My Grandfather was a huge influence. That old man could spin a heck of a tall tale. And, of course, there are the obvious authors, too many to list, but they tend to end up being similar for most writers. Nowadays, I find myself inspired by so many people it would be impossible to make a list. There’s a lot of inspiration out there. You just have to open your eyes wide enough to see it.
What do you like about Joe Hill's work?
His writing is clean. My wife and I listened to the audiobook for Heart-Shaped Box together, and after each chapter we would discuss what we’d heard. The thing is, we never said, “Oh, he didn’t need that.” We’ve enjoyed everything he’s written. I guess the apples don’t fall far from the tree.
Can you name some non-horror writer influences you've learned from and what you stole from them?
I've always been fond of a few of the required reading books: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, and John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. There is a lot to learn about humanity in those stories, things that can be applied to all genres. So I wouldn't call it stealing so much as I would refer to it as good examples of capturing the human condition.
You've said you have a soundtrack as you write. Is music an essential part of writing and creating mood?
I don’t know if it’s essential, but it helps. Often, the music stops and I find myself in silence when I come out of a story. Sometimes, my mind even creates its own soundtrack. But I’ve also had times when the music isn’t right, and my words stumble until I change the music. Mood can be everything.
What were some songs playing as you wrote these stories?
I play a lot of Metallica, Pink Floyd, 80’s music, Live, Frank Sinatra, quite a mix actually. I like a wide-range of music, and as such it could have been anything, Beethoven or Gwar or Buddy Holly. I usually just put iTunes on random and start writing.
So can you associate one song with any one story that we can listen while reading to see if the mood we got mirrors your experience?
Sadly, I cannot. The songs most often need to be there, as sort of a driving force to get me into that world I am writing about. But once I'm there, it's only background music, sort of like the music that plays overhead at a Walmart. You always hear that music, but rarely discern any of the songs, or remember them in association to any purchase.
What are some recent books or authors who are really impressing you?
This time of year I’m usually working my way through as much of the Horror Writer’s Association recommendation list as I can. The Chiral Mad 2 anthology knocked my socks off. Gene O’Neill’s latest collection, Dance of The Blue Lady was quite good. I want to get into more of Kealan Patrick Burke’s writing after reading The Turtle Boy, and have a bunch of Dean Koontz audiobooks waiting for me. As we speak, I’m about to get back to Gary A. Braunbeck’s Rose of Sharon. There are so many good up and coming authors; it’s hard to mention them all. You can go down the rec list and find some really good work there.
What's your next project and what can you tell us?
This year I want to work on some new short stories, perhaps even another collection. I have a few novels I’m trying to wrap up, and then I may look to take a more traditional route. The future is unwritten, but I have some good ideas on how it ends.
Thank you. It was a pleasure.