Me: I started out back in high school. I hadn’t been even the twentieth most popular; hardly a blip on any screen, and writing fiction gave me something to entertain myself with after finishing whatever work teachers asked. It gave me a way out. And I wrote a lot; during the week and on weekends if I had nothing planned.
I’d churn out a two to three hundred page notebook manuscript every two weeks. It was just for fun—mainly to amuse me, but, after a while, both students and teachers took an interest in my stories and would even ask to both read it after a story was finished or that I “must” finish it! And sometimes I did finish a particular story—not always. If I lost interest in it; even for a minute—that was it for me. In the trash it’d go!
2. Tell us about After Midnight. What’s it all about?
Me: After Midnight is my complete short story collection; of over fifty stories! It has both my published and unpublished stories which I’d kept around for almost ten years, which after a while, decided to gather up as my tour de force of my best work. The unpublished stories are either tales I never sent to a magazine or ones that have gotten rejections from magazines—for whatever reason. And if any fiction writer out there ever gotten the old “just not for us” or “just not the right fit” and “pass—try again next month” from editors probably know exactly what I mean. But I’ve been lucky; I’ve published almost as much short fiction as magazines had rejected!
I really wasn’t sure about this collection; but I knew readers—as they most often do, thankfully—would let me know just how After Midnight made them feel. And the readers have spoken: After Midnight had received six reviews on Amazon after publication, and—all six reviews are five-stars! The Red City Review magazine had also praised it as well as Kirkus Reviews! The book has become as big success with readers; that’s more than I could have hoped for with this collection. Because it lets me know I’ve done my job as a fiction writer: I did not let readers down. Most important.
3. What work of your own are you most proud of? Is there anything that you’ve written that you would say was your least favorite?
Me: I must say that would be a short story I wrote after a bad breakup some years ago. The whole crap-deal made me forget about writing for weeks; until one afternoon—it all hit me at once: An idea, a very simple one… packed with emotion. I sat down and wrote it out without giving it a title. Gave it a quick read over and gave it the title “Ouija” and sent it to a magazine. They took it in a heartbeat. The editor praised it; I sent to another publication out of curiosity and they asked to publish it as well. It didn’t end there, and to date, Ouija is my most published short story I ever wrote. Editors snatch it up like a Black Friday special!
My least favourite would be a story I wrote for a Canadian science fiction magazine. It was about mermaids, and sent to them via snail-mail in red ink which looked pink. I thought they’d overlook such a thing; since the story was (I thought) pretty good. I got a letter not long after letting me know the story was good enough to be published, but since it was sent in pink-ink, they’d have to decline. I had to laugh reading the letter… and mentally slap myself pretty hard.
4. Who are some of your influences?
I had none when I first started out. I just went on whatever my mind-imagery cared to give, but then one day one of my high school teachers told me that I should never read a Stephen King book. I then asked, “Have you ever?” He answered “No…” And that made me wonder why—so I had to do it! I read Bag of Bones, and was hooked. I realized there was so much more a writer could do, and basically, nobody around to tell him why he shouldn’t do it. Poe is definitely another influence; Neil Gaiman; Jack Ketchum, and a list of others of both spotlight success and small magazine publications.
That doesn’t necessarily mean I love; or even like, half of their body of work. I like some; here and there, and each teaches me what I’m able to do; or should do. Or not do. If anything, I’ve definitely learned what not to try having published, opposed to what’s actually new and good. So far; knock on cedar—I’ve been able to top whatever piece of fiction I’d published last. I always vow to give readers my best in this business; anything short of a mile—forget it.
5. What is your favorite sub genre of horror (such as slashers, werewolves, ghosts, etc)?
Me: Well, I write twisted flash and short fiction, so it would have to be like writing a werewolf story immersed in a futuristic space odyssey. I always start out writing one genre and theme and it hardly ever turns out quite the way I first imagined. Doesn’t even matter if I wrote a storyboard—the story and characters sometimes make you tell the truth! They want their story told; I just sit back and be quiet. And most often when the story is done; it’s way better than what I had in mind. I do like science fiction, at best, but even when I write a science fiction tale… it usually comes out vampire-bloody!
6. Who is your favorite horror writer of all time?
Me: Too easy: Poe. There was no fiction writer like him of his time, and everybody after him tries sounding like the master. He could be as frightening as he wanted, or funny, or depressing, and sometimes all in one tale. He was a natural; he didn’t have to try to write, he just did it. He had no fears of what people might think or feel; story was most important no matter how gruesome. Reading his many works; I’ve learned to proceed with storytelling as truthful as possible. Edit out manuscript errors after the writing process and amp-up the terror. His endings are unforgettable, and I pride myself on doing the same in my own stories.
