Tag Archives: horror writers

Horror/Thriller Author W.D. Gagliani Talks About Writing Like a Film Director: Does It Work?

This afternoon I welcome to my blog the great and amazing W.D. Gagliani, the author of the Nick Lupo Werewolf Detective Series. He’s a wealth of writing knowledge (and well, on most other things as well) and he’s one of my best friends in the writing business and all around for that matter. He’s a great writing teacher and this guest article will give you a glimpse…..

A Bram Stoker Award Finalist Author for Wolf’s Trap, the first book that started it all, his series has been well-received and it isn’t over yet! He just released book five this year and is working on six. If you’ve read them you know how amazing he is, and if you haven’t, then there is always time to catch-up. He also has some other hard-noir thrillers and stories out and is a man of many writing talents. Today, he’s with us to talk about writing like a film director! In the next week or two we’ll have a PART DEUX and will feature an interview. But for now, take it away, Bill…..but don’t run too far away with my blog.

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POV in the Nick Lupo Series: Using Shifting Points of View Like Movie Directors
by Bram Stoker Award Finalist Author W.D. Gagliani

BillI’ve decided I would make a rather poor film director, yet that doesn’t stop me from writing my novels exactly as if I were directing a movie.

There’s the whole “filming scenes out of sequence” trip, which is messy and sometimes gets me into trouble, but I keep doing it. I could write thousands of words about that. In fact, maybe I will. Just as soon as I get myself out of my latest trouble.

But here I just want to explain (and explore) my obsession with being a low-rent director. I’m sure that’s what I would be. Influenced by Hitchcock, but hampered by reality and limited talent. So, no, I wouldn’t be directing any classics. But that doesn’t mean I can’t steal the movie techniques that help me tell a story more effectively. Call it an obsession if you want, but I always find myself wrapped up in a directorial mess. Maybe, who knows, it’s the only way I can work. The only way I can be forced to finish, and the only way I can best tell my story.

One of the ways I follow through on my obsessive behavior is to use a variation of a movie director’s shifting points of view (POVs). It’s one thing many beginners use incorrectly. I see this all the time – the writer lets the point of view slide inadvertently and unnecessarily from character to character in the same scene until the reader can’t quite figure out who’s seeing and thinking. The key words there are “in the same scene.” I won’t lie, some of the big bestselling authors do it, too, right in their blockbuster books. But it’s still usually a bad idea, and at least they do it more carefully than the beginners who may be doing it inadvertently. Beginners want to be in everyone’s head at all times… to the point that readers will be undoubtedly confused by the action and the thoughts sliding from character to character. (Add another beginner mistake, a few overly colorful metaphors and similes in the narration, and you have the recipe for narrative disaster.)

But I will also admit that their instinct may be partly on target, because both thrillers and horror tales are best served by multiple POVs – I believe they just have to be kept under control. I’ve always enjoyed the claustrophobic feel of a strict First Person POV in thrillers and mysteries (especially in hardboiled detective stories), but one must recognize the limitations. Choosing to tell the story that way limits what the writer can do, and what the reader can see, because the protagonist isn’t privy to any information he/she doesn’t witness or experience. It’s so limiting a POV that it must be used sparingly, maybe even lovingly and in a way that embraces the difficulties. You rarely see a strict First Person POV used in a movie because you would literally never leave the protagonist’s side, which would be difficult to sustain without causing boredom.

In my Nick Lupo series, starting with Wolf’s Trap, I made a conscious decision to present multiple characters’ points of view, taking as my model, in part, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. I liked how in that classic work each chapter was narrated from a different POV, and by labeling each section with the name of the character it’s always obvious whose head you’re in. But unlike in Faulkner’s novel, I chose to present the different POVs not as separate First Person accounts, but as Third Person limited. So in essence we look into each character’s head in an omniscient way, but not into anyone else’s within the same section. The technique allows me to create a sort of quilt or tapestry, with some sections overlapping as the same action is seen and described by different narrative points of view, while other actions occur elsewhere and are experienced by different characters – all to connect (hopefully) into a coherent whole by the end.

Occasionally I’ve taken some heat from reviewers/readers who find the jumping around confusing, especially since I also employ parallel stories along two separate timelines. One reader referred to it as (paraphrasing) authorial ADD. “For one thing it jumps around from character to character too much,” another reader complained. Well, that’s certainly part of the reason I use the technique. Whenever I’m stuck or blocked, with no clear “next move” ahead, I will jump forward and take another plot point or section from farther up the timeline (or in the past) and start fresh from that point, trusting my quilting skills later on to patch the pieces together. In essence, I’m “filming scenes out of sequence” and trusting I’ll fix it in the “editing room.”

More often than not, it works. When it does, I am rewarded with the feeling that maybe I wouldn’t be so bad a film director after all. But the process can be excruciatingly painstaking, and there’s the reason I keep saying I’ll stop doing it this way. I’ll stop with the next book.

W.D. Gagliani, Biography~

W.D. Authorpicgambit-210W.D. Gagliani is the author of the horror/crime thriller WOLF’S TRAP (Samhain Publishing), a past Bram Stoker Award nominee, as well as WOLF’S GAMBIT (47North), WOLF’S BLUFF (47North), WOLF’S EDGE (Samhain), and the upcoming WOLF’S CUT (Samhain). WOLF’S TRAP was reissued by Samhain Publishing in 2012. Gagliani is also the author of the hard-noir thriller SAVAGE NIGHTS (Tarkus Press), the collection SHADOWPLAYS, the novella THE GREAT BELZONI AND THE GAIT OF ANUBIS, and the holiday-themed short stories “The Christmas Wolf” and “The Christmas Zombie,” all available for the Kindle and other formats.

