What first attracted you to horror writing?
My love of horror started in other media besides writing. I grew up watching all sorts of horror movies, from the Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. classics to the slashers of the 70s and 80s and everything in between. I became a huge fan of TV shows like Tales From the Crypt and Are You Afraid of the Dark? As a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, it was great to have contemporary horror for my age range, but it was even better to be able to access the more forbidden, adult material (I have to thank, or blame, my parents for that). As for horror writing, I read a lot of my Dad’s Stephen King novels, but what I really latched on to was the Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine. They were great stories that you could mow through in a weekend and still get the chills. As I got older, I appreciated the accessibility of the horror I loved as a kid mixed with the mature themes of the more adult stories. After I’d written my first novel (not a horror story), it just kind of clicked. I thought, “I love horror. I know horror. I can do this.”
What is your most notable work?
As an up and coming author, my debut novel Crawl is the only horror story I’ve put out there to date. On the surface, it’s about a cursed house in a suburban neighbourhood and the experiences of a young family that moves in. There is a creature that watches their every move from within the walls of the house itself, a creature responsible for decades of rumours and gruesome occurrences. As the family gets closer to the truth of the creature’s origin, they begin to question their definition of the word ‘monster’. There is a whole other level to Crawl that you will just have to read to find out!
What are you working on now?
Currently I’m working on a futuristic, sci-fi novel tentatively called Indigo. It’s a neo-noir piece involving a team of detectives who are tracking down a group of kidnapped children who are rumoured to have psychic abilities. Though I’m trying out different genres to see where my career takes me, I always have a few horror ideas I’d love to see become a reality!
Who do you admire in the horror world?
As a resident of Pittsburgh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention George Romero and effects guru, Tom Savini. Their work is just epic and has influenced a countless number of people. But to make another local connection, I’d have to say I admire horror author Brian Keene. His zombie stories always have strong characters with unique takes on the undead and usually result in a pretty bleak outcome. It’s also great to read stories that are set more or less in my own backyard.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
Definitely the psychological chills. Those are the stories that stick with you. Not that there’s anything wrong with gore, but it’s much more effective when paired with a psychological connection. The headless torso the police find in the school dumpster resonates more when you discover it’s the police chief’s daughter. The slow, methodical torture of an apparently innocent tourist becomes strangely satisfying once you know he’s committed greater atrocities in his past. Crawl actually features its share of gore in enough scenes that the true grotesque-seekers won’t be disappointed. But it’s the reasons behind the bloodshed that form the true horrors in Crawl.
As a debut author, you’ll have a chance to hear a voice that is utterly new and fresh. I guarantee you that Crawl is not your typical monster story and that by the time you close the book, you’ll have a whole new perception about what a monster really is.
Recommend a book.
For a new spin on the zombie genre, check out S. G. Browne’s Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament which is due to be made into a movie this year!