Ginger Nuts of Horror
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Guy Anthony De Marco, and I’m a write-a-holic. (Waves at the rest of the writers sitting around in a circle.) I write mostly horror and dark fiction, but I also have illicit affairs with science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, and anything else that piques my interest. I wrote a graphic novel with Peter J. Wacks that was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Awards® this year in New Orleans, and I have dozens of short stories in anthologies and magazines.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Not to weasel too much, but they’re all valid. Some of my work, for example, I consider horror—it’s more visceral; some is more atmospheric/Lovecraftian, which I consider weird fiction; and the rest falls under dark fiction, which I consider having horror/weird/dark elements in stories that are not typically thought of as “horror”, such as military science fiction that happens to have horrific elements in them. They cross-breed at times, so some stories get a dollop of all three elements just to keep things interesting. That’s the coolest thing about horror—it’s a gut reaction versus having the brain getting involved. Writing something that invokes emotion is a lot of fun, especially when blended with other genre elements. I just submitted a weird western ghost story with graphic horror elements to Supernatural Colorado, and I’m finishing up a steampunk short story for Penny Dread Tales IV that involves someone who is not quite alive falling in love with a rich playboy who plays airship pirate on occasion.
Or, in concise terms, if the shoe fits, check for a brown recluse hiding in there.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I love early King up to Pet Cemetery, and Joe Hill seems to have more of that feel in his books. Joe Lansdale could make a shopping list give me a heart attack. Damien Walters, Usman Malik, and Mercedes Yardley are up-and-comers I particularly enjoy. Michaelbrent Collings puts out consistent fantastic novels. Surprisingly, Kevin J. Anderson, best known for his science fiction and media tie-in work, has a hilarious horror series called Dan Shamble, Zombie PI that’s worth every dime.
In the more extreme horror categories, don’t overlook the Bizarro movement. There are the old favourites like Carlton Mellick III, John Skipp, Robert Devereaux, and Shane McKenzie. Editors Rose O’Keefe and Jeff Burk have a keen eye for quality, over-the-top weirdness that just has me laughing and cringing at the same time.
I also love the old pulp-era stories. Besides Poe, I enjoy Ambrose Bierce and Algernon Blackwood, whom I consider the scariest authors folks have probably never read. If you want to get a taste of atmospheric and mood-based horror, look for the old masters.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading The Colony by Michaelbrent Collings, Skorpio by Mike Baron, and Kevin J. Anderson’s Hair Raising, part of his Dan Shamble, Zombie PI series.
How would you describe your writing style?
Relaxed and informal. The biggest complement I usually get concerns how I write dialog. I try to write the spoken words as though someone was sitting at the next table in Starbucks while carrying on an odd conversation. My biggest problem concerns filling in description, which is why I have a writing group with professional authors go over the work. I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to editing, because my brain automatically fills in those missing pieces. My wife, Tonya, also takes a turn at ripping me a new one. I think she enjoys it a bit too much, but she is usually spot on. I’m lucky that way, even though it can be painful at times.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I prefer writing at night, but when deadlines call, I can write anytime, anywhere. I write about 1,500 words daily on average. My record was 165,000 words during one NaNoWriMo when I had nothing else to do. I also wrote a 45-page rebuttal paper in 12 hours once, but I was motivated by fury.
I always have multiple projects running at the same time. If I get writers block, which is code for I have no idea what happens next, I switch to something else and work until my brain works out the missing pieces.
What’s your favourite food?
Everything that’s bad for me. Seriously. I love sweets, but I have blood sugar issues, so I’m left with just licking the plates when nobody’s looking. I’m Italian, so pasta is a big part of my diet. My wife is full-on no-gluten vegan, so sometimes I’ll eat what she’s having because I’m too lazy to grill a steak. Of all the stuff I shouldn’t eat, I miss ice cream and Tim Tams, a biscuit from Australia, the most.
What’s your favourite album?
This would change daily. Music has been a big part of my life for so long that I can influence how I’m feeling by playing a particular album. I love Rush, Blondie, and Hooverphonic. Depending on what I have to write, I’ll toss on Portishead or Enigma, or even Louis Prima or Frank Sinatra. I’m a member of ASCAP, so sometimes I’ll play something from my old band if I want to torture my wife.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Shut the hell up and write. Nice and concise. When you’re done with something, start something else. Always have something in the works.
Something interesting I picked up from the Superstars Writing Conferences came from Tracy Hickman. He gave a presentation where he showed it was better to put out four 80K novels than a single 320K word novel. They take the same time to write, but you have four chances of getting a bestseller instead of one. Kevin J. Anderson also gave a talk on his “popcorn theory”. Always have multiple things in the works and out there for your audience, because you never know which one of those kernels will pop. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been branching out to other media like comics, graphic novels, game writing, and even writing plays.
Fame and fortune, or respect?
Both. It’s tough to get one without the other and be happy. For folks who make fun of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, she wrote a book that really connected with a wide fanbase (and got rich in the process). I have to respect that because I haven’t accomplished it. Yet.
Looking at 50 Shades of Grey, there’s someone else who got insanely rich writing stuff that people look down their nose at, even if they secretly read it at night. I was fortunate enough to have the opening story for 50 Shades of Decay, a zombie erotica anthology. At conventions, people pick it up and giggle, but it’s been my best seller. They usually come back after they’d ditched their friends to snag a copy and get it signed.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
It’s a tie between my graphic novel, Behind These Eyes, which was up for a Stoker, and The Dynasty Sentinel, a novel currently in the editing phase.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
I’ve been writing large volumes of short stories recently. One of my goals is to have 40 titles under my name on Amazon and Kobo before December 2014. I’m currently around 22 titles. I have three novels ready to roll out, several gaming modules that are about to get released, and two graphic novel projects in the planning stage.
My latest book is a collection of essays and stories from when I was in the US Navy called Tales from the Fleet. I was interviewed on a radio show called Walking a Walk, a show dedicated to talking about active duty military and veterans. I wrote these essays over a twenty year period, and I figured that I might as well put them together in an ebook.
In the future, keep an eye out for The Dynasty Sentinel, an apocalyptic steampunk novel, and The Bride, a horror novel based on a form of mad cow disease.
I have a blog at http://www.GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com, or you can connect with me on Facebook or Twitter (@GuyADeMarco).
Thank you for your valuable time, it’s appreciated.
Guy Anthony De Marco is a speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® finalist; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, HWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one da
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