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The Deep End interview…with Brian Kirk

Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

BK: I moved around a bit growing up. I was born in Santa Monica, then moved to Atlanta when I was four after my parents divorced. Then from Atlanta to Dallas when I was five. My mother, who is an absolute saint, got duped into marrying a conman who was pulling one of those Bernie Madoff Ponzi schemes and took a bunch of people for a lot of money, including family members of mine. We moved back to Atlanta five years later when he got busted and sent to prison, which was a rather shocking revelation for all of us. I was really close with a group of friends in Dallas and we were forced to split town on a moment’s notice, so I never got to say goodbye to anyone, which was hard. Having to insert myself into a new school and make all new friends was hard, too.

I felt a lot of pressure to try and impress people when I was a kid in order to be accepted. Writing was one of the ways I felt I could make a strong impression, so I worked to cultivate that skill, and have relied on it ever since to support myself financially, and also, at times, to bolster my sense of self-worth.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

BK: Yes, definitely. I walked away from writing when I graduated college and got a job at a large ad agency in Atlanta. Figured writing was a frivolous hobby that I no longer had time for now that I was an adult embarking on my “big career”. It only took a couple of years for me to realise I had made a mistake, and that something vital was missing from my life. I went through a rather dark and self-destructive period while wrestling with my lack of fulfilment, feeling trapped in a job I didn’t like, travelling a path that was leading me farther away from my happy place.  

It became very clear to me that writing would make me happier, even if it was something I just did for myself. So I took a creative writing course at a local college to jumpstart the process, and began writing at night and on the weekends. Writing provided a renewed sense of purpose almost immediately, and soon began to consume my daily thoughts. Everything else in my life either became a distraction from writing, or inspiration for it.

My wife, I think, was the one who first encouraged me to submit my work for publication. She bought me my first issue of Cemetery Dance, which is how I learned about the magazine, and others like it. They were the first market to reject me, and have many times since. But I eventually wrote a story that got accepted by a semi-pro press. Then another. After a couple more sales, I put together a plan to quit my job and work as a freelance creative consultant, which is what I do now, in order to free up more time for fiction writing. I pitched the idea to my wife, and she bought it, and we set the plan in motion. Then we got pregnant with twins, and that gave us momentary pause, but we decided to stay the course. She was six months pregnant and on bed rest when I submitted my resignation letter. It was a heavy moment, but everything has worked out great so far, thank God.  

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights? 

BK: I was surprisingly underwhelmed both when my first story was accepted for publication as well as my first novel. I expected to be much more elated, and for the achievement of that life-long dream to propel me to a new plane of satisfaction. It didn’t. For me, each little success, from a business prospective at least, provides a blip of enjoyment, and then I’m back to baseline almost immediately.

This confused me at first—what’s the point of doing the work if the results don’t provide sustained gratification? But then I realised that it’s the work itself that sustains me, and that this was a good thing. I can’t always control the outcome of my efforts, but I can control the energy I apply to my writing. If all of my gratification came from circumstances outside my control, I’d be screwed. The fact that writing itself gives me such joy, regardless of outcome, is a blessing because no one can take that away from me. Every day that I commit myself entirely to the project at hand is a day well spent.   

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family? 

BK: I’d say it’s bettered them. I was pretty miserable when I wasn’t writing. This general discontent gave me a dreary worldview and negatively impacted my personal relationships. I was trying to become someone I’m not, and it wasn’t working; was trying to conform to societal expectations that didn’t align with my authentic self. Once I recommitted myself to writing, I began to return to my former self who was much happier and more compassionate to those around me. While I’m sure there are certain friends and family members who question the decisions I’ve made, especially the type of material I tend to write, everyone has been incredibly supportive and I feel that my relationships have flourished since I returned to a place of purpose and contentment.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

BK: Growing up it was Stephen King for sure, my first exposure to him being Skeleton Crew, and he still holds a spot near the top today. There’s a darkness inside of me, in all of us, really, that needed an outlet, and King showed me what that outlet could be. I’ll be forever thankful to him for that.

