What inspired you to become an author?
I’ve been intrigued by writing fiction since high school. I dabbled a bit in college, and would often tell people it was a dream of mine. However, it was just talk until I met my wife who pushed me to start making that dream a reality. I’m a huge consumer of horror fiction (film and written). As much as I love the genre, I’m often disappointed with the product, or feel I could take the same premise and make it better. I’m inspired to create content that will effectively scare, entertain, and/or incredibly disturb people. I like the idea of putting something on the page that can get a visceral reaction. I’m in a writing workshop where I get to share a lot of my work before it’s complete. The best motivation is watching the people in my group squirm in their chairs over something I wrote.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
I was watching a movie called Absentia and there was a line in the movie about “Victim Souls.” I immediately looked it up and it fit perfectly. I didn’t have a title at the time so I threw it up there as the working title and it stuck.
What books/authors have influenced your life?
Stephen King’s On Writing was probably the most inspirational and helpful book I’ve ever read about writing. It definitely shaped my writing practices in a big way.
Personality Plus at Work by Florence Littauer was an amazing book. I was running a psychiatric hospital at the time and my Medical Director gave it to me. It was an amazing tool for learning how to work with and manage different personalities. It shaped me as a leader and improved my personal interactions as well.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub and The Lost by Jack Ketchum both have elements and writing styles that I found to be incredibly effective and have attempted to learn from.
What book are you reading now?
I’m reading No Dominion by Charlie Houston. It’s the second of a series. My wife read the series and recommended it to me because it reminded her of my book. I’m enjoying the series thus far.
What books are in your to read pile?
The rest of Charlie Houston’s Joe Pitt series
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (I heard it wasn’t that great, so I’m kind of dragging my feet on this one)
The two latest Walking Dead graphic novels
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on the (sort of) sequel to Victim Souls, which will be much more of a straight horror novel set in the same world with the same characters. The tone and pacing will be much different and the story will be in 3rd person this time.
I’m also working on putting out an anthology called Room 427, which is a compilation of writers who each wrote a different story that occurs in the same hotel room. Each writer left an object behind for the next writer to use in his/her story. It was fun project and should be out in the next few months.
I’m also toying with an idea for a horror/sci-fi story that’s been ruminating in my brain. I had some recent inspiration and may put the sequel to Victim Souls on hold. It will be called The 28th Amendment about a new law that makes it illegal for people to die. That’s about all I am willing to say about it at this time.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
For me the most challenging thing is staying on track. I’m not the kind of writer who relies on outlines. I try to create unique characters and a situation then just see where it goes from there. This often leads to content that I’m proud of, but it can also lead the plot astray. This becomes especially difficult during the editing process where I tend to find a boatload of continuity errors or subplots that started and didn’t finish. Thankfully, I had a good editing team and was able to clean all of that up.
Since Victim Souls is comprised of a lot of fast-paced action, I found it challenging to describe action sequences in a satisfying way. There are certain things that the written form enhances over films, but creating a good fight scene is not one of them. I’ve tried experimenting with several different styles and forms, but have yet to find one that matches my vision. I even researched other novels using the same point of view, and found the same issues. After a while, it became something I had to just accept as my own neuroses and move on.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Jack Ketchum is my favorite author. He’s brilliant at writing horror stories that are rooted in reality. I actually prefer supernatural horror, which is why I love his writing so much. His style is so effective at building tension and fear. He can do it through describing mundane life experiences or delving into the darkest parts of humanity. Either way, I’ve never read an author as effective at writing this type of horror.
Do you have a song or playlist (book soundtrack) that you think represents this book?
This was actually a big part of the writing of Victim Souls. Each chapter is named after a song that is meant to be listened to with the chapter. I did it as a way to enhance the experience for those who’d be interested. The songs and artists are listed in the beginning for the reader’s reference. Each song either sets a tone for the chapter and/or contains lyrics that give insight into the character’s state of mind.
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Number of pages: 386
Word Count: 91,000
Cover Artist: Brianna Strawn
Sometimes, only bad guys can beat the Devil…
The plan is simple: get the money and deliver the car. What could possibly go wrong?
Things start to go south when Sam Drake realizes that his brother Johnny is hiding something, a secret about Sam’s troubled childhood that goes beyond his most feverish nightmares…
Then Johnny’s girlfriend, Ash, starts sending Sam the kind of mixed signals that can only lead to big trouble…
As the trio of small time crooks falls deeper into an abyss of betrayal and violence, they will discover that the greatest danger they face is not of this world.
With everything he believes about himself and the world around him shattered, Sam will become the unlikely champion in a battle with true evil, a fight to save a soul that has already been forfeited to darkness.
Available at Amazon
The silver barrel of the Colt .45 glimmered in Johnny’s hand. The obese clerk behind the counter held his arms up, eyes darting to each of our faces. His brown-stained, white t-shirt clung to his sweaty man tits. Moisture dripped off his scraggly goatee onto his protruding gut. The ceiling fan above him worked hard, trying to cool down the un-air-conditioned, Arizona shit-hole that smelled like armpits and rotting cheese. A large bullet hole from Johnny’s warning shot sat two feet from the clerk’s head, along with the standard wall of cigarettes and liquor bottles acting as a reminder of the poor bastard’s purpose in life.