A collection of collaborations between David Benton and W.D. Gagliani, MYSTERIES & MAYHEM (Tarkus Press), is available for Kindle and all other formats. Five collaborative short stories are included, as well as one solo short story from each author, and several bonuses along with a guest short story.

Gagliani is also the author of various short stories published in anthologies such as ROBERT BLOCH’S PSYCHOS, UNDEAD TALES, MORE MONSTERS FROM MEMPHIS, WICKED KARNIVAL HALLOWEEN HORROR, THE BLACK SPIRAL, THE MIDNIGHTERS CLUB, THE ASYLUM 2, ZIPPERED FLESH 2, MASTERS OF UNREALITY, DARK PASSIONS: HOT BLOOD 13, MALPRACTICE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BEDSIDE TERROR, and ZIPPERED FLESH 2 (the last four with David Benton), and more.

He has also written book reviews, articles, and interviews that have been published in places such as THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, CHIZINE, CEMETERY DANCE, HORRORWORLD, PAPERBACK PARADE, CINEMA RETRO, HELLNOTES, FLESH & BLOOD, BOOKPAGE, BOOKLOVERS, THE SCREAM FACTORY, HORROR MAGAZINE, SF CHRONICLE, BARE BONES, and others. Also published in the Writers Digest book ON WRITING HORROR (edited by Mort Castle), THEY BITE! (edited by Jonathan Maberry and David Kramer), and in the Edgar Award-nominated THRILLERS: THE 100 MUST READS (edited by Morrell & Wagner), published by Oceanside for the International Thriller Writers. In October 2011, THE WRITER magazine published his article on writing werewolf epics.

His interests include old and new progressive rock, synthesizers, weapons, history (and alternate history, secret history, and steampunk), military history, movies, book reviewing, and plain old reading and writing. He is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and the International Thriller Writers (ITW). He lives and writes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

You can find W.D. Gagliani online at his website www.wdgagliani.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

Newest releases is………..

Wolf’s Cut, Synopsis!

WolfsCut72lg-330resizeThe Nick Lupo Series Book Five.

Nick Lupo: A cop, a werewolf…and a target!

Homicide detective–and werewolf–Nick Lupo is hoping to finally have a chance to focus his attentions on the woman he loves, instead of the Wolfpaw mercenary werewolves who tried so hard to kill him. Lupo survived that battle–barely–and brought down Wolfpaw. But Wolfpaw was backed by a super secret group within the Pentagon whose sinister plan is already in motion. And a new enemy has set its sights on the local casino. Nick Lupo thought he was home free, but whenever he tries to get out, they drag him back in…

Wolf’s Cut is fourth novel following the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf’s Trap, so it is the fifth in the savage series of horror/thrillers about the werewolf/cop. These “North Woods Noirs” are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content. The next book in the series will arrive in 2015.

Wolf’s Cut is a stellar addition to Gagliani’s Nick Lupo series. An impressive and addictive read… cements Gagliani’s place at the top of the new wave of horror/crime fiction.”
–Dreadful Tales

“With his series of Nick Lupo books, W.D. Gagliani has done more than pump a little oxygen into the tired werewolf thriller. He’s resurrected the entire genre and added a rush of nitrous oxide excitement. Do yourself a favor and pick up Wolf’s Cut, a nice addition to this superior series.”
–Gene O’Neill, author of Dance of the Blue Lady

“W.D. Gagliani’s Detective Lupo series is the best of the werewolf genre. Top-notch writing, nail-biting suspense, and a ferocious mix of serial killers and werewolves… Gagliani continues to deliver fast-paced horror that will get your heart pumping. Highly recommended.”
–Brian Moreland, author of Dead of Winter and The Devil’s Woods

“Being Italian and a former cop I can relate to Lupo on many levels. The whole series is a big hit at our store with several of our staff. We can’t wait for the next book. Keep howling!”
–Tony D’Amato, Chief Armorer of The Gun Store, Las Vegas, NV

“Let out a howl, because Lupo’s back, and badder than ever!”
–John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes and NightWhere
Wolf’s Edge is an exciting page-turned full of suspense, mystery, and thrills. Don’t miss it.”

–The Horror Zine, on the 4th Nick Lupo novel

“Riveting, disturbing, gut-wrenching — and entertaining as all get-out — and I loved every page!”

–Jay Bonansinga, author of The Killer’s Game and co-author of The Walking Dead Series, on Wolf’s Trap, the 1st Nick Lupo novel

“Gagliani once more proves that werewolves are scary as hell.”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dragon Factory

“Gagliani has brought bite back to the werewolf novel!”
–CNN Headline News Book Lizard

“The best werewolf novel since The Howling!”
–J.A. Konrath, author of Whiskey Sour on Wolf’s Gambit

Buy on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/Wolfs-Cut-W-D-Gagliani-ebook/dp/B00GMKWLUE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397364156&sr=8-1&keywords=Wolf%27s+Cut

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Giving Thanks: What it’s All About and Writer Friends I’m Thanking!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, fellow writers, book lovers, friends. So many of you make my day so much brighter and this weekend, I give thanks to you! I suppose to me it doesn’t really matter if you live in America or not, we all have something to celebrate with this holiday: coming together, working together through differences, and being thankful for what we have, especially when many people might not have as much as us. That is a world-wide sentiment, is it not?