I’ve since branched out quite a bit, and have fairly eclectic tastes in fiction. I read broadly and prefer to change up genre, subject, style, etc., from one book to the next. Influence to me is synonymous with inspiration. I take note of authors whose work floors me, makes me feel woefully inadequate, and inspires me to do better. I then try to understand what it is about their writing that made me feel that way so that I can attempt to provide the same experience for others. Following are some of the specific authors who have, and continue to inspire me.

I appreciate the lush writing and quirky humor of luminaries like Roald Dahl, Richard Matheson, and Ray Bradbury. I like the stark, gothic realism of Joyce Carol Oates, Flannery O’Connor, and Cormac McCarthy. The ambition of David Mitchell and genius of John Fowles. The psychedelic mind-bending of Philip K. Dick. The heroic storytelling of Robert McCammon and Joe R. Lansdale. The gritty darkness of Gillian Flynn. 

Joe: Instead of just focussing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are? 

BK: I can’t say that I have one. To be honest, pride isn’t something that I find useful when it comes to writing fiction. The more I can suppress my ego’s attachment to my work, the better it tends to be, so I consciously strive to detach myself from my writing. Cheesy and trite as it sounds, I try and view myself as a vessel through which stories flow more so than the “author” of the material I write. 

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

BK: Depends on the day. While I strive to meet my daily writing goal, which for me is 1,000 words, I also work to be a well-rounded individual. I’ve got another job that helps pay the bills, a wife I fall more in love with every day, twin sons who crave attention, a reading addiction, in addition to other interests. Missing a day or two doesn’t bother me too much. Same as having an unproductive writing session. It’s when two days turns into a week or more that I start getting itchy, irritable, and grossly insecure.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

BK: Sex, probably. I grew up believing sex outside of marriage was a sin that could condemn me to eternal hell. Not very romantic. Therefore, the subject is loaded with conflicting viewpoints that I haven’t effectively sorted out. I can’t seem to write a sex scene without it feeling gratuitous, or like I’m writing for the Penthouse forum.   

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

BK: While I don’t know that there’s anything that can stop me from thinking about writing—it’s definitely my greatest obsession—there are plenty of other things that I enjoy doing, none of which are overtly relaxing other than reading, though. I enjoy strenuous exercise. I enjoy bullshitting with friends. I enjoy live music, and attend concerts and music festivals as often as I can. I look for novelty in the mundane, and seek out peak experiences that make me feel so alive it almost hurts. Natural beauty can provide these emotional highs, as can certain entheogens taken with the right combination of set and setting, or so I’ve heard.      

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

BK: Not much to tell, really. I interviewed a few people while conducting researching for my debut novel, We Are Monsters, including the Medical Director for the mental institution at Emory University in Atlanta, but have not kept in touch. They were all incredibly helpful, though, and I appreciate their time.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author? 

BK: Discipline is an extremely useful skill for a writer to have. My best work comes from a sort of waking dream state – a state of being where my critical mind falls silent and I enter into what feels like a hypnotic trance. In many ways, entering into this trance is like falling asleep; therefore, I approach writing in much the same way I do when preparing myself for bed. I like to do it at around the same time every day, in a similar setting, typically a quiet place with a chair and flat surface to rest my laptop. So, in the same way that my mind prepares to shut off and begin to dream at night, I look to facilitate a similar mental shift when I approach my writing desk, wherever that may be. Having the discipline to follow a consistent routine helps me to more readily and reliably enter this dream state where the stories come from.

Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

BK: Writing is something I’ve enjoyed doing all of my life; therefore, crafting stories and novels was always something I felt naturally inclined to do. I feel most like my true self when I’m working on a story, so I’d say that writing, or being an “author”, is my true nature. While I’m thrilled to have people read my work—whether they love it or hate it—the act of writing itself is what I enjoy most, and would continue doing it whether I could find an audience or not.

Conversely, I don’t think I’ll ever feel comfortable calling myself an author. There’s no way I could refer to myself like that at a cocktail party.

