Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jameswalker

I first became acquainted with Russell James through Facebook. He sent me a wonderful email, introducing himself. His debut novel, DARK INSPIRATION was going to be released soon. In the email, he told me he was about to read my debut novel, ANGEL BOARD. I was tickled, because it was only the second time somebody had emailed me to tell me that. The first time was from my stepmother, so naturally I was pretty giddy. We kept in touch through FB for a long time after that. I'll never forget his encouraging email after Publishers Weekly released a not-too-kind review of ANGEL BOARD. I knew right away this was a nice guy, with a sense of humor that matched my own. We finally got to meet at Horrorhound, and our reunions are a huge part of my going back. I enjoy our conversations, though we're sometimes too busy to communicate during the event, it's the big dinner afterward where we get to cut loose and talk about writing.

 Here's Brian Moreland and Mick Ridgewell--the meat of a James/Rufty sandwich. 

I read Russ's second novel, SACRIFICE, and fell in love with, not just the story, but the way he wrote it. He writes in a style that shows his influences, yet is still all his own. As I read it, I was amazed at how natural it seemed to flow. To me, it felt as if he didn't have to struggle to explain something. He put words on the pages that easily transformed to visuals in my head. And since that book, I have been a Russell James fan. I've quickly devoured everything he's written. I'm equally hungry to dive into his newest release--DREAMWALKER.  

When I sent out the offer to have him come on my blog, I was ecstatic that he said yes. Below is what he wrote, and in it, you'll see his personality and his dedication to writing. Something I admire wholeheartedly about the guy. Thank you, Russ, for stopping by! 


Dreamwalker Took A Long Walk

   
Days. Months. Years. Once you accrue enough time, you need to change the unit of measurement. Each jump up adds gravity to whatever the endeavor is, or highlights a significant lack of progress. Someone asked me how long it took to write Dreamwalker, my latest release from Samhain Horror. I checked the start date of the first version, which was just the first electronic version. A handwritten version preceded that. I shook my head in wonder.

A decade. I’d been working on this novel for a decade.

Not a decade straight, of course. A big flurry of work for a year or so, another push a year later, then nothing, then another chunk over the past year. The latest file is named Dreamwalker 4.5, so it has been through a few revisions.
  
   What took so long? Simple. In 2005, I didn’t know how to write.
  
    Dreamwalker was probably my third attempt at a long form story. I finished it. My mother loved it. So did my wife. I mailed copies out (yes, it was that long ago) to agents and publishers, and got a collection of SASE rejections. Pretty humiliating to have bad news sent to me penned in my own hand, with my own saliva on the back of a stamp that I bought. One publisher did bite, provided that I shorten the 100,000 word story to 70,000 and pony up $10,000 to buy myself a garage full of copies. I passed, money aside, because I thought I couldn’t possibly make the thing shorter without ruining it.

    A family connection got me in touch with an English college professor in California who for a reasonable fee would check my novel and provide some coaching. With nothing to lose and an income tax refund in the bank, off Dreamwalker 1.0 went. Months later it came back, with more scrawled notes than a wall in a truck stop bathroom. 
  
   Looking back, I’m embarrassed by the things she explained to me. Point of view. Passive sentences. Filtering. Showing versus telling. Basically, Writing 101. I sucked up the knowledge and made a new version. But it sat in a metaphorical drawer. New projects had my attention and enthusiasm. I had this haunted house story called Dark Inspiration I was really excited about.

    That was the one that sold, as did three more after that. Out of curiosity, I re-read the synopsis for Dreamwalker one day. It sounded pretty good. The original enthusiasm I had for Pete Holm and his adventure in Twin Moon City reignited. I had the bright idea that I could pretty much check for typos and send this baby out to the world. A month to make a novel this time, instead of twelve. I called up Dreamwalker 3.0.
  
    What a pile of crap. On every page, unnecessary words sprouted like weeds. One protagonist was unrealistically perfect, the other two-dimensional. A Swiss cheese of plot holes made me cringe. Apparently I’d learned a lot more since 2007. Two online classes and the real world had provided Writing 201. This rewrite wasn’t going to take a month.
  
