>An Interview With Kevin Lucia
Well folks it’s an honour today to welcome author Kevin Lucia to The Blog, for a chat
GNOH – Hi Kevin, how are things with you?
K: Excellent. Just returned from vacation, did a lot a reading and relaxed with the family.
GNOH – Can you give some background information on your good self?
K: I hold a BA in English/Literature and MA in Creative Writing, have taught junior high/high school English for nearly 10 years and have easily written hundreds of reviews and interviews, most recently for Shroud Magazine and our city newspaper, The Press & Sun Bulletin.
I’m a two-time graduate of the Borderlands Press Writers Bootcamp, and I’ve been fortunate enough to land a few short stories, also edit an issue of Shroud Magazine. My first and only solo work is Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, an instalment in Shroud Magazine’s novella series The Hiram Grange Chronicles.
GNOH – You are a teacher by vocation. Has teaching helped you in being a writer?
K: Hindered and helped. After a full day of reading and writing and grading, I can’t write or think at all, unless on a pressing deadline, so that’s why I get up so early in the morning to write.
However, existing in a continual state of analysis – reading in order to teach my students about literature and writing – has sharpened my focus, helped me develop as a storyteller. Also, it has me rereading a healthy sampling of the classics every year, which I find invaluable as a genre writer.
GNOH- Is there the same problem with literacy in America as there is in the UK? I know many teachers are pulling their hair out at the lack of basic English exhibited by the majority of young pupils.
K: There is. The sad thing? I see it primarily in really short attention spans, rather than an inability to read. There will always be kids who struggle with reading, who just aren’t interested. But now, more than ever, I see kids – smart, bright kids – who just can’t be bothered to take the time out of their hyper-busy schedules to read, or to slow down and read difficult texts. We’ve become a very “on demand, right now” culture, and that’s affected everything, especially publishing.
GNOH – Which authors have influenced you the most?
K: Hard to say. There are writers I absolutely adore: Peter Straub, Rio Youers, Norman Patridge, F. Paul Wilson, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, T. L. Hines, Travis Thrasher and Gary Braunbeck. That, and Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.
There are the solid dependables, who always turn in a good story: Nate Kenyon, Mary SanGiovanni, Brian Keene, Ronald Malfi, Ramsey Campbell, Joe Hill and Nate Southard. Then there are the ones I’ll always be loyal to because they started me off, like Dean Koontz and Stephen King.
Then there are those I actually feel influencing my style. I’ve been reading A LOT of the late Charles L. Grant, letting it actually impact my work. T. M. Wright, also. I’ve been studying F. Paul Wilson’s pacing in his Repairman Jack novels. And it goes without saying there are SO many writers I love that I’ve probably left off this list.
GNOH – You say you need to write, but you seem to be having some problems getting your first novel completed. How do you deal with this conflict, is there a need to finish it and be damned regardless of it’s quality, or do you feel it will only be complete once what you have written is the best that you can do?
K: Writing is an almost physical need for me. I’m addicted in the way weight lifters and runners are addicted to the chemicals created in their bodies when they exercise. I HAVE to write almost every day.
My problems with this first novel are pretty standard “first novel” problems, albeit frustrating. The biggest thing: avoiding the temptation of attempting this “epic” tale like Boy’s Life or The Stand.
Keep it simple. Figure out what the conflict is, resolve it. As you said, I need to finish the thing, get to “The End”, then go back and make it better through multiple drafts, have confidence that I can make it the best it can possibly be through the drafting process.
GNOH – Can you tell us anything about your debut novel?
K: A ghost story, but different, I hope, than the usual ghost story.
GNOH – You seem to be going against the tide with regards to E-books. Are you concerned that now the floodgates have been opened, and a lot of the gatekeepers are now redundant, the glut of self published novels will drown the genre?
K: Really, I’m not against E-books. That’s like telling the Borg you don’t want to join their club when they visit town. Epublishing is part of the future. If I ever develop a following, digitally publishing a small collection of short stories might be a good idea. And I see how it’s helping established authors release their out of print works to a brand new generation of readers.
“A lot of the gatekeepers are now redundant” – this is my problem. I believe in the gatekeeper. I think the gatekeeper is essential to quality. Sure, there are bad editors and bad publishers. But that’s no reason to damn the whole industry.
I take issue with the cadre of admittedly successful authors with loyal followings blogging very loudly that every writer should jump on the self-e-publishing bandwagon, that if we don’t we’re stupid and short-sighted, because we’ll all become millionaires that way. Quite frankly, they sound like informercials pushing their own product. And they seem to leave out how much work it will take, or how much overhead it will cost to pay indie professionals to edit the manuscript, format it, then create nice covers.
GNOH – Do you think that the genre is going to Hell in a hand-basket?
K: By no means. If you study the genre’s history, read the blogs of writers like Brian Keene, you’ll see that horror has experienced its share of ups and downs over the years. Right now with the Leisure-thing, the economy, the basic fact that less people are reading, horror is at an ebb.
