Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a horror writer.
I was born a small child in Illinois, the firstborn (and arguably the greatest) of five children. My siblings and I were homeschooled growing up, which gave us a lot of freedom to pursue our interests on our own time, and I used that freedom to write and read. I always enjoyed books with some darker edges, but I actually got into horror relatively late. The first officially-categorized ‘horror’ book that I tried to read was King’s “The Shining” when I was in my early twenties. I say ‘tried’ because I got too creeped out and had to stop. But there was something compelling about it that I couldn’t get out of my mind, and so a few months later I checked it out of the library again, gathered my courage, and devoured the audiobook in a couple of days. Haven’t looked back since.
What books did you read as a child that inspired you to become an Author?
I specifically remember reading “Eragon” by Christopher Paolini when I was thirteen and thinking, ‘hey. I wanna do this.’ So I did. (Coincidentally, the first story I ever tried writing was an epic fantasy about a young boy whose adoptive father figure is mysteriously killed, leading the protagonist on a quest for revenge.) For a while I was convinced I’d go to college for creative writing and become a famous author, but I ended up getting a degree in graphic design instead, and pretty much decided writing was just something I’d enjoyed as a kid. Then a few years ago my wife convinced me to give it another try, and it turned out I still loved it just as much as I had when I was thirteen.
Besides horror, what is your favourite genre to read?
Fantasy, one hundred percent. I love the worldbuilding, the sense of immersion, the aesthetics, the creativity… I could go on. I once read a short piece by Neil Gaiman in which he describes fantasy and horror as neighboring cities, linked by a long road through a dark forest (or something to that effect), and the description stuck with me. I think that road between the cities is an interesting place to be—the potential for overlap between fantasy and horror fascinates me.
What is one underappreciated indie horror author we should all check out?
I’m not sure if he’s indie enough, but Michael Wehunt’s collection “Greener Pastures” was so good I re-read multiple stories in it right after first finishing them. Also Catherine McCarthy’s “Immortelle” was one of the most delicately disturbing stories I read last year.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I’ve done a lot of experimenting to figure out what works best for me, and the one essential thing I keep coming back to is music. I pretty much always have a specific playlist for each project I’m working on, and I find having a bit of music going in my ears helps set the mood I’m aiming for and also just occupy the part of my brain that might get distracted otherwise. A nice cup of black coffee never goes amiss either.
What’s your favourite trope in the horror genre? To read? To Write?
This may come as a shock, but ‘Old Gods’ is pretty much guaranteed to grab my interest. Cosmic horror is my favorite branch among horror’s gnarled limbs, so I’m always interested in seeing how others interpret the themes, as well as adding my own takes. Something about the interaction of human beings with vast and malevolent forces drifting on the edge of comprehension just really does it for me. That and ‘Something in the Woods’. If your story blurb has anything to the effect of “creepy mysterious entity of unknown origin haunts local forest”, then I am in, my friend.
You wake up in a dark unfamiliar room. You don’t know how you got there or where you are. There is a nightstand beside you with one item on it. What is that item?
Sure hope it’s a teddy bear.