Join us as we peek behind the scenes of our upcoming anthology, ON TIME. Learn more about Kevin M. Folliard in his featured interview.
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
I wanted capture the expression that “Life comes at you fast.” How looking back on life, so much of it—especially if you’ve had traumatic experiences—can overlap and intersect in strange ways.
Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
My protagonist Bill begins his story as a sort of “every-kid,” living his life for simple pleasures, like most twelve-year-olds who are lucky enough to have a nice family and good friends in a nice neighborhood. But as the story progresses, he’s forced to adapt to life’s challenges and complexities faster than he expects.
What is the most interesting thing about the world you’ve created?
The story is set in a world that seems to operate as if “life is flashing before your eyes,” but Bill is not experiencing that as someone looking back on the past. He’s remembering his life in a forward, linear fashion, but because it’s “someone’s” memory, it’s not as linear as it could be. You might say that time in this story is a traumatic memory of the present.
What genre or mix of genres does your story fit into?
I suppose you could call it my take on magical realism. There’s a dash of sci-fi, with the idea that time might be able to intersect with itself (but isn’t that what a memory is?). It’s also equal parts horror and dark fantasy. It has a monster that’s both literal and metaphorical which both hunts and haunts the protagonist on his journey.
How have your personal experiences influenced this story?
I think everyone has things in their young life especially that they wish they had been warned about, and then at the same time, thinking about your younger self, you realize, all the warnings in the world might not stop a stubborn kid from stumbling along the way. I’ve had disappointments and loss at a young age, and like most people, I hate that tragedy can strike so mercilessly, so randomly against young and fundamentally innocent people. I feel like grief and loss are big themes that come up in my writing, and this story is certainly about that. There’s literal grief when you lose a loved one, and there’s also grief for shattered expectations about life and the world we dream about as kids.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
Life is hard. Life is unfair. Life is short (sometimes too short). Soldier on anyway, because it’s worth the struggle. And more importantly, look behind you occasionally. You might find someone trying to help you.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
I write a lot of horror, so it’s always fun for me to come up with a new monster. In “Home by Dark,” I had the opportunity to personify life’s dark pitfalls using sort of “toxic” imagery, and the result was a demon that I hope readers feel is equal parts fresh and familiar.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When did you write your first story, how old were you, and what was it about?
The first prose story—with complete sentences and paragraphs—that I remember ever writing was in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coloring/activity book when I was about six. I remember it blew my mind that they had provided a bunch of blank lines and the prompt was just to “write a story” about the Turtles based on a picture. I had drawn comics before, but it was the first time I realized I could just write stories using only words to describe what happens. I’m pretty sure it was about the Turtles systematically beating up all their bad guys and saving the day, but it had complete sentences and a dramatic arc.
What is your writing survival checklist? (Aka, what helps your write the best: music, snacks, coffee, complete silence, a stress ball, a cat, or an outline, etc.)
Good question! Sometimes I like instrumentals on low, but I don’t really need music. I think I mostly need quiet time, space, and discipline. I do like to outline and brainstorm a little here and there but it depends on the story and its complexity. I like to take long walks and just let my mind wander, and that’s often where good ideas or narrative solutions pop into my brain unexpectedly. It also helps to set goals and deadlines and get literally every single thing done that needs doing for that day so I have no excuses to shift my focus onto something else. I have been known on occasion to incentivize myself with the promise of a victory cocktail if I get a certain amount of writing done.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
Other writers, including the authors I loved to read growing up, my creative writing and English teachers, and my writing friends, peers, and mentors who I work with as an adult.
What font do you prefer to write in?
Standard Times New Roman, 12 point.
Do you have any writing blogs/vlogs/podcasts, etc. that you would recommend?
I love The Horror Tree. Years ago, they really helped me start discovering new markets and allowed me to get my work out there, and in time, they also started publishing a lot of my drabbles and flash fiction in their Sunday Trembling With Fear feature. They have a lot of good writer support media and guest blogs too, aimed at both horror writers, and writing in general.
What is your favorite and least favorite word, and why?
Wow! I have no idea. It’s hard to pick just one, and I have mixed feelings about a lot of words depending on the circumstances. For example, as someone who works in academia and reads a lot of student writing, I’m constantly telling students to avoid the word “thing/things.” Unless you’re talking about a clobber-happy superhero made of orange rock, the severed hand from the Addams Family, or the excellent John Carpenter movie, you can probably find a better word than “thing.” It’s a great word that should be used with purpose.
I’ve always said if I could make one exception in the English language, it’s that I want the plural for “toothbrush” to become “teethbreesh,” rather than the clumsy-sounding “toothbrushes.” I don’t hate that word, but I think it could be more fun. Maybe if I keep tossing “teethbreesh” around, someday, it’ll stick.
Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose fiction has been collected by The Horror Tree, Flame Tree Publishing, Hinnom Magazine, Thrilling Words, and more. His recent publications include “Halfway to Forgotten,” featured on The No Sleep Podcast, and the Short Sharp Shocks! Halloween tale “Candy Corn.” Kevin currently resides in La Grange, IL, where he enjoys his day job as an academic writing advisor and active membership in the La Grange and Brookfield Writers Groups. When not writing or working, he’s usually reading Stephen King, playing Super Mario Maker, or traveling the U.S.A.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.