Today I am interviewing Shaun Horton, who writes Horror and has just recently published his first book. Welcome him to the blog!
1. What got you writing in the first place?
If you were to ask my family, they would probably say I’ve always been writing. My grandma had one of the first commercially available computers and I was almost always on it, whether playing those first text computer games or just playing with the word processor. If you were to ask me, though, I would have to say what really got me writing was my 6th grade teacher. He pushed me to enter a young writer’s competition, for reasons I don’t remember, which I then subsequently won and got to skip school for a day to visit a young writer’s conference at a local college. I’ve pretty much been writing off and on ever since, up until the past few years where I really decided it was time to take the talent everyone else told me I had and try to do something with it.
2. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
I get my inspiration from a lot of different places, up to and including nowhere at all. I’ve found that the more I use my imagination to create, the easier things come and I’ve even had stuff just randomly pop into my head lately. There really is no shortage of places to draw inspiration from, to dreams, the nightly news, even just watching the birds at the feeder outside. Everything has a story to tell, if you think about it. It’s just a matter of putting it down and giving things little tweaks here and there to make it more interesting or to draw out the emotion that you’re looking for.
3. What drew you to horror? What other genres are you interested in?
I couldn’t say what drew me to Horror, really. It’s just the way I’m wired. When I was little, E.T. scared the hell out of me, my mom had to carry me screaming from the theater. A year later we went and saw Gremlins, and not only was I not scared, I was cheering for Stripe, the main little monster. I also think there’s just something more pure in horror that you don’t really see in other genres. Like few things expose people for who they really are like life-and-death situations or facing things which no human being should be forced to.
As far as other genres go. In the past I’ve written short stories which stretch the length of the written word, from humor to fantasy, crime to erotica. Looking toward the future though, the genres I’m most likely to dabble in seriously along with my horror would probably be fantasy, with science fiction a distant second.
4. Who is your favorite writer, and why?
My favorite writer would have to be Stephen King. He almost single-handedly brought the horror genre into it’s own with his publications of Carrie and Salem’s Lot. In addition, his book On Writing is one of the best books on how to write I think has ever been written and has helped me immensely in pursuing my craft.
5. Tell me about your latest book:
My latest book and debut novel is The Unknown Neighbor, self-published through Amazon. It’s a short psychological horror novel which began with a simple thought. We’ve all seen on the nightly news where some guy goes nuts, wanders next door and kills the entire family. What I wondered about was “What if you were the family that lived on the other side of him?” How would someone react when faced not only with the news that your neighbor was a killer and that a family on your street was killed in cold blood, but that for the turn of a shoe to the left instead of the right, that could have been your family instead? It’s not a fast-paced book by any means, it’s meant more to dig into the psyche and ask if you think you’re doing enough to protect your family from the horrors which lurk outside.
6. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in publishing your own book?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in publishing my own book is to be grateful for having that opportunity. I originally planned on shopping it around to literary agents once it was finished and changed my mind after encouragement from my editor (which I partially think she suggested because she didn’t think anyone would take it.) and after reviewing several prominent blogs on the issues. I’ve since heard horror tale after horror tale of writers who lose all control over their works, saddled with titles and cover art they don’t agree with and trapped in contracts which earns them pennies on the dollar for every copy sold. So I really learned to appreciate the control I have over choosing my cover art, title, and who I work with for editing.
7. Tell me about your next project and/or book.
My next work is tentatively titled Class 5. A fast-paced action-horror story involving a stranded alien, a military unit and a woman and town caught in the middle. It should be off to the editor at the end of this month and I’m hoping to get it on Kindle by August or September, but we’ll see. I’ve also just started another piece which doesn’t have a title yet, but is running under the file name Black Lake. Should be interesting, it started with the opening scene and is just building from there. I honestly don’t even know where it’s going to go next.
8. What is your writing process like?
My writing process is a little odd in that I’m not one for schedules. I don’t get up at 8, write from 9-noon, edit in the afternoon then spend dinner with the family. Still, I do try to work on something every day, generally later at night, between 9 PM and 2 AM. Just something about writing horror at that hour which tickles me a little bit. Once I have a piece finished, I generally print it out to edit. Changing mediums allows me to let my eyes rest some and gives the work a little different perspective. As well, marking the work in pen (yes, red ink) and then having to transfer those changes into the computer makes me see the mistakes twice, which helps me note where my shortcomings are so I can learn from them and make them less on the next piece.
Link to Author’s Page on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7031768.Shaun_Horton