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An interview with Calvin Demmer

I am thrilled to welcome Calvin to the blog today. Read on to find out about how he got into horror and what he will be up to in the future.

Hi Calvin. Please tell me a little about youself.

I am an author from South Africa. I’ve had two collections, The Sea Was a Fair Master and Dark Celebrations, as well as a standalone story, The Town That Feared Dusk, published. While I like to write in different genres, my work tends to always have a dark vibe to it.

Q1 When did you first begin the journey to becoming a writer and why did you choose dark fiction?

I can remember writing stories when I was young, but it probably wasn’t until 2014 that I took writing seriously and started submitting my work. My first story was published in January 2015, so that now feels like the beginning for me. I’ve always read horror, science fiction, crime, etc. and the types of stories I read usually had a dark vibe to them, so I guess I was drawn to write similar work to what I enjoyed reading. I also read a lot of comics growing up, particularly stuff like Batman and Swamp Thing, which both get dark at times.

Q2 Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing?

There are many authors whose work I enjoy reading, but if we’re talking about the authors that influenced my work the most, then it would be authors I read early on. To name a few: Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Ania Ahlborn, Dan Simmons, Philip K. Dick, Dean Koontz, Lauren Beukes, H.G. Wells, and Jeff VanderMeer. It’s hard to provide specifics on how each influenced me, but I feel the more I read the more my writing improves. Sometimes I will love how they write characters, or how they create atmosphere, and sometimes it’s the prose. I try to read as much as I can.

Q3 How is releasing a book of your own short stories different to writing a novel?

Well, I haven’t written a novel yet, so I am not sure how that process will go, but I am looking forward to it when I do. I have been working on a novella, which hasn’t been too different than writing a short story. You obviously have more time to create atmosphere and add depth, which can be good or bad depending on how you execute everything. With collections, I do find that I am able to put a few experimental works in the book, and it can be cool to see how readers react to those stories.

Q4 Have YOU had any supernatural or unexplained experiences yourself? If so, have they/will they make it into your stories?

Sadly, nothing supernatural that jumps to mind. If I do, they will surely make it into my stories. I am quite interested in hearing other peoples’ experiences, though. Weird happenings or mysterious episodes are great seeds for stories. I’ve read up on supernatural and unexplained experiences, which have then either turned into a great starting idea for a story or helped influence the work in another way. My latest collection, Dark Celebrations, is full of stories about the supernatural.

Q5 What is the best advice you have been given and what would you tell new writers trying to break into the genre?

I think the best advice I was given was to have fun. I don’t want to become so rigid that the work becomes formulaic or I feel like I’m working with a checklist. I want everything I do to have its own flavor (it will always have my style/vibe at its heart), and I enjoy challenging myself with every project. Honestly, the best thing I can think of to tell new writers is to keep reading and keep writing. It’s kind of obvious, but it really is the best way to keep growing as a writer.

Q6 How do you think COVID-19 will affect the future of horror?

I’m sure there will be a lot of new stories about pandemics and viruses, but that’s to be expected as a lot of writers will write about what’s going on around them at the time. I’m also expecting a lot of new works about isolation. This could be quite interesting and cool, especially if writers find original and intriguing ways to explore the strange new world that we’ve had to experience. Other than that, I’m not sure. Some writers I know have not been able to be productive during this situation, while others are writing with a pace like never before.

Q7 What is next for you?

I have one short story commitment and then I will be going back to work on my novella. It’s hard to know for sure what I’ll do after that, but I am thinking I might write another novella before moving on to other projects. I have lots of ideas, so I guess we’ll see.


Twitter: @CalvinDemmer

Instagram: @calvindemmer

The Sea Was a Fair Master:

Dark Celebrations:

Thank you so much to Calvin for joining me on the blog today. He also has a contribution in Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3 along with the almighty Glenn Rolfe!!! Make sure you check that out too.

Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3 by [Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, Robert Essig, Matthew Weber]

Please make sure you follow Calvin and, as always, sleep well …

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