Sunday, 29 March 2015

Men in Horror: JEFF STRAND

 Jeff Strand is a highly gifted, extremely talented and exceedingly funny man. He has MC'd several of the Horror Association Award banquets and has written dozens upon dozens of books. I love his dark humour, his sense of comedic timing, the it-seems-so-easy-to-be-a-writer style he has, and the simple gift of telling a story.

Several books had me laughing out loud, and others had me wondering what was happening in his head when he wrote a particular story.

The man is a genius and if you have not read him, you are missing a great gem.

Some of my favourites was "PRESSURE" which weirdly reminds me of Sheldon Cooper, but I really cannot explain why..."DRACULAS" which he wrote with Blake Crouch, F. Paul Wilson, and Jack Kilborn; GLEEFULLY MACABRE TALES; CUTTER; THE SINISTER MR. CORPSE, and many more.

1.     When did you start writing horror?

In high school. Before that, I was far too cowardly to watch, read, or write this stuff.

2.   Have you written in any other genre?

Yes. Most recently, my novels Kumquat and I Have A Bad Feeling About This are comedies without any horror elements. But about 90% of my published work is somehow tied into the horror genre, even if it's something like my new young adult novel, The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, which is purely a comedy but is about kids making a horror movie.

3.  What makes you uncomfortable?

A loud party where I don't know anybody is far more terrifying to me than a guy chasing after me with an axe. (Disclaimer: I have yet to actually have anybody ever chase after me with an axe. When it finally happens, I may need to revise my answer.)

4.  Does your family read your work?

Yes, but they're not completists. In general, they prefer the more serious books to the goofier ones, although my sister's favorite is The Sinister Mr. Corpse, which I would've expected to be one of her least favorites.

5.  Does your writing make you uneasy?

Nope. Even in something like Benjamin's Parasite, which has a tooth-related scene designed to make the reader go "GAAAAHHHHH!!!!!" I'm too involved in the technical aspects to be disturbed by my own writing. It's also very rare that I laugh at my own written jokes.

6.  Who would you say you write like?

Dave Barry mixed with Richard Laymon mixed with Douglas Adams.

7.  Who are your favourite authors?

In the horror genre, Robert McCammon, Jack Ketchum. F. Paul Wilson, and David Wong. Outside of the genre, Jonathan Tropper, Sara Gruen, Larry Doyle, and Dennis Lehane.

8.  Who influences you as a writer?

If we're saying influences, present tense, I don't think there are any conscious influences. Reading a really great book makes me say "I need to do better!" but not "I need to write something like that!" Previous influences go back to the Dave Barry/Richard Laymon/Douglas Adams answer.

9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?

Actually, I don't. I'm pretty sure it was a short story collection, and I'm pretty sure it had a Harlan Ellison story where a little girl bit off the head of a candy voodoo doll, but I might be wrong. But the first adult horror novel I read was Stephen King's Christine.

10.  How old were you?


11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?

Not specifically, but because I'm trying to entertain my readers instead of outrage them, there are some lines that I rarely cross in a comedic story. You're not going to see much in the way of sexual violence in my work, but it's in my story "The Origin of Slashy." If something is just meant to shock the reader, I won't include it.

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?

I read a Neil Simon quote that said, "I have no loyalty to a funny line. If the scene works better without it, out it goes." The biggest problem with my early, unpublished work (and some of my early, published work) was a tendency to want to keep every single joke. Now, I'll cut a whole scene if it doesn't benefit the overall book. My heart dies a little when I do this, but I make the sacrifice for the greater good.

13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?

There were a couple of opportunities where I said, nope, that's not what I want to write, where I kind of wish I'd said, "But, by golly, I'll write it anyway!"

14.  How many books do you read a year?

Not nearly enough. When I look at my Goodreads list for the year, I'm filled with shame and regret.

15.  Do you write every day?

I wish I did, mostly because it would make a great final answer to this interview to say "All writers must write every day! No exceptions!" But I think most writers who say they write every day are great big fibbers. I tend to write more and more as the deadline grows ever closer...ever closer...

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