John Kiste was fed a steady diet of Poe and plots from Universal horror movies as bedtime stories while growing up and has been writing creepy tales ever since. He won The Times Reporter’s Halloween story contest three times and had one of his ghoulish fairy tales published in the recent anthology, Modern Grimmoire. In his spare time, he performs a one-man show as Edgar Allan Poe throughout northeastern Ohio.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I have been writing forever–my Dad read me Poe and told me plots of universal horror movies as bedtime stories. I tried to recreate the feel on paper at an early age.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
The standard: Never give up. And don’t be afraid to venture into the realm of odd topics. You might be surprised at the great response a truly strange tale can receive.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
My daughter has a wonderful writing website at gwendolynkiste.com. She’s always interviewing up and coming authors, offering publishing tips, and giving a roundup of cool sites to contact. She loves Theme of Absence.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
It’s always been horror and always been Poe. I read everything he wrote and as much written about him as I could get my hands on. I have done a one-man show as Edgar for years at the Warehouse of Usher in Canal Fulton and I was invited to Baltimore last year to audition as the revived “Poe Toaster”. His psychological horror will hold its own forever.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
I had a double lung transplant over a year ago, and while recovering, time to write was not a problem. I completed more tales, poems (and even a black comedy screenplay) than I had in years.
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I write down plot ideas on my phone and generally let them marinate a bit. When I go back I can often write out the complete first draft at a sitting.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
I am thinking of papering a study in my old rejections–some of which the family still read periodically. I stopped submitting to magazines for a long time and my last two published tales were both in horror anthologies. I would recommend to others that they channel rejection in a more positive manner.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I wrote a novel while in college; I have no desire at present to repeat that task. In fact, even my short stories are generally quite short. I am in the middle of a longer work that is going to take me some time to finish, I think. It will still be fairly short, though the title is not: Thincoldnightwindkeenslikeabanshee (all one word, for reasons which are revealed).
9. For the next five years? I truly do not know.
I’m just glad to be here.