“Hi, what do you do?”

“Who, me? I’m an author, thanks for asking.” Even writing that feels pretentious to me for some reason. I guess I’ve got a case of imposter syndrome, and am okay with that.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

BK: There were two in relation to We Are Monsters—a novel about mental illness—that I found particular touching.

1) A reader sent me a note saying that she routinely gave money to the homeless, but purposefully avoided people she considered to be “crazy”, out of fear, and the thought that money couldn’t help them. She had a revelation, though, after reading my book and began to see the humanity underneath the illness, and made giving money to the mentally ill a priority now that she saw them through this new light.

2) I had a pharmacist approach me at a signing to say that We Are Monsters changed the way he viewed his profession, encouraging him to approach his job with more compassion for the people who require the medicine he provides. 

Both of these interactions took me by surprise and had a lasting impact. It’s amazing to be able to touch someone in such a meaningful way.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

BK: My only goal is to work as hard as I can to entertain myself and others as much as I’m capable for as long as possible.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

BK: I’d like for people to feel that I was a nice fellow who produced more joy than suffering, and perhaps inspire others to do the same.
  Crystal Lake Publishing   Feb 16, 2017   Blog   1 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview…with Robert Frazier

Joe Mynhardt: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

Robert Frazier: My father was a cryptographer stationed with the US contingent that joined Bletchley Park during the war and worked on the Enigma codes.  He later taught code breaking for Army Security at Fort Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, where I was born. There were yellowed binders and notebooks full of strange strings of language and blocks of lettering and numbers stored in boxes in the attic of our barn. Of course I found them fascinating. And as a teenager my mother had studied with Emile Albert Gruppé of the Rockport colony, so fine art was always a part of my life growing up. I like to say, that for me, the mystical science of deciphering gibberish into plain text meshed somehow in my youth with a penchant for impressionistic imagery. Or, simply, my parents’ passions in life rubbed off.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

RF: In the latter 1970s I was painting oils under the tutelage of Philip Burnham Hicken, a serious semi-icon of American art. And also writing a good deal. I wanted to spend more time on both pursuits, but after a long work day it’s hard to switch gears to even do one. Phil chewed on his cigar stub one day in his studio, looked me square in the eye, and said something that made obvious sense. Choose between the two, dedicate yourself, then don’t get distracted. So I quit painting and wrote for a decade. Then, I quit writing, pretty much, and relearned painting until it came easy enough that I could write again as well. So now I’m dedicated to both. But making more of a living with paints than with pixels.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights? 

RF: I wrote a short story that ended up almost immediately in Jack Dann’s seminal fiction anthology In the Field of Fire. Kind of “Ghost Riders in The Sky” meets the Vietnam experience (which I felt only from protests at home) meets the drug-addled 60s. I was lucky to make that first pro sale. And I felt lucky.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family? 

RF: Well, I gift away my books at Christmas. So they must think I’m pretty woo-woo strange. I doubt Visions of the Mutant Rain Forest will change their view.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?  

RF: I wrote bad poetry as a teen. Not drivel per se, just impossible to understand when I come across it now in a stack of old papers. But, miracle of miracles, I discovered Andrei Voznesensky and W. S. Merwin in the high school library. And Diane Wakoski’s Inside the Blood Factory. They saved me, I guess. These days I reread those early-influence poets, and adore Michael Ondaatje  (The Cinnamon Peeler and Handwriting) and Diane Ackerman (Jaguar of Sweet Laughter and I Praise My Destroyer).

Joe: Instead of just focussing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

RF: That would have to be “How I Met My First Wife, Juanita” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Oct. 1991), the events of which, other than actually meeting my wife, I experienced on a hitchhiking road trip in the late 60s. The three-legged Doberman squatting the campsite on the Platte River in Colorado. The hunter who hobbled into the campfire at night and could only communicate in Spanish about his broken leg. The hail that came for 20 minutes every afternoon in the mountains. How that time affected me. To write about what you know is something you take as advice, but have to learn that tenet on your own. My youngish daughter and her best friend burst into my writing room when I’d nearly finished with “Juanita” (they’d read some of it off my computer, I guess), and said, “We have a title for you.” I used it.



Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

RF: The most difficult writing for me is filling out tax forms and to-do lists. Otherwise, all topics can be important.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing? 

RF: I never think about writing. I think about all those things that eventually leak into my writing. But when I’m drifting down into sleep or half awake in the middle of the night, I often start weaving the lines of a poem. If I’m lucky I’ll remember them when I awake in the morning. And if I forget them, they often reappear in something later on. Transformed. I was in a two-day fever when I wrote my first Mutant Rain Forest piece. Maybe I’m still there…

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author? 

RF: Listening and observing. If you can’t absorb the rhythms and imagery of what swirls around you day-to-day, then you have a limited vocabulary for honest expression.

Joe: How did being an author change you as a person?

RF: I guess I think before I speak rashly.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

RF: Unconditional support by peers in the fantastic writing community. Particularly from the fiction writers at the informal Sycamore Hill gatherings, and the poets I met through the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Like Bruce. Especially Bruce.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author? What legacy do you want to leave behind?

RF: He came. He saw. He concocted. (At least some decent shit worth keeping.)
  Crystal Lake Publishing   Feb 13, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

New Release: The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling

TAKE OFF YOUR MASK!

Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.

The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.

For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?

The answer will terrify you.

Inspired by The King in Yellow mythos first established by Robert W. Chambers, and reminiscent of cosmic horror by H. P. Lovecraft, Laird Barron, and John Langan, comes The Final Reconciliationa chilling tale of regret, the occult, and heavy metal by Todd Keisling.

Proudly brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing – Tales from the Darkest Depths

 

Find out more (and sign up for exclusive content directly from the author) on the dedicated webpage.

Or you can just go straight to Amazon to purchase.

It’s even on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33958141-the-final-reconciliation

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Feb 03, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

Cover reveal!

Coming May 30th.

Introduction by Gary A. Braunbeck
The Pied Piper of Providence by Willie Meikle
The Three Billy Goats Sothoth by Peter N. Dudar
Little Maiden of the Sea by David Bernard
The Great Old One and the Beanstalk by Armand Rosamilia
In the Shade of the Juniper Tree by J .P. Hutsell
The Horror at Hatchet Point by Zach Shephard
The Most Incredible Thing by Bracken MacLeod
Let Me Come In! by Simon Yee
The Fishman and His Wife by Inanna Arthen
Little Match Mi-Go by Michael Kamp
Follow the Yellow Glyph Road by Scott Goudsward
Gumdrop Apocalypse by Pete Rawlik
Curiosity by Winifred Burniston
The Ice Queen by Mae Empson
Once Upon a Dream by Matthew Baugh
Cinderella and Her Outer Godfather by C.T. Phipps
Donkeyskin by KH Vaughan
Sweet Dreams in the Witch-House by Sean Logan
Fee Fi Old One by Thom Brannan
The King on the Golden Mountain by Morgan Sylvia
The Legend of Creepy Hollow by Don D’Ammassa

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Jan 27, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

Become the Next Great Horror Writer and have your novel published by us!


That’s right. Enter and win HorrorAddicts.net’s writing competition and we’ll publish the winner’s novel.

We’ve always prided ourselves in our efforts to help young authors. To get more people to put pen to paper. That’s why we’re very proud to be part of this competition. I’ll personally be one of the guest judges during the final round, where we’ll take a look at your unpublished novel.

And if you’re an author who’s already been published, spread the word and get more folks to join.

Be sure to check out the official webpage for more details by clicking right here.

A few more resources to authors, courtesy of Crystal Lake Publishing:

Now go write!