7. What is the greatest horror novel ever written in your opinion?
Me: That is a very difficult question. But if I would go with a particular novel did in the public’s eye—soul, beliefs and personal fears, I would have to say Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It caused all kinds of strife and havoc upon its release—being banned was the cause-effect, and now the novel Dracula is a classic story. It’s what the novel did to people that made it unforgettable; and also opened doors to author’s centuries after to try doing the very same: Scare the hell of out readers. I suppose that novel is the pioneer of horror. But Frankenstein had been published way before that; but as far as I know, that novel hadn’t been banned from more than one country.
8. What freaks you out (such as ghosts, demons, spiders, etc)? Do you have any phobias?
Me: Well, ghosts have never harmed me. Demons are an everyday pain in the ass; spiders get rid of the ants coming into the house. I think I only have one, real, phobia: Zombies!
A real zombie-apocalypse! That would do it. Think about this; having hordes of the undead swarm your only line of defence and sanity, and then having to use a weapon to destroy a very familiar face: Someone you love. Just for the added terrifying-benefit. Could you do it? That would probably be the only question boiling in your brain, and thudding heart, in which would ultimately define the word survival. Because if you DON’T…do it… Lunch time!
9. How would you best describe your writing style?
Me: Easy going. I suppose, anyway. I can jumble everything in a phone-interview but down on paper everything pours out like a waterfall. Whether I write in one style or another; I do my best to do that very style justice. If I do have any style of my own, I’d have to say I’ve subconsciously taken a page from Poe, so to speak. And I haven’t read Poe in a long time; Sidney Sheldon, Lisa W. Cantrell, Heather Graham, Walter Mosely—those are some of the prime authors of the novels I’ve delved into in the past couple of years, and yet, my style I noticed sounds so much like Poe’s. Humour, horror, self-assessments, anger—whether its short sentences or longer…I can take a look at the finished produced and see similarities. I’m humbled by how the writing turns out; it’s been that way since I started writing fiction back in high school.
10. What is your favorite horror movie of all time?
Me: Deadly Friend. Would you remember that John Carpenter classic? I… for one… could not forget. As a kid; it both haunted me with nightmares on end…and that blonde chick was pretty cute too. Which…makes it worse.
11. What would you say was the scariest horror film of all time?
Me: Deadly Friend. To get technical about horror, for me—it takes a lot more elements than the Wolfman or Dracula or the Closet Monster to get me scared of a horror movie. It has to evoke at least half of human instincts to make me cringe. A good horror film should make you ask things nobody has, or wanted to, and make you answer those things you never thought you would ever have to—or even think about. If a horror movie can move your soul and jam it up your throat… that is a horror film. Anything less than that? Oh, come on…
12. Do you also write screenplays? If so what do you like better, writing screenplays, novels, or short stories?
Me: I suppose I could write all three. I once hired an editor who wrote screenplays, so every story I sent her to evaluate was a screenplay?! I was told my writing would never get published and I should write and send screenplays, instead of short stories. That almost ended my real start… but, I let ordinary readers who have read at least one horror novel in their life read stories of mine and that changed everything. To have an editor read your stuff is one thing…but let a fan of the genre read it—they know what works—they’ve read what works and what doesn’t—and that’s all it took for me to decide my fate as a fiction writer. My stuff wasn’t great… but it had potential. What more do you need to hear? That’s a foot in the door already!
12. What are you working on at the moment? Any future projects you’d like to discuss?
Me: I’m done and ready to publish a novella I wrote last summer I’m calling Pet Reader. It’s a science fiction yarn that’s my own homage to H.G. Wells. It may see publication next year; or some other time. I’m a self-published author after all, and publishing and promoting comes out of my own budget. I’m also working on a novel which I won’t title just yet. I’ll take my time and see where it goes… maybe I’ll try to agent it before thinking of anything else. But that project won’t be ready for a while. Taking my time with publishing that one.
13. Anyone you want to give a shout out to or anything else you’d like to add?
Me: To readers of science fiction and horror out there: You really haven’t experienced anything, if you haven’t experienced After Midnight. It has everything you hunger for in genres… and all the reasons why you still sleep with a light on! Pleasant screams…