As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of blogging yet, and I had said this year that things were going to change and I was going to start posting on a semi-regular basis. As you can see, that hasn’t quite worked out the way I planned… so far. Work has gotten crazy, and add to that my own personal projects, there seems to be little to no time left in the day, so I want to thank Rose Blackthorn for extending to me the invitation to participate in this Blog Hop. So without further ado…
What are you working on right now?
I guess the question should be, “What am I not working on?” I just finished editing an anthology, From Beyond the Grave, for Grinning Skull Press. It’s a collection of ghost stories by some very talented authors. I am currently working on collecting stories for an unthemed horror anthology, Blood on the Moon, which will be published by the same company. I’ve always got several short stories in the works. I’ve also got several novellas in the works, and three novel manuscripts in various stages of development. The project that has been the focus of my time lately is Equinox (you can find an excerpt of it here). It was a short story I wrote in college that I always wanted to revisit. At the time that I wrote it, I had a target publication in mind, so consequently I had to keep the word count to within their guidelines. I always felt there was more to the story and knew I would go back to it some day.
How does it differ from other works in its genre?
With the exception of Fantasy fiction, I haven’t seen dryads or satyrs play a role in horror fiction, so I would have to say the originality of it makes it differ.
What experiences have influenced you?
I was always a loner, even with three brothers and a sister, and I usually had my nose in a book. If I wasn’t reading, I was spinning my own tales. You know the way kids are, so the stories I was telling at the time centered around talking animals and magical forests. I wasn’t writing at the time, merely amusing myself (and my family) with my own tales. As I got older, I developed an interest in High Fantasy. Around the time I entered college, my taste in reading changed to horror, thanks in large part to my mother, so there was a time I was attempting to combine elements of both. The short story version of Equinox was originally written around that time. It was also around that time that my interest in the supernatural manifested. I started haunting cemeteries and investigating the local haunted houses. One of the novel manuscripts I’m working on has as its foundation one of those investigations. Seeing where my interests were heading, my mother shared with me some “incidents” that happened within our own family—hauntings, ghostly visitations, etc. My novelette The Last Word is based on one of the stories she told me.
Why do you write what you do?
I don’t think I have a choice. When the ideas come to me, the characters have their own lives, their own stories. I’m merely the vessel through which they channel those stories. There was one time when I set out to write a short romance story, and it started out fine, but somewhere along the way, the lead character decided she was going to have this little “kink”. It wasn’t what I had intended, but as her story unfolded, it is what was she revealed to me.
How does your writing process work?
When a story idea comes to me, I rarely sit down to write it right away. I let it steep for awhile in my head, let the characters and story line. I might not be thinking about it consciously, but its coming together. When its ready, it starts making its presence known again, and that’s when I sit down to work on it. If the perfect opening line doesn’t present itself, I know it isn’t ready. I’m not one who can spit out a first draft in a day or a week or a month. Each word I put down has to have meaning, which is why there are times I might have a 200 word writing session, and other times I might have a 2000 word writing session. I hate the editing and rewriting process, so I try to make it as close to perfect the first time around. Tweaking here and there doesn’t bother me nearly as much as having to sit down and rewrite the entire piece. I don’t work from an outline; they’re too constricting. I have a general idea of where the story is go to go, and I let the characters do the rest. Sometimes they’ll do something or say something that takes the story in a totally different direction. But there are times when the characters become stubborn; it’s as if they don’t know what they want to do next or where they want to go. When that happens, it’s time to move onto a different project until they start clamoring for attention again. That’s why it usually takes awhile for me to complete a project.
What is the hardest part about writing?
You’ve probably heard this from other writers who aren’t lucky enough to be able to write full time, and that’s making the time to write. I work in the publishing industry, so much of my day is reviewing edited manuscripts, proofreading, reviewing author corrections, reviewing revised page proofs, checking files for online publication, and compiling issues. I’m on the computer all day long, and sometimes the last thing I want to do is boot up the laptop to write. You might say try the old-fashioned method, pick up a pen and paper (see previous question about how much I hate editing and rewriting), and I have done that on occasion, but the only time the story seems to flow is if the story is being told in the first person. I was also forced to take a break from writing when my mother got sick back in 2005. I’d been taking care of her ever since, and it wasn’t until she passed away last year that I started writing in earnest again.
What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?
While a collaboration would be nice, I’m too stubborn for that, so I guess it would have to be a screenplay.
Who are the authors you most admire?
I’m fickle. It changes from year to year because I’m always discovering new authors, but if you want names… Let’s see… There’s the usual—Koontz, King, Barker, and Saul (that’s John Saul)—but then there’s Hal Bodner (I would kill for his comedic skills) and Andrew E. Kaufman (a true rags to riches story there).
Who are new authors to watch out for?
If you check out From Beyond the Grave, you’ll find 20 of them there (Yes, I can count — it’s a collection of 19 tales, but one is a collaboration, so that makes 20), and I already mentioned Andrew E. Kaufman. Let’s see… Who else is there? Oh yes, David Bernstein and Alex Laybourne (both of who are tagged in this post).
What scares you?
There are certain people who would love to know the answer to this question (Are you reading this, Sandy Shelonchik?) so they can torment the hell out of me, so this is one that I refuse to answer.
Oh look… No more questions. This wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it was going to be. Want more? Well, tune in next week when David Bernstein, Alex Laybourne, and Tracy L. Carbone discuss what they have in store for their readers.