Of course, most know (or at least I hope!) that the pilgrims came across the sea on the Mayflower from Britain. If you didn’t, I suggest watching Snoopy in his Mayflower cartoon at the very least!  As I see it, several kind First Peoples helped the Pilgrims through a time that they might otherwise not have lived through. Squanto (who had quite the story of being kidnapped to Spain, escaping to Britain, and then back to North America…whew) taught them to plant corn and fertilize with fish, and others taught them how to clear and build. It was a peaceful time in history that is far from highlighted. A year later, as the crops grew to be abundant and life of a settlement had begun, the Pilgrims and the Native Americans feasted together, giving thanks for what nature and the land supplied in order tfor them to survive. Wha-la! Thanksgiving!

First Thanksgiving

‘The First Thanksgiving’ Painting Source: Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

We can all take so many lessons from this, can we not? How extending a hand is sometimes still advantageous (and worth it) as there are still people who truly will be thankful (look at how hundreds of years later we are still celebrating the Native American kindness) or how we can find a peaceful way to get along and work beside people who are different from us whether that be race, religion, beliefs, or what not.  It’s all what is in your hearts, so stop judging and start living! Live in thanks, not in fear!

I hope this Thanksgiving that you not only give thanks for those people closest to you, but for the rest of the people all over the world. For people who are making a difference by forging alliances with those different from us so that one day seeds will be planted and the fruit of kindness will grow further into the world. Where love for others in not only their similarities but in their differences will be had and we will all sit at one big world table learning about each other and GIVING THANKS that we have meals on our tables when so many others do not.

Blessings to you and yours on this day. It’s why it’s one of my most favorite holidays. To quote my 10 year old daughter, “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is the day I get to be thankful for all I have.” That blew me away….!! Which is true as it reminds us, amid food and football and games, during the Christmas tree decorating or the fervent shopping, to remember how good most of us have it compared to many others who will spend the holidays freezing in gloves with holes on the street, begging for a piece of turkey bone from the trash.

As far as books and writing goes, I am so very thankful for so many like-minded people in my life. You all are the source of my best smiles and days (outside of my children) and my inspiration. I love to write and to read and I am so happy that there are so many of us to share our joys in with out there in the online world. I appreciate my readers of this blog and hope you’ll grow that with me this next year. I appreciate the authors who contact me and send me books for review and who offer to do posts and take on my lengthy interviews. It is my complete pleasure to review what I can as I can. You are mostly all so patient and understanding about my time-table and my life.

I appreciate those authors who want my thoughts on a first glimpse of their books, those who hire me to do work for them, and those that I brainstorm for and with. It is the best part of my life, outside of writing my own stuff and being a mom. I am passionate for you to succeed each and every day.

I have complete gratitude for my writer friends who encourage and motivate me each day, even if it is something they don’t realize they do, and how much they truly mean to me. To my friend circle of Hunter Shea and Kevin Sheehan, W.D. Gagliani, Craig Schaeffer (Jonathan Janz), Brian Moreland, Kristopher Rufty, Ronald Malfi, Russell James, David Berenstein, Sandy Shelonchik, and Frazer Lee…I couldn’t get through a week without your amazing personalities. Thanks to many of you for being there for me in so many ways with my crazy life, my intense personality, and for encouraging my writing (both pointedly through emails and by example of what you do). Never would I have though I’d write anything near horror (just had the YA and history going) but then you all landed in my lap (not literally..lol). Hugs to Keith Rommel for his friendship and trust. Thanks further to David Searls and John Everson for always making me laugh or making me hungry and to Jonathan Moore, for his ability to remind me how to find calm in order to write. And to Glenn Rolfe for always writing WAAAAAAY too much so that I pound my head wondering if I can keep up. Great authors, great writers, great people. SERIOUSLY, THANK YOU!

I love my historical author friends who lead by example as well and especially those women who I admire like Nancy Bilyeau, Sherry Jones, Jennie Fields, Eva Stachniak, Cathy Buchanan, Ania Szado, D.J. Niko, Jennifer Epstein. For making me laugh and giving me so much to enjoy is Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Stephanie Thornton, Kris Waldherr, Susanna Calkins.  For Melika Lux and her never ending friendship and chats! To Christopher Gortner and David Blixt for their passion and lively Facebook posts. To Amy Bruno, owner of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, for her organizational skills, friendly emails, and making it easy to feature authors here on my blog.  There are too many wonderful historical writers to name in this post and they all make me want to learn more, be more, write more, and even better, research more. I would be eternally grateful to one day finish my historical novel and be published beside them.

To Dandi Mackall, for first encouraging me to continue my quest to write novels and teach me how to learn from my surroundings. For igniting my spark during college and for continually impressing me with her kindness and her writing. To Tracy Higley for her exotic historical adventures, trust in me to read her novels, and her pursuit of spirituality which makes me think.

To lovely friends Matthew Turner and Linn Halton who makes me transcend beyond every day life and death with their thoughts and insights. And I am so thankful for so many British authors who truly give me emotional connections to books and write the best new adult, mystery, and historicals out there.

I am GRATEFUL for the talent of writing I’ve had my whole life. When I thought I’d lost it, when I got too busy with my former job and life, when I was told I couldn’t write, I didn’t listen. I kept fighting to write because you know what? I CAN. And I am THANKFUL. So very thankful to be free through my writing. The more I read, the more my muses swirl around me–the more I write, the more they whisper.

This Thanksgiving Season, be thankful for your talents, your support circles, your writing friends, the authors you like, and for the ability to read, and if you write, to write!

Eat lots of pumpkin pie and enjoy a good book or do some writing over the weekend!

Snoopy-Woodstock-Thanksgiving-Dinner

GRATEFUL for YOU! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Dead of Winter, by Brian Moreland, is Dead Ringer for Book of the Year!

No matter how much I love books and respect every author out there for having the guts to tell his or her story, it isn’t often that I am BLOWN AWAY by a book. Dead of Winter, by Brian Moreland, is the best book I’ve read all year and I believe that Brian, in terms of talent, is one of the best writers I’ve ever read.

In Dead of Winter, Inspector Tom Hatcher just can’t get over what happened when he was on the case of serial killer, the Cannery Cannibal.  It haunts him.  You can’t begin to believe how dark and terrible this killer really is as he craves human meat, killing women to feed his growing hunger.  Father Xavier, an exorcism specialist on assignment with the Catholic church, visits the serial killer in an asylum. As he realizes the mental patient is possessed by a demon, we sense that the Cannery Cannibal is far more powerful and deadly than anyone could have imagined.

Now in 1870 at a fur trading fort set in the deep and dense Ontario wilderness, Hatcher confronts his own demons while investigating some gruesome murders. It becomes apparent that a predator from the forest has unleashed a deadly plague among the colonists in which they begin to crave human flesh with an insatiable hunger and take on supernatural powers and body shape to obtain it. Once the shape shifting begins, there isn’t ending it and death abounds.

Based on a real historical Native American legend, Moreland crafts his tale to include the spirituality of the Native American culture who lived in these woods and the conflicting arrogance of the white man who often lived at the forts and outposts.  Inspector Hatcher doesn’t know if he can stop the rampage this time, as good is pitted against evil in an amazing battle of wills. Father Xavier arrives to assist him as no other priest has been able to manage or live through, along with passionate Native American Anika, who is disregarded by everyone but Hatcher, accused of being a witch and used as a slave.  Together, they unravel a mystery of epic proportions.

Will Tom be able to overcome his depression and believe in himself? Will the Church be able to fight this powerful evil? Will anyone survive this carnage, this flesh-eating disease that is turning everyone on everyone else? What is this predator in the forest? You definitely don’t want to miss the answers to these questions and much more.

Brian’s writing takes you somewhere out of your daily life as you become entranced by the story. His detail and cinematology, coupled with his unique story telling ability, keeps you turning page after page. As a reader, I was absorbed by the story and enthralled with each suspenseful chapter. He has an amazing way of keeping you wanting more after each tidbit. His style of writing in short chapters and juxtapositioning between characters and scenes will keep you on the edge of your formerly comfortable chair, which will now have hand marks on it from your gripping it so fiercely. That’s right, I’m warning you…you’ll be scared out of sitting comfortably. You will encounter evil so deadly.  You’ll read about blood and gore so detailed you’ll smell it. You’ll feel what these characters feel and see what they see. You’ll have an inside view to their world and be pulling for Tom and Anika until the very end.

Dead of Winter is so frightening, I could only read it during the day. If you aren’t an emotional wreck about things going bump in the night like me, then go ahead, read it at night in bed and be even more flipped out by how scary it is. Because it’s an adrenaline rush of fright. If you think Stephen King sends chills up your spine, then be prepared for your hair to stand on end. Brian Moreland crafts a tale as fine as Stephen King ever has, in my opinion, and I love Stephen King. Truly I do think he’s the master.  However, Brian Moreland sets a new bar with his writing style, succinct sentences and emotionally gripping chapters of suspense that are so detailed you can see the story as a movie in your mind. In my opinion, his novel has the greatness to make him the next greatest horror and suspense writer.

For Dead of Winter, I loved how Brian took a true unexplained Native American legend from the late 1800s and spun a story as fright, interwoven with Native American culture, legend, and spirituality warriors. There are so many ways to love this book. It made me think harder than I usually do, question myself, become aware of my beliefs, and I had an overwhelming emotional response to it. I can’t wait to read his next novel, but in the meantime, I hope you read Dead of Winter!

Dead of Winter is 30% off at the Samhain Publishing link below during the month of October 2011!! Check it out. And keep reading past the contact information for an EXCLUSIVE interview by me with Brian Moreland. See what makes his mind tick. This just could be Moreland’s most personal interview to date, so read on! And let us know what you think.

Contacting Author Brian Moreland

Website: http://www.BrianMoreland.com

Personal email: Brian@BrianMoreland.com

Follow on Twitter: @BrianMoreland

Facebook: Author Brian Moreland

Goodreads:

(http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1150022.Brian_Moreland_Author_of_Horror)

My Horror Fiction blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

Interview with Author Brian Moreland, Part 1:

Erin:   Welcome to my Oh, for the Hook of a Book blog, Brian! I am so glad you agreed to stop by and share a little about your work and about yourself to my/our readers. I’ve long thought that it’s so interesting to actually learn more about the person behind the gift(s) they put out in to this world. A book is little piece of art and I like to learn about penstroke behind it, as well as the person behind the pen.

