Monday, 29 August 2016



1.     When did you start writing horror?
Probably the first “horror” thing that I wrote was a little vignette about a guy who comes home from work and hangs himself… a nice, uplifting little tale which was published in my high school newspaper literary page. Then I wrote a few horror stories for Creative Writing classes in college (one professor graded me “down” and told me to quit wasting my time writing stuff like that Stephen King fellow.)  I had been out of college a couple years when I really started regularly writing fiction and submitting to magazines. 2014 marked my 20th anniversary as a published fiction writer (not counting that high school foray).

2.   Have you written in any other genre?
I grew up reading science fiction, so a lot of my earlier stories, in particular, have some sci-fi to them. And I’ve written urban fantasy on occasion. I even have a short collection out that is strictly Christmas fantasy tales.  And I have a short fantasy story out there for young beginning readers, which I originally wrote for my son. Most of the story ideas I come up with have dark twists at the end, but every now and then a ray of light shows through!

3.  What makes you uncomfortable?
Loss. I worry about the things you can’t guard against. The things that come into your life from left field and steal everything you have – whether those things are human villains or cancer or a car gone out of control and crossing three lanes of traffic right at you. 

4.  Does your family read your work?
Not too much. My wife and sister-in-law have read some of my books. My dad read one of my novels once and decided they weren’t for him. I’m okay with that. I don’t really want to have to try to explain why I write the stories that I do!

5.  Does your writing make you uneasy?
Only when it’s taking me too long to finish a project!

6.  Who would you say you write like?
Me. There are a lot of authors I like and admire. I wouldn’t presume to think I write like or could be considered comparable to any of them, though I wish I did.

7.  Who are your favourite authors?
I like a lot of authors for different things, but the ones I come back to again and again include Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Richard Matheson, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Edward Lee.  Growing up, I had a whole different list of science fiction authors, who still hold a big bunch of real estate on my bookshelves. But Isaac Asimov, Clifford Simak, Hal Clement, Charles Eric Maine, J.T. McIntosh, C.J. Cherryh, Eric Frank Russell, Keith Laumer and Robert Heinlein don’t have much bearing for a horror crowd!

8.  Who influences you as a writer?
Everyone I’ve ever read! Especially those listed in Question 7!

9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?
I read all sorts of ghost stories and classics like Poe as a kid. But probably the first “adult” horror novel I read was Carrie, when I was a freshman in high school. That really opened my eyes to what you could do with character development and inner narrative.  That novel blew me away.

10.  How old were you?
14. It was my first semester of Freshman year.

11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?
That’s a hard one. I believe you can write about anything… but I won’t touch things that I am not interested in reading about. Why would I want to spend my time?  Typically, I have no interest in reading about serial killers, or child abusers.  That said, in Sacrifice, Ariana qualifies as a serial killer, even though she’s doing it as an occult ritual. And in The 13th, there are unborn babies who are sacrificed along with their mothers. So it’s partially about context.  I personally wouldn’t have any interest chronicling the life of a real serial killer like John Wayne Gacy for example. There are people fascinated with the reality of that horror… but I’m fascinated by the kind of horror that is not of this tabloid-driven earth.

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?
Write a lot, and always write for yourself – don’t chase a trend, you’ll always be on the run. Read your dialogue aloud. Read to yourself in the mirror, if that’s the only audience you’ve got. Listen to what your characters are saying. Would anybody REALLY talk like that? Storytelling began as an oral tradition and the best, most get-under-your-skin stories are typically those that can be read aloud.

13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
I think I’d learn how to write Romance.

14.  How many books do you read a year?
That number, sadly, gets less and less every year. The last time I read more than 10 books in a year was 2007 (I used to keep  lists).  The past couple years I’ve barely gotten through a handful of books a year.  I miss the days that I used to lie around the house and read for hours – just for pleasure, not because I was editing or blurbing something (which seems to be the only way I read at all anymore!)

15.  Do you write every day?
I do every day that I’m writing ;-) 

I’m a sprint writer, not a marathon writer. What does that mean? I can sit down sometimes and knock out thousands of words over a weekend when I can immerse myself and dedicate myself to it. But unless I’m under a real date-oriented deadline,  I might then go for a couple weeks or a month without writing a word. I’ve written over 10,000 words in a 24-hour period before.   I’m good at periodic long hard sprints like that. I’m not so good at religiously sitting down day-after-day and knocking out 1,000 words in a regular rhythm.  That said… when I’m really actively working on a novel, I do force myself into a daily schedule so that I guarantee that I’ll hit 6-7,000 words a week.  I can usually only keep that pace up for a couple months, but that’s enough to get a good chunk of a novel down on paper.

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