Title: Voices: Tales of Horror
Author: Lawrence C. Connolly
Social Media connections: http://www.facebook.com/LawrenceCConnolly
Release Date: December 2011
Where to buy: Wherever books are sold.
The Veins Cycle: Veins (2008), Vipers (2010) & Vortex (coming 2013)
Collections: Visions (2009), This Way to Egress, (2010)
Please provide a snippet from your most recently released book.
From Voices: Tales of Horror
It’s dark tonight. The only light comes from a lamp that flickers and dims, guttering like flame when the wind blasts the eaves. Manuscripts dating back to the late 1970s lie piled around me, reams of carbon copies, dry-toner Xeroxes, dot-matrix backups, laser printouts—the artefacts of a writing life that began in the days of the typewriter and progressed through the ages of desktop, laptop, and handheld computing. I’ve been looking through those stories and notes, recalling the events that inspired them, deciding which ones to include in a book that will be equal parts collection and recollection.
Most of the documents are also on my hard drive, but those are the final versions. Tonight I’m interested in the notes and marginalia as much as the stories themselves. Every story has a backstory, a voice or experience that inspired it. Tonight, we’re going to listen to some of those.
Can you hear me? Am I coming through OK? It’s a long way from where I am to where you will be, somewhere in my future, holding a book that at the moment is still paper-clipped pages and handwritten notes, but I think we’re ready to go. Keep reading. Turn the page. Stay awhile. I can’t do this without you.
Tonight, I have stories to share.
1 When did you first start writing?
I made my first professional sale in 1979 to Amazing Stories. That was a real kick. Amazing was the first sf magazine. Isaac Asimov and Ursula K. Leguin both made their first sales there, and landing in those pages really made me feel that I was part of something.
2 Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
Funny thing. After five books and over 50 short fiction sales, I’m still not comfortable calling myself a writer. I’m just a guy who writes. It’s about the verb, not the label; about the doing, not the being.
3 What genre do you prefer to work within? Or do you mix it up?
I do like to mix it up. My collection Visions celebrates that, reprinting some of my favourite stories from the top fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and horror magazines of the past few decades. The Veins Cycle books, though mostly fantasy, incorporate elements of the horror. And the next book in the Veins Cycle series, Vortex, will feature a nice dose of science fiction. I’m excited about that.
4 Where does your inspiration for these stories come from?
Inspiration might be too strong a word. Telling stories is just something I like doing. I try to get a little writing in every day. It’s more about craft than inspiration . . . and the craft comes from practice.
5 What has your publishing experience been like?
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to work with some terrific editors: people such as Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenburg, T.E.D. Klein, Karl Edward Wagner, Tom and Elizabeth Montelone, Gordon Van Gelder for short stories; Christopher and Barbara Roden (Ash-Tree Pess) and William and Meesh Horner (Fantasist Enterprises) for books. I’ve learned from all of them, and many of them have become good friends. In short, the experience has been wonderful. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.
6 Do you have a certain routine for writing? i.e. You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I never sit when I work. I have a keeling chair. Ever see one of those? They don’t look like chairs at all, and until you get the hang of using one, you think there’s no way it could ever be comfortable. But I can’t imagine ever going back to one of those right-angled torture devices that most people sit in. And by the way . . . have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? Actually takes years off your life. (I think I read that at the Harvard Business Review.)
7 How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I spend a lot of time stewing over character names. No formula for coming up with them. I just keep trying things out until something sounds right. And if traditional names don’t work, I go with nicknames. In the Veins Cycle, some of the central characters are Axle, Bird, Samuella, Yeyestani, and Danny Love – all nicknames of one sort of another. Then there’s Kirill Vorarov (whose last name is a palindrome) and a spiritual being named Kwetis (which is derived from a Mingo word for nighthawk). I can’t remember how many trial names I went through before coming up with those, but each seems absolutely perfect for its character. And just wait! By the time the Veins Cycle wraps up at the end of Vortex, some of those names are going to lead to some surprising revelations.
8 In your most recent work, who is your favorite character and why?
I love them all, which is part of the reason it’s taking me so long to finish the book. I’m determined to conclude the entire arc of the three-book cycle, but I’m not at all looking forward to saying good-by to these guys. I’m having such a blast hanging out with them.
9 Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
Working on Voices, my most recent collection, gave me the chance to look back at some of my earlier stories and consider where and who I was when wrote them. That’s one of the nice things about the writing life. It creates a record of voices, your voices. Considering those stories together, and writing bits of memoir to place between them in the book, I learned quite a bit about who I’ve been . . and who I am becoming.
But writing has taught me other things as well. Indeed, working on the Veins Cycle has required extensive knowledge about things as diverse as ancient languages, surface mining, fast cars, explosives, firearms, geology, theology . . . the list goes on. And boning up on those topics put me in touch with some wonderful experts. I toured an abandoned surface mine with a terrific geologist from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and got a crash course in geology from another at the Pennsylvania Geologic Survey. But the most fun I had researching came after I put the word out that I wanted to know how a Dodge Viper would perform on the twisting back roads of western Pennsylvania. A week later , a car enthusiast shows up and gives me the chance to find out. He put me behind the wheel of one of those V-10 monsters and said, “Take her for a spin.” Now that’s what I call research.
10 How did you/do you market your work?
I have a blog and website, a couple of Facebook pages, and I do quite a few appearances throughout the year. I’ve done interviews on some NPR affiliate stations (where fiction writers are still able to talk about their books without having to give the discussion a nonfiction spin), and I try to get to the major conventions when I can. But I’m not a marketing expert, which is why I would never consider going the self-publishing route. I don’t know how those people find time to write.
11 Can you describe the feeling you had when you saw your published book for the first time?
I’d been selling short fiction for three decades by the time my first novel appeared, so I think my feeling was something like: “It’s about time!” But my first story? Going down to one of the city newsstands (which still existed in the 1980s) and seeing my story alongside all those other stories? It was spiritual. You can’t bottle that stuff. It was great.
12 Favorite authors?
Arthur C. Clarke and Bob Leman. You’ve probably heard of one of them.
13 Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?
Suffered from writer’s block? No. Never. That’s the benefit of not waiting for inspiration. Knees to the chair. That’s all it takes.
14 What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Start now. And never give up.
15 Are you working on anything new? If so, can you tell me about it?
In addition to Vortex, which will be out this fall, I’ll have a new science fiction story in Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places (from Edge Science Fiction) and a new horror story in Halloween: Magic, Mystery , and The Macabre (from Prime Books). Both will be out in time for the World Fantasy Convention, which will be in Brighton, UK, this year . . . and I’m going!