   It took nine. The story pared down to 75,000 words (maybe the scam publisher had one thing right.) Pete, the hero, had to struggle more to beat the evil voodoo spirit. Rayna, his girlfriend, had to be won over. The sappy happy ending…well, you need to read it to find out where that went. Don D’Auria, the horror editor’s editor at Samhain, bought Dreamwalker 4.5.

   So the lessons here? Get some education about writing from a pro. Tim Waggoner’s college classes, RJ Cavender’s Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat, the Gotham Writers’ online classes like I took. All of these are taught by published, experienced writers who know what they are talking about. Even Luke Skywalker needed to listen to Yoda. Then be open to criticism and improve.

   Second lesson: never toss any ideas away. Their time may come.

   Visit Russell James on the web HERE


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Book List

2014, can't say that I'm sad to see you go. A lot of hard times have been experienced this year, but as the year reaches its end, I can say things have definitely improved. 

I've read a lot of books this year. Each January, I start off with a vow: I will read more books and comics than the previous year. Sounds like a pretty simple resolution, but sometimes I don't come close. However, 2014 blew away 2013 in the amount of read books category. I'm going to list a few I really liked down below. This is not a "best of" list, in the sense that I think these are better than everything else. I just really enjoyed these books. They've stayed with me and, to me, that means something. Also, this isn't a "What was released in 2014 only" list. Some of these books came out well before the others. And I didn't want to discriminate them because of their age. They can be on my list, it's cool.  

Now, having written all of that, I will share my list. 

Once Upon a Halloween by Richard Laymon (Finally got to read this book, thanks to a friend. It has been on my 'books-to-read' fantasy list for a very long time) 

Dreadful Tales by Richard Laymon (Again, same list, and same friend made this dream come true)

Apartment 7C by David Bernstein

Wolf Hunt 2 by Jeff Strand

Spook Night by David Robbins (Loved this book. A great Halloween story)

Hell-O-Ween by David Robbins  

Junkyard by Barry Porter (This might have been my favorite. Such a fun time. The kids in this book reminded me a lot of my old friends from my teenaged years)

Tribesmen by Adam Cesare  

Feral by Berton Roueché 

Dogkill by Al Dempsey

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Witch Island by David Bernstein

Riding LawnMower Reunion by Alan Spencer

Wild by Gil Brewer (My first of his, and it won't be my last. I've really gotten into crime fiction, and this was a wonderful book)

Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz

The Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

December Park by Ronald Malfi

Pus Junkies by Shane McKenzie (My first read of 2014. And what a way to start it off!)

Fecal Terror by David Bernstein (My second read of 2014, and the perfect double-feature companion with Pus Junkies. I truly felt like I was a kid again, with old-school movies playing on my VCR!)

Dead Trash by Ed Kurtz

Fairy by Shane McKenzie

Bloody Mask by Alan Spencer

The Vagrants by Brian Moreland 

Swamp Monster Massacre by Hunter Shea

Depraved 2 by Bryan Smith

Relic of Death by David Bernstein

So that's my list. I'm sure you saw David Bernstein's name was on there quite a few times. He put out a lot of books last year and I tried to read them all. I found great joy in each one, and I highly recommend that you pick them up. Also, we got to cowrite a book with Shane McKenzie and Adam Cesare. That book's called JACKPOT. If you're interested in complete madness that leaves the pages soaked in crimson, please give that book a try as well. 

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 will be filled with wonderful excitement and peace for you all. 



Monday, October 13, 2014

Janz Road

I know the saying is a tired one, but that doesn't make it any less true. Most horror writers are the nicest people. The majority I've met have been nothing but friendly to me. And I like to think I'm a pretty nice guy, unless you leave your beef jerky unattended in my presence, then I'll eat it. Well, not really. I'll ask first. If you tell me no, then I'll wait until you're gone and I'll take some. Not too much, just a bit. Wouldn't want to be a jerk and take the whole bag! See, I am nice! 

