Ginger Nuts of Horror
Keith believes that at this stage, not many folks would really want to know about him. And that most people visiting here will probably be family or friends or folks stumbling onto the site by accident.
So, he shall remain a mystery.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Tried to get a publishing contract for years. Worked at various jobs for over twenty years. Wrote after work, in the evenings, on the weekends, and during vacations. Self-published back in 2010 a week or so after reading Joe Konrath’s successful venture with ebooks.
And haven’t looked back.
Since the jump, my books have cracked Amazon’s and Kobo’s top 100 charts and even the top ten in certain genres. I’ve been courted by publishers and movie producers alike, optioned for film, and made into audio books. I’m sold worldwide in English but yet to be translated into foreign languages (I’m working on it), and at last glance have about a dozen or so concepts/ideas for new books in the writing queue.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Exercise. Hiking/walking. Some light weights. Drives are nice. Watching movies and reading. Ah, PC games. Currently playing Borderlands 2 and really enjoying it. I’m a comic book reader and I like collecting old 1st edition D&D game modules. I’m a geek.
What’s your favourite food?
Pizza. And I enjoy a good donair. (I think folks out west call them gyros?)
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
“Tequila,” by the Champs, but halfway through you’d hear a loud scratch as the record resets itself and starts over.
Tell us a dirty little secret?
My ferret has a stash of beer caps hoarded underneath the corner of the bed.
The ferret would say I listen to ABBA far too much.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Take the blue pill. Just… take it.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I’m currently in a couple J. Writing is a job of ebb and flow sometimes, and I’ve discovered that when personal crisis arises, the muse becomes silent. I still haven’t fully caught up with my work schedule. And I’m attempting to break away from post-apocalyptic zombie stories before readers categorize me as just that kind of writer, so I’ll have to work hard to escape that labelling.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Stephen King. Everything before and including TommyKnockers. I feel his later work has lost something (I have a theory on it) but he’s still the king.
Robert McCammon. Another gifted writer who produced such classics as “They Thirst” as well as “The Wolf’s Hour.”
David Gemmell had a huge effect upon me with his fantasy novels and it was a shame he passed on so early.
Robert E Howard. Creator of Conan and many more. Classic sword and sorcery and an influence on so many.
Haruki Murakami. A modern day magician with words. Started with “Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” and never looked back.
Alan Dean Foster because a lot of his early work was novelizations of SF and Fantasy movies, and I couldn’t always get to the theatre the next town over. So I read, instead.
Blake Crouch. I even buy his individual short stories now. That should say it all….
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
“Pines” by Blake Crouch, and its sequels. Incredibly imaginative and surprising. The first book is simply excellence. One of those “must read in one day” kinda reads. The last line of the third book still pops into my head. Whenever that happens, you know you’ve come across a truly great read and writer.
Last book that disappointed me? Hard to say. Usually if a book doesn’t hook me in the first few pages I abandon it. Ah, I know one, George Martin’s “A Dance with Dragons.”
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
There are several so I can’t choose just one. “Salem’s Lot,” perhaps, although it’s been a while since I’ve read it.
The movie that jumps to mind is “Let the Right One In.” The original Swedish version. Very moody, haunting in tone, and exceptionally well done.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would it be?
Where everyone dies one by one (though I’m guilty of that one myself). Or mechanical/electronic devices not functioning at the worst possible time for whatever reason. This really isn’t a cliché but it annoys the hell out of me when movies rely on sudden bursts of sound/music to startle audiences. That isn’t horror. That’s just cheap.
And if you had free range what fictional character would you like to write for?
Ah, the Alien or Predator franchises. Especially the Predator. There’s still so much to do there.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I think it might be a little diluted by thriller, paranormal, and supernatural genres. Millions of readers grew up reading Stephen King. The readers are still out there… searching for that horror fix.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing horror fiction right now?
Marketing and branding, probably. Perhaps a lack of original ideas. I’m just as tired of serial killer stories as I am of zombies. And vampires. And ghosts. Now, I’ll still read those stories, but they have to be exceptionally well done.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Yes. Several. And I’m so thankful for the people (including yourself) who take the time to sit and write them. All positive reviews help sell the work. Negative comments aren’t usually so helpful however… constructive comments aimed at improving the craft are always welcomed. Getting such feedback from a reader is golden.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Research. Always bogs down the flow. Second and third drafts of my stories become really old really fast. If fourth drafts are mentioned, I dry-heave.
What do you think makes a good story?
Several things, I think.
