Today's installment of % Minutes With... features Trent Zelazny. Trent is an American author of crime and horror fiction. His work includes To Sleep Gently, Fractal Despondency,Shadowboxer, the short story collection The Day the Leash Gave Way and Other Stories, the novel Destination Unknown, and A Crack in Melancholy Time. His short story "The House of Happy Mayhem" received an honorable mention in Best Horror of the Year 2009. His novella Butterfly Potion will soon be released by Nightscape Press
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m living here again. I’m a suicide survivor, surviving my own attempt after my fiancé successfully took her own life in 2010. I was a serious alcoholic for quite a while, been sober a little over two and a half years now, with no plans to return to that life. I’ve written several books, a surprising amount of short fiction when I look back at the list, a couple of short plays and some screenplay work. I have a deep love of NBA basketball, a love which can’t be explained simply, but it runs deeper than the mere love of the game. I have a sixteen-year-old son named Corwin, who totally rocks.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I know we do need—to some extent—to label fiction, but I’ve never been super comfortable with any of them. Maybe because, while I’m close, I still haven’t been placed into a specific category. But if I had to pick one of ones mentioned, I’d go with Dark Fiction. It can encompass the other two or neither of them. It simply feels broader to me.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
So many. I’m gonna go with the folks that come immediately to mind. Joe Lansdale, David Goodis, Jonathan Craig, Dean Koontz, Cornell Woolrich, Robert Bloch, Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block. Those are the guys, I think, for the most part, who really helped shape my writing, for better or worse.
What are you reading now?
A few things. I just started Balance by Peter Giglio. I love Pete, both as a writer and a person, so I know I’m in for a good time with it. Also reading Criss-Cross by Don Tracy, from 1934, which they made into the cool Noir film with Burt Lancaster and Yvonne De Carlo. Also reading the Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell.
Which book do you wish you had written?
For the most part, I’m happy with what I have written, even if I’m not especially fond of some of them. I’m sure there are times when I read something and think that thought, “Man! I wish I wrote that!” But if I’d written it, I wouldn’t get that same reaction that evokes so much in my mind and heart (or at least it would be in a different way). Back in high school, I, like so many other kids, played music. One kid I jammed with opened me up creatively one day while we were driving around and I had Paul McCartney on the stereo. I said, “I wanna cover this song,” or something to that effect. My friend said something like, “Why cover it? Just let it influence you, maybe write something with a similar feel.” I love that, though sometimes I let myself be too influenced, I think.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
Though I’ve never been there, I would probably want to use Philadelphia in the 1940s or 50s, where most of David Goodis’ books took place. It conjures a dark but pleasant magic in my mind.
Describe typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m pretty loose about it, though I work every day, for the most part. I write better in the early morning. If I get a good start early in the morning, sometimes I don’t realize I’ve skipped breakfast lunch and dinner. I used to bounce a tennis ball, but that seems to have kind of stopped. I keep myself surrounded by books of all kinds. Turning my head just a little to the right, I see a stack of books that include my father, Kierkegaard, Leigh M. Lane, Louis L’Amour, Cornell Woolrich and Sylvia Plath. I also usually need a lot of coffee.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
It’s always the work in progress, but out of my catalogue that’s available, I think I might, overall, go with Butterfly Potion. I like it because writing that one in particular really helped bring hope back into my life—something I’d been lacking for a couple of years.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
I’m not my father, nor do I much write like him.
What do you like to do to relax?
Watch NBA basketball. On occasion try to play basketball. I love movies and certain Television shows. And of course, I love to read.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
The last book I wrote is called Too Late to Call Texas, a book heavily influenced by crime, westerns, and existential philosophy. I think it’s pretty damn entertaining. If you want action and so forth, I think it’s there; if you want it to speak to you on a deeper level, I think (or at least hope) that that’s there too.
Then I’m currently working on two novels simultaneously, one with no title but I’m really having fun with, and another tentatively called Voiceless, which I think includes some of the best prose I’ve ever written. Hopefully I’ll get those done before too long.