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Our HORROR 201 Interview with Wes Craven

 

Joe Mynhardt: I can still recall a very young me hiding behind an oversized pillow as Freddy Krueger walked towards me. As the writer and director for A Nightmare on Elm Street, which elements of the Freddy Krueger character were written by you, and which parts came from Robert Englund’s take on this iconic character?

Wes Craven: I’m pretty sure that all the basic things about Freddy were in the script, but what Robert brought to the table was enormous enthusiasm for the role, a fearlessness that had no hesitation at playing a character that was deeply evil and a predator of children, a fantastic vocal instrument, and endless inventiveness in manner and movement, right down to his use of the glove – how he gestured with it, how he draped it over things, how he brought it to his face. Freddy was written as an evil old man, but beyond that, Robert inhabited Freddy with a stunning interpretation of that, and send chills up and down the spines of a whole generation. In fact, maybe two or three generations.

Joe: When I start watching your movies, I always wonder if you’ll do another appearance. But only after I lose myself in the story do you pop up. Tell us a bit more about your acting experiences.

Wes: I think I’m a lousy actor. For one thing, I can’t remember lines, and I think I look weird, especially now. I secretly thought I’d make a great actor, until I tried it. Then I saw the wisdom of my staying behind the camera except for a very few exceptions.

Joe: I’m certain all the writers out there would love to know who your favorite author is. Or perhaps a specific book that inspired you.

Wes: Endless authors. I was a kid who always had a book in my hand, especially since I wasn’t allowed to see movies for idiotic religious reasons. The names won’t ring many bells to today’s generation. Hemingway, Thomas Mann, Dostoevsky, Brecht, Terry Southern, Beckett, Roald Dahl’s “Kiss Kiss” short stories, Mailer, Poe, Dickens, Kerouac, Kesey, King, you get the idea. In many, many ways that deep history of reading helped and matured me, and I needed it. It didn’t help me at all with knowing the techniques and concepts of film, though, and when I started making movies, I was starting from absolute scratch. So, I just invented my own version of what a movie should be. It seems to have worked.

Joe: Definitely. Can you recall the funniest story that ever happened on set or during the development of a movie?

Wes: No. My sets are full of laughter and funny things, actually. There’s something about dealing with gore and death and all those forbidden topics that lightens things. We’re like little kids making mud pies, in a way. Doing what would horrify mom and having a hell of a good time doing it. At least until the killing starts. Then things get very, very quiet.

Joe: And what was the scariest moment you’ve ever experienced on set?

Wes: The scariest things are the real things. Making movies is a fairly dangerous thing. Lots of heavy equipment, things hanging overhead that just might fall down on you, like a 50 lb light, for instance, not to mention Grips hanging off rafters or up 80 feet in the air on condors packed with lights in the middle of the night. Then there’s stunts… I have all of those things go bad in the middle of shooting. Those are the truly scary things.

Joe: Another great movie that inspired me personally was Swamp Thing, which you also wrote and directed. Is there anything specific for you that stood out from that experience? The location must’ve been a nightmare, but you really managed to use it effectively in the story.

Wes: I’d never been to that part of the country, and I found it fascinating. The swamps were full of things that wanted to bite you, from alligators to stinging black caterpillars that fell out of the trees and down the neck of your shirt, to water moccasins. The grips all carried side arms, I kid you not.

Joe: Some of my other favorite movies include People under the Stairs, Scream, The Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes. You’ve been creating great films for over 40 years now, as well as equally amazing memories for yourself and your fans. So what are the biggest highlights of your writing and directing career?

Wes: There sure is something terrific about directing something you’ve also written. So Last House, Hills, Swamp Thing, Nightmare, My Soul to Take all have special places in my heart. But every once in a while you get your hands on a terrific script that someone else has written, and that is a very, very good feeling as well, and you don’t have to stay up all night while shooting to do re-writes. So, thanks to Carl Ellsworth and Kevin Williamson and many others for their terrific work on scripts I’ve directed and done very well with.

Joe: I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d love to know, but are there any future projects can we look forward to?

Wes: Yes.

Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol.1

Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol.1

$3,99
Series: Horror 201, Book 1
Genre: non-fiction

The definitive guide to filmmaking and filmmakers by the best in the field.

More info →

Buy from Amazon Kindle
Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol.2

Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol.2

$3,99
Series: Horror 201, Book 2
Genre: non-fiction

The definitive guide to filmmaking and filmmakers by the best in the field.

More info →

Buy from Amazon Kindle
  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 08, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

C.H.U.D. LIVES! TOC Announcement!

With the contracts sorted and exclusive permission from the C.H.U.D film makers and copyright holders, we’re happy to reveal the full lineup of authors to tackle this anthology.

