HAPPY 4th of JULY, AMERICA!
Another month, means another interview with another great writer. This time around, Terry M. West joins me to talk about his creations, cathartic writing, and all Things that go bump in the Night. I highly recommend checking out Terry’s work, especially his collection of short tales, What Price Gory?
I hope you enjoy this interview between a six-pack of Budweiser and attempting to blow your fingers off. Seriously, though – have a safe and happy 4th and I’ll catch up with you ghouls next week!
TIM MEYER: Hey, Terry! Glad you could fit me into your busy schedule! And after seeing your Amazon page, I do mean busy. Looks like there’s a total of 53 works. Where the hell do you find the time to write that much? I (for one) am jealous.
TERRY M. WEST: Well, in all honesty, a good portion of those books are titles nearly 20 years old. I have been at this a long time, and I wrote many writer-for-hire books for the young adult markets. It’s funny to me when someone asks how I turn out work so quickly. I feel like I am slow as hell. I see authors who write a book in ten days. A typical project might take me 2 to 3 months. I try to write every day, but that doesn’t always happen, unless an idea has me hooked pretty strongly.
TM: Your new novel, Night Things: Undead and Kicking, is set to release later this month. Can you tell us a little about it?
TMW: It continues the story started in Dracula versus Frankenstein. The main players this time are Herbert West and Jack the Ripper. It also introduces Carol Haddon, a character who is meant to be the moral compass for the series. There is a lot going on in this one. Several story threads are introduced. Early readers/reviewers are citing this entry as the best so far.
TM: In your Night Things series, monsters—most notably the classics—are main characters. What was your favorite movie monster growing up?
TMW: I loved all of the Universal monsters! Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolfman were my favorites. They were tragic characters. Not so explicitly evil as Dracula or the Mummy. I like monsters you can sympathize with.
TM: In the first Night Things book, you wrote about a character named Gary Hack, whom you’ve stated is the fictional version of your former self. Was that difficult to write, especially given the nature of the character?
TMW: There was a period in my life (my blue period, I like to call it) many years ago when I wrote, produced and directed soft-core horror and parody films for a company with an in to Showtime. I didn’t have an issue with it. It was a paycheck. But the backlash from it definitely hurt my career as a serious author. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have put my name on the stuff. My association with that field also led to an addiction and I lost everything as a result. It took me many years to mend from that time and feel comfortable writing again. Gary is a representation of that time. Writing about Gary was cathartic. I was able to deal with many demons and lay them to rest.
TM: Some of my favorite Terry West tales include two lovable southerners, Cecil and Bubba. Any new stories on the horizon with these two dudes?
TMW: Yes. Eventually. I want it to be perfect when they return. As silly as their adventures are, their tales take the most work for me. Cecil and Bubba meet the Thang took me four months to finish. The next tale, Cecil and Bubba meet a Blood Junkie from Beaumont, is still in the plotting phase. But they’ll be back. And a talented filmmaker has the rights to Cecil and Bubba meet a Succubus with a pair of actors who will kill it, if it gets off of the ground.
TM: What are some literary influences that have impacted your writing the most?
TMW: Rod Serling, Stephen King, Theodore Sturgeon, Richard Matheson, Clive Barker.
TM: You’re a big Twilight Zone fan. Quick, without thinking—gimme your favorite episode. I drop everything to watch “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” whenever it’s on.
TMW: “To Serve Man”. It is perfect on every level.
TM: You’ve collaborated with other authors in the past. I’m a huge fan of collaboration, so tell me—what’s the process for you? Do you enjoy collaborations, or do you feel more comfortable working alone?
TMW: I have to work with someone who I feel understands and approaches the process in the same manner. My wife, Regina, has kicked ass on a few tales with me. Chad Lutzke was a great fit on The Him Deep Down. We have a similar voice, so it fit together well. But I am, by nature, a lone wolf.
TM: You seem to prefer writing novellas over full-length novels. Is there a specific reason for that, or do you—like some authors—feel novellas work best in the horror genre?
TMW: I don’t have a preference. My tales seem to work better at novella length, for some reason. I write very tightly, with very little fat. But when I sit down and start a tale, I don’t have a specific length in mind. It’ll be whatever it is intended to be. I think there is a belief, justified or not, that people will only buy lengthy novels. And I have read some terrific novels that should have been novellas. I won’t compromise a story- pad it- to sell a few extra copies. My Night Things novels are short novels. But that is how they work. I can’t envision a five hundred page entry. But I wouldn’t discount one, either. I plan on collecting the Night Things books into a boxed set for people who only buy lengthy books.
TM: Which work would you recommend to a potential reader who’s looking for a little Terry West in his/her life?
TM: Do you find the writing process a chore? Does creation come easy to you?
TMW: I love to write. It comes easy, but only after I have worked it all out in my head.
TM: Do you plot or take your pants off and see where it goes? I’m talking about writing of course, in case you were confused. (smiles)
TMW: I plot. Especially for Night Things, because there is SO much going. I write the main story in my head before my fingers touch a keyboard. And then I will improvise the subplots as I go. I usually have a pretty solid outline of it all, but sometimes things change along the way. But I know how a tale begins and ends. I know how the next two Night Things books begin and end. It’s that pesky in between it all that I have to contend with.
TM: Last question before I let you go – what can we expect from Terry West going forward? 900-page Horror Novels? More novellas? Night Things! The Musical?
TMW: Well, I would love to get Night Things to some TV/Film producers. I want to find an agent for that, but I need to wait until Undead and Kicking is out before I do. I think Night Things would work great as a cable series. I have two more Night Things novels to finish before 2016 is up. We’ll see what happens after that.
***Terry M. West is an American horror author. His best known works: What Price Gory, Car Nex, Dreg and his Night Things series. He is also the managing editor of the Halloween/horror website, Halloween Forevermore. He was a finalist for 2 International Horror Guild Awards and he was featured on the TV Guide Sci-Fi hot list for his YA graphic novel series, Confessions of a Teenage Vampire. Terry was born in Texas, lived in New York for two decades and he currently hangs his hat in California. www.terrymwest.com***