An interview with… Andrew Post

Andrew Post lives in Minnesota with his wife, who is also an author, and their two dogs.

Do you remember what was the first story you’ve written?

In high school, probably like a lot of writers, I’d put together short horror stories to share with my friends, starring ourselves as the ones fighting the zombies, etc. The first piece I had published though was a short story about a crime scene photographer who shows up to an apartment to find an old lady who expired and got eaten by her cats. So, real sunny stuff.

Which stories of yours are available? Do you want to tell us something about it?

Most of my novels are available on Amazon—though I’d encourage you to shop locally. A few are now out of print. Even their ebook versions, some, because with their publisher going under, sadly are no longer available. Personally, I like the stuff I’ve written in the last handful of years the most. My earlier efforts, well, I’m proud for having gotten them published, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone rush out and read them, honestly. I’d start with Aftertaste. Chop Shop is a lot of fun, people seemed to have liked that one. And Switchboard is probably my most critically well-received, but it’s easily the most dour.

How important is the setting in your stories?

For me, it’s very important. It informs how people interact, how they treat each other, how they go about their lives. We might not like to think of it in such terms, but we are products of our environments and direct products of our immediate environments. Apple, tree. It shapes the face we put on whenever we step out the front door. A lot of my stuff is set in downtrodden regions, like the United States’ Rust Belt, the flood-prone areas of the South, and the blue-collar portions of the Midwest. The setting is usually what comes first when I’m putting together ideas for a story—and when I say story, that can mean everything from a short piece of fiction to a full-on novel. Because the setting is going to do a lot of the fill-in-the-blank work for me. Dictating what the characters do for a living, what kind of people they are, things like that.

Many horror creatures, are tied to religion (at least in classic versions); do you find this to be a limit to creativity?

I don’t think it limits creativity so long as you’re trying to bring a new spin on a well-explored creature. Which I think everyone should always be trying to do. Otherwise, in my opinion, what’s the point? But I think the religious aspects can often be worked around or ignored altogether. Because those are often the silliest elements to them. Personally, I like to use creatures, as they’re typically known, as a jumping-off point. Break them down to basically just their appearance or most defining trait—a vampire drinks blood, a werewolf changes under the full moon—and build on it using something from the real world. Like in Aftertaste, there’s a creature straight out of Creature from the Black Lagoon except he’s some feckless stoner who can turn into the creature only because he picked up a parasite from eating tainted fast food. And in Mondo Crimson (coming this November), it’s my go at the vampire story except there’s nothing supernatural about them. The blood they drink is from people they torture, so the blood is full of adrenaline, which gets them high—and that, not the blood itself, is what they’ve become fixated on consuming. That’s not to say I don’t like a straight-ahead approach to vampires and werewolves, etc, complete with the ties to religion. Because done in the classic way, it can be a lot of fun. The rules and the limitations, that can really add to the atmosphere of the thing as the characters figure those out. It’s just for me, I’d rather take an archetypal creepy-crawly and try—not that I’ve ever seen successful at it—to breathe new life into them.

Do you come from a literary background?

The first novels I wrote were literary fiction. None of which got published, you’re all very welcome. What I mostly read is literary fiction—far more than genre if I’m being honest—and I like to think that informs my genre work, or sets it apart. I don’t like the term “elevated” when it comes to genre stuff. Like there’s that whole debate about that studio A24 putting out “elevated horror” and what that’s supposed to mean. Genre is genre, it just has different atmospheres and methods of conveying its story. But I’ve had reviews say my work “elevates” the genre in which I’m writing. I suppose that’s meant to be a compliment. I think I just like to pay attention to things tangential to the plot sometimes, or maybe ignore the plot altogether for a while, and that brings—purely by accident—a kind of literary vibe to a piece. Because I do like plot—and the occasional McGuffin, used sparingly—but I also like going off on introspective asides and developing characters past their plot function, which could be taken as a push toward literary I suppose. That’s actually where a lot of the fun of writing comes in for me. I like to flesh out unlikable people in particular. Individuals who don’t really deserve to be main characters. No redeeming qualities, just bags of human garbage whose heads the readers have to ride around inside of. Not actively pursue making a reader hate them, just paint the character as three-dimensional, real and honest as possible, present some ideas we all have but don’t like to talk about. Because no matter how bad, there’s always something relatable in there.

