories and submitting them to magazines. I eventually landed a gig writing movie reviews for my hometown paper in Chilliwack, British Columbia. For me, this was a bonus, because I loved movies. I got to review films like Goodfella’s, Mean Streets, Friday the 13th and others until I signed up for the army in 1986.
Once there, I volunteered, or as they say in the army, “was voluntold,” to write military reportage for the artillery unit I was serving in. All kidding aside, I was happy to report on my military adventure in the first person, while I continued my quest to publish short fiction.
It was a tough gig writing fiction, and while I aimed for higher markets to publish my work, I only sold a few shorts to little literary magazines. On the side, between training, I started penning a novel that would eventually be published, but just after sitting dormant for almost a decade. But I’ll get to that shortly.
Unfortunately, soldiering is a young man’s game, and I was told by an orthopedic surgeon that I wasn’t a young man anymore. This was something I sneered at. In 1998, I was medically released from the military after enduring three separate leg operations. By the time of my release, I had risen to the rank of Master Bombardier and was the commander of a gun detachment aboard a self-propelled M109 howitzer.
Transitioning from soldier to civilian was a real change for me. It also led me down a new writing path, in which I started a blog called the Canadian Veterans’ Alliance, CVA for short. CVA hosted a consortium of writers. I began reporting on the difficulties endured by veterans after medical release. My passion for this cause landed me on the CBC nationally televised show, TALK TV, with Anne Petrie. Our interview addressed the shortcomings of Veterans Affairs Canada in taking care of wounded veterans. After that, I carried on by using the web as my voice and along the way was able to help wounded vets on their quest for support. This included reporting on a scandal in which soldiers exposed to PCB’s in the Former Yugoslavia had their medical records shredded by military officials. I also penned a three-part story on the adverse effects of the anti-malaria drug, mefloquine.
As with most former soldiers, there comes a time to move on. So, I decided to try my hand at driving an 18-wheeler, and this is where, yet another adventure began. After successfully completing training, I started work with a long-haul trucking company. I trekked all over Canada and the United States. It would be those travels that would lead me back into the world of writing.
One day in 2011, I fished a battered, half-finished manuscript from a box of old stuff. It was my first real attempt at writing a full-length novel. As I held it in my hands, I thought, I wonder if I can finish this?
I decided to give it a shot, and with the aid of modern technology I transcribed what I had in print and began writing the rest of the story. The story was called, THE EQUINOX and it was a tale of murder intermingled with native mysticism and monsters. I finished it in 2012 and published THE EQUINOX independently. I also submitted it to the Amazon Breakthrough Awards. This was an extraordinarily strange time because I was expecting my little horror novel to be bounced from the competition early on. Maybe beat out by a nostalgic book about flowers or maybe puppies. To my surprise, it kept moving from one level to the next. Submissions for Amazon Breakthrough Awards was somewhere around 30,000 manuscripts. I made it into the semi-finals which was just under 100, and a reviewer from publishers weekly called THE EQUINOX “A solid straight horror novel.” I also received praise from the horror community.
Horror World’s reviewer, TT ZUMA, wrote: M.J. Preston’s, The Equinox, is an old school horror novel that manages to utilize a fistful of tropes in unique ways. In fact, Preston does such a good job with the familiar that it never occurs to devoted horror readers that they’ve read bits and pieces of this story before.
That same year, I was about to embark on a new adventure that would solidify my next writing project and open me up to a world I had never seen. I speak of the Northwest Territories, where my career path as a trucker would lead me onto the worlds longest ice road. Yep, you guessed it, I was about to become an Ice Road Trucker. An amateur photographer, I carried my trusty Canon camera and began snapping photographs in the north. I shot everything I could see. Playful ravens, foxes, wolves, the arctic tundra and the majesty of the world famous aurora borealis, better known as the northern lights. I shot over 10,000 pictures that first season. I’ve included a few here for you to see. Being up there 105 miles below the Arctic Circle did something else. It awakened my muse and the set-up for my new novel.
After that first ice road season, of which I would return twice more, 2013 and 2016, I began penning a novel based on everything I saw with a twist of course. My main character, Marty Croft is forced into a world he thought he’d left behind. Blackmailed into a diamond heist, Marty finds himself running the ice roads for the son of his former gangster boss. Unbeknownst to Croft, the Acadia diamond mine has found something buried in the ice. Something not of this world and it is about to be unleashed.
In the fall of 2014, I completed the horror/science fiction novel ACADIA EVENT, which would capture the attention of a screenwriter, named Gregory L. Norris, who wrote for the television show Star Trek Voyager and the SyFy Channel.
Norris wrote: Author MJ Preston creates an epic page-turner in his newest release, ACADIA EVENT, with Canada’s frozen north as the setting and the Earth as the ultimate prize for whichever side wins the war.
Acadia Event was met with positive reviews, and my experience as an ice road trucker strengthened my ability to paint a picture of the north in the minds-eye of the reader.
In between projects I also write freelance short fiction. My stories can be found in anthologies around the world. But let’s get to why I am here today as a WildBlue author.
Last year I set out to write a two-book project known as the Highwayman series. Highwayman is about a serial killer in the United States who endeavors to be the most prolific and notorious killer of all time.
Using my extensive travels in the United States, I began planning. Research is a huge component in writing a book. Writing one about serial killers, made me realize that if I were to write a full-length novel, or two, on this subject would mean intense research. So that is what I did. I read and watched as much about the subject as possible. Immersed in a sea of source material, my research found me in the world of serial murder and the people that hunt them. From books, by FBI profiler, John Douglas, and Robert Ressler my research offered a plethora of source material from which to build my characters and backdrop. I also gorged on many true-crime books, and this is what led me here.
By chance, as I was wrapping up the second draft of the first book in the Highwayman project, I ended up contacting WildBlue author, Kevin M. Sullivan. Sullivan has penned several books on the serial killer Ted Bundy along with notorious killers like Vampire, The Richard Chase Murders. I would go so far as to say that Kevin Sullivan is one of the worlds most knowledgeable historians on Ted Bundy. After getting to know Kevin, a friendship ensued, and I decided that WildBlue press might be a good fit for my new project. So, I submitted it. After the usual submission period, the Highwayman Project, along with my two previous novels were accepted by WildBlue Press.
And here we are.
I am proud to be a part of this innovative talent pool of writers, editors, and publishers. WildBlue has so much to offer readers. Not only true-crime but thrillers, horror, romance, science fiction, and police procedural.
So, after all that, who is MJ Preston? I am a writer, but I am also a regular guy who has soldiered and worked blue-collar. But as you can see, I’m also somewhat of an adventurer.
I am proud to be a part of the WildBlue family and sharing my tales with you the reader. I look forward to you joining me in the pages ahead.
Let the adventure begin.