Blog Questions - Men Writers in Horror Month
Lee Allen Howard
1. When did you start writing horror?
I wrote my first story on ruled tablet paper in second grade. (I would have started sooner, but I didn’t know how to print yet.) My teacher passed it on to the elementary school principal, who read it at a meeting of the local Lions Club, of which my father was a member. As president of the chapter, Principal Sprunger fined my father a dime because “the preacher’s son wrote such a sordid tale full of skeletons, witches, and blood.” That was 45 years ago.
In third grade I wrote stories on three-ring notebook paper, binding them with construction paper covers. One memorable piece, titled “Eyeballs Only,” was about a mad scientist who turns into a monster that goes on a rampage to pluck people’s eyes out and eat them. They pop when you chew them, you know.
2. Have you written in any other genre?
A few years back I wrote a pseudonymous erotic gay romance that did fairly well. But I usually haunt the shadier literary neighborhoods: dark fantasy, paranormal (), supernatural crime ( and ), dark crime ( my most popular short), and psychological thrillers ().
3. What makes you uncomfortable?
Underwear that I’ve mistakenly run through the clothes dryer.
4. Does your family read your work?
A few cousins have read my books and stories. My father the pastor has hasn’t. My saintly mother, who has read little besides recipes, crocheting and sewing instructions, and children’s Sunday school lessons, read . She remarked, “That was a good story, but did you have to use all those bad words?” I told her, “Bad characters say bad things.” God bless her.
5. Does your writing make you uneasy?
Sometimes it does, but as a writer, I must honor the inspiration, tell the story, and remain true to my characters. The abuse scene in “Mama Said” always haunted me. The evil sexuality in “How I Was Cured of Naïveté” (in ) disturbed me. And the entire concept and execution of the idea of a bedwetting cat-skinner jonesing to shave women with electric trimmers made me squirm all the way through. Please, Mom, never read …
6. Who would you say you write like?
Some have compared my style to Stephen King’s, but there’s no one writer that I emulate. I hope my style and voice are uniquely mine, but that’s hard to judge from this side of the keyboard.
7. Who are your favourite authors?
I loved early King. Others include Thomas Tryon, Patrick McGrath (Asylum is a favorite), Cormac McCarthy, Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, Trent Zelazny, Dustin LaValley, Stephanie M. Wytovich.
8. Who influences you as a writer?
My favorite authors above, of course. Basically anything I read that strikes a creative chord. I’m also inspired by news stories, television shows, and movies—whatever sparks my idea-generator or impresses me with writing skill or visual style. More recently, Joyce Carol Oates’ Zombie (1995), Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me (1952), and Barbie Wilde’s The Venus Complex (2012) gave me the crazy guts to write .
9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?
A fond memory from elementary school was running home with the little pulp flier that Teacher handed out periodically, the one that listed books with an order form on back. How to spend my 35 cents…? One of my first and favorite reads bought that way was the humorous and horrific How to Care for Your Monster (1970) by the late Norman Bridwell, better known for Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Later, Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (1944) greatly influenced me, as well as Thomas Tryon’s The Other (1972) and James Herbert’s The Rats (1974), all of which I read when I was about 13. I deal with some of the classic tropes in my collection .
11. Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?
Apparently not. “Mama Said” and “How I Was Cured of Naïveté” deal with child sexual abuse. introduces 26-year-old bedwetter Russell Pisarek, who grew up different from other young men because his vicious mother punished him for wetting by shaving his head. After being betrayed by his girlfriend, he took out his frustration by skinning neighborhood cats. Now fixated on paying women back, Russell fantasizes about finding just the right girl—so he can shave her bald. Armed with a military fighting knife, things go from bad to worse.
Sick stuff, but any subject needs to be treated thoughtfully and responsibly, and and I feel I’ve achieved that in my writing, although some might say the stories in are purely for cheap, blood-sticky thrills. I can’t argue.
12. What was the best advice you were given as a writer?
“There are no magic formulas. Do your best, continue learning, and keep trying.” I can’t attribute that quote because I just made it up, but that’s the gist.
13. If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
I would study the craft of fiction writing more seriously much sooner in life. I tried for 20 years before I really understood what a story was. It took me another decade to hone my mechanics. However, in the process, I became a better writer and a fantastic editor and publisher: .
14. How many books do you read a year?
It varies from year to year, but I read an average of 30 books a year, and this includes fiction and non-fiction. I typically read at least an hour a day (more in the winter, less in the summer).
15. Do you write every day?
I do write daily, although I don’t write fiction every day unless I’m working on a project. I’ve been a technical writer for the software industry since 1985 (some consider this qualifies as horror fiction). I also write non-fiction, do freelance editing, serve as a publishing consultant, and blog regularly.
Besides being a writer, I’m also a Spiritualist minister, channeler, and psychic medium, providing intuitive counsel for writers and other human beings.
Please provide Amazon, Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, Blog Links
Lee Allen Howard’s Amazon author page:
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh4nqffbXM6bkDKoFR6wTBw