When did you first become interested in writing?
I have been interested in writing since I was a teen. I remember being so excited on my first day of creative writing class. So many ideas just popped into my head, from a love story that I hoped would be a reality one day to the darkest thoughts within me. I sat down to write my first project, and the words just poured out of me. Looking back now, I realize I should have taken more time editing it before turning it in. When I got my story back from the teacher, it was covered in red marks. She even added little notes like, “this makes no sense,” and “where are you going with this?” There were also a few not-so-nice things noted. Well, not nice to a teen with fresh hopes of becoming a writer. Some could consider it traumatizing in a way. I remember feeling so defeated that day that I honestly thought I’d never pick up another pen. Fortunately, due to my tenacity, I picked up another. I learned to take criticism, whether constructive or not, and try to understand the reasoning.
How did you get involved in so many genres?
I’ve always had an interest in the darkest thoughts people hide away. What makes a serial killer tick? Why would a sweet person suddenly turn dark? I know how that may seem, but it intrigues me. Most of my bestsellers are psychological thrillers. However, I do like to dabble in fantasy and sci-fi on occasion. The things we all want to believe in, but know deep down are all make-believe, like a Zombie apocalypse, are also appealing to me. No matter how many reiterations, it’s still entertaining and thought provoking. Writing sci-fi gives my mind a much-needed break from some of my deranged characters, like Melvin from Mindless or Elliot Keller in Passing Through.
How would you classify the genre you write?
Fiction thrillers, psychological, science fiction, supernatural,
Why do you think horror and Fantasy/Sci-Fi books remain so popular?
For the simple thrills they give you. While fantasy and horror are two very different genres, they certainly give you the same sensations. Anticipation of what is to come next, the goosebumps, the chills from the scenes you never saw coming, or your heart racing waiting to figure out how it will all end. It’s all so liberating. It allows us to feed our minds with things that scare us and thrill us at the same time.
What inspires your stories?
A variety of things inspire my stories—movies, books, and newspaper headlines. On occasion, even a YouTube video has inspired a story. I recall watching a video about contaminated water, drugs, and meds lurking in your drinking water. It was a terrifying reality that inspired my book Living Legacy.
What are your favorite horror books?
One of my favorites is Misery, although it’s more of a psychological thriller. I can certainly relate to Paul… well, except for the crazed fan and the hobbling. I’m not ritualistic with my writing, but I certainly like my solitude when I sit down to write—what better place to do that than in a small mountain town, where no one knows you.
What are some of your favorite horror and Fantasy/Sci-fi movies?
I have such an extensive favorite collection that I love. It’s impossible for me to choose only one out of the vast number of genre categories. So, if I pick one… let’s say zombies… my favorite zombie movie is World War Z. I recently watched a psycho thriller that I found fascinating, Unhinged with Russel Crowe.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?
My greatest accomplishment is the number of stories I’ve published over the years. It’s astounding, even to me, that I have more than 1.2 million words currently published. That doesn’t include the books I have yet to complete. Can you imagine the vast number of words for someone like Stephen King? I'm sure he must be in the hundreds of millions of words.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
When you think you have edited your work to satisfaction, edit it again. Then hire someone to edit for you. Once they’ve finished editing it, edit it yourself again. Trust me. You’ll read an error a hundred times and still miss it. Also, NEVER GIVE UP! Learn to take criticism and use it to your advantage, whether constructive or not, and try to understand the rationale. Is the statement truthful or factual? Or just a negative or subjective comment. You’ll know the difference.
Also, the very nature of writing as an artform has always been controversial at times. But now it’s even worse because people are offended by everything. It’s impossible to please everyone, so my advice is: Do and say what makes you happy. If you believe in yourself and you believe in your story, publish it. Some will love it, and some will hate it. The people who enjoy and appreciate your creativity will support you, and that’s what really matters.
What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?
I’m thankful for it. There are bestselling indie authors who have mastered how to leverage all the advantages, like being able to indefinitely promote, retain 100% control of your royalties, even reinvent plots without dealing with red tape. It’s the control that I prefer.
Please, in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work.
I believe that writers and novelists, as in any profession, change and grow over the timespan that they work and produce. Any of my readers and fans who are familiar with my books, and the ‘genres’ they are ‘classified’ under, are able to recognize the point I’m making. Authors’ characters get more detailed and personal. Descriptions get a bit more intense, as do emotional scenes of any kind. I’ve also found, for myself, that with each and every fiction book I put out, I’m getting into the 'guts' about what I am willing to put down on paper. For instance, I'll admit it, in the beginning, writing a detailed love scene was something I dreaded, but getting more comfortable with it now. This, of course, is just one example. I look forward to growing more as an Author and seeing it come through in my stories.