Hello my Freaky Darlings,
Today on 13 Questions we have fellow South African horror author, Joe Mynhardt.
Joe Mynhardt is a South African horror writer, publisher, editor and teacher with over fifty short story publications. He has appeared in dozens of publications and collections, among them FOR THE NIGHT IS DARK with Gary McMahon and Armand Rosamilia. He will also appear in THE OUTSIDERS and CHILDREN OF THE GRAVE alongside great authors such as Simon Bestwick, Joe McKinney and others.
Joe is also the owner and operator of Crystal Lake Publishing. His editorial debut, FEAR THE REAPER, will be available by Halloween 2013.
His own collection of short stories, LOST IN THE DARK, is now available through Amazon.
1. What drives you to write?
Since I can remember, back when I was still growing up in Namibia, I had this nagging urge to create, but I had no idea what. The thought of becoming a writer only crossed my mind when I was about ten, and I thought, “Hey, I’ll try that one day.” Having no one to show me the way, I had no choice but to wait. If only I just started then.
I tried a bunch of stuff growing up, even tried building up a nice collection of comic books and rare coins and whatever trophy or medal I could get my hands on (won, not bought; in case you were wondering).
Finally I thought back to that little daydreaming boy sitting in the back of my parents’ car, driving who knows where, and decided to give writing a try. I was 28 at the time – November 2008.
2. What attracted you to writing horror?
As young as I was when I first thought about becoming a writer, I already knew it would be horror. I had this extreme fascination with weird things growing up. Maybe because I didn’t really fit in anywhere growing up. But I also like… love, the idea of not having to hold back my imagination. I get to unleash this monster every day without consequences – except of course my social life and most of my free time.
I remember sneaking out of bed as a boy, once my sister was asleep (we had to share a room until I was about eight), to go watch late night horror movies, Friday the 13th, Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone, Halloween etc.
My parents’ were pretty cool about it back then, but now they don’t understand my fascination by the macabre. Go figure.
3. Who are your favourite horror writers?
Like many others, I grew up with Stephen King, thanks to my sister’s IT book lying all over the house. In a way, Stephen King taught me how to read English, since I grew up in an Afrikaans house. I was just so fascinated by the cover – the monster peeking out of the dark sewer. The red balloon. Standing on a shower drain is still my biggest fear.
Although I grew up in front of the TV more than I read books, I was a big fan of comic books and The Hardy Boys, especially books with supernatural antagonists. I was a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, of course.
After that I went through a bit of a Sci-Fi and Fantasy stage, but can’t remember which writers exactly. I know Ray Bradbury was among them.
Today you’ll find me reading almost anything my horror buddies recommend, but I’m a big fan of: Arthur Conan Doyle’s supernatural tales, Clive Barker, Algernon Blackwood, Ambrose Bierce, J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, John Connolly, Roald Dahl, Edgar Allen Poe, Joe Hill, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Richard Laymon, Richard Matheson and Brian Keene.
I also love going online and reading the newest stories by up-and-coming writers.
Anyone interested in knowing who these up-and-coming writers are can check whose stories I’m publishing at Crystal Lake Publishing, since our anthologies are invite-only.
4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?
Mmm… there are so many I still have to read, but here’s a good starting point, in my opinion:
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
Books of Blood by Clive Barker
Stephen King’s It
Stephen King’s The Shining
Stephen King’s Night Shift
John Connolly’s Nocturnes
John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series
Richard Matheson’s I am Legend
Neil Gaiman’s American Gods
Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
5. Ebooks or paperback?
First of all, let me say that I love the smell and feel of a print book, and I’m a big fan of supporting the brick and mortar book shops, but other than that, it’s all about the story for me. I love stories, whether they’re presented in a comic book, a print book, eBook or on screen or stage. I just don’t want to read them on my computer screen in PDF format – not a big fan. Even when I edit an anthology or book, I copy it onto my Kindle and write notes on a pad.
I believe eBooks will gain a lot more prominence, but they’ll never wipe out books completely. If anything, books will now become even more collectable. You’ll always find me looking for a 1st edition or signed copy. Buried treasure, indeed!
6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?
I’m a big fan of word-of-mouth when it comes to online purchases, but when walking through a bookstore, it’s a combination of the cover and back page blurb – I’m looking for something that peeks my interest, and promises to be an entertaining story. Then I’ll read the first page to see if the writer’s style doesn’t irritate me. If the price matches what you’d expect from a new author’s book, I’ll be a happy buyer, indeed.
7. Who is your favourite fictional character?
In books: Charlie Parker by John Connolly; Gollum, Gimli and Gandalf from Lord of the Rings; Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones; and my own character, Blaze, from Children of the Grave – in progress; Sherlock Holmes; Norman Bates in Psycho; and Tintin.
From movies or series: Dexter Morgan and Vince Masuka form Dexter, Hannibal Lecter, The Cryptkeeper, Hurley from Lost; Sam and Dean Winchester from Supernatural, Sherlock Holmes in Elementary; Norman Bates in Psycho; Tintin; Jason Vorhees; Michael Myers; and Freddie Kruger.
Comic books: The Cryptkeeper and Batman
8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?
I like to do a bit of plotting before I sit down to write a story. This normally takes about two weeks (while I’m polishing off a previous project), but most of the plotting happens in my head. I only jot down the bare necessities, in case I forget them. But once I start writing, most of the plot twists and big scenes come to me, especially at weird times like when I’m taking a bath or trying to sleep.
Then again, each story tends to be different. No story ever takes the same route as the one before. All I know is, if I plot too much, I get bored and move on with something else.
9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?
They tend to stick to my plot, but when they come up with a few ideas, I always listen. Their ideas tend to be more interesting than mine. Blaming my characters for the evil stuff they do takes some of the blame away from me.
10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?
I used to write in silence, mostly because I write while others are sleeping, but since I’m a big believer of using different approaches all the time, I now listen to a specific playlist for every project I’m working on.
Once I’m done with a project, I fix myself a different playlist to write by. The music tends to fit with the feel of the book, or the scene I’m working on. I also don’t listen to those specific songs when I’m not writing, which forces me to write more if I want to hear them again. This might be an excellent tool for beating writer’s block, because the moment I hear those songs, I’m ready to write.
One other bonus is the added emotional connection I now have with a story or character, which will most likely come across the page and be picked up by the readers.
11. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?
Nope. I research only when I get to a part of the story I need some clarity on. I’ll highlight the section and do some research after that writing session.
12. Facebook or Twitter?
Definitely Facebook. Facebook was one of the original triggers that got me writing. You see, my high school reunion was around the corner, and everything was being arranged through FB, which persuaded me to get internet access at home. After playing around a bit on the internet, I realised how many amazing resources there are for people who want to learn a new craft, any craft. So, always looking for ways to improve myself, I chose writing and joined Mywriterscircle.com. It just took off from there.
Facebook also allowed me to get in contact with a lot of great writers, artists and editors over the years. Eventually I realised I had enough contacts to start Crystal Lake Publishing.
I so use Twitter, but only to share online articles and promote books. No one wants or needs to know what emotions I’m going through while taking a ‘you know what’ or what I dreamt about last night.
I try to go online as little as possible anyway, unless I’m promoting a book or filling a TOC. I’ve got my own writing to work on, as well.
13. What really pisses you off about writing?
Absolutely nothing. I love it. Sure, it can be quite tedious at times, and some days I have to stop because my wrists or back gets stiff. But that’s probably my own fault.
It sucks to read the same story over and over, or the same book two or three times in search for mistakes. But, in the end, it’s part of the road you have to travel to get a book published. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
You can download your copy of Lost in the Dark from Amazon.com!