Ginger Nuts of Horror
Dennis Liggio is probably some sort of sorcerer or a robot sent back in time to save the future. The cover story he is currently using is that he grew up in New York but somehow ended up in Austin, TX nearly two decades ago. His current whereabouts in Austin are unknown, but there has been some success luring him out of his secret lair with tea, Chinese food, and those fancy little cornbread biscuits that you get at certain restaurants that always seem amazing while in the restaurant but are never close to that good when you get them home. Rumor has it that if you say his name three times in front of a mirror at midnight in a darkened room he will appear and give you Hostess Fruit Pies.
He has been known to answer the most random of questions with knowledge that is fabricated and an air of authority he surely does not deserve. Ask him, if you dare.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I was born a New Yorker, but came down to Austin, Texas where I have stayed the past two decades. I have worked for nearly a decade in the video game industry and seen both the good and bad in it. Long ago I came to terms with my geek nature, and now happily talk about video games, board games, my favourite shows, and favourite novels with complete strangers. I have self-published four novels: two horror novels and two entries in a series of sarcastic fake memoirs.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I prefer the term Horror. I like Weird Fiction and Dark Fiction as terms, but to me they are different shades of meaning. The Lost and the Damned is Horror, but one day I might write something that I myself might classify under one of the other terms.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
For someone who writes horror, my personal favourites wander far from the horror genre. Oh, of course I love some old school horror darlings such as Lovecraft, Bloch, and Clark Ashton Smith. But then there are others who I love that are tangential to horror at best. I've been a lifelong fan of Michael Moorcock. I absolutely adore the writing style of Jonathan Carroll, though I'll never write like him, even if I tried. I'll admit to the guilty pleasures of Warhammer 40k novels and Tamara Pierce. Philip K Dick belongs on everyone's list.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
The last great horror book was Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box. I think all horror fans should read it. The last great book in any genre I read was Brandon Sanderson's Legion. It's one of the few books I've read in years which I actually wanted longer rather than shorter.
For disappointing book, let's go with House of Leaves. I read it once, was disappointed and recently tried a second time before giving up. I know it's a darling of many, but it just doesn't work for me.
How would you describe your writing style?
Modern and conversational. I like people that talk like real people and narration that could actually come from the characters. My characters curse and make jokes, especially when nervous or scared, because that's what real people do (the ones I know, at leas). I also refuse the conceit many other works have - characters who live in worlds where Hollywood has never made a horror movie. I've always been frustrated when movie/book characters have never heard of zombies, vampires, werewolves, etc or their weaknesses.
One of my maxims for writing is this: I want to write books I would want to read. It doesn't matter how fancy, literary significant, or high brow the prose or subject is, if I wouldn't want to read it if another writer wrote it, I shouldn't be writing it.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Nothing so far, but it's still early in my career. I'm sure something will eventually tick me off or leave me brimming with self confidence, but nothing yet.
What’s your favourite food?
I'll go with tea for this one. I didn't grow up drinking tea, but I found an affinity for it in recent years, like some entity that has crawled up in my spinal cord and requires English Breakfast and Earl Grey for its parasitic sustenance.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Leonard Cohen, Murder by Death, Black Sabbath, Richard Cheese, Weezer, the Sword, and Sinatra.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Keep doing it. A blank page is both scary and useless. Force yourself to write. It's worth pushing on and doing a weak completely lacking version of a scene. Later on, after you stop writing, odds are you will have ideas of how better to do it, but some of those ideas don't come until after you make the attempt. A blank page gives you no insight. Also, I often try to start a session by editing the last thing I wrote, then moving onto new content. It's a nice warmup.
I guess the other lesson is: write what excites you, write what you want to write. Life's too short and bookstore shelves are too cluttered for something the author isn't even excited about.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Dialog for very odd characters, such as someone mysterious or very alien. If you overwrite them and have them too forthcoming, they lose some of what makes them special.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I'm more willing to try new things and write a good story. I think as a new writer you either want to reinvent writing or you think writing has to be in a certain traditional way. I think these days there are a lot of ideas I decide to just try and see where they go. On the flip side, as real as I want novels to seem sometimes, I've learned that authenticity needs to take second place to writing a good story. We read stories because they're stories, not because they're fake history books (I do, at least).