Brian:  Hi, Erin, it’s great to be featured on your blog. The photo of the spines of old books above makes me feel like I’m in a cozy library at some book collector’s home. There’s even a fire burning in the hearth and a loyal dog sleeping nearby. The image just gets my imagination going, because I love books. They can transport us into so many worlds. Thanks for having me here.

Erin:  Wonderful, I love your thinking!  I picture us sitting in high back red leather chairs by the fireplace in my library, sipping a hot cup of coffee and talking.  Let’s see if I can prick that brain of yours and come up with a reason why you are so creative! May our imaginations be prodded and enlightened by you and possibly just a tad bit scared. You are a paranormal horror writer you know….

Brian:  Pick away, although you may find some scary things hiding inside my head.

Q: Dead of Winter is your second novel available Oct. 4 (we’ll get to that below), but tell us how you began writing. Where did your dream of becoming a writer begin?

A: It started with my love of science fiction and horror movies. As a kid I loved all the old creature features of the ‘70s and ‘80s and the adrenaline I felt being scared. And I loved monsters of every kind and superheroes and read lots of comic books—X-men, Spiderman, Swamp Thing and dozens of others. There was something about escaping into fantastic stories that got me all excited and couldn’t wait to return to the store and check out the comic book racks. Growing up we lived in a house that backed up to a creek. Our backyard faded into these thick woods that got really spooky at night. My younger sister and I and some neighborhood kids explored those woods a lot and pretended there were monsters in there. We’d hear barking echoing from somewhere down the creek, and I swore it was a pack of feral dogs chasing us. Deep in the woods we found an old house that had burned to the ground and was nothing but a concrete foundation with a lot of charred wood and broken glass scattered about. It was weird. This house wasn’t anywhere near a road. We swore it had belonged to an old witch or a man who liked to abduct children. I liked spooking my sister and friends. I was always hiding behind a tree and jumping out and scaring them. I was kind of devious in that way. Later, when I was a teen I discovered the joy of reading novels and short stories. Because I was drawn to horror and monsters, I read a lot of Stephen King, James Herbert, John Saul, Robert McCammon, and Dean Koontz. These authors inspired me to turn my active imagination into writing my own fiction.

I attempted to write a few times in high school, but I didn’t have the focus and discipline to stick with it. When I was 19, in my freshman year in college, I was a business major, and I got the hair-brained idea that the way to get rich and never have to work was to write a great novel and become a best-selling author. Back in the late 1980s, authors like Clive Barker, Stephen King, and Anne Rice were mega superstars, and I wanted be successful like them. I also wanted to see my books made into movies. Silly me, I thought that kind of success could happen overnight with one book. That inflated dream propelled me to write my first novel that freshman year (and to skip a lot of classes). My first horror novel was a whopping 113 pages and I was damned proud of it. I submitted immediately to a literary agent and just as quickly got rejected; the novel was a wee too short. The agent called me personally to tell me not to get discouraged. (That never happens, but I was twenty and the agent must not have had the heart to crush my dream.) He said he thought I had talent and that I needed to spend a few years learning the craft of novel writing. He also told me to add about 200 pages to my novel. That first novel is laughable when I read it today. But I learned I could start and finish a novel, and I discovered that I love the whole process of writing from first draft to revisions to editing. My sophomore year, I started the next book, one about a snow beast terrorizing a ski lodge, and never looked back.   

Erin’s Comment: I have always loved comic books too and everything about superheroes and the fight between good and evil. Something about the art and storylines mixed together as enough to make me run to the comic stores and bask in the beautiful characters, vibrant colors, and exciting story lines.

I am so glad you kept following your dream of being a writer. I always wanted to be a writer so I can relate. I am sure you were very talented even back then. You are one of the most talented writers I’ve ever read. I applaud you for going after what you want and never letting your dream die. 

Q: What were your most memorable stepping stones along the way?

A: Wow, there are so many. I’ll list the highlights. In college I took some creative writing courses, screenwriting courses, and a workshop on how to write a novel. Those teachers taught me the difference between a rough first draft and an edited draft that’s polished and ready to share with readers. For the first time, going to class was fun, and so was the homework. I also studied screenwriting and filmmaking, which helped me write what I call “cinematic” writing. That means when I write my chapters, I focus more on one of my characters acting out a scene as opposed to just having a character thinking about what’s going on. In screenplays a scene is all action and dialogue, so I write my fiction the same way. A lot of my readers tell me they can see my books as movies in their heads, and I think it’s because I studied how to write for the big screen.

Erin’s Comment: Absolutely, that’s exactly what happened to me when reading your novel. I could visually see everything happening and your detail is superb. And since I could view it, it became more a part of me, just like really good movies never leave my head.

A, continued:  Here’s another stepping stone. When I was just starting out, I was told the road to becoming a published author is paved with rejection letters. The authors who succeed keep on following a steady path. Well, I earned plenty of rejections with my first novel, which never saw the light of day. At that time I was getting really discouraged and about to give up. Then I met bestselling thriller author, Robert Crais, at a book signing and told him that I aspired to be in his shoes one day. He told me to never give up on my dreams and even wrote that in the book he autographed for me. That fated meeting gave me the emotional boost I needed. After that, I started writing a new novel—a supernatural WWII thriller titled SHADOWS IN THE MIST, based on real history about the Nazis and the occult.