Characters foremost. They have to be entertaining or be able to connect with the reader. And characters must have believable dialogue. If the conversation on the page doesn’t read natural or suit the character, the rest of the story has to work harder to keep my attention.
Plot of course. Originality wins every time.
Setting is important as well. An interesting setting will always grab my attention.
And a writer’s voice. The storyteller has to have the ability to tell the story. No voice, no reader.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
They must be able to develop characters. If they’re writing action or drama, they’d better know how. Plot and pace must be observed.
They must be able to recognize their weakness and strive to correct or improve upon them. They must be open to constructive criticism. On the technical side, they must hire an editor. They must. If you can’t afford one, save some cash until you can, and while you are doing that, write the next book.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Write every day or at least make the attempt. And read every day. Make time for reading. Stop watching TV if you have to.
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
Ha! Take a look at some of the one star reviews and you’ll see. J
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I sorta stumble along with the marketing. I hate promotions. Hate them. Takes me away from the writing. I’ve used bookbub in the past and that is probably the most effective bit of marketing I’ve used. I much rather have folks recommend my books to their friends. That process takes the longest, but there’s no better advertising than having a person read your book and then recommend it to a friend. It’s the most honest, the most genuine.
In the end, the best marketing is trying to write good, entertaining books. Every book on sale channels readers to the rest of the backlist, and if a book interests a reader, chances are that person will purchase another, then maybe another, and another, and so on. I know when I discovered Tim Curran, I went through most of his backlist in less than a month.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
In Horror, I’d say Alvin, from “Breeds.” I like the comedic elements he brought to the story. The “killer nerd” who does eventually do right.
In Fantasy, probably Balless, from “White Sands, Red Steel.” Balless is a brutal brick of character, but there’s a streak of goodness in there as well, despite the rough exterior.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Oh, all of them.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
All of them.
I get quite tired of the material by the time I go through the editing and any suggested, rewrites. Only the other day I was able to open MM for the first time and read a few pages without cringing, and that book’s four years old now.
What inspired you to focus on the characters you’ve chosen? Are they people you know? Or do they speak to you on a personal level?
I’ve never really given a lot of thought to my characters, so they aren’t based on people I know. I’ll have an idea about them, perhaps a brief history of no more than a page or two, and fill in the rest as I go along, making notes. Most of my characters tend to by ordinary, unattractive, sometimes brutal, strong willed. I try to stay away from archetypes or what I think are archetypes, although a few might slip in there.
Were you tempted to write the stories of Gus and Scott starting at the beginning of the apocalypse? Or in your mind, did their stories always start about 3 years from the apocalypse?
No. I didn’t want to do a zombie story at the outbreak. I wanted the event to be over. MM needed to happen a couple of years later because it would take that amount of time for the main antagonist discovered in MM2 to fully develop into the threat that it is.
Do you think you would survive a zombie apocalypse? And if so, what would be your greatest skill that you could bring to a group of survivors?
Oh, I’d be dead by 5 o’clock. I’d be so dead.
At the end of Book 3 of the Mountain Man series, your two main characters seemed to be pretty okay, all things considering. What made you want to throw at least one of them back into the fray again? And do you think they will ultimately have a happy ending?
There was always one last story to the MM series. One alluded to in the first book, but I wasn’t sure if I would ever get around to doing that book or not. And it almost didn’t happen. At the end of MM3, burnout was a real issue. MM4 took twice as long to complete as it truly became work and production really crawled on some days. I think I left about 100 pages of potential story out of MM4 because I couldn’t bring myself to write it.
Do I think the characters will ultimately have a happy ending?
…Can’t answer without spoiling.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Maybe the most recent. Each new book released gets a little easier. I’m a little more comfortable with the process. And if that’s happening, if I’m relaxed with the storytelling, then something is working.
What are you working on right now?
The next instalment of my ongoing fantasy series. The fantasy I write is the low kind—The Conan the Barbarian/David Gemmell/George Martin Game of Thrones kind. There isn’t much magic, and if there is, it’s to be feared. My horror books are much more popular that the fantasy, but I hope that will change. Eventually, I’ll dabble in Space Opera, Crime, Adventure, and maybe even weird western. I’d like to try a weird western story someday.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
When’s your next book coming out?... Soon.
Augustus Berry lives a day-to-day existence comprised of waking up, getting drunk, and preparing for the inevitable day when "they" will come up the side of his mountain and penetrate his fortress. Living on the outskirts of a city and scavenging for whatever supplies remain after civilization died two years ago, Gus knows that every time he goes down into undead suburbia could be his last.
A story of survival in a zombie apocalypse. First book of completed series. Contains graphic language and scenes of violence.