But one of the absolute nicest guys I've met in my short writing career is Jonathan Janz. A few years ago when Samhain Horror was about to release six books to debut its new line, I pulled together the last Diabolical Radio to this day with as many of us newbies I could get. Janz's The Sorrows was going to be released the following month, but we had gotten to know each other pretty well on Facebook, so I asked him to come on. Listening to him talk about his passion for writing and sharing his natural love for older paperbacks and the pulpy gore-filled pages of Splatterpunk, I felt I'd found not only a cool guy to chat about writing and horror with, but I'd found a kindred spirit. Of course, we all love King, Barker, Koontz, Little, and Saul. But there weren't too many people out there that I'd met who loved Laymon, Ketchum, Lee, White, Smith, and Skipp nearly as much as I do.

We finally got to meet at Horrorhound Cincinnati last year in 2013 when we were at the Samhain booth with other super-nice authors Brian Moreland and David Searls.

Here's a picture of our third venture at Horrorhound, last March, when we returned to Cincinnati. He's only a couple inches taller than me, another thing I like about the guy. He knows what it's like to constantly bonk your head on nearly everything.       

Below is an interview I did recently with Janz. We talk about a lot of things, but mostly about his newest novella, Exorcist Road, which was the first book in years to give me genuine gooseflesh. 


KR: Most writers have a certain style they're known for, and with EXORCIST ROAD, you took a first person point of view and strayed a bit from the Janz voice. I would've thought this was a genuine confessional and not a work of fiction. It was something completely different. Was this a decision you made early on, or did it come to you later as the book progressed?

JJ: Wow, man, thanks! I’m glad the voice was authentic for you. It certainly flowed out of me without any sort of extra effort. I think I wrote it in eleven days (though the editing took more than three times as long). I did believe the first-person narrator would work well for this story. Being a novella, I didn’t want to go into multiple viewpoints like I sometimes do (like with THE SORROWS and SAVAGE SPECIES). There just isn’t enough space in a novella for me to inhabit, say, five different POV characters and do them all justice. So I knew I wanted to limit the perspective to one person, and I knew a young, inexperienced priest could bring with him a great deal of interesting facets in a story like this. He’d be terrified, first of all, and because he knows something of evil, his terror is even deeper than a layperson’s would be. Also, by limiting the perspective, I thought I could keep the other characters a little more oblique with regard to the central mystery. I drew them as well as I could, of course, but I could hold back just enough to maintain their status as suspects in the serial killings. And I think Jason (the young priest) is a suspect too because of his many issues. 

But thanks for your “confessional” comment. That makes me happier than you know. 

KR: Was there any research involved beforehand? If so, how much time did you spend educating yourself on the subject matter?

JJ: The research I did was mostly the several exorcism books I’ve read over the past couple of years (both fiction and non-fiction). The most influential books were William Peter Blatty’s THE EXORCIST and LEGION, as well as John Farris’s criminally underrated masterpiece SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT. Since I read those without knowing I’d be writing EXORCIST ROAD (which was brainstormed and written very quickly), I was able to internalize them like I would any book instead of being on the lookout for facts I could utilize. I’m thinking that’s why the exorcism stuff seems organic to the story—precisely because I wasn’t just learning it just to recapitulate it in a story. It always annoys me when I can see where an author is just showing off the new stuff he’s learned. That kind of information regurgitation jerks me right out of a story. So even though I did do some research while I wrote it, most of that preparation came well before the book was conceived. 

KR: What is your usual writing routine when working on something new? Do you have any weird traits or habits that you have to do while working? 

Hah! You know I’m a weird dude, so nothing would probably surprise you. In fact, I considered making a bunch of stuff up just to see if you’d believe me. Of course, nothing I could do would compare to your habit of building a small chapel out of pastrami and hanging upside down in it by your big toes all night before you start a new book. 

But to answer your question, I’d say that I go for total immersion when I’m “in the zone,” and that helps me fully invest in the writing process. When I’m not with my family or teaching, the story and the characters hold my mind hostage. I think about them in the car, when I’m walking somewhere, when I’m standing at the urinal. I think about the story as I try to sleep at night. And when I shower. 

When I actually write, I listen to baroque music, sit in my favorite chair in my upstairs library, place my mug of coffee next to me, and get after it. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of discovery, as you well know, Krist.