What is your next project? What’s next for you?

Right now, I’m most of the way through the first draft of a new novel called, this week, Electric Midnight. It’s set in 1999, in Detroit, and it’s firmly in my wheelhouse of hardboiled horror. There’s hitmen, a doomsday cult, self-serving lawyers, rivalling crime families, and graverobbers. And honestly, I think it’s going to be some time before it sees the light of day—if ever. I’m taking this one places I’ve never gone before.

But the next thing being published is Mondo Crimson, which comes out in November, via Flame Tree—who have been fantastic to work with. Mondo Crimson is hands down the wildest thing I’ve written. I have a sneaking suspicion the critics are going to hate it. But that’s fine. Like a lot of my stuff, greed is a major theme and the blood-drinking here is a metaphor for that. Because in the world of Mondo Crimson, the drug itself, called mondo crimson, is the blood of people who have been tortured, a rare vintage indeed, and so it’s something only the super-rich can afford. And, naturally, how it’s harvested is using anyone the mondo-drinkers deem expendable. Anybody but themselves, of course. And when a hitwoman, Brenda, and a car thief, Melanie, find out that this is what’s going on, they do their best to stop it. But people who have gotten hooked on adrenaline-laced blood, they might just be a little hard to kill.  

Do you have a writing process and do you have a writing place?

I think they’re called “pantsers” or people who write by the seat of their pants. I’m one of those. I can’t know the ending ahead of time or I’ll lose interest. I have to be surprised with the characters. I’ll have some vague idea of how a story will end, sure, but nothing spelled out definitively. I try my best to let it get there organically, figure things out alongside the characters. Show them working things out, deciding what to do, sequences of stream of consciousness like that can be a lot of fun to write—the oh shit, what do I do now? stuff. I’ll take notes if I’m afraid I’ll forget something. And when that starts happening, that’s usually a good sign I’m on to something worthwhile.

I have a couple of rituals when it comes to sitting down for a writing session. I’m usually in my office or at the dining room table. That much I’m flexible about. But I need some kind of ambient music going—something that helps keep me stay locked in that mood I’m trying to maintain. And the ambient music is also just good for concentration. Source of potent caffeine and a vehicle for nicotine of some kind: always helpful. I’ve recently discovered that writing while suffering a really bad cold can be interesting. One, staring at a Word document helps keep your mind off how bad you feel. Two, taking just a bit too much DayQuil—a responsible overdose—can really open the head to some pretty out-there thoughts.

Can you tell us something about your beginning in the indie world?

So, back in 2011, Medallion Press emailed saying they wanted to publish my first novel, a paranoid cyberpunk thriller. Catch was, they had already filled their catalogue for the next year, so it wouldn’t be published until late 2013. So, I had a lot of time to get my expectations entirely too high. And when it got published, the critics absolutely tore it apart. Looking back, deservedly. I think I was more in love with the idea of being a published author than being a good author, or at least one who took their time. I appreciate Medallion Press. And I miss them, they sadly went under a couple years ago and their team was such a lovely group of people, but if I could do it all over again, I would’ve done at least two more rewrites before that book was released. If not scrapped it altogether. But my next few were better I feel. Definitely better received. I feel I’m a completely different kind of writer now who’s interested in different things and different stories. Maybe I grew up, I don’t know. I consider the actual start of my career, as it is now, to have started with Aftertaste in 2017. But I don’t regret those early books. Each one was packed with learning experiences.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think I said it in my previous answer, the fixation on getting published. I know a lot of aspiring writers feel like they’re not legitimate until they’ve had something printed they can hold in their hands—and while that is a great feeling, absolutely—there’s so much more to it than that, so much that should come before that. The work has to be good. Not only to get picked up by a house, but for it to excel and be recognized by readers. Because, like it or not, word of mouth is what’s going to push your work along. Market it all you want, tweet about it hourly, a book will live or die by people recommending it to one another. And friends don’t let friends recommend crap books to each other.

