Awhile back I was given an opportunity to interview Stuart Keane. If you have no idea who he is head over to Amazon and check out one of his books. I stumbled onto his book The Customer Is Always... and have been a fan ever since. This guy knows horror and I'm glad that I get to put this out even though it may be a little dated. My thanks to Stuart for giving me the okay to put this up.
Q. First thanks for agreeing to do this. This shouldn’t be too painful
A. Charlotte is your latest novella. Where did the idea come from? It’s truly terrifying as a parent to see the other side of the invisible friend. Have you received any complaints from parents?
Funnily enough, the idea came from a simple image of a young girl. She was holding a particularly bedraggled doll…and the idea spawned from there. She looked so dejected, lonely and sad. I remember growing up as a kid and being bullied and ignored by kids and teachers in school. My parents, thankfully, were awesome, but I can imagine a kid going through this and thought it would make a great tale. I haven’t received any complaints yet, although one of the ARC readers commented on a part that has since been modified…yeah, it was a little too risqué in one part.
Q. The interesting thing about Charlotte is that it covers so many issues like bullying but you managed to create a novella that truly captures what horror used to be about. How hard was it to create this novella?
A. It was pretty difficult in places. I had a moment where I thought I might not even finish within the deadline. The bullying aspect is something I've lived personally, so I found that easy to convey to the page. The biggest issue I had was going for a hint of the supernatural…I prefer realistic horror. At one point, Charlotte was going to remain unseen and Amy was going to be schizophrenic…then I received the cover from Mark Kelly and realised I had a great story with a hell of an ending lined up…and the image helped me shape that. I'm all for old school horror and it's great to see people, like yourself, acknowledging that. I love the thrills and scares that a simple shadow or noise can generate and this was a major factor in Charlotte. Then, there's the spooky kid…everyone has a kid in the family and can relate.
Q. I know that Richard Laymon is one of your influences, but what else inspires you too write?
A. Music is a major factor. Before I started writing properly – I do 2,000 words a day now – I was a huge film and game fan, and still am. I also read a lot too. These mediums have inspired me to write the material I've currently produced. I would say reading and music are the major ones though, so many ideas, characters, titles etc. have come out of those.
Q. When did you realize that you were born to write?
A. I haven't realised this yet. Thank you for indicating that may be the case (chuckles). I think the reaction I get from readers is putting me into that position. The response from people, especially for Charlotte, has been amazing. In February, when I started writing properly, I could never envision being where I am now. It's been a hell of a ride.
Q. Do you consider yourself a splatterpunk author?
A. Honestly, I would say no. I sometimes write in that genre, but I like to think I'm more of a suspense horror author, if that makes sense. Some have said I have elements of splatterpunk in my stories (my shorts Lake Whisper, The Swansong and Rendezvous in particular) but I prefer to focus on the character interactions and realistic horror. Gore is not as effective if it's slathered all over everything and that’s why I keep it to a minimum in most of my work. I think a good old fashioned scare, born from feral terror, is much more fun than a bit of bloodshed. For example, someone standing in the corner of a dark bedroom watching someone…this idea terrifies me and I think can be the basis for an entire story, and scare a ton of people in the process.
Q. Aside from writing there are a ton of side projects that you have going. Can you tell us what they are and when they’re coming out?
A, Where to start…first of all, I wish to thank everyone involved in the following. This answer could be a long one. First up, Carnage: Extreme Horror. This is an anthology I have constructed myself, including editing and formatting. I handpicked three authors – Kyle M. Scott, Angel Gelique and Jack Rollins - to accompany me on an extreme journey of absolute terror. Readers, if you haven’t read these people yet, seriously, jump on Amazon and dive in. They are the future of horror…you heard it here first. Aside from this…I have several anthologies pending. Cellar Door III: Animals and Hell II: Citizens, as well as Indiana Horror Review 2014, all published by James Ward Kirk. My shorts, From Within, In The Closet, and Wet are featured respectively. Sick as Fuck is due imminently from Roger Archer and Madwriter Press. This features my short, Bon Appetit. I'm working on my second full novel, Boys, and I also have a short story compilation due in May 2015, which features fifteen shorts from myself…maybe more depending on how I get on between now and then. I also have several other anthos which are in their infancy…details will follow on my Facebook page and website. I have included the links below.
Q. It seems like the indie horror writers are the only ones that are keeping the horror genre alive do you ever find it difficult coming up with new ideas?
A. I don’t actually. Not yet anyway, I find my brain is always working on something. Looking on my PC, I have…seven novels, twenty-two shorts and three collaborations started. I also have a list of titles for potential stories, so I think I might be busy for some time. I think the indie authors have something more to prove. I've met some who are pretty laidback and I've met a few who are passionate and eager to make something of themselves. The latter are the ones to watch…they have a dedication and love for the craft that scares me (in a good way). I'm proud to know several of these too. Horror isn't going anywhere but up, folks.
Q. You’ve only been writing a short time yet you have gotten a lot of positive reviews and it seems as if you’re one of those writers that seems right on the verge of mainstream success. When you wrote The Customer Is Always did you think it would catch on as quickly as it did?
A. No. That's the simple answer (chuckles). The Customer was written in a short period, to bridge the gap between my full novel, All or Nothing (which you reviewed recently) being edited and published in the traditional way (something I've dreamt of for many years). Funnily enough, Charlotte was the same, since my publishers, J Ellington Ashton Press, are very intricate with their process. All or Nothing should be on shelves soon. It took a while for Customer to catch on, and there were some critics, but the overwhelming response as a whole – which has brought me a fan base and some amazing followers – was very welcome. If mainstream success is verging towards me, that’s news to me. I'm just glad to be writing stories that people enjoy.
Q. A lot of that was really kind of word of mouth promotion wasn’t it?
A.I think so. Social media is a key tool (I hated Twitter before I started writing, now – it's essential) and word of mouth is a great advantage. However, promotion is what you make it. If you put effort in, it reaps rewards. I've done promotions (freebies), interviews, radio shows, multiple posts on Facebook and Goodreads and generally just promoted to the heavens. However, and I think this is the key thing, I've spoken to my readers. I like to be connected to the people who read me, it's personal, and I always loved to hear their thoughts. I keep myself active on social media and, it's paid off.
Q. What advice would you give to new writers?
A. Two key things. One: Write every day. I write 2,000 words a day. I started off on 200, which I thought was a challenge at first. However, I now knock out 2,000 in a couple of hours. Every day. If you keep writing, you'll become more productive. People tell me I'm prolific, and I shrug it off. Then, I realise that, since February, I've written fifteen short stories, a novel, and two novellas. In nine months. Having discipline is key as an author and something I would urge any new writers to obtain as quickly as possible.
A. Second: Create a brand. Get noticed. This is easy now, with Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest (hint, get ALL of these and pimp the pages to high heaven, on Goodreads – create an author group). If need be, create a website. This gives the fans something to come back to. Put a blog on it, keep active, and link it to your other sites. Also, make your books stand out. Get a great cover artist, hire an editor and a proofer (keep them separate) and create yourself. For example, it's a simple thing, but my books all have the same font for my author name on them. Something as simple as this will create you in no time and make people remember you. Stephen King does it…and it works. Also talk to other authors if you get stuck or need advice. I do this now because it helped me so much when I started out. Feel free to message me on Facebook anytime…
Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/stuartkeanewriter
Website – www.stuartkeane.com
Twitter – www.twitter.com/SKeane_Author
Also be sure to check out Stuart's Amazon page for all of his releases