Ginger Nuts of Horror
Today's guest is Hunter Shea. Hunter Shea is the author of the horror novels Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal, both published by Samhain Horror. His stories have appeared in magazines like Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, Tabard Inn, The Harrow, and Ethereal Tales, just to name a few
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’ve lived within spitting distance of New York City all my life, though I oddly dream of moving to the colder, snowy climates of Maine and Alaska, though I wouldn’t turn down a chance to live in Bora Bora.
Growing up, writing was something I did to pass the time. Most of my stuff was either saccharine love poems or very bad zombie tales. I was obsessed with horror and sci-fi from the moment I was able to spell my own name…which was around 21.
It was thanks to the boredom of a dead end job that I really discovered my passion for writing. So now I sit surrounded by gargoyles, figures of Frankenstein, bigfoot, zombies and Robby the Robot, tapping out tiny tales of terror while the wife and kids stare at the bedroom door, wondering what the hell I’m conjuring up.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I’m all about two things: keeping things simple and sticking to the classics. So, for me, horror is my word of choice. I think labels like Weird Fiction and Dark Fiction are just subsets of Horror. Besides, the word horror, in its powerful bluntness, kind of says it all. Can you imagine if you changed the line, “Oh, the horror.” to “Oh, the dark fiction.”? Doesn’t work.
The fact that I get to tell everyone I’m a horror writer, and yes, I always make that distinction, is like a dream come true. Little Hunter watching The Exorcist in the theatre when he was 7 would be so proud.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Hands down, Hemingway is my man from Amsterdam, by way of Oak Park, Paris, and Key West. I re-read at least two of his novels every year. Aside from entertaining me, I learn something new about the craft of writing every time. When it comes to horror, Stephen King was my gateway drug and he’s only gotten better as he’s grown older. The word ‘master’ certainly applies.
I’m also an avid fan of Bentley Little, Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum and Robert McCammon. A lot of times, I’ll finish one of their books and say to myself, why do you even try? You’ll never measure up to this! They keep raising the bar, and I think that makes other horror writers work that much harder to keep up, or dare I say, surpass them some day.
What are you reading now?
I’m halfway through this very cool Bigfoot book called The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn. It’s the definitive story of the famous Fouke Monster that was portrayed and made a immortal in the movie The Legend of Boggy Creek. Turns out, that squatch wasn’t just seen down in Arkansas in the late 60’s. They have reports going back 100 years until present day. When you think of the time and place and behaviour of a Bigfoot gone bad, it gives you goosebumps.
Since writing my book Swamp Monster Massacre, about killer skunk apes in the Florida Everglades, I’ve reawakened my inner Bigfoot geek.
Which book do you wish you had written?
Do you have a few hours? This is a tough one to whittle down. I think it would be Swan Song by Robert McCammon. Just a brilliant, creepy adventure.
If you could use any other author’s creation in your own work, who or what would you use?
It would probably be the Walmart-ish mega store in Bentley Little’s The Store. There’s so much you can do with an evil store that has everything you could need or want inside it. As an added benefit, it’s a fantastic platform to comment on today’s commercialism, the abuse of corporations and struggle of the masses.
Describe typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Before I sit down to write, for some reason, I always have to make a quick trip to the bathroom. It’s almost as if I’m getting rid of anything that might distract me from the task at hand. I have a day job, so on weeknights, I like to get in 2 hours a night. The first 30 minutes or so are spent doing social media, working on my blog, answering email. I make sure I have at least 1 hour to work on my novel or story. On weekends, I like to get everything early, before my family waked up. I tend to write in the kitchen in the day and in my bedroom at night.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of my Swamp Monster novella because it was an opportunity for me to prove to myself and my editor that I could write a quality story in under a month. Being raised in Catholic schools makes you good at deadlines. I just picture a nun or brother slapping a yardstick in their palm if I don’t deliver.
With my new novel, Sinister Entity, I’m proud that I was able to write my first sequel (it’s the follow up to Forest of Shadows) while keeping it a standalone read. It wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot from the process.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned with regards to your writing?
Patience. I was fine with rejection. I’m an American male. I spent my teen years being rejected multiple times a day. Hell, my own wife rejected me for months before caving in. Getting your first book deal is an enormous waiting game. Between the time I wrote my first horror novel and having a published copy in my hands was a period of about 8 years. Publishing in general can be glacial, or at least feel like it.
What do you like to do to relax?
My favourite thing is to kick back on the couch with my wife and have a horror movie marathon. The cheesier them movies, the better. I also never say no to a good cigar and a few beers.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Swamp Monster Massacre is a novella that pits a group of stranded tourists, led by a crook named Rooster Murphy who kidnapped their airboat, against a family of psycho skunk apes. When the tourists try to take control of the airboat from Rooster, they crash in the middle of the Everglades swamps in the dead of summer. It’s very fast paced, bloody and has a dark sense of humor running throughout. There are a couple of scenes that readers have told me will never fade from their now corrupted memories. J
My next book, Sinister Entity, will be available in April. It follows 19 year old Jessica Backman, a 2nd generation ghost hunter. She’s called to New Hampshire to help a family that’s being haunted by the doppelganger of their daughter. The thing is, their daughter is alive and seeing her double. Jessica is assisted by a man with incredible psychic abilities who is descended from a real life medium, D.D. Home, a man who scientists and others could never debunk. There’s a little bit of everything in Sinister Entity. I hope it makes people afraid to open their closets.
Coming out at the same time is a short story called The Graveyard Speaks. It’s a bridge between Forest of Shadows and Sinister Entity and has Jessica in a wintry cemetery chasing the shadowy, wailing ghost emanating from the same grave every night. The story will be free at Samhain Publishing and I encourage everyone to grab a copy before diving in to Sinister Entity.
Finally, at the moment, I’m working on my new novel but it’s so early in the process, I don’t want to give too much away. I will say it’s set in 1905 in an abandoned mining town in Wyoming. It’s totally different than anything I’ve ever attempted and, so far, a hell of a lot of fun to write.