After two weeks of Tuesday traps, we’re back to Monday with Brent Abell. He was kind enough to fall into the pit and flail toward the haunting chords of circus music piped in from the carnival tent staked in for the week. Hot enough to fry an egg? Hot enough to fry a clown’s brain.
Why writing? What drew you to it? Why do you continue?
I think writing grew out of being an avid reader growing up. In the beginning, I wrote a few short stories I’d read to people in high school, but it pretty much ended there. Then a lull developed because I was working two jobs and going to school full time while being married with two small children. Throughout the whole time, I still read and watched the thing I loved…horror. Eventually, everything evened out and time opened up for me to try my hand at writing professionally. I took this path in 2010 and it really didn’t start off too well. Once my first story was under contract, it went on to kill two presses, and it sits with a third at the moment. Since then, it has been a real roller coaster ride, but I love to dive deep into my brain and pull out the dark twisted nuggets that make it to the page. Being able to tell a good story keeps me grinding it out in the spare time I can devote to it. If people like it, cool. If they don’t, well, I liked it.
If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last? (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)
Thinking about this was truly horrifying. I really would consider freezing to death… But ok, I’ll choose. The five books I’d have saved for last in hopes of saving them would be: Stephen King’s IT, Brian Keene’s Ghoul, Dean Koontz’s Night Chills, Clive Barker’s The Books of Blood, and Ray Garton’s Live Girls. Figuring out what to burn once it got to my favorite fifty books was tough. Trying to narrow it five almost killed me.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?
Writing wise, the toughest choice was to even let my stuff be read by strangers. At times, I can be rather self-conscience, and learning to let things go out for the public has been a large learning curve. When I sat down to write In Memoriam, I honestly didn’t think anybody would like it, but it has gotten a few nice reviews and some good feedback from the six people who have read it.
What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts? Why?
“Do me a solid.” Do you a solid what? A solid punch in the face? A solid kick to the groin? For some reason, that phrase just bugs me. Right now at our local movie theaters, they use it in an informational piece before the previews start, and it grates on me for some reason. I dislike it so much, it borders on being irrational.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created? If so, who is it and why?
Roy, the bartender from my stories set in my fictional town of White Creek. He is fun to write and is an amalgam of some people in my life who have been positive influences on me. He appears in In Memoriam, but he has a few more stories with him coming up as I work to get the town lined out in a series of short stories. Once the town is established, my first novel is set there.
Creepiest place you’ve ever been? Has it appeared in your fiction? Why or Why not?
This past October, we went on the ghost tour of Willard Library close to where I live. Late at night when the lights are low and the stories of sightings and occurrences start flowing, the atmosphere feeds the foreboding. A few of us stayed behind and watched a stand wave around. One girl in the group took a picture, and when we looked at the picture once the stand stopped moving, we found an orb in the frame. It will appear in a different state as the library for White Creek in the future.
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?
Any rejection letter that isn’t a form letter is great. When an editor takes the time to tell you what they liked, didn’t like, or tells you the story was in till the end, it’s a good letter. It takes the sting out of being shot down in flames.
How did you get that scar?
Some wounds never heal. I have some deep down in my head that I never stop picking the scab off of. When I write, sometimes I need to feel that pain again to dive into the dark corners and shine the light in on them. I’m afraid if I let them heal, I won’t be able to channel my pain like that again.
What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?
Before I walked into a room, Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark would announce my arrival. It is my favorite song from my favorite band, and the opening chords are heavenly.
Promote yourself and/or your writing
Ok boys and girls, if you want to hang with the cool kids, you have to check out my blog Our Darkest Fears (and feel free to follow for all your news, reviews, and interviews). You can also find me on Facebook by looking up Our Darkest Fears (or clicking on the link) and on Twitter you can follow me @BrentTAbell. There is also an Amazon page with a listing of all the books either by me or containing something by me.
Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?
I’m still new to this and learning the craft, so I’m by no means perfect. You do have my pledge that I’m working everyday to improve. When I started this, it wasn’t to be a star or to plaster myself all over the web. Instead I just want to tell a good story that people can enjoy and come back for more. If I pick up some fans along the way, I welcome them to the ride and let’s see how far we can ride this thing.
I would like to thank you, Rebecca, for having me stop by your place, it has been a pleasure!
Mr. Abell, I’m glad you enjoyed your entrapment, and thank you for “doing me a solid.” Ok, that does sound as though food poisoning took a turn for the better. Maybe the Imodium helped. Once you make your way to the wall, be sure to grab a pamphlet. If you can decipher the “ketchup” stains, you’ll know which forks to take. Now, go…pick those scabs.