Well, October has ended and November is here. That means it’s time to bring you another awesome interview! This month I’ve managed to coerce another one of my favorite writers to come aboard and chat with me – the uber talented Glenn Rolfe! His new book, Chasing Ghosts, is out now from Sinister Grin Press. I read it a couple months back and I was really impressed with Glenn’s voice and his ability to tell such a grand story in only a hundred pages. He’s quickly emerged to the top of most people’s Fresh-New-Voices list, and aptly so. If you haven’t given his work a try, Chasing Ghosts is a good place to start, however, his werewolf novel Blood and Rain is also a real gem.
Enjoy the interview!
TIM MEYER: Thanks for stopping by, Glenn! Your newest release from Sinister Grin Press, Chasing Ghosts, is a short, nasty dose of horror. I enjoyed the hell out of it. Let’s start by telling us what this book is all about.
GLENN ROLFE: You have a few different groups of characters that all wind up in the same place. We have a set of pre-teen boys who go out to an abandoned house playing a game they call “chasing ghosts,” a punk rock band that gets a gig in a cabin out near the woods, and then a number of small town people including the police chief, Walt. They all end up in a lot of bad situations due to some not so friendly people who live in the woods.
TM: What made you want to write this book?
GR: Honestly, I was working on finishing up a novel called, Window, a very different type of story that has been in the works for the last four years. I’d also written some not so bloodly stuff like Things We Fear and Boom Town. I didn’t realize how much violence I had in me begging to get out. My first book was The Haunted Halls, a much more Laymon-like story. So, when I decided to re-read Laymon’s The Woods Are Dark, I think I made it twenty pages in before a light bulb went off in my brain. I was compelled to write. And Chasing Ghosts just poured out of me.
TM: You’ve stated Laymon and Ketchum as influences. Any works in particular?
GR: The Woods Are Dark (Laymon), Off Season (Ketchum), Urban Gothic (Brian Keen), and Savage Species (Janz) all had a huge influence on this book. I dedicated it to all four of them.
I’d say, big picture, almost any book by those guys would count as influence on a lot of my work. Laymon’s Night in the Lonesome October and Keene’s Ghoul, are huge influences, as well. Those two offer some of the heart that the more violent books lack. It just showed me that it can all work well together if you do it right.
TM: The Punk Rock scene plays a big part of Chasing Ghosts. Was the setting and atmosphere based on any particular real-life scenario?
GR: Actually, yeah. My first band, The Skin Flutes, played a cabin up near Sugarloaf (a ski town) here in Maine. It was in the woods and I remember us thinking we were gonna get killed. As for the people at the cabin…I actually based them loosely on a group of kids from Delaware. One of my other bands, The New 45, did a couple of two week tours in ’09 and ’10. This house in Delaware was an awesome punk rock dump. The kids were awesome, but some of them were a little nuts. I kind of took those two experiences and mashed ‘em together.
TM: What was more fun from a creative standpoint—writing about werewolves in Blood and Rain or the backwoods savages of Chasing Ghosts?
GR: They were both awesome. Blood and Rain holds a soft spot because the original version was the first novel I wrote (I re-wrote it in 2014). But I did have a blast writing Chasing Ghosts. I mean, Off Season (Ketchum) was one of the first books that blew me away with how hard and relentless it was. I remember getting similar vibes of the Keene and Janz books I mentioned above, too. It was a lot of fun to come up with my own little version of the backwoods types.
TM: Do you prefer writing novels or novellas, and why?
GR: Love both. I tend to write more novellas because I’ve got writer’s ADD. I get these quick ideas and instead of writing short stories, I prefer to give ‘em some real characters and build it up a bit. I still write short stories, but it seems so much harder now. I feel like I always need more room to work than 300-700 words. It’s very liberating to have that option.
I do enjoy the entire novel process, as well. I like getting in deep and wondering how I’m going to get out. I don’t plot. So that used to scare me, but I just kept reminding myself to trust the story. It will take me where it wants to go, and so far, it has.
TM: What does Glenn Rolfe’s “writing space” look like?
GR: I do most of my writing during my overnight shifts at work. I do have a desk at home. It’s now down in the basement. There’s a few posters on the wall (Lost Boys, The Possession) and I have a couple of little toys on the desk (The Wolf Man, a plastic wolf, some gravestones, and Jimmy and Mia from Pulp Fiction). I get to work with the sound of the furnace cranking on behind me. A very Shining type of atmosphere.
TM: I know you’re a music guy; do you listen while you write? Or do you require complete silence?
GR: I love to listen to music while I’m writing, but it’s not something I have to do. It just helps me concentrate sometimes.
TM: Have you ever considered writing outside of the horror genre? Why or why not?
GR: I’ve dipped my toe in sci-fi and in mystery….they seem like natural cousins to horror, right? And I do plan on venturing out when the time is right, but I’ll always write horror. I think horror comes so natural for us in the genre that it is safe and comfortable. I want to challenge myself to do something else. I may fall on my face, but I believe if I get from start to finish, that’s a victory right there.
TM: Favorite beer?
GR: Sam Adams Rebel IPA. Abita Jockamo IPA, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Those are my favorites, but the Abita one is only sold down south. I had it for a week down in New Orleans.
TM: Which novels have influenced your writing the most?
GR: I’d say ‘Salem’s Lot by King, The Beast House series by Laymon, Off Season by Ketchum…also a bunch of Bentley Little books (The House, The Resort, The Store), Mercedes Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows collection, and Ronald Malfi’s Floating Staircase. All huge influences on my writing. I could offer up twenty other King pieces, too (Shining, Bag of Bones, Tommyknockers, The Mist, Joyland, Pet Semetery etc.).
TM: What’s your writing process like?
GR: I get a crazy scene in my head and start writing. I just let the story and the characters roll and take over from there. I try to squeeze in an hour or two here or there to write, but it’s mostly in two hour chunks at my work, or a small window of like an hour or so at home. At the moment, I’m writing about two days a week. I’d love to get back to four or five times a week, but life needs me in other places right now. The kids are 3, 6, and 9. The wife and I work alternating schedules a lot, so we need to try and catch up. That mostly consists of watching some TV together or sneaking out for a date night. My dream is when Axl (my youngest) joins his sisters at school for the day, I’ll get to put in multiple four hour blocks. But that’s a couple years away.
TM: What’s next from Glenn Rolfe?
GR: I have a lot of stories in the works, but the ones that are at the front of the cart right now are Follow Me Down (a new novella) and the sequel to Blood and Rain (Waiting For Darkness). You should see both of those in 2017. I also have a finished draft to my novel, Window. I have plans for that one, but I’m not sure when it will see the light of day. It’s my best work to date, so I’m not going to rush it.
TM: Thanks for stopping by, Glenn!
GR: Thanks for having me, Tim.
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