But I get it. I have been there. You want to prove something to everyone who’s ever doubted you, or maybe even to yourself and your own doubts. You’ll get so worked up thinking I’m not really a writer until I have something to show for my hard work and time and dedication to this thing I love. To me, that means you’re already a writer. Passion is rarely recognized as the most important fuel for anyone who is creative. Passion will pull you through every rejection, every bad review, every period of writers’ block that seems it’ll never end. And if you’re just starting out, so what if you’ve only had one short story published online? Or hell, nothing published at all. If you write, even if nobody sees it, you’re still a writer. Put pen to paper, finger to keyboard, boom, you’re a writer. Forget what anyone else thinks. I’m serious, I know that’s overused, forget what anyone else thinks, but really do it, banish that as much as you can. Thing is, if you really want to put them (or your doubtful side) in their place, don’t just get something published—put in the work and get something great published. That’ll shut them up, once and for all.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

One then the other, in that order. I’ll have these hot streaks where I can barely keep up with the ideas. I’ve stayed up all night writing. Once, I completed a 75,000-word rewrite in a week. And it wasn’t even on a deadline. Just did it because I couldn’t think about anything else until it was done. I write much, much slower now, but I still get the occasional blast of ambition behind me where I’ll work on a thing a couple hours every day and the time will just disappear because I’m so zeroed in on it. Which often leads to the other side of it: the hot streak’s hangover. I tend to not let myself linger in that too long—I’ve always got the next one on the back burner—but it’s also nice to take a few days and remember how to be a human being again. And the older I’ve gotten and the more personal and painful my characters’ stories become, that can be exhausting too. Switchboard is basically an autobiography with a ghost story wrapped around it. So much of me is in that book that to know it’s out there and people are reading it, it’s kind of embarrassing. But in a good way. I worked through a lot of stuff writing that. But when I finished that one, I don’t think I’ve ever been as exhausted. That one took the longest to recover from. I may still not be at 100% yet.

Do you have a formal writing instruction (for example, a degree in creative writing)? Do you think that a formal instruction helps writing?

I don’t, but if I could go back and start with some, I would. I don’t think you can teach a person how to be creative, but the mechanics of writing can absolutely be taught. How a plot works, character development, story arcs, how every character should want something. That’s all good to know. But more importantly, having a handle on grammar could be the difference between an editor saying yes or no. Because that’s certainly something I see a lot of aspiring writers have issues with. I saw someone online once say they want to be a “writter.” So, I’ll cheerlead just about anyone who wants to do this to themselves become a writer, but I would recommend knowing the rules, and show you can play by them, if you want to someday break them. And should someone want to become a writer without welcoming a mountain of student debt upon their back, they absolutely should. I’d recommend Elements of Style and Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing to any writer, but for a horror writer in particular, The Spectacle of the Void by David Peak, I think, is essential.

What is an indie movement cliché that you’d like to erase?

