It is no secret how much I love Glenn Rolfe. He is, in my humble opinion, the best horror writer out there. I am greedily reading every book, novella and short he has ever written. Signing up to his Patreon gives me access to even more of his work AND helpful insights into how he writes and what he has learnt from others in the genre. Priceless. Now before I embarrass myself further, here are the questions you guys sent in to ask him.
Thank you and enjoy!
The most asked question was of course, what can we expect next from you and when?
GR: I’m finishing up ASCENSION AGENDA, which is a sci-fi horror follow up to my novella, BOOM TOWN. And then I’ll be working on my next Flame Tree Press novel, AUGUST’S EYES, for the rest of the summer. After that, I have a new short story collection and (finger’s crossed) the sequel to BLOOD AND RAIN to finish. I’m hoping to sign another new book with FT after that, most likely a book called, AFTER THE SUN FALLS. BUT life has a lot to say about all these “plans” so beyond AUGUST’S EYES anything is possible. Stay tuned?
What is your own favourite book on writing?
GR: On Writing by Stephen King. I remember picking up a copy and being inspired to try writing my own short stories. There’s a sample or assignment or something in the book where King gives you an idea and asks you to come up with a story for it. I think. I still have mine in a notebook from 2002 somewhere. But just learning about the writer’s “Toolbox” was a wonderous thing. And writing with the door closed, having total freedom during any and all first drafts. That was really liberating and still fuels me to this day.
What initially sparked your interest to write?
GR: Somewhere in my brain, I always had the urge and desire. I remember in 7th or 8th grade, an English teacher had us write a short story. Mine was about a “Jason Voorhees” type loose and killing kids during Halloween on a street two roads over from mine. I remember thinking it was decent and enjoying the creation of the piece. I didn’t write another thing until about six years later when I wrote a vampire story about a Type o Negative type of band with their lead singer and vampire master, Vincent Dregston.
I flirted with short horror stories a few more times, but it wasn’t until I hit my 30’s when I sat down and started my first official book, Blood and Rain. By that time, I was a member of the Leisure Books Horror Club and reading tons of Keene, Laymon, Ketchum to go along with my King and Rice books. Somewhere between the end of Leisure/Dorchester Publishing and the start of Samhain Publishing, I was out of work and out of my last band. I needed to do something creative and decided to type up one of my old short stories. That turned in to Blood and Rain. I wrote it from May of 2011 and finished the first draft in late August of that same year. I still have that version on a CD in my writing desk.
So yeah, horror movies growing up combined with King, Rice, Keene, Laymon, Ketchum, and Bentley Little produced the writer I am today.
Do you follow a ritual before you sit to write?
GR: I usually grab a coffee or a tea, light a Hazelnut Crème candle, and get to work. If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, I will tune into Dee Snider’s House of Hair and have that on in my headphones.
Would you ever write something outside of the genre?
GR: Yes. I am working on a number of ideas. I’d love to do Hard Crime, a straight up Thriller, or a Western at some point.
Traditional or self publish – which do you prefer?
GR: I prefer Traditional. It’s nice to have your work get the green light by professionals out there. It gives me an added confidence that someone knew my work was good enough to invest in. It’s also a load off on the marketing and ARC send outs. Flame Tree Press has been a joy to work with.
That said, I do enjoy the freedoms and total control of self-publishing. But if you can get paid up front and let someone else do the hard work, that’s a nice way to just be able to focus on the fun stuff, like writing.
Do you believe in the supernatural and have you had any experiences?
GR: I do believe in the supernatural. I believe in ghosts. I had a freaky moment while writing my second novel, The Haunted Halls. I was writing late night at the hotel I work at and in the middle of a really scary scene some keys fell from one and of the room, and then a digital touch pad on the other side of the room went off like someone had just activated it. I stopped writing and left the room. I had goose bumps for an hour.
Long form or typed?
GR: While I do a bit of both, I do like 95% on my laptop or PC. When I’m jotting ideas or outlines, I use my notebook and a pen. My handwriting is way too sloppy and I don’t type fast enough to be able to copy it onto a computer. It’d be way too much work for me and take the fun out of it.
Kill the dog yes, no, why?
