Interview With Glen R. Krisch

 

Let’s get the vitals out of the way –

Name: Glen Krisch
Marital Status: Married
Children: three sons
Pets: three dogs
Ghosts: two

Into The Macabre: Two ghosts? This I have to hear!

Glen: Well, I guess you could say we currently have one ghost. The other one we left behind when we moved last Fall. The first time I mowed the lawn at our old house, I discovered a headstone blanketed in overgrown grass. It was for someone named John, who died in 1938. I went to the library and researched his death in the microfiche archive of the local newspaper. Turns out he was buried at a nearby cemetery, but since he was a WWI veteran, the government had given his family a military headstone. We assume his family built some sort of shrine in his honor in their backyard, including this headstone. Anyway, when we lived there we would often hear inexplicable noises, and on more than one occasion, inexplicable voices. We would simply laugh it off and blame it on John. We never felt bad vibes or ill omens at that house, so if he was present, he had a kind spirit.

The second occurrence happened because I get up incredibly early since I don’t sleep very well. One morning shortly after we moved to our new house, I stumbled my way to our bedroom door at around 3:30 a.m., ready to start my day. When I opened the door, I saw a little gray and white blur of a dog scamper inside. I literally shifted to one side to let the little blur pass by. Since my brain doesn’t function before my first cup of coffee, I thought nothing of it beyond mild curiosity. I closed the door, went to the coffee maker, intending to mention it to my wife when she woke up. When I finally remembered to mention it to my wife a couple of weeks later, she was really mad at me. We contacted the previous owners of the house to see if they’d been dog owners. Turns out they’d owned a dog fitting the description, a Yorkie named Torie. Turns out Torie slept at the foot of their bed until the day she died. Turns out they buried Torie in a velvet-lined doggy casket just outside our bedroom window. I’m not 100% sure I believe in ghosts, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did exist. That would explain a lot of odd occurrences in my life.

Into The Macabre: When did you first start writing?

Glen: I started writing poetry early in high school. Fueled by nonstop reading (I even took extra study halls just so I could fit more reading into my schedule), I felt an almost compulsive need for a creative outlet to mirror what I was taking in. My first attempts were rather silly, in retrospect, but they were the first stepping stones on the path to my present situation. I soon started writing short stories, and I attempted (and failed) to write my first novel before the end of high school.

Into The Macabre: Were you one to share your stories to your classmates at an early age or was that something that you kept to yourself?

Glen: I shared the early poems and stories with a buddy of mine who also wrote. We even collaborated on occasion. He had such a twisted creative mind. I continued to write, while he set it aside. I’m pretty much “a grinder” in my technique. I don’t think I’m the most gifted or natural writer, but I work hard to improve. Hopefully the effort adds up over time.

When I attended college, I met few people who had the drive to seek publication on a professional level, so I worked pretty much in isolation. I had a few pieces published in the campus literary magazine, but most of what they published (including my own submissions) was pretty weak. Since my college didn’t have a great creative writing program, I created a couple of independent studies that I attended one-on-one with an English professor. One of these was called, I believe, Long Fiction Workshop, the other, Novel Writing.

Into The Macabre: What drew you to horror? What/Who were your inspirations?

Glen: I’ve written in many genres, but I always seem to return to the dark stuff. Horror seems the most alive, the most malleable and versatile genre. Authors who inspired my early writing? Those would include: Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, Jack London, Dan Simmons, Robert McCammon, Tad Williams, and countless others.

Into The Macabre: Your list looks very familiar. Do you remember what book was your first jump into horror and how old you were?

Glen: In the past I’ve mentioned that I was a late bloomer as far as reading is concerned. Before high school my main interests were sports, movies, and music. During my freshman year, I picked up a copy of King’s THINNER, and that book opened my eyes in so many ways. It’s like a switch was thrown inside my head. I became a voracious reader, and within a year, I wanted to become a writer.

