Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Peter and the Vampires, Darren Pillsbury

Today, my guest is self-published author, Darren Pillsbury.

AUTHOR:             Darren Pillsbury
PUBLISHER:        Self-published

Please tell us about yourself?
I’ve wanted to ‘make up stories’ for a living since I was five or six years old, and actually started writing right after high school. In 2007 I self-published the novel IMAGINARY FRIENDS. Shortly after that I began blogging a new story a page a day, which in 2011 I published as the ebooks PETER AND THE VAMPIRES, PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES, and PETER AND THE FRANKENSTEIN.

VAMPIRES is the story of a 10-year-old kid who moves into his grandfather’s creepy old mansion and bad, baaaad things start to happen…like dead men in the garden patch, a classmate dying and coming back as a vampire, and a monster in the town lake. The sequels include everything from werewolves and reanimated corpses to yetis, a murderous freak show,  and evil gingerbread men. It’s YA horror with a good dose of humor. Though my target audience is ostensibly 9 to 15, it’s written for all ages. Most of my fans from the blog are high schoolers, college students, and 20- and 30-somethings.

Tell us your latest news?
A colleague of my sister’s bought the book and passed it along to his wife, who is a teacher in a local middle school. She asked me to do a reading, which I did purely for fun and to connect with kids. After it was over, the teachers and librarians urged me to contact other schools – and charge! I’ve been promoting myself for only a couple of weeks now, so I’ll let you know how it shakes out, but there is an article about my experiences:

When and why did you begin writing?
From the age of four or five, I was always ‘imagining’ – building huge, elaborate storylines in my head. I tried a couple of times in high school to sit down and write something longer than a short story, but it wasn’t until the summer before college when I decided, “If I want to make a living at this someday, I better get started.” 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose when I was knee-deep in that first novel…which I never completed. It’s on the list of things to do, though.

What inspired you to write your first book?
It was one of those stories I had been nursing for years as a teenager, a supernatural adventure set in modern-day Washington, D.C. (Versus PETER AND THE VAMPIRES, which is a supernatural adventure set in Small Town, USA).

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Eh…these aren’t really ‘message’ books. But I do hope that people come away with a real, heartfelt reaction to the strong friendship between the main characters, and the bravery they show in the face of terrifying events.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)
The horrific little sister in the book is based on my real-life sister. At the age of two, both my sister and the character wore a yellow bathing suit with Strawberry Shortcake on it – ALL THE TIME. Even over their regular clothes in the winter. And both were hellions. My sister doesn’t remember any of her past bad behavior, so she doesn’t believe me and my parents when we tell our war stories over dinner – but those stories make for a great character.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Stephen King. I had a very conservative upbringing, and his books weren’t allowed in the house. Growing up, I used to sneak into the book aisle at the grocery store while my mom shopped. I would grab the latest King book and hurriedly flip through it to find the ‘good parts.’

What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on stories for the fifth book. The fourth book should be out by the end of 2011.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
In the PETER stories, since I know the characters so well, the stories almost write themselves. The characters just kind of take over and do their thing. In one-off stories, where you have to figure out scene by scene what’s going to happen next…and figure out the dynamics between characters you don’t know as well…it gets tiring.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Try to make a living from internet marketing and consulting, watch movies, read…but to be honest, one of my favorite things in the world is daydreaming. So after about 30 minutes of productivity, you’ll probably find me pacing back and forth (which I enjoy – it’s not stress-related), running a movie in my head of the next adventure I’m going to write.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I like ‘old school’ Stephen King for the atmosphere he builds – that creeping, palpable sense of dread. I like Orson Scott Card’s ENDER’S GAME for the fantastic imagery, the wonderful characters, and the amazing plot. I like THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS for its clockwork pacing, and HANNIBAL for its lyrical section on Florence. And I like the HARRY POTTER books for their grandiose world-building.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The first ten minutes, every time I sit down to write. I’m convinced that it will be awful, that it will be like pulling teeth, that I’ll fail miserably. Basically I have to face down my fears each and every time. But once I’m past that first ten minutes, things are usually just fun. Usually.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes: no agent wants to look at anything with the word ‘Vampire’ in the title. Especially not a YA or children’s book.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t go into this expecting to get rich or famous. Have a backup plan that will allow you to write AND pay the bills. Write because you love it – or because you can’t NOT do it. Take time to daydream. For me, at least, a book is a whole lot easier to write if I’ve already watched the major scenes play out in my head. When you rewrite, read the words out loud – you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to spot poor writing that way. If you just stay silent as you read, you have a tendency to gloss over sentences you should probably be changing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you to those who have already bought my books. To those who have not, try the first one – if you wish (like me) that you had had an amazing childhood full of magic and adventure, you’ll enjoy the series. And to everybody: if you like my writing, please tell other people about me.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
I published all of my books myself. I tried for years and with various books to get an agent, but it was rare that I could even get anybody to take a look at sample chapters. Plus, I’m not very good with rejection. After awhile I figured I would rather just put it out there and let ‘The People’ decide.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

SYNOPSIS:           When ten-year-old Peter moves into his grandfather’s creepy old mansion in a small town, bad, baaaaad things start to happen. A family of charred boogeymen who haunt the garden decide they don't like trespassers...a classmate with a crush comes back from the grave, and decides to make Peter her Undead Prince Charming...a creature from Fairieland changes place with Peter's two-year-old sister, leading to a VERY strange babysitting job...and a prehistoric predator starts snatching children from the town lake. With his troublemaking neighbor Dill, his grumpy grandfather, and only his courage and wit to guide him, Peter has to survive all these things, plus the Greatest Horror Of All: Fourth grade.

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