Johnny’s smirking mouth twitched with excitement. He had a scary look in his eyes—a man possessed with rage.
Ash clung to him, her blond hair draped over his shoulder. Her hand gently palmed his shaved head as she leaned toward the side of his face.
She whispered something in his ear.
Butterflies sliced the inside of my stomach with razor wings. This wasn’t the way we did things. We were escalating. Normally, I kept everyone cool, levelheaded. All control had gone out the window.
Simple Bob behind the counter sobbed, looking terrified. Part of me felt pity for the guy, but it was too late to turn back. “I don’t wanna be a part of no trouble, now,” he said. “Why don’t y’all take what ya need and go? Please, I got a family.” He glared at Ash. Four kids.”
Johnny cackled. “Family? You hear this guy, Sammy? He’s got a fuckin’ family.” Johnny gestured toward me. “That’s my family over there. My little brother. I practically raised the pecker. Parents were killed… come to think of it—by a fat, drunk piece of shit like you. So don’t talk to me about family.”
I glanced at the clock above the entrance—eight minutes had passed. “Johnny, come on man.”
Ash sneered at me. “Not now. This is grown up time. Go grab us some food or something.” Her dismissive tone dug into my nerves.
“Go fuck yourself!” I spat. The last thing I needed was that crazy bitch feeding Johnny’s frenzy.
“Quit it, bro. I got this,” Johnny said.
As usual he sided with the short jean shorts and tight, red tank top—a little cleavage and ass were all it took for him to forget about his own brother. “Get the cash and let’s go,” I said. “Stop messing around.”
Johnny glanced at me. “You think you could do better?”
I froze, unable to come up with a response, probably because I knew I couldn’t. Johnny took care of the hold-up. I collected the goods and kept us on point. That was our system, and it worked. Ash, on the other hand, was new to the mix. All she managed to do was waste time and get Johnny more amped than a rabid pit bull on cocaine. How he decided that was helpful, I have no idea. Things ran smooth before she stuck her pretty ass in the mix. Now instead of in-and-out with hands full of cash, we were wasting time scaring some poor, fat slob half to death. And for what, I wondered, shits and giggles?
I glanced back at the clock. Ten minutes in, and we were still dicking around. I started to tell Johnny our time was running out. From the corner of my eye, the clerk reached beneath the counter.
“Hey!” Ash shouted before I could react.
Johnny swung his arm, smacking the butt of the gun across the fat bastard’s face. “What did I tell you? Huh!”
The clerk stumbled back. The weight of his body slammed into the wall of cigarettes and cigars. He slid to the floor as dozens of boxes rained down around him.
My heart pounded. I took several deep breaths. We’d never had a close call like that before.
Ash pulled out her butterfly knife and flipped it open. “We need to deal with him.”
Johnny clenched his jaw as he leaned over the counter, pointing the gun. “Get up! Now!”
The blubbering man slowly rose up, his hands in the air, snot dripping from the pubes on his chin.
“What’s your name, buddy?” Johnny asked, switching to a calmer tone.
With a big smile on his face, Johnny slammed his fist on the counter. “Tony! That’s a strong name. Like Tony fucking Soprano.”
Tony jumped and backed into the wall behind him again. His flabby arm knocked down a couple liquor bottles. He flinched as the glass shattered on the tile floor. I reminded myself to at least swipe some good booze when we were done.
Johnny grabbed the knife from Ash’s hand and gave her the gun. “Hold this for me, baby.”
I glanced at the clock—twelve minutes. “Bro, we’re coming up on fifteen. Forget him. You don’t have to do this.”
“We’re in the middle of nowhere. We’re fine! And for the record,” he twirled the blade in his hand, “I’ll do whatever the fuck I want!”
I’d had it with Johnny’s unchecked arrogance. He always screwed with people, but he didn’t hurt anyone unless he had to. Tony may have been a liability, but if we’d stuck to the plan it wouldn’t have come to this.
Ash put her arm around Johnny, resting the gun on his shoulder, conveniently pointing it at my face.
I took a step toward the counter, out of the line of fire. No way I trusted that bitch with a gun in her hand.
She flashed a smile in my direction.
“Put your hand out on the table.” Johnny said.
Tony extended his shaking arm. Johnny grabbed his wrist, pulled him forward, and slammed his hand onto the counter.
Tony yelped. “Please.”
My heart raced as my brother hovered the knife over Tony’s hand. “Come on bro…”
Johnny’s finger shot up, motioning me to be quiet. “Tony. I’m going to teach you a little lesson in trust.”
About the Author:
Andrew’s a horror fiction writer who is also a massive fan of the genre. He’s been writing short stories and working on his novel for over 5 years. He has several short stories published, as well as some editing credits. He moderates a writing workshop in Phoenix, AZ where he’s been exposed to many different forms of fiction, which have broadened his influences. He aims to write stories that creep out his readers, while offering well-developed, rich characters they can sink their teeth into. He’s also a fan of experimenting with form and structure to create something uniquely my own.
Andrew grew up on Long Island in New York, and has lived in Arizona for the past 7 years. His professional background is in psychology where he’s carved out a nice career for himself. However, writing has always been his passion.
Currently, he’s hard at work, developing additional content to publish. He hopes to find an audience that loves the genre, and is up for a good scare.