KR: What are three books that have stayed with you throughout your life?

JJ: Awesome and difficult question. Okay, here are three (with the caveat that I’d give a different answer tomorrow): 

1. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I think of that book as love on paper. It’s beautiful and should be required reading for the human race. 

2. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. A classic that exceeds its billing, I love this one for its endless capacity to make you think while it entertains you. 

3. Ghost Story by Peter Straub. I had to include one horror novel, right? This one transported me when I first read it and transports me still when I revisit it. A towering achievement. 

KR: Are there any newer authors out there that you frequently read? 

JJ: You mean other than you? Because I’m a big fan of Kristopher Rufty, in spite of the bizarre pastrami fetish. Other than him, I love Hunter Shea and Brian Moreland. Anything those guys do is excellent. Also, Russell James has a great voice, as does Mick Ridgewell. To be honest, I don’t read many new authors despite how incredibly hypocritical that is. But most of my reading is by guys who came before me from whom I feel I need to learn before I move on to more contemporary writers. That’s not really logical or fair, but it’s the way my twisted mind works. 

KR: What are you working on now, and what can we expect next? We need more Janz now!

JJ: Thank you, Krist. I finished a novel recently that no one knows about except me, my family, my agent, and a handful of pre-readers. I’m not sure what I’m doing with that one yet, but I can tell you about my two (probable) Samhain Horror releases. One is called THE NIGHTMARE GIRL, and it’s coming in January. In that one, I really channeled Joe R. Lansdale, and the result was a cool mix of horror, mystery, and suspense. It’s very different than my other stuff, but I’m really proud of it and excited for folks to read it. The other Samhain Horror novel will likely be a werewolf story. The contracts aren’t signed on that one yet, and I’m not done writing it, but it’s moving along nicely and should be a very interesting book once it’s completed. Every writer feels this way, but I believe I can say with complete sincerity that no one’s ever done a werewolf book quite like this one before, which has made it both fun and challenging to write. 

Thanks for having me on your blog, Krist. And if any of you are reading this and haven’t yet checked out Rufty, I suggest you get on that ASAP. This is just my opinion, but I’d start with THE LURKERS (though Krist might have other suggestions). 

THE LURKERS sounds great to me! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Proud Parents and Authorgraph

Proud Parents was released yesterday from Samhain Publishing's horror line and I couldn't be more excited. I wrote this book while I was on bed rest from liver issues. My future was unknown at the time, so I chose to write a book about a family whose futures were also unknown. Actually, their present was just as unknown and a constant risk, so it made for an exciting and heartbreaking adventure. This book poured out of me, finishing a draft in a little over six weeks. I couldn't STOP writing. And I honestly believe it helped keep my spirits up during all the medical tests and treatments I had to go through at the time. There were many moments in that span where I felt like poor Gabe from the book.  

The root of the idea has been with me for many years, and was almost shot as a movie a few times with some pretty cool people. The movie never happened, but the idea remained. The book changed so much that it hardly resembles that old screenplay, but I believe the changes were for the better. I am so very proud of this book. I hope you all enjoy it, too.

I have been very pleased with all my covers, but this one is probably my favorite of them all. 

You can pick it up from Samhain's website HERE! If you use the coupon code PAPERBACK50, you can get the paperback for around 8 bucks. Can't beat that price anywhere! 

To purchase on Amazon click HERE!

I am also registered on Authorgraph, a neat website that allows me to autograph my e-books. If you have any on your Kindle or any other e-Reader, click the box below and send me a request. I'll be more than happy to sign anything. 


Thank you so much for reading my books!  

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Huntauk Sheaster

I came on the horror scene with Hunter Shea during Samhain Horror's launch almost three years. In fact, he was the first fellow author to reach out to me and offer congratulations. I will always remember that. Since then, we have become close and I am happy to have him as a friend. His books have influenced my own writing as heavily as some of the classics I grew up reading. I enjoy how he writes, the stories he tells. He's also somebody who can match me on horror trivia. 
Hunter is in the middle of a big tour for the Pinnacle release of his book, The Montauk Monster. To find where he's already been and where he's going, be sure to check HERE!

