AUTHOR INTERVIEW: DALE ROBERTSON

meHey, gang. I have a new author interview for you! This time, Dale Robertson was kind enough to drop by the blog and answer some questions. Dale is a new-to-me author who looks like he has a promising career in horror fiction. His work has a appeared in a few anthologies and his new novella, THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT, is now available on Amazon. Well, let’s get to know Dale a little better, shall we?

TIM MEYER: Hey Dale, thanks for dropping by the blog. First off, tell us a little about your latest release.

DALE ROBERTSON: Hey Tim, thanks very much for having me. My latest release is called The House that Jack Built, and tells the tale of three kids who try to gain respect from their peers by going to said house and conjuring up a local myth – a myth that has been told all around the playground for years. Stories, that’s all they are. But is there an element of truth? The kids decide to find out.

THTJB - Ebook coverTM: I see in your author bio that you were a GOOSEBUMPS fan growing up. Me too! I loved THE WEREWOLF OF FEVER SWAMP. Did you have a favorite GB book? Why was that your favorite?

DR: To be honest, I’ve never read any Goosebumps books (shame on me). I used to watch it on TV, along with Eerie Indiana and Are You Afraid of the Dark? These were probably my first experiences of “horror”. It had me fascinated.

TM: What books influenced you early on? What about later on?

DR: I wasn’t too much of a reader when i was younger – more content with my video games, drawing pad or listening to music. BUT, I do remember my mum’s bookshelf having several Stephen King and James Herbert novels, and being fascinated by the covers. It would have been my teens when i eventually picked them up to read (from what i can remember).

My later influences came mostly from indie authors (this was when i was into my thirties and I’d picked up reading fiction again) – the first I can recall was The Last Plague by Rich Hawkins. I still follow Rich’s work and have read most of what he has published. Adam Nevill is another influence that springs to mind. Richard Montanari, Karin Slaughter, Paul Finch, and Chris Carter are several others also.

TM: Who are some of your favorite authors today?

DR: Paul Finch, Chris Carter, Rich Hawkins, Justin Park, Stephen Leather, Jeff Menapace, Angela Marsons, Tim Weaver, Mark Dawson. You are also creeping up that list Tim – I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read of yours so far.

TM: Of all the characters you have created, which one is most personal and why?

DR: This would be an animal, not a person – Broxy, the dog. He appeared in Dobson Drive and also in Man’s Best Friend. He’s a rescue dog I’ve had for about 9 years and he’s a great companion – very docile and brilliant with my kids. I felt the need to make him “famous”, since it’s usually when I’m with him that story ideas begin to formulate.

TM: What’s your writing process like? Do you outline or “wing it?”

DR: I started out by “winging it”, getting excited that I had a story idea and rushing off to jot it down before i forgot. I found that the story (and my enthusiasm) quickly ran out of steam and I was left feeling lost, twiddling the pen in my fingers trying to figure out the next part of the tale. I have a number of half (or quarter) written stories in my writing pad still waiting for me to go back and pay them some attention.

I find it much easier if I have a rough direction now, from start to finish, of where the story is going. I usually write down a couple of lines about each chapter, just to see me straight.FotoJet

TM: Where do the ideas come from? Has getting the stories out been easy or a struggle?

DR: My mind has a habit of wandering (often!) and there’s no better place for that to happen than when I’m out walking my dog. Several, if not all, of my stories have generated during that time. I just need to make sure I write the idea down when I get back home so I don’t forget them.

I’ve self published everything so far. Not that there’s been much – two short stories and two novellas (as well as short stories that have been included in charity anthologies), but getting my head around the process was difficult. I had a lot of help from Facebook friends who also self publish. Little tips and tricks they have offered – I couldn’t have done it without them. Iain Rob Wright offers a course, ranging from writing the manuscript to getting it published to marketing (and everything in between)- everything an indie author needs and it’s been a godsend. And it’s all FREE. I constantly refer to it.

TM: Do you write with music on, or do you require complete silence?

