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You might find your next author to enjoy & uncover your next treasured read
I am a
voracious reader and have been reading horror for over 45 years. Like most
authors, my imagination and motivation have been stimulated and influenced by
the Mount Rushmore of horror (King, Koontz, Straub, and Little). However, my
style of writing has been most influenced by Steve Vernon—who taught me humor
has a place in horror, Tom Piccrilli—who taught me how atmosphere has a crucial
role when building terror, and Gary Braunbeck—who taught me that
characterization is equally important as plot.
you begin writing?
I wrote my
first story when I was around ten years old. It was called Spiders Ate My Face,
and my father dismissed it. That had such a negative effect on me that I didn’t
write again until I was in my mid fifties. I began writing in earnest about 7
years ago when I joined a writers group, The Blank Page, in my hometown. They
gave me the confidence I needed to try my hand at it again.
How do you
come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc.?
I often have no
idea what I am going to write until I sit down in front of the computer. I may
have a vague idea, or have a short scene in my head, but I tend to simply start
typing away and let the story unfold. I won’t say the story writes itself, as
there are plenty of missteps and heavy editing before it comes together.
I usually use names that are simple to remember, most are common names or the
names of people I know. One of the pet peeves I have about science fiction is
that authors often use names I can’t pronounce.I have the worst time tying to get into a characters head if I can’t
even say his name, never mind trying to keep track of weird planets or strange
If you have read my short story collection, The Seeds of Nightmares, you will
see a variety of themes, genres, P.O.V.’s, and time periods—all attributable to
the influences I’ve mentioned above.
could actually meet one of your characters, who would it be?Why?
question. I think, like most authors, it would be a character they are currently
writing about. We are in their head so much it would be cool to be able to have
a real conversation with them. In my case it would be the physically and
mentally hardened teenaged girl named, Steel. Steel is a survivor in a post
apocalyptic world, and she has reluctantly taken charge of a shelter with other
young survivors—some her own age, others much younger. Steel lets anger and guilt
get the best of her and she makes some terrible decisions that lead to a
catastrophe. I would want to tell this strong minded and intelligent young
woman to stop having these meaningless sexual assignations and to settle down
with the boy who obviously loves her, and to forget chasing those damn monsters
around. But if I ever did get a chance to say that to her, I hope she wouldn’t
listen. Where’s the fun in that?
Do you work
from an outline?
No, as I
mentioned, I let the story take me where it wants to go.
about your favorite scene.
There’s a scene
in my story, The Old Man, where the title character is sitting on a park bench
near a river with another older timer. The two are eating popcorn and talking
about a pin-up girl from the 60’s.As
the old man in the title of the story reaches down to grab a fistful of popcorn
from the bag, he notices something odd.The popcorn has turned red.When
he looks over to his friend, he sees his buddy’s arm frozen in midair with his
hand clutching some popcorn, his mouth open, and his eyes glazed and staring
forward. The old man then notices a hole in his buddy’s throat and the blood flowing
out from it.
That scene is set in my hometown, Goffstown. In another lifetime, I was
President of the Goffstown Lions Club when we purchased the popcorn stand that
sits at the center of our town. The popcorn those two characters were eating
came from that popcorn stand, and the river and park bench the men sit in
actually exists. When I read that scene it all seems so clear, so real to me.
Cut from that
story were more local references, but whenever I reread that scene, those
removed portions come back to me, too. No matter where I am when I read The Old
Man, I am transported home. Though the story is bleak as hell, that scene never
fails to make me smile.
tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
I never try to
force a story. I never try to rush a scene. If it takes days to write two
paragraphs, so be it. But more importantly, have everything you write edited by
someone who knows what he or she is doing. Not your friends. Not your spouse. Not your family members. Find a way to get
your work to someone who is unbiased, and competent in the art and science of
ever tried writing in any other genres?
Yes.I’ve written horror, bizarre fiction, fantasy,
noir, and thrillers.I do enjoy reading
and writing horror the most.
Do you have
any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
I had this
great idea once that I couldn’t wait to start on. I got the idea while thinking
about an old Outer Limits television show episode.In the episode, this alien has a device that
can shield him from harm, and a man kills the alien to get at the device. What
happens is that the alien triggers the device a second before he is attacked. The
killer is caught inside the shield and he can’t escape.
I kicked the premise around and thought about what would happen if the device
put a shield around an entire town. I started writing and came up with a story
about how, on this alien planet, the citizens banish one of their own kind—a
heinous killer—by spaceship to travel endlessly in space.They put a device on the spaceship that would
throw a large shield around it to protect it from meteors and other space
debris, and to contain the killer if he managed to break out. As the spaceship
is hurling through the cosmos, a sun goes nova, disrupts the shield, and forces
the spaceship to earth where it crashes. When the spaceship lands the shield
turns back on and the alien killer is let loose. A giant dome now seals off the
town where the spaceship landed.
I had two chapters written when Stephen King announced the upcoming publication
of his newest book, Under The Dome.
listen to music as you write?
Never. It has
to be extremely quiet. I prefer an empty house when I write, but that seldom
Again, thank you Tony, I very much enjoyed this interview
Thank you, Jeff!And I hope everyone who picks up The Seeds of
Nightmares enjoys it.