Today's guest is multi-published, multi-talented author, Charles Gramlich. Charles recently published a collection of his short stories, Midnight in Rosary, tales of vampires and werewolvesMi.
AUTHOR: Charles Allen Gramlich
BOOK TITLE: Midnight in Rosary
PUBLISHER: Borgo Press
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
I grew up on a farm in Arkansas, in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, but moved to New Orleans in 1986 to teach psychology at a small university called Xavier. After Hurricane Katrina turned everyone’s life upside down in New Orleans, my wife and I relocated to a house in the woods outside the beautiful little town of Abita Springs. Xavier reopened and I still work there, but now I have about an hour’s commute. I don’t mind the drive because it’s so nice to get home in the evening and see the stars and fireflies, and hear the crickets and night birds.
As for writing, I produce a lot of nonfiction, often related to my job, but my first love is fiction. It doesn’t pay as well but gives me more satisfaction. I have a kind of odd goal as a writer; I’d like to publish something in every genre. So far I’ve managed science fiction, fantasy, horror, children’s stories, westerns, literary stories, poetry, erotica, and nonfiction. Mostly, though, I write fantasy and horror with a strong thread of adventure running through it all. Those are also my favorite genres to read, though I read a little bit of everything.
Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
Midnight in Rosary is a collection of short stories, mostly about vampires but with a few werewolves and a ghost thrown in. About two-thirds of the stories have been previously published, mostly in small magazines and anthologies. Even the previously published stories have generally been revised, though, at least slightly. Some have alternate endings. There are a lot of mixed elements in the stories, fantasy, horror, a lot of erotica, some romance, and even a little SF. Some of the story titles are “Wanting the Mouth of a Lover,” “In a Cold of Snow and Ghosts,” and “Love in the Time of Cybersex.” Overall, the collection probably fits most closely into the urban fantasy genre, and I hope that readers of authors like Kim Harrison and Laurell K. Hamilton will enjoy the tales.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing my first year in college, and even finished a short novel. I talked to a writing teacher there who seemed to think I had some talent, and he told me that if I wrote something more contemporary for him he’d help me with it and send it to his agent. I started something that night and it took off really well. But within two weeks that teacher ended up dying suddenly, and I put that work away and just quit writing fiction for almost 6 years. I eventually started writing a little here and there when I was in graduate school, but decided to get serious about it at the end of 1988. I promised myself that I was going to work at least a little bit every day on some writing task, and within a few months I sold my first story, a horror piece about schizophrenia. So, I date my time as a writer from that spring of 1989. That means I’ve been writing a long time. I included a long essay about my experiences, good, bad, and just plain strange, in Write With Fire, my tip book on getting published.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
Reading is what got me interested in writing. I loved to read as a kid. (Still do.) I read constantly, almost obsessively, and pretty early I started making up additional stories for my own amusement. At some point as a teenager I began to think about writing down those stories. I wanted to give others some of the joy I’d gotten from all the great books and stories I read. My first book was inspired by the westerns of Louis L’Amour, who I was reading a lot of at the time. I loved L’Amour’s language and descriptions, and his great characters. I tried to do the same thing, and it failed pretty miserably. But I learned a lot about the process and later I did publish western stories.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I don’t do much outlining. A lot of the fun of writing for me is figuring out what is going to happen next, and outlines take a lot of that away. It’s like eating your dessert before you even start on your veggies. Outlines also tend to crystalize a story and that makes it harder to find the twists and turns that can really raise the level of a novel.
My personal process for writing a novel doesn’t really follow any particular logic. Sometimes a title occurs to me and that triggers the start of a book. At other times the idea arises out of a dream I have, or just out of some daydream. I do a lot of daydreaming. I also do a lot of scene writing. I just start writing, tossing out a character or setting onto the page, and sometimes those things take off. Most often they become short stories, sometimes something longer. Sometimes the pieces go nowhere; I’ve got lots of fragments hanging around on my computer. When a piece does take off, I tend to alternate between periods of feverish writing and other periods where it looks like I’m doing nothing but walking around talking to myself. The latter periods are when I’m figuring out what’s going to happen next. Sort of a mental outline, I guess, though only for the next little section of the book.
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
I’d say that characters and “pieces” of the plot generally come at the same time. Characters occur to me but they always occur embedded in scenes, and the scenes usually develop into important linchpins for the overall plot. I have developed characters and then told stories about them, and I’ve started plot-driven stories and then found a character, but usually there’s a lot of synchronicity between the two.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
Since Midnight in Rosary is a collection of short stories, there are a lot of characters in it. The character I probably feel the most empathy for is a vampire named Kainja, who has a very long history in which he’s crossed paths with everyone from Jesus to Hitler. There’s an unnamed vampire character in the story “In Memory of the Sun” who I also have a lot of sympathy for. He’s slowly losing his glamour. I wouldn’t say I hate the character of Lily in the story “Lily White and Red,” but she scares the heck out of me.
What are some of the challenges in your writing process?
The biggest single challenge I face in writing is that I have a day job, which is how I support my family. I’m a teacher, and fortunately my job is fairly flexible. I get quite a bit of time to write, but there are many days and even weeks where school work fills just about every available hour and it becomes really hard to keep progressing on a novel. This is one reason I do a lot of short stories. I can finish them in between the heavy school days and the work related interruptions don’t cause me as much hassle. I find that consistency is very important in working on a novel, but when you’re grading 30 or 40 term papers and multiple exams in a week, that doesn’t leave either much time or much energy for writing.
Describe your writing space.
I have a very nice home office with a desktop computer. It has a window looking out on my backyard where our bird feeders are. There are woods on three sides of our house, and books on three sides of my work room. However, sitting upright for a long time in one place can get uncomfortable for me because of some back issues related to a motorcycle accident. I have a laptop and I write in all kinds of places and positions on it. I particularly enjoy getting out on my back deck and writing, where I can hear the birds and feel the breeze. I’m always inspired whenever I go out there.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A lot of reading. And occasionally I play video games. A couple of favorites are Doom and Red Dead Redemption. I used to ride motorcycles, but after getting hit three times in four years I decided to give up bikes and stick with cars. Hitting the highway hurts, and I’ve donated enough skin to the asphalt.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?
Too many to count, for sure. Some of my major influences have been Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Louis L’Amour, John D. MacDonald, and Ray Bradbury. I’ve been influenced by Kenneth Bulmer, David Gemmell, David Drake, Andre Norton, Leigh Brackett, C. L. Moore, Dean Koontz, and many others. And I’m still learning and being influenced today by modern writers such as James Reasoner, Wayne Allen Sallee, Sidney Williams, and plenty more. I really feed off of good fiction, not only for my writing but for my very life.
What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for
I have several books out. There’s Cold in the Light, a horror/thriller set in Arkansas. There’s a fantasy trilogy, Swords of Talera, Wings Over Talera, and Witch of Talera, which are set on a planet called Talera and were influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard. There’s a collection of sword and sorcery stories called Bitter Steel, and a Kindle only collection of western stories called Killing Trail. I also have a nonfiction writing book out called Write with Fire, and a chapbook entitled Wanting the Mouth of a Lover, which consists of vampire haiku. My next book scheduled for release is a horror collection called In the Language of Scorpions. I’m not sure what’s next after that. I’m working on a couple of long projects.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
The best advice I could ever give has already been given plenty of times before. I’m not sure exactly where I read it, but the simplest way to state the rules is: You have to start writing. You have to finish what you start. And you have to submit what you finish. Often, you have to submit it again and again before it finds a home. Along the way you need to practice, practice, practice, and read and study about the craft of writing.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have a blog that I post regularly on. It’s at http://charlesgramlich.blogspot.com There are links to all my books there. I also have an author page at Amazon, and one at Goodreads. I hang out on Facebook occasionally. My email is kainja at hotmail dot com. I try to respond to the emails I get, as long as I’m able to identify it as something other than spam. If someone mentioned this interview, for example, I’d know the email was legit.
BACK COVER BLURB:
Predation is in the bones, in the marrow. The ultimate need is for food, but even when sated a carnivore will still hunt. It wants the wet taste of life, the sweetness of watermelon flesh. Oh, it might be distracted temporarily—by games or sex. It might gather shiny baubles around it. But its need to kill isn't rational. And it won't be denied its blood.
Out of forest and fog they come, with mouths that drip shadows. Their lips taste of ruin; their scent clings like silk. And no one who has met them wonders why the night calls—when the white mist comes.