Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Author Interview – Mark LaFlamme

at 1:30 AM

What inspires you to write and why? Story ideas come out of nowhere. I can be doing something absolutely unrelated to writing – shopping for pants, digging holes in the backyard, riding my dirt bike – and an idea hits me like a poke to the eye. Stings a little. And as I go about my day, new developments occur to me. “Oooh, what if this guy killed that guy’s wife, but that guy didn’t know it.” And sooner or later, it’s like an itch that you have to scratch. Even if you’ve got other things to do, you eventually need to get to your writing space because that story demands to be born. I really like that process, even when it’s mildly annoying. I’ve taken to using Evernote to keep track of these story ideas, lest I ever run into a dry spell. Frankly, I don’t know how I got along without Evernote.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Horror. I guess horror. I say that because very frequently, I set out to write something that is specifically NOT horror. “At no point in this story, will anyone grow a third head or dig up a dead person,” I’ll say. Three pages in, there’s that third head and, oh look! The dude’s getting out his shovel! I can’t help myself sometimes. It’s where my thoughts tend to go and I guess there’s comfort in that. Although recently, I’ve managed to write more and more stuff that falls into the thriller category. Personal growth, I guess. Maybe my destiny is to write romance.

What inspired you to write your first book? The first novel I wrote was “Worumbo.” I wrote it because every editor and agent I talked to told me I needed to grow out of short stories. I needed to graduate. So, I shuffled my feet and pouted for a while. I like writing short stories. That’s my wheelhouse. I dreaded the idea of writing a longer work – why, it must be like having food in your mouth too long – but the weirdest thing happened. I liked it. Loved it, in fact. The longer format allowed me to get really comfortable with my characters. I found that I missed them when I was away from the keyboard. I couldn’t wait to get home each night and advance the story. Once “Worumbo” was finished (first draft, anyway) I moved quickly onto another. Before long, I had seven or eight novels floating around. It’s really kind of amazing. By the way, “Worumbo” was based on a short story I had written which, in turn, was based on a bad dream. I think a solid 65 percent of my stories are at least loosely based on dreams. Again: therapy.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? All kinds of people motivated me once I got started. I’d share chapters from the blossoming novel and they’d go “Wow! This blows my socks off! Keep writing.” Were they faking it? I like to think they weren’t. Those words of encouragement came from editors (I pilfer editors from the newspaper for which I work. Very helpful.), from friends, from family members and from my wife. I don’t care who you are. If you’ve written something and you start showing it around, you want praise for it. You don’t want bogus praise, no. But feedback from readers is everything. It’s that way for me, it’s that way for every aspiring author I know, and I imagine it’s that way for the giants, too. We write to please ourselves, surely, but at the end of the day, we want to wow people. We want to keep them up at night, make them cry, make them vomit or make them weep, depending on what it is we’ve written. Feedback is like fuel for the machine, I think.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years? When I was 17 or 18, I did a job shadow at a Maine newspaper. The reporters I tailed did nothing but grouse about the profession. It’s hard work at low pay. There’s no future in it. Do yourself a favor, kid. Go into plumbing. I found this discouraging and I reached out to a journalist I admired, a reporter, columnist and successful author named Gerry Boyle. I remember Gerry wrote me this long letter that utterly disputed what those spleeny reporters had said. Journalism is great, he told me, as long as it’s what you really want to do. Turns out he was absolutely right about that. What’s funny about that is that Stephen King himself gave me the same kind of speech about writing fiction. A bunch of my friends had carted me up to Bangor to see his crazy house when the big man himself drove up. He put his arm around my shoulder and when I told him (as sheepishly as any man in any confessional) that I wanted to be a writer. King said something to the effect of, “Well, son. If you want to write, you should get to doing it.” He probably just wanted me off his front lawn, but those words always stuck.

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Genre – YA / Thriller

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Mark LaFlamme on Facebook

Website http://marklaflamme.com/

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