Hello my Freaky Darlings,
Today on 13 questions we have Peter Dudar. Peter has been writing and publishing horror fiction for over a decade now. Born and raised in Albany, New York, Peter is an alumnus of Christian Brothers Academy, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the State University of New York at Albany. He currently resides in Lisbon Falls, Maine and is a proud member of the New England Horror Writers.
1. What drives you to write?
I’ve been writing ever since I left college, but it was never something I dreamed of doing as a profession. I’m very passionate about the craft of writing, whether it’s in the form of fiction or journaling for my blog, or even writing my film review columns for Cinema Knife Fight. I work a very boring and tedious job to pay the bills, so writing is my escape and my outlet into the creative arts.
2. What attracted you to writing horror?
In my ninth-grade English class, my teacher had us read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It was an epiphany for me that literature could possible frighten me more than horror movies ever could. As a kid, my only outlets for horror were Creature Double Feature on cable TV and Fangoria magazine. Haunting opened up this whole other world. From there I was searching out authors like King and Straub, and when I happened upon King’s Danse Macabre, it was like the blueprints for every aspiring horror writer. Personally, I find that stories don’t get interesting or hold my attention unless they have an edge of darkness to them, so it’s elementary that my own stories tend to fall that way.
3. Who are your favourite horror writers?
As mentioned, I love Shirley Jackson. I grew up reading Stephen King (and still consider him the Master of Horror), Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, and Ray Bradbury. For me, it’s anybody that writes deeply psychological horror rather than relying on blood-and-guts. I love authors like Douglas Clegg, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Piccirilli, Joe R. Lansdale, and Joe Hill. Of course, Edgar Allen Poe is still the best.
4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, I am Legend by Richard Matheson, Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, Goat Dance by Douglas Clegg, A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli, Ghost Story by Peter Straub, Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, Books of Blood by Clive Barker, The Essential Ellison by Harlan Ellison, and of course, The Haunting of Hill House.
5. Ebooks or paperback?
Hardcover, preferably if you have the choice. I love my library. But I’d choose paper over electric any day. Books are a treasure. As a society, we’ve forgotten how to marvel over things like beautiful cover art, the scent of a well-worn book, and the immense satisfaction of passing on a cherished novel onto somebody else. We just want to whip our way through what we’re reading and move onto the next book. We’re not teaching our kids to savour words and phrases that force us to see things in new perspectives. We’re dumbed down to lingo like OMG and ROFL, and that to me is tragic.
6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?
Mostly reviews from people that I know and respect. When well-established writers take the time to drop a few kind words about something they’ve read, that’s my cue to start paying attention to them.
7. Who is your favourite fictional character?
Hannibal Lechter. I think Thomas Harris really blew the lid off horror’s preconceived notion of the serial killer. We want to believe in this definitive composite sketch of the serial killer being young, minimally educated, sexually frustrated, and prone to violent outbursts for no reason whatsoever. Hannibal exemplifies none of this.
8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?
I’ve tried plotting stories, but I found it very limiting. When I’m “in the zone,” the story tends to take over and write itself, and I’m usually delighted when the plot turns away from where I think it’s supposed to go.
9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?
My characters absolutely do take on a life of their own, and I appreciate that because then I don’t feel like I’m rehashing bits and pieces of my own life just to write something down. It’s hard to get things right sometimes…you want your characters to seem lifelike and realistic, so you commit to making them somewhat predictable for a large portion of the story. It’s when they begin to defy that predictability that they suddenly become interesting. But if they are defying predictability every step of the way, you’re not creating an honest character. They need to follow their own arcs and resolve conflicts naturally.
10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?
I need silence. With two kids in the house, there’s enough chaos to keep my mind distracted and confused. My writing time comes at night when they are asleep, and that silence helps me to focus. My one vice is that I do like to consume whiskey when writing. I’m not suggesting it’s a muse, but it does remove the remaining distractions and allows me to fall into that creative world a bit easier.
11. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?
I do, but it depends on the project I’m working on. I tend to write short stories more than longer fiction, and will only look things up if there is a need for it. But with my first novel, I found myself researching a lot of websites and outside sources. It got to the point where I was printing out enormous amounts of information, and then combing through it and highlighting and making notes in a spiral-bound notebook. There was always this voice in my head reminding me that if I get it wrong, people will know, and they won’t think twice about letting me know it.
12. Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook. I find people who need to tweet every little detail of their life to be both pretentious and high-maintenance. I use Facebook as a networking tool, both for my writing and for my social life. But I don’t list my daily food menu, my every appointment, or air my every complaint as my life unfolds. I’m just not that fascinating.
13. What really pisses you off about writing?
When readers feel like they have the right to suggest what my next project should be. It just isn’t very helpful when someone who read your book thinks you are indebted to them for buying it, and then throws their advice at you as if you’re now at their beck and call. I have a thousand story ideas in my head on any given day (and never enough time to write them all), and I’m not about to write one just so that you can brag to people that you suggested it. Sorry, but if you love your own idea that much, then write your own damn story.