Hello my Freaky Darlings,
Today on 13 Questions we have Ray Wallace. Ray hails from the Tampa, FL area and is the author of The Nameless, The Hell Season, the short story collection Letting the Demons Out, and the One Way Out novels Escape from Zombie City and Escape from Zombie Island. He also writes reviews for chizine.com.
1. What drives you to write?
The need to create, first and foremost. There’s something extremely satisfying about bringing something to life that did not previously exist. Something—dare I say—God-like about it? And the ideas themselves drive me to write. To use a horror reference, writing to me is a sort of exorcism. Because, as I’m sure pretty much every writer can attest to, a good idea will torment you until you take the time to sit down, start typing and, yes, exorcise it.
2. What attracted you to writing horror?
I’m not exactly sure, to be perfectly honest. I was in my early/mid teens when I really got into reading and for the first few years it was all Science Fiction and Fantasy. If it had sorcery or spaceships in it, I just couldn’t get enough. Eventually, I started reading Stephen King and Lovecraft and all that fun stuff. When I eventually sat down and started to write my own stories, they always seemed to have a dark edge to them. I’ve always been attracted to the darker side of art though. I grew up listening to metal bands: Slayer, Metallica, Mercyful Fate, etc. And when I was in my twenties I played in a few different metal bands. I guess it’s always just been a part of my personality.
3. Who are your favourite horror writers?
That’s a long list but to name a few… Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert McCammon, Joe Lansdale, Poppy Z. Brite, Edward Lee, Jack Ketchum, Charlee Jacob, H. P. Lovecraft. Lately, I’ve been a big fan of Jeffrey Thomas’s short stories.
4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?
Pretty much all of the early King stuff. If I had to pick one I guess I’d say The Stand. Most of the early McCammon stuff too. Again, if I had to pick one I’d go with Swan Song. Although I love The Wolf’s Hour too. Carrion Comfort and The Terror by Dan Simmons. Weaveworld (although it’s more of a dark fantasy novel) by Clive Barker. The Passage by Justin Cronin. Off Season by Jack Ketchum. The Drive-In by Joe Lansdale. And some of Ed Lee’s early stuff like The Bighead in order to see how far the genre can be pushed.
5. Ebooks or paperback?
I own a few thousand hard copy books but nowadays it’s ebooks. The whole having it immediately/instant gratification thing is hard to resist. Plus they’re cheaper. And they’re so much easier on your back whenever you have to move.
6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?
It doesn’t take much. I’m always scouring Amazon and the internet in search of writers who catch my interest. If somebody recommends something I’ll usually check it out. If I read an excerpt that grabs me, I’ll purchase the book. If a book has a good premise, I’ll more than likely pick it up. I’m always buying books, more than I’ll ever get around to reading.
7. Who is your favourite fictional character?
I’m going to have to go with a pair of them: Hap Collins and Leonard Pine from Joe Lansdale’s awesome Hap and Leonard series. They’re honourable, kick a lot of ass (get their asses kicked plenty too), and they exchange some of the best dialogue in modern fiction. The whole series is great. The Two-Bear Mambo has to be my favourite book of the bunch though.
8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?
I don’t sit down and plot them out—at least I haven’t so far—but I usually have a pretty good idea as to where they’re going. Short stories in particular. You don’t have a lot of words to screw around with there. Novels tend to breathe a little more and can surprise you at times. I think that’s why most writers will tell you novel writing is actually easier. On occasion, they seem to do some of the work for you.
9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?
Occasionally. Again, more so while writing a novel. Beforehand, I may think I have a pretty good idea as to where the story’s headed but as I get to know certain characters better, I’ll realize that he or she would handle situations differently than I had originally planned. It’s always fun when that happens.
10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?
I never listen to music while writing. I’ve tried it and found it too distracting. I’m easily distracted though.
So far I haven’t had to. It’s more of a research-as-I-go approach. And it usually has to do with getting the details right. And that’s where the internet can be a beautiful thing. Need to know something about a particular calibre handgun? The difference between comets and meteors? How long it takes for rigor mortis to set into a dead body? All you have to do is Google it. I sometimes think back to what the writers of an earlier age had to go through in order to get the details right. All that travelling back and forth to the library. What a pain n the ass. Although, it was a good excuse to get out of the house, I suppose.
12. Facebook or Twitter?
I’ve only recently opened a Twitter account and haven’t used it very much so far. So I’m going to have to go with Facebook. It can be a useful tool although I do find what goes on there pretty ridiculous a lot of the time. People sure do love to post the minutiae of their lives or whatever bit of nonsense pops into their heads. I honestly don’t get it.
13. What really pisses you off about writing?
Hmmm… I can’t say anything really pisses me off about it. I genuinely enjoy the process of writing. If there’s one thing I’d have to say I’m not a huge fan of it would be editing. And that’s because it takes away from the actual writing part of it. More and more, though, I’ve learned to accept it. If you want to be a writer, you really don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.