Today, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to a multi-time Bram Stoker award finalist. For those not aware, the Bram Stoker award is like the Grammys for horror authors. Let’s explore his thoughts on writing horror.
I’m so excited it’s October. Thank you for letting me interview you.
You’re welcome! Thank YOU!
Today we are sitting down with Michaelbrent Collings to talk about his books and what makes him tick.
So, you’re a horror author. When did you first realize you loved horror?
So very early on. My dad was literally* THE world expert on Stephen King, and wrote the first book-length scholarly treatise on him, so I grew up with screaming and/or typing in the next room as I went to sleep.
Dad took me into his library at home, and said, “You can read anything you can reach.” He had organized the books on a height-to-age ratio, which worked great… until I discovered the magic of stepladders.
There’s no one single place. Sometimes it’s something I hear on the radio, or see on TV (I watch a lot of documentaries and history pieces that contain a wealth of possibility). More often, though, it’s drudge work: me walking in circles, mumbling questions to myself that all boil down to: “What would be scary/thrilling/interesting/fantastic?”
You’re on an abandoned farm. You have 3 monsters—Pennywise, a scarecrow, and Pinhead— headed your way. Who do you kill first and what weapon do you use? Will you survive?
First of all: I’m dead. I know this, so my only hope is not to fight. So I talk to Pinhead, and point him at Pennywise, hoping that the Cenobite will be more interested in pleasure/paining an extraterrestrial than a boring family man. Assuming that works, I then tell the scarecrow that I am not a crow.
It’s rough, but it’s a plan!
Are you afraid of the dark?
No. But I do get scared IN the dark from time to time. I love those moments – after seeing a scary movie or reading a freaky book, walking downstairs with all the lights off and wondering if IT might be down here.
Trick or treat or pass out candy, which Halloweener are you?
So obviously, I’m a twelve-year-old at heart. That said, I probably prefer to pass out the candy, simply because we do a “fear alley” kind of thing at our house, and it’s fun seeing which kids will brave the terror to get to the candy.
(Interviewer comments: We are adding your house to our route this year. )
So many books, so little time. What’s one horror book you’ll never get tired of?
Hmmm… probably Swan’s Song, by Robert R. McCammon. And if any of your readers don’t know why I’d pick that, it means they haven’t read it and should rectify that grave failure in their souls toot-sweet.
And yes, I say things like “toot-sweet.” I also like “oodles” and “viscosity.”
(Interviewer comments: I’m well known for “no worries” and screaming at my kids as needed.)
The answer is always the same: the hardest thing I’ve ever written is whatever I’m writing at this moment. Each book – if I’m doing my job – brings with it unique new challenges to me as an author, and given those descriptors there is no way that my current work can be anything but the hardest thing.
So… Scavenger Hunt is my hardest piece. It’s due out on Halloween (the Goodreads page is at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48337923-scavenger-hunt for any who are interested), and since it’s the one I’m finishing up, it’s the one that is hardest, scariest… and most fraught with possibility!
(Interviewer comments: I can see this. I’m not currently working on a horror, but the struggle is the same.)
And finally, what three pieces of advice would you give a fledgling horror writer?
A lot of new writers worry about things like branding and creating a platform and marketing. All those are important parts of the writing/publishing process in the current market, but none of them have more than short-term value (and often not even that) unless they are backed up by worthy, interesting, entertaining product that give the readers value for their money. It has to be win-win – they give me money for their time, and I give them something that (if I’ve done my job right) is worth more than the sum they gave me.
And finally, we wish you a horrifically delicious Happy Birthday! May your worst nightmares stay away, and all your wishes come true.
About the Author
One of the most versatile writers around, Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling novelist, produced screenwriter, and multiple Bram Stoker Award finalist. While he is best known for horror (and is one of the most successful indie horror authors in the United States), he has also written bestselling thriller, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, humor, young adult, and middle grade works, and Western Romance.
As a novelist, Michaelbrent has written dozens of bestsellers that have also received critical acclaim, and he and his work have been featured on everything from mom-and-pop podcasts to Publishers Weekly, The San Francisco Book Review, and NPR.
Find more about him at his website, WrittenInsomnia.com, or sign up for his mailing list (and get a free book!) at http://eepurl.com/VHuvX.
Connect with Michaelbrent Collings:
website: WrittenInsomnia.com – “Stories to keep you up all night”