1. Tell us a little about what you’re working on at the moment? Do you have a new book out or are you working on your next novel?
On February 14, I published Circus Tarot; it’s about a cute couple that get dragged into the deranged world of World Circus via the Circus Tarot cards. They find themselves hunted and then make a deal with the citizens to leave. I am working on a few projects right now. One is in the planning phase and remains solely in my head but it is a sequel to Circus Tarot. The other is about a character I’ve been mentioning a lot in Flash Fiction Challenges, Reynard Ashwin; I have quite a bit written and I’m doing research to make some story lines fit. I guess it might be considered Historical Fiction because of the timeline but that’s just a small bit of the story.
2. You describe yourself as a horror author. What made you choose that genre?
I’ve always been drawn to horror. I remember being entranced while reading Poe in elementary school. Soon after that, thanks to my Grandma, I moved onto V.C. Andrews, John Saul and others from her vault of paperbacks. When I made the commitment to write Dreamwalker: The Second Plain, I was disgusted with the lack of horror novels at my local independent bookstore and decided that I would fill up those shelves with some goodies.
3. What is your process like? Are you a planner or a pantser?
I am definitely a planner. I take notes, create outlines of how I think the story should go, of course they tend to change, and I research; research was minimal for Dreamwalker and Circus Tarot, more like brushing up on things I already know about. Reynard has already received more research than the previous two put together; character names, clothing and locations.
4. What is your favorite way to get inspiration for your work? Music, pictures, dreams … what works for you?
All of the above, then there are what I call accidental encounters, they are moments that I’ll see something innocent and my mind twists them; like a giant inflatable pig at my day job becomes the tyrant of the Second Plain. Circus Tarot was a combination of things, a TV ad for the circus morphing in pre-sleep dreams to World Circus and my collection of Tarot Cards. Reynard is a little different. I was talking with my brother and he had an idea for me. His idea was a little too much like Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter, a justified reaper. Deep down I liked the way it felt but I wanted him to be more, I just didn’t know what. At the beginning of the year, there was a writing challenge that I participated in about immortality. The idea of immortality is very exciting to me; the whole idea of living forever is awesome. I don’t want him to be a vampire and not because I don’t like vampires (well I don’t like ones that sparkle), I like them fine, but I wanted to do something different. I began thinking, why does immortal have to mean vampire or the Highlander? Reynard then stood before me, with the loss of his family and dark possession he becomes immortal and gains special gifts.
5. Tell us a little about how you get to know your characters? Do you use any specific writing exercises to get to know them better, or do you just let them develop as you write?
To start with I visualize the character, then I write a description of them including personality traits. I’ll revise and see how I feel about them. I only do that for lead characters, the ones that don’t have much input to the story are usually just thrown in as I write. Once I start writing the guts of the story is where the characters really start to feel real for me and it is like they are telling me how they want things to go and what they want to do.
6. How did you choose your publishing path? Was the process what you imagined when you were writing that first book? Any hints or tips you can offer the as-yet unpublished authors out there?
When I started my first book, I had the grandiose dreams of instantly starting where Stephen King and Clive Barker are. When I was actually ready to publish, I did research about publishing the traditional way. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a Literary Agent (still don’t know if I need one) and that I might go through several before I found one that actually fit. I became a little depressed about it; I wanted my story out in the world. I had heard about self-publishing but I hadn’t heard of anyone actually doing it. I stumbled upon Smashwords and read all the information they provide. What it came down to in the end for me was being in control of my work, so I went with being an Indie Author.
I learned that networking is important for an Indie Author; Twitter is an excellent tool to find other Indie Authors and read what they have to say about publishing and marketing. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone’s opinion about your work. Just don’t be upset if you receive feedback that is not glowing; not everyone is going to like your work and it is quite alright, it does not mean that it is bad. I used Beta Readers for Circus Tarot and received great feedback and not all of it was positive. I look at feedback, negative or positive, as “they are trying to help me be better.”
7. What is the first book you remember picking up and reading by yourself? Why did that book stick with you?
Alice in Wonderland, the imagery blew me away. I remember my aunt telling me that the man who wrote it was on drugs when he wrote it and by reading it, I’d get high too, probably not the best thing to tell a 9 year old but funny nonetheless.
8. You’re given the chance to sit down with any author, living or dead. Why would you choose that writer? What would you ask him or her?
I would choose Clive Barker because he’s intrigued me ever since I read Weaveworld. I would ask him questions that are not necessarily related to writing like: What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite animal? Do you see print books going away?
9. Please pick one of those questions and answer it about yourself!
I don’t listen to metal/hard rock very often, which seems like it goes hand-in-hand with the horror genre. I listen to 80’s New Wave, Darkwave and electro/techno-pop indie bands, there are great indie bands out there just like great indie authors.
10. Tell us three things about yourself (not writing related) that you think influence you as a writer.
I grew up in a town of approximately 500 people. We were outside most of the time and had to have a lot of creativity to think of new things to do. At night it was really dark and I think my imagination ran wilder then than during the day; I still think I see the shadows moving.
We had one off-the-air TV channel that most of the time was too snowy to even bother turning on. Later, when cable finally came to our town, I became addicted to anything that was on and now am a TV junkie.
I am a sentimentalist.