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Jan 26, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview…with Todd Keisling

 

Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

TK: As I grow older and reflect on my youth, I believe I was destined to do something in the horror genre. My mom read a lot of King and Koontz, and she watched a lot of horror films, so you could say I grew up in an environment that was accepting of such things. We rented Maximum Overdrive and Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn at my request so many times that Mom eventually had a friend record them onto a VHS tape for me. To this day, I can quote both films almost verbatim.

I was the weird kid who loved R.L. Stine and John Bellairs and read the library’s entire series of Time-Life’s Mysteries of the Unknown. Growing up, my heroes were monsters. While most kids wanted to go to Disneyland, I wanted to save the world from demons by replacing my hand with a chainsaw. Not much has changed, except these days I’d rather use a pen instead of a chainsaw.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

TK: Once upon a time, I wanted to go to college and study graphic design, but that changed during my senior year of high school. I’d written a screenplay for a film class the year before, and for reasons that escape me, I decided to adapt it into a short story. That short story eventually grew into my first novel. I took the manuscript to school and proceeded to terrify my teachers with it. Their reactions drove me to reconsider my future, and the following year I began my journey toward a four-year English degree. The rest is history.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights?

TK: It was weird and wonderful and vindicating all at the same time. That book I mentioned earlier, the one I wrote in high school, won second place in my university’s writing contest the following year. I earned $200 for that prize. It was the first time I’d ever been paid for anything I’d written. That moment was confirmation that I’d made the right choice. As a friend later told me, “I guess this means you’ll be doing this for the rest of your life.” He was right.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family?

TK: Honestly, it’s caused some strain in a few relationships. I’ve lost friends over it, and it’s put me at odds with some of my family due to the subject matter I choose to write about. At the same time, though, my career has put me in touch with fellow writers who are now like family to me. They know who they are.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

TK: That’s an easy one, and probably the most predictable: Stephen King. I’m not a fan of everything he’s written, and I don’t think he’s infallible like a lot of his fans want to believe, but I have to give credit where it’s due. Night Shift, Salem’s Lot, and The Dark Half were huge influences on my writing. To this day, I still go back to those books when I need inspiration, or to simply see “how it’s done.”

Joe: Instead of just focusing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

TK: I’d have to say my novelette, “Saving Granny from the Devil,” which appears in my forthcoming collection, Ugly Little Things: Volume One. The story is partially based on true events, focusing on the relationship I had with my great-grandmother. I wrote it to honor her memory, and to deal with some personal demons. The result is one of the most personal stories I’ve ever written.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

TK: I don’t feel too upset. If I miss my target, it’s usually for a good reason, and I try to cover lost ground the next day.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

TK: Anything extremely personal to me. For the sake of example, that story I mentioned before, “Saving Granny from the Devil,” was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written solely because of its personal nature. It’s easy to make things up; telling the truth is the hardest thing of all.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

TK: I’m always thinking about writing, especially if I’m stuck with a troubling plot point. In times like that, I usually step away and decompress with a good book, movie, or album. I also like to turn off my brain for a few hours with a good video game. My friend Nikki calls it “replenishing the well,” and I think that’s a good way to put it.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author?

TK: Probably the ability to take feedback and learn. It’s a useful skill that can be applied anywhere in daily life, and being an author affords me lots of practice.

Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

TK: I don’t think it has. I’m still me, still flawed, still anxious, still terrified of my reflection, and still horrible at marketing my own work.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

TK: A few years ago, I received an email from a reader about my first novel, A Life Transparent. He said a lot of things about it in that email, but the one thing that touched me most was this simple line: “Your book saved my life.” If I never do anything else in my career, I’ll still be satisfied because of that.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

TK: Probably the same as most authors, I think. To be able to quit my day job and write full time. To support my family with my writing.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

TK: That’s a great question. I think I’d like to have a positive impact on the horror genre in some way, or maybe on literature in general. Or both, at the same time. When I was in high school, one of my teachers asked me if I wanted to be the next Stephen King. “No,” I told him, “I want to be the first Todd Keisling.” Insert microphone drop here.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Jan 26, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

Publishing schedule, 2017

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our 2017 publishing schedule:

 

 

 