However, I believe small press publishers like Deadite Press, Shroud, Apex, Subterranean, Ambrotos Press, Cemetery Dance and many others will step in the gap. Same with speciality publishers like Thunderstorm Books and Maelstrom. I also think you’ll see more horror titles from Angry Robot Books, and hey – Samhain has landed Dom D’Ariua. I have to expect we’ll see a lot of former Leisure authors find a home there.
Also, consider the rise in dystopian-future novels in the mainstream teen market. Very horrorish. And some of the other mainstream, mass market publishers – Kennsington, for one – have slipped some horror novels masked as serial killer/police procedurals out there lately. Horror will be fine.
GNOH – You’re a big fan of writers workshops. What do you think are the benefits of these?
K: exposure to critiques from knowledgeable sources who have no mercy whatsoever. It’s good to have friends and writers at your level proofread your work. But if you really want to improve, eventually you need to leave behind your Barnes & Noble “Writers’ Club” and receive critique from folks who know what they’re talking about and have the track record to back themselves up, and have no consideration for your feelings whatsoever.
GNOH – I’ve had the pleasure of reading the whole Hiram Grange series, your volume of the series was one of the highlights. How did you become involved with the project?
K: Almost three years ago now, Tim Deal of Shroud introduced this novella series on the Shroud forum. Having sold a few stories to Shroud’s anthologies, I checked it out, got interested, tooled around with some ideas, and eventually pitched a story (much different from the finished version). Tim liked it, we became fast friends, and my involvement with Hiram has led to a publishing relationship I wasn’t expecting but am very, very grateful for.
GNOH – How easy was it for you to work within the confines of another authors creation?
K: In many ways, very liberating. In fact, I’m convinced that’s why Hiram wrote so much faster than my current work (well, that and it WAS a novella). Tim let me tell my own story, but because it was occurring in a set mythos, I had a pre-established foundation to build on.
GNOH – Are there any other authors whose universes you’d like to work with?
K: Not really. However, I’d KILL to write either a Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, or Supernatural media tie-in novel. As an admitted fanboy of all those shows, that’d be a lot of fun.
GNOH – Can you tell us about The Terror at Miskatonic Falls?
K: Sure. It’s a poetry/prose collection/story of a Massachusetts State Trooper stranded in a snow storm in a small Massachusetts town, Miskatonic Falls. He discovers the town ransacked and deserted. The only clues left behind: hundreds of poems and limericks scrawled on walls, floors, doors – all through town.
GNOH – What inspired you to produce a body of work that combines, prose, graphic novel, and poetry ?
Around two years ago I took an extensive tour in poetry writing workshops. I love poetry. I write poetry (that no one will EVER see). Along the way, I became reacquainted with Edward Masters’ Spoon River, a collection of interconnecting poems – epitaphs on tombstones – that told a story. The idea of a similar collection set in the Lovecraftian Mythos came almost immediately.
The necessity for prose elements arose as I pieced together the poems. On one hand, I wanted to create something different, unique – dare I say ARTISTIC. On the other hand, I still wanted to entertain folks. Not only did I want to connect with poetry-lovers, but also with folks who maybe DIDN’T like poetry as much. So I realized a framing device – the prose narration as the trooper moves through the abandoned town, discovering the poems – was an absolute necessity.
The graphic novel aspects developed because of Shroud’s unique vision. I didn’t want this to just be a collection of poems, all left-justified on blank pages. I wanted to readers to see what our lost trooper was seeing, discovering the poems through his eyes, in surroundings that AMPLIFIED the poems themselves.
GNOH – Has this thrown up any unique challenges?
K: Absolutely. Editing poetry is much different than fiction; for me, anyway. I had to balance my own standards against working with the poets to refine their poems but not change their poems. Also: I basically owe Shroud layout Danny Evarts free beer for, like, ever with the job he’s done HAND-ILLUSTRATING this collection. Check out some of the draft samples below. (will send as attachments).
GNOH – What do you do to relax?
Read obsessively. Hang with my family. Color with my daughter. Watch movies with my wife, take long walks, and believe it or not, yard-work. I love yard-work.
GNOH – What does the future hold for you?
K: Right now I’m in a transitional phase. I’ve done some good things. Published some good stuff in the small press.
But I don’t believe I’m “there”. I’ve decided to start over from scratch. I want to submit to more pro short story markets, which means more rejections. I’m reading slush for a major horror magazine and small press publisher, because I really want to study and learn.
I’m reading a lot of writers from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s – Charles Grant, T. M. Wright, Ramsey Campbell, Manley Wade Wellman, the old Whispers collections – because I’m self-educating in GOOD, literary AND entertaining horror. AND, on the really exciting side, I do have a dark fantasy teen series in consideration at a major New York publisher, and some pen name opportunities at the midlist level.
That, and I’m writing more internally now than ever before. Writing because I NEED to, not because I might get published, and that’s the most satisfying reason to write, in the end.
GNOH – Thank you so much Kevin, this has been a fun and enlightening interview.
Folks I really do suggest you track down Kevin’s work, it really is well worth the effort.