DR: I usually write in silence as it helps focus my mind. But saying that, I’ve just completed a short story and I wrote half of it whilst listening to music. I thought I’d give it a try since I hadn’t done it before. See if it helps, or hinders. It didn’t do either; I found I could write fine with it on. I’ll definitely try it again.

TM: Favorite beer?

DR: Top of the charts is Peroni (Italian lager), next would be Mythos (Greek lager). Depends what’s on offer at the time haha. I do usually stick to what I know and like. Cobra is also quite nice.

TM: What’s next for Dale Robertson?

DR: Work on getting more of my own stuff out there, and to hopefully gain more visibility. The advertising/marketing side of writing is lost on me and I resort to Facebook and Twitter posts, hoping for likes and shares, to gain a wider audience.

I also would like to start on a novel, as all my works so far have been shorter pieces. I would definitely have to plot that out though so I would have a path to follow. The thought of writing 40-50 thousand words is quite intimidating to me. I know I need to stop thinking about the word count and just let a story flow, see where it takes me, but I’m obsessed with the word count for some reason (weird I know!).

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: CHAD LUTZKE

Lutzke 2017 Bio photoThis week I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite writers – the always-entertaining Chad Lutzke. I’ve read a few of Chad’s novellas over the last few years and each one has hit me right in the feels. The dude does horror well, but he also knows how to sucker-punch you in the gut. With his words. Not with his fists. That’d be mean and Chad isn’t mean. He’s actually a really nice guy. Okay, just read this interview and judge for yourself. Also, check out his newest novella from Bloodshot Books, Stirring the Sheets. It’s on sale now and you’re not gonna want to miss this. 

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: ROB ERRERA

BigRobHead0813 copyThe time has come for another author interview. I’ve been neglecting this portion of the blog lately, however, this interview will hopefully more than make up for my laziness. Today, I have fellow New Jersey native, Rob Errera. I’ve been familiar with Rob’s work for a few years now and I’m a huge fan. I had the pleasure of reviewing HANGMAN’S JAM for Horror Novel Reviews once upon a time ago, and I’ve been following his career ever since. In two days, his new novel, THE MUD MAN, hits shelves and I couldn’t be more excited for Rob. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and I’m here to say – this book rocked. I was mesmerized by the unique way Rob chose to tell the story and I finished the book in two sittings. Well worth your hard-earned bucks. Anyway, enough about that – let’s get on with the interview!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: MATT HAYWARD

mattLast month at Scares That Care! Weekend, I met a lot of cool people in person that I previously only knew via the Internet or Facebook. One of those cool people was the multi-talented Matt Hayward. Matt’s writing caught my attention a few months back when Sinister Grin dropped his horror fiction collection Brain Dead BluesIt was one of the best genre collections I’d read in some time. Matt has a unique voice and impeccable storytelling abilities. I strongly urge anyone who’s looking for that “next new voice in horror” to give his work a try. His follow-up and debut novel What Do Monsters Fear? is equally impressive.

So enjoy the interview with Matt Hayward and don’t forget to check out his books!  Continue reading

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: STEPHANIE WYTOVICH

headshot-3This week we have another fantastic guest dropping by the blog to give us some insight into her writing world. Stephanie Wytovich is not only a talented writer, but she’s a highly-praised poet. Her work has been published in places such as DarkFuse Magazine and The Literary Hatchetand several of her poetry collections are available wherever books are sold. Her debut novel, The Eighthpublished by Dark Regions Press, is getting some rave reviews and I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy. IT LOOKS AWESOME. This Is Horror calls it a, “…monumental and hugely entertaining read.”

Stop by Stephanie’s blog to keep up with her writing endeavors and be sure to check out her interviews with some of the biggest names in horror.

Later, Maniacs.

– TM

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TIM MEYER: Let’s start by telling us a little about your latest book release.

