Having served as a jet engine mechanic in the Air Force, and the former owner of a restaurant and lounge, Owl Goingback became a full time writer in 1987. He has written five novels, two children's books, and numerous short stories and magazine articles.
His novel CROTA won the 1996 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel, and was one of four finalists in the Best Novel category. Owl's novel DARKER THAN NIGHT was a Bram Stoker Nominee for Best Novel of 1999. The Bram Stoker Awards are given annually by voting members of the Horror Writers Association and are considered the highest honor a writer can receive in the horror genre.
Owl's novel SHAMAN MOON was published by White Wolf Publishing as part of the omnibus edition THE ESSENTIAL WORLD OF DARKNESS. The book draws on his Native American heritage to tell a story of supernatural suspense, as do his other novels. His newest novel, EVIL WHISPERS, will be published in May 2001. Owl has also ghostwritten novels for celebrities.
His children's books EAGLE FEATHERS and THE GIFT have received critical acclaim from both parents and teachers. EAGLE FEATHERS is a Storytelling World Awards Honor Recipient. The award was presented at the 1998 Annual National Convention of the International Reading Association.
Goingback's shorter works of fiction have appeared in numerous anthologies, including TALES FROM THE GREAT TURTLE, CONFEDERACY OF THE DEAD, PHANTOMS OF THE NIGHT, EXCALIBUR, THE BOOK OF KINGS, WHEN WILL YOU RAGE?, ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT, QUEST TO RIVERWORLD, GRAILS: VISITATIONS OF THE NIGHT, and SOUTH FROM MIDNIGHT. His story "Grass Dancer" was a Nebula Award Nominee for best short story of 1995.
In addition to his writing, he has lectured throughout the country on the customs and folklore of the American Indians. He has also modeled and done a bit of acting. The author resides in Florida with his wife and two sons.
1) What is the most appealing thing about horror fiction for you?
The emotion it creates in a reader. It's one thing to have a reader say that they liked your story or book, it's quite another to have someone tell you that your story scared the hell out of them. I love writing horror, because it gives me great pleasure to give someone nightmares. If I can cause a person to sleep with the lights on then I've done my job.
I grew up reading horror, starting out with ghost stories and spooky mysteries as a kid. I still remember to this day some of the feelings I experienced reading works by Lovecraft, Bradbury, and the other masters of the genre. I only hope that some of my stories can stir the same emotions in others.
2) Some writers say that what they write doesn't have much to do with themselves--others say that their writing is very much influenced by their own experiences. How is it with you?
I think I put quite a bit of myself in the stories that I write. I've shared a lot of my Indian heritage and culture in my novels and children's books. I have also woven my hopes, fears, desires, and dislikes into some of my characters. I guess that's why some of my characters seem like old friends to me, because they're just as sick and twisted as I am.
3) Your novel CROTA won the Bram Stoker award a few years ago... did winning this prestigious horror writing award have many benefits to your writing career?
A lot of people say that winning the Stoker doesn't mean very much, but I think it helped to keep my career alive. First off, CROTA almost didn't happen as a book. Right around the time it was about to go to print, the publisher, Donald I. Fine Books, was being bought out by Penguin. At the same time, Don Fine was dying from cancer, and my agent left the publishing industry for another career. I was an orphaned author with a book nobody knew what to do with.
Luckily, the hardback edition of CROTA was published under the Donald I. Fine Books label, but there was no talk of a paperback edition. At the Bram Stoker Awards Ceremonies, in New York City, I was sitting next to an editor from Signet. When CROTA won for Best First Novel, I set the award in front of the editor and said, "Now, let's talk about a paperback deal." I guess winning the Stoker Award must have done the trick, because he bought the paperback rights to the book. He also went on to buy two other books from me, DARKER THAN NIGHT and EVIL WHISPERS. If it hadn't been for winning the Stoker Award, my career might have stalled, or even stopped, and I might have remained an orphaned writer for quite some period of time.
4) CROTA and DARKER THAN NIGHT deal with Native American legends... do you think that most of your horror novels will continue to deal with this theme?
One of the nice things about using Native American legends and themes in my novels is that there is a remarkable amount of information to draw from, much of which has never been used by other writers. Haunted castles and vampires stories have practically been done to death, and a lot of readers are looking for something different. The history and mysteries of North America are a fresh source of ideas, especially when you consider the stories and folklore of the numerous tribes that are the original inhabitants of this land.
I'm inclined to write stories about what I know, and I do know an awful lot about Native America legends and culture. I also have a way of looking at things differently than mainstream America, through Indian eyes, which often puts an unique twist on the stories that I write. I doubt that all the horror novels I create in the future will have an Indian theme to them, because I do like to write about different things, but for now there probably will be at least a little bit of the old Indian in the stories that I write.
5) What is the weirdest true life thing that happened to you that if you wrote it down would read like fiction?
That's a tough one. My life is so full of weird experiences that I wouldn't know where to begin. There's hanging out with fellow horror writers in the ancient cemeteries of St. Augustine, Florida, and getting images of people on film that shouldn't be there. Or there's the time I accidentally walked behind a jet engine while it was running at full blast: one of the reasons I decided to get out of the Air Force and seek a less hazardous job. I could go on, but I would rather incorporate my weird experiences in the stories that I write.
6) Who is your favorite horror author?
It's got to be H.P. Lovecraft. He's a true genius in the horror field, kind of like Poe on acid. His settings are fantastic, and he has the gift of creating terror in a reader by talking around a subject, instead of describing it in detail. Whenever I'm in the mood for some serious horror I'll reread one of Lovecraft's stories.
7) What are you working on now?
I'm currently writing another horror novel, entitled BREED. It takes place in St. Augustine, using some of the ancient city's ghostly legends as background to the story. I won't go into any details about the story, because I'm kind of superstitious about giving away too much too soon, but I will say that there's going to be plenty of chills and thrills, and quite a few mutilated bodies, in the story before I'm finished with it.
8) You've ghost-written books for other people. Can you talk about this?
I could tell you who I wrote for, but then I would have to kill you. Actually, I've signed a gag order, so I'm not allowed to talk about the things I've ghost written. It's a pity, because you would probably be amazed to find out which Hollywood celebrity has his picture and name on a book that I wrote.
9) How is the horror writing industry at the beginning of this new millennium?
I think it's actually much better than when I started out. There are more places to sell short stories than ever before, and there are some truly amazing small press publishers out there that weren't around when I first began. I think it's probably a lot easier for a new writer to get his foot in the door nowadays, which means some amazing new talent is finding its way into print. I seriously hope this trend continues, because I really like what I'm seeing.
10) Anything you want to add?
I would just like to encourage everyone to continue reading horror. The market is looking good, and there are some terrific stories being published. If we all continue to support the genre, then it can only continue to grow and get better.