Later, in my early thirties, when I was still unpublished and struggling to finish my WWII thriller, I was again feeling like I was fooling myself that I would ever be a published author. I was feeling alone, writing all the time, and while I had supportive friends and family, none of them were writers. I needed to be around other writers to share the process of writing novels. So I treated myself to a nine-day writer’s retreat inRome with about forty writers. I studied the craft of writing with bestselling authors Terry Brooks, Dorothy Allison, and one of my heroes, horror author John Saul. I believe that hanging around successful authors rubs off on you. Writing for a living becomes a tangible thing. In Italy, we got to hang out with the authors and tour the Tuscan wine country, eating pasta, drinking wine, and discussing writing everywhere we went. I told John Saul about my struggles with finishing my novel and, being a rather blunt fellow, John told me, “Just finish the damn book.” Later, when he autographed a book for me, he wrote those same words again. Hearing those words from a highly accomplished bestseller turned a light on inside me. I went home and made myself write every day until I finished my manuscript.

I didn’t really start to see success until my late thirties and early forties (I turn 43 on November 28). I eventually published SHADOWS IN THE MIST and now, DEAD OF WINTER, a historical horror novel set in 19th Century Canada. It was persistence that kept me going from one stepping stone to another. I tell how I finally published my first novel later in the interview.

Q: What were your most difficult challenges and how do you feel you’ve overcome them?

A: I think the two biggest challenges I’ve dealt with are writer’s block and getting writing done in spite of distractions. There are also loved ones who need to be given attention to. I used to be married early on in my career, and I remember how difficult it was to make time for writing while being in a relationship with my wife and working day jobs for a living. At that time, writing was just a hobby, a pipedream, that didn’t earn any money. I had a lot of manuscripts of short stories and half-written novels, but no published works to show the world, and my wife, that I was a serious professional author. My wife was actually very supportive. It was me who felt guilty for not having a book deal to show for my efforts. I struggled with justifying that all my lonely hours spent writing—which was time away from quality time with my wife, friends, and family—was going to someday pay off. It was easy to feel discouraged and doubt that I was focusing my attention on the right dream. The way I overcame this doubt was I made a decision that even though I wasn’t a paid writer yet, I told myself, “I am a writer! Writing books is the career I was born to do and I am in this for the long haul. So hunker down and keep writing.” I told my wife, friends, and family that storytelling is my number one passion and that I needed their support and encouragement. Also, I started calling myself a writer, and when people asked me what I do, I told them, “I write novels.” And when they asked, “Have you published anything?” I responded, “Not yet, but I will soon.” Calling myself a writer and telling the world I was a writer made me believe it and then it started becoming a reality. Now, all my friends and family see me as fiction writer.

Erin’s Comment: I hope, as they should, that the whole world thinks of you as a fiction writer!

A continued:  I’ll give you one more challenge I faced during my career. This may be revealing too much, but I know a lot of artists can go through a dark period, especially when they reach their late thirties and their career hasn’t quite panned out like they had dreamed it in their twenties. A couple years back I battled depression, and during that time I lost my passion for writing. Months went by without me writing a single page. You would think having an abundance of free time means you can get a lot done. But at that time I was struggling to make ends meet and lost sight of my purpose, and then I lost the flame that burns in my chest and drives me to create. I realized the depression stemmed from being out of work and having too much idle time on my hands. To shift my depression, I made myself do activities. Anything and everything. I got busy. I took some creative classes. I explored other arts, like painting. I went to the gym, took yoga, swam laps at the pool. And I went back to working a job that wasn’t related to writing but boosted my income. It was a rough period and took a few months to stabilize, but then I got my muse back and started happily writing again. I used those hours of darkness to add depth and realism to my main character in DEAD OF WINTER, Inspector Tom Hatcher, who not only battles grief but also a deranged serial killer, the Cannery Cannibal, who knows Tom’s deepest, darkest fears.

Erin’s Comments: I’ve been through the same depression and life of hard knocks. Amazingly, some of my best poetry came from dark times in my life. Without being able to feel, good or bad, it makes it hard to write.

Q: You look more like a handsome movie actor than a scary horror writer….just how does your mind come up with the scenarios you write?

A: Thanks, Erin, I’m flattered. Honestly, I don’t know where it comes from. I’ve always had an active imagination and a love for monsters. As a kid, I played make-believe with my Star Wars action figures and G.I. Joe soldiers, and inevitably I’d make up stories that monsters were attacking, picking my characters off one-by-one. When I grew up (in years at least) my make-believe games turned into fiction writing. And it seems like every time I sit down to write, even if the story starts out as a romance (which I’ve attempted), it eventually turns supernatural, and then the creatures start to emerge from the darkness. That’s just where my mind goes. I’m sure Freud would have a heck of a time analyzing the dark dimensions of my mind. I like to think of those dimensions as Lovecraftian and hopefully a gift to the planet. Funny thing is most horror writers I’ve met are pretty happy and sane. They get their demons out of their heads and onto paper.

Erin’s Comments: Yea, I get what you are saying! That’s probably because isn’t full of happy times. I mean nothing is perfect. Look at fairy tales, we all think about the happily ever after, but there is usually some awful, dreadful, and sometimes violent path the character takes before getting the perfect ending. In meeting you, and seeing what a friendly and fun person you seem to be, I immediately thought of Stephen King. People, of course, associate his name with horror, but when you think of the man himself and read his recent interviews and see his picture, he just looks so happy with life and eager to share his best loved hobby with the world.

Q: Do you ever scare yourself silly with your own imagination or writing?

