Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Visit with Patrick Freivald: Bram Stoker Nominee

Join me as I interview Patrick Freivald, Bram Stoker nominee and fellow HWA member. Welcome to Zombiegirl Shambling! Here's some lemonade...whoops. Sorry about that. Let me wipe the blood off that glass for you.

All where did I put that tray of ladyfingers... Not real ones silly. Patrick, put down the chair. Look, I'm standing over here with a pen and paper. Perfectly harmless...Come on now. We have guests who want to know about your newest books...

The Interview:

1. How did you get started writing horror?

I've been writing for most of my life, but didn't really start writing with an intent to publish until 2008 or so, when my twin brother Phil said, "Dude, we should write a book." So we did. BLOOD LIST isn't horror per se, though it has some horrific elements to it. From there, my natural fondness for things that aren't quite right took over. Even when I don't write horror, things I write tend to have something dark about them.

2. What about YA do you enjoy?

The funny thing is that I never intended TWICE SHY or LOVE BITES to be YA. I mean, some really, truly awful things happen in both books--things a lot of parents wouldn't be all that comfortable with their kids reading. But I guess when your protagonist is in high school, or of high school age, it's YA, dammit.

As a high school teacher, teenagers amuse me--sometimes on purpose, often not. I have an over-developed sense of irony, and I very much enjoy my job. So go figure I'd end up writing about young adults in some of my work.

3. Music or no music?

While writing? Absolutely not, for two reasons: one, I enjoy music too much and would get distracted. Two, I use voice recognition to write, and the sound would mess it up.

Otherwise? I enjoy a lot of genres, but selectively within those genres. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Halestorm, Imogen Heap, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

4. Name three things on your desk right now.

I don't have a desk. Which is to say I have two, but never use them for anything but storage. I write at either the kitchen or the dining room table, most of the time--and by "at the table" I mean while pacing back and forth. I rarely sit while writing, unless I'm in an environment too noisy to use VR, in which case I'll type like a normal person. Not to dodge the question, my current writing surface, the kitchen table, has a cup of tea (black, with my honey), a sleeping and very fat and fluffy white cat, and my laptop on it.

5. What kinds of characters do you most love to write about?

Well that's an odd question. I like to write characters, and they vary quite a bit. From serial killers to self-destructive teens to superhuman commandos to retired old men in witness protection through no fault of their own, each is fun to write in their own way. My favorite character of all time has yet to hit a published story, and that's a man who's convinced that he's dead and in hell, despite the fact that he's actually just a rather ordinary virtuoso violinist--it's fun to write scenes from his perspective, because of how he'll interpret the actions of those around him.

6. Tell us about your new book.

BLOOD LIST is about a serial killer trying to save his father's life. It's the first novel I wrote, but the most recently published (November). In May, JADE SKY hits Amazon--it's on preorder now--and it's a screaming-fast, brutal, modern fantasy thriller about superhuman commandos.

7. Hamburger or sushi?

Yes, please! I don't understand why people consider broccoli to be food, but other than that will eat almost anything and enjoy it. I like food, I like to cook, I like to eat!

8. What is one pet peeve you see in horror today? What would you like to see more?

Horror to me isn't a genre, it's an emotion. Lots of books can contain horror, but no books "are" horror. So in that sense, there are entire swathes of stories I have no interest in--mutilation porn like SAW, rape/revenge fantasy, etc. Generally, the things that try only to shock hold no interest for me. 

I read a lot of Z-fic for a while, to the point where I was writing reviews for, and with zombie stories there's a stagnation that really started to turn me off, where they're all about one of two scenarios: the apocalypse is happening and people are trying to survive, or the apocalypse has happened at some point in the past, and people are trying to survive. There are exceptions, or sufficiently good twists: Jonathan Maberry's introspective YA ROT AND RUIN series, Joe McKinney's things-are-mostly-contained THE CROSSING (and related stories), Dana Fredsti's Buffy-the-Zombie-Slayer PLAGUE TOWN, PLAGUE NATION, and I-can't-wait-for-it-to-come-out PLAGUE WORLD, David Moody's understated and almost calm AUTUMN...I'd like to think I nailed something pretty unique with TWICE SHY and SPECIAL DEAD, too! ...but these are the exceptions, not the rule.

What I'd like to see more of is the same thing that I think most everyone wants to see more of: quality stories that either make you think or entertain you so much that you don't care if you're not thinking too hard. Well written, well edited, character-driven stories that engage. Beyond that, what else could you want?

9. What advice would you give someone just starting out in the horror field?

Don't start out "in the horror field". Write what you write, and let other people classify it.

Other than that, my advice is the same as I've given to a lot of other writers: write a lot, make it the best you can, and use as few words as possible.

10. What is next on your writerly platform?

JADE SKY got picked up for a five-book deal, so I've got four more to write. I'm collaborating with Joe McKinney on a comic for Dark Discovery Magazine using JADE SKY's setting, just started collaborating with Brian Knight on an as-yet-amorphous probably YA novel, and would like to write at least six short stories and another novel on top of all that this year. We'll see how close we get!

Editing blog:


 Patrick Freivald is an author, teacher (physics, robotics, American Sign Language), and beekeeper. He lives in Upstate New York with his beautiful wife, two birds, two dogs, too many cats, and several million stinging insects. A book reviewer for, he’s always had a soft spot for slavering monsters of all kinds. He is the author of JADE SKY, BLOOD LIST (with his twin brother Phil), TWICE SHY, and the Bram Stoker Award(R)-nominated SPECIAL DEAD, as well as many short stories.


No authors or women's fingers were maimed or dismembered during the course of this post. Thank you Patrick for taking the time to answer my questions with minimal screaming. 

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