Ginger Nuts of Horror
Raised in Gardner, Massachusetts for the first thirty-three years of my life, then moved with my wife and children to the town next door, East Templeton. We have seven children--six boys ages 23, 16, 8, 6, 4, and 3, and one girl age 16. We now have two grandchildren and a third on the way. I was a librarian for six years (started the job when I was a sophomore in high school), automotive parts clerk for eight years, teacher for eight, and now deliver the early morning newspaper. Hoping to make writing a fulltime, permanent career.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I live in the small town of East Templeton, Massachusetts with my lovely wife of 23 years and six of my seven wonderful children. I’ve worked as a librarian, automotive parts clerk, teacher, and newspaper delivery driver. My wife and I homeschool our children and I’m working to develop my writing career into a fulltime endeavour.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read. I read whenever and wherever I can (yes, even in the bathroom, especially the bathroom). I bring a book with me wherever I go to grab five minutes here or two minutes there. Other than reading I like to hang with my family and watch Phineas and Ferb, AFV, Kickin’ It, and Johnny Test. I love going outside and playing with my children.
What’s your favourite food?
Tuna grinders (that’s what we call them in Massachusetts). Pizza might be a close second.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Rush, Kansas, Asia, Styx, KISS, Led Zeppelin, Journey.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Dark Fiction, but I’m OK with Horror. Don’t relate to the term Weird Fiction.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Christopher Golden, Peter Straub, Dan Simmons, Dean Koontz, Joe Hill, Eric Nylund, Brandon Sanderson to name a few.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
Wow. All-time favourites are so hard to pick. I have to say the favourite book would be The Stand by Stephen King. There are many other books that are high up there and could be my favourite--It by Stephen King, Ghost Story or Shadowland by Peter Straub, Watchers by Dean Koontz, The Keep by F. Paul Wilson. Favourite horror movie? No contest--Alien. I know, it may not be everyone’s definition of a horror movie, but man that movie never fails to give me the creeps whenever I watch it.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
Ha! Great question. How about the ditzy blond wearing only a T-shirt and panties who decides to investigate a noise down in the completely dark basement/attic/forest? Haven’t we had enough of that already?
Which fictional character would be you perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
Atticus Finch would be the perfect neighbour. He’s not from a horror novel, but man would I love to have him as an influence in my children’s lives. Nightmare neighbour? Cujo. Humungous dog + rabies = worst neighbour ever.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
Too many zombies and love-struck vampires. Can’t we think of anything new people? Perhaps horror/dark fiction is making a comeback from its heyday in the 70s and 80s, but I really do hope the zombie and vampire trend morphs into something else.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Last great book was Stephen King’s It which I finally got around to reading last year. Man, what a story. What a story! I loved all those kids. The book that disappointed me was Far Dark Fields by Gary Braunbeck. It disappointed me not because it was a bad story or it was horribly written. On the contrary, it’s marvellously-written and gut-wrenching. It disappointed me because I didn’t know the story would not wrap up by the end of the book. There’s a sequel. I have to wait for a sequel! The suspense is going to kill me. Argh!
How would you describe your writing style?
I try to write each chapter from one character’s point-of-view, and hopefully I capture that character’s attitudes and worldview through his/her thoughts and words. It’s my aim to not tell, and let the characters reveal themselves through dialogue and actions. You’ll find humor in my writing, along with a healthful dose of sarcasm. I don’t buy into the platitude that sarcasm is a weapon of the weak mind, or however the saying goes. Sarcasm gets the job done. Enough said.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Here’s the thing--my debut novel, Totem (Book 1: Scars), has been out for only a month, so I don’t have any reviews yet to speak of. I’ll read the reviews when they start coming out, and I’m pretty sure there will be some positive and negative ones that will stay with me for a long time.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Sitting every morning in front of a blank laptop screen and getting started. I have to tell myself to not think about where to start and just start. Once I’m started, it’s smooth sailing. Well, maybe not quite that smooth, but I think you get the picture.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Hmm. I can’t think of any right now. I hope I could tackle any subject with both sensitivity and honesty. Ask me this question after a few years have gone by and I’ve tackled a controversial subject and got racked over the coals for my botched handling of it.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
Wow! How do you come up with these questions? Haha! Let’s see…how about the old man from The Old Man and the Sea? That book bored the crap out of me in high school. I say we have a sword fish jump out of the water, pierce the guy’s heart to put him out of his misery, and then a whale would come and swallow him whole. That could happen in the first chapter, thereby saving future generations from having to read it.
What do you think makes a good story?
Characters that I love. The plot can be over-the-top unbelievable, mundane, done before, and it doesn’t matter if I love the characters, can relate to them, and believe them. It’s always the characters for me.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are important to me. I sometimes choose a name for the way it sounds and how if it resonates with the character’s disposition. For example, in Totem, there is a set of twin boys who are fourteen-year-old bullies. Their names are Clem and Louie Scanlon. Scanlon sounds like a good-fitting last name for a couple of junior high bullies. There’s also a character in the book, a Native American girl, named Kimi, and I choose her name for its meaning, which I will not reveal here. Ha!
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m still evolving. I’m learning to write by a three-statement motto: Be real. Have fun. Go for it. I’m learning to tell the truth in my writing and let the characters say what they want to say, regardless of what it is and what kinds of readers it may offend. To have fun and add humor into the story and let the characters have fun living their lives. To not hold back and go for broke, even if it means taking a chance and falling flat on my face.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Vocabulary. Imagination. Time. Books to read. Lots of books.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Tell the truth. That came from Stephen King in his book On Writing.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
This is an area still new to me as my book came out only a month ago. I’m diligently searching the web for book blogs, sending my book to them for reviews, using social media, and trying everything I can. Got any advice?
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
Josh Schofield. He’s got so much hurt inside that others can’t get to. It’s going to be hard for him to recover from a horrible even in his family’s past. I hope he makes it. I’m really rooting for him.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Probably Edward Graham. As the character he is, he should have known better to do what he did.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Right now? I need the fortune. My family is barely surviving on what I make delivering the early morning paper, so we really need the money!
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
A particular scene early in Totem with Josh in his room. I think I nailed his character.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
Um…how about I plead the fifth?
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
I have only one book out, so it would have to be that one--Totem (Book 1: Scars).
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My last (and first) book is Totem (Book 1: Scars). It’s the story of Kimi and Achak, two Native Americans from the distant past who travel to Old Wachusett, Massachusetts in 1978 during the February blizzard. One of them is hell-bent on seeking revenge for a past massacre, while the other is determined to stop it, no matter the personal cost. The story takes place in one day, and it’s the first instalment of a trilogy. I’m currently working on the second instalment, Totem (Book 2: Ashes). As you may be able to tell from the subtitles, the story will get much worse for the people of Old Wachusett before it gets better.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
Are you still afraid of the dark? Yes!