Coming early November – edited by Eric S. Brown:

Introduction by David Drake

Interview with producer Andrew Bonime

JG Faherty

Martin Powell

Ben Fisher

Mort Castle

Jason White

Chad Lutzke

Ross Baxter

Philip C Perron

David Bernstein

Nick Cato

Alex Laybourne

Michael Hanson

Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes

David Robbins

Robert Waters

Greg Mitchell

Tim Waggoner

Ryan C. Thomas

An interview with screenwriter Parnell Hall.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 06, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

New Release: our very first YA Horror/Mystery Adventure

Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt – A Supernatural Adventure/Mystery Novel

The fate of the world rests in the hands of four dysfunctional teenagers and a bunch of oddball adults. What could possibly go wrong?

This supernatural / adventure / mystery novel is perfect for fans of The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, Goonies, Monster Club, Lost Boys, and Miss Peregrine. It might be a YA book perfect for ages 13 and older, but it’s a fun read no matter what age you are.

Dorsal Finn is a sleepy coastal town facing the gleaming Atlantic Ocean. It is a town with quaint customs and inhabited by people who are as welcoming as they are weird.  It is also a place where long lost tombs hide long held secrets.

Because beneath Dorsal Finn lies The Dark Heart, an ancient and malevolent entity determined to be free of its eternal prison. It has lured allies to the town, people with corrupt agendas determined to resurrect the greatest evil history has ever known, and in doing so release The Dark Heart upon an unsuspecting world.

What could possibly go wrong?

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing – Tales from the Darkest Depths

Get it today from Amazon
And add it on Goodreads

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

The Deep End interview with Dave Jeffery

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?

Dave Jeffery: I grew up in an area known as ‘The Black Country’. It was at one point the industrial heartland of the UK. Growing up there had its challenges but everyone seemed to get through days with a blunt sense of humour. I moved around a lot when I was very young. My parents split when I was eight and I was raised by grandparents and my dad. During this time, I used to love losing myself in adventure mystery books such as the Secret Seven, Famous Five, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. From there I found myself seeking out harder-edged mysteries such as Ellery Queen Whodunit and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators.

The council estate where I lived for most of my teenage years was rough, a landscape based on economic struggle, but the people around me, family, friends, always had a sense of pride. I can never say that I didn’t get lucky; we were a close-knit family and emotionally I wanted for nothing. I went to the local comprehensive school and at that point wanted to write and draw comic books. I was okay at art, but in reality just not good enough. I had a mate who was pretty damn good and we produced comic strips based on Planet of the Apes and Star Trek. We sold these for a few pennies each in the playground. Kept us in regular snacks for about half of a school year. I was 10 when I first read James Herbert’s The Rats, and found an instant connection with the gritty style of writing and graphic descriptions. This was followed by Guy N. Smith’s Night of the Crabs, and Herbert’s follow-up The Fog (which is one of my all-time favourite genre books), and from that point on I was hooked.

Looking back, I think it was inevitable that I would eventually gravitate to the idea of fusing the adventure mystery and horror elements that are fundamental to Cryptic Crypt.  The process of writing it certainly felt natural and unforced. Sometimes stories work out that way. It was pretty much the same with the Necropolis Rising series.

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?

DJ: Initially it was a simple exercise in economics that had me moving towards a career in mental health nursing, I wasn’t going to be able to make a living just by writing. In my 32 years in the profession, I have come across a significant amount of creatives who, for one reason or another, have put these fundamental aspects of their personality aside in order to help others.  This job has been an incredible experience and a privilege. You see people at their most vulnerable, witness the extremes in terms of violence and aggression, the desperation of depression and the tragedies that mental illness imposes on the person and their families. But you also see the triumphs, and it is in those moments you realise what it is that kept you doing what it is you do. 

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? 

DJ: My first success was when the Necropolis Rising novel hit #1 on the Amazon UK charts in 2010. I was pretty amazed if I’m honest. I was also surprised by the responses from other people. This ranged from those undermining the achievement because it wasn’t released through one of the ‘big four’ publishers, to those who heralded the success as an example of what could be achieved in the current independent publishing sector. It did motivate me to write, but offers that came in were for short stories and I went with those for a while. It always amazes me when editors get in touch and invite me to contribute to anthologies. I guess it’s an acknowledgement that people like what I do and feel it will add to whatever publication they are putting together.

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

DJ: My career, such as it is at this juncture, is underpinned by my family. Justine, my wife, is totally supportive and is just as excited as seeing Beatrice Beecham out with Crystal Lake Publishing. Over the past twelve years Justine has put up with late nights and conversations halted in mid flow because I’m writing something on a Blackberry or iPhone. This is as much her achievement as mine.

I don’t often tell people I write. It seems with the advent of online publishing everyone does it so I don’t see it as that big a deal. I always respect the views of those who have invested time and money in my work.

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

DJ: That’s an easy one: John Steinbeck. In my view, no one writes such sparse prose that can deliver such a profound impact. He inspires me even today. Cannery Row is my all-time favourite novel. I wish I had an eighth of the ability he had. If people want to pin me down to a horror influence then it would be James Herbert and Guy N. Smith based on my earlier comments. I was fortunate to meet Guy and he was highly supportive of my writing.  A true gentleman.

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?

DJ: Finding Jericho, a contemporary novel based on a teenager coping with his uncle’s mental illness, says more about me than anything else I have written. It encapsulates my experiences of working in mental health, and tries to tell the stories of those I have met, and raise awareness of the stigma associated with having a mental illness.