Chasing trends.Indie writers (or writers with small publishers or low-list publishers or even self-published authors), we can’t compete with the bigger houses and we shouldn’t bother trying. Attempting to get in on the hot thing or trying to predict the next hot thing, it’s a waste of time. Readers who only read what’s recommended to them by Amazon or only shop at Barnes & Noble, they’re not going to venture into the deeper waters so stop trying to bait them in. They like it in the shallows, where every book works out like an episode of the Brady Bunch seeing every upset roundly dealt with and nobody gets any scars and everybody lives happily ever after. And that’s fine. And that material they like, that too is fine. But leave its appreciators to find it on their own. I think as indie writers we should develop an attitude like the indie film world has—this is where the dangerous stuff is, the off-the-beaten-path stuff, the mean and hard-edged, the unexpected perspectives, happy endings are not guaranteed, the punk rock version of fiction. Because if our stuff had mass appeal, it would’ve been picked up by the appropriate publisher looking to capitalize on the masses, wouldn’t it? So, with nothing to lose, nowhere to go but up, why not put out the craziest, most original goddamn thing you can write? Hell, if nobody else reads it, I will.

An editor once told me I was talented but due to what I write I shouldn’t expect to ever go anywhere. Which was real heart-warming, let me tell you. But he said if I wrote something for him like The Girl Who Was Gone and Then Got on a Train and Kicked the Nest of Dragon-Tattooed Sharp Things or whatever it was that year, I could be a millionaire—he could almost guarantee it, he said. Obviously, that isn’t what happened. I’ll admit I tried, but I just couldn’t give a shit about it. I wouldn’t want it any other way but this way. My books are weird and gratuitously violent and often have downer endings, but they are mine. They are not for everyone. That’s okay. But most people who read my stuff and like it, when they reach out and say hi, we’re immediately friends.

And I know, I know, everything is just another version of something else, each one of us a stew pot of what inspired us and things we like, but we have to try at least for originality. And this is partly me speaking to my younger self here, but: stop trying so goddamn hard to be liked. If someone knew what they wanted to get from taking in a piece of fiction, they wouldn’t need you. A reader is a searcher. Let them find what they had no idea they needed.

I don’t think fiction will ever actually out-and-out die, but I think it could use a shot in the arm as far as relevance goes. Seems like the new release shelf at any bookstore is just next year’s HBO line up. Books can’t just be books anymore, appreciated as just that: books. But if we want fiction to be considered—broadly, not just among devout readers—as holding the same appeal as streaming services and video games and VR and social media that are also all vying for people’s attention, it has to be bold what we do. And not just shock for the sake of shock either, though that used to work, but what I mean is: tell stories that’ll get people talking. Clearly, I can’t detail this magic world-changing work because otherwise I would’ve written it, but you know what I’m getting at. And just going after stuff that’s already been done—and has a much bigger marketing push behind it—that will get you nowhere. Be glad a fellow writer got a boost, had a success, that doesn’t happen every day, but that was their success. Now do yours. Or maybe write something that has no mass appeal at all, something that’ll get you hate mail. There are many ways to define success.

Is there anything you find bad about the horror movement?

As it is now, while I think there are a lot of terrific up-and-coming horror writers doing interesting things, there is a fair amount of stagnation happening too. So much is a rehash or a remix or a deconstruction that thinks it’s more clever than it is. Which, I know, there is only x number of stories. But these rehashes are by and large very on-the-nose, the inspiration poking through far too clearly, to the point they’re not alluding to something else, they’re not homages, but just copy-pasted elements from more popular novels or movies with minimal reworking or reimagining. I won’t name names but there’s some horror novels out there that read more like a horror version of Ready Player One, a shotgun blast of “I like this” and “I like that.” And I get that it’s probably partly due to my generation being positively inundated with media. As kids, we got marketed atmore aggressively than any before it and, maybe because of that, that’s made us feel we’re supposed to constantly remind everyone that we, too, liked this intellectual property or that TV show or movie. That way, there’s no mistaking we’re part of the shared generational mindset. Which is evidently important. For some reason. I get it, it’s scary having to think up your own stuff or take a recognizable thing and defamiliarize it and end up being afraid your audience will think you’ve gone too far off script with it. And, sure, there is some logic behind repackaging things that people are known to already like because then half the legwork’s already done, but I can’t be the only one who wants new stories—or at least a familiar story that’s told in a dramatically new way.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

