Time for a change of pace, today, as I’d like to start an irregular series of interviews with new and established authors!
My first guest is horror novelist Richard Tabaka. An active member of the Horror Writer’s Association Richard’s novels include the three-book series The Pride, supernatural thriller St Augustine’s Road, and the short story collection 3:33.
Hi, Richard, welcome to the site. Please tell our readers a little about yourself and what you write.
I was born and raised in central Wisconsin, USA in 1960. I’ve been a fan of horror for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would read comic books quite a bit. Mostly Super Heroes like Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Superman, Spider-Man (who I liked a great deal because I often caught spiders in jars and kept them for pets), and horror comics like Eerie and Creepy and Tales From The Crypt. Every Friday night my sister and I would watch old horror movies on a local show called 7 Cemetery Road. It was mostly old Hammer Horror movies and some American ones as well. I always looked forward to Halloween not just for the candy, but because I got to dress up as my favorite monsters. By age ten or eleven I was reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe. By the time I reached my twenties Stephen King was becoming known and I read his books as fast as he could write them. Dean R. Koontz soon followed as did Robert MacCamon and F. Paul Wilson.
Okay, cool. Some strong horror influences there. MacCammon is certainly a terrific writer who doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves. What are your preferred genres as a writer?
I write horror with a dash of dark fantasy. I really have no urge to write in any other genre. Nothing else stirs my heart like horror.
And what is your latest book about?
My newest novel, which I hope to publish by midwinter, is a take on the shapeshifter myth and will move ancient elements into modern times. My last novel is about psychics and demons. All my books feature strong female characters. I don’t like the “damsel in distress” preferring a girl that fights back.
What is your favourite book in the genre in which you write?
It would be hard to pick an all-time favorite. I like to read horror with a twist on an old theme. Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves are all good and sometimes horror from a different source like James Herbert’s The Rats or Stephen King’s Cell. The new series Bane County by JR Rice is a great take on an old theme as is your own novel The Autumn Man. I also greatly enjoyed a novella I read recently called Honger by Terry M. West and the novels of Ambrose Ibsen.
Thank you. And thanks for the suggestions for further reading. My shelves are already groaning under the weight of all the books I want to read, but I guess I can slip a few more in there! Anyway, back to your own writing. What are your writing habits? Any unusual ones?
I love to write on weekend mornings or vacation days, though I do write after work sometimes too. I like it best when I can immerse myself in the process for many hours. I typically write out a long synopsis first and flesh it out into a chapter by chapter outline and from that I add more meat until I have a story and then leave it cool while I start another synopsis. I’ll return after a few weeks and tidy it up, usually two or three times. Then, I take the plunge and publish. I know too many people that might be great authors if they ever put themselves out there and took the plunge. Too often, we as writers are our own worst critics and for me my greatest sorrow would have been to leave the earth without trying. Now, having sold books on four continents and I know now that people around the world share my dark side.
So you’re definitely a planner, or at least a plantser. Interesting. What kind of characters do you primarily write about most often? Are your protagonists mainly children, teenagers, young adults or adults?
Almost all of my books and stories deal with adults and adult themes, though I wrote a short story that borrowed heavily from my early teen years. That story, Fat Man, has roots in real life and writing it was a very powerful experience for me.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
The most difficult part of the writing process for me is making time for it. I still work a “day job”, often 50 to 70 hrs a week. It is a challenge to juggle writing with work, family and other hobbies and friends. Sometimes I have to force myself to write a half hour here or fifteen minutes there, but that is the only way to keep moving forward. I know someone who once told me she wanted to write a romance novel. Twenty years later she has yet to finish it. I had the same problem until I took a calendar and marked in red ink on every Friday, seven more pages. I forced myself to stick to that schedule and in nine months I had a novel written. It would take another five years before I just made up my mind to publish it myself. I never regretted that decision.
That’s definitely a commitment to writing. Does your family support your writing career?
My wife supports me and likes to read my books, as do my mother-in-law and father-in-law. I am also grateful to my friends and co-workers who can’t wait to see what I come up with next.
A lot of authors dream of making it big like JK Rowling or Stephen King. What does literary success look like to you?
Success means different things to different people. For me, I’d like to see someone make one of my books into a movie. That said, I told my wife once that if I could sell enough books to make a house payment, I’d consider myself a success. By that measure I am a success many times over. I was also thrilled to be accepted as a full Member of The Horror Writer’s Association and I would love to earn a Bram Stoker Award someday. I have yet to be nominated, but I’ve had the honor of placing my votes for a few other writers. It is always good to have a dream.
And finally, as you know, my stories often feature animals in some way. After writing The Autumn Man I think I can safely say that my favourite animal is man’s best friend, the dog. What would you choose as your own mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
My personal spirit animal, and I do believe I have one, is the Bear. The Bear is a survivor and a resourceful creature and I’d like to think I am too. Like the Bear, I have a grumpy side and love a good snooze, and never miss a good meal. I think we all have a spirit animal and we should set it free from time to time and let it be our guide.
Excellent. Well, thank you Richard for giving this interview and for all your insights into the writing process. It’s been a great pleasure, and I hope you enjoy your well-deserved success!
Richard Tabaka’s novels are available on Amazon at the links below. I hope you will check them out for a taste of classic and modern horror fiction:
Saint Augustine’s Road www.amazon.com/Saint-Augustines-Road-Richard-Tabaka-ebook/dp/B06XHQXGKJ
Richard Tabaka website www.tabakahorror.com
Richard Tabaka Facebook Page www.facebook.com/TabakaHorror
Amazon Author’s Page www.amazon.com/richard-tabaka/e/B00N2YSK6M