As part of his blog tour , Kevin Lucia agreed to visit us here in the isolation tank. He followed the map I’d scribbled on a teeny Stranger Things post-it tab without getting lost. The bats may have attacked, but he made it through unscathed. Did he survive the interview? Keep reading and find out.
Why writing? What drew you to it? Why do you continue?
To be honest, it all comes from my love of reading. I was a voracious reader long before I wanted to be a writer. My junior year in high school year, I read a novel – some random YA basketball thriller called Tournament Upstarts – and I decided it should have a sequel, because I wanted to know what happened next. Because I wanted to know that story, I decided to write it. Very quickly I turned it into my own original story, and by my senior year, I’d written my first “novel.”
There was no turning back after that. All I can say is it filled me in a way I couldn’t ignore, and though I’m sure my career will wax and wane and go through changes, so long as it still fills me in that same indefinable way, I’ll keep on writing, because I see all these odd, strange things around me…and I want to know their stories.
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.)
Well, I wouldn’t burn them, of course. I’d freeze to death with Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon; To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; Salem’s Lot and IT by Stephen King, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury, clutched to my chest with my rigor mortis-stiffened fingers.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?
Writing: accepting my first critique. I sold my first short story, “Way Station,” to The Midnight Diner for what I considered to be a ton of money at the time (honestly, I still consider it to be a nice pay day), but the first story I sent for consideration was eviscerated by the editor, and rightly so. It was awful. But at the end of his scathing critique, he added this caveat: “You’ve got talent, though. I can hear your voice. Try again.” It was a bit of a battle, sucking it up and writing a new story. I did it, though, because I asked myself one simple question: How bad do I want this? Pretty bad, so I swallowed my pride and took the plunge, and have never been sorry.
What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts? Why?
Honestly, I don’t have one. Life’s too short to worry about stuff like that!
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created? If so, who is it and why?
Well, I’m not sure about favorite, but definitely important: my literary alter egos, Gavin Patchett and Kevin Ellison. Gavin is one of the main characters in the framing device of my first short story collection, Things Slip Through, and it’s developed through ensuing books that he’s the “author” of many of my books – Things Slip Through, Devourer of Souls, Through A Mirror, Darkly, the upcoming Things You Need, The Night Road (forthcoming from Cemetery Dance) and the novel I just finished first edits on, The Mighty Dead. Kevin Ellison, a main character in Through A Mirror, Darkly, has “written” A Night at Old Webb, Mystery Road (forthcoming from Cemetery Dance), and will “write” a coming of age novel I recently finished outlining, When We Were Young.
They’ve become avatars of me, I guess. Gavin Patchett is more like a “nightmare” version of me. He destroyed his first writing career, and now in his second writing career, he’s paying a penance, of sorts, by channeling all the darker aspects of this fictional Adirondack town, Clifton Heights, into fiction. Kevin Ellison is closer to me, so his work – while still having a touch of creepiness – sees a different Clifton Heights entirely. I suppose the whole idea is important to me, because no place is either dark or light. It’s both. It all depends on who’s looking.
Creepiest place you’ve ever been? Has it appeared in your fiction? Why or Why not?
In college, my friends and I used to ramble around in an abandoned old Victorian farmhouse in Cooperstown, New York. It wasn’t long before we discovered things which led us to believe folks (in all honesty, probably bored teenagers) were conducting occult practices there. Maybe it was my youthful imagination, but the place seemed….wrong. Tainted. Like no one should be there. My first short story about this experience was The Sliding, which first appeared in the first issue of the small press British horror magazine, Morbius Tales. The house – which I’ve called Bassler House – has gone on to become a central aspect of my mythos.
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?
Well, that depends. There’s the story above, when I had to force myself to swallow my pride and accept critique. I firmly believe if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be doing this today. There’s another really good one which happened over a year ago. I was solicited for a short story, and, as it sometimes happened, what I produced wasn’t quite what the editor needed for the collection, so he passed on it. That was okay, though, because it was a 6K story, and I knew the story wanted to be longer, probably a novella. I ended up expanding it, and even up selling it as a novella to Cemetery Dance Publications, which couldn’t have happened if it had never been rejected.
How did you get that scar?
Wait, what? Are you spying on me?
What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?
The music for the opening credits of Stranger Things.
Promote yourself and/or your writing.
You can follow along this blog tour at: kevinlucia.blogspot.com. Add me on Facebook. My Amazon Profile is here. I (Gavin Patchett) have a new short story collection that will drop September 28th, Things You Need, and here’s the pre-order link.
Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?
Only that when you’re trying to terminate a whole pack of xenomorphs, it’s always better to nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
Thank you, Mr. Lucia, for visiting the Isolation tank. Don’t forget to consult your map as you traverse the caverns to the exit. Make sure the page isn’t upside down.
While he winds his way through the minefields and grenade blasts on his way through the tunnels, check out his tour schedule and read the synopsis of Things You Need to learn more about his new book and Gavin Patchett.
The things we want are so very rarely the things we need.
Clifton Heights, a modest Adirondack town, offers many unique attractions. Arcane Delights sells both paperbacks and hard-to-find limited editions.The Skylark Diner serves the best home-cooked meals around, with friendly service and a smile. Every August, Mr. Jingo’s County Fair visits, to the delight of children and adults. In essence, Clifton Heights is the quintessential small American town. Everyone knows everyone else, and everyone is treated like family. It is quiet, simple, and peaceful.
But shadows linger here. Flitting in dark corners, from the corner of the eye. If you walk down Main Street after dark, the slight scrape of shoes on asphalt whispers you’re not alone, but when you look over your shoulder, no one is there. The moon shines high and bright in the night sky, but instead of throwing light, it only seems to make the shadows lengthen.
Children disappear. Teens run away. Hunters get lost in the woods with frightening regularity. Husbands go mad, and wives vanish in the dead of night. And still, when the sun rises in the morning, you are greeted by townspeople with warm waves and friendly smiles, and the shivers pass as everything seems fresh and new…
Until night falls once more.
Handy’s Pawn and Thrift sits several blocks down from Arcane Delights. Like any thrift store, its wares range from the mundane to the bizarre. By daylight, it seems just another slice of small town Americana. But in its window hangs a sign which reads: We Have Things You Need. And when a lonely traveling salesman comes looking for something he desperately wants, after normal visiting hours, after night has fallen, he will face a harsh truth among the shelves of Handy’s Pawn and Thrift: the things we want are rarely the things we need.