Kendall Reviews welcomes author D.R. Bartlette in for a chat. We find out what inspires DeLani, her writing routine, what the future holds for her and much more.
The kettle has boiled, so please sit down and get comfortable. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.
D.R. Bartlette Bio: I’m a Southern author who writes smart, dark fiction. I was a nerdy weirdo who hung out in libraries for fun, where I discovered horror at an inappropriately early age. I remember being in the third or fourth grade when I saw my first Twilight Zone episode – “All the Time in the World.” It made me feel sad, angry, and vaguely creeped out. I loved it. I quickly moved on to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, with its slow building suspense and the certainty that someone is going to die.
I began reading Stephen King like a junkie eats oxycontin, devouring entire novels in an afternoon. From there I found the ornately Gothic works of Edgar Allan Poe and the brightly-lit terror of Shirley Jackson. When I discovered William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” I felt like I had found the most perfect story ever written: deeply atmospheric, suspenseful, gruesome – and utterly Southern.
I wrote my first short horror story in eighth grade, a tale about a young girl who discovers that her favorite singer, Ozzy Osbourne, has accidentally summoned a demon by reciting a spell from Aleister Crowley in a song. She has to find Ozzy and convince him to sing the banishing spell before the demon devours the Earth. (Hey, don’t laugh; Metalocalypse did pretty much this same story in “Dethtroll“).
Since then, I went on to earn a Bachelor’s, then a Master’s, in Journalism. I’ve written dozens of short stories, articles, and essays from topics ranging from school lunches to the study of human decomposition. My first novel, The Devil in Black Creek, has been called “brilliant,” “creepy,” and “totally trendy.”
I still live, write, and hang out at the library in my hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Kendall Reviews chats to D.R. Bartlette.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
Like my bio says, I’m a nerdy weirdo. While other kids were watching He-Man and GI Joe, I was reading Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror. When they were having sleepovers, I was staying up late and watching The Twilight Zone. It only got worse from there. When I discovered Stephen King in junior high, that was it. I knew I wanted to be a writer more than anything. So I went to college and earned two degrees in journalism, and I’ve written and taught writing for over two decades now. It’s only been recently that I’ve returned to my first love, telling creepy stories.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Not that I have much time when I’m not writing! But usually you’ll find me reading books or watching shows about true crime and forensics – the gruesomer, the better! My favorite pastime, however, is travel. I’ve been to 17 states and two foreign countries.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
I can’t say I really have one. I tore through so many books as a kid I can barely remember them. That said, I did love the Dragonsong series by Anne McCaffrey and the Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy when I was small.
KR: What are you reading now?
The Butchering Art, by Lindsey Fitzharris. It’s about how awful surgery was in the Victorian era, and how Joseph Lister discovered germs, which made surgery so much safer.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
As I said before, Stephen King has been a huge influence on me. Later I discovered Poe, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson. I think “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is just about the most perfect story ever written, and helped me embrace my strong Southern voice. I’m also in love with Hunter S. Thompson, Mary Roach, and recently, Grady Hendrix.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I am a very “type A” writer. I come from a journalistic background, so I’m all about understanding what the story is before you write it. So yes, I outline!
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I couldn’t begin to guess how much I research, because *everything* is research for a story, really. I know I watch dozens of hours of true-crime documentaries (and read true-crime books and blogs) so I can create a truly evil antagonist, and to make sure I don’t have any logical gaps or plotholes.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
My goal is to write 2,000 words at a sitting. That said, here’s how it usually goes down: Roll out of bed around 9. Coffee. Write sporadically until around noon or so, then get dressed and eat something. Write some more. Get hungry and cranky around 3. Eat something more substantial. Try to get back into writing. Get distracted. Repeat for a couple hours until finally giving up.
KR: Which is your favourite of the books/stories you have written?
I have an unpublished (as of yet) short story called “There’s No Such Things as Zombies” that I really like. I had told myself, and anyone who would listen, that I would never write zombies because that genre had been done to death (pardon the pun). Then one morning I woke from a nightmare, and like any good horror writer, I said, “I have to write this!” and it came out as a kind of zombie story, heavily influenced by my experiences with opioid addicts. It’s weird and brutal and kinda steam-punky, and I like it!
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Yes. Like I said before, I’m used to working with editors, so I’ve got a thick skin. But so far, all my reviews have been good (knock wood)!
KR: What scares you?
The real monsters walking around in daylight. Those sick fuckers who get off on causing pain to other human beings, who delight in cutting them up or beating them down. Psychopaths who see people who are weaker or less powerful, and see that as a justification to make them suffer and die. Those are the real demons.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Paperback all the way, baby!
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
My novel, The Devil in Black Creek, is set in 1986 in a small town in Arkansas. The protagonist, Cassie, is a 12-year-old girl whose family is falling apart. She often escapes to the woods behind her house for some peace and solace. While there, she sees some very suspicious behavior by the new preacher. But no one will believe her, and it puts her own life in danger.
The novel is really about who is trusted and believed in society, and who isn’t (a very relevant and the hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness of small towns.
KR: What are you working on now?
Another retro novel, set in the 1970s. The protagonist is a 15-year-old girl whose mother has gone crazy from too many hallucinogenic drugs. The mother drags her boyfriend/disciple and her daughter across the country on a murder spree, eventually ending up in an abandoned old house in the Ozark woods. From there, things really start to go downhill…
KR: Fast forward ten years! Where do you see yourself?
With a few more novels out, some stories in anthologies, and raking in enough royalties and speaking fees to quit my day job!
KR: Thank you very much DeLani, it’s been a pleasure!
You can buy DeLani’s debut novel The Devil In Black Creek here
Delani has a great blog that’s a ‘journal of Phychos, Sadists & Serial Killers’ here