My First Story: J. Malcolm Stewart

by Emerian Rich

My First Story
with author  J. Malcolm Stewart

Age first started writing: 7
Location of first writing: The story was for a 4th grade composition competition at Valle Vista Elementary School in San Jose, CA  in which we could write whatever topic we wanted. So, I wrote a ghost story called “The Old Man” (yes, ageist I know) about an octogenarian ghost that terrorizes two small boys who suspiciously resembled my brother and myself.


The story was inspired by a game that we used to play, amazingly called “The Old Man” where we would pretend the aforementioned ghost was coming up the stairs to hunt us down… What the significance of his age? No clue… All the older people I knew at the time were perfectly nice people. Somehow, being an older ghost was scarier than if he had been a peer…. I guess… Who knows really any more? That was a lot of brain cell ago!

My first story/Basic plot:

The two brothers are home alone when the heavy footsteps of the Old Man are heard on the stairs. The pair promptly covers themselves under the sheets of their individual bunks in a vain attempt to hide themselves from their elderly tormentor. Hilarity ensures.

What did you think of the story then? 

It was certainly the scariest story ever written! It had tears…. It had laughs… It was better than “Cats…”

What do you think of the story now? 

The greatest compliment I could pay the story now is probably 70% of the words I used, I spelled correctly.

How did the story help you on the road to writing? 

Rejection training! I was 100% sure it was the scariest, most captivating story yet written. I was waiting for my offers when one of my classmates won for a story about her cat and her garden. In fairness, her descriptive phrasing really gave me a tangible impression of her cat, Fluffy and all those carrots she used to eat. (My classmate not the cat…I think.)

Current work: 

Look Back in Horror: A Personal History of Horror Film is an intimate look at the impact of the genre’s films in the life of suspense author, J. Malcolm Stewart. Part memoir, part retrospective and part love-letter, Look Back in Horror celebrates the films, actors and directors that made horror history. From the Golden Age of Hollywood, to the Hammer Films Revival of the 60’s to the New-School Horror movies of today, Look Back in Horror relives the cinema moments that shaped our lives and warped our brains.

J. Malcolm Stewart is an author, journalist and media professional who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His short fiction has appeared in the Pulp Empire Series, Heroes of Mars, Twisted Tales, Temptation Magazine as well as on the Smoke and Mirrors podcast. His novel-length thriller The Eyes of the Stars can be found at in ebook and paperback. His short story collection The Last Words of Robert Johnson and Other Tales is also available now on along with his non-fiction collection of horror film essays , Look Back in Horror: A Personal History of Horror Film.

Next time, you’ll hear from author AR Neal.