Ray Garton is the author of the classic vampire bestseller LIVE GIRLS and its sequel NIGHT LIFE, as well as RAVENOUS, SEX AND VIOLENCE IN HOLLYWOOD, CRAWLERS, PARANOIA TANGO, THE FOLKS, and dozens of other novels, novellas, tie-ins, and story collections. He has been writing in the horror and suspense genres for more than 30 years and was the recipient of the Grand Master of Horror Award in 2006. He lives in northern California with his wife Dawn where he is at work on a new novel.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
All I ever wanted to be was a writer, and I started writing as soon as I learned to write, even before that by telling stories with drawings. I wrote stories all through school and shared them with my friends. I started writing novels in about the eighth grade, and I sold my first just a few years after getting out of high school. I’m happiest when I’m writing, even if it’s not going so well.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I read. A lot. If I’m not writing, I’m probably reading, even if I’m also doing something else, like walking or waiting in line or sometimes even watching TV (books usually win the attention war). Dawn and I are both readers, so each of is always in the middle of a book or two or three. I enjoy movies enormously. Dawn is starting to interest me in gardening. I guess I’m about the right age for that.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
Oh, no, you’re going to ask for favorites! Don’t expect any single answers from me because I find it impossible to pick favorites. For example, there were a few childhood books to which I was devoted, like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan and The Hobbit.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I often have music playing in the background while I work. I have a pretty broad range of tastes. One day, I might listen to Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly and the next to Mozart. It’s probably hardest to choose favorites with music because my taste in music shifts with my moods, and I’m a pretty moody person. I listen to a lot of jazz, and the albums I listen to the most lately are Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Workin’ with the Miles Davis Quintet, and Erroll Garner’s Concert by the Sea.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
My favorite horror movies tend to come from directors who don’t confine themselves to one genre. For example, 1963’s The Haunting, one of the most terrifying movies ever made, was directed by Robert Wise, who also made the great film noir The Set-Up, science fiction classics The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Andromeda Strain, the Oscar winning drama I Want to Live, the submarine thriller Run Silent Run Deep, and The Sound of Music, among many others.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the work of directors who specialize in horror. There are some talented people making movies in the genre, from veterans like John Carpenter and Mick Garris to newer names like Robert Eggers and Fede Alvarez. I think Guillermo del Toro is one of the best working right now, as well.
KR: What are you reading now?
At the moment, I’m finishing up The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, who never wrote a bad sentence in his life. I’m reading Little Deaths, a wonderful collection of horror stories by John F. D. Taff, whose fiction is frightening and moving and always beautifully written. And I’m reading Shrink Thyself by Bill Scheft, former writer for The Late Show with David Letterman, who writes delightfully funny novels. Waiting in wings is the new Stephen King and All These Condemned by John D. MacDonald.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
It didn’t work that way. I wasn’t inspired to write by writers, not at first. I seem to have been born with a driving need to tell stories, because I was writing urgently before I knew one writer from the next, before I could construct a proper sentence. I’ve been inspired by so many writers. Richard Matheson was probably the first writer I noticed because his name was everywhere when I was a kid. He wrote novels and stories, horror and science fiction, as well as movies and TV shows, and his name was the first one I memorized with the intention of seeking out more of his work. He had such a fertile, prolific imagination and did a wonderful job of bringing the horror genre into the 20th century and beyond. Naturally, Stephen King has been a tremendous inspiration. He taught me a lot about the importance of character in making horror work, and of making readers care about those characters even—maybe especially—if you intend to kill them off.
A list of the writers who’ve inspired me would fill a book. And it would not be made up entirely of horror writers. I have been inspired by every kind of writer in all kinds of genres.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I’ve always had a difficult time following an outline because once I start writing, my characters always have different ideas than mine and tend to take the story in the direction they want it to go, and I usually follow.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It varies from book to book. Some don’t require much research while others are research-heavy. I do as much as the book requires.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
I usually start the day by taking a look at what I wrote the day before, cleaning it up, trimming, improving, polishing. Then I go do the non-writing stuff I have to do. I go back to work in the evening to write new stuff to be worked on further the next day.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
“The Man in the Palace Theater” is a favorite because I love old movies so much and they figure prominently in that story. I’m also quite fond of “The Guy Down the Street.”
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
I do, but I don’t inhale. There’s danger in believing your reviews too much, both the good and the bad. I try to find constructive comments that I can use to improve my work.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
Read, and read everything. Don’t stick to the genre you write in, read them all. I encountered a guy on Facebook who identified himself as a writer but claimed in his profile that he didn’t read much because he didn’t have time and he’d rather be writing, anyway. If you don’t read, do us all a favor and don’t try to write. Writers are readers first. Not reading and calling yourself a writer is like saying you’re an auto mechanic who’s never driven a car.
