Meet Nate Camden From my Novel DREAD

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nate.jpgI’ve done a few author interviews for book blogs and such, but never has someone asked to interview one of my characters, until now! Author and blogger R.J. Davies asked just that and I think it is probably the coolest interview I have ever done!

I didn’t realize how much I missed the main character of DREAD, Nate Camden, until he started answering the interview questions. The photo to the left is an image I used to help me create his character(unable to find photographer or model credit other than it first appeared on the internet in 2009). Check out the interview here:  http://rjdavies.tumblr.com/post/172642019516/interview-with-protagonist-nate-camden-from-joy

Then check out DREAD to get the rest of Nate’s story. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 12.38.00 PM

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Is it Love or Love of Fear?

cupid-572613_1280A comment made to me a while back has been tickling at the back of my brain. Discovering that my birthday is on Valentine’s day an acquaintance took it upon herself to offer some unsolicited career advice. If you are a creative of any type you are likely familiar with such comments, but I digress. This person said that with my birthday and my name I should be writing romance stories. My name and birthday would make wonderful marketing tools and romance does have a huge reader base.

Hmmm. I like a good love story just as much as the next person. Heck, my own personal love story is quite compelling. However, in the end, I smiled politely at this well-meaning person and responded with a vague, for sure, or something of that sort. But it did start a line of internal dialogue. Why don’t I write in the romance genre? Then a pointed question arose: Why do I write horror?

I have always loved spooky stories and the unexplained. When I was a very little kid my grandpa used to call me “spooky” because I loved to hear the same ghost stories over and over. My dad has always had an interest in Fortean subjects and I suppose it rubbed off on me. But I wanted to know if my chosen genre went deeper.

I started looking into why people like horror. I discovered that scientists have identified four types of people who like scary stuff.

  1. “Type T” personalities or adrenaline junkies. The “T” stands for thrill seeking, think sky-divers. They are addicted to the physiological responses the body has to fear.
  2. People who enjoy the “excitation transfer process”. For these people it’s all about how they feel after the experience is over. We are not aware of it but the physiological changes linger after a fear experience. The positive feelings generated after an episode, such as relief that the experience is over, are intensified. I would call this a natural high.
  3. Primitive response. As a survival tactic, the brain is constantly searching for changes in our environment. We evaluate something we don’t see every day for its potential threat level and catalog it away in a database of threats. Consider slowing down to rubber-neck a car accident. Horror allows us to disrupt our daily routines, build our threat database, and explore danger without putting ourselves at risk.
  4. Seekers. These people are fascinated by the unexplained and have a genuine desire to understand it from various angles. Horror offers opportunities to examine aspects of the macabre in ways that everyday life could not.

Considering these four archetypes I can see how romance-fans and horror-fans are closely linked. Love is thrilling, it can be relief when it’s over, we look at others to avoid pitfalls, and many of us are looking for true love or trying to understand what it is. You may never have a true paranormal experience but the terrors of relationships haunt us all.

But I think I’ll stick to my chosen genre.

I think I am a bit of all four types with a heavy emphasis on number four. I really want to know. What is this stuff? Is it real? Is there a scientific explanation for some phenomena? Is there a spiritual answer? Is there proof? Why is this important to humankind? What does evil look like and how do we overcome it? In my writing I try to explore these questions while telling an engaging story.

Besides, who says horror can’t be romantic? Ever heard of a little cross-over romance/horror novel by the title Dracula?

Exactly.

Reading to Improve Writing

I feel a little sorry for my kids. I’m a recovering educator and I know how easy it is over the summer months to forget everything that went in the brain all school year.  So, I have an easy “keep it in there” program going. We have Math Mondays where everybody practices math facts, usually with a card game. Each kid gets a math challenge problem on our refrigerator every week to solve to keep those math juices flowing. We have “read aloud to Mama” while I cook dinner and ask questions for understanding. But their most favorite thing is the timed reading frequency game we play. I time them for one minute on a passage to see how many words they read and we chart it to see improvement over time. There’s more to reading frequency evaluation but for our purposes this is fine.

