Thursday, 5 March 2015

Men in Horror: MARTIN REAVES

Martin Reaves is an excellent story teller, an entertaining guy with an incredible sense of humour and one of my most favourite people anywhere. He is a devoted family man and a great friend. He has a soft heart, a quick mind and a rare talent of writing everything so well, it makes you think words must just fall out of his fingertips and onto the page.

I met Martin through another writer who mentioned how talented he was and I had to check it out. They were right. Martin knows what he is doing. I have read one of his ARC's three times now and I still find it fascinating. Cannot wait to see this one in the daylight. 

One one of the many posts I have read about Martin, someone said he was incapable of writing a bad sentence. I do believe that is the truth. And you have to watch him sing "Sweet Child O' Mine"...priceless.

His work has made the Solstice List: The Best Horror Stories Not to be Missed. And I am sure he will be headlining several others in the future.

1. When did you start writing horror?
I wrote my first horror story—“The Thing in the Closet”—somewhere around 8 or 9 years old (which would be a little over 40 years ago…ouch). I have it on my desk as we speak. It’s stapled between two pieces of black construction paper with a crayon drawing of an open door and a blood-dripping claw reaching out. It’s written in cursive on Mickey Mouse binder paper. And I think it might be kind of awesome.

2. Have you written in any other genre?

Yes. I actually write most comfortably in the psychological suspense milieu. Real people dealing with some form or another of madness, be it from within or from without. And I like to write straight mystery/suspense. I often don’t know in what genre the story will fit until the characters and situations tell me.

3. What makes you uncomfortable?

I just saw a video where a militant group in the middle east was destroying ancient artifacts in some bizarre show of destructive force. Beautiful, once-in-a-millennium sculptures trashed one after another. That made my stomach literally churn.
Oh…and needles. Needles are bad.

4. Does your family read your work?

My wife and daughters, yes, and they are enormously supportive. My mom (also very supportive) has tried but can’t quite get past the profanity.  

5. Does your writing make you uneasy?

Sometimes. My latest novel, which will hopefully see the light of day later this year, had some moments that made me squirm. These seemed to be things happening outside my influence—those are the best moments in writing, and when they happen I hold on and hope things don’t go too far off the rails…and that I can look myself in the eye later without flinching.

6. Who would you say you write like?

I honestly hope I don’t write like anyone. I’ve been compared by others (sort of roundabout in reviews) to Chuck Palahniuk, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub (huzzah!), Stephen King, Ann Rule, and even Truman Capote. So…I think I write like myself.

7. Who are your favourite authors?

Mercy, where to begin? Lawrence Block is near the top of the list. And there’s Peter Straub, Clive Barker, and Dan Simmons, all of whom I believe may actually be geniuses. I’ll read anything by Stephen King at least once because he’s just so damned accessible. Carlos Ruiz Zafon makes me want to bathe in words. Jonathan Carroll is pure surreal delight. There are many others who I will pick up and read without hesitation: Cornell Woolrich; Ray Bradbury; Robert B. Parker; Larry McMurtry; John Sandford; John D. MacDonald. That’s probably enough.

8. Who influences you as a writer?

There are several. Lawrence Block, Peter Straub, Dan Simmons, and Stephen King come first to mind. Certainly Clive Barker and Jonathan Carroll. They all laid their footprints on my psyche and will likely poke their noses into my work at some point.

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

I came a little late to true horror, but always loved fantastical tales, and have been a voracious reader as long as I can remember. I think the first sort of “scary” book was a kid’s book called No Such Thing as a Witch. I remember reading that one over and over. Can we call The Wizard of Oz a horror novel? It certainly has some horrific elements. The first big-boy horror novel I actually remember gulping down is The Wolfen, by Whitley Strieber. That book cracked my brain open and had me rushing to devour every dark piece of fiction I could lay my hands on.

10. How old were you?

I guess the witch book would have been somewhere around 7 or 8 years old. The Wolfen was in my early 20s.

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

I don’t think so, because I don’t often think “I’m going to write about this particularly nasty situation now.” If someone told me to write a story in which pedophilia played a role, I would likely say no, as there is no subject that sickens me more. And yet, my latest novel has that very element—the difference is that I did not decide to write about it. My character decided it had happened and it was my job to listen with all my senses and honor her story as best I could. My feeling (and I may offend some writers with this) is that the weakest writing is that which grows from a preconceived idea (think sparkly vamps and ball-gagged housewives). What I mean is that I believe Stephen King was right: Stories are found things. If the story that I happen to find (or that happens to find me) goes in an uncomfortable direction, I may not like it but I will write down what I see and hear. Anything else is censorship.

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

Writing = ass in chair. Also, read everything you can get your hands on. Reading is really the only way to see what good (and bad) writing looks like.

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

Not much. Everything that came before made me the writer I am today. The only thing that comes to mind is that I may have allowed my inner voice to stretch out earlier than it did. I was raised highly fundamentalist and it took me a while to allow myself to say (or even think) certain things.

14. How many books do you read a year?

Not nearly as many as I would like. I used to read a book a week. Now it’s maybe a couple per month.

15. Do you write every day?

I try to.

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  1. Awesome interview with an amazing man. Thank you for sharing.