Into The Macabre: Describe the process it took for you to become published

Glen: Well, that’s a long story…

I graduated from college in 1997. By that time I had already started sending out short stories through traditional channels via postal mail. These were the waning years of the old Zine culture, you know, the old Xeroxed, saddle-stapled magazines with the horrid cover art? I wrote a ton of weird short stories, the weirder the better, somewhat in a proto-bizarro vein. I was pushing my creative envelope, but not really establishing how to really write characters or plot. I sent out an ungodly amount of stories with almost all of them coming back rejected. I piled up hundreds of rejections, even as I began to improve and sell on occasion.

I was hesitant to write a novel; I just didn’t think I could create something that would carry 300 or so pages, and I already had a trunk of half-finished failures. But I talked about writing and completing a novel, you know, someday. And I talked about it a lot. Around 2000, my wife had finally heard enough and said: “If you want to write a novel, write a novel. Stop talking about it!”

So I did. Somewhere along the way, I learned about developing characters and plot. These would be the bedrock of my novel writing. With strong enough characters, you can write a novel of just about any length! I also learned that focusing on “the weirder the better” was only a crutch. It was easier to say editors and publishers rejected my work because “they just don’t get it,” instead of working on refining my craft. So my wife’s kick in the butt led to my first completed novel, THE NIGHTMARE WITHIN. With a completed novel, I went the traditional route of trying to find an agent and/or publisher. I had a lot of nibbles. I had a number of publishers requesting to read the full manuscript. I even had a publisher say they wanted to publish it before they put it on their back burner for three years. Silly novice that I was, I waited, and waited.

During this long waiting period, I wrote more short stories, novellas, and my second novel, WHERE DARKNESS DWELLS. This also coincided with the advent of modern self-publishing. By the time THE NIGHTMARE WITHIN hit the three year mark waiting to be published, I decided to pull it from that publisher and self-publish it. I found some moderate success right away, so I published my second novel, to even greater success. The buzz for WHERE DARKNESS DWELLS opened the eyes to some traditional publishers, including Cemetery Dance, the publisher of NOTHING LASTING.

For future works, I plan to keep my options open. If the best deal is with a big publisher, I’ll go that route. If I think a story will be best served by self-publishing it, I’ll do that.

Into The Macabre: The publishing industry seems to be so volatile. I know that many authors subscribe to the theory of spreading their work out to different publishers that way they don’t have all their eggs in one basket if that company goes belly up.

Glen: Unless you’re someone with a seven-figure advance, writers need to be flexible in today’s publishing climate. Things can change so quickly. While the barriers to publication are pretty much nonexistent, finding readers can be a challenge. Just because you can write and publish something on your own (even if it’s to professional standards in every way), it doesn’t mean you’ll find people willing to read it without a gun pointing at their head. So, yes, I think spreading stories to different niches and venues can only help the vast majority of writers.
Into The Macabre: If you could turn back the hands of time and go back, what about the publishing process would you do differently?

Glen: I would try to learn the craft of novel writing sooner. I would tell myself that it’s okay to take chances. I would tell myself that everyone’s first draft sucks.
Into The Macabre: They say it’s not about what you know but who you know. Would you agree with this statement? Who helped you along the way and what did they do?

Glen: I have a degree in English Writing, but not a single hour of those classes was dedicated to how to navigate the path to publication. I’ve had to teach myself most of the basics through trial and error. Luckily, whenever I’ve reached out to professional authors with questions, I’ve gotten excellent feedback. Some of the authors who have helped me along the way include: Tom Piccirilli, Rick Hautala, Brian Keene, Tim Waggoner, Kealan Patrick Burke, among others. I hope to live by their example and pass on my hard-earned knowledge whenever I can.

Into The Macabre: It seems like that many horror authors tend to keep in touch together and genuinely root for each other to do well, almost like a big fraternity. Have you found that to be the case?

