Today’s guest is one who I’ve long been a fan of and someone who I’ve been fortunate to work with as well. Not only did I get to write a foreword to an anthology Ross was putting together, but later I was also invited to be in an anthology through Storgy. And let’s not forget, Ross and Joseph Sale’s upstart small press published my novella ‘The Window in the Ground.’ Ross himself has shown just how talented of an author he is and I’m always excited to see what he has coming!
Please, welcome Ross!
Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?
Ross: My writing time varies from book to book, which includes the time of day I write, the soundtracks I listen to and the work count (although I’m starting to not be too ridged on that last one). For instance, when I wrote ‘The Devil’s Pocketbook’ it was an evening book, between 7pm-9pm for about a month; I’d go to work and then when I’d come home I’d do all my dad responsibilities and then when the children went to bed, I’d settle down in the office and create. This book had the soundtrack to ‘Midnight Mass’ like I’d listen to the whole album on repeat, that even now when it comes on, certain tracks remind me exactly of what I was writing at the time. For ‘The Devil’s Pocketbook’ I wrote between 4k-5k a night, every night of the week, giving myself the luxury of weekends off.
For my latest book ‘I Died Too, But They Haven’t Buried Me Yet’ it was a morning book, I’d write first thing in the morning, and then adapting the Lansdale Technique (look it up its awesome) I’d then polish my words in the evening, getting myself ready for the next day’s session. Although writing this book I did have some annual leave to take and so I was writing each morning, at my desk, without fail. I was also writing this book alongside Josh Malerman (who was writing his own macabre tale – Incidents Around The House) and so I had to keep up, and writing a little, often, really helped keep the momentum going on this project. I was able to finish it in 25 writing sessions (so in essence 25 days – 98K). The soundtrack for this one was the works of Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring dude) which helped get me into the creepy mindset I needed for the feel of this book.
So, circling back to your point, each book drives the process – for ‘I Died Too…’ we (Josh and I) opted for about 2k a day, so at the end of the working week we’d have 10K and then we’d swap our manuscripts. This slowing down really helped to hone the words on the page, gave time to breath and really get into the story – big word counts for writing days are cool, don’t get me wrong, but slowing down really helps (as long as you keep moving – little and often wins the race).
Steve: You decide to host a writer’s retreat. One weekend in a luxury house on an island. What three other authors do you invite to come along?
Ross: We’ll that’s a tough one, but I’m going to have to go with people that I feel I’d vibe from and that we’d have a great time, talking shop and sharing stories; so I’d go with Stephen King, Josh Malerman and Chuck Palahniuk.
Chuck Palahniuk is one of the people I attribute to me starting this crazy dream of writing. I read ‘Fight Club’ before the film came out and it blew my tiny mind. I’d really struggled growing up and reading, like I couldn’t find books I wanted to read, and at school I had an English teacher that bullied me and put me off writing and reading. So, I discovered reading for pleasure late in life, but when I cracked open the spine of ‘Fight Club’ and devoured his words, I was like “Wow. Chuck, where have you been my whole life”.
Stephen King is Stephen King right? Like to sit and chat with the King of horror would be like panning a fountain of horrific knowledge and insight, just to speak with him about his books, his craft, where he gets his ideas, what he struggles with (endings I can hear people shouting already) and how he continually churns out books… like that is the dream. He’s also a huge hero of mine and so he’s on the list for sure.
Josh Malerman – I’ve had the joy to get to know Josh over the years as a friend and well, to meet that guy in person and to have some drinks, talk shop, discuss life, man that would be incredible – plus if we need some musical interlude or something, the man can do that too. Also, Josh’s work to date is incredible, no two books are the same, he’s a true chameleon and his ideas are so unique, so “why didn’t I think of that!”.
Just imagine that writing retreat – the minds in the room, the stories, the sheer brilliance waiting to explode; each in their own right such gifted raconteurs… and being at the centre of that – I’m in, where do I sign up?
Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
Ross: So, my most recent release is ‘Beautiful Atrocities’ – its my debut short story collection and one that I’m pretty proud of, you’ll find no cryptids in my fiction, its straight up monsters of men and women, how brutality springs from the mind and destroys all it touches. I think that the horrors men and women do to each other is some of the scariest stuff on the planet, and so that’s what this collection focuses on. There’s something for everyone (unless you love cryptids – there not in there) and it features a foreword by Eric LaRocca which perfectly sums up the varied collection of my work.
If you’ve never read my work before, it’s a great little sampler for what you might get if you checked out my other work.
Steve: Bonus Question! You receive an invitation in the mail from one of these two people. The invitation invites you to have dinner and spend the night in their home. Do you accept the invitation from Victor Frankenstein or Dracula and why?
Ross: Neither, I don’t do cryptids (I thought I made myself clear above).
“OWWW… Steve that hurts. Stop. Twisting. My. Arm. It hurts, stop it… okay, okay… I’ll pick…”
Frankenstein – he’s much more the conversationalist, plus I hear he’s allergic to nuts (heheheh – dad humour strikes again).
Oh good grief… ha! Thanks so much Ross!
To find more of his work – check the links!