More than a full year before the conference, I first met Charles as I've met so many of my fellow writers -- in the virtual realm, via various publishers' message boards. As so many other writers and readers have also discovered, the man is a dynamo, always passionate about the writing life, one of the business's true gentlemen. It was my pleasure to sit down and talk with Charles about not only Pumpkin Thief but his other recent release, the mystery novella The Plan, in which a con artist with a get-quick-rich scheme learns that no plan is foolproof.
You've had some lovely successes recently with a novel sale, novellas, short stories. Tell us about your forthcoming releases and whatever works-in-progress presently being crafted on your desk.
Legend of the Pumpkin Thief revolves around, Nick, a seventeen-year-old who wants to go on to college and eventually take the police exam. His ultimate goal is to be a detective someday. As the story develops, he’s forced into doing some early detective work when some pumpkins suddenly disappear in his small town of
. An urban legend foretells of a Pumpkin Thief who chooses a town each Halloween, stealing the pumpkins so his ghosts, goblins, and other Halloween creatures can have their right to free passage into this chosen town. Without the pumpkins to keep them away, they have free sovereignty to wreak terror and mayhem. Is Nick’s town chosen one this year? Although this is a young adult novel, my first actually, it’s fun for all ages. I had a blast writing this, and I’m excited to be working on my next YA novel for them. I really enjoy writing for this genre. Chesterville
Deep Within, a horror novel, slated for publication with Twisted Library Press later this year, is about two psychiatrists who find out about an entity that is born at the Moose Hill Asylum through a patient who’s recently admitted for a psychotic breakdown. It turns out that while he remains locked up; three family members of his suddenly die at different times over a two month period. As they try and unravel the mystery behind this evil, it continues to mature into a physical form, a horrid creature, and it ultimately wreaks havoc for the rest of the story.
I’ve added some real interesting characters like Fat Tony, a crime boss, and his two sons Butch and Joey, former neighbors and school mates of my lead character, Dr. Steve Evans. They are trouble. And then there’s the Medical Director at Moose Hill, who may have something to do with this evil transformation. That’s about all I can give away right now.
I love to write stories. It releases all the voices in my head. I seem to have transitioned from the short stories to novellas and novels. I enjoy the fact that I can really build my characters and go to unexplored territories with them. They lead, and I follow without question. Otherwise, I seem to receive retribution. You don’t even want to know what they do inside my head, nasty little buggers. And, I might add, I have an ample supply of characters that have great stories to tell.
I currently have three books under consideration with small press publishers, Kyle McGertt, Monster Hunter and Destroyer of the Indian Curse Book 1: Hunt for the Ghoulish Bartender. As you can see, this is going to be a western horror trilogy. I’m already at work on his next adventure, Book 2: Curse of The Earth Monster. And Redemption, a collaborative novella with Mark Taylor from across the pond, is about two friends who get drunk at a bar and then drive home, only to hit and kill a young girl. Problem is, they killed the wrong girl, and now she’s coming back for revenge, along with some furry friends of hers. What’s so cool about this book is that my novella is all about Al Fudrucker, and his showdown with the dead girl. Mark’s novella is all about Al’s friend, Benny Fairwhether, and both books interrelate. It’s two separate novellas around 20,000 words each. A one book treat, and a great concept that my publisher came up with.
In 2012, I’m only going to concentrate on three projects that I’ve already started, I hope! First up is Summer Camp, a horror novel I hope to have done and ready to send out to only the most respected agents in New York City before the end of this year, as my goal is to get this book into a big publishing house. Hey, I know every writer has this dream, and if I don’t at least try I’ll never feel that I took a shot at mine. I’m a huge advocate for the small press publishers, but I need to have one novel I can step into deeper waters with, right? I also plan on pitching one of my novels at the World Horror Convention in
this coming March. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. The second is my next Young Adult horror novel, Immortal Family, which I’m writing exclusively for Noble YA. The third is In the Eye, a horror novel set around a deadly Hurricane. I’ve already written about 10,000 words so far on this. Salt Lake City
Tell us about your process -- do you compose longhand, on the computer? Do you have a dedicated writing space at home?
I do all of my writing on my laptop. I compose my story either at the dinner table, Library, or my favorite café! I do have an office at home, but its under renovation right now.
Following Anthocon, you read several of our peers the opening chapter of Pumpkin Thief. Share with us the genesis of that novella if you would -- from where did the idea originate?
As a kid, my friends and I loved Halloween. We always caused ruckus in our neighborhood, and we picked on this old lady at the end of the block. My fictitious character in the book, Mrs. Needlewhitter, is the same old lady who we just loved to tease. And I’m a huge fan of this holiday, so I just had to write my memories of the crazy stuff I went through as a kid, into a great action-packed, suspenseful, and scary story.
You have another mystery novella out, The Plan -- vastly different from Pumpkin Thief, which shows your work has a range.
In The Plan, Frankie is about to come into a large, large amount of money. He listened in on a secret, and now he’s devised a plan to retrieve these unmarked bills before those he heard it from get to the money first. However, he’s going to bring a few of his friends in to help him collect. They will need to be involved in order for his plan to work.
This is not going to be easy for Frankie, and he’s not even sure he trusts his buddies to keep things under the radar after they get this loot. Nonetheless, he recruits them with the impression that they are getting together to do another assignment from their higher ups in suits.As things progress, Frankie will soon find out he’s made a grave mistake and will have to pay the ultimate price.
The Plan is full of mystery, suspense and a conspiracy that should have never came to be. Welcome to Frankie’s twisted and dark world.
You have a unique muse, one who runs around in a jester's cap and lives in a little box under your desk. Dare to elaborate?
Yeah, this little fellow of mine was born when I first started playing around on the forums. He came to life as just an avatar. But as time went on, he started to converse with me, dictating his stories he demanded I write, and he followed me wherever I went. Fourteen published short stories later, and he had me like a puppet, pulling the strings.
Eventually he became my alter ego, my muse, my best friend. He has a jester’s box and I used to have to crank him up in order for him to pop up. But now he does this all on his own, the little ham shank. I found out later on, that he’s been around for a very long time. In fact, you can find out all about the evil little jester in his debut story, "The Gift." Apparently, he’s handed over to a young child, Jacob, as a gift from the boy’s father. Over time, 'the jack in the box' comes alive and befriends and protects the boy. It also shares how he became so freaking evil.
"The Gift" is included in the forthcoming anthology I edited for Wicked East Press called Tales of Terror and Mayhem from Deep Within the Box. The collection contains stories by twenty-four super-talented rising stars in the horror genre and is due out later this year.