Hunter was kind enough to stop my little blog and chat about writing, his new books, and more. 

KR: Reading THE MONTAUK MONSTER reminded me a lot of those ‘70s Roger Corman, nature-run-amok movies that would have played to packed crowds at the Drive-In. Were those movies an influence to this book and your writing in general? They are with mine, for sure. There was a great AIP (American International Pictures) town-in-peril vibe as well, and that’s a compliment from me. 

HS: That is scary that you said that. And by that, I mean scarily intuitive. When I was working on the idea for the book with my editor, Gary Goldstein, we talked about bringing a classic Roger Corman movie to life in book form. That’s right. We specifically wanted to pay homage to the man who has entertained us for decades. Having you bring it up really makes me feel like I accomplished exactly what we set out to do. 

My two-book deal with Kensington specifically states that they involve ‘nature gone wild’. With The Montauk Monster, I initially planned to have just a few of the beasties hit the shore. You all can thank my editor for making it dozens and really amping up the scares and action. You know me and how much I love my monsters. Writing this book was about as close to heaven on earth as I’m going to get.

KR: Which three authors inspired you to become the writer you are now? Was it a certain book of theirs that led you to pursue writing?

HS: The very first ‘big people’ book that I read was Stephen King’s Night Shift. I’ve been hooked on and influenced by him ever since. I don’t think there’s a horror writer under the age of 50 who hasn’t been influenced by The King. The other two authors actually have nothing to do with the horror genre. First is Hemingway. I devour his books and short stories. Can you imagine totally reinventing the way books are written? Along with him is Elmore Leonard. Both taught me how to write lean and pack as much punch with an economy of words. Make every word count, have them move the story along without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.

KR: Do you have a particular routine you try to adhere to when it comes to writing or does your schedule even permit a routine? Are you a day writer or night writer, or both?

HS: When I’m working on a book, I write every day. That includes Christmas, birthdays, when I have the flu, you name it. I work a day job, so most of that writing is done at night, right after dinner. As long as I can get at least an hour in during the weekdays and about three on Saturday and Sunday, I’m happy. I’ve learned to write anywhere. The perfect writing space isn’t always available. Aside from my home office, I tend to write a lot in the kitchen in the midst of mayhem. I also work in libraries, airports, hotels, park benches and even, sometimes, my car. The key is to get something written every single day. My good friend Brian Moreland says he writes more like a sprinter, getting in large chunks over a short period of time. I’m more of a marathoner. I just took my first real break in 3 years this past month and it feels both great and weird. My mind is already writing the next book I plan to start very soon.

KR: If you could only read one book over and over for the rest of your life, which would it be?

HS: So far, that book has been Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I’ve been re-reading it every summer for about the past 20 years. I’m envious of all the amazing artists he befriended (then turned on) during his time in Paris. If I feel my writing batteries running low, I pick up that book and recharge. 

KR: Being a fervent paperback collector, I was very thrilled that The Montauk Monster was released in mass market form. Do you prefer the trade-sized paperbacks, or are you an avid supporter of the paperbacks you can carry in your pocket? 

HS: Having The Montauk Monster come out in paperback is a dream come true. When I started out writing, that was my main goal. I grew up devouring paperbacks, and still do. I have a Kindle but just can’t get into reading books with it. That sucker is collecting dust on my dresser. To me, hardcovers are cumbersome. Trade paperbacks are fine, especially now that I’m older and appreciate the larger type. But paperbacks hold a very special place in my heart and life. I’m literally the guy that walks around with a paperback stuffed in his back pocket.

KR: What are you working on now? And what can we expect to find in bookstores from you in the near future?

HS: I just had my next book with Samhain hit the shelves, a horror-western called Hell Hole. It’s set in an abandoned mining town in 1905. There are cowboys, former Rough Riders, Teddy Roosevelt, black-eyed kids, wild men, ghosts and even the Djinn. It’s a crazy one. My father was a big western fan, so I wrote it for him. In January, my follow up to Sinister Entity will be out. It’s called Island of the Forbidden. It takes place 3 years after SE and I put Jessica Backman, our stalwart ghost hunter, in a very, very bad place. She’s still mad at me about it. :) 
I also recently turned in my manuscript for my next paperback with Kensington. Right now, it’s titled Run Like Hell. I don’t want to give away anything. Let’s just say that if you crave action and thrills, this will satisfy your hungers. 
Later this month I’ll start working on a new book that will be a statement on the sate of our country and its impact on future generations. As Marcellus said in Pulp Fiction, things are very fucking far from OK with our country. This is going to be a dark one.

HUNTER SHEA--Bio

I’m the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. I don’t just write about the paranormal. I actively seek out the things that scare the hell out of people and experience them for myself.

My novels, Forest of Shadows, Evil Eternal , Swamp Monster Massacre , Sinister Entity and The Waiting are published through Samhain Publishing’s horror line.  A horror shorts collection, Asylum Scrawls, is available as an e-book, straightjacket not included. My first thriller novel, The Montauk Monster, will be released June 2014 as a Pinnacle paperback. I live with my family and untrainable cat close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

I’m also proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with my partner in crime, Jack Campisi. Our show is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. We explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun.

Feel free to contact me any time at huntershea1@gmail.com. Writing is lonely work.
 


 
  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Author Spotlight: Brian Moreland

People often say things to me like: 

"You write horror? Really? You seem so normal!"

"I had no idea you write that kind of stuff, you're a nice guy!"

"Horror? Really? But...you...I mean..." Then their head bursts into a blossom of gooey red and bone.

Brian Moreland is one of those guys I bet hears that quite often as well. I have met many horror authors in my short career as a writer and, if I had to pick a horror writer bestie, it would be Brian Moreland. People like Moreland, Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand and Hunter Shea have showed me a humbling amount of altruistic support and appreciation that makes me strive to be more like them.

I got to chat with Brian Moreland recently. With his new book The Vagrants releasing this week, I have decided to post our talk for others to enjoy. Even in this quick interview, it's easy to recognize a true passion for writing and Brian's selfless nature.



1. When was the moment you realized that, without any doubt, you wanted to write stories? And why was it horror stories that intrigued you the most?

I had always loved monsters ever since I was a little boy. Whenever I had paper and crayons, I’d draw monsters--Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, and my favorite:  Creature from the Black Lagoon. From age 7-12, I used to watch monster movies with my mom every Saturday when one of our local TV stations played a double creature feature. These were all the black and white horror movies of the Fifties and Sixties--Godzilla, Day of the Triffids, the original The Thing--and some of the color movies of the Seventies like Squirm, Snowbeast, Horror Express and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. I collected monster toys and comic books, and for was drawn to werewolves, vampires, aliens and any other creatures that roamed in the shadows. I also read magazines like Famous Monsters of Film Land and Fangoria. For me, watching scary movies was an adrenaline rush, a couple hours of absolute fun and terror. 
When I got into my teens, I discovered horror fiction. I picked up a paperback copy of Stephen King’s Night Shift. It was the red copy with “Children of the Corn” on the cover and the arm holding a sickle above a cornfield. When I got home, I gleefully read “Children of the Corn” and “Graveyard Shift”, and from that moment on I was hooked on horror fiction. I had thought watching monster movies was the pinnacle of fun, but reading horror touched me on a deeper level. It was a more intimate experience and much more terrifying, when I was reading alone in my bedroom. After reading several Stephen King stories, I explored other horror authors like James Herbert and Clive Barker. Barker’s Books of Blood series took my imagination to a whole new realm. He showed me that horror fiction cannot only include facing our darkest fears, but our darkest desires as well. 

By the time I got to college I had read countless horror short stories and novels, adding Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and John Saul to my collection of favorite horror authors. Reading Dean Koontz’s Watchers and Phantoms had a lasting impact on me, inspiring me to write my own fiction my Freshmen year at college. Ever since I was that little boy, I’ve had an active imagination. Watching all these horror movies and reading fiction by horror masters, my mind began to blossom with story ideas and monsters that I had yet to see in movies or books. I was discovering that I had my own stories to tell and that maybe writing horror was my calling. So at age 19, I wrote my first novel “The Degba Dynasty”, which I rewrote and polished 25 years later and published it as The Devil’s Woods.