A: Yes, occasionally I’ll write a scene that gives me the shivers. It only happens, though, when I have one of my characters enter an old house or cave or underground tunnel. I have no idea what’s lurking behind the wall of blackness until my characters raise their flashlights, and the wicked thing they shine their light upon plucks the fear chords deep inside my chest. Sometimes it steals my breath and I have to stop writing until the shivers cease. This happened recently in a novel I’m now writing called THE DEVIL’S WOMB. As an author of horror, I live for those moments.

Erin’s Comments: Is that a night you spend sleeping with all the lights on? Hahaha

Q: What is one unique thing that readers might know about you to get a better sense of who you are?

A: Well, I’m hard of hearing and have to wear hearing aids. About five years ago I started noticing that I was having trouble understanding people’s spoken words. Everyone just sounded muffled. And people who were soft spoken—well, forget about it. Their words kept dropping out and I had to ask people to repeat themselves over and over. It was frustrating. I got my ears tested and, sure enough, my right ear was only hearing about 40% and my left at about 60%. So I got these tiny, almost invisible, hearing aids and it’s made all the difference. Now, I understand about 90% of what people say, unless I’m not paying attention. I tend to daydream. Sometimes my hearing challenge is an advantage. When babies are crying on airplanes or the dog next door is barking, I can pull out my aids and turn down the volume.

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for your career as a writer and/or your novels?

A: For the most part, I’m finally living my dream. My whole life I wanted to be a published author of horror novels and I’ve made that happen. I wanted to meet some of my heroes, and I’ve gotten to hang out with many celebrity authors. Now, I’m focused on building a body of work that I can be proud of and leave behind a legacy that entertains millions of book lovers and inspires other authors just as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Laymon, and a cast of others have inspired me. I’d also like to see my books hit the New York Times best-seller’s list, published in multiple languages, and be made into movies. That’s the biggest dream since I was a kid watching monster movies—to go to a movie theater, order a tub of popcorn, and watch a blockbuster movie that opens with the credits, “Based on the novel by Brian Moreland.” I still believe this vision will one day manifest.

Erin’s Comments: I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet, but it seems like they are destined for the screen and people would love to watch them. And as far as the New York Times best-seller’s list, I’d be surprised if they didn’t. They are spectacular. I suppose if you started dating one of the Real Housewives of Somewhere maybe?? lol

Q: Why do you think that the paranormal, horror, thriller genre is so popular today?

A: You could add the fantasy genre to that question. I could only make a guess, but I think people right now really need a good escape from the realities of a bad economy and seeing wars and crimes in the news everywhere they look. To me all this stress breeds dark feelings on the inside of us and we need an outlet like a vampire, werewolf, zombie, or serial killer to express our feelings through. For instance, the book and TV series DEXTER—which I absolutely love—is extremely popular right now. In a Season One episode called “Shrink Wrap,” Dexter visits a shrink and talks about “the wolf” inside us all that needs to come out every now and then and howl. We all have shadow sides that secretly enjoy doing dark deeds. Horror novels give us that outlet.

Also, there’s a lot of mystery about God and the Universe, death and the afterlife, and paranormal stories with ghosts and angels and even archetypal monsters allow us to explore those mysteries. Zombies are huge right now, and perhaps these post-apocalyptic, flesh-eating nightmares mimic a societal fear that we’re not as in control as we’d like to be. I think all these genres touch us on a deep, subconscious level that we just can’t fathom. Whatever the reason, they’re super fun.

Q: Are you a gruesome and gore horror writer, or do you stick to the paranormal thriller chills and thrills?

A: My books do have some blood and gore, but I don’t write gore for the sake of gore. My aim is that my books feel real. I want you in the character’s head, experiencing every detail they experience. If they come across a mangled body—as Tom Hatcher does at the beginning of DEAD OF WINTER—I want the reader to see what Tom sees as if the reader were standing there looking down at the body. Another character in that novel, Father Xavier, has to do an exorcism on a demon-possessed prisoner at an asylum. Some gruesome things happen in that scene, but I don’t want to give too much away. I describe just enough of the gruesome details for the reader to form a picture in their head, and then I let their imagination fill in the rest. And it’s usually more horrific than what I describe.

Q: What defines the genre of “horror” to you?

A: It’s any story that induces fear, raises your adrenaline, and get’s your heart pumping faster. And it contains either a supernatural element, monsters, or serial killers. Horror stories often look Death right in the face, and some characters outsmart the Grim Reaper, while others die off.

Q: What is your favorite travel destination (is or would be) and why?

A: Costa Rica. I’ve traveled down there five times. I love the tropical rain forests, the waterfalls, the beaches, the wildlife—giant blue morpho butterflies, colorful poison-dart frogs, toucans, and Macau monkeys hooting and cawing and waking me up at five in the morning. When you’re hiking through the virgin rain forest, you can be miles from civilization, and feel the ancient rhythms of the earth. The experience is both primal and spiritual. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do, like kayaking, horseback riding on a beach, and zipping across a zip-line on a canopy tour. I also love relaxing with beer and fish tacos and staring at the ocean. Oh, and the Ticos are very friendly people. Other favorite destinations: Australia, Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hawaii.

Erin’s Comments: Sounds absolutely AMAZING. I love to travel, that’s why I ask the question. Nature revives me and I can’t live without viewing all it has to offer. Enjoying the outdoors is one of my joys in life, quite fascinating what you find and can experience.

