Get to know the contestants of the Next Great Horror Writer Contest!
Part of that has to do with the themes that can be dealt with in horror in a unique way, like death, the afterlife, the supernatural, evil, the darkness in human nature. It is true that I like to read and write horror to explore those themes, even though I don’t usually like stories that are simplistic and overly moralistic (I do love complex layers of meaning when you don’t notice until you really start mulling over the story after reading). I keep that answer ready for most people who ask because it’s easy to understand and package even if one isn’t really drawn to the horror aesthetic.
But honestly, I mostly like spooky, creepy books, for the same reason I like vanilla ice cream over chocolate, even though my dad thinks I’m crazy for it (chocolate rules in his house). I just, you know, like it (you remember the old Apple Jacks commercials?). My grandfather always says, “Everyone goes crazy different.” Some people like to read high fantasy. Some people like to watch Hallmark Christmas movies. Some very strange, disturbed souls think Florida Georgia Line plays good country music. I like to read books with a creeping sense of dread.
Okay, so maybe there might be something a little weird about that…
What was the first horror movie/story/book/show that you fell in love with?
My parents bought me a collection of stories by Edgar Allan Poe one year for Christmas. I think I was in middle school at the time, though I’m not certain. I’m not sure if that was the very first, but I do know that Poe was highly influential in my desire to write horror.
Can you describe the sort of horror stories you write?
I don’t necessarily limit myself to this, but I tend to set my stories in the Appalachian Mountains, where I have lived most of my life—West Virginia, in particular. I feel a deep connection to the area, and I often like to integrate its culture and myths into my fiction, as well as kind of be a creator of new Appalachian lore, if I can. So there is that about my work, that makes it a little more distinct. A bit of my fiction falls into pretty standard categories like haunted house or ghost stories, probably because that’s the kind of stuff you grow up hearing as a kid late around a campfire on a cool summer night in West Virginia. On the other hand, some other short stories I’ve been working on fall a little more into the realm of weird fiction, or if not that, than some other murkier category that is hard for me to pin down. I’ve written stuff with really twisted human villains, too. I don’t really gravitate toward monster fiction as much as the supernatural or weird. But I’m open to almost anything.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what?
I wish I could be one of those cool, rockin’ writers jamming to favorite tunes while cranking out novel after rad novel. Unfortunately, I find music too distracting. It’s hard enough sometimes to get the words to really flow even in complete silence. Even classical music makes it hard for me to write.
Do you have any hobbies besides writing?
I like a lot of outdoor activities. I love to ski in the winter. I grew up next to two downhill ski resorts and did a lot of that in high school. Lately, I’ve gotten more into cross-country skiing. I’ve done some rock climbing, but I’m not really dedicated to it like most climbers are, so I’m not very good. I like to go backpacking, I like to fish, and even better if I can do both of those at once. I’ve run a couple ultramarathons, but over the last few years I’ve gotten out of shape, and I’m hoping to get back into trail running when the snow melts.
As a kid, I was interested in building and programming computers, and while I haven’t stayed current with that kind of thing these days, once in a while I’ll tinker around with installing different Linux distros on my Macbook.
What is your favourite part about writing?
When your characters really come alive, saying and doing things that take your story in a direction you didn’t expect, that is so cool. There are a few scenes in When the Watcher Shakes near the end (I would describe them but I don’t want to spoil anything), that just kind of happened, and I remember just stopping and thinking, This is really cool, I don’t even feel like I thought of this myself, it just happened on its own this way.
What is your favourite word?
I was a kid in the nineties, so I say “dude” a lot. I also get all warm and fuzzy inside when I hear the phrase, “Do you want some ice cream?”
What is your least favourite word?
“Irregardless.” It’s not changing or adding to the meaning of the word “regardless,” and it isn’t shorter or easier to say. It doesn’t even sound better. It’s just a wasted syllable that immediately compromises the speaker’s credibility.
Now, “dude.” That word makes you sound like a genius, dude.
What turns you on in a book?
Characters that feel like real people. Not just characters that are realistic. The ones that are real. You finish a book and you’re sad because you feel like you’re saying goodbye to friends you’ve known your whole life.
I’m also a sucker for terrible, depressing endings. Especially if an ending depresses or unsettles me in a new, creative way.
Alliteration is always a good reason to follow someone, right? Listen peeps, join my fan club, and I’ll even let you say “Team Tim.” That’s quick and catchy enough to win over anyone, I’d reckon.
Follow the #NGHW Contest, this season on HorrorAddicts.net!