There aren’t many things—because I think in the realm of fiction there should be no censorship of any kind because none of it’s real and we should be able to trust readers to know the difference—but I also think everything, no matter how awful, should be treated with respect and the gravity it deserves. With my own stuff, I tend to steer clear of depicting sexual assault. For one, it’s obviously a heavy subject. One that if it has plot relevance, needs to justify its place in a story and also be treated with utmost care, if only out of respect for the real-life victims of it. And if it’s handled poorly—which, unfortunately, I’ve seen many more examples of it handled poorly than handled well—it can come off as clumsy and out of touch and, honestly, make the author look like a total idiot. And those who use it only as a cheap mode of shock, well, those authors don’t just look like total idiots, they are total idiots. I’ve seen a lot of otherwise good books get labelled as one of “those” kind of books, just because of one scene that could’ve been either handled differently or had that scene be something else entirely.

They say your job, as an author, is to chase your characters up a tree and then throw rocks at them. There is a lot of a ways to do that. Lots of choices, lots of options. The world’s full of bad turns a life can take. And that may very well be the right one. It depends entirely on your story. But I’d advise making absolutely sure that’s the direction it needs to go.

As an indie writer, you will have notice that Amazon has basically the monopoly of self-publication. How bad do you think that is and do you think there is anything that “normal” people can do to create an indie market that’s more free?

I think the publishing world, as a whole, could use a total overhaul. And I hate to come off as sounding pessimistic, but I think we’re unfortunately stuck in the tangle of Amazon’s tentacles. I would like to see a shift away from their platform, especially for self-published authors, if only to save independent bookstores. Because who will champion your book? Who will stock it even if it’s not likely to sell like hotcakes? Not Amazon. They’ll champion it only if it sells enough copies because, then, it’s proven itself to be worth their time advertising it. And not because they think it’s good or worthwhile, they’d push anything if they thought it’d help move units.

Sorry for the digression. Not a big fan of Amazon, honestly. Just being able to buy an inflatable raft and the Rambo collection on Blu-ray from your own home while drunk on boxed wine at three AM should be against the law. Not that I’m speaking from experience on that one or anything. Ahem. But I think, first, people need to care about where their dollar goes. I think more people do than we know. But as far as convenience goes—whether it’s using Amazon’s publishing platform or buying from that platform—that’s where we get in trouble. It’s just too easy. I’m sure that’s not by accident either. But I’d like to see a platform that will sell self-published works and maybe all you need is a library card to join. And make it intuitive to use, both as an author and a reader. Have an option to hire a freelance editor with a section of the platform like a job board. Maybe they can run (unobtrusive) ads and that’s how they pay to keep the thing running, not take a percentage from every sale the author makes. And maybe standout works can be featured on the platform’s opening page, and also have author interviews and videos and book trailers. If I knew anything about coding, I’d try to make this happen.

What do you do when you’re not knee-deep in writing?

My house was built in 1880 and so if I’m not writing or working my nine-to-five, I’m pretending that I know what I’m doing trying to keep this place from caving in on itself. It’s a great house. Or it will be, eventually. My wife and I feel that it might be just the tiniest bit haunted. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Other than that, I like to make short animated films, I sculpt and paint, I watch a lot of movies. I’m a huge fan of Troma, The Last Drive-In, and anything directed by Frank Henenlotter, Gaspar Noe, and Nicolas Winding Refn. I’ve recently developed a strange fixation with bad game shows. And, of course, I’m always reading at least one book—usually two fiction, one non-fiction.

How do you manage to fit your writing with the other demands of life? Are you good at managing your time?

I’m terrible at managing my time. But I always keep an eye on the clock and when it’s time to shift from writing to work or vice versa, I try my best to do it. I work from home and set my own hours, which is nice, but I probably shouldn’t have been allowed that kind of freedom. I struggle with something I think a lot of writers probably do and that’s when you’re writing, you feel guilty for not taking care of other things and when you’re doing those other things you feel guilty for not writing. But like anything, it’s all about finding that balance.

