Ginger Nuts of Horror
Eric Dimbleby is a horror writers who lives in Brunswick, Maine with his wife and three children. He's been published in dozens of anthologies in the US, Canada, and Australia. In 2012, he won the "Best Speculative Fiction" award from the Maine Writer's and Publishers Alliance, for his debut novel "Please Don't Go." Four of his novels and one short story collection have been published thus far, with more in the works. Check back often.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been writing horror for a few years now, mostly in anthologies but I’m focusing more on novels nowadays… I published my first novel a few years back (Please Don’t Go) and I won the “Best Speculative Fiction” award from the Maine Writers’ and Publishers’ Alliance. My second book, The Klinik, came out last year, and White Out just came out a few weeks back. I also experimented with putting together a self-published collection of short stories (on Kindle only) which is not for the faint of heart or the easily disturbed. If you’re sick in the head, you’ll have a good laugh at the antics of The Fetus Cloud.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to cook, mostly because I like to eat. If it’s a nice day I like to go hiking with the fam. I have three kids under the age of five, so that can be pretty interesting at times, especially when we get lost in the Maine woods. Nobody gets lost better than this guy. My subconscious being gets lost on purpose. I secretly romanticize the life of the American hobo.
What’s your favourite food?
Fish of any sort… prepared any method. I’ll eat a squid’s face if it’s prepared properly, and I’m not ever sure squids have faces. But if they do, I’m there. Sushi is one of my favourite treats to spoil myself.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
The Talking Heads, Ween, Tom Waits, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I’m not kidding about the last one, either. He very well exemplified the voices inside my head; the voices that help me write what I write. ODB would be a fan of mine if he was still alive, I’m sure of it!
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror. But I don’t know why.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Kurt Vonnegut, Malcolm Gladwell, David Sedaris, Jack Ketchum, Dennis Lehane, Jeff Strand, O.J. Simpson
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
Horror novel: The Stand
Film: Jaws or Psycho… probably a tie on that one.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
Good question… Probably the “fake scare” that happens in the first ten to twenty minutes of every movie. When everybody in the audience eases up, smirking and looking at each other to acknowledge what just happened… well, I’m usually the only one that responded in no way whatsoever. But then the ACTUAL horror comes, and everybody’s scared and jumping out of their seats… and I’m the only one LAUGHING at that part. I have it ass backwards, but I find the fake scare unnecessary, almost irritating, although I do understand its place.
Which fictional character would be you perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
I wish I lived next door to Atticus Finch. That way he can defend me when I get in trouble. Or more likely, when my kids get in trouble a few years from now. Also, he seems like he’d be pretty quiet and keep to himself, without being creepy about it. Not a lot of jabbering. My nightmare neighbour would be that guy from the 90’s band Matchbox Twenty. I dislike him enough that I won’t even look up his name. If I lived next to him, I’d move. I hated that stupid haircut.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I feel like the market is getting overly saturated with the same old horror tropes (see horror cliché question above). I scan through thirty books on my Kindle and they all look and sound the same. I like writers who try to create new kinds of scares, or inject some new intensity or humour into the genre. I think horror needs to find some new horizons… branch out a bit. I’m hoping I can help with that.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Great Book- David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. I love Gladwell’s books. His studies on cultural movements and the human brain are pretty engrossing. Every time he comes out with a book, it’s always one of my favourites of the year. There are no words for how obsessed I get with the subject matter, like I have to tell everybody I know about every societal anecdote and true story he digs up.
Disappointing--Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. I’m not ever sure why. It just didn’t feel like a true Stephen King novel. Not that there is some particular element I’m looking for. It just felt a little too modern for me. I like the more classical style of his earlier stuff. It was a good novel, it just left me feeling unsatisfied.
How would you describe your writing style?
Eclectic. I’m all over the place, but in a good way. One chapter will make you laugh, the next will make you tremble, and the next will make you squirm uncomfortably. I like to run through all the emotional triggers in all my books. It shouldn’t just be about fear, because that isn’t what life is about. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry… isn’t that the theme song from Growing Pains? If not, it should have been.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
I’ve only gotten one really bad review since I started writing. The reviewer basically said, “I didn’t really want to read this book, but it was assigned to me… anyway, I hated it.” Way to be unbiased! It was kind of a joke of a website, but it stuck with me that sometimes people don’t even get past the cover and they’ve already doomed you. Oh well.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Keeping track. I tend to write in a scatter-shot sort of style… I might write the first and last chapters at the same time, in the same session, and fill in as I go. I’m all over the place in terms of sequence. You can probably tell when you read my books, with the total 180s in the plot. That is mostly intentional, where I bring you down one path, and you think you know where things are going, but then I pull something crafty on you. Sometimes, keeping track of the characters, timing, and motivations is a little tricky with this approach, but I think I manage to pull it together pretty nicely in the end.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I would never write about werewolves or vampires unless I had an amazing twist. I would also never write something disparaging about somebody’s momma… as in, “You’re Momma’s So Short She Poses For Trophies.” You’ll never see an Eric Dimbleby book with that title.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
Good question! My favourite one thus far. I would kill off Holden Caulfield, by way of him being trampled to death by goats. Not for me, but for my wife who despises that book. If I killed Holden, then there would be no book. I don’t mind the book as much—it’s okay-- so that is a gift for her!
