Monday 12 October 2015

INTERVIEW: William Malmborg: Part One

Welcome to Part One of Confessions of a Reviewers’ interview with the one and only, (some would say phew!) William Malmborg.

If you don’t know a lot, or indeed anything, about William then read on. In this interview William was kind enough to take the time out to give us some detailed and, very candidly honest answers to all the questions I threw at him.

In Part One, tonight, we find out some general information about William and his writing and influences. In Part Two, tomorrow night, William will give us some specifics on his new book, Blind Eye and also take on the mighty Ten Confessions.

On night three as always, I will be posting my review of Blind Eye.

Nothing left to say other than go grab some nibbles and a drink and sit back, but most of all……enjoy!

COAR - So tell everyone a bit about yourself in general?

WM - Weary wormhole traveller. Ever see the show Sliders? Something like that. After years of travelling, I came upon this world, which is similar to the one I originally jumped from, and discovered my double on this planet appeared to be a bestselling horror author adored by women. Wanting to live like that, I vaporized William Malmborg and assumed his identity only to discover that his novels were no longer selling well, all the women had moved on, and that he was getting ready to move back into his parent’s house.

Thankfully, I have penned a novel titled Blind Eye, which is sure to get the William Malmborg name back onto the bestseller list - even if it is a tad different from what his readers typically would have expected from him. I also bought an old farmhouse with his little brother, though given that he is starting to suspect something, he may be next in line for my vaporizing device . . .

COAR - Why writing? Why decide on writing as a career?

WM - I have no idea. One winter, at the age of sixteen, while reading an early Dean Koontz book, I mentioned to my mother that I had an idea for a horror novel. She told me I should write it. Until that moment, I had never considered doing such a thing, but thought, ‘What the heck’ and started writing. Two years later, during my senior year in high school, I had my first short story accepted and published by Black Petals magazine. Seeing that publication was one of the greatest moments of my life, one that I wanted to experience again and again. 

COAR - I know you have a day job as well. Are you ever tempted to scare your “customers”? Have you ever used someone you have spoken to in this job in one of your books? Maybe killed them in a gruesome manner?

WM - I did once unintentionally scare a customer. I work a roadside help hotline for fleet vehicles. One night, a driver called the hotline panicking because all the lights on her dash started flashing and her radio kept turning on with bizarre sounds blasting from it. Right away, I noticed she was in Tinley Park, Illinois, which is a community right outside of Chicago, Illinois. The area is well known to paranormal enthusiasts like myself, which is why, in an attempt to lighten the mood and calm her down a bit, I casually asked if she realized she was smack dab in the middle of a UFO hotspot. Oops! It didn’t calm her down at all. In fact, I had to pull my headset off to get away from the sobbing shriek she let out, her mind convinced she was now seconds away from being abducted.

COAR - Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?

WM - I sit down and just do it. Literally. Once an idea is there, and I have begun writing it, I do not stop until the first draft is finished. Mornings are my writing time. I have no idea why, but my creativity is at its peak while everyone else is waiting for the sun to rise. My daily output is eight to ten pages. Typically, this takes two to three hours, sometimes more if things are sluggish within the story, or if I become distracted by a sexy webcam girl.

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?

WM - No notebook. I never write anything down. Ideas are constantly shooting through my mind, more than I would ever be able to use. Most are crap, but some have potential, and when those ones appear, they seem to plant themselves within my mind and start to grow. There is no conscious effort to let them develop, they are just there, and keep snagging my attention until I finally use them. Sometimes these ideas are for novels, though never in their entire form, and sometimes they are simply situational ideas that just stay planted until the right project comes along. At no point do I ever focus upon the ideas and try to figure out where to use them. It all happens when the timing is right, without any thoughts or input from me.

COAR - I know from reading up on you that you have had probably what could be described as quite a traumatic life up to this point. How has that shaped you as a writer? Have some of those experiences, bad as they were, given you inspiration?

WM - My past has certainly shaped my writing, there is no question about that. Everything that happens in one’s life does. What’s funny is that most seem to think the traumatic events are the reason why my writing is so dark, but that darkness was there long before my disease appeared, and before my wife died.

My first published story, which I wrote at the age of eighteen, was about a young man who fruitlessly tries to give his mother an organ transplant after harvesting parts from a graveyard, and I wrote the first draft of Jimmy in the months before I graduated from high school.

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?

WM - I never consciously try to write about people from my life, but since everything that I experience in life influences my writing, I can’t help but use things I’ve witnessed and personalities that I’m familiar with when creating characters. That said, at no point will any character within any of my tales ever be an exact replica of anyone I have met. Even when using someone like my mother who is the inspiration for the mother in Blind Eye, or when using myself, which I’ve done several times, or my brother, who was the inspiration for the Alan character in Jimmy, there is enough fiction within the characters to make them unique and their own beings.

COAR - Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?

WM - The most credit would have to go to Stephen King. His novels and stories taught me quite a bit about writing, especially when dealing with characters and how they are the most important element of the story. And his novel On Writing was a great motivational tool during my early years. Clive Barker is another writer that influenced me. His novels and stories had elements from so many different genres, and were so visceral, that it made me realize that when writing within the genre of HORROR, you can do anything as long as it is believable within the world you have created.