Writing, editing, proofreading, marketing, cover design… do you write all these hat yourself or do you have someone you can trust to help you with those?

With the writing, I do that myself—and I don’t just mean the actual putting-down-the-words part of it, but I don’t solicit beta readers. I understand why people do it, and I’m not faulting anyone who does, but I trust myself to know I’m telling the story the right way. And, not trying to sound like a jerk here, but I don’t care if someone doesn’t like parts of it—or any of it. I write it how it comes to me and how I want it to be. With the editing, I go through it over and over until I’m sick to death at the sheer sight of the thing. And then it’s the editor’s turn to go through. Which, I’m not just saying this because I’m married to an editor, but authors need editors. I don’t care how close you look at a thing, if you wrote it, you won’t catch everything. The author’s too close to it and will only see what they think they wrote, not what’s actually there. Proofing I do with the editorial team, they take a pass then I take a pass. With marketing, I do what I can on social media, but I’ve also hired companies that’ll get the book to readers who’ll turn in advance reviews, which can help generate a buzz, but the publisher tends to take the lion’s share of that on themselves. With covers design, I’ve designed covers for other authors’ books but never my own. If whatever publisher I’m working with is open to suggestions—and most are—I’ll throw out some ideas. Like the cover for Chop Shop, the cadaver’s feet with the priced toe tag, that was my initial idea. But other covers, like the one for Aftertaste, that was the publisher’s idea and I think it turned out great. Especially the goopy lettering.

How important is a book’s cover?

There’s that phrase everyone knows, don’t judge a book by its cover. But we all do. We can say we don’t, but we do. Honestly, I think it’s pretty important. It doesn’t have to be anything super gaudy or feature the artwork of some famous artist, but the cover, whether we like it or not, will suggest the level of professionalism that went into the book on the whole. Not always true. Some books with atrocious covers have amazing content inside deserving of a better face. But it’s all about first impressions. And a really good cover design can convey the tone or even the book’s themes all with a single image.

With the advent of social media, is it still important to have a personal website for an indie author?

Not really, I don’t think anyway. I think as long as you have some place where your readers can get a sense of what you’re up to or what you have coming out soon, you’re good to go. Though if you have a lot of short stories, especially available online, it might be a good idea to have a place where you list all the links. I can’t really think of any other way to do that other than a website. I suppose Facebook maybe. Anyway, even as much as I read, I don’t go to that many authors’ websites. But as long as you have some social media home base, if your readers like you and they’re interested, they’ll come find you regardless of the digital roost.

Do indie writers perpetuate their own alienation?

I think we do, yeah, but it’s not entirely our own doing. For one, there’s far more money in publishing than they like to let on. But good luck arguing a better advance when you have zero leverage. Because they can just say, “Okay, well, there’s the door,” and not publish you. Like I said earlier, I think publishing is in need of an overhaul. For one, writers need to find a way to remind publishers that without us pouring blood, sweat, and tears into this stuff, the houses wouldn’t have anything to sell. But they’re the ones with the money, and this is how the world works, so they call the shots. Secondly, I also think authors, the same as all creative types, are mostly inward people and often don’t see the value of their own art, or at least don’t typically going around broadcasting it. Sharing what you’ve made with other people is hard enough, but then to dare think you actually might be good at what you do? That’s tough. And I think that’s what ends up putting authors, especially indie authors, on the back foot—not only in the arena of getting better advances, but also when it comes to having their work seen. I get shy even on social media; I don’t want people to think the only reason I’m there is to sell, sell, sell. I’m not advocating for writers to start opening their query letters with, “Listen, I’m the shit and my book is unequivocally also the shit,” but they should push to get themselves a fair shake. These things don’t materialize on their own. They take hard work, months if not years of our time. Get something to show for it.