Glen: Absolutely! I know some people seethe with envy whenever an author makes a big splash, but for the most part, authors are cheerleaders for their peers. I get so excited when an author friend signs with a big publisher or agent. As a reader I get just as excited when my favorite authors are rewarded for their efforts with big deals.

Into The Macabre: What would you say are the biggest challenges you face today as a writer?

Glen: For me personally? Carving out the chunks of time needed to produce high quality work at a high rate. I’ve been a stay-at-home dad the last couple of years. Even though I don’t have a strict 9-5 job, it’s sometimes difficult to find the peace and quiet that my brain seems to need. Our youngest son will attend full-day kindergarten in the Fall, so I’m hoping my productivity increases later on this year.

Into The Macabre: What role has social media played in your successes?

Glen: To be honest, I’m not sure. I think it’s a great way to connect with individual readers, but using it to reach a wide audience? I don’t think social media is currently constructed to allow for that kind of reach. I also don’t have the kind of personality that would garner a viral type of following. I do enjoy interacting with readers and other writers on Facebook. I still haven’t gotten the hang of Twitter, and I’m not sure I ever will. Other social media platforms don’t really ping my radar.
Into The Macabre: Many readers are introduced to new authors through sites such as Goodreads. Have you explored Goodreads and what would you say is your level of interaction on there?

Glen: I’ve gone through periods of time when I’ve been really active on Goodreads, other times, not so much. I like some of the groups on the site, but a few people with sour dispositions have tarnished the experience for me. I still use the site, mostly to log my reading for the year.

Into The Macabre: Your release, Nothing Lasting, is a gripping, multi-layered, coming-of-age horror tale. How did this story come about?

Glen: After writing novels with multiple points of view, I wanted to write something with a really tight, single POV. I also wanted to write about my own childhood. While obviously fictional, NOTHING LASTING has a lot of little details from my own experiences. Jenny Sparrow’s thinking spot, the mysterious auto graveyard? That was real. The movie house marquee with the burnt out lights? Same thing. The breaking and entering, the wanton destruction? Um, well, yeah, to a certain extent.

Into The Macabre: You know it’s funny that you mention that. When I was reading about the breaking into the house, I thought to myself, “This guy has this part nailed. I bet he’s speaking from experience!”

Glen: In a lot of ways, I appeared as a child as I do now—unassuming and innocuous. But, at certain points in my youth, I was a bit of a hooligan. I could go into details, but I’d hate for my children to come across this interview some time down the road!

Into The Macabre: One of my complaints with stories that have adolescent-aged protagonists is that the authors rarely get the dialogue right. Nothing Lasting is a pleasant surprise in that not only did you nail the dialogue of a 12-year-old, but you also have captured the feel of suburbia circa 1984. How hard was it to transport yourself back 30 years to get it right?

Glen: I felt that to do NOTHING LASTING justice, I had to write it when I wrote it. The longer I went without getting that story down, the harder it would be to get the characters right. I have a keen memory for the general time period, so it didn’t take much effort to get to that headspace, but even still, I couldn’t imagine trying to write those characters, when I’m, say, fifty. I also wanted to set the story in 1984 without having the reader feel like they were tripping over period references every other sentence. I’ve read novels with that problem, and it’s distracting after a while. Hopefully, I found the right balance.
Into The Macabre: You’re starting to rack up an impressive catalogue of books. I know it’s like asking which one of your children is your favorite, so I’ll try to do it in a different way. Which story of yours do you recommend to someone that has never read your work and why?

Glen: NOTHING LASTING is probably a good place to start. It’s gotten great initial reviews. It’s also not as graphic as some of my other work, if you’re on the squeamish side. It also has probably the best ending I’ve written.
Into The Macabre: Some writers have to follow a strict routine and can only create while writing in their special designated area on a set schedule. Others drag a laptop around with them and take advantage of any free moment their day may present.. Give me a breakdown of your day and how you create the next Glen Krisch masterpiece.

