That Which Grows Wild: Writer and Editor Eric J. Guignard talks to Kendall Reviews.

Eric J. Guignard is a writer and editor of dark and speculative fiction, operating from the shadowy outskirts of Los Angeles, where he also owns and runs the small press, Dark Moon Books. He’s won the Bram Stoker Award, been a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award, and a multi-nominee of the Pushcart Prize. Outside the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, he’s a technical writer and college professor. Check out his latest work, a debut collection, THAT WHICH GROWS WILD (Cemetery Dance, 2018).

KR: Coffee?

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KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Well, this is probably a duplicate of my bio, but I’m a writer and editor of dark and speculative fiction, operating from the shadowy outskirts of Los Angeles, where I also operate the indie press, Dark Moon Books.

Besides that, I have a day job as technical writer for a large public electricity provider, and I also teach technical writing through the University California system. Married, with two lovely young children, and a dog, cats, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

Spend time with my children. I coach AYSO Soccer and Little League baseball, and I’m Den Leader of my son’s Cub Scout Pack. Also I enjoy hiking and I study entomology (insects) and genealogy (family history); I woodwork in my garage; model miniatures; and read, read, read!

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

I recall reading FALLEN ANGELS by Walter Dean Myers about a hundred times when I was a child. I was also huge into HARDY BOYS mysteries and CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE books. Lots of Jack London books as well.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

I love music, and one of my greatest self-loathings is that I have no talent to play any instrument! I follow indie and alternative radio stations, looking for new or experimental sounds. I love classic rock and oldies, Funk and R&B (only if it has a horn section), anything with a beat or soul. Music is a mixed bag with writing though. If I feel a touch of writer’s block, or just not “in the mood” to write, I’ll surf music stations, watch videos for inspirations of “feeling” or visual imagery. Sometimes it helps to have a certain band or album playing in the background on repeat while I write if it’s deep and dark and the tracks lay smoothly into each other. A couple of my favorites of these sorts are White Pony (Deftones); The Life Aquatic Sessions (Seu Jorge); and lately everything by funkster Charles Bradley (especially, No Time For Dreaming), who tragically just passed away last year.

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KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

No… I enjoy all horror movies, whether campy or serious. I don’t usually pick them by the director.

KR: What are you reading now?

I always read multiple books at a time. Current in-progress novel is CHARCOAL JOE by Walter Mosley; and I’m about to begin TIDE OF STONE by Kaaron Warren; In-progress anthology is WEIRD DETECTIVES (RECENT INVESTIGATIONS) edited by Paula Guran; in-progress collection is STRANGE THINGS AND STRANGER PLACES (1993) by Ramsey Campbell; current audio books is THE GIVEN DAY by Dennis Lehane (and just finished LIVE BY NIGHT which is the second book in the Coughlin series, and one of the best books I’ve read in years!); current youth book I’m reading with my 10-year-old son is THE ZUCCHINI WARRIORS (Bruno and Boots series) by Gordon Korman; current toddler book I’m reading with my 4-year-old daughter is the series of MR. and LITTLE MISS books by Roger Hargreaves.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Here’s a stock list I often share with others!:

Inspiration by: Horror books (Stephen King, Dean Koontz); Boys’ Adventure (Jack London, Hardy Boys); Literary Classics (Mark Twain, John Steinbeck); anthologies or collections of short stories (Thomas Monteleone, Stephen King ((again)), O. Henry), and lots and lots of comics (Marvel, D.C., and Dark Horse universes).

Particularly some of my favorite (and defining) books were:

BOYS LIFE by Robert McCammon

BIG FISH by Daniel Wallace

THE DIVINE COMEDY by Dante

BURMESE DAYS by George Orwell

and every volume of THE YEAR’S BEST DARK FANTASY & HORROR

Additionally:

THE STAND by Stephen King

TERROR by Dan Simmons

GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn

PAPILLON by Henri Charrière

A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE by Nelson Algren

ZOMBIES AND SHIT by Carlton Mellick III (surprisingly, title aside, a beautiful and complex bizarro story)

MARCHING POWDER by Rusty Young and Thomas Mcfadden

MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor Frankl

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I always begin just by “writing as I go,” but if the story becomes complicated or I get burned out, or stuck, then I turn to outlining to figure the proper direction. No other rituals, but that I write when I can! I try to write in the morning after I wake up, the earlier the better. I also, oddly, have a time of greatest focus/ productivity in late afternoon. Our bodies cycle to rhythmic clocks and mine is set to pound out work at about 4:00 p.m. Of course all that also depends on other work, family, and life obligations. I write technical documentation for my day job, and also teach as adjunct U.C. faculty, and have two small children to raise, so it’s easy to let writing take a back seat to everything else, though I force myself to write something creative every single day, even if it’s only fifty words or so.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I probably tend to do too much research on work I’m writing, but much of that has to do with falling down the rabbit hole of internet research. Yes, my primary means is GOOGLE for everything (which I know is not very academic). And that research also entails sifting through a lot of dreck that you may not normally find while in the dominion of traditional research.

