1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I started writing in 2002 after reading The Stand by Stephen King and falling in love with it. For the first four years my output consisted of a half-dozen attempts at writing a novel that was, let’s face it, a total rip-off of The Stand. In 2006, when I was fifteen, I started writing original horror stories. My first piece was published in 2010 when I was eighteen.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Don’t give up. I know you probably hear that a lot (“Yeah, yeah, yeah, don’t give up, whatever”) but I mean it. We all deal with rejection. I miss more than I hit, but I don’t give up. Also, read and write. A lot. Like they say: Practice makes perfect.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
DarkMarkets.com, The Horror Tree, and Ralan’s. Those sites offer up-to-date open submission calls for speculative fiction. In general: Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style and Stephen King’s On Writing. The former is basic grammatical guide and the latter is a virtual writing course by one of America’s favorite storytellers. Even if you don’t like King (or horror), he’s doing something right, so it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I like horror. I like other types of works, too, but horror is kind of my default setting. At some point along the way I discovered that I enjoyed writing short stories more than novels, so I made it a point to go out and find the best short stories of the genre. I highly recommend anything by E.F. Benson, M.R. James, Ambrose Bierce, Guy De Maupassant, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson. For novels: Dean Koontz, John Saul, Peter Straub.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
If you’re really passionate about writing, you’ll find time. I don’t mean you’ll find time to sit down at your computer and write ten thousand words (life calls often and loudly), but if you’re lying in bed at night, whip you your cellphone and write something as a text and save it as a draft. I’ve done that plenty of times. I don’t want to sound coarse, but if you’re on the toilet…hey, free time!
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I wing it. By the time I sit down I usually have a rough outline in my head, but I leave enough blank space so I can go where the moment takes me.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
Sometimes well, sometimes not so well. I remember getting my first rejection in the mail waaay back in 2009. I was actually elated. That form letter symbolized, to me at least, a big step in the right direction. I felt like I was truly a writer. Flash forward to 2015. I went through a two month dry spell and almost went to pieces. “My career is over! Woe is me!” Since then I’ve had about ten stories accepted, some published. Rejection is hard, but like I said earlier, don’t give up. Many great writers had their work rejected dozens or even hundreds of times before hitting it big. Frank Herbert had Dune rejected a number of times before it went on to become a s-f classic.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I have a post-apocalyptic novel that I’m flogging around. Though I’m more comfortable with short fiction, I have four novels ranging from 36k words to 65k. I’d like to see at least two of them accepted by the end of 2016.
9. For the next five years?
In the summer of 2010, I sat down and drew up a list of five goals that I wanted to meet by 2015. If I didn’t, I thought, I’d quit and do something else. I met all of them (save maybe one) by 2013. By 2020, I’d like to be making a living off my writing. I don’t need mountains of wealth, just enough to get me by. I’d like to win an award of two, but I can really do without that, to be honest.
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
This is my second collection. After Midnight. It contains something like twenty-two tales of crime, terror, and the supernatural (the editor removed a couple because they were “too disturbing”). Though I’ve written a few “splatterpunk” type stories over the years, my work tends to be more subtle and atmospheric. Anyone who enjoys that kind of thing might dig AM.