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Interview: Author Richard Chizmar

Please tell us what you are currently working on?

I’m hustling to meet deadlines for two short stories right now and working on a Top Secret collaborative novella (more on that soon, I hope). After that, it’s back to Stephen King Revisited – I’m currently working on essays about The Talisman and Skeleton Crew – and a novel in progress.

What made you want to become a writer and do you believe writers just know they are “born to write?” As you have incredible talent as a writer.

Thanks! I started writing when I was very young, but before that I was a big reader. I was surrounded by books growing up. My parents and siblings were all readers, so it was a natural for me to pick it up, too. My first short stories were written when I was probably eight or nine, and they were either monster or war stories. I’m not entirely sure about others, but I do believe I was born to be a writer. I just always saw and heard and felt things a little differently – and, from an early age, I had a desire to write these things down and share them with people.

You are a cancer survivor. What would you want to say to those who are currently battling cancer or those are also cancer survivors?

Yes, I’m a two-time cancer survivor. It’s interesting, once you have cancer you become part of this big club that you would have never voluntarily wished to join, but one which you are incredibly proud to be a member. Proud may seem to be a strange word to use her, but it’s true in many ways. Some of the finest people I have ever come across have been in hospitals and out-patient chemotherapy wards. You run across other cancer survivors in all walks of life, and there is an instant bond there. They know what it was like.

As for what I would say to other folks battling cancer, take it one day at a time. Take nothing for granted. Eat as much as you can, as often as you can. And never ever stop fighting.

How do you feel about receiving praise and approval from Stephen King? How do you feel about his work?

Stephen King is the reason Cemetery Dance magazine exists. He’s the reason I became a writer of dark fiction. His novels and stories inspired me in countless ways and showed me that a writer could reach a large audience with this type of fiction. To eventually work with Steve, and then become good friends, has been an absolute highlight in my life. To have Steve read and enjoy and publically praise my own writing has been a dream come true. Some days I still find it hard to believe.

Who are some professional inspirations to you?

Stephen King, of course. Ed Gorman, who recently passed away, was a huge influence and inspiration. Ed was a writer’s writer, the real deal. I admire and respect Joe Lansdale for writing exactly the type of things he wants to write and worrying about marketing later.
What advice would you offer to other writers out there in the world who may be hesitant to put pen to paper (or fingers to a laptop?)

Be brave, be stubborn, be ready to make a lot of mistakes. It’s a long process becoming a successful writer. Even with self-publishing today, if you want to build a legitimate career, it’s going to take time. You are going to stumble. You are going to get bad reviews. You are going to publish bad stories. If you truly want to write, and if you truly believe it’s what you were meant to do, you have to accept and immerse yourself in that process. You have to embrace it.

Do you have a favorite book that you could read over and over?

Stephen King’s IT. Robert McCammon’s BOY’S LIFE. William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES. Dan Simmons’ SUMMER OF NIGHT. Joe Lansdale’s COLD IN JULY. I could list another dozen or so.

How do you feel the world of publishing is going and what do you think of books versus Kindles and e-books?

Traditional publishing is in rough shape, but it will survive. I think smart, independent bookstores will continue to blossom and thrive, just on a smaller scale that what we’ve become accustomed to in past years. As a publisher myself, I will always prefer a physical book in my hands. Heck, I still like to smell the paper and binding when a new book arrives in our warehouse. With that said, I am all for anything that gets people buying and reading books, whether it’s hardcover, paperback, or eBook.

What would you like to say to the fans?

Just that I am extremely appreciative for their support and enthusiasm. I took almost a decade off from writing prose to concentrate on movies and other aspects of life, and I missed it tremendously. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life right now, and writing stories again has been a huge part of that. To know that these stories have found an appreciative audience has been a real blessing.

Thank you again and all the best! It is a true honor.

Thank you. It was a pleasure!

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