This is the second part of a two-part blog entry in which a fan, the lovely Sara Quelle-Femme, asks several writing-related questions. I attempt to answer all of them with varying levels of clarity.
1) What can trigger a story idea for you? Ah, a twist on the old “where do you get your ideas from” inquiry. Sometimes it springs from a concept that can cause fear—loneliness, desperation, rage, etc.—and I work my way around the concept. Writing is a lot like sculpting; you visualize what you want that stone block to be, then you start chipping away. Sometimes a story can come from a more specific circumstance that causes my synapses to start firing. For example, “There Really Are No Accidents” is based on the Canadian PSA series on workplace safety. One in particular tells the story of a young restaurant chef who has an unfortunate collision with fate and a pot of boiling oil. (Click here to see the PSA I’m talking about. WARNING! It’s brutal!) After seeing it myself, and being convinced that the best horror movie produced in the last 10 years is only 30 seconds long, I brought the rest of that young lady’s story to light, or at least, what it could be. Long story short, both outside and inside influences can move me to create a story.
2) I like that some of your scenes are set in the Phoenix area. What makes you choose a particular location? Familiarity. I’ve lived in Phoenix for 20 years. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so some of my stories are set there as well. Some might consider me lazy to set most of my stories in my hometown in the present day, and they may have a point. I guess it’s my M.O. to bring weirdness to the familiar. Perhaps one day I’ll take a stab at a setting that’s a little less comfortable, but for now, you get what you get!
3) What were some of your favorite scary stories or urban legends you heard as a child? Never heard any urban legends when I was growing up, sorry. Hey, I grew up in the city. What do ya want?
4) Do you draw from the news to which you are exposed while working at Channel 5? Very much so. I remember a story where a guy who was running from the police escaped into an open manhole and ran around in the sewer for hours before finally being captured. That prompted me to write “Night Train.” “Final Rinse” was based on a true story of a woman who killed her baby by putting her in a clothes dryer. The botched execution of Joseph Wood gave rise to “The Champion Of Suffering,” especially the reaction of his victim’s family. "The Claim" is indirectly related to the mass shooting in Tucson that injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. And of course, If It Bleeds is my rant on the industry itself after the needless deaths of four colleagues. That will be examined more deeply in a future blog.
5) What ‘real life’ stories inspire your writing? See above. Also, “The Crawlspace” is a real-life story based on something that happened to me as a five-year-old.
6) Who/what are the largest influences on your writing? Rod Serling is the biggest. The short stories of Clive Barker and Stephen King were huge. Ray Bradbury was one of the first authors I loved; Dandelion Wine is my favorite book of all time. I’m also influenced by music, from Devo to Living Colour to local bands like The Mission Creeps and The Darts. I also listen to lots of prog rock (Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, et al). Death’s Dreams is structured like a prog rock album.
7) What is your favorite thing about writing? When you finish a project and you put it out before the public, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.
8) From what I know of you, you seem a very quiet introvert. How is it that you can write all this scary stuff? The need for being alone has always been in me from my earliest childhood memories. As far as writing horror as an introvert, I don’t think one has to do with the other. The thing about introverts is that we’re everywhere, in all walks of life. We’re not sociopaths (usually), nor do we hate people; we just function better without them. We create and express ourselves just like everyone else. It wouldn’t surprise me if Stephen Colbert was an introvert. Horror is my canvas, the one that suits me the best.
9) What’s in your future? I’d love to see a couple of your stories make it to the new versions of the Twilight Zone or Creep Show! Frankly, so would I! Jordan, call me! Right now, I’m working on a new novel/novella (depends on how many words are needed) about relationships and marriage. It’s in the infant stages at the moment.
That's all for now! Remember if you have a question or comment, scroll down the front page of this website to the "Questions/Comments" section, fill out the form and send it in via the weird science of the internet!