LF: Brian, you are one of my favorite Horror writers and have inspired me a great deal. And I thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
BM: Thanks, Latashia, it’s great to be here. I love talking about horror fiction with fellow authors and horror fans. I’m looking forward to answering your questions.
LF: How did your path to writing begin?
BM: The path to writing began very early on. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had an active imagination and I enjoyed reading mysteries and horror fiction. When I was 19, a freshmen year of college, I read a lot of Dean Koontz, Stephen King, John Saul and Robert McCammon horror novels and short stories. Just for fun, I decided to write my own horror novel.
I brainstormed and started coming up with a plot and characters while on Christmas break and then spent the whole spring semester writing the novel. I got so into writing fiction that I completely lost myself in the story. I would write 8-10 hours a day and skipped a lot of classes because I was having too much fun in my imaginary universe. By the end of the semester I completed my first novel and felt the most incredible rush of accomplishment. It occurred to me that my favorite authors get paid a lot of money to have this much fun, so it was then I decided I was going to pursue being an author.
LF: When would you say you first heard this sentence uttered from your mouth: “I am a writer.”
BM: There were two key moments. The first was in college, as I just mentioned, when I completed my first manuscript. When I got to the end of the book I printed it out and felt the thick stack of paper in my hands. I realized in that moment I had what it took to sit down and type out a story and stick to it until I reached the ending. I started telling people I’m a writer. And that I wrote a novel back in college, I kept working on it for 25 years and it eventually became The Devil’s Woods.
The second occasion was 8 years ago when I held the first paperback copy of Shadows in the Mist in my hands. I’ll never forget that day. The single proof copy came in the mail and I felt very emotional holding it and seeing the beautiful cover with my name on it. I met up with my parents and sister’s family at Pappadeux’s Seafood to celebrate. I beamed with pride as everyone passed the book around the table. Up until that moment, I had been talking about being a writer for over 15 years, so to my family and friends it was something of a pipedream. When I published my first book I was not just an aspiring writer anymore, I was an author.
LF: Brian, why Horror?
BM: I write what I love to read. I grew up watching horror movies, reading comic books, short stories by Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe, lots of horror novels. I loved telling campfire ghost stories, exploring haunted houses, hiding and jumping out to scare people. Just ask my sister and cousins. I probably scared them the most. I’ve always loved the adrenaline of being scared, exploring the mysterious unknown. Now I feel a greater joy when I write new stories and then later people tell me how much they enjoyed reading them.
LF: You have an awesome imagination- every writer’s dream. Do all of your ideas come from that scary mind of yours?
BM: Thank you. I appreciate the kind words. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and writing fiction has turned out to be a great outlet for expressing my creative mind. My ideas come from a whole mix of sources from ideas I dream up out of thin air to influences from the world around me. Like I said, I watch a lot of scary movies and read a lot of books from many genres. I do challenge myself to come up with original stories and monsters.
I also like researching history and incorporating real historical facts with my supernatural horror, like the real native Canadian legend in my historical novel Dead of Winter. I’ve found over the years that when you practice writing over and over, you train your brain to tap into an unseen source of infinite creative ideas. I’d love to say all the ideas are mine, but most of the time it seems they are channeled from a Higher Power.
LF: You turn out books fairly quickly. What is your writing process?
BM: That’s funny. To me it doesn’t feel like I turn out books fast enough, but I do my best to release at least one new book a year. My writing style is rather sporadic. I write in sprints that last days at a time and then I may not write for several days or weeks. I’d love to be able to write every day, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I’ve got client projects to work on and I like to socialize with friends and family–in other words, have a life outside my books. I’ve found that I write best doing what I call “writing sabbaticals.” I’ll take a week to 10 days off and go somewhere secluded like a cabin in the woods and just write without any distractions. No internet. Limited phone calls every couple days. I tell all my friends and family I’ll be out of touch for a week and they give me that space to focus.
When I’m on a sabbatical, I’ll get up early in the morning, like 4:00 a.m. That’s a highly creative time for me because I’m still half asleep and my brain is in dream mode. My best ideas seem to flow freely early in the morning. I’ll type for a couple hours then make myself a protein smoothie. Gotta feed the brain, right? Then I’ll keep writing for another couple hours until I naturally feel like taking a break. Usually around nine or ten a.m. I’ll go on a nature walk. I find that exercise is very important in keeping me in the flow. It’s also good to get away from the computer screen for awhile. While I’m walking, I’m still picturing the scenes in my mind. I’m hearing the characters talk to one another like watch a movie on a screen. That’s when I do some of my best problem solving for the places in the book where I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen next. Or, I’ve surrounded my characters by attacking monsters, now how the heck do I get them out of this situation? I often see the solution and get so inspired that I rush back to my computer eager to type my new ideas.
I’ll write for another couple hours until my stomach tells me its time eat lunch. Sometimes I’m having so much fun and the scenes are unfolding so fast that I don’t want to leave my chair. I’ll do a quick lunch then type some more. I’ll take another nature walk in the afternoon, write some more, then take a nap to give my overworked brain a rest. As soon as I wake up I go straight for the computer and type the first thing that comes to mind, since I’m in that half-asleep dream mode. At night, I’ll take a break and eat dinner. Then write a little more before bed. Next day, at 4:00 a.m., I’ll start the process all over and do this for anywhere from 4-10 days. Usually three or four days in I’ll drive into town and treat myself to dinner at a restaurant. I’ll add that I don’t always feel like writing when I first arrive at my cabin. Usually the first night I’m decompressing from all my responsibilities and stresses. I might sit down to type, but only a few paragraphs come out. By day 2 or 3, I get on such a roll that my brain is living the story whether I’m typing at my computer, taking walks or sleeping. I’ll write anywhere from 2500-3000 words a day.