What do you think makes a good story?
Surprise-- plain and simple. I like to surprise my readers and I love to be surprised by a writer (horror or otherwise) even more. Make me laugh, make my cry, make me tremble, but make me feel something I didn’t ever expect out of your book and you’ve got a fan for life.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Yes, I think about names a lot. My main character in White Out is named Christian, as in somebody that worships Christ. He’s the good guy that you root for because he has good intentions, but deep down you know he’s in serious peril and may not survive. Then I have Edgar, who was named very directly after Poe (though he claims it is after Edgar Rice Burroughs in the book), because he’s a dark dude with a dark ‘tude. I named the kid in the book Paulie, after the character from Rocky. I don’t know why, I just kept thinking about that actor/character when I was writing the book. Maybe I was trying to capture the grittiness of that movie in some way. My favourite Paulie scene is from the 5th one, when Rocky loses all his money, cars, and house… because of something Paulie did while Rocky was in Russia in the 4th one. His explanation? “Rocko, they said they was lawyahs!” Interpretation: Yes, I ruined your life, but I got tricked by a roving band of legal grifters. Brilliant writing.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Once upon a time I felt that I needed to write a certain way, in that I was inside of a box in terms of formatting, flow, etc. I think that got stuffed inside my brain because I was getting rejections saying I had a lot of formatting and style issues. But once I broke through and started getting regular acceptances of my works, I eased back into being a bit more free form, but still knowing the key points of rejection that I may run into. So I’m letting my creative style return fast and loose again… I feel like I’ve proven myself so I can take some of my self-applied leashes off.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Mental tools: prepare yourself to feel defeated on a regular basis, but know that those “wins” will taste sweet as hell. Physical tools: a computer or typewriter or a pen or one of those fancy quill things that old-timey lords and barons used.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Jack Ketchum told me to create an idea board. While mine doesn’t hang on a wall, it sits in an electronic file I keep. Whenever I have an idea I put it in there. It might be a character idea, or a funny joke, or a snippet of dialogue or a synopsis for a book/story.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I do best when I’m eyeball-to-eyeball. I need to tell you what my story is about, what it means to me, where it came from, and where I think it will fit into your entertainment budget. I have a hard time selling on the internet and social media. I just don’t get it. If I go to a book sale or Comic-con type setting, I sell a lot of books because I’m not just selling a finite book; I’m selling my world view and philosophy. I like to think of myself as being a “horror writer for the thinking man.” Maybe that is egotistical or pompous but that is my goal.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
From my newest book, White Out, my favourite character is probably Edgar. He’s sick in the head, a total misogynistic racist, completely disturbed… but he doesn’t realize it. He justifies his actions with the noblest reasoning, but he’s just plain batshit crazy. I had fun writing him, going to the dark places that a character like this might go. The third part of the book is entirely from his point of view… it’s also the shortest part of the book because you’ll feel dirty once you start reading his mind.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
The least favourite is probably the mailman, “Skipper.” He isn’t in the story very long, but I made him a very weak person on purpose, posing as somebody who is tough as nails. I feel like I know a lot of people like that. Also, I make a point to kill a mailman in almost every book. I don’t have anything against mailmen, mind you, I just think they are this strange domestic-stranger that is always near your home without official invite. Weird, right?
Fame, fortune, or respect?
As the character Ali G would say: “Much respec’, aight?”
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Probably my first book, Please Don’t Go. It was sort of my moment when I realized I might be able to make a real living of this someday. It kind of changed the game for me… from a hobby (which is still a hobby!) into something I can call my “life.”
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
I have one. I would tell you about it, but I forgot about it already.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Probably White Out. I think it’s the perfect mix of terror, comedy, thrills, tension, and a little bit of gore. It sort of represents all sides of my personality. Like I said, sometimes you’re selling more than a book. Sometimes you’re selling your world view.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
White Out is a post-apocalyptic tale. If you read my blog, you can see where the story came from. All my stuff is based on reality, to some extent. It’s about a family trying to survive in what some are calling “The New Ice Age.” Evil around every corner… not the monster kind of evil, but the anarchistic, burn-the-world kind of evil that exists in many hearts, but is held back by laws, dogmas, and circumstance. That evil gets released.
I’m currently doing a second book for Severed Press, who also published White Out. This one is called Snakehead and it’s based on an Indian curse that locals to Saco, Maine consider very real. Look it up if you get a chance. The Curse of Squandro. But it’s also a monster tale, at its core. There are these nasty, cannibalistic sorts of fish that are occasionally found in the United States… the crazy thing about them is that they can live out of water. They’re part fish, part snake, with nasty-bo-basty teeth. I’ve never written a straight up monster novel before, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Definitely not your typical Eric Dimbleby book, but I think it’s going to find a nice audience. It’s a fun book to read, as well as to write.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
Question: Where did my arm go?
Answer: It’s in the trunk. Now shut your f***** mouth and go back to sleep, mailman.
Amazon Author Page
An apocalyptic snowstorm sweeps the globe. Experts predict this freak storm will be "The New Ice Age." Electricity is gone, as are all forms of communication and road travel. As each member of a divided family tries to survive in their own way, they must deal with a snow-driven madness that has gripped the underlying evil in the hearts of men. In an epic struggle to get home and reunite, they will find that terror lies around every snow drift... and even in their very own backyard.