Kristopher Rufty is the writer/director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood, and also the author of Angel Board, The Night Everything Changed, and The Lurkers. He also hosts Diabolical Radio, an internet radio show devoted to horror fiction and film. The show has been online for nearly five years now and has developed quite an archive list and following. He is married to his high school sweetheart and is the father of two insane children that he loves dearly, and together they reside in North Carolina with their 120 pound dog Thor and a horde of cats. He is currently working on his next novel, script, or movie.
For more about Kristopher Rufty, please visit his Website www.lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com
Horror movies, originally. I saw Friday the 13th when I was five and the obsession began. First it was drawing pictures of the movie in crayon, which my mother would later hang on the fridge for everybody to see. As I got older my love for horror movies directed me toward even crazier and gorier surprises. I began to write short stories and screenplays. Then I began reading a lot – this was around age twelve, and I couldn’t stop – horror movies, horror novels, westerns, and comic books. I couldn’t get enough. Many years later, I was about to have to have surgery, so I rummaged a bookstore for something to read while I was down. The book I picked was Ketchum’s Off Season. Talk about an eye-opener. It was the first novel I read that was like what I enjoyed writing. After filming a short film with Trent Haaga, I took him to a bookstore, where he introduced me to Richard Laymon’s The Cellar because he said my writing reminded him of Laymon’s. After devouring everything I could by Richard Laymon, I moved on to Edward Lee, Wrath James White, and so many more. My life would never be the same.
What is your most notable work?
It’s really hard to say. I get a lot of emails from readers about Pillowface, The Lurkers, The Skin Show, and Jagger. There’s something about those four that people have really identified with. If I had to base notable on sales, then The Skin Show would probably take place above others. Until Jagger it was the biggest seller, just above The Lurkers which has done really well.
I just finished a short story that will be in Splatterpunk Magazine next month, turned in a novel to DarkFuse called Something Violent. Now I’m writing a horror-western for Samhain Publishing called Seven Buried Hill. Think the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes set in the late 1800s.
How much planning and research do you undertake before writing?
Other than Angel Board, very little research for a long time. But with the last couple novels, I’ve done a lot of research. I wrote a vampire novel that takes place in Plainfield, Wisconsin in the 1950s with Ed Gein as the central character. I had to do a lot of research for that one to make sure I nailed characteristics of the time period and certain aspects of Plainfield. The book is called The Vampire of Plainfield and I can’t wait for people to read it.
With this western I’m working on, I had to do a lot of research into western North Carolina during the late 1800s. Really just to nail down the territory. I try not to overload the story with facts because I think it just comes off as if I’m bragging about what I know. The story is what’s important to me, not the facts. Sew them into the story pattern and make a nice quilt, that’s my goal.
Planning is something different for me. When I have an idea for a story, I sit down in front of my computer (used to be a composition notebook and pen) and open a blank document. I write out what I know about the story up to that point. Then I type out a conversation with myself, almost like thinking out loud, and I hash out certain elements and ideas. Usually the characters are born in these sessions. But I never try to figure out just who the character is at this stage, or what they’re all about. That comes when I’m writing the story, and most of the time the characters surprise me. When I think I know all there is to know about them, I learn something else I wasn’t expecting.
Describe your writing routine.
Write whenever and wherever, as much as possible. I usually sit at my desk until I’ve hammered out 2,000 words a day (or try to). But I hurt my back a few months ago, and now it’s hard to sit in a desk chair for long periods of time. Lately, I write on my laptop in the bedroom, usually at night after everyone in the house has fallen asleep. Which is funny, because that’s how I used to do it before I was published: write when I’m the only one awake. It’s hard for me to decide if I prefer daytime or night-time writing.
I admire a lot of people for many reasons. A few of my writing influences are Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little, Edward Lee, Stephen King, Brian Keene, John Everson, Gil Brewer, Elmore Leonard, and Joe R. Lansdale, just to name a few.
I also admire Ronald Malfi for not just his writing, but his friendship. He’s helped me along this writing journey and I would probably be lost without him. Jonathan Janz is a good friend, a wonderful family man, and an incredible writer. Tim Waggoner, David Bernstein, Jeff Strand, and Adam Cesare are wonderful human beings, as well as Brian Moreland, Hunter Shea, Evans Light, and so many more.
I’ve met many people who do what I do, and we’ve grown to become very close. I couldn’t be happier to have these people in my life.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I like a nice horror cocktail with a bit of everything tossed in. When I write, I try to build suspense, preying on nerves and fears until I reach a bloody climax. To me, there’s nothing better than a huge pay-off at the end of a nerve-wracking scene.
My books aren’t for everybody, and I would never try to convince anyone that they are. Whenever somebody approaches me at a signing, interested in buying a book, I ask them what kind of horror they like. Then I listen to the answer and try to recommend something of mine that fits their taste. I’ve sent people away without buying anything because I know my books would clash with their tastes.
My stories usually brood in the real world, with normal, everyday folks, being tossed into outrageous, and often bloody, situations. Sometimes the main character is not at all the kind of hero people expect. The main character makes mistakes, has lurid thoughts, lusts, and doesn’t always do what’s right. Some people enjoy that realism, others do not.
What I really try to do is never repeat myself from book to book. I like to have fun in my stories, because if it’s not fun, what’s the point?
Recommend a book.
I read a lot of old paperbacks, and Junkyard by Barry Porter was a lot of fun. A bit like King’s It mashed together with The Monster Squad. I smiled a lot while reading this book. It’s from the late 80’s and reminded me of my favorite kinds of horror movies and stories. I highly recommend it for a good time.