2. The Devil's Woods was one of the best books I read last year. How much research did you do before writing the novel? And where did the idea come from originally?

Thanks, I did very little research, actually. That story just came to me straight from my imagination. The version that I wrote in college was inspired by many of the horror movies of the ‘80s, in particular Evil Dead and Demons. There was also a comic book that I had read long ago, which I can’t remember the title, but this super hero was fighting a thousand demons in some hellish underworld and that vision stuck in my subconscious. As with many authors, my writing is influenced by everything I read and watch, as well as what I experience and observe in the world around me. I’ve always loved the great outdoors, so I wrote the setting to take place at a cabin in the woods. Also, whenever I’m alone in the dense woods I feel this almost mystical sensation that the woods are alive and watching me. 
I had originally set the story in Colorado, but after hiking through the wilderness of many areas in Colorado, I realized it wasn’t secluded enough to conceal an ancient forest. Everywhere I went I ran into other people hiking or camping. So I moved my story up to the northern tip of the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, Canada, where much of the wilderness is uninhabited. Much of the core story and original characters, like Kyle, Elkheart and Jessica, made the final cut. I actually added Kyle’s brother Eric in the second revision. 
The logging town in my original Colorado version was called Pineville and populated by a bunch of backwoods people. When I moved the story up to Canada, I decided to make the town its own character. I placed it on the coast of a beautiful lake with mountains all around. I changed Pineville’s name to Hagen’s Cove and gave it a Danish origin, founded by the town’s forefather, Hagen Thorpe, back in 1882. I did do some research about when the Danes migrated from Denmark to Canada during in the late 1800s. I also studied Danish folklore and demonology. I learned that the word “nightmare” comes from “mare” which was a mythical demon that climbs on top of your chest and sits there looking at you while you sleep. I wove some of my findings into my story. For instance, the legend of Beowulf fighting the creature Grendel is a part of Danish folklore, so in my book I described a tapestry of Beowulf and Grendel in the tavern where Kyle and Jessica go to eat lunch. Most of the research I did was to add rich details to the story. But the terrifying horrors that readers will discover when they enter the Devil’s Woods, I believe are ancient archetypes that come from the deepest darkness of my imagination.

3. The main character in The Devil's Woods is a writer as well, do you find writing stories with writers as the central character easier or a greater challenge? And are you a pilot like Mr. Kyle Elkheart, or is this something you learned for the book?

The answer to your first question is both easier and harder. Being a writer, it’s very easy for me to identify with a lead character is who also a writer. I put a lot of myself in Kyle Elkheart, and out of all the protagonists from my novels, Kyle is the most like me. I could easily get into Kyle’s head and know how he was feeling in any situation. I knew how he would react to certain conflicts like being attracted to his brother’s girlfriend, Jessica, and identified with his fears and emotions. At the beginning of the story, Kyle is a hermit who rarely goes out and mostly escapes into writing. There have been times in my life when I was reclusive and would go for days not seeing or talking to anyone, just writing, just escaping into another world. 
The challenge of making a writer the main character is how to make him an interesting hero when his profession is mostly sitting at a computer and typing words on a screen. It’s much easier to write about protagonists who have active professions like a detective or a soldier or a spy. With Kyle, I decided to make him more of a detective--he’s searching for his missing father. And Kyle has a unique gift--he can see into the spiritual realm. He sees and hears ghosts and can get psychic visions of events that happened in the past--like when he witnesses the murder of an Indian girl from twenty years ago. As a horror author, Kyle became rich and famous writing a ghost detective series. The ghost detective, Alex Winterbone, has become Kyle’s alter ego and pushes Kyle to solve the mystery of the Devil’s Woods.
To answer your second question, I’m not a pilot, and before writing the book knew very little about flying. Both my grandfather and father were pilots. My grandfather flew C-47s back in WWII and dropped the paratroopers over Normandy during the D-Day invasion. My father started out as a Navy pilot, flying cargo planes and landing on aircraft carriers. Dad went on to fly commercially for airlines like Braniff, Muse Air, and spent most of his career flying Captain for American Airlines. I consulted my dad about flying and got some basic flying information. But in my story, Kyle flies a seaplane, which neither my grandfather nor father ever flew. So first I researched seaplanes to find out the type Kyle would be flying up in Seattle. Out of several different choices, I decided to go with the de Havilland Turbo Otter seaplane. I love how those pontoon planes can take off and land on lakes. Once I chose my plane, I decided I needed to talk with a pilot who actually flies one of these so I can correctly describe how Kyle operates the plane. I contacted a flight school up in Seattle and interviewed a flight instructor who flies the de Havilland. He explained how to take off, the proper altitude to take the plane, and how to bring the plane in for a landing on a body of water. I love doing this kind of research for books, because I always learn something new and I believe it adds some authenticity to the story.

