Thursday, July 21, 2011

Interview with dark fiction short story writer Lake Lopez

Today on Reviews and Interviews is short story writer, Lake Lopez, whose goal is to scare his readers. No worries, the interview isn't scary...

Lake Lopez is not the body of water in California, but a flesh-and-bone human being who wants to scare the hell out of you.

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
I enjoy the immediacy of short stories. When we read novels we know that we’re going to spend some time doing so; and therefore it’s okay for the writer to take some time to warm up. A novel gets to set the stage, imbue a character with subtext, and hide dozens of meanings within dialogue. A short story doesn’t allow any of this. The character must be established in a few sentences rather than chapters and the conflict has to be established immediately. It’s a challenge and a great way for a writer to earn his or her chops

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
“Dark House” which takes place in a dream world was inspired from a bad dream I had about a cookie. I’m not kidding. If that story bothered you, blame the cookie.

“Green Eyed Boy” arose from an article I found on the net about a boy who was caught torturing cats. I wondered what it would be like to be that boy’s father.

Sinister, the novel-length project that’s published in weekly installments at my blog, is inspired by a red guitar I owned for a short time… I’m not sure I’m ready to share that true story, but I’ll keep you in the loop.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Horror – and it’s because I’m something of a prankster. I always have been. I was the kid who snuck up behind you and made you jump twenty feet in the air. It’s also a challenging genre to write in because you have to drill into your readers heads and that takes a lot of thought.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have about two-dozen short stories in development, but I’m most excited about Sinister. I’m writing another novel called The Weeping about the Mexican legend of La Llorona and that will debut soon. I’m also psyched about a novella I’m writing for my list called “Wearing Wicked Smiles.” It takes place in a haunted movie theater and revolves around a couple of best friends. So there’s a lot of irons in the inferno right now and not enough time to write them all.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was a mischievous teenager, not a bad kid, but definitely prone to speaking my mind and getting into trouble. And because of this trouble I met someone who was a published writer. I thought he was a very cool person. So I wrote a story and showed it to him and he encouraged me to keep writing. The poor guy, he wound up reading everything I wrote until I graduated from high school… I’m sure he had no idea what he was getting himself into by showing me kindness. At some point, I learned what periods were for and where to put the commas and the stories started to make sense. My mentor told me, “You could be a great writer.” And that was that – I knew what I was and what I wanted to be for the rest of my life.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I would advise writers to read what they love and read what they hate, but write everything, especially in the beginning. I’m lucky to have non-fiction, paying clients who give me money to play with words. Believe it or not, this helps my fiction and gives me a great deal of discipline. I would also suggest ignoring the markets for a long time. It’s bad business advice, but good advice for writers because we all need to know a lot about our craft before we can entertain market requirements and demographics. So my thought is to concentrate on character, conflict, theme, scene execution and, in doing so, find your voice. Then worry about the markets.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I dress up as my characters and try to spend hours living as they do, getting to know their worries and their needs. I prefer to write late at night when I should be sleeping. I keep notebooks and micro-cassette recorders within reach every second of my life and I’m totally OCD about capturing a thought, a sentence, or an idea. I’m hard on myself when it comes to page count and have endangered my health and wound up in the hospital a few times. All of these things make me hard to live with, I suppose, and some relationships have been damaged by this. To me it’s part of the job and the way I live. I’m not sure if it’s interesting, but I’ve been told it’s quirky as well as weird and requiring long-term psychological help.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not I wanted to be a country music singer, then I realized I didn’t like singing in front of people as much as I liked shirts with silver snaps on them and cowboy boots. So I decided to be a cop. I actually pursued that for a time as a grown-up, but artistic endeavors led me down some different paths. Ironically, one of the short stories I’m writing now is about a country singer, so maybe I’ve come full circle.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks for letting me be here. Of course, I’d like to invite everyone to visit my blog and participate. There’s some really insightful commenter leaving feedback and asking great questions and it’s a growing community of very cool folks. So swing by and let me scare the hell out of you… heh heh heh (that’s an evil laugh, by the way).

Thanks for partaking of the interview today, Lake, and for not sneaking up behind us.


Gina Penn said...

Great interview! The writer sounds very interesting-as well as mischievous. I also love about how he commented that writing horror is getting into the minds of your readers. I think a lot of writers of other genres tend to dismiss horror. Sounds like you've come full circle in your life, although I do hope that he's grown out of the sneaking up behind people and scaring them phase.

A. R. Braun said...

It's ironic that this topic hasn't come up before: yes, a horror author does sacrifice his health as part of the job. I also loved the comment about holding off on submitting to the markets. As a newbie, that's a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Gina - Moments ago I snuck behind my friend and scared him more than the movie Insidious did... It was fun. I can't wait to do it again. Thank you for your comment! See you soon. Peace, Lake

Anonymous said...

A.R. - What's good health if the writing is bad, know what I mean? Thank you for reading the article. I hope to see you again. Peace, Lake