 

January:

  • Bruce Boston and Robert Frazier’s Visions of the Mutant Rain Forest collection

February:

  • Todd Keisling’s The Final Reconciliation eBook novella

March:

  • Dave Jeffery’s Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt YA novel
  • S. Breukelaar’s Aletheia novel
  • Kenneth W. Cain’s Embers short story collection

April:

  • The Third Twin novel by Darren Speegle

May:

  • Todd Keisling’s Ugly Little Things and Ugly Little Things Vol.2 short story collections.
  • Twice Upon an Apocalypse anthology, edited by Scott T. Goudsward and Rachel Kenley

June:

  • No Mercy poetry collection by Alessandro Manzetti
  • Paul F. Olson’s Whispered Echoes short story collection

July:

  • Mercedes M. Yardley’s 2nd book in The Bone Angel Trilogy
  • Behold: Oddities, Curiosities & Undefinable Wonders anthology, edited by Doug Murano

August:

  • Tales from The Lake Vol.4 anthology, edited by Ben Eads
  • Eric S. Brown and Steven L. Shrewsbury’s Beyond Night novel

September:

  • Dave Jeffery’s 2nd Beatrice Beecham YA novel.
  • A surprise anthology, edited by Joe Mynhardt

October:

  • A short story collection by J.S. Breukelaar
  • Where Nightmares Come From non-fiction anthology, edited by Eugene Johnson and Joe Mynhardt

November:

  • C.H.U.D. Lives! anthology, edited by Eric S. Brown
  • A short story collection by Gene O’Neil

 

This line-up will be filled by one or two surprises, some audiobooks, and more eBooks from our Afrikaans department. If the opportunity arises, some of our 2018 books will be moved up to 2017.

Until then, come take a look at our current line-up.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Jan 05, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

2016 – a year in review

One thing’s for sure, 2016 was one for the record books. And it’s all thanks to you, our amazing fans.

It was a year that saw our readership triple with the release of Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, and a year that took me from teaching primary school (a job I eventually grew to despise) to being a full time publisher working from my desk at home. I’ve always been more of an entrepreneur than a teacher, and it feels great to realize a dream I’ve had for more than 10 years. I won’t stop teaching, so I’ll start presenting some online workshops on publishing, writing, marketing, and online business early in the new year. As long as I don’t have to stand in front of a class while a tie is slowly strangling me.

Here are a few highlights from 2016. We…

I have big plans for 2017, so be sure to keep an eye on our website throughout January. We’ll also send out our 2017 publishing schedule in a few days.

Have a wonderful 2017. See you there.

Joe Mynhardt
Founder and CEO
Crystal Lake Publishing

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Dec 28, 2016   Blog   6 Comments Read More

The Deep End with Aaron Dries

Joe Mynhardt: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, High school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

Aaron Dries: I was a small town kid from small town Australia. One of those guys destined to fly the coop, yet always hungering home. I guess that tug and pull created a kind of discourse in me – a desire for something better versus all the comforts found in our own little worlds – that helped my imagination bloom. Complacency kills creativity. Wanting more, or a lack of stimulation in your environment, or indecision, or not knowing who or what you are… these are the things that build that part of your brain where the zombies and monsters grow.

My school years were good(ish). I was an okay student—terrible at math, excelling in art and drama. There were defining moments throughout: the clarification that my creative efforts weren’t all for nothing, a couple of scarring bullies, and the ebb and flow of friends. All of this, and more, defined who I grew up to be, so of course it has influenced my writing. Like everyone else, I’m a patchwork of my experiences, even though the stitching is haphazard and frayed; and as an author, my fiction works the same way… honest, often autobiographical, a little angry, a little sad. Still frayed, and I guess I’m okay with that.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

Aaron: I made the decision to not go one way or the other. I do both – writer by night (or wee early mornings) and then there’s my day job in frontline/outreach disability advocacy/support coordination. Writing is therapeutic for me to some degree. If I fall into the trap of bringing my work home with me, I go that special kind of mad found in my industry—burnt out, empathetically fatigued, jaded. Writing helps me digest work. Work helps me digest writing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a result, my creative output is often glacial, but hopefully what I do write is better for it.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights?