STEPHANIE WYTOVICH: My debut novel, The Eighth, came out in November 2016 from Dark Regions Press after serving as my master’s thesis and earing me a MFA from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program in 2014. Inspired by the worlds and works of Dante Alighieri and Clive Barker, I wanted to reconstruct a version of Hell that brought life to the Seven Deadly Sins while inviting readers to contemplate sin as an invitation to celebrate our grotesqueries.

My main characters are Paimon (a soul collector), Rhea (a mortal girl who is both Paimon’s and Lucifer’s love interest, and who can also detect one’s deadliest sin by his aura) and Arazel (the ringleader of the circle of Lust). The three of them form a trinity, if you will, of varying levels of control, something that all of them are haunted by in one way or another. Their stories intersect and crash into one another in unconventional ways that move away from the cannon in some respects because I wanted to write a book that stepped away from the cliché stereotypes of the virgin in a white dress, or the Catholic priest giving an exorcism to a little girl. In The Eighth, you’ll find reverse prayers, and strong women who have embraced their bodies, not as something sacred and holy, but as a weapon of pleasure and punishment. You’ll be embraced in a world of snow and ash, and the fire you’ll burn in will be one of psychological torment and emotional agony. The Eighth is both my homage to literary horror and mythology and my love story to pleasure and pain.

TM: What seriously messed up moment in your life made you want to become a horror author?

SW: I think it’s a common misconception that something terrible happened to all of us and that’s why we tend to favor the dark side of the arts. For me, personally, horror has always been my life because I find it grotesquely beautiful as well as empowering. Quite frankly, I think that the most beautiful things in this world are honest and raw, scarred and perhaps hidden in the shadows. I would much rather hear a story about someone who has looked into the face of the Devil and survived than hear a love story about two people finally finding solace in each other because horror gives me strength, it forces me to play “what-if,” and I like books and art and music that makes me feel and experience emotions that maybe aren’t necessarily safe and comfortable. I embrace the strange and unusual, the weird and off-kilter, and I find immense satisfaction in meeting characters who aren’t afraid to embrace the parts of them that most people condemn them for.

I write horror because I think it teaches us valuable lessons about our power and our limitations, and it exercises our minds in the fields of survival. I write stories that push psychological and physical boundaries with the human body, and as I work in extremes, my characters are forced into madness, shattered and broken into pieces, forced to give in or give up. Sometimes they bring this upon themselves, sometimes it’s done to them, but what I think my message is with my writing, is that there is always a way to find acceptance in our faults and scars, and whatever comes out of the ashes and takes its first breath is beautiful in its own way, even if it’s monstrous.

the-eighthTM: Do you prefer writing shorter works or full-length novels?

SW: I’m a poet by nature, so while shorter works will always be my preferred form, I do thoroughly enjoy the challenge that a novel or a short story gives me, and I need to be writing both forms at the same time in order for me to finish anything.

TM: Name some writers who have influenced your work.

SW: There are countless writers that I could name here, but I’ll throw out a few today: Clive Barker, Jack Ketchum, Poppy Z. Brite, Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath…

TM: Was there a particular horror film/book that impacted you as a writer? You can have more than one!

SW: The book was Pet Semetery by Stephen King. I can still remember reading it as a kid, curled up in my bed and reading until the sun came up all the while being deathly afraid that my recently deceased rabbit, Fluffy, was going to come back from the grave and kill me for not being a better rabbit parent to her. My brother didn’t share the same fears as me, but he also didn’t bury one rabbit, one dog, and three goldfish behind the shed with our father, so he was probably safe.

I, however, knew what was out there, what was really capable.

He was still a child.

As for the movie, the first film I remember watching was Salem’s Lot. I was way too little to be watching this, but my mom was ironing and I was downstairs with her, and the window scene pretty much broke me. I had two windows on either side of my bed as a kid, and after seeing that, I would sleep with the covers up to my neck out of fear that I would get bit.

Side note: Sleep has never been my friend and I blame my irrational fear of windows on my mother…and Stephen King.

TM: What’s your writing process like? Do you outline?