So, I think indie writers’ ghettoization is partly our own fault and partly the system’s. They want to buy a product for cheap to maximize the bang for their buck taking it to market. Not great morally, no, but understandable. But a creeping laziness has set into publishing that’s made them risk-adverse because nothing is a sure bet anymore—or at least that’s what they tell us. When, really, you could put a big marketing campaign behind just about any kind of crap and they’ll at least make their money back. So, under this fib of “marketability” they go for the manuscripts—ad nauseum—that they believe are closest things to a sure bet: the next Girl Who Was Gone and Then Got on a Train and their like. Chasing trends, like I talked about before. All while original work, or daring work, or challenging work that they don’t want to bother doing the heavy lifting to market, it all gets shoulder-checked to the fringes. Where it might get discovered. Maybe. But, like I said, I think if the indie fiction world were to adopt a more punk rock “we wouldn’t want your money even if you offered it to us” kind of attitude, there’d be no ghettoization because those in our little corner, small as it may be, would have no need to look anywhere outside it for fulfilment. We’d have all we need.

Do you plan the story in advance, or start with a premise and see where it goes from there?

I like to have a kernel of an idea, a mood and a place and maybe one or two characters, and just write out a scene, three or four pages at most. And if I feel it has strings coming off it to other places and people and events, I follow them, and let the world open up on its own.

I’ve started and abandoned more stories than I’ll probably ever finish, but that’s because that world just stayed closed to me and ran out of air. I’ve had a story close off 50,000 words in. Just dropped dead, nothing else to say. But I’m a scavenger so I’ll never let an idea go to waste. Most of what I’ve had published are the Frankensteined-together fragments from other half-started things. Fictional towns, characters, entire scenes, whole premises. Some of which I’d thought up years fifteen years ago or more and put on ice. For me, what something starts as is seldom what it ends up becoming. The first draft of Chop Shop, which was written over a decade ago now, used to be completely different, unrecognizable as what it became. But as other projects keeled over, I picked them apart, stitched those pieces in, and made use of them.

Those starter scenes, if they don’t end up going somewhere else, sometimes won’t end up in the final draft of anything at all. I think of them as the window into that world, the first glimpse. It’s where I establish the vibe of the thing that’ll overlay the rest of the project, the style and voice, and where I establish the characters’ voices and intentions and wants, let them come alive.

How important are the names of your characters?

I think for someone who doesn’t have kids I probably spend an unusual amount of time on baby name websites. I put a lot of work into my characters’ names, but I’m not sure if it’s really that important. It might be just for me. Though some characters don’t feel right without just the right name. I think Elmore Leonard said something about that, how he had a character who wasn’t working until he renamed him and then he took off like a shot. So, it must be important in some way to the writer’s brain, how we connect with them and understand them. I like unusual names. Like in Aftertaste, the main character’s name is Saelig Zilch. Saelig is an actual name, but it’s also an old Germanic word for happy or blessed. And with Zilch meaning nothing, Saelig Zilch is the happy nothing. Amber in Chop Shop is a hard-partying mortician and a bit of a train wreck—and no offense to any Ambers out there—so the name just felt right. Also, with her arrested development, like something trapped in amber… You get the idea.

It’s an interesting question because with the thing I’m working on now I decided to try something new and not name any of the characters. They just appear as the manager, the sick man, the mother, the kid, the mouthbreather, etc. The intent is to make the story feel kind of cold and detached, but also tap into how fairy tale characters are often named just what they are or what they do—even if the story these characters find themselves in includes a doomsday cult. 

Do you want to give us some of your contacts?

I’m @MegaDeluxo on Twitter, I’m on Goodreads, Instagram as, and most of my stuff is available on Amazon. Of course, if you just want me to send you a free copy of something, hit me up on Instagram or Twitter.

And the book trailer for Mondo Crimson can be seen here:

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