Aaron: When it comes to my writing, I’m plagued by indecision. I forever feel like what I’ve put out isn’t good enough or should be re-written. So when I first managed to emerge from the slush pile and into the realm of publishing, a success in and of itself, I guess it did motivate me to keep on going. But to be honest, I have trouble re-reading my own stuff. Every opportunity I have to polish, I take—every reprint, every new edition.
It kind of sucks that once the book is out there, it’s set in stone for quite some time, because by the time it takes to write something and then find it on the shelf I’ve changed as a person. I like the idea of my writing being an evolutionary thing, something that can be worked on continuously.
William Peter Blatty, a hero of mine, works this way. Every reprint is re-written; each new book is a beautiful exploration of similar themes and content from prior books. I guess striving to keep my fiction organic is something that keeps me motivated.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family?

Aaron: The most profound way being an author affects your relationships with friends and family is online. Your social media accounts suddenly become this double-edged sword in which the benefits and drawbacks of self-promotion both breed and bleed. This is something you have to balance, otherwise you’ll only end up driving the people you love and respect mad. Plus, it’s often a case of you’re preaching to the choir. I’m mindful of that.
On a day to day basis (in reality), writing consumes you more than you’d maybe like – you’re often ‘there’ but not there because you’re thinking about that chapter, that plot twist, about words and sentences and the wonderful jigsaw of creating something from nothing. You’ve got to be careful to find a balance here, too. If you don’t, you’ll only end up frustrating those who are closest to you. And at the end of the day you have to ask yourself what’s more important? Be aware or beware.
 
Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

Aaron: Growing up, I was an R.L. Stine fan. He got me into reading in the first place, which was an initial hurdle. I then made the leap from Stine to King, the first book being Carrie. That book, and the film adaptation, are really important to me. They spoke to me at a time in my life when I needed speaking to, a shaking.
The King route was long and glorious and on-going. Danse Macabre became a bible of sorts, a map for my formative reading years. Through that book I discovered a lot of films that led to novels and visa versa. That’s how I discovered formative writers like Robert Bloch, Daphne DuMaurier, Ira Levin, Shirley Jackson, William Peter Blatty, and others. They are still as important and influential to me today as they were then.

Joe: Instead of just focusing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

Aaron: Hmmm. Good question. There’s a lot of me in all of my books. A lot of my frustrations, or past hurts, or things that happened to me, or questions events sparked in my mind which I had to work out creatively. I think there’s a lot of me in A Place For Sinners, my third and most under-read novel. There’s a lot me in that in regards to certain regrets, parts of my sexuality, my experiences as a traveller, my wonderment at other cultures and places, my fear of the unknown, and my love for the surreal. That book is utterly bonkers, but then again, life is bonkers, it isn’t fair, it often doesn’t make sense. I struggle to reconcile with this in reality, too; and A Place for Sinners is a direct reflection of that.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

Aaron: It used to bother me, but not anymore. I don’t really have targets. Every sentence is a victory.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

Aaron: I’ve often tackled challenging topics and issues, but the most difficult stuff to tackle is probably around sexuality. Not because I’m afraid of going there, because I’m not. But because I get all icky-in-the-tummy at the thought of my family stumbling across those certain passages. Still, it hasn’t stopped me yet. Be brave, go hard. That’s where the rewards are.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

Aaron: I’m always thinking about the story, and I’m okay with that. Thinking about stories and getting them down on paper essentially is me relaxing from an otherwise highly stressful day job. The trick is switching off the mental gears around bedtime, because as fun as writing these books may be, nobody should be actively concentrating on scary home invasions after the lights are out and your head is on the pillow. Haha!

