Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interview with author Larry Kerr






Today, my guest is author, Larry Kerr.  His latest book is a supernatural horror, By the Light of the Moon.


1. Tell me a little about your book.
 By the Light of the Moon” is novel of supernatural horror. It is contemporary and is set in a small, fictional town in western Pennsylvania.

2. What gave you the idea for this particular story?
There was no single thing or event that gave me the idea. I’ve always been interested in horror. I remember watching many horror movies when I was young. Anybody originally from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area will remember Chiller Theatre hosted by Chilly Billy Cardille. Chiller Theatre showed such classics as “The Crawling Eye” and “Forbidden Planet” for years and years. However, aside from that I don’t know what inspired my inclination toward horror.
My first manuscript was historical fiction and after finishing it I went to work on this book.

3. Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a part-time writer and full-time web programmer for a state agency in Pennsylvania. During the week, I write after dinner. On the weekends, I usually write after breakfast and after lunch. (The process does seem to be associated with meals for some reason.) I do nearly all my writing on the computer. After spending all day on a computer some people may wonder how I can come home and spend more time staring at a monitor. While it can be difficult at times, programming and writing are two different processes, which give me the variety that I need.

4. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been interested in writing for a long time and remember as a child attempting it. I also made an effort after graduating college. I did it long hand then because I was such a terrible typist. One of the reasons I wanted a computer was because it made the mechanical process of writing easier. Of course, that side tracked me into programming.
While I didn’t become a fiction writer, I did become a newspaper reporter/photographer and eventually a copy editor. If you read the book, you will see how that career influenced my story.

5.  What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope readers enjoy my writing and perhaps get some chills from it. I know this is not the great American novel, but if someone enjoys it I’m happy.

6. Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
My first manuscript was historical fiction. The second was horror and the third action adventure. I’ve written short stories in different genres. I’m probably not going to be a romance writer, but just about anything else is fair game.
I prefer writing whatever genre I’m working on at the time.

7. What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The easy part is coming up with ideas. I have plenty of ideas. The hard part is carrying through an idea from beginning to end. That is, fleshing out an idea into a book. In order to get past that, I think you have to get yourself to sit down day after day and write. That’s where self discipline comes in. If you aren’t a full-time writer (and the vast majority of us aren’t), you have to find the time and energy after a full day at work to write. You can’t wait until you’re in the mood.
It’s also a test of creativity to be able to execute an entire book from one idea. The original idea only goes so far then you must come up with other ideas to bring it to fruition.

8. Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
My protagonist, John Reynolds, is a newspaper reporter in small town and that was my first career. The town of Blacksville is a thinly disguised version of the town where I started my newspaper career in the middle 1980s. However, personality wise he is not the same as me. I didn’t have a nervous breakdown and didn’t encounter a werewolf. The tale wasn’t based on a single event that occurred while I was there, though it was an almost cliché writer’s axiom: Write what you know. I was a newspaper reporter, so that’s what I wrote about.

9. How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
As I mentioned, we were both newspaper reporters, but we have different personalities. What was similar was the loss of illusion about the field and becoming jaded in the job. However, we could both become excited over the prospect of a big story.

10. What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
As far as research, I had to discover the lunar cycles for the year 2005. I also did some research on werewolves. I did much less research on this book than on my first, which was historical fiction.

11. Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
Neither bothered me, though I wasn’t too graphic. The book was never intended to be the literary equivalent of a slasher movie or a sex manual. You can leave it up to the reader’s imagination and be more effective than going into detail. I don’t see myself giving an organ-by-organ description of a dismemberment. I also don’t ever see myself going into great sexual detail. Of course, if you’re going to write horror there will nearly always be some violence.
However, this version of the book does not include the original opening chapter. While that chapter did not feature graphic violence, the werewolf made his first kill. It did have a crude character who used foul language a lot. That put some people off. In a rare bit of feedback from a publisher, he suggested I drop that and start with the discovery of the body. I did that and made some other significant cuts and the manuscript was accepted.

