One of the things I love about writing, and about the horror community specifically, is how inviting everyone is. Meeting people and geeking out over the things we enjoy has made my life profoundly better. I’m lucky enough to meet a lot of awesome people, even if it’s online-only, and I want you to meet them as well.
That’s where this author’s interview blog was born. This will be the first in a monthly series were highlighting horror authors. Following this blog you’ll learn about their books, what drives them to write their stories, and the processes they use to get the stories out! My hope is that even if you aren’t a writer, that you might enjoy the discussions about writer mechanics, in the same way you would enjoy a behinds the scene cut from a movie.
Today, I get to interview someone who has been a mentor to me over the past year. His writing is reminiscent of the ‘80s and ‘90s horror scene, with great slashers and fast passed action. Talking to us today about his life as a writer and specifically about writing Amy, his slasher series, is R.W. Duder.
1. For those that don’t know you, can you give us an elevator pitch about what kind of horror you write?
The kind of horror that I hope I write is the kind that draws you into the characters. I want you to become entranced with their experience whatever it is and I want it to get under your skin and then make you really emotional. That’s what I aim to do with my horror is draw out real emotions. I want you to be connected to characters that may or may not have a happy ending but you still feel connected to them, united in their tribulations.
2. What is the first book that made you really emotional? What was the emotion?
I vaguely remember reading a book about a seeing eye dog when I was in my pre-teens and I remember that book being sad and making me sad. But Stephen King’s Insomnia is the first book and it still does this for me that gave me a sense of mortality and made me think about existentialism. It’s not one of his more popular books and yet I adore everything about it. It in a sense inspired me to write one of my own novels “The Art of Dying.”
3. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Let. People. Read. Your. Stuff. If you’re too afraid to let someone read what you write, you’re not a writer. You have to have AN audience to be a writer. I don’t care if it’s family or a friend or a stranger, find out what your audience thinks about your writing. You need feedback, you need input, you need the rush of adrenaline from having someone read your work. You need all that. Is a painter who never shows anyone their art, an artist?
4. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Imposter syndrome. “This isn’t any good” syndrome. I’ve scrapped too many ideas based on me just thinking it wasn’t good based on my own ego and hesitation. And also boredom in general. If I’m not inspired by writing and I’m not actively flowing with ideas, I get bored and then I don’t write for way too long. Scheduled sprints have all but solved this though.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Oh man! It gave me a bigger audience is the biggest thing. Prior to publishing, I wrote for family and friends and it was a very small circle but then suddenly strangers are buying your work and appreciating it and giving you money for it and it’s super cool and it means that I write bigger and bolder and faster (especially faster) because I love getting my stuff out there.
6. How did you celebrate your first book getting published? What about the last book?
I know I took a metric ton of pictures of me opening the box with my book inside when the first copies arrived. I didn’t really celebrate beyond that other than lots of posts online and celebrated with my work colleagues who were people at a book store at the time so they helped promote my work. I celebrated by preparing how to market it and get it out there and that was a lot of work so there wasn’t a lot of time for celebration. I’ve never done an official book launch though I’d like it.
7. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Insomnia. I mentioned it above. By Stephen King. Of course it was a “Best Seller” because it was Stephen King but it doesn’t fall into the same breath as IT or The Stand and yet it’s such a brilliant piece of work with one of the greatest literary characters in my opinion. Beautiful and haunting piece of work.
8. What’s your favourite horror publication? Could be a magazine, a blog, an annual anthology, anything…
Fangoria magazine I have fond memories of reading as a teen. It was my first real foray into horror and I ended up with my love for horror film because of Fangoria. But not only that Fangoria inspired me to think with a horror brain because their articles were so out there and unique and talked about horror so plainly.
9. What is your favourite horror franchise? Why are you drawn to that franchise?
I don’t know that I have a literary one but film wise, Halloween is my inspiration for all things slasher. I think John Carpenter was a visionary doing the first film and most of the other follow ups were successful because of his core story that is so good. Michael Myers is just a viable, terrifying, gory monster.
10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Half finished… I’m working on a conclusion to my “Amy” franchise and then in a total contradiction I’m then working on two other “Amy” related projects that will perfectly make “The Final Chapter” NOT the final chapter at all. Then I have a Civil War western/thriller that I’d like to release in 2021/2022 and a romantic comedy to launch in 2021 as well. I also have a third installment to Desolation (2nd book Isolation) well in the works that I’m not sure will ever see the light of day but it’s more than halfway done. And then a smattering of other projects in various stages. So I would ball park my unfinished works at around 6-7
11. Of your unfinished works, which is your favourite? Tell us about the plot.
Great question. I have favorite things about a lot of my unfinished work. AMY IV is really shaping up to be the best of the entire series in my opinion. I love giving her story arc some closure and tying up some of the mysteries started in the previous novels. I like the challenge of making sure I’m bringing closure to the series for my fans. AMY IV picks up where AMY III: Bred in a lab, born to stab, leaves off with the shocking revelation that Amy has a half-sister who Amy is now looking for. The half-sister is a Chicago University student and Amy kills her way to the campus. As her sister desperately tries to understand what Amy is, they have to figure out how to stop her for good because she kills everyone her sister cares about. Tons of slasher easter eggs, and little nods to the genre. I’m having a great time writing it.
12. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Stephen King’s On Writing. Not the way you might think. I didn’t really like On Writing but at the end of it, it made me realize that a certain part of writing is instinctive talent. It’s not something that can be taught or explained. Writers of fiction get inspired and moved by the oddest things sometimes and you can’t teach that innate inspiration we get. “God given talent” if you’re willing to call it that.
13. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
Characters. Characters. Characters. Whether it’s one great hero/villain or whatever… but like so well written that you just are completely invested in that character. Then some authors are great enough to create multiple characters that you become invested in and the depth and story arc is made even better by those characters. I respect the hell out of authors who can create characters I love and am inspired by.
14. Of all the characters that you’ve written, which one is your favourite and why?
Killer question! I suppose Amy Walker would be the most obvious answer (my six year old killer from the Amy series.) I love writing her because she embodies all the horror tropes that I myself love and she is like my vision if all the horror icons got together and had a weird little baby. Freddy, Jason, Michael, Leatherface, Chucky… whoever… I’ve tried to put a little of them into Amy and that’s a ton of fun. I keep writing for her so she must be my favorite.
15. Can you tell us about the last book you published?
My last release was Amy III: Bred in lab, Born to Stab. Yes the sub-title is important. It was the third in my franchise of course and it’s unique because Amy as a character aged to 12 in Amy: Legacy (book 2) and then I killed her off but brought her back as a six year old in Amy III. So I took back that original concept, put it in the halls of a “psychiatric facility” and put her up against a former foe. I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite piece of work. I wasn’t even sure it was any good and yet I’ve had some good reviews of it since releasing it so as long as the readers like it then that’s all that matters.
16. Can you tell us about what you’re working on now?
Would it surprise you if I said Amy, Amy and more Amy? So I’m actively working on Amy IV: The Final Chapter. And then I’m also laying down the groundwork for Amy In Space (no joke.) Then I’m collaborating with a brilliant writer-friend on Amy: Undead which turns the Amy series on it’s head and gives it a head-on collision with the zombie genre already established by writer, Damien Richard. So we’re combining our worlds to create a fun adventure and we’ve got it mapped out, we just need to sit down and get writing. But it’s gonna be awesome. I’m also looking to launch “Matthew Brewster’s 1989” in September, maybe October? It’s a coming-of-age, rom-com set in the 80’s in Toronto, Ontario.
17. For your latest release, Would you and your main character get along?
My heroes tend to be males, strong and courageous (often cops), willing to put their neck on the line for the greater good. In theory I want to be that person but I don’t think that I’m that selfless. My main characters are usually so far from my own life and reality that I don’t think we would really get along?
18. If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
Live forever. Keep entertaining and drawing people in. Keep telling the story in a new and inspiring way to whatever reader picks you up.
19. If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick?
Fun question! I have some options. Thomas Raines is a villain in the Amy series and the Desolation series so I always wondered about an origin story for him and what that would look like. I also (to the point where I wrote a page or 2) started a spin-off on Wolf’s Head New Jersey (the fictional town featured in Desolation and Isolation.) I was really intrigued with the idea of having my own version of “Castle Rock” (Stephen King.)
20. If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?
Stephen King. I bet you guessed that? I idolize him and his work. I feel a kindred spirit in the things he writes. I understand it deeper than some and I feel like I really get inside his head and get what he’s going for and I think a conversation with him would be mind-melting in the best of ways. I also think he’s probably just a regular guy but with such insight into the industry of writing.
21. If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?
20 years ago I would have loved Chloe Grace Moretz to play Amy. I think she’s a brilliant actress. Alternatively, I would love to see her play Amy’s older sister from Amy IV. Just in general I would want her involved because I think she’s very talented. A younger Dakota Fanning, or a younger Danielle Harris (Halloween 4/5) would also have made a hell of an “Amy.” When I write Amy, I picture her closer to Danielle Harris than anyone. I’m not sure the rest of the cast, I’d be open to suggestions haha. I love the idea of seeing my work on film and I think I’d rather cast unknowns who are really good than think about who is out there and big in Hollywood to play the roles.
21. If your book were made into an audiobook, who would be your dream-narrator?
So my only experience with this is that an author friend was dabbling in audiobook narration and for practice completed a Chapter of my book “Captive”. I was dumbfounded. He did a remarkable job in my opinion. Now that I’ve heard my work in audio form, it’s never left my brain and now the only narrator I hear is him so please do my audio books Damien!
22. Want to do a writing exercise?
Use this random word generator ( https://randomwordgenerator.com/ ) to provide you three words to use as a prompt. Write a one horror story with those words as your muse - it can be only a few words or a full book, totally up to you.
I’m going to try this differently. My three words are:
I would love to write a story about the Salem witch trials but the entire book would be about one particular case of a woman being accused by her town. The concept would be that there would be a committee formed from three or four men, each different and having their own reasons for being a part of this. One of those men would be a pompous, misogynistic “villain” of the story. He knows full well the woman is not a witch but wishes to see her burnt as one. As the case unfolds, we are given back stories to the woman and each of the committee. We discover our villain attempted to take advantage of the woman and she got away and shortly after that he had her arrested for witchcraft. The story would be about the debate of whether or not this woman is a witch, the backstory of the committee and what each of them bring to this table. And the indulgence of a disgusting, controlling, political man who will stop at nothing to end a woman’s life to feed his own ego.
If you want to read some of R.W, Duder's work, I highly recommend checking out Amy or Desolation: