Welcome to Part One of Confessions of a Reviewer’s interview with David Bernstein.
I must admit to not knowing an awful lot about David before this interview so if you are like me then you are in for a treat.
In tonight's section, David will be answering questions on his life in general and his writing and influences. As you will read, he has already led a very interesting life. In Part Two, tomorrow night, David will be answering specific questions on the two new releases he has coming up, Skinner and Goblins.
On night three I will be publishing my review of Skinner.
It’s Sunday so sit back and relax, get the roast dinner in front of you but, most of all………enjoy!
COAR - Whilst doing my research for this interview I discovered there is very little about your personal life to be found on the internet so, tell everyone a bit about yourself in general?
DB - I come from a small town located about an hour north of NYC, but now I live in NYC. I prefer small town life, the woods and less crowded places. The city has a lot to offer, but I dislike all the chaos—sirens, honking horns and traffic. I studied numerous martial arts throughout my years. I started out practicing Karate, then Aikido before moving into the Chinese arts of Kung Fu—White Crane, Choy Li Fut, Wing Chun, Hung Gar, and finally Tai Chi. Real, made-for-combat Tai Chi. It looks pretty and has lots of health benefits, but it's probably the most deadly. Internal energy is so much more powerful than muscle energy.
I also enjoy camping with friends, watching movies of all types—if it's good, it's good. But I do prefer horror and dark thrillers. Heck, my mother is a horror fan and got me into Alfred Hitchcock when I was a wee little one!
COAR - Why writing? Why decide on writing as a career? What other jobs have you had?
DB - I wrote my first short story when I was in kindergarten. It was a haunted house story. I loved it. I've always loved writing, but never took it seriously until 2009 when I wrote my first short story. It was never published, but my second one was. I kept at it, loving making up fantastic tales of terror. I spent so many years hanging out, partying and playing video games—damn addictive MMOs . . . it was time to put my imagination to work. I wrote my first novel, Amongst the Dead in 2011. It started out as a short story, but then I said, hhmmm, what happens to the little girl? From there, my first novel was written. Samhain loved it and published it.
Other jobs...I've done it all. I worked in a glass factory, was a slate and tile roofer, delivered pizza, waited tables, was a stock broker, worked in a laundry mat, a restaurant manager, worked in an architect firm where I acquired permits, met with examiners and went over plans.
COAR - If you decided, for whatever reason, to go back to any of these jobs which would it be? In other words which was your favourite?
DB - Probably the stock broker job. Only so I could make a lot of money and save it all, then write full time and not have to work a day job.
COAR - Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?
DB - I start with an idea or a single scene and expand it from there, usually rather quickly. I write out a rough synopsis for the story, then start from chapter one and keep going. I write longhand, then transfer it to the computer, which would be the second draft. My first drafts are crap. I am a sculptor. I like to just get it out, then work it into shape.
COAR - Does it not take forever writing your stuff longhand first?
DB - I find writing longhand rather fast. It's something I am used to. I used notebooks growing up and I guess it just feels right. I suppose it makes the writing process longer because I have to transfer, but the transfer stage is like rewriting the book better. I also never have to worry about my notebook crashing.
COAR - How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hand?
DB - Occasionally, I'll write an idea down on a small Post It note, but I usually just write out the whole story idea from the start. I like to know a publisher is interested in it so I know it'll have a home.
COAR - You seem to be quite a prolific writer, do you write every day as a rule or just as it comes to you?
DB - I write five days a week, sometimes six. Three to five hours a day. I have so many ideas and projects lined up and I love to write, so I just keep going. I've also learned to write in short spurts as well as for long periods. This helps when I go out somewhere and bring my notebook with me.
COAR - You wrote Jackpot with Messrs Rufty, McKenzie and Cesare. How did that come about? What was your level of input to it?
DB - Shane approached me with an idea he had—What if a serial killer won the lotto—and asked if I'd be interested in co-authoring it with a few other twisted fellows. It was originally supposed to be a Sinister Grin Press members only book by the way—for the people who belonged to their book club. But it was released to the public, which turned out great. People really seem to love it. We all wrote about the same amount of words—Shane a bit more as he started and wrapped it up—taking the story in whatever direction we wanted and doing whatever we wanted.
I came up with the Kill Van and had Booker test it out in gory fashion. It was so much fun that we're writing two more books.
EDIT: I was going to ask at this point if the “two more books” were Jackpot related but read on!
COAR - Can you tell us if any of the characters in your books are based on people you have come across in your life or maybe even yourself?
DB - Not intentionally. I suppose all writers use themselves and people they know at times, but I do not—at least I don't think I do.
COAR - You are published by a few different publishers and presses. You must feel quite privileged to be connected to so many?
DB - I'm very grateful. I love publishing with multiple publishers. It allows me to write more, compose different kinds of things and it feels good that my work is wanted and read. I mean, I write stuff because I love to write and I want to entertain. Give people an escape, for whatever the reason.
COAR - DarkFuse and Samhain would probably be the ones most people know and most authors would like to be connected with. How do they differ from each other? How do you decide which books to submit to who or do you work to demands from them?
DB - Both publishers are wonderful to work with. Professional and easy going and very accommodating. They have great staff and answer emails quickly! (I love that) DarkFuse publishes a multitude of genres, from horror, to sci fi, to crime and noir, to a mashup of things.
Samhain Publishing (the horror line) is pretty much pure horror. It's where you go if you want horror of any kind, from gory slashers to atmospheric ghost tales, to gothic to sci fi horror to bizarre crazy horror.
COAR - Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?
DB - When it comes to horror, I was a HUGE Leisure fan, so anything the company put out I read. I know it's what everyone says, but Stephen King has to be numero uno. I disliked school. Disliked reading. A friend of mine gave me King's It one day and I couldn't put it down. Reading suddenly wasn't so torturous! In fact, it was wonderful!
COAR - Can you say who you don't like?
DB - I like everyone! Seriously, in the writing world, I haven't had an issue with anyone.
COAR - I notice on your Facebook news feed you watch a lot of movies. Would you like something you have written to be adapted for the big screen or are you happy with the books?
DB - Hell yes! I'd love all my work to be adapted for film. For numerous reasons, besides it simply being so damn cool, but also because, whether the movie sucks or not, your books sales would go up. And then there's cashing the option check for the film. I'm sure that's wonderful.
COAR - What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?
DB - Finding enough time. I always want more. I'm never satisfied. Also, after the first draft, I sometimes feel like the work is crap. But I keep going, knowing I will sculpt it into something better with each draft thereafter.
That’s it for part one of the interview. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for part two when David gives us more on his writing and answers The Ten Confessions.