KR: What scares you?
These days, it’s easier and most time-efficient to simply say the news.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
I’m a book person, paperback or hardcover. I have a Kindle and I use it, but my preference is to hold a book in my hands and smell the pages.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
I’ve been trying out self-publishing with my friend Vince Fahey, who does all the heavy digital lifting (his services are available and he’s a great guy). So far, we’ve done some of my novellas that were out of print, like Crawlers, Vortex, Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth, and most recently The Folks, which will be followed by The Folks 2: There’s No Place Like Home, and I’m currently working on the third in the trilogy.
KR: What are you working on now?
In addition to the third book in The Folks trilogy, I’m working on a novel called Monster Show, which combines some nostalgia with horror. It includes TV horror movie hosts of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Nazis, CIA agents, and monsters.
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.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
Those are my choices? But only one of those is actually edible!
KR: Thank you very much Ray.
You can follow Ray on Twitter @RayGarton
To find out more about Ray please visit his official website www.raygartononline.com
You can check out Ray’s author page here
You can visit Ray’s Facebook Fan page here and his personal Facebook page here
The garish neon lights of New York City’s Times Square can be very seductive. And so can the promises of dark pleasures on the seedier side streets. To Davey Owen, the lure of a glowing sign advertising “Live Girls” was too hard to resist. He was looking for a little entertainment. He found instead a nightmare in the form of a beautiful but strangely pale woman. A woman who offers him passion, ecstasy— and eternal life—but takes in exchange his lifeblood and his very soul.
“It’s scary, it’s involving, and it’s also mature and thoughtful.” – Stephen King on Dark Channel
“The most nightmarish vampire story I have ever read.” – Ramsey Campbell
“Garton never fails to go for the throat!” – Richard Laymon
“Garton has a flair for taking veteran horror theories and twisting them to evocative or entertaining effect.” – Publishers Weekly
“Ray Garton has consistently created some of the best horror ever set to print.” – Cemetery Dance
You can buy Live Girls from Amazon US & Amazon UK
When he was a boy, Stuart Mullond’s mother held him down while his urologist Dr. Ferguson performed a medical procedure on him that was so traumatizing and humiliating that its painful memory stayed with him for decades. For his entire life, his nightmares have been haunted by the snick-snick-snick of the doctor’s scissors.
Now a divorced, unemployed adult with a troubled teenage son, Stuart is trying to hold his life together…when Dr. Ferguson suddenly shows up again. He’s not confined to nightmares anymore. He’s very real. And he is determined to perform that same horrible procedure on Stuart’s son. But all these years later, Dr. Ferguson looks exactly as he did when Stuart was a boy. And he’s kept his scissors nice and sharp …
You can buy Scissors from Amazon US & Amazon UK
A corpse gets up and walks out of the hospital morgue. Minutes later, a policeman is killed outside the same hospital – and partially eaten. Something deadly has come to the coastal California town of Big Rock – something that’s leaving mangled and devoured bodies in its wake.
You can buy Ravenous from Amazon US & Amazon UK
The morning after a strange meteor shower, the residents of Mount Crag awaken to find a new breed of flower blooming everywhere. They are beautiful, unlike any other flower anyone has seen. And there are so many of them! But before long, the large flowers begin to pop off their stems…and crawl around…and hunt. The people of Mt. Crag soon realize that they are the prey.
Crawlers is a pulpy throwback story in the tradition of Day of the Triffids. Ray Garton has delivered another winner with this nerve-wracking tale of horror.
You can buy Crawlers from Amazon US & Amazon UK
Andy Sayer knows what it’s like to feel like a freak. Ever since he was badly burned in a fire started by his drunken mother, the horrible scars on his face have set him apart from others, isolated him.
Now, the patriarch of a prominent but mysterious family, Matthew Bollinger, has taken an interest in Andy. The Bollingers own the entire area and just about everything in it. They live in an enormous house built on the side of Mt. Crag, but they are never seen. Matthew Bollinger wants Andy to come live with them.
In the Bollingers, Andy finds acceptance . . . and the deepest kind of corruption and evil.
Sometimes the worst disfigurements remain invisible . . . until it’s too late.
You can buy The Folks from Amazon US & Amazon UK
Great stuff, mate. I’ve read quite a few of Ray’s short stories in various anthologies. He’s the real deal.