To start with, simply typing in key words and phrases into your friendly neighborhood search engine is great to get a basic sense of what’s available. If it comes back with something that has millions of hits, it’s probably pretty common knowledge. If it comes back with only a couple hits, that means it’s either not well known, or incorrect.

If I want an overview of a topic, Wikipedia is great, but of course that just provides the basics, much of which is not always accurate either. Whereas search engines provide the “scope” of available information, Wikipedia may provide “inspiration.” Still, at this point it’s a good idea to search further.

Next is to locate primary source notes. Have you used Google Books yet? It’s a searchable service that scans digitized books and magazines within its database. Last I checked, Google Books included 129 million books, and they’re still adding more. These are original records, available 24-7 for free, just incredible source material to skim. http://books.google.com/

Personally, I like to research online and compile notes before I write. Then, as I write, I regularly look up additional ideas/ explanations/ descriptions, etc. Overall, it may seem like a tedious process, but it works for me.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

I try to write every day, even if it’s only a dozen words. My personal goal is 1,000 words a day, though most writers I know strive for more, between 1,500 – 2,000. I also count my time toward editing/ publishing other books, which ties into “creative endeavors” time, outside day job/ life activities. Additionally, I try to read at least 30 minutes each day, which should go along with any writer’s schedule.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

Most of my favorites, I gathered up in my debut collection THAT WHICH GROWS WILD, which was just released last month (July, 2018) by Cemetery Dance. On the flip-side, there are many, many more stories I’ve written that I’d prefer to forget about!

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

Yes. Like everyone, I’ve received negative reviews, and I read those too, particularly if they have any insightful “audience feedback”. Generally though, most bad reviews are simply that the content did not appeal to the reader. Nothing I can do about that, as a writer can’t please everyone. Positive reviews, on the other hand, are a natural “charge” that invigorates or inspires me to write more. As an Indie Writer, I don’t have a lot of fans, so every positive review is definitely cherished.

KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?

To set a daily word count goal and write until you meet it. Sadly, I don’t much follow this advice, but it’s valuable, and I feel quite accomplished on days that I do it!

KR: What scares you?

My fears are private, psychological worries: Not being a good father, not realizing long-standing dreams, stuff like that. No fears of anything tangible. I suppose my writing often includes tones of angst and loneliness, loss and ineptitude, all culled from personal experiences, none of which are anything abnormal or overly-dramatic.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

Toss up between paperback or hardback. I cannot read ebooks.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

My most recent writing work is my debut collection, That Which Grows Wild: 16 Tales of Dark Fiction (Cemetery Dance Publications; July, 2018)

Quick synopsis: Equal parts of whimsy and weird, horror and heartbreak, That Which Grows Wild, by award-winning author Eric J. Guignard, collects sixteen short stories that traverses the darker side of the fantastic.

My latest published editing work is my anthology, A World of Horror, which is a showcase of international short fiction authors. (Dark Moon Books; September, 2018)

Quick synopsis: A World of Horror is an anthology of all new dark and speculative fiction stories written by authors from around the globe.

What’s to be published next is my newest anthology, to be published in early November, Pop the Clutch: Thrilling Tales of Rockabilly, Monsters, and Hot Rod Horror. (Dark Moon Books; November, 2018)

Quick synopsis: A 1950s-themed anthology of 18 all-new rockabilly, pulp, and horror tales, with fast cars, rowdy characters, and revved-up classic movie monsters.

What’s being shopped around right is my debut novel (agents and publishers, take note!), Crossbuck ’Bo.

Quick synopsis: A Depression-era hobo rides the rails and learns the underlying Hobo Code is a secret language that leads into the world of shared memories, where whoever is remembered strongest can change history and alter the lives of the living.

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Additionally I’ve created an ongoing series of primers exploring modern masters of literary dark short fiction, titled: EXPLORING DARK SHORT FICTION, of which I’m estimating to release an average of 2—3 volumes per year (Vol. 1: Steve Rasnic Tem; Vol. II: Kaaron Warren; Vol. III: Nisi Shawl; Vol. IV: Jeffrey Ford; Vol. V: Han Song; Vol. VI: Ramsey Campbell).

KR: What are you working on now?