Reading and understanding what you just read is the most important skill I can try to arm them with, academically. It’s also one of the most important things I do as part of being a writer.

In the day-to-day-work-for-a-living I write businessy stuff. It’s a much different style from the fiction that I enjoy writing. It can be a difficult thing to do the brain switch when going from one to the other. Reading fiction and non-fiction of all types helps me with that a bit (so does good editing and beta readers). It also helps me to evaluate my own writing: what works, what doesn’t, why did this author use the word “totally” twelve times in the same paragraph, that kind of stuff. I read or listen to an audio book every day and have at least two to three books going at any one time.

So far this year (since January) I have read:

  • The Shining, Stephen King (re-read, first time I read it I was 11 years old way back in the 70’s)
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth
  • Insurgent, Veronica Roth
  • Missing 411: Western United States and Canada, David Paulides
  • Black Magic Rose, Jordan K. Rose
  • Ransom Lake, Brent R. Taylor
  • Looking for Alaska, John Greene
  • Ours, Regina Puckett (short story)
  • Real Vampires, Night Stalkers, and Creatures From the Dark Side, Brad Steiger
  • In the Shadow of the Mountains, M.R. Graham
  • The Body Finder, Kimberly Derting
  • How I Kept My Head When I Lost My Breasts: A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Journey, Sandra Fuentes
  • Four to Score, Janet Evanovich (currently)
  • On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King (currently)

Spurned by my recent stay at the Stanley Hotel, I seem to be on a bit of a Stephen King rant right now. Not such a bad thing, in my opinion.

I write almost every day, too. I get up very early, before my little kids get up, to work on my fiction. Some days the words just flow and my fingers fly across the keyboard and other times it is a flurry of fits and starts. I need to get a better habit down and go from almost to every day. When I write every day things just move better.

My little kids (that’s how we refer to the ones still at home with us) love to write as well. Maybe it’s from watching me, I don’t know. One kid writes hilarious comics in the vein of his favorite author, Dav Pilkey. He’s a pretty good artist and has an excellent sense of humor, granted it is mostly potty humor but that’s what he likes! The twins write about mermaid princesses and hippo-unicorns. Of course these are my girls, so the princesses always know karate or can shoot a bow and arrow or know the secrets of picking berries and save the day (my oldest arrests shoplifters and burglars and the like for a living, that’s the kind of girls I raise).

Plumbing Problems by my kid!

Plumbing Problems by my kid!

Reading does improve my writing but I also really enjoy it. It’s relaxing to get lost in another place or character. I hope I’m not just raising comedians and hero-warriors but readers and writers.

What are you currently reading? What was the last book you read? Can’t answer that? UGH! Pick up a book, will ya! I hope my novels will be on your list when they are released into the wild but for now, thanks for reading this…quiz to follow, just kidding.

Zombie Subdivisions, That’s Actually a Thing

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My story Dread takes place in a new, well planned, shiny subdivision. I know in my town there a several such developments underway. While I hope this is a good sign for the economy, I find there is something unsettling in the partially built homes and undeveloped lots in these areas.

As I researched and thought about my setting an interesting little phenomena caught my attention and my imagination.

The economic downturn created what has been coined “Zombie subdivisions”. Sorry, no walking dead here but platted vacant land or partially built out plots then abandoned areas. These modern ghost towns look like they could host the undead.

 

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Newly constructed homes in an unfinished subdivision is surrounded by weeds in Coolidge

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Unfinished subdivision

These photos are as interesting as they are depressing. It must be very unsettling to be one of only a handful (or less) residents in this type of neighborhood. I hope the recovering economy makes it possible to rehabilitate these areas away from blight. But for now, the possibilities these spark in my imagination are endless. The poor dear folks in Dread may find their beautiful subdivision a little less perfect (as if it wasn’t scary enough for them) by the time the book is released later this year.

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

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