The Horror Writers Association is just what its name implies - the largest international association of horror writers in the world. It was started back in the eighties by some of the genre's best and brightest - Joe Lansdale, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, etc. The groups aim is to help promote the genre itself and the writers who make it their home.
2. How did you become Pres.-Elect? Any Dangling Chads involved?
No chads, but it certainly was a very close race. Officers in the HWA are voted in by the Active members every two years. I had originally intended to run for the vice president's position, but made the change at the last moment after a closer look at what I truly wanted to accomplish while in office. The president's position was the only one that made sense.
3. When did you realize that you were interested in writing and how did you get into horror fiction?
I fell into writing completely by accident. While in college I read a novel by Margaret Truman and was disgusted with its predictability and flat characterizations. When I wouldn't stop complaining about it, my roommate told me to either shut up or write a better one. I chose the later. I wrote a 525 page horror novel by hand on legal pads and then tossed it in a storage trunk, satisfied that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. Ten years later I rediscovered the manuscript and decided I might give this thing another try. A year after that, the same novel, updated and edited to under 400 pages, was published by Barclay Books, optioned to become a feature film from Media Entertainment, and received nominations for both the International Horror Guild Award and the Bram Stoker Award. Recently, mass market reprint rights sold to Pocket Books.
4. What's the most satisfying thing you get from writing? the most disgruntling?
I truly like telling stories, entertaining people. If I can bring a reader into my world and make them suspend their disbelief, give them an escape from realities harsh edges, even if only for a little while, I've done my job and am damn proud of it. The most disgruntling thing about writing is the revision stage, to me, editing is akin to repeatedly running over broken glass in bare, sunburned feet.
5. How many books, shorts stories, and other items have you authored so far?
I have one novel, Riverwatch, currently out from Barclay Books and coming out in mass market from Pocket in 2003. I have a short story collection, written in conjunction with NIGHT TERRORS author Drew Williams, also available from Medium Rare Books. Pocket Books will shortly begin publishing my Templar Chronicles dark fantasy series, with the first novel HERETIC, coming in 2004.
6. Can you tell us about the Bra Stroker Award, oops, I mean Bram Stoker Award? You have a book nominated, right? Care to talk about it?
Sure. The Bram Stoker Awards are annual awards in several categories given out each year by the Horror Writers Association. The general membership first recommends suitable works in each category and then the active members vote to shorten the list to a selection of nominated titles. From that, a final vote is taken to determine the winner. RIVERWATCH was one of the final nominees in the First Novel category, making it one of the four best first novels published in 2001. Having RIVERWATCH nominated for a Stoker award so shortly after being nominated for the International Horror Guild award was quite an honor for me.
7. Who or what has influenced your work thus far?
Any number of writers have influenced me, King, Koontz, Barker, McCammon are the primary horror influences. SF influences include Frank Herbert, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack McDevitt, and David Drake. I'm also a huge fan of suspense novels by writers such as Ridley Pearson, Michael Slade, David Morrell, and Nelson DeMille.
8. Are you a big horror fan aside from books?
Not really. I'm not a cult horror film fanatic and have never enjoyed slasher flicks. I do like dark films with a bit more of a story to them, like the recent Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Mothman Prophecies, and Signs, however.
9. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, and why?
Many of my favorite writers I mentioned above. My top five books would probably be TAI PAN by James Clavell, WATCHERS by Dean Koontz, SALEM'S LOT by Stephen King, A TALENT FOR WAR by Jack McDevitt, and WOLF'S HOUR by Robert McCammon.
10. What's writer's block and do you currently use one?
Writer's Block is the idea that your muse has suddenly fled and no matter what you do, you can't get past that blank white page in your head. I've never experienced that problem and believe it truly doesn't exist. If you want to write, you will write. You just have to decide what it is you want to write. If you find yourself unable to write, it probably mean you are fooling yourself about what it is you want to write.
