If you haven’t heard of our new project, the On Fire anthology, this interview series will showcase our authors and their writing lives beyond their ignited tales. In Kevin Holton‘s “The One Who Burns,” a young couple find more than their bargaining for when they break into the abandoned estate of a local legend.
What motivates you to write?
In keeping with the theme of this book, I guess you could say there’s a fire in my soul, and I just keep on burning that midnight oil.
Who are your favorite authors and why?
Oh, so many, for such varied reasons. Stephanie M. Wytovich, Mercedes M. Yardley, Josh Malerman, Paul Trembley, and Bonnie Arning have to make the list. Kazuo Ishiguro is great, but a lot of people already think that. I grew up on Stephen King, Dean Koontz, George Orwell, and Robert Heinlein, so they make the list as well. Plus, let’s not forget Melissa Febos, Alexander Gilvarry, Alena Graedon, and Michael Waters, all of whom I know personally, and all of whom I greatly respect as writers.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Spiders. Always loved ‘em, perhaps because they terrify my dad. They’re nimble and intelligent, a total balance of practicality and creativity. Their work is poetry as precise as geometry, to paraphrase Gustave Flaubert.
What is the title of your next story and what will it be about?
If we’re taking story to mean any given work, I’m currently writing a novel tentatively titled, These Walls Don’t’ Talk, They Scream. If you mean specifically short story, I’m side-working on a piece titled, A Little Box of Hate.
How long does it usually take you to write a story?
I typically write 2,000 words an hour, roughly, stream of consciousness, at a goal of 2,000 words a day. Yeah, it’s the Stephen King treatment. So, however long the story is, divide by 2,000, and that’s how many days it took, not counting revision
Who is your favorite character in your current story and why?
I love working with Jamais Vu, the strange among the familiar: children with esoteric wisdom, cosmic gods getting a ticket for not paying the parking meter, rooms in your house that open to other dimensions, etc. So, this isn’t from my current work exactly, but I have a novel coming out with Siren’s Call Publications under the working title The Nightmare King. The eponymous character, the King, can control peoples’ dreams, but he’s still pretty human despite being superhuman. He loves Family Guy, and keeps quoting The Godfather to make himself seem tougher to the narrator. He and the narrator also get mind-rippingly drunk at one point.
Do you use beta readers, and if so, roughly how many?
Short stories, no. Long works, yes, if you count family. Occasionally I’ll use my aforementioned bartering system to exchange beta reviews, since money’s tight, and everyone loves a favor.
What are you doing to market yourself?
Write, write, and write some more. Occasionally guest blogging, or commenting on others’ posts, but the more my work gets out there, the more eyes turn to me. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
What advice do you have for beginning authors?
It’s a job. Treat it like one. Read, so you know what others are doing, and write, even if every sentence you put to paper is garbage, until you hit a monthly, weekly, or, like me, daily word count. You can’t get better if you’re not working at it, and you can’t get published if you don’t do it at all. So, finish every piece you start, and if you haven’t started yet, start today. Wordplay.
So, why ghost hunters? Do you have any experience with this?
Nothing entertains me more than goofball paranormal investigators–those who go into a situation looking for ghosts or demons or whatever, without any clue as to what they’ll do if they find one. I think back to the show, Ghost Hunters, and how Brian Harnois fled part of the Eastern State Penitentiary (I believe) screaming, “DUDE, RUN!” Of course, that was just a TV program, fueled more by drama that paranormal activity. It’s possible the only angry spirit he saw was a producer. Still, the idea there, the notion of people completely unprepared for what they find beyond the veil, fuels a number of my stories, this one included.
As for experience with ghost hunting, I don’t want to drone on, or come off as insane to the more skeptical readers, but I will say this: most ghosts don’t seem interested in causing chaos, and exorcisms aren’t nearly as dramatic as Hollywood makes them out to be.
Kevin Holton‘s short fiction and poetry have been published with The Literary Hatchet, HellBound Books, Thunderdome Press, Radiant Crown Publishing, Mighty Quill Books, and many others. A short film he co-wrote, Human Report, is under production, and his novels The Nightmare King and At the Hands of Madness are being published by Siren’s Call Publications and Severed Press, respectively. When not writing, he’s an actor, athlete, and professor who can probably be found drinking coffee or talking about comic books.