When someones name is mentioned, a few things come to your mind. Lots of things come to mind when I hear the name Kealan Patrick Burke, actually too many to list, but here’s a few. He is the Bram Stoker-Award winning author of, not one, not two, but five novels. He’s an artist on so many levels. One of his short stories, Peekers,is in development as a feature film with Lionsgate Entertainment.
I’ve read several of Kealan’s books, and have wanted to request an interview for quite some time. I must admit, I was intimidated. But, I got up the courage, and he said yes. I learned he not only oozes talent, but he’s quite a nice guy.
10 Questions With The Very Talented Kealan Patrick Burke:
1.) Kealan, you’ve had many jobs before settling into your writing career. And may I say, you’ve settled in nicely. When did you know writing was your gift?
KPB: I knew from a very young age that I wanted to write stories. Ireland is a nation of storytellers, so it was not uncommon to find people gathered around in bars on wintry nights spinning ghostly yarns. I caught the bug early, and once I discovered Poe and King via my mother’s library card, I knew I wanted to make readers feel like those authors made me feel. I started writing when I was around eight, and haven’t stopped since (though one would hope the quality has improved over the years!) All those jobs I’ve had were for the same reason everyone gets a job. No amount of dreaming can counter the economic realities of life.
2.) Your stories are deep and poetic, which is hard to accomplish when writing horror. How did you develop your style?
KPB: Practice mostly, and voracious reading. I was also lucky enough to get critiques and educational rejections from some of the best editors out there back when I first started submitting my work to professional publications. A lot of writers balk at rejection, or take it personally. I love it. It keeps me humble and helps better my craft. Your writing can always improve. The minute you start thinking it doesn’t need to, you might as well break your pencils and go home.
3.) When I write, I have to know the ending before I can begin. What’s your writing process like, or do you have one?
KPB: Sometimes I get the ending before everything else, and develop the story around it. Sometimes I have the beginning and just go with it to see where it will take me. And often, both the beginning and the ending can change dramatically based on the events that transpire in between. So my process is kind of all over the place. I self-edit like a maniac too though, so everything is changing constantly.
4.) Out of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?
KPB: I would say my novel KIN, because it was the first time I think I accomplished exactly what I set out to do. Looking back on other books I’ve written, I know there are things I’d have done differently. KIN doesn’t feel that way to me.
5.) Have you considered straying from horror and writing other genres?
KPB: Absolutely, and I have done, most often with short stories. Crime noir, mystery, and thrillers really appeal to me, and based on the amount of horror writers I have seen stray into the thriller genre, it seems like a very organic move. Indeed the sequel to KIN is going to be more thriller than horror, and I’m perfectly comfortable with that. I would also love to be talented enough to write an epic sci-fi or fantasy novel, but alas, I’m not sure I’m equipped to do them justice.
6.) You’re an artistic guy. In addition to writing superb horror, you also design covers for digital and print books (Check out Elderlemon Design). How did that come about?
KPB: Kind of by accident. When I made the move to digital, I was fairly broke, so the idea of spending a couple of hundred dollars on book covers for my own books (and there were a lot of them) wasn’t a viable option. I’d already had some years of experience with illustration and knew my way around Photoshop, so I decided to do the covers myself. Once the books went live, other authors began to ask who the designer was. When I told them the designs were my own, they asked if they could hire me to do theirs. It began with one or two folks and now I get about eighteen inquiries a month. So eventually I made it official and launched Elderlemon Design and have since done covers for a number of well-known authors and publishers.
7.) What tune or tunes plays in your head when you’re writing?
KPB: None at all. I need complete silence (outside of ambient sounds) to write, and unless I’m referring to a piece of music, or it’s playing in the scene, it’s all my own voice in that Mad Hatter head of mine telling me what to write, or visualizations of what needs to be written.
8.) OK, Peekers. Such a fun, creepy little story. I am eagerly awaiting the release date from Lionsgate. Do you know and if you do, can you share? How did Mark Steensland and the late Rick Hautala get involved?
KPB: I don’t have a release date. Things have gotten very quiet on that front, and that’s one of the most frustrating parts of dealing with the movie industry. It could be casting right now and I wouldn’t have a clue. If and when it starts rolling, that’s when I’ll hear something. I’m just the author of the short story it’s based on, so I’m not high enough up on the food chain to be told anything unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Mark Steensland directed the original short, with Rick as screenwriter. All of us used to hang around the same horror message boards and one day Mark approached me about doing a short film of one of my stories. I think he read a few and eventually settled on “Peekers”, which is a great choice for any number of reasons. Years later I sent a fan email to director Mike Flanagan praising his low-budget horror film Absentia and we realized we had similar sensibilities when it came to horror. That led to him and Jeff Howard developing “Peekers” as a full-length movie script. Then producer Lawrence Grey (This is the End) came on board and so did Lionsgate. Where it is now in the process, I couldn’t tell you.
9.) So, in addition to being talented, you look like you should be on screen. Have you thought about doing one of those cool beer commercials?
KPB: I’m blushing. Thank you! And yes, I absolutely would if they were willing to pay me for it!
10.) There’s a great picture on your website-you’re standing in a cemetery. If you were to right your own epitaph, what would it say?
KPB: “It better have been a dramatic exit.”
Born and raised in Dungarvan, Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of five novels, over a hundred short stories, eight collections, and editor of four acclaimed anthologies.
When not writing, Kealan designs covers for print and digital books through his company Elderlemon Design.
Visit Kealan on the web at www.kealanpatrickburke.com.
Elderlemon Design: www.elderlemondesign.com