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When and why did you begin writing?
I actually wrote my first story, which was a haunted house story, when I was in kindergarten. It was front and back of a single page, with some of the letters written backwards. I still have the story too. Then I didn’t write anything, as far as a solid effort goes, until 2009. I’m 38, so it was awhile. I’ve always loved horror, from tv shows, to Halloween, to movies. Spooky to gory. I was too busy partying and playing MMO’s (video games online). When I stopped playing the games and settled down, I found time to write.
Judging from your works on Smashwords.com (“Teenage Zombie Party” and “Another Man’s Wife Plus 3 Other Tales Of Horror”), it appears as though you started your career writing short stories and worked your way into novels. Am I correct? If so, was it a difficult transition to make?
Yes. In 2009, while I was at work, I decided to write a short story. I submitted it to Weird Tales Magazine and received a personalized rejection from a prominent member of the horror community. I was thrilled even though it was a rejection.
I wrote a few more stories and had two accepted at the same time by two different magazines. I was on top of the world! I continued along the short story path, hoping to hone my writing skills and build a decent list of credits. My novels, Amongst the Dead and Tears of No Return, both started out as short stories. With Amongst the Dead, I took one chapter at a time, treating each one almost as if they were individual short stories, making it easier on myself, instead of saying, “I’m going to turn this into a novel.” With Tears of No Return, after I wrote the short story, I went back to it and decided to see what happens. It was a huge idea and I was nervous, but I just started writing and it poured out. I’ve never gotten anything down on paper so quickly. Yes, I write long-hand first.
I think writing a “good” short story is harder than writing a novel. It doesn’t take more time of course, but with a short, you really have to use your words wisely, get the message across quickly, whereas with a novel, you have time to build and explore.
“Machines Of The Dead”, your new novel available through Severed Press, presents a very different look at zombies and their origin. Did you intentionally set out to put a new spin on the zombie genre, or did it just happen?
Yes. I wanted to try and come up with a new type of zombie, one that could be plausible, yet keep the “Romero” style alive (the slow movers.)
I noticed that “Machines Of The Dead” ends on a cliffhanger. Will this become a series?
Yes. There is a plan for 2 more books, but with Machines of the Dead, I am along for the ride with the characters. I have no idea where we’re going or what we’re doing, which is how I usually like to write.
It’s obvious that you love horror, but what scares you the most?
Spiders, even the non-poisonous ones. It’s weird, other bugs don’t really bother me. I was once stung by over 35 bees, all within a few minutes. If I wasn’t near a lake where my mother dunked me under water, I might’ve had more and I still fear spiders more than bees. Actually, bees don’t really bother me at all.
Your new novel, “Amongst The Dead” will be available through Samhain Publishing this November. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Amongst the Dead is a completely different type of zombie novel than Machines of the Dead. ATD is about a twelve-year-old girl who is left alone in a cabin in the woods after her father dies. The world is post-apocalyptic, with numerous types of undead, from trackers, runners, slow-movers, etc. How will she survive? Where will she go? Are there any good people left in the world? Humans will be the biggest threat. But she isn’t a pushover and is a crack shot with a rifle. Her world is filled with malicious gangs, eyeless religious fanatics, and of course, the undead.
I also have another novel coming out in August from Evil Jester Press, called Tears of No Return. It’s about a woman who is infected with a contagion derived from the brain of an extra-terrestrial life-form, giving her the ability to read minds, with other, far more dangerous abilities yet to be realized. She is also contagious, and if spread amongst the population, the contagion she carries would forever change the world, bringing it to its knees in apocalyptic fashion. There’s a secret branch of the military after her, supernatural creatures involved, and a new take on an old, familiar monster. (I don’t know if my publisher wants me giving it away.) It’s a 94,000 word dark urban fantasy/horror/thriller. Kinda threw in everything.
Did you learn anything from writing your books? If so, what was it?
Patience. Take the good with the bad. Rejection is going to happen and you have to just shrug it off and keep submitting and keep writing. I was ready to give up on Amongst the Dead. Thought it would never be published unless I published it myself. But I hung in there and was presented with a great opportunity. Tears of No Return was also rejected a number of times. But eventually they both found great homes.
Returning to the topic of your short stories, is there one that stands out as your best, or your favorite?
I hate to sound boring, but I love them all. Well, except one or two that will never see the light of day.
Are there any authors you look up to? What is it that you like about their work?
There are tons! I hate to sound like so many others, but what did it for me was Stephen King. I hated reading. Then one day, in study hall, a friend lent me his book, Stephen King’s IT, and I loved it. Today, I read so many different authors and so many types of horror books. Zombie, ghost, serial killer, monsters, slashers, whatever I think I might enjoy.
What are some important links for finding you and your work online?