Hello my Freaky Darlings,
Today I have Kevin Lucia in the interrogations seat.
Kevin Lucia is the Reviews Editor for Cemetery Dance Magazine and his column Horror 101 is featured quarterly in Lamplight Magazine. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, most recently with Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Peter Straub and Ramsey Campbell. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children.His first short story collection, Things Slip Through was published November 2013, followed by Devourer of Souls in June 2014 and Through A Mirror, Darkly, June 2015. His next book, Mystery Road, is forthcoming from Cemetery Dance Publications.
You can stalk Kevin on his blog.
- What drives you to write?
I’m a world-watcher. I look at the world around me, and I’m also naturally inquisitive, and I’m always asking questions – why did this happen, why did that person do such and such – and I’m always playing a big “what if” game in my head. What if that old abandoned middle school was haunted? What if a cab driver got lost on his route, and just ended up driving forever? What about that creepy-looking school bus sitting on the side of the road, early in the morning? So I look at the things around me, I ask questions about them, or I say to myself “What if…” and that naturally leads to writing.
That, and I just like making stuff up. I see everything as a story, so I’m always telling stories in my head. Everybody has a story, and when I see people or things which interest me, I naturally want to make up their story.
- What attracted you to writing horror?
Growing up I read a lot of science fiction – Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Star Wars/Star Trek novels – so I began trying to write science fiction. Eventually, though, science fiction (for me, anyway) didn’t probe those dark corners of our psyche like horror does. In Gary Braunbeck’s writing memoir, To Each Their Darkness, there’s a powerful passage about writing because we want to know why bad things happen. So, as an extended answer to question #1, I was drawn to horror because I see the world, and I wonder why horrible things happen, and I need to write about them. Sometimes I’m able to provide closure for myself. Sometimes, not so much.
When I was a junior in college, my friends and I went skiing on a lake where my best friend’s grandmother had a cabin. Down the road an abandoned old Victorian farmhouse sat in the middle of a field. We’d go exploring and would always find strange occult stuff there…on the outskirts of a very “normal,” “All American” town. This spoke to me – that there’s plenty of “monsters” hiding in the dark corners of this world, and I no longer felt like writing about aliens from space.
Like so many other horror writers will likely say, it’s Stephen King’s fault. Growing up in the eighties, all I knew of horror were Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies, and I had no interest in slasher films, and I just assumed all horror was the same. Right about the time my friends and I discovered that old farmhouse, I read King for the first time – Desperation. Yes, it was horror, and there was bloodshed. But King’s characters were so fully-drawn and alive, and Desperation also offered this examination of God, and good and evil, and the power of love and sacrifice…it opened my mind to how powerful the horror genre really was.
- Who are your favourite horror writers?
Well of course, Stephen King, but also Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, the late Charles L. Grant and T. M. Wright, Norman Prentiss, Norman Partridge, Ramsey Campbell, Ronald Malfi, Rio Youers, Mary Sangiovanni, and though he’s not strictly horror, F. Paul Wilson. And also a ton of others I’m probably forgetting.
- Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?
Salem’s Lot and IT by Stephen King; lost boy, lost girl and in the night room by Peter Straub, The Nestling and Raven by Charles L. Grant, Ghost of Manhattan by T. M. Wright, Thrall by Mary Sangiovanni, Floating Staircase and The Narrows, by Ronald Malfi, and – again, though not strictly horror – Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon, along with his most recent horror novel, The Five.
- Ebooks or paperback?
Paperback. Really need that tactile sensation of turning pages.
- What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?
Endorsements by authors I trust – with whom I’ve had a good track record – and a publisher with whom I’ve also had a good experience. Also, I can usually tell in the first page or so if the prose is tight, neat, and quality.
- Who is your favourite fictional character?
A tie between Repairman Jack and Roland Deschain, definitely.
- Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?
It really depends on the story. The larger it is, the more plotting it needs. The only novel to date I’ve successfully finished, I plotted, and the novel I’m currently almost finished with, I also plotted. Short stories and novellas, however, tend to unravel and sprawl as I write, although there have been times when I felt the story was meandering, so I needed to stop writing, gather my thoughts, and jot down some notes about where the story needed to go, based on the characters needs and wants.
- Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?
All the time, even when I plot. That’s one of the best parts of writing, the surprising turns a story takes, or the unexpected choices your characters make.
- Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?
When I was younger and in college, I listened to music – but I discovered a curious tendency to force the story to meet the constraints of the song. Since I started getting serious about writing, absolutely silence to write first drafts, though I can edit or type up second drafts in the middle of a train wreck.
- Do you do a lot of research for your stories?
Only enough so it sounds logical. It’s too easy to get so caught up in the research, you forget you’re writing a fictional story, not a non-fiction analysis of something.
- Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook. Who can keep things under 140 characters, really? (IRONY)
- What really pisses you off about writing?
Not a blessed thing. I’m utterly thankful for every word I write, and I really love every bit of it – thinking about possible stories, writing ideas down in notebooks, tinkering with ideas, writing, and then editing, which is probably my favourite part. That’s when you really get to see the story forming up. I don’t get frustrated when a story peters out; I just save it and move on to something, figuring I’ll come back to that story, eventually, and if I don’t ever come back to it? It wasn’t strong enough to be written in the first place.
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