Franklin E. Wales is a South Florida based writer who specializes in, you guessed it, fearsome scribing! He's been writing for many years now (and even involved in the early independent horror scene) and has plenty of experience to share with like-minded people.
I recently was able to stop by Frank's office, and over black coffee and Krispe Crème doughnuts (way too many for me!), we discussed his first novel which sees publication in late July 2004, called BOOGER. If you're a fan of scary horror and intense happenings in a small town, you won't want to miss this wild yarn! It's a great way to spend a day at the beach…
Q: Horror is obviously 'your bag'. Tell us about growing up, when you found the love for the genre and how that evolved into getting genre pieces published in magazines...
I think all kids like to make up stories when they are little. I just never grew out of it. I just started to put it all down on paper. My mother bought me a subscription to Writer's Digest when I was in grade school. From then on it was just a natural path from school papers to small press and fanzines with my stories-All the while I collected rejection slips from the bigger markets.
As for Horror being my thing, my mother gets the credit (or blame) for that too, I guess. She says when I was very young I used to pitch a fit if she put me to bed before The Twilight Zone came on. She'd always let me watch it, even though I woke up screaming with nightmares later that night! I like to say I was weaned on The Twilight Zone.
Q: Favorite authors and movies?
Stephen King, of course. SALEM'S LOT really did change my life. That book taught me fiction was where I wanted to be. I'm also fond of Jack Ketchum, Joe R. Lansdale, Billie Sue Mosiman, Skipp & Spector, Ray Bradbury, and though it might sound funny here, John Steinbeck, and Hemmingway.
As For Movies, my grandmother, Ines, gave me a love for all kinds of movies. We'd sit up on weekends and watch whatever was on the late late show. My wife, Jacki shares my enthusiasm for all movies. We just want to be entertained for an hour and a half. Between the two of us our home has quite a well-rounded collection. If you were to drop by you'd just as likely catch us watching THE WIZARD OF OZ as MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY.
My personal faves would include Ed Wood's PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE, Tim Burton's ED WOOD, and the entire PHANTASAM series.
Q: In the mid to late nineties, you were highly involved with the independent movie scene as a critic, movie correspondent, and even participant in projects (ALIEN AGENDA: Ransom and TRUTH OR DARE 3--both in which you acted!). What was that like?
While I continued to place my fiction in small press magazines and fanzines (translated for little or no money) I decided to do some interview/bio pieces freelance to pick up a few bucks. Living in South Florida there is always somebody around to interview. Once on the radio I heard a local actor (Joel Wynkoop) talking about a movie he'd done (CREEP) with Tim Ritter. I'd seen Ritter's KILLING SPREE and thought he might make an interesting subject. Tim was a great interview and we found we shared a lot of common interests. You can't be in the independent scene for long without hearing his name. Someday somebody will hang the moniker "Godfather Of Shot On Video" on him. He knows everybody!
It was good timing for me. The independent scene was really starting to grow. Several publications were out at the time. The problem was most of the articles were written by the directors with different names, and it quite often showed. Everybody needed a press writer, and Tim knew everybody who made the movies, and magazines that PAID for the stories about them. I got a lot of work through both Ritter, and Kevin Lindenmuth.
I was doing a lot of work for a large South Florida Music Magazine and even managed to do a little crossover work between musicians who wanted soundtrack work, and soundtracks that needed reviewing.
Being married to a professional photographer helped a lot. We had a great time. One night we'd be on a tour bus for a national music act doing an interview, the next in some backstreet bar covering a band with just as much talent, but not the breaks. Then on the weekends, we'd be on some independent movie shoot, or video premiere.
As for the acting, Tim and I talked frequently and one day he said, "I'm doing a piece for Kevin's ALIEN AGENDA series, and I need a guy to be eaten by his cannibal kids. Know anybody?" I volunteered before I realized what I had jumped into! Next thing Jacki and I were on the set. The kids and I made or "acting" debut and she took still shots for production. When his next project came up SCREAMING FOR SANITY: TRUTH OR DARE 3 came up Tim called and said, "there's a part in here you might be interested in... " We did a lot of work on that picture from casting to locations. To this day when you find a review of that movie, my scenes are the most talked about. Not for my "acting" hell no, but for all the abuse I went through in my death!
