By Gina Salamon
Today, I have the privilege of interviewing author, Justin M.D. Nelson who has recently released a collection of short stories I’m sure horror fans will find worth wrapping themselves up in on a dark night under the title Occurrences, 17 Dark Tales.
Thank you so much for spending time with us today, Justin.
Since the moment I picked up Occurrences, 17 Dark Tales I have wanted to tell you that the cover brought to mind for me Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds, one of my personal favorites. So, I wondered, do you believe a book cover plays a vital role in the selling process?
Sadly, you can judge a book by its cover. Some writers may not like the comparison, but your book is a product, and how a product is packaged contributes a great deal to how well or poorly it will sell. This is both a blessing and a curse, as a novel feels like it’s “real” the moment a good cover has been made for it. It’s also a great way for artists to showcase their work, and a chance to have your story made into something visual.
I’m sure fans are curious to know what type of book sits waiting in your “To Read” pile. Can you tell us either what you are currently reading or which book is next on your list, and also why you chose it?
I plan to read James Joyce’s Ulysses very soon. I’ve heard it’s incredibly difficult to read, but it is also worth the effort. It’s been labeled one of the greatest novels ever written, so I’m excited to get started.
Is there a particular author you enjoy reading the most?
In terms of fiction, I keep coming back to the works of Ray Bradbury. It’s hard to categorize him as his work could be classified as horror, science fiction, or fantasy. But I love his writing because of his poetic language, and his sense of nostalgia. For non-fiction, probably Chuck Klosterman. He’s witty, he’s clever, and his take on pop culture is always entertaining.
Do you have a library at home?
I do! I’ve amassed a large number of books over the years, and my dad made a bookshelf for me. Although my books are most popularly purchased in e-book form, they are also available in paperback, and you can be sure print copies of my books are proudly show off in my library at home.
I imagine you’re often asked the question of where your story ideas come from, so I won’t go there. Our imaginations are a wonderful and vast entity all their own. But another question many aspiring writers ask is if there was ever a time you were unable to write, and if you have any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
Some of the best advice I was ever given was “permit yourself to write crap.” As crass as it might sound, there is a lot of truth to the sentiment. It’s easy to become paralyzed in your writing. You get weighed down by what a story should and should not be. But the fact is no one just sits down and writes a masterpiece. So if you let yourself write something, knowing very well it will never be seen by anyone, that almost always pushes you through.
After fans finish devouring Occurrences, 17 Dark Tales, they’ll definitely be looking for more. Can you give us an idea of what you’ve been working on?
Yes! I’m finishing up a novel called The Eastgate Hotel. It’s set in a rundown hotel where a lot of scary and terrible things have happened over the years. The conflict is between a young couple and a small demonic cult. But the hotel itself is really the main character of the story. I reveal its history through a series of short stories within the main story that take place in or around the hotel. They are definitely some of the creepiest stories I’ve written in a long time.
I can’t wait! We’ll all be watching for its release. And speaking of works in progress, is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
God, no. And anyone who tells you they do is probably lying. Most of my writing teachers have mentioned something called “word vomit,” where the words and ideas are vomited out onto the page without any regard for grammar or even facts. The first draft is about getting ideas out of the writer’s head and onto the page. It’s an ugly process, but it can be rewarding.
Lastly, how big of a part does music play in creating your “writing zone”?
I tend to do my best writing when I’m listening to dark ambient music. There seems to be no shortage of it on YouTube. Listening to it in a dark room really sets the mood for me, too. If that doesn’t work, there are a few live stream channels that play some soft hip-hop music that’s actually made for studying. I don’t want to be too dark, after all.
Thank you so much, Justin. If horror fans haven’t picked up Occurrences, 17 Dark Tales yet, I’m sure they will soon. And we’ll all be keeping an eye out for the release of The Eastgate Hotel.