4. At Horrorhound Indy this past September, we were lucky enough to spend a great deal of time talking about writing. Our conversations helped motivate me for months. Is this something you find helps you as well? Discussing the love of writing with other writers?

HorrorHound Indy was a blast and I really enjoyed hanging out with you and talking about horror novels and movies. Yes, I love discussing the love of writing with other writers. Where I live, very few people in my circle of friends and family are writers. And my local friends, who are writers, don’t read or write horror. So when I go to horror cons and get to hang out with writers like yourself, I feel like a kid who has finally found a group of like-minded people who share my passions for horror fiction. I remember we talked for hours on end and it was a lot of fun. Hanging out with you and other Samhain horror authors definitely motivated me to go home and get back to writing. I immediately went home and finished my novella The Vagrants, which earned me another book deal with Samhain Publishing one month later. Our talks definitely played a part in keeping me motivated.

5. What will we see we see next from you? After reading The Witching House and The Devil's Woods, I'm overly excited to read the next Moreland book. I've compared you to Graham Masterson and Dean Koontz, so I keep your books on the shelf next to theirs.

Thanks, that’s an honor to be compared to those two masters, especially Dean Koontz, since I studied his writing style voraciously back in college when I was first learning how to write a novel. I loved his fast-paced storytelling and always aimed to write my books so readers keep turning the pages.


My next book The Vagrants will release as an eBook June 3rd, 2014. While most of my books are set in the woods, this one takes place in Boston. It’s a mix of Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft.  

Here’s the synopsis:

Beneath the city of Boston evil is gathering. 

Journalist Daniel Finley is determined to save the impoverished of the world. But the abandoned part of humanity has a dark side too. While living under a bridge with the homeless for six months, Daniel witnessed something terrifying. Something that nearly cost him his sanity. 

Now, two years later, he’s published a book that exposes a deadly underground cult and its charismatic leader. And Daniel fears the vagrants are after him because of it. At the same time, his father is being terrorized by vicious mobsters. As he desperately tries to help his father, Daniel gets caught up in the middle of a war between the Irish-American mafia and a deranged cult of homeless people who are preparing to shed blood on the streets of Boston.

Lastly, I’m working on a collection of short stories which I’m aiming to release in October 2014. 

To read an excerpt of The Vagrants and see some cool videos of abandoned subway tunnels, go to here. 

If anyone would like to receive updates about my publications, they can join my mailing list at http://www.brianmoreland.com/.

Krist, thanks so much for interviewing me for your blog. I look forward to hanging out with you again at horror cons later this spring and summer.
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Author Bio: Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His books include Dead of Winter, Shadows in the Mist, The Girl from the Blood Coven, The Witching House, and The Devil’s Woods. His next book, The Vagrants, will release in June 2014. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel.

Follow on Twitter: @BrianMoreland




 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Skin Show on Kindle!

Spent the weekend at HorrorHound, signing books, meeting constant readers and new ones, and hanging out with other Samhain authors. And during the good times I neglected to inform everyone that The Skin Show would be available on Amazon today. You may purchase it for your Kindle HERE!

Other formats will come soon, with a paperback closer to the summer. The hardback is still available, though the supply is very limited.

Here's the eBook/paperback cover. I hope those who read the book enjoy it.