Q: You've had articles and reviews published in both rock and roll and horror magazines, published your own magazine, and done so much in the literary field. Tell us about taking this particular path, what it was like in terms of ups and downs, and how it led to writing novels...
Times change and we decided to pack it in. As the Internet grew, more and more people were working for free just to write. The work was there, but the money wasn't. Now both worlds I wrote in wanted it done for free.
We briefly started our own South Florida entertainment magazine (FOUR ONE ONE). It had a nice following, but the headaches of writers who were late, or advertisers whose checks were late gave us reason to let it go after a short run.
As for novels, it all leads to novels since SALEM'S LOT.
Q: BOOGER is your first novel to see publication. Is BOOGER your first novel or do you have other completed works? I know some authors write a few books and then choose the one they see as the best...
Actually I have two novels completed, and two in second draft stage. God knows how many others are "in progress" around my office. As for leading with BOOGER, Jacki and I discussed which it should be, and BOOGER was both our choices.
Q: Tell us about writing BOOGER---how the story evolved, what you did to come up with the concept and create the characters, how the location (where you reside in South Florida) fit in, all that good stuff...
BOOGER came from a lot of things. Fear of the dark that all kids have (especially when they watch Twilight Zone before bedtime). I've always had a certain fear/curiosity about the homeless who wander the streets of South Florida: Who are they? Where do they come from? And just what the hell do they have in those overstuffed shopping carts they push around? I have a day job that keeps me on the road from dawn to dusk, and I see them daily and wonder what they might know that I don't.
Of course being a father, the ultimate horror would be to lose your child and think it might be you r fault. But what if, years later, you found out it might not have been your fault. Wouldn't you walk through hell to find out, no matter how outrageous it might seem?
Q: How long did it take you to complete BOOGER? Any recommendations for new authors struggling to get that first book written? Where did you find the time to write, was your family supportive?
All totaled BOOGER took about a year to write, and then I left it alone for six months before the final polish over a couple months.
I think it was Oliver Stone who said, "Writing equals ass in chair". That's all the advice anyone needs for finding time. If the burn runs deep enough, you'll find your time. An hour at night, over morning coffee, lunch breaks, etc.
I've been lucky with family being supportive from my mom to my wife-I couldn't ask for more
Q: Tell us about the distribution of BOOGER, why you decided on the self-publishing route (to keep control of the product?), and where people can buy a copy of the book.
To tell you the truth, I tried the old fashioned ways with agents and query letters. I've hired agencies and was not happy with their results. I've had agents leave the firm. I've had editors of publishing houses, request more, and then leave the house.
In today's market even if you do sell the book to a house, you still may vanish from sight if the publisher doesn't put enough behind you.
Self-publishing is a sure-fire way to get it out there. You have more control over the finished product, but there is a lot of work to it. Some companies offer a variety of services and cost to the writer depends on them. But no matter which way you get the book published, you are your own best client, so you must get out there and do the leg work after your book sees print.
If you decided to go with self-publishing, be careful. Read everything. Make sure you keep your copyright. Many houses offer many services. You can pay more to get more. Or you can opt out for basic bones, and do more work for yourself. Being born of Yankee blood, I have a hard time paying extra for things I can do myself.
Right now BOOGER isn't due out shortly, and it will be available through LULU.com. Depending on when this interview runs it may, or may not be available yet. Anyone interested can contact me at FranklinEWales@aol.com and I'll be glad to keep them posted.
Q: What's the future hold for Frank Wales---new novels? a website?
Right now my future is BOOGER. Marketing the book, that is. I've got some local book signings liked up. I'm always trying to get some more press, stuff like that. You guys have been fantastic, and I thank you very much.
If the book takes, there will be an ISBN number and it will be on Amazon, but it will cost the reader more that way. Right now I'm happy trying to work with LULU on all aspects, even their website. I guess I'll have to get my own website one sooner or later, everybody does now. But I prefer to keep things simple as long as I can.
If the book takes life and sells, and the demand is there, as I said, I've got enough product to be around here a long long time.
Q: Anything you'd care to add or tell the reading audience out there?
Thanks for reading this piece. If you read BOOGER, please feel free to let me know what you think.