SW: When it comes to fiction, I never used to, but I do now. Kind of. I more or less free write a lot of ideas and possibilities down as I’m moving along, and then I’ll see where the story takes me and readjust as need be. If it’s a novel, I’m writing the poem version of the scene before I turn it into prose, but no matter what, I’m always surrounded by post-it notes and cork boards, and there are scribbles everywhere, on me, on my phone, and anywhere that can hold a message, really.

I’m a walking example of organized chaos, ask anyone.

For poetry, well, that’s a little…um, different. I get a theme in my head, and then I come up with the titles first: five titles for every letter of the alphabet. I don’t necessarily write each piece in order, but that’s why my poetry collections are in alphabetical order because it helps me structure the arc, tone, and climax of the book, and it also keeps me organized and on track. I also use Pinterest to make storyboards for each book, and I fill them full of images and quotes to help me along, too; it’s almost a visual outline, if anything.

Again, organized chaos.

TM: What do you love about writing?

SW: I love bonding with my monsters and demons, showing a sympathetic side to the darkness. Frankenstein is my favorite book and it’s influenced me in countless ways from my interest in body horror to my tendency to show the beauty in the grotesque, and I think it’s hard to read that book without feeling a little sad for the monster with his abandonment and forced isolation.

I live for telling the other side of the story.

TM: What do you enjoy about the horror genre?

SW: Its freedom. It lets me clap for the parts of life that most stay silent over.

TM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

SW: Never stop writing. Ever.

Write the story you want to write whether you think it will sell or not. If I listened to every person who told me my ideas were stupid, or that women don’t write this way, or I was trying to do something too risky, I would never have published anything. Stay true to yourself, listen to the voices in your head, and make art because you have to, not because you think it will please someone else.

TM: What does “Women in Horror Month” mean to you?

SW: I think Women in Horror Month is a time to celebrate female artists, and while I know that we’d all much prefer that we didn’t need it, and that we’d much rather just be known as “writers” instead of “female writers,” the hard truth is that the playing field still isn’t equal and until it is, we need to be in people’s face about it, constantly reminding them that we’re here and just as capable and deserving of our spot on the page.

TM: What’s next on the writing agenda?

SW: Right now, I’m working on a short story project, and I’m about to dive into a collaborative piece with my beautifully creative and wonderful friends, Mercedes M. Yardley and Brian Kirk. I’m sure I’ll be writing poetry on the side while I’m doing all of this, as well as outlining sequel to The Eighth, so it’s going to be a busy, busy year for sure, but truthfully, I love what I do, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Bring on the madness. It’s time to get weird.

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Praise for The Eighth:

The Eighth is a stellar horror debut from Stephanie Wytovich. An intimate, painful map of personal and literal hells that would make Clive Barker proud.” – Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author

The Eighth is a truly unique reimagining of the levels of hell and the evils that dwell there, told in the voice of a bold and courageous young author who is just now coming into her prime. Stephanie M. Wytovich has created a work that, while truly horrifying, manages to transcend genre altogether, becoming a literary tour de force the likes of which is seldom seen in horror or any other category of fiction or film. It’s a symphony of language and creativity performed by an author who can comfortably rub elbows with the best writers in horror, and in any other genre for that matter. The Eighth is one of the most exciting books to come along in 2016 and one of the best debuts of the last decade or so. Wytovich is at the top of her game and gaining momentum like a runaway freight train, and you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice if you miss out on this monumental and hugely entertaining read.” – This is Horror

Stephanie Wytovich’s The Eighth is a savage tale of betrayal, regret, and the dark side of love in its many forms. The poetic imagery she sprinkles throughout balances the brutality with beauty.” – Chris Marrs, author of Wildwoman and Everything Leads Back to Alice

A fierce and emotionally intense debut.”- Craig DiLouie, author of Suffer the Children

A brilliant debut from a major new talent, full of darkness, fire, and devilry. Indeed, the sins in this novel are so well realized that I fear just a little for Ms. Wytovich’s soul.”- Rio Youers, author of Westlake Soul and Point Hollow

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