When I return home from my sabbaticals, my schedule is much different because I have to return to a normal routine and integrate back into interacting with people, working on client projects, running errands, house chores, etc. When I’m really into a book, it’s much easier for me to write a few hours daily on it until it’s finished.
LF: Do you think the Horror genre is respected?
BM: I think it is with readers. I’ve met a lot of great horror fans at conventions and on Twitter. They love devouring great horror books. Horror doesn’t seem to get as much respect with book stores. For instance, Barnes and Noble doesn’t have a horror section. They lump all of our books in General Fiction. You have to really search the spines to find a scary book wedged in between literary fiction and chick lit. Meanwhile, Sci-Fi and Fantasy have their own section that takes up many shelves. In the film business, horror movies seem to stay popular, as many movies are made each year.
LF: Do you think you would write anything other than Horror?
BM: I’m sure I will someday. I like writing about the human condition. I enjoy reading thrillers. Right now, my books encompass many genres, so I feel like I get to write chapters that aren’t horror. But I’m sure I’ll eventually write something that doesn’t have a monster or supernatural element. Until then, I’m just writing the stories that come to me.
LF: You have also edited film and commercial videos. I would love to see one of your books come to life on the screen. Any prospects in that area?
BM: No real prospects at the moment. I’ve come close three times. Two producers read Dead of Winter and emailed that they were interested in the film rights. I talked with them a few days about it and thought they might option my book, but both times the deal fell through. Same happened with my novella The Witching House. My two witch stories have been my most popular books and I have a feeling they will be the first to get optioned. The Girl from the Blood Coven is a free short story that’s a prequel to The Witching House.
I studied screenwriting in college and have 2o years of background editing videos, so I definitely write with the mindset that one day these stories would make a great movie. I believe when the timing is right, one or more of my stories will play on the big screen.
LF: Writing advice – you knew it was coming. Well, let me be more specific. Writing advice for someone who writes genre Horror.
BM: One thing I noticed about horror fiction is that a lot of authors are writing stories about vampires and zombies. While I love reading those tropes, for aspiring writers just breaking into the horror business they should know that readers and publishers have seen it all when it comes to vampires and zombies, werewolves even. The same goes for slasher stories, where a serial killer is killing off carbon-copy teenagers or college kids one by one. I challenge new writers to be original. Come up with fresh horror concepts and monsters. Read authors like Clive Barker and Neil Gaimen who have taken readers into unchartered territories. With all my books, I strive to come up with monsters and storylines that are a unique and different from the norm. Also, read, read, read a lot of books, including novels and short stories outside of the horror genre.
LF: OK- what is your all-time favorite horror movie?
BM: It’s hard to nail it down to just one, because I have so many favorites. But the one movie that had the greatest impact on my as a young boy was the original Alien. I was 11 when the movie came out in 1979. I had not known true terror until watching that movie. Before, monster movies were kind of campy, but Alien was so realistic that I felt like that creature could really get me. That feeling of ultimate terror is what I seek when writing my books.
LF: What can we expect to see from Brian Moreland in 2014?
BM: I have several projects in the works. First, my next book The Vagrants will release as an eBook June 3rd, 2014 through Samhain Horror. While most of my books are set in the woods, this one takes place in Boston. It’s a mix of Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft.
Here’s the synopsis for The Vagrants:
Beneath the city of Boston evil is gathering. Journalist Daniel Finley is determined to save the impoverished of the world. But the abandoned part of humanity has a dark side. While living under a bridge with the homeless for six months, Daniel witnesses something terrifying that nearly costs him his sanity. Two years later, he’s published a book that exposes an underground cult and its charismatic leader. Now, as Daniel fears the vagrants are after him, a new problem threatens to destroy the lives of everyone he loves—his father is being terrorized by vicious mobsters of the Irish-American Mafia. As he desperately tries to help his father, Daniel gets caught up in the middle of a war between the mafia and a deadly cult of homeless people who are preparing to shed blood on the streets of Boston.
BM: Also, for people who prefer listening to audio books, all my books will release this year from Audio Realms. The Devil’s Woods will be the first to release, so keep an eye out for it. I’m also in the middle of writing a collection of short stories, which I’m aiming to release this April 2014. People can go to my website to see updates of my covers or they can follow my blog Dark Lucidity at http://brianmoreland.blogspot.com/ .
LF: A friend of mine read one of my manuscripts. When she was done she asked if I slept with the lights on. Brian, do you sleep with the lights on?
BM: No, when you confront your nightmares as much as I do, you grow very peaceful with being in the dark. I sleep very deep, unless I come up with a great story idea. Then I’m up at 4:00 a.m. typing at my computer.
LF: Brian Moreland, Author of Horthank you again for allowing me to take a peek inside that splendidly horrific mind of yours.
BM: Thanks, Latashia, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I appreciate you having me as a guest on your blog. I wish you lots of success with your books, as well.
Author Bio: Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His books include Dead of Winter, Shadows in the Mist, The Girl from the Blood Coven, The Witching House, and The Devil’s Woods. His next book, The Vagrants, will release in June 2014. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can join his mailing list at http://www.brianmoreland.com/
Like Brian’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland
Brian’s blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com