Brian Lumley was also important. His Necroscope series made me realize that vampires can still be horrific, and when used properly, they can be a great tool for writing about history. F. Paul Wilson and his Repairman Jack novels also deserve quite a bit of credit. Never before had I read anything that blended my love of private investigator-type stories with horror. It was great and once again reminded me that under the label of horror, you can do anything. I also really enjoy the day-by-day layout for the chapters within the Repairman Jack stories, a layout I frequently will use myself.

Hmm, an author that I just don’t get? Uh oh, I really shouldn’t go there with this one since I’ve seen the web rage that can follow whenever someone criticizes this particular author, but, what the hell, I once spent a year pissing out shit after my immune system punched a hole through my small bowel into my bladder so I can endure some web rage.  An author whose work I just don’t get or particularly enjoy is Richard Laymon. I can’t explain why and won’t even try, but it’s true. What’s odd, I keep buying his books in hopes that I will like them, but I never do. It’s the covers that draw me in. They are great.

COAR - You seem to be a voracious reader. What do you enjoy reading most?

WM - I read a wide variety of fiction, so nailing down what I enjoy the most isn’t easy. I obviously really like horror fiction, especially anything that has a real life, could happen next-door feel to it. Dark mystery and thriller fiction is also great. I love serial killer stories, especially if they feel true to life. Bonus points if they disturb me. Birdman by Mo Hayder was one that did just that. My god, the reveal on what exactly the serial killer was doing with those dead bodies and why they were finding a dead bird in the chest cavity of each victim . . . my jaw nearly hit the floor. It was great.

I also really like it when you know that no character is safe. Reading Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin back in 2006 while in Georgia during my brother’s basic training graduation was amazing. My wife was asleep with her head on my lap when I read the Ned Stark beheading scene and I jumped with disbelief that it had actually happened, waking her up in the process. Lastly, during the holiday season, I like reading action adventure novels of the James Rollins type, especially if they contain a lot of speculative / alternative -- yet very plausible -- historical theory to them. Rollins’s Map of Bones was what turned me on to this type of fiction. I read it while working as a security guard during a snowy December day in 2008. It was fantastic.

COAR - Tea. How did you end up with such a love of tea to the point where you import it directly from India?

WM - My late wife Jen is responsible for this. All my life, I have been drinking tea, but during my younger days, I brewed it from the simple packets that one can get at the grocery store. In 2007, during our first wedding anniversary, my wife gave me a beautiful handmade glass teapot and a gift certificate to a tea store she had found in St. Louis, which is where she was living with her mother while waiting for her double lung transplant. At the store, I bought a couple ounces of first flush Darjeeling leaves that they had imported from the Puttabong estate in India. Jen and I brewed it that night and it was amazing.

A month later, during my next visit, she took me to a sit-down tea place for my birthday where we shared a pot of perfectly brewed first flush Darjeeling tea from the Glenburn estate in India. After that, I was hooked. Never again could I go back to simply drinking tea packets from the store. I had to get the leaves from the estates themselves and learn how to brew them perfectly for the best tea drinking experience imaginable.

COAR - Did you know that I enjoy your “Did You Know” posts that you put on Facebook? Is there a point to these or is it some random facts that you come across while researching serious things for books? Or do you get them off “thought for the day” site?

WM - I’m not really sure why I started writing these. I think it may be a carryover from a Facebook page and stand-alone forum I used to host about the American Civil War. Every day I would try to put up an interesting titbit about the war that other history buffs might not have known, which would then spur discussion. I no longer host that page or site, but I still have a love of history and an interest in the surreal / morbid, all of which comes together when bored and browsing the Internet to learn things I did not previously know. When I find a fun little bit of information, I share it.

A part of this may also stem from the fact that I was actually studying to be a history teacher while in college and used to make extra money by dressing as historical soldiers and giving presentations at local high schools. I love sharing knowledge with people, and my ‘Did You Know . .’ posts seem like a fantastic way of doing that.

By the way, did you know, my most controversial ‘did you know’ post was about the invention of the fork. I’ve never seen someone express so much web rage as one young man did who felt I was misleading the world on where the fork originated from. It got to the point where he started belittling me, my family and my writing, before finally un-friending me.

Head scratch.

COAR - What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

WM - Self-doubt. It doesn’t matter how many novels I have written, how many I’ve sold, or how many times I’ve found myself on the bestseller list, self-doubt constantly plagues me as I write. ‘This is crap,’ it says, ‘and why do you even bother.’ Thankfully, for the most part, I am able to ignore it and push the doubt away.

Other times, I’m not, especially if I’m stuck within the work, unable to move the story along. Whenever this happens, it becomes impossible to go forward, and, eventually, I will have to set everything aside for a few days before rereading the manuscript from the beginning just to show myself that the story is entertaining. After that, it all starts to move forward again.

COAR - What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?

WM - My wish is simple. All I want to do is write stories that readers will enjoy. Being able to make a living from it once again would be nice too because I hate working for other people. If I could make enough from my writing to go live in a cabin in the woods on a lake, all while knowing my disease won’t bankrupt me if it comes out of remission, it would be a dream come true.

That’s it for part one of the interview. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for part two when William gives us more on his writing, talks about Blind Eye and answers The Ten Confessions.

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