Confessions of my Past, Present and Future
One night many years ago my mother (she was probably drunk) let my father (he was definitely drunk) have some fun and voila, nine-ish months later out popped a legend! Oh, not that far into the past? My bad. You’re here about these little amazing things called books.
My love of reading came fairly early without me even knowing it because it started with comic books. I didn’t have many but I read them over and over again. On top of that my mother was (and still is) an avid reader of multiple genres so she was always reading something. She never once told me I should read this or that, she just set an example by always having a book in her hand. By the time I was seven or eight years old, I finally followed that example and read my first book, Little Arliss by Fred Gipson. It was basically a short story related to the classic Old Yeller but I remember feeling like I had accomplished something. My love of reading was born and I began devouring book after book.
A short time later I discovered The Hardy Boys. I think it was in the third grade when I met a schoolmate who had also discovered Frank and Joe Hardy and the challenge to see who could read the most was on! He beat me by a couple of books by the end but we both read over fifty books in the series that year as well as discovering Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators, devouring those as well.
This was the 80’s when Sly and Arnold action flicks were all the rage, especially for a young boy, so my reading naturally followed that path. I began consuming mercenary books like the Phoenix Force, Able Team and Mack Bolan series among a slew of others that were being churned out at the time and very well may still be, I have no idea. During this time, I found the first book that I could say I loved and was the only book I had ever read more than once for a very long time, Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I was not one of those boys who longs for a dog (we had one plus a cat and various other pets but that’s another story) but something about that book hit home and I truly loved it.
Now we’re to the point in the story where everything changed. I was now eleven with hundreds of books under my belt but they had all been pretty much young reader books below my reading abilities. I needed a challenge so I turned to my mother for the first time for a recommendation. I remember my mother being very patient but also excited to talk about books. I had already developed a love for horror movies so she suggested some guy named Stephen King, maybe you’ve heard of him? I combed through the numerous books she owned by him not wanting to read one of the thinner volumes but something I could barely fit my hands around. My mother stood there telling me a little about each one to help me make my decision until finally I grabbed the one that was calling to me. My mother never once said, “No, not that one.” or, “You’re too young for that.” She never said, but I think she was proud of my choice and that it was “my choice.” I had chosen Stephen King’s The Stand and though it took me some time to finish it, I would never be the same. I couldn’t go back to reading “young adult” after that and it sparked my love of reading even further along with my love of horror.
There are so many great authors and books that influence what and how I write but it all started with Stephen King and The Stand. It wasn’t until years later I would discover my personal favorite, Clive Barker, who has been a huge influence on me.
Outside of horror there are many influential authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank L Baum, Terry Brooks and Michael Crichton who I may not mimic stylistically but whose stories and imagination have opened my mind to infinite possibilities. Another huge influence from an unlikely source for me would be Cormac McCarthy who wrote the play, The Sunset Limited. There are so many lines and ideas I’ve stolen from that play it’s astounding. I have no idea how many books I’ve read in my life but it was after several disappointing books that I finished thinking, “I could do better than that.” I decided it was time I put up or shut up and I began writing.
Many writers give the advice that if you want to be a great writer you should read, read, read and read some more. I did that for nearly forty years of my life then I began writing. I do not follow that advice, not because it isn’t sound advice or because I think I’m better than everyone. I don’t read much anymore for one simple reason; I pick up on other writers’ syntax extremely easily. I don’t want to sound like my idols, like King or Barker, I want my own voice. However, that really only pertains to novels. I do read tons of short stories. One, because I love the format but also I don’t begin to ape anyone’s style after reading ten or twenty pages by them. Another reason is for what I see in the current literary world, be it in my genre, horror, or others and that is the copycatting of ideas ad nauseam. I love zombies as much as anyone but holy Christ there is a new zombie story published every five seconds. Also how many Twilight, Harry Potter or Hunger Games rip offs need to be published? The amount of cookie cutter writing being done makes me just want to puke. Sorry, had to rant on that for a second.
When I’m not writing, which is rarely, I have been working my way agonizingly slowly through the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. A good friend suggested the books to me years ago but I just never began them and in a way I’m glad I didn’t. It’s the show that completely won me over and they stand as the only books I’ve read after seeing a film adaptation and actually enjoyed. If you’re not a fan (For Shame!) there is a ton of history and a ton of characters to keep track of in this series so seeing the show first, in this case, made it easier for me to follow the story. I didn’t have to learn fifty different characters and their histories, I already knew them and it helped tremendously. Also I can read these books because they are like nothing I am interested in writing myself and the syntax of Martin is so dissimilar to my own that aping him isn’t a problem. What I do try to learn from Martin, just like Tolkien, is their amazing ability to create intricate histories for worlds that are similar to, but not our own. Those are things I do want to be able to incorporate into future works. In that regard, Imajica by Clive Barker is also a world building case study. I do have a future epic planned that will show how well I did or didn’t learn from these masters.
Aside from Game of Thrones I’m really relishing being a new author who’s been lucky enough to find a publisher as excellent as Dark Chapter Press. Call it sucking up but Jack Rollins (now along with Stuart Keane, David Basnett and Alice J Black) has a fantastic eye for new voices in horror. Being involved in Kill For A Copy and KIDS has enabled me to not only read some new and upcoming talented writers but also get to know some of them. The support among our little horror writer community is really amazing and I can’t wait to read more and see people like Grant Skelton, Mitch Workman, Shaun Hupp, Brian Barr and many, many others succeed. Perhaps with a bestseller or two under my belt (yeah, I’m not holding my breath) someday I can get back to reading more again but for now I want my voice to be my own so this is the way it has to be.
I can’t predict the future any more than anyone else but there are a few things I do know. One, I have more stories in my head than I could write in a few life times. Two, I have written one novel (unpublished as of yet), have another I need to complete (it’s f’ing sick) and at least four or five more rattling around in my head in need of being written down. Three, I love writing flash fiction and short stories so I have no plans to stop doing that. Four, I have several unpublished novellas that I plan to start self-publishing soon. Five, I have several stories submitted for publication that have yet to be rejected… so maybe. And finally no matter what happens I will never ever stop fucking writing. If I find myself homeless, I’ll be writing. If I find myself starving, I’ll be writing. If I’m diagnosed with fatal anal warts, I’ll be writing. Wait… never mind. Want me to stop writing? Shoot me. Then I’ll rise up from the grave, skin your face wearing it as I rip off your arms, beat you to a pulp with them, let ants finish you off, go bang your mom and then you know what I’ll do? I’ll fucking write about it!
PS Soylent Green was a documentary sent back from the future!
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Feind Gottes is a horror writer with his first published work, Hell Awaits, appearing in Kill For A Copy from Dark Chapter Press. His zombie flash fiction tale, Tamed Brute, can be found in Flashes of Darkness: Halloween Special 2015 and his tale, Known But Not Named, recently won Dark Chapter Press' DreAdvent Calendar contest. Feind recently finished his first novel and will have another short story published in the anthology, KIDS, to be edited by Stuart Keene for Dark Chapter Press due out in March 2016.
Feind is also the editor for ThyDemonsBeScribblin.com, his website dedicated to all things horror & heavy metal. Feind currently resides in Tucson, AZ working non-stop to promote and support independent music, movies and writers like himself.
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