Friday 14 May 2021

Interview with Jeff Menapace - By David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing?

Since I was a kid. I used to draw a lot, and then write stories to go with the drawings. I only started getting serious about writing in my late teens, but it was always considered a hobby. I never thought I could make a career out of it.


How did you get involved in horror?

It was what I primarily read growing up, and still do this day, though I do read most everything. I don’t really consider myself a “horror writer” per se, but I can see how easy it is to be labeled as such when you write about dark things LOL. 

How did you make this a full time job?

Through loooong hours and years of hard work and sacrifice. It did NOT happen overnight. I truly sacrificed a lot to follow my goal of writing full-time. But if you want something bad enough . . . 

How did you go from teacher to full time author?

I was a teacher because it was a stable job to pay the bills. I enjoyed it as much as I could, but deep down I always wanted to be a writer instead. I used to have to get up for work to teach at 6:30 in the morning, and would always set my clock to 4:00 am, get up, and write for two hours before getting ready to teach. I tried writing after work, but that didn’t last long—I was way too wiped after a day of dealing with thirty kids. 

Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

Well, I’m not sure horror is all that popular, though it does seem to be making a bit of a comeback with new guys like the awesome Paul Tremblay coming onto the scene. As for why people like it? I think deep down, we all like to be scared. It’s a very primal feeling that gives us a rush and forces us to live in the now as opposed to worrying about the past or future. 

Fantasy? No idea. Was never really into it. Lord of the Rings and now Game of Thrones maybe? 

How did you get an agent?

Through years of submitting query letters and never quitting. Not a very glamorous tale, but that’s what happened. 

What do you think is the best way for indie authors to advertise their books?

Yeesh—if I knew, I’d be doing it myself LOL. There are multiple platforms out there, some helpful, some a complete mystery. The tried and true way is to write a good book (many, actually), build a following via email list and social media, and then cross your fingers. 

Do you consider yourself prolific?

No. I’m a slow writer. I wish I was much faster, but I’m not. I admire writers who can crank out quality books every couple of months. 

Why do you think there are so many writers and artists in Bucks County Pa?

Are there? I had no idea. It’s a great place to live, though. 

What are your favorite horror books?

Misery is one of my all-time favs. Clive Barker’s early works were favorites of mine as well. Also loved Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, but I’d call that more thriller. Actually, I guess I’d call Misery more thriller too. 

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is my all-time fav. After that, there are just too many to mention.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

I’m not really sure. I tend to be very hard on myself and am very critical of my own stuff. I guess managing to write and leave the real world far behind without pissing my wife off too much is an accomplishment. 

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Write, read, never give up; rinse and repeat.       

What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

There are pros and cons. If you’re good, you can make a decent to great living with excellent control of your work. Unfortunately, there are plenty of not-so-good indie authors out there that take away from the good ones. Also, there is a lot more leg-work involved in self-publishing than in traditional publishing (cover design, editing, formatting, marketing), yet the upside to this is what I already mentioned—it allows you more control of your work, which, if you know what you’re doing and do your homework, can be a good thing. 

What are your current projects?

Working on the second book in a new series I started. First book is called Caleb, which is a spin-off from my Bad Games series, but definitely a stand-alone novel. No need to read Bad Games prior to reading Caleb. And Caleb is definitely a thriller and not horror. I’m also working on a horror collaboration with three other authors (Jeff Strand, Iain Rob Wright, and William Malmborg). It will be four different novellas with a “slasher movie” theme. The title is Slice and Dice and it should hopefully be out June 2021. 

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 

Ha! I am a simple guy that lives in Pennsylvania. I love my wife, love my cats, love my town, and I love my job. I’m as low maintenance as they come, and some might even call me boring, but that’s who I am.

As for my work? It’s simple, and I put this in the backmatter of every novel I write: I just want to entertain. I’m not looking to win any major awards for literary excellence or anything; I just want you to have fun with what I write. Period.  

Links to my stuff: