Monday, May 3, 2010

Terror on the phone: An Interview with Brandon Ford

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to be able of interview horror novelist Brandon Ford for my very first Cathode Ray Mission interview. With his newest novel PAY PHONE out, I caught up with Brandon for another interview. This time about his new novel, horror anthologies, the craft of writing and Judge Judy.

Your newest novel is PAY PHONE. What can you tell us about it?

Pay Phone is centered around a vicious, bloodthirsty serial killer who uses a public phone as his one and only tool to finding his victims. He dials the number night and day, hoping any random somebody will feed on his bait.

PAY PHONE takes place in 1998. What where the advantages of setting the story then? And what were the disadvantages?

My goal was to write a story that took place in a time when cell phones were invented and widely used, but pay phones could still be found on at least every other corner. It still astounds me, especially living in a major metropolitan city, that you can travel for miles without finding one anymore. So, I wanted to keep it as modern as I could, while still depending on aspects of years past. This helped the story, I think, because it’s nice to take a break from the overwhelming amount of technology that is being tossed at us from every angle these days. It’s nice to remember a time when landlines weren’t uncommon. I don’t know if there were any real disadvantages in writing the book—at least not in regards to the time it takes place. 1998 isn’t that far away and I do remember it quite well, so I just wrote as if I were there.

Since your novel SPLATTERED BEAUTY you were featured in the horror anthology CREEPING SHADOWS. Can you tell us a little about you contribution “Merciless?”

“Merciless” was heavily inspired by the story of two young girls who were kidnapped at gunpoint and held captive by a ruthless maniac who wanted them simply for his own sadistic pleasures. Because so much of what’s on the pages is true, that was definitely a hard story to tell. But, because I was so incredibly affected by the events when they were first brought to my attention, I knew that it was a story that should be told.

Speaking of horror anthologies, you also contributed two others: THE DEATH PANEL and ABACULUS III. What are the benefits of doing a horror anthology? And will we someday see a collection of your short stories?

Well, I’ve been in a few more than that (haha)! I always love being apart of genre anthologies. It’s a true honor being among some of the incredible writers my works have been alongside. And it’s always wonderful to know that the work is being read. Putting together a short story collection of my own has been something I’ve thought about for a very, very long time, especially in recent years. I’d really like to see it happen soon, but I can’t say when just yet.

Which of one of your stories or novels would you recommend for someone that wanted start reading your work?

Well, since CRYSTAL BAY is my first novel, why not begin at the beginning?

Your first novel was CRYSTAL BAY. What were the challenges you faced getting it published?

There are many, many challenges when it comes to getting a first novel out there. For me, one of the greatest challenges of all was getting to know the business as best as I could. I spent countless hours doing my research, reading up on how to approach editors and agents all across the country. It wasn’t something that just happened. I didn’t simply get lucky. It was a lot of time and a lot of work. But to anyone that has a novel to sell, it is strongly recommended that you do your research before you approach anyone.

Where do you start with a story? Writing down some ideas and characters or with an outline?

When it comes to a short story, the general premise is the first thing that comes to mind. Then I’ll spend around a week or two flushing it out in my head before I start a first draft, which is always longhand. For a novel, it varies. Sometimes I know everything from beginning to end, sometimes I just have the opening chapter, sometimes I just have the end. I think having an outline makes things a lot easier no matter what it is you’re writing. And one of the most important things to remember is that it’s always okay to stray from the outline.

How many drafts do you write before you feel what you've written is done?

For a short story, no less than two. For a novel, sometimes 2-3. It varies from work to work.

Your bio on your blog states that you enjoy "watching bad TV." What are some of the "bad" shows you watch?

Unless I have my weekday Judge Judy fix, I’m not a happy camper. And I never miss Chelsea Lately. I wouldn’t call myself a reality show junkie, but I’ve been known to watch a few here and there. One of my favorites is The Bad Girls Club. Every episode is a train wreck from beginning to end.

Slasher films are some of my favorite horror films. Your work reminds me of the glory and gory days of the ‘80s slasher golden age. Were slasher films a big influence on your writing?

Well, thank you very much! I’ve been a great admirer of horror films (especially slashers) my entire life and yes, they’ve always been a huge inspiration in my writing.

Were do you see the horror fiction genre going in the next few years? Especially now with self-publishing becoming popular and affordable?

I still think self-published authors and indie presses are a long way off from competing with the major houses (namely because most small-press books can only be purchased online from retailers like But hopefully, with gadgets like the Amazon Kindle and the new iPad, the little guys (like myself) will be given a little more appreciation, since their work will be spread far and wide.

So what's next for you?

Have a couple of books I’m bouncing back and forth on and I’ve been writing a lot of short stories as of late. No idea when the next release will be, but I hope not too long!

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