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

DJ: I’m pleased to say that I never let a daily word count dictate the terms. That privilege is reserved for the story and the characters in them. Sometimes they have a lot to say; other times they are silent. I never force myself to write. I usually have several pieces of work on the go at any one time. I have found this a good way to avoid the infamous ‘writer’s block’. If one story doesn’t feel the need to step forward, another will. If they are all reluctant, then I go and watch a movie or read. They soon get bored and start making noises!

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

DJ: Anything which involves the death of or cruelty towards a child. Being a parent contributes to that, I guess. I have written about such things, but I automatically adopt a sensitive writing voice. I am conscious of it and I’m not sure I would want to change how I do this kind of thing. I’m not one for cheap shocks using taboo subject matter. I have done it for commissioned pieces, but it is not something I would choose for my own projects.

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

DJ: I love to read (the obvious one) and watch movies. I also write scripts and film under the umbrella of VLM Productions. Writing pretty much dominates my spare time these days. I spend most of the remaining time with my family. Or catching Pokémon! 

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

DJ: Only people I don’t like make it into my books, just so I can kill them off. Only kidding!  There are some people I’ve met whose personality traits have been blended into some of the characters; especially in the Beatrice Beecham books. People are always coming up with great names that I tend to give to the townsfolk of Dorsal Finn.

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

DJ: Write what you want to read. It’s a cliché but it’s true. If you write for yourself then, more often than not, you give your worst critic access to the quality control button. Also, write what you know, purely because it will feel more authentic. And you don’t have to do so much research!


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

DJ: I don’t think it has. Personally, I think it’s the person who creates the writer, their experiences and their worldview. I have always been creative and, to be fair, introverted. I’m good at speaking in public, but it is not a natural thing and in preference I’d rather not. However, this quickly becomes an issue if you’re asked to do a reading! 

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

DJ: One reader told me that reading Finding Jericho had changed their life. As a writer, how the hell do you top something like that?

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

DJ: I would like to write full time. I can retire in a few years and still have to do two days a week. The rest of the time will be dedicated to writing. I’m hoping that over the next few years I can shave those last few days down and write full time. That would be my kind of heaven.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

DJ: Every once in a while for people to think, ‘Dave Jeffery? He’s the oddball who wrote those Beatrice Beecham books, right?’

 

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 02, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

Tales from The Lake Vol.4 line-up reveal

 

 

 

 

 

After reading 720 submissions for TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL.4, editor Ben Eads, and Crystal Lake Publishing, is proud to present the line-up (out August 30th):

Joe R. Lansdale
Kealan Patrick Burke
Damien Angelica Walters
Del Howison
Gene O’Neill
Max Booth III
Michael Bailey
Timothy G. Arsenault
JG Faherty
Cynthia Ward
Leigh M. Lane
Sheldon Higdon
Bruce Golden
E. E. King
Darren Speegle
Maria Alexander
Michael Haynes
Jeff Cercone
Timothy Johnson
Jennifer Loring
Hunter Liguore
David Dunwoody
T.E. Grau
Mark Cassell

Tales from the Lake
Tales from the Lake: Volume 5
Tales from the Lake: Volume 1

Tales from the Lake: Volume 1

$0,99

Dive into fourteen tales of horror, with short stories and dark poems by some of the best horror writers in the world.

More info →

Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Tales from the Lake: Volume 2
Tales from the Lake: Volume 3
Tales from the Lake: Volume 4

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Feb 25, 2017   Blog   1 Comment Read More

Bram Stoker Awards, 2016

 

In case you missed it, the final ballot has been announced right here. Our Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories anthology made it onto the Superior Achievement in an Anthology category, and one of the stories in this anthology, “Arbeit Macht Frei” by Lisa Mannetti, is nominated for in the Superior Achievement in Short Fiction category.

To celebrate GUTTED’s Bram Stoker nominations, from now through March 2nd we’re donating 50% of all profits received from Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories to the American Civil Liberties Union.

In doing so you’ll support a small press, horror fiction, the written word, and foundational liberties.

Please show your support by picking up a copy:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Available from all other Amazon retailers, as well.

 

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Feb 24, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

Full cover reveal for Beatrice Beecham by Dave Jeffery

Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt – A Supernatural Adventure/Mystery Novel (coming March 3rd, 2017 in Kindle and paperback)

Dorsal Finn is a sleepy coastal town facing the gleaming Atlantic Ocean. It is a town with quaint customs and inhabited by people who are as welcoming as they are weird.  It is also a place where long lost tombs hide long held secrets.

Because beneath Dorsal Finn lies The Dark Heart, an ancient and malevolent entity determined to be free of its eternal prison. It has lured allies to the town, people with corrupt agendas determined to resurrect the greatest evil history has ever known, and in doing so release The Dark Heart upon an unsuspecting world.

Now the fate of mankind rests in the hands of a fifteen year old girl and her gang of oddball friends.

What could possibly go wrong?

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing – Tales from the Darkest Depths

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Feb 23, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

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