12. What about your book makes it special?
I think it is more of a traditional horror story. It doesn’t veer much from the well known powers of a werewolf. It is along the lines of the classic horror tales. In another words, the werewolf is a werewolf. I suspect readers like the traditional types of creatures. I know I do. I don’t particularly care for vampires who go out in the daylight or the zombies who can run like Olympic sprinters. Perhaps publishers thought the story was a little too traditional because it took a while to find someone who would accept it.

13. What is your marketing plan?
My marketing plan is still evolving. I do hope to get interviews and reviews with local newspapers to start. I have a contest related to book purchases in mind. I do plan to conduct a Facebook campaign and perhaps another using Google. My publisher has a group on Yahoo and I’ve seen some more ideas there. Of course, I’ll be setting up book signings.

14. Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have a website: www.larrykerrauthor.com.

15. Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Horror seems to be the most wide open genre right now. There are plenty of web sites featuring it. What might be a good first step is to do some research and find a publisher who wants something very specific then write to those requirements. The downside is if that publisher rejects it might be hard to place elsewhere because it was written to such specific requirements. Other than that hint, all the usual stuff. Write, get some honest feedback, be out of the ordinary, be thick-skinned and don’t give up. I wrote the first draft of this book in 2005 and it was accepted in 2010.

 
By the Light of the Moon Synopsis

It appears to be small town America. A baseball game on a warm July morning. A boy running through the outfield. Suddenly he slips and falls in a cascade of red. After he slides to a stop in a pool of blood and gore, he finds himself looking at a human head. He screams and runs. The terror in tiny Blacksville, Pennsylvania, has begun.

John Reynolds, reporter for the Dispatch, Blacksville’s newspaper, draws the assignment of covering the death of Nate Edwards, the beheaded man. Reynolds has returned to the newspaper business after recovering from a nervous breakdown.

He meets Tricia Stewart, another reporter at the paper, with whom he has an affair. Admittedly, the affair is one of convenience for both of them. She wants to gain the benefit of his professional experience and he wants sex. However, Reynolds starts to realize he has real feelings for her.
Tricia, though, is not convinced they have a future together. She is aware that he previously worked in a bigger media market, wants to return and is concerned he will leave her behind. Reynolds has not told her about his breakdown.
A month after the first murder, another man is killed. In September, two months after the original death, the case explodes with the brutal murders of two young people. Cindy Marks and Billy Baker are camping out on a sex date when someone attacks and kills them. The murders create a media feeding frenzy and the first inkling that something unnatural is going on.

Reynolds receives a call from a mysterious woman who warns him about the lunar cycle.
In October, the killer attacks Tricia. She survives, but is infected by the werewolf’s bite. The mystery caller warns Reynolds about Tricia.

The next month, Blacksville Police Officer Kenny Burns picks up someone on the street. He is taking his passenger to the hospital when all hell breaks loose. Kenny puts up a fight, but is outnumbered. Now the danger has doubled in Blacksville. There are two deadly creatures on the loose.

After the murder of Burns, a diverse group forms. John Reynolds, Tricia Stewart, Pittsburgh TV reporter Kathy Starr and Blacksville Police Officer Daryl Walters join forces. They first track down Eleanor Dawkins, the mystery caller, who is a professor at a local college campus.

Dawkins tells them the killer is a werewolf. Though not all members of the group believe her tale, they try to enlist her. Dawkins refuses at first, but then joins the group.

Walters is attacked in December, but survives. 

The group eventually decides to track down those new to Blacksville so that they can pinpoint the killer. Reynolds is one of those recent immigrants and he cannot account for the months immediately before his arrival. He finally tells them what happened, yet they are still not completely satisfied with his explanation. When the full moon arrives in January, they ask him to spend the night in a jail cell. Angry and hurt, Reynolds agrees to do it so he can prove he is not the werewolf. The incident does reveal a werewolf: Tricia.

When Police Chief Harley Winston arrives on the scene, Tricia the werewolf flees into the night. Winston joins with the others for the final confrontation with the alpha werewolf: Doug Novak, editor of the newspaper. A battle ensues and Novak and Winston die. Stewart and Walters are saved from final werewolf transformation.

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