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“Violence on-screen and on the page can be a form of escape. It can also be a safe way to challenge your fears. You can face death without any real danger. Just like we all need to laugh, we all need to feel fear. It’s human nature.”

April 2, 2011

Arts & Literature, Interviews

DarkMedia Interviews Brandon Ford:

Author Brandon Ford grew up in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He started writing at the approximate age of 8 and spent a lot of time testing the waters with various genres. He wrote dramas, comedies, essays, plays, and, of course, thrillers. There were few things he took pleasure in crafting more than a good old-fashioned scary story. Throughout grade school, as well as high school, he continued to build his portfolio with various works (mostly short stories and novellas, but a few plays here and there). He’d pass around these manuscripts to friends and teachers for feedback. Knowing others enjoyed his work and craved more inspired him to keep going.

A few months shy of 23, he sat down to pen his first novel, which became Crystal Bay. Arctic Wolf Publishing, a small press based in Georgia, picked the book up a few years later. Shortly thereafter, he completed Splattered Beauty, an ode to his favorite Scream Queens. In 2009, he teamed up with Alan Draven and Jessica Lynne Gardner for Creeping Shadows (Pixie Dust Press), a collection of three short novels. Ford’s contribution, Merciless, was heavily inspired by a real-life kidnapping that took place in California in 2002. In March 2010, Arctic Wolf released his third novel, Pay Phone. Ford has also contributed works of short fiction to several anthologies, including Abaculus 2007 and Abaculus III (Leucrota Press), Sinister Landscapes (Pixie Dust Press), Raw: Brutality As Art (Snuff Books), and The Death Panel (Comet Press). Some of his biggest influences have been writers like Jack Ketchum and the late Richard Laymon. In his spare time he enjoys reading, watching bad TV, and all things horror. He still resides in South Philadelphia.

B Movie Horror plays a key role in your novel Splattered Beauty. How do you go about celebrating cinema in literature?

Well, to me, Splattered Beauty is the ultimate celebration of the films that have inspired me. The book itself is dedicated to my favorite leading ladies of horror and there are subtle nods to my favorite genre epics throughout, but I’ve paid tribute to many of my horror favorites in several different works. Another example: the name of the lead male character in my debut novel, Crystal Bay, is “Gage,” which is a tribute toPet Sematary, a movie that gave me many restless nights. For me, “Gage Creed,” the undead toddler wielding a scalpel, was one of the most memorable characters in the film, so I thought I’d name my character after him.

What’s your take on why people enjoy reading about and/or watching gore and violence?

Violence on-screen and on the page can be a form of escape. It can also be a safe way to challenge your fears. You can face death without any real danger. Just like we all need to laugh, we all need to feel fear. It’s human nature.

What do you think makes a good story?

Believable characters that are interesting, three-dimensional, and fully developed. Dialogue that asks questions, but also answers them. Original plot twists. And, of course, a satisfying ending that won’t leave the reader feeling as though they’ve just wasted their time reading the previous 300 pages.

You’ve written before that you use your own nightmares as material for your storytelling. Do you find writing a cathartic process?

Well, I’ve tossed in little vignettes from a few unsettling dreams, but I wouldn’t say that I often write an entire story based on the things I’ve seen in my unconscious mind. For me, writing can be cathartic in the sense that it can take my mind off of whatever troubles I may be having at the time. I try not to put too much of myself in the stories I tell. However, if there is something from my personal life I think would make a good plot point, I’ll do all I can to make sure that it’s cleverly disguised.

What’s your favorite book to give as a gift and why?

Sadly, I don’t get to give books as gifts that often because those I’m closest to don’t share my appreciation and obsession for the written word. I do all I can to stress the importance of reading, though, and encourage others to read the authors that most inspire me.

What are you reading right now?

I just started a collection of humorous essays by Sloane Crosley called I Was Told There’d Be Cake. I just finished The Last Victim by Jason Moss. It was a fantastic book about a college student’s relationship with famed serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Who’s your favorite author outside of the horror genre, and why do you admire them?

That would probably be David Sedaris. His books are absolutely hilarious. I don’t think there’s any author writing today that’s as much fun to read as he is.

You’ve contributed shorter works of fiction to anthologies in the past. What’s the advantage of the short story over the novel, and which do you prefer to write?

A short story is a good way to introduce your work to someone who hasn’t read it before. Some readers are reluctant to check out an author they’ve never heard of, so they’ll skip on buying the book blindly. With having your work presented along with other writers, the reader has the opportunity to sample many different voices and if they enjoy what they read are more apt to seek out their other works.

I write many short stories because I often find myself struck with an idea that would work well in that format. I’m not sure I can choose one over the other, since I very much enjoy writing novels and I very much enjoy writing short stories, too. But I will say one thing: both are hard work!

What, or who, is your greatest inspiration as an author? What about them inspires you?

Author-wise, I’m inspired mostly by Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon. They’re two of my favorite writers because they seem to have the Midas Touch when it comes to prose. Everything they generate is gold. Their books have it all: real characters readers can relate to and feel compassion for, plot twists that always leave you guessing, and a plethora of unique premises.

I’m also inspired by those who share an affinity for the written word. Readers who love and adore books, have overstocked libraries, and have a celing-high to-be-read pile they just can’t get through fast enough. Those are the readers I try very hard to satisfy with the work I do.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? What’s the best, or worst, advice someone gave you?

Well, I’ve always said that if being a writer is something you really want to do, then the only way to make that happen is to persevere. You can never, ever stop submitting. Take every single rejection with a grain of salt. Submit the work over and over until you find that editor willing to print it.

Expose yourself by as many voices as possible by reading as many different authors as you can. Sure, we all have our favorite writers, but don’t restrict yourself by reading them and only them. The world is filled with infinite styles and languages and by embracing them, it’ll help you develop your own.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever really gotten bad advice per se, but I’ve come across a few naysayers that laughed at my aspirations and thought me ridiculous for even trying. It’s hard to have skin thick enough to ignore things like that, but even though I found myself affected at the time, I never let their negative energy stay with me long term.

How has the Internet helped shape your writing career? Do you think it’s a help or a hindrance to authors in general?

The Internet has helped me tremendously. Through it, I discovered the world of small presses. Until I got online, I didn’t know such a thing existed. I thought book publishing was all Random House, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins. I had no idea I had an alternative.

It’s also helped put me in touch with countless writers much like myself who have helped the small presses grow. I’ve met some amazing people and some incredibly talented writers through the ever-expanding viral universe.

What are you currently working on and how can your readers support you and your upcoming projects?

Currently, I’m gearing up for the release of my very first short story collection, Decayed Etchings, which should be out in a few months. I’m also wrapping on my fourth novel, in addition to working on a few side projects here and there. My books are available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle editions, on B&N.com in paperback and Nook, and countless other online retailers. So, support the little guy and check ‘em out! Readers can also find me at the usual places, like Twitter, Facebook and my Blogger page, where you’ll find a complete list of all my published works, reviews, interviews, essays, videos, and much more. I always look forward to hearing from you guys!

Finally, what’s got you excited or inspired?

Meeting readers who enjoy/appreciate books and the genre as much as I do!

________________________________________________

Brandon Ford can be found on his blog and on DarkMediaCity.

Many thanks to our contributing interviewer and reviewer, D.

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission.)

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