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

Aaron: I’ve got a lot of friends with skill sets to whom I do turn to for certain advice – lawyers, police officers, social workers. So I maintain those relationships, of course, because they’re all my mates and I love ’em to bits. After a lot of digging, I managed to speak to a Catholic exorcist in my local region whilst researching The Fallen Boys to find out more about the idea of individuals desperate to draw the attentive eye of their perceived creator.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author?

Aaron: Whilst I’ve always been attentive, I think writing really makes you more empathetically attuned to people. It sharpens your observational skills.

Joe: How did being an author change you as a person?

Aaron: It hasn’t. But being a good person has certainly changed my ability as an author.

Joe: Which response / comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

Aaron: I was very moved by a letter I received in regards to my first novel, House of Sighs. It was hate mail. The reader called the book out for being pro-gay propaganda. He also said that he felt cheated because I’d hoodwinked him into reading as far into the book as he did before the subtext emerged—and if he’d known about it in advance, he never would’ve started reading it in the first place. This moved me because I found it so motivating. The fire was well and truly lit.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

Aaron: All I ever want (be it life-long or just within the confines of a sentence) is to move a reader.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

Aaron: As a human, I want to be remembered for my kindness and empathy, and that I was a good friend and family member.
As a writer, all I want is to be remembered (in some capacity)! Paper may fade, Kindles may break … but if someone down the track says, “Hey, remember the story about the bus driver who kidnapped her passengers and took them home with her?” then I’ll be one happy ghost.

 
Aaron Dries
House of Sighs

House of Sighs

eBook: 3,99
Author:

This award-winning, psychological experience is back in print, and includes the exclusive sequel The Sound of his Bones Breaking, a novella that will leave you leave you truly shaken.

Board for free. But the cost might be your life.

“This taut, grisly thriller reads like a sick and twisted extreme horror SPEED. You don’t know who, if anybody, will make it. Catch this bus at your own risk.” – Eric Red, The Hitcher and Near Dark

In House of Sighs, Local bus driver, Liz Frost, pulls the gun from her mouth and decides to live with her loneliness for one more day. She dresses, combs her hair, and goes to work. Nine souls board her route that fateful morning in rural Australia, nine souls who Liz drags back to her home against their will. She wants to build a new family from these passengers, men and women who are willing to kill to avoid becoming her kin. The bus leaves a trail of carnage in its wake as it rockets towards a house that has held its secrets for far too long, a place where crows now gather, ready to feed on whatever is left behind.

“Prepare to be blown away.” – Dread Central

Includes the sequel novella The Sound of his Bones Breaking:

Trauma has teeth. Big ones. And it’s always hungry for seconds.

Aiden and Danny down their beers in the open bar overlooking the road, legs brushing together, about as far as they let their public displays of affection go in that part of Australia. The warm breeze and pounding music—their last happy memory. Everything changes when the taxi pulls up and its drunken driver stumbles out, starting a street brawl that leaves Danny broken and bleeding on the ground. In an attempt to give his lover the space he needs to heal, Aiden accepts an employment opportunity in Thailand, and the two men set off overseas, their fates sealed air-tight within the confines of the airplane. But in the claustrophobic hush of their tiny Bangkok apartment, and while Aiden goes off to work, instead of mending, Danny’s old scars begin to sing.

The lonely walks. The woman cooking bones in a vat of broth, whispering at him to eat the parts that hurt. The flies nobody but Danny can hear.

A burning desire to trace his heritage of hurt back to ground zero, and there, find someone to blame.

The Sound of his Bones Breaking is the dread-infused sequel to House of Sighs.

“Aaron Dries is a master of emotional horror. And there is horror here, but it’s heightened by his authentic characters and their raw emotions. Dries makes you feel, makes your heart break. He also surprises you, taking the story in directions you’d never see coming.” – Mark Allan Gunnells, author of Asylum and Companions in Ruin

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

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Where the Dead Go to Die

Where the Dead Go to Die

eBook: $4,99

There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us.

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Tales from the Lake: Volume 2
Horror 201: The Silver Scream
  Crystal Lake Publishing   Dec 24, 2016   Blog   2 Comments Read More