What would you say is your most interesting writing habit?
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your book(s)?
I love getting deep into a story and feeling it begin to take on a life of its own. I think that when an author has a hold of a good story it feels more like a labor of discovery rather than creation. In other words, the story is already there, waiting to be found. It’s like a literary scavenger hunt with bits of plot, scraps of character, and clue-like symbols left behind in strategic locations of the mind that eventually lead to the finish line. Don’t get me wrong—any effective writing is the fruit of structured plot and meticulous attention to detail. But sometimes, while in the “belly of the beast,” the story seems to come alive and guides you, the author, in a certain direction. Those are the stories that want to be told. That’s a great feeling when you can sit back and settle in for the ride.
What do you think makes a compelling story?There are a number of important ingredients that go into making a compelling story. Conflict is essential—everything hinges on this. Relatable characters forge connections to readers. If you take a character that your audience loves and create tension, suspense, or conflict, readers will respond. Timeliness or timelessness can also be an important factor. A timely story is tethered to what is happening or what is popular in society right now. A timeless story is always relevant, and will always be compelling to any audience. The author needs to know what they’re writing.
Where did you get the idea for The Lamplighter Collection?I’m from Missouri, and the stories found in this collection were inspired by local legends and ghost stories from the southwest. I love looking at small town life and the real-life characters that are produced there. Sometimes these actual people seem to have a story just begging to be told. I created a setting based on a small town in Missouri, then added in the ghost story element. I thought it would be interesting to have this small town nestled in middle-America that had landed on the Travel Channel thanks to its creepy local legends.
What is the hardest part of writing?Writing is a juggling act for me. I have the passion, but the most difficult part is finding the time. I juggle a teaching career which has its own demands, so carving out that time to write, or making the most of that time I do have is a struggle.
They used a crowbar to break into the inn. The door gave way with more of a sigh than a crack as the wood separated from its frame and swung inward. The smell emanating from within was thick and old: musty like a sealed tomb catching fresh air for the first time in ages. They stood in a clump on the back porch, Johnnie in the lead with thecrowbar drooping down to the ground.
“You’ve managed an impressive string of crimes for the day,” Ryan Compley said from the back of the group.
Johnnie turned around, lifting the crowbar up and resting it over his shoulder. He looked strangely barbaric in the clutch of falling dark. “Who the hell ungagged him?”
“I did,” Sean said, refusing to sound sheepish despite the crowbar and the knowledge of the .45 tucked somewhere out of sight. “You might be able to drag him into your horror story, but he should at least be given a voice.”
The rag that had been stuffed into his mouth was lying on the ground, flaps of duct tape curled on each side like the legs of a dead insect. Compley still stood with his bound wrists hanging down in front of him like a prisoner being led to the gallows. Unlike those doomed men whose eyes could not see the awaiting noose, Compley stared wide-eyed up at the structure and could not veil the utter fear living now within him
Johnnie pushed beyond Avalon and Brad, glaring at Sean. “This isn’t your story, sport.” He extended the crowbar and poked him in the chest with its end. “So don’t go making—”
It happened so fast that neither Brad nor Avalon fully grasped what had occurred until it was over. Sean’s hand shot forward, taking the crowbar and twisting it out of Johnnie’s grip in a sudden and violent motion. Reversing the thrust of the crowbar unbalanced Johnnie and sent him down onto the hard wooden porch with a thud.
A clone. No, make that a dozen clones. I’ve got a lot of stuff to write, so I could keep those guys busy.
What are you working on next?