Q: What are your other interests beyond writing?

A: I’m glad you asked this question, because I do have a life outside of writing horror. I enjoy hiking outdoors, kayaking, and swimming. I also love cooking. I make a great pot of chili and some zesty guacamole that I believe rivals any restaurant. I’m an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction. I’m generally in the middle of reading five books at the same time. I love watching movies the old fashioned way—on the big screen at a theater with a Coke and tub of popcorn—although I do watch DVDs and Netflix quite a bit too. Probably my favorite thing to do is watch football games at home with family and friends. I love Super Bowl parties. If you’ve got the big screen TV, I’ll bring the guacamole.

Erin’s Comments: Ok, interview Part 2 will have some recipes included….

Q: Tell us the story about how your first book launched your career. It is a very inspirational story for many writers looking to be published.

A: In my late thirties, when I still hadn’t published and was playing the long waiting game with literary agents, I finally took the leap and self-published SHADOWS IN THE MIST. I was committed to putting out a book that could stand up to any bestselling book out there. So I hired an editor, a book cover designer, and an award-winning illustrator, Les Edwards, to paint the cover. When I first released my thriller in the fall of 2006, I did an aggressive marketing campaign, and the novel hit #1 on Amazon’s Mystery & Thriller list the first week. After submitting to an international book contest, my debut novel went on to win a gold medal for Best Horror Novel. This helped me land a mass paperback deal with Berkley/Penguin.

Now I have an agent and in 2009 she sold SHADOWS IN THE MIST to a German publisher (Otherworld Verlag) who translated my novel to German and released it in Austria and Germany in 2012. That was pretty cool. I have the hardback displayed at home and I can’t comprehend a word of it.

After the success of my first novel, I immediately started writing my second, DEAD OF WINTER, another historical novel that blends horror with my other favorite genres—mystery, gothic romance, the detective story, and dark suspense. A year after I finished DEAD OF WINTER, I sold it to Samhain Publishing (http://store.samhainpublishing.com/horror-c-20.html?osCsid=a4701d826c6b9e607eb912790c00f518), who was starting up a new horror line in October 2011. It was divine timing and I’m fortunate that my novel is one of the first to roll out among acclaimed authors like Ramsey Campbell, Ronald Malfi, and W.D. Gagliani, and up-and-coming authors Hunter Shea and Kristopher Rufty.

Q: How has e-publishing changed the game for writers and how can you be successful at it?

A: At first, I felt a little nervous about the growing popularity of e-books, because I love paperbacks and was sad to see a decline in paperback publishing. In fact, the mass paperback market is almost dead for unknown authors. Now, after I see the direction that publishing and book-buying are headed, I think e-publishing has made the game a whole lot more fun and lucrative for authors. Because the costs of printing and paper are eliminated, authors can earn a higher percentage off e-books than paperbacks. That means larger royalty checks. And book stores can return all the paperback and hardcover books they don’t sell and ship them back to the publisher. The publisher then takes the amount of all these “returns” and deducts from the author’s royalty earnings. With e-books, there are no books sold on consignment. And readers who download their books to their e-reader are less likely to return their book. So less returns means more actual book sales that stick.

Also, the ease and instant gratification of downloading e-books within seconds means a better chance at selling books. With physical books, people have to drive to a book store to purchase the book or they have to order from Amazon and wait a week. Those factors can weigh in their decision making on whether or not to buy the book. I’ve procrastinated on buying many books, because I didn’t want to wait a week for delivery. Now, with the instant downloads of e-books, there’s a much shorter window between a person’s decision to read a book and buy it. And e-books are several dollars cheaper too. I don’t even pause at buying e-books at $5.99, but if a paperback is $15 or more, I’ll spend more time thinking if that book is worth the money. 

One last thought about the upside to e-publishing. It’s easier for publishers to take a chance on unknown authors, because the risk is now much lower with e-books and print-on-demand becoming the main publishing platform for publishers. That means more undiscovered writers get a shot at publishing their first book. I’ve seen the future and it looks bright.

Q: Tell readers where they can look for the new DEAD OF WINTER and your first novel, SHADOWS IN THE MIST. As well, please tell us about your short stories and blogs.

A: The e-book for DEAD OF WINTER is now selling everywhere. You can buy it now for the lowest price directly from Samhain Publishing (http://store.samhainpublishing.com/dead-winter-p-6507.html). The paperback goes on sale January 3, 2012. SHADOWS IN THE MIST is out of print temporarily, due to changing publishers, but should release again in 2012.

I also have two short stories “Chasing the Dragon” and “The Dealer of Needs” that you can download or read online. (http://brianmoreland.com/myshortstories.html)

 Q: How can fellow writers contact you? How can readers and fans connect?

A: I love connecting with readers, fans, and fellow writers. I welcome emails and contact on most of the major social media sites.

Website: http://www.BrianMoreland.com

Personal email: Brian@BrianMoreland.com

Follow on Twitter: @BrianMoreland

Facebook: Author Brian Moreland

Goodreads:

(http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1150022.Brian_Moreland_Author_of_Horror)

My Horror Fiction blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

Erin:  It was amazing getting to speak with you, Brian. I wish you much continued success in your writing endeavors and look forward to speaking with you again. In fact, readers, we have a whole second interview coming with Brian later in October~!! Perfect time to get all your Halloween time spooks and thrills.

Brian:  It’s been an absolute pleasure, Erin. Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog.

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