Today I want to share with you an interview I did with Author Mark Allan Gunnells on his new short story "Dancing In The Dark".
WB: I want to introduce you to everyone and especially for those who do not know you yet. Where are you from?
MAG: Gaffney, South Carolina, where I still live.
WB: When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
MAG: A writer. I've been writing from a very young age.
WB: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? And when did you start writing?
MAG: My first stories came around 10 years old, I guess. Mostly little one-page Twilight Zone rip-offs.
WB: What genre do you write and why that genre? Have you tried writing other genres?
MAG: I prefer the horror and fantasy genres. There is a limitlessness to those genres that appeals to me. Not that I don't step outside those genres, I do, it's good to expand and stretch as a writer. The only genres I haven't done much with are western and mystery.
WB: Who or what has influenced your writing? What was it that influenced your story "Dancing In The Dark"?
MAG: Everything influences me. I draw from my own experiences, things I overhear Everything is up for grabs. With "Dancing In The Dark" I was driving to work one morning listening to a song on the radio (Midnight Train to Georgia) when I had a tire blow out. Two weeks later I was driving along and that song came on the radio, and I had a sudden sense of panic and realized I now associated that song with bad luck. The story came from there.
WB: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
MAG: I am such a lover of the short story, longer pieces are a real challenge for me, particularly pacing them. It is something I'm working at, trying to improve.
WB: What are you currently reading?
MAG: Currently I am reading "Harvest of Changelings" by Warren Rochelle, a most excellent fantasy novel. The author was actually my college Creative Writing professor.
WB: Who is your favorite author and why?
MAG: Lansdale. There are many I love, but Joe R. Lansdale is my all time fav. He is a gifted storyteller who creates vibrant characters, believable dialogue, and can paint such detailed pictures with real economy of words. I also love that he dabbles in so many different kinds of stories, showing a real range.
WB: Now lets get into the short story you wrote entitled "Dancing in the Dark". This is actually the title of the song Bruce Springsteen sung on his album "Born in the U.S.A.". Each time the song was played in the story I couldn't help myself but sing it. It was catchy. So, in your short story "Dancing in the Dark", your character Hayden has a unique phobia, when you were writing this story did you draw from your own personal phobias?
MAG: I don't have that particular phobia, but I certainly have my own fears and I drew from those. I won't tell you specifically what they are lest you use them against me.
WB: Haha, I would never do that. I have to say "Dancing in the Dark" was a great story. It had elements of bullying/revenge, what are your thoughts on that?
MAG: Bullying is something I know a little about because I was bullied as a kid. Not so much in college, but in my Junior High and High School years. I think it is a problem that seems to be passed down from generation to genration, and unfortunately people are just resigned to it, that's the way it has always been and always will be. That's crap, in my opinion, and I'd like to have the issue addressed more seriously in schools.
WB: I agree with you on that. Bullying is an issue and if we look at it, the ones who are doing the bullying are being bullied themselves--maybe from home or by other people. There are real issues here for individuals who do this to others. But without defending anyone, I'm sure there are a few out there who are just malicious. Moving on, There was a graphic scene in "Dancing in the Dark", at the very end when the story climaxed, what are your thoughts on stories/movies with a graphic nature? Do you think graphic descriptions are necessary in writing to pull off a scene?
MAG: I don't think graphic descriptions and "gore" are necessary for a successful horror story, but I also don't think a writer should shy away from them if a story calls for it. It's all about the story to me, and the writer should be as graphic or as non-graphic as a specific tale requires.
WB: Awesome! I agree with that as well. Thank you. Let's move on to other projects you have in the works, can you tell us about that?
MAG: I have three projects that should--fingers crossed, knock on wood--be out by years end. Two are with Sideshow Press: Whisonant, which collects my two novellas "Whisonant" and Creatures of the Light". The book has a cool design as a "flip book". You hold it and you are looking at one cover that contains one story, then you turn it upside down and flip it over and get a separate cover and the second story. They will also be releasing my first short story collection, Tales from the Midnight Shift Vol. 1. Apex publications will also be releasing my zombie novella Asylum through their The Zombie Feed imprint. I have a few more things planned with Sideshow for the next year, but it's a little early to be discussing them.
WB: Wow! I am excited for you and I can't wait to read more of your work. Thank you, sir for sharing this with us and I wish you the best of luck with all your future projects.
MAG: You're welcome and thank you.
Well again this was a great interview and very exciting to actually talk with a fellow writer. Mark Allan Gunnells short story "Dancing in the Dark" is available at Darkside Digital for only $1.50 and it comes in various formats. Please go check it out and be on the look out for more from Mark Allan Gunnells!