Glen: I occasionally break out a notepad and pen to shake things up, but otherwise I write almost exclusively on my laptop. I have a fairly large office, but I tend to move around a lot during my writing day. Sometimes I write on my back deck, sometimes I write while sitting on my rocker on the front porch. I tend to wake super early, usually by 4 a.m. I either write in the morning or go for a run. If I run first thing, I set aside time in the afternoon to bang out some words. If I write first thing, I run later. For me, the two activities are linked. If one isn’t working, the other is usually suffering as well. I try not to burden myself with a set number of words or pages written per day. That’s bad for my psyche. Instead, if I’ve made positive progress on my current story, it’s a win for the day.
Into The Macabre: Do you get bogged down by deadlines or are publishers a little more forgiving these days?

Glen: I’m not currently under a deadline, so I’m pretty much a free agent with what I’m working on. When I am under a deadline, I battened down and focus until I reach a reasonable ending. I abhor being late for anything. When I had a day job, I don’t think I reported late more than once or twice in 25+ years of working. I think that ethic has carried over to my writing life.
Into The Macabre: Stephen King has the spooky house in Bangor surrounded by the wrought iron fence with gargoyles on it. Do you have anything crazy at your house that makes your neighbors clutch their children when they see you coming?

Glen: I’m basically invisible to the general public. My house is nondescript, even on Halloween. I don’t announce myself as a writer. I don’t dress all in black. I’m just that quiet unassuming dad down the block. I do the grocery shopping. I home cook all our meals. I help with homework. But… I’m also always observing. Plotting. Creating.
Into The Macabre: What are you reading these days?

Glen: I’ve been jumping around a lot in my reading these days. Some of the best books I’ve read so far this year have been written by: Nathan Ballingrud, Stephen King, Lee Thompson, Richard Thomas, Adam Howe, Dennis Lehane, Graham Hancock, Eldon Taylor, and Calum Chace.
Into The Macabre: Your Top 5 horror movies?

Glen: Hard to say, and this list would probably be different tomorrow. I generally don’t watch movies more than once. The following movies have stuck with me, however.

El Olfanato (The Orphanage)
The Exorcist
The Descent
The Night of the Hunter
Let the Right One In

Into The Macabre: Do you do horror conventions? What are your thoughts on those?

Glen: I’ve never attended a convention. I keep telling myself I need to pull the trigger and pick one, but I never get around to it. I’m not the most social person. I know conventions can greatly help a writer’s career, but it doesn’t even occur to me to think about them. I’d be happy to write in my little insular bubble and send out new stories into the world when they’ve reached maturation.

Into The Macabre: What can us fans expect coming down the pike in 2016 and beyond?

Glen: I should be wrapping up a new novel, LITTLE WHISPERS, in the coming weeks. I have a couple of publishers who want to look at it, so I’m not sure when it will be available. The next story to see the light of day will probably be an experimental horror novel called PATHS TO SURVIVAL. I’m considering making it, at least initially, an exclusive to my newsletter subscribers
(click here to sign up: http://eepurl.com/qFUfP). That should be ready sometime this Fall. I’m also fairly deep into the writing of a conspiracy thriller tentatively called THE CLOUDED FRAY. Of course, the reality of my publishing future is almost never what I expect it to be, so who knows how it will unfold!

Into The Macabre: How can fans find out more about your work and what’s going on with you?

I’m pretty easy to reach. To contact me through social media, your best bet is Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/glen.krisch

I’m also on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4525598.Glen_R_Krisch

and Twitter: @glenkrisch

The best place to track down my books is probably Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Glen-Krisch/e/B004HC1K4C/

I’m also quite welcoming to corresponding through email. Drop me a line at glenkrisch@gmail.com
I really appreciate you letting me grill you for my blog and look forward to chatting with you in the future. Take care, my friend,

Ken

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