11. Any tips or advise for struggling authors or wanna-be writers?
Yes, put your butt in the chair and write something. Read a lot. And subscribe to Planet Pulp Magazine: Genre Fiction from the Inside Out, a monthly magazine put together by Jon Merz (author of the Lawson Vampire series) and myself, that examines the inside world of genre publishing. Monthly we interview major writers (Lawrence Block, F. Paul Wilson, Sean Russell, Jack McDevitt) , editors (Don D'Auria, Amy Pierpont, John Scognamiglio) and agents (Donald Maass and Andrew Zack) in order to help you understand how the publishing industry works from the bottom up.
12. What does the day of a professional writer look like?
Damned if I know! I still work a 40 hour a week day job to support my family and write in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed.
13. Do you do anything to aid you while working on a piecemusic? drinking? a movie?
Every now and then I go on a sugar binge, scoffing down Oreos and Pepsi as if they'd just been outlawed, but other than that, I usually write in a quiet area away from distractions like windows or music. I have found that I can't write a tale sequentially, however, and will write whatever scene comes to mind at that time. Later, I go back and organize the various scenes, writing the bridges as necessary.
14. Weren't you voted the author most likely to get kicked out of Horrorfind? How did the show go for you? Like the cons?
Horrorfind II was a great show, jam packed full of fans and horror fanatics. I had a successful reading/signing, got the chance to talk shop with many of my writer friends, and generally had a good time. If you are a horror fan/writer/reader and can only go to one convention each year, I would suggest you pick Horrorfind. I do enjoy the horror cons in general and try to make several each year, mainly Horrorfind, World Horror, and the Bram Stoker Weekend. Cons allow you a chance to not only interact with fans and fellow writers, but to get some networking done with the various editors and publishers who attend.
15. What new stuff do you have coming out?
Pocket Books will be putting out my new dark fantasy series, the Templar Chronicles. The series covers the adventures of Cade Williams and his combat team of Templar Knights. The Knights were not disbanded in the 1300s, as history suggests, but actually became a secret militant arm of the Vatican tasked with defending mankind from the supernatural. Cade is a Knight Commander, in charge of one of the Templars' nine combat teams. He is also seeking vengeance against the Adversary, a supernatural entity that destroyed his family and scarred him for life, but physically and emotionally.
16. Any up and coming writers you'd care to talk about? Like yourself for example?
There are some tremendous new writers in the genre, Jon Merz, Drew Williams, Brian Keene, Mike Oliveri, Gord Rollo, Kelli Campbell, Diana Barron, Harry Shannon, the list goes on.
17. What's the worst part of the business end of writing?
The long stretch between selling a piece, getting paid for it, and seeing it in publication. You really have to be able to jump right into the next project or this part of the gig will drive you nuts.
18. How has the 'net helped you as a writer or has it?
The Net certainly has helped me as a writer. From research to contact information to basic promotion, I think it plays an invaluable tool. It also allows a writer to be more in touch with his fan base, which I think is a very important aspect to the craft.
19. So far, what piece of work are you the most proud of? the least?
I'm most proud of the first book in the Templar Chronicles series, HERETIC, as I think it best displays my command of the craft of writing at this point in my career. I hope ten years from now I can say the same thing about whatever the then current book is. I think a writer needs to continue growing, to keep honing their ability as a writer. The minute they stop doing that is the moment they should retire.
20. Anything else you'd like to say, plug, or cuss about?
Yes, something I think your readers will truly enjoy. The Horror Writers Association and Chapteraday.com have just formed a horror preview club. The club lets members preview a major horror release every week via their email. Members get a short excerpt Monday through Friday, along with a link to let them easily buy the book if they decide they like it. We are going to be previewing works from such publishers as Leisure, NAL, Kensington, Cemetery Dance, Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, the list goes on. Some of the best writers are going to be featured as well, Tim Lebbon, Simon Clark, Doug Clegg, Mike Laimo, Jon Merz, Karen Taylor, Jay Bonansinga, these are folks you just don't want to miss. The club is free and people can sign up for it by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The club kicks off on Oct 26th, with a preview of Doug Clegg's new hardcover THE HOUR BEFORE DARK.