I’m working on the aforementioned PRIMER series (volumes IV through VI). I’m also starting a pulp science fiction series of stories about a long haul trucker (Milky Blue) who runs the backroads of the universe with an A.I. Patsy Cline sidekick. Additionally I’m about a quarter through a dark paranormal detective book that I’d like to make into a series, revolving around trace mythology genes in our heritage (Det. Penelope Pallis).

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?

You can choose…

a) One fictional character from your writing.

Gail Donovan, the girlfriend of my protagonist Joey third from my novella, “Baggage of Eternal Night,” because she’s closest of all my characters to my wife. (Most of my other characters tend to be damaged, angsty, or immoral old souls… not good companionship!).

b) One fictional character from any other book.

Joe Ledger the badass agent from Jonathan Maberry’s series of the same-named character, whom I would trust to get me and the others off that deserted island.

c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.

Any person who can turn seawater into morning coffee!

KR: Thank you very much Eric.

For more, visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.

That Which Grows Wild collects sixteen dark and masterful short stories by award-winning author Eric J. Guignard. Equal parts whimsy and weird, horror and heartbreak, this debut collection traverses the darker side of the fantastic through vibrant and harrowing tales that depict monsters and regrets, hope and atonement, and the oddly changing reflection that turns back at you in the mirror.

Discover why Eric J. Guignard has earned praise from masters of the craft such as Ramsey Campbell (“Guignard gives voice to paranoid vision that’s all too believable.”), Rick Hautala (“No other young horror author is better, I think, than Eric J. Guignard.”), and Nancy Holder ( “The defining new voice of horror has arrived, and I stand in awe.”)

Stories include:

• “A Case Study in Natural Selection and How It Applies to Love” – a teen experiences romance, while the world slowly dies from rising temperatures and increasing cases of spontaneous combustion.

• “Dreams of a Little Suicide” – a down-on-his-luck actor unexpectedly finds his dreams and love in Hollywood playing a munchkin during filming of The Wizard of Oz, but soon those dreams begin to darken.

• “The Inveterate Establishment of Daddano & Co.” – an aged undertaker tells the true story behind the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, and of the grime that accumulates beneath our floors.

• “A Journey of Great Waves” – a Japanese girl encounters, years later, the ocean-borne debris of her tsunami-ravaged homeland, and the ghosts that come with it.

• “The House of the Rising Sun, Forever” – a tragic voice gives dire warning against the cycle of opium addiction from which, even after death, there is no escape.

• “Last Days of the Gunslinger, John Amos” – a gunfighter keeps a decimated town’s surviving children safe on a mountaintop from the incursion of ferocious creatures… until a flash flood strikes.

Explore within, and discover a wild range upon which grows the dark, the strange, and the profound.

You can buy That Which Grows Wild from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Every nation of the globe has unique tales to tell, whispers that settle in through the land, creatures or superstitions that enliven the night, but rarely do readers get to experience such a diversity of these voices in one place as in A World of Horror, the latest anthology book created by award-winning editor Eric J. Guignard, and beautifully illustrated by artist Steve Lines.

Enclosed within its pages are twenty-two all-new dark and speculative fiction stories written by authors from around the world that explore the myths and monsters, fables and fears of their homelands.

Encounter the haunting things that stalk those radioactive forests outside Chernobyl in Ukraine; sample the curious dishes one may eat in Canada; beware the veldt monster that mirrors yourself in Uganda; or simply battle mountain trolls alongside Alfred Nobel in Sweden. These stories and more are found within A World of Horror: Enter and discover, truly, there’s no place on the planet devoid of frights, thrills, and wondrous imagination!

You can buy A World Of Horror from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste: Our impressions of the world are formed by our five senses, and so too are our fears, our imaginations, and our captivation in reading fiction stories that embrace these senses.

Whether hearing the song of infernal caverns, tasting the erotic kiss of treachery, or smelling the lush fragrance of a fiend, enclosed within this anthology are fifteen horror and dark fantasy tales that will quicken the beat of fear, sweeten the flavor of wonder, sharpen the spike of thrills, and otherwise brighten the marvel of storytelling that is found resonant!

Editor Eric J. Guignard and psychologist Jessica Bayliss, PhD also include companion discourse throughout, offering academic and literary insight as well as psychological commentary examining the physiology of our senses, why each of our senses are engaged by dark fiction stories, and how it all inspires writers to continually churn out ideas in uncommon and invigorating ways.

Featuring stunning interior illustrations by Nils Bross, and including fiction short stories by such world-renowned authors as John Farris, Ramsey Campbell, Poppy Z. Brite, Darrell Schweitzer, and Richard Christian Matheson, amongst others.

Intended for readers, writers, and students alike, explore THE FIVE SENSES OF HORROR!

You can buy The Five Senses Of Horror from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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