BRC: Autumn is finally here, my favorite time of year! And Halloween is just around the corner, which of course, is my favorite holiday!! Mark, how do you feel about Halloween and how will you be celebrating it this year?
MAG: Autumn is my absolute favorite season, seeing the leaves raining down and hearing the scratching sounds they make skittering across pavement brings out a child-like glee in me. And Halloween is my absolute favorite time of the year; as a horror hound I love that there is a holiday during which the public at large is encourage to embrace a love of horror. This year my fiance and I will be taking a trip to Pawley's Island here in South Carolina for a 3 day weekend, and we'll be taking in a haunted house and seeing a live theatrical production of Little Shop of Horrors.
BRC: WELCOME TO THE GRAVEYARD is your newest collection from Evil Jester, and once again, it's an awesome book! How did this collection come about?
MAG: Short stories are my passion and I had been wanting to put out another collection, but honestly I'd gotten complacent and hadn't really done anything to try to make that happen. Then my fiance took me to the South Carolina Book Festival, and we attended a panel discussion on the art of the short story, and it rekindled that passion, reaffirmed my desire to master that form and promote it. I knew I had to put together a collection, and since I'd been so happy with my previous experiences with Evil Jester, I approached them and asked if they'd be interested.
BRC: You have a long history with Evil Jester; it must feel wonderful to have a supportive, trusting relationship with your publisher! How collaborative is it? How does it work?
MAG: Charles Day and Peter Giglio at Evil Jester have been wonderful to me. Peter has been my editor on all three books I've released with them--THE QUARRY, THE SUMMER OF WINTERS, and WELCOME TO THE GRAVEYARD--and he has a wonderful eye and offers suggestions that really tighten up my prose and make my work stronger. Peter will actually be focusing on his own writing in the future, however, so my next book with them (fingers crossed) will have a new editor. I trust it will be as wonderful an experience as before, but Peter will be missed.
BRC: In this blogger's opinion, you're a bright star in the horror field; how do you keep the stories fresh for yourself? I mean, as a reader, I always enjoy how engaged I become in your stories; is it hard to keep the writing fresh after telling so many wonderful tales?
MAG: For me, the secret to keeping it fresh and exciting is that I always write for me first and foremost. I love my readers and want to entertain them, but I think the best way to do that is to make sure I'm entertaining myself. I don't I don't write to please publishers, editors, or even readers per se. I write to please me, I write what thrills and interests me. And above all, I always try to have fun.
BRC: Would that be your advise to budding writers out there? Have fun and write for yourself first?
MAG: Write the stories you want to read, not the stories you think the public wants or market research says will sell. I think that kind of writing is rather empty, but if you write to entertain and please yourself, that's going to come through in the work.
BRC: And also, the question every writer dreads: where do your ideas come from? I really appreciated that you had author's notes before each story but it must be hard to keep track..?
MAG: I think the reason writers don't like that question is that there's no easy answer. They come from so many different places. Things that happen to me, things I overhear, songs I hear on the radio, and sometimes they just seem to come from nowhere, just little gifts sent down from the muses.
BRC: You're a very prolific writer, Mark; what's forthcoming from you? I'm excited about a rumor I heard about a sequel/spin off of (one of my personal favorites) ASYLUM?
MAG: Earlier this year I co-authored a werewolf novel called DOG DAYS O' SUMMER with the very talented James Newman, and it has been purchased by a publisher but we cannot officially announce it until they do. I also wrote a zombie novella entitled FORT, which is a semi-sequel to ASYLUM. It takes place in the same fictional universe. I'm also writing a sequel to THE QUARRY, tentatively titled THE CULT OF OCASTA, which I hope to place with Evil Jester when it's done, and I'm working on putting together a new Halloween collection.
BRC: So can we expect an annual Halloween collection from you? I'm already anticipating my annual Mark Allan Gunnells rereads!! :)
MAG: Well, I do write Halloween themed stories every year, but I don't think I'll be able to manage a full collection every year. But I would definitely love to do a series of them.
Once again, I'd like to thank Mark Allan Gunnells for taking the time to talk with us and do check out his latest collection, Welcome to the Graveyard; you'll be happy you did!