I wrote my first monster story in the third grade and haven't stopped since. My first story was "Tentacles," a sea-monster tale worthy of old Godzilla movies. Lots or people died, it was fun.
I believe in "talent through sweat," which is picking out the one thing you want to do and working at it until you get good at it. I'm not an especially talented writer -- I have no keen insights into the human condition, I don't know how to capture the essence of a relationship, or any of that crap. Yes, I said "crap. " I tell suspense stories. I'm not trying to change the world, I'm not writing any social commentary, any political parable or any observation of our times. When you read my books, a monster is a monster is a monster -- it's not representative of something else. My work is entertainment, pure and simple. Oprah can take her pretentious books and shove 'em. If you like monsters and blood, and you want to be entertained and forget your troubles for a few hours, then read my books!
I graduated from Olivet College in Michigan, and went on to work in the newspaper field for several years. I got out of that because I didn't like prying into people's lives. So I went into marketing. No prying there, right?
I'm a proud member of the Horror Writer's Association (www.horror.org)
2) What is the most appealing thing about horror fiction for you and why YOU write...
When written correctly, horror gets the adrenaline pumping, the imagination ripping, and the skin crawling. I try and capture that hiding-your-face-behind-your-shirt tension from movies like "Aliens" or "Psycho. " I think that's the real fascination with horror -- the safety of a book or an air-conditioned movie theatre can dredge up those primitive fight-or-flight responses programmed deep in our DNA. We NEED to be afraid, to be on the lookout, to be wary of potential danger that could kill me or mine, damage my tribe. I think those responses are so deeply programmed into our being, that to not exercise them is like letting the toilet back up for months on end -- you won't be happy with the final result. Without a release from books and movies, I think people start to project their fears onto the world around them -- that neighbor acts funny, that kid down the hall just ain't right, why is that teacher looking at me that way?
3) 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 this with you?
My writing has a lot to do with me, because I draw characters from the people and relationship around me. For example, writing EarthCore's main character, Connell Kirkland, was easy, because I imagined what I would be like if I lost my wife in a sudden and tragic accident. I imagine I'd lose myself in my work and tune out the world. That's exactly what Connell does -- I just envision how I would feel, how I would react to a situation, and put that on the page. Everyone in that book is someone I know, or someone I've interacted with at one point or another.
However, that doesn't mean I walk around hacking people to bits. At least not until my dog tells me to do it.
4) Tell us about EARTHCORE...
First of all, EarthCore is currently #4 on the BarnesAndNoble.com Horror & Suspense eBook bestseller list. Yeah!
Basically, EarthCore is about greed. There are many forms of greed: monetary, recognition, success, accomplishment. I think we're all guilty of that deadly sin in one way or another. EarthCore is about how greed can blind us to the obvious, how greed can make us ignore those sensitive fight-or-flight instincts I talked about earlier. If you want something, want it bad, so bad your heart races when you think about it, you can develop tunnel vision. And when you happen to be in charge of a multi-million dollar mining effort in the deadly environment of Southwest Utah, that tunnel vision can get you -- and everyone else around you -- into a great deal of trouble.
EarthCore is a monster story, plain and simple. I've been in love with monster movies since my dad took me to see King Kong when I was 7 years old. But I don't re-hash the standard old monsters -- vampires, werewolves and Frankenstein. I strive to give my readers something more, a new monster, something they haven't seen. You see a vampire in a book, and there's certain rules: get to sunlight, you're probably safe. Get bit, your probably fucked. But when the reader sees a new monster, there's a different thrill, the thrill of the unexpected. What will this new monster do? What does it want? Why is it waving my dismembered arm around like a pom pon?
Here's the blurb from the publisher:
Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a three-mile shaft below a desolate Utah mountain.
EarthCore is the company with the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company's driving force, pushing himself and those around him deep into the earth to uncover the massive treasure.
But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting ... and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out firsthand why this treasure has never been unearthed.
5) What is the weirdest true-life thing that happened to you that if you wrote it down would read like fiction?
While researching my new novel Ancestor, I took the Jack London route and went on a solo snowmobiling excursion in the Kewenaw Peninsula of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This is a damn remote place, and if you're off the road, there's nothing around. I packed a backpack, rented a sled in Houghton, and headed up the coast. There were two trails, a new one and an old one. I took the new. Ever hear the phrase "I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference?" Try this instead -- "I took the friggin' logging trail with the eight-foot divots and no goddam signs of any kind, no sign of humans or civilization, and almost froze to death. "
I was on the trial for seven hours. Four of those hours I didn't see a single human being, a house, or a road. No sign of civilization. When it started to get dark, I started to worry. When I was almost out of gas, I was really worried. It was 20 below zero, and I was some jackass greenhorn stuck in woods with six feet of snow. I was about to give up and build a signal fire -- I'm not kidding -- when I found a barely-used road. I managed to follow that road and found a town, just as I ran out of gas.
I was waiting for Cousin Bubbah and his cannibalistic brother Darryl to come out of the woods at any moment. People watch horror movies and say "who would be so dumb as to go into the haunted woods alone?" Apparently, that guy is me.
6) Who is YOUR favorite horror author?
I love Stephen King. I don't care how many people want to bag on him, he is one of the most popular authors of all time, and with good reason. I also think Michael Crichton is a horror writer in suspense writer's clothes, and I think he's very good. There is a new guy, however, called E. E. Knight. I recommend everyone check out "The Way of the Wolf" by this guy -- it's the most original take on vampires I've ever seen. I think he's a talent that we'll hear more of in the near future.