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Self publish. I had queried agents for years and didn't get any traction. No matter how poorly self publishing might go, my works are out there and it means more readers than zero. While I still think traditional publishing is great, if I was waiting on that, I'd still have 4+ completed novels nobody would ever get to read.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
The narrator, John Keats is my favourite character. His voice is right where I wanted it. He feels the level of humanity I wanted - not superheroic, but not a whiny bitch either. His narration is casual without seeming overly snarky or flippant. Most of all, he's a guy trying to do the right thing in bad circumstances, but that doesn't mean he likes it.
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Katie Vanders. I actually like her character, but she's not easy to write dialog for. Due to her circumstances and her nature, her mood shifts a lot and pinning that down can be difficult. If I didn't have a still unpublished work where she also appears, it might have been harder. But having some previous conversations helped getting her words right.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Fortune, since I would love to be able to live a comfortable life doing what I love. Not necessarily great fortune, but being able to support myself and my family through writing only would be my first priority. After that? Fame, I guess. Fame means more readers, and I do want to write books people enjoy. Respect is a vague thing. Respect is almost never universal - the respect of some brings the derision of others. Of the three, respect is the harshest dragon to chase. Respect even more than fame is like what the original poet John Keats said of fame: that it is a wayward girl, coy and fae. You can't pursue it, instead: "Make your best bow to her and bid adieu, / Then, if she likes it, she will follow you."
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
The Lost and the Damned. I really felt like I nailed what was in my head with minimum compromises or cut scenes. The prose might lack a bit compared to things I've written since, but I'm proud of it.
I'm also fond of my Damned Lies humor series. The idea I original had for those was simple, but the places I've taken it amazes me. I keep expecting someone to read them and tell me I can't do that.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My most recent published books are the Damned Lies novels. They are the snarky memoirs of a narrator rewriting his past as an over-the-top autobiography. He recounts the time he cloned himself, hobo boxing tournaments, the time he hunted a vampire, and such. At this time I just finished the first draft of the third Damned Lies novel, which centers on a zombie outbreak in Austin, TX.
My next book is a prequel to The Lost and the Damned. It has a few characters in common but lacks John Keats himself. It's a standalone story in its own right, but it does have connections to The Lost and the Damned.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
Stuff about video games. It's great genre and there's some awesome ideas and stories that have influenced me and others, but nobody asks about Silent Hill unless they're talking about the movie, for example.
And I never get asked who would win in a no holds barred fight between HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe. I'm a bigger fan of Lovecraft, but my money's on Poe. He seems the scrappy type, while Lovecraft is always portrayed so lethargic that he sometimes verges on being the Morrissey of Horror.
For more great interviews and reviews please follow the links below
HORROR AUTHOR INTERVIEWS
HORROR NOVEL REVIEWS
There is a darkness waking up in the Bellingham mental hospital. Around this evil, the building is twisting and distorting, becoming a place of monsters and murders. With each death, the darkness grows stronger. Doors are opening to other times and other places, reality is shifting.
Into this comes John Keats, a private detective more accustomed to catching infidelity than missing persons. In pursuit of a half a million dollar bounty, he has tracked down missing rock star Katie Vanders to Bellingham, but he has no idea what waits inside. It should have been easy money: go in, get the girl, and leave. But now that he is in the hospital, he has no way out. The exits are blocked, the hospital is falling apart, and something is chasing him. Even after finding Katie, there is no escape from this trap. His rescue mission has become a game of survival as the hospital twists apart across time and space.
As deadly secrets are uncovered, a malevolent intelligence is awakening. Can John and Katie figure out how to stop it and escape the hospital, or will they find themselves forever lost in darkness?
For information on Dennis and his books please follow the links below
Amazon Author Page
FILE UNDER HORROR AUTHOR INTERVIEW