GR: I have killed a dog in a story before. And honestly, it requires a warning to the reader. I believe in keeping the horror as real and honest as possible, but readers have a few bugaboos–they don’t like you killing babies or animals. That story for me was called, “Flaws” (in SLUSH). I felt dirty when I finished that one, like I needed a deep cleaning. It’s not enjoyable from this side of the page, either.
Creepiest novel ever read?
GR: The three that gave me chills reading in the middle of the night were OFF SEASON by Jack Ketchum, HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson, and A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay. I had to take breaks reading each of those. Very well done, and they just got under my skin. Oh, and THE LAST DAYS OF JACK SPARKS by Jasdon Arnopp. I listened to the audio and it certainly freaked me out, thinking back now, it probably unnerved me more than either of the aforementioned novels. Just great writing combined with the great performance of the voice actor.
Do you prefer playing music or writing?
GR: That’s a tough one. When the songs are fresh or the audience is into it, it’s hard to beat the feeling on stage. That said, typing THE END on a new novel definitely is one of my most favorite things to do ever.
If you could have written any horror book by someone else, which book would it have been?
GR: My favorite book of all-time is ‘SALEM’S LOT by King, but I wouldn’t be here without that book, so I’ll go with OFF SEASON by Jack Ketchum. To be able to produce such a raw piece of work that doesn’t give a fuck about your sensibilities… Ketchum was fearless as a writer. His monsters were human. And they were all real and very scary.
Top 5 horror movies
- TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (Original)
- THE THING (Carpenter)
- THE LOST BOYS
- THE HOWLING
Number one tip for aspiring writers
GR: Write the type of books you want to read. Don’t chase trends or sales. We (the readers) can tell when your heart’s not in it anymore.
Out of every paranormal creature out there, what is so appealing about werewolves?
GR: The change. The Jekyll and Hyde aspect. I always point to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video (the intro). You have this meek guy with a great smile and a genuine sweetness about him. Then, the full moon comes out and the beast within is unleashed. It scared the bejesus out of me as a kid, yet I couldn’t look away. It’s just such a jarring transformation both visually and character wise. It’s a very fun world to write in.
Favourite spook or monster
GR I’m partial to werewolves, but I also love Gary Oldman’s Dracula and the creepiness of the Tall Man from the Phantasm movies.
Dinner, coffee or a takeaway – sort of a variation on Kill, Kiss, Marry, but with authors
GR Dinner with Stephen King at his place in Bangor would be nice. Put in a word for me?
Coffee with Brian Keene. I got an invite to come down to his place and stay if I needed to and do the podcast. I still want to make this happen. He is one of the coolest dudes in the horror writing world and stands up for so many of us.
Takeaway… I’d love to have Ronald Malfi by when I have my own house. We could order in, drink some beers, and jam out some classic 90s style jams.
What book or movie initially sparked your interest in horror?
GR Well, The Exorcist jolted the snot out of me as a little kid. BUT I’d say it was the Friday the 13th series that pulled me in. I lived in the woods and it was very easy to make those films resonate long after the VHS rewound and popped out of the VCR.
Pineapple on pizza?
GR Yes to Pineapple on pizza (add some jalapenos and pepperoni on that one and you have my favorite)
GR Not a big dessert guy, but a strawberry cake with any frosting or peanut butter cookies.
Craziest story from being on tour with any of your bands.
GR On tour with my band The New 45 I got wasted at a house show in Delaware. I ripped my clash shirt like I was Hulk Hogan and took several chops across my bare chest from my drummer. I was red! I woo’d like Ric Flair and jumped off the porch a bunch of times giving Macho Man flying elbows to anyone who’d let me. They had to track me down to tell me it was time for our set. I somehow managed to make my way through it and wound up sobering up around 8 pm. That was quite the afternoon/early evening. That’s what happens when you get to a gig way too early. I think Axl Rose might have had it right.
Thank you so very much for sending in your questions for Glenn and for him taking the time answer every single one of them!
Go and follow him, read his stuff and review it. Reviews mean everything to writers. Glenn is honestly one of the nicest guys you’ll ever ‘meet’ in the book world, let’s make sure he gets all the credit he deserves.
And, as always, aroooooooooooooooooo …