Tuesday, May 31, 2011

10 Questions with Horror Author, Dennis McDonald

I had the privilege of meeting Dennis McDonald at a small sci-fi convention (SoonerCon) roughly three years ago in Oklahoma City. After picking up his “13 Nightmares” collection of short stories, this writer had me hooked. The imagination and power of his story telling grabbed me by the throat and did not let go until I was finished reading. Then he had the audacity to come out with his first full-length novel, a fierce and terrifying lycanthrope tale entitled “Ebon Moon” and it left me wanting more from this writer.
I was able to convince Dennis to let me ask him a few questions about his past, present and future plans.

How old where you when the writing bug hit you?
When I was thirteen years old and attending junior high back in 1968. I remember carrying around a binder stuffed with the starts of dozens of stories. Back then I wanted to be a science fiction writer like the authors I read voraciously: Heinlein, Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, etc. It just took me forty years to actually finish something. I had to get a thing called a life out of the way first.

All of your stories are based in your home state of Oklahoma. What inspiration does this centralized state give to your writing?
Oklahoma is a very scary place. We have everything here from tornados, earthquakes, rednecks, ghost towns, etc. Add a touch of supernatural to the setting and you got the making for a good story. Writers like to write about what they know best. That is why King has so many stories set in Maine.

Your first published book was “13 Nightmares,” a collection of short stories which covers the gamut of the horror genre. How did you come up with these dark and eerie tales?
I have a twisted imagination. I grew up watching Twilight Zone so the tales were modeled with that format in mind. Would the story make a good episode? Several of them were floating around in my head for years. Something you read or hear about will inspire a story. A friend once told me about his next door neighbor who had a sex doll and treated it like a real woman; even arguing with it like it was his wife. Bam! There’s an idea for a story and so I wrote The Girl Next Door about a creepy sex doll.

One of these shorts “The Last Trick or Treater” was turned into a short film, of which you wrote the screenplay. Who approached you with the project and how was that experience?
I was at a little horror convention and met Darla and Dana, the girls of Next Monkey Films. At that time 13 Nightmares was just in manuscript form and yet to come back from the publisher. They were interested in finding a new writer so I let them have the manuscript and told them to let me know if they would like one of the stories scripted. They got back with me and said they wanted to do The Last Trick or Treater. I scripted and sent it to them and promptly started work on my werewolf novel Ebon Moon. They sent me little updates about the production as I continued on the novel. Then I got the email that the production was done and there would be a screening at the theater in Tulsa two weeks before Halloween. Awesome!

Did the short turn out as you had envisioned it when the original story was written?
The story and the film are equal but separate versions of the same tale. I told myself when I went to watch it for the first time not to compare it to the original story. Just sit and watch the film. There were things I would’ve done differently, but there are things that they added which I like. When I wrote the original script, I didn’t put flashback scenes into the story. They added those. In retrospect it made sense. A film should always be visually stimulating. Overall, they are both really good Halloween tales.

Your current book on the shelves is the brutal story of “Ebon Moon,” a wonderfully crafted lycanthrope tale. Where did you get the idea for this one and how long did it take you to write?
When I was growing up werewolves were scary. They were my favorite monster as a kid. Somehow over the years they’ve been reduced to romantic love interests in stories and lost a lot of their bite, if you’ll pardon the pun. Supernatural romance writers can have vampires, but not my werewolves. I set out to write Ebon Moon to prove the werewolf could still be a savage frightening beast which is their birthright. I knew to do that I had to involve characters which everyone could identify with. It took me about fourteen months to write.

I believe “Dead Flesh” is the current novel you are working on? Tell us about this exciting new book.
It’s the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of one man fighting desperately to keep his family alive. I wanted the real walking dead, not the virus-based zombie, but corpses crawling right out of the grave. To me that would be a lot more frightening. The events of late, such as the predicted rapture and the end of the Mayan calendar, are great fodder for a post-apocalypse zombie tale. I’m just hoping that the current zombie craze doesn’t die, again pardon the pun, before I get the book done. I don’t think it will. There’s always room for another great zombie story.

After you finish “Dead Flesh,” what type of twisted tale are you imagining next?
I’m looking at another collection of shorts or a creepy ghost story.

Who is your current publisher and what type of experience has it been?
My publisher is iUniverse, a high-end self publishing company. When I wrote 13 Nightmares I knew no one would touch a collection of stories from an unknown author so I did it myself to test the waters. With Ebon Moon the publisher went in on the editing costs so I wouldn’t have to pay the full price of publishing an 117,000 word novel. By the way, both books have been professionally edited and won Editor’s Choice. I would love to break into mainstream publishing but I have no regrets publishing it myself. You can’t go into self-publishing thinking you’re going to be as rich as Stephen King. You’ll be sadly disappointed. But if you do so with the mindset that you are going to write the best story you can and hopefully someone will buy it, you’ll find it the most rewarding experience of your life. I still feel honored every time someone buys one of my books.

Have you been hitting the horror convention circuit this spring, where are you going next month?
I’ll be at Soonercon in Oklahoma City in June then I’m a vendor at Days of the Dead in Indianapolis in the first of July. I love conventions and meeting people.

You can find out more about this talented story teller at
www.dennismcdonaldhorrorauthor.com. And if you wish purchase Dennis’s books you can find them on www.amazon.com.

1 comment:

  1. Great write up. I'm actually reviewing Ebon Moon on the July ep of Hauntcast.