If you love a good horror story, then you’ll want to check out Evan Bollinger and how he crafts a story that will send your heart racing and the tension rising. Today he shares with us what makes a tale truly frightening, and why he likes to venture into twisted territory:
A.E. Thanks so much for joining us today, Evan. Tell me about your book, “The Followers.”
E.B. “The Followers” is a short story about the day a child climbed a tree, and the dark, mysterious creatures that pulled him onward. It suggests some sinister things about the reality we have come to accept, and about the very voices within our heads…
A.E. Dark and mysterious creatures? Voices? I’m already a little spooked. How would you describe “The Followers”? And, I’d love to hear your take on general elements of horror and what makes a story scary.
E.B. I definitely consider “The Followers” to have elements of horror. A successful horror story controls the reader’s expectation, so that the fear is gradually building as the plot unfolds. I don’t consider excessive blood and guts to be necessarily horror. I think that horror should be that growing unrest at the pit of your stomach. It should get your blood pumping, and your mind churning.
A.E. I agree! So what drew you to write in this particular genre?
E.B. I like the process of opening people’s minds to new ideas and presenting a similar world in a much deeper, darker light. I like to shine a light on things that are sometimes best left untouched.
A.E. That’s an interesting perspective. When you’re done with the creative side of writing, how do you approach the business side?
E.B. Writing is tough. The main challenge is just consistently doing it, and always striving to get better. The “business” side is concerned with finding your voice and your audience, and knowing how to connect. It’s about restless promotion, and the writing itself is about restless emotion. It’s best to keep on truckin.’
A.E. What are your favorite and least favorite parts about being a writer?
E.B. The promotion can get a little draining at times. I do really enjoy the writing, but I tend to dislike the editing part. I’m a perfectionist in that regard, so I always have to tinker with words and phrases. Sometimes I think it’s better to just let it flow.
A.E. OK, I just have to ask, what are you currently reading?
E.B. I’ve been reading off and on an anthology of fiction by authors like Baldwin, Barthelme, Cheever, and Updike. I like getting a feel for different styles and genres. It always keeps me on my toes.
A.E. I just stalked your Goodreads profile. Tell me how you use your knowledge of human psychology in your writing, especially when developing and fleshing out characters.
E.B. Human psychology informs the thoughts, actions, and emotions of the characters. I liked to express their varying mindsets, their motivations, their conflicts–self-doubts, and arrogance, and how impulses and plans interact. I like to get inside the crazy minds of everyday people, so I dig and dig and dig. Eventually, I’ve discovered something about the character I never could have anticipated.
A.E. And… you like Stephen King–so do I! I grew up with his books in my household. What do you find most appealing about Mr. King’s storytelling?
E.B. I was always under his spell–and I never knew it. That’s the genius of King. He’ll create these characters and move the plot so seamlessly, and you’re just zipping along and you’re soaking up the details of these people (because they seem so real) and then next thing you know, something totally scifi and unreal is happening…
But it’s so believable, and that’s what makes it so gripping and scary. King manages to take a real world, throw in something alien, and then there you are reading right along, buying everything he’s selling you, because when it comes right down to it: he’s a damn good storyteller.
A.E. If you had to name five of the best authors you’ve ever come across, who would they be?
E.B. King, Rowling, Puzo, Salinger, Tolkien
A.E. Neat! Any works in progress right now? And please share your details so that we can keep up with what’s happening in Evan’s world.
E.B. I’m seeking a publisher for my first full-length horror/scifi novel. It’s called Marin’s Dale and is the story of an insidious force that overtakes a placid Colorado valley. Part of it can be found at the site Wattpad.