Monday, 2 March 2015

Men in Horror: PETER N. DUDAR

I first read Dudar's book A REQUIEM FOR DEAD FLIES the first year I started the Solstice List of the Best Horror Stories and Books Not to be Missed. I read that book, cover to cover in one sitting. And was blown away. I immediately recognized the intelligence, thought process and pathos and thought, holy ****, this book needs to be read. I truly did not want this one to end. The characters, the story, the insanity, the flies. All genius. How they flowed, and weaved in and out and caressed the reader with he beauty of the prose and the depth of the tale. I am a complete fan.

1.  When did you start writing horror?  I began writing back in 1995, just after I graduated from college and moved to Maine.  I was a huge fan of Stephen King, and upon moving to Maine I decided that I had a horror novel in me and wanted to give it a shot.  The novel I wrote was a story about a vampire that worked for the USPS (where I work), and was so poorly executed and dreadful that it will never see the light of day.  Needless to say, I got better.

2.   Have you written in any other genre?  Yes.  I currently publish erotica under a pseudonym.  I’ve also dabbled in westerns, science fiction, and done an extensive amount of non-fiction writing concerning the adoption of my daughters.

3.  What makes you uncomfortable?  I feel awkward being in the spotlight.  I prefer to remain anonymous when I can.  It hasn’t been until fairly recently that I’ve begun working toward doing readings at author events and for radio and podcast.  In general, I still don’t quite feel as if I’ve earned the recognition that I’ve gotten for my work and doing things like signing autographs makes me feel uncomfortable and downright silly.

4.  Does your family read your work?  Yes, with the exception of my mom.  She’s proud of me and what I have accomplished over the years but horror just isn’t her thing and a small part of me thinks she would be let down by some of my darker ideas.  

5.  Does your writing make you uneasy?  Not at all. I write the stories that I would want to read.  There have been a few that have left me feeling disturbed about myself but I take it with the grain of salt that it is in the name of art.  I’m not a terrible person and I don’t set out to make the world a terrible place.  We have the evening news for that. 

6.  Who would you say you write like?  This is a tough question to answer.  Going back and rereading some of my earlier works, I can immediately tell who I was influenced by at whatever stage of my career.  The greatest moment for any author is when they find their own voice as a storyteller and no longer commit to trying to emulate those who taught them.  I’d like to think my work falls under the same vein as King, Straub, and Clegg.  I love supernatural tales, but work very hard to keep them literary rather than a glorified graphic novel.  I like when my tales leave the reader pondering ramifications long after the story has been read. 

7.  Who are your favourite authors?  Stephen King, Douglas Clegg, Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison, Joe R. Lansdale, Peter Straub, Ray Bradbury, and of course, Poe.

8.  Who influences you as a writer?  This is tough to quantify, as there have been a lot of writers through my career that offered guidance and advice.  My mentor over the past decade or so has been my friend and brother, L.L. Soares.  When I completed the manuscript for my first published novel, Soares read it and did the first round of revisions without even being asked to do so.  I learned a hell of a lot from him over the years, in how to write professionally and how to act professionally.  And his own work never ceases to astonish and entertain me.  Beyond that, I’m involved in a writers group called the Tuesday Mayhem Society.  The writers involved are beloved friends and colleagues that challenge me to write better and keep going.  I couldn’t ask for a greater influence than that.

9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?  Shirley Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE.  I was in 9th grade A.P. English class, and my teacher had our class read that for October.  Before that, I thought horror was only something that could be achieved through movies and television programs.  When I discovered that literature could be even more psychologically terrifying, I was hooked.  I found Stephen King directly after that, and never looked back.

10.  How old were you?  I was fourteen when I read it, but to this day I can remember the line about “journeys ending in lovers meeting” and how terrified I felt trying to fall asleep at night after I’d finished reading my assigned chapters.  

11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?  I think that as authors, you continuously evolve and delve into places where others won’t go because those are the corners that need exploring the most.  I’m greatly hesitant to write from the female perspective because I just don’t feel like I have the knowledge or experience to pull it off credibly, but I don’t use that as an excuse to limit my work.  I try very hard to write female characters as honestly and completely as I am able, and haven’t been told that I’m fucking up too badly.  More often than not, If I have a story in my head, I simply try to get it out of me and onto paper to the best of my ability.  I tend to not worry about taboos or political correctness until editors or publishers voice their concerns.  If I feel like I'm telling the story honestly, then I don’t concern myself over criticism.  At 43, I’ve been around the world and have my own lifetime of experiences to draw from. 

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?  This is a tough question to answer.  I’ve been to so many conventions and author panels and have read so many books concerning the topic of writing that it’s hard to pontificate about what has been the most useful.  But I can singlehandedly recite what I’ve come to adhere to as my own credo:  Write because you love the craft of writing.  By that, I mean that writers should not worry about how readers will feel or if editors and publishers are going to love it.  When you do that, you lose what is the most satisfying about creating your own story:  You lose your voice as a storyteller.  I’ve gone through some terrible bouts of writer’s block because I was so worried about whether or not my story would sell that I forgot to be my own best audience.  Don’t ever let that happen to you. 

13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?  I’m not sure I would change anything.  A lot of the lessons about the business I learned the hard way, but that was necessary to shape me into the writer I am now.  If anything, I’d have been more ambitious and less worried about failure.  

14.  How many books do you read a year?  I used to read tons, but now that I have children the books I read are bedtime stories.  As for my own private consumption, maybe twenty books a year strictly for myself.  And I see that going up again once my youngest is in school full-time. 

15.  Do you write every day?  No, but again, it’s because there’s not enough hours in the day while parenting.  But I do try to put out a decent amount of work.  It’s divided up between writing horror, erotica, a film review column for Cinema Knife Fight, and my own personal blog, “Dead By Friday” on  And when I’m in the zone, I can put out a ton of words in a short amount of time.

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