Speculative fiction writer and creative writing instructor, Fred Wiehe, writes mainly horror. As such, I thought he'd be a great addition to my October line-up of writers. As I've said before, I met Fred at a science fiction convention in San Jose. His insightful and thorough responses to questions caught my interest, as did his book, Holiday Madness
, which comes out tomorrow. Fred and his wife, Suzy, even managed to get one of their two grown sons to attend a convention with them and sit in on his panel. Now that's really impressive! ;)
: What horror writer has most influenced your work?
: I’m not sure any one horror writer actually influenced or influences my work. I think I have my own unique voice, my own unique style. That said, the horror writers that I read the most, the ones I consider bloody good are Dean Koontz (his earlier works; I’m not sure he’s a horror writer anymore), Nate Kenyon, Peter Straub, Poppy C. Brite (again, earlier works), Jonathan Maberry, Nick (Randers) Grabowsky, and of course Stephen King.AW
: You said during a panel that you can write in the midst of noise. Can you give an extreme example of this?FW
: Writing in the midst of noise became a necessity for two reasons: my household is very noisy (I have no private office) and I tend to write on the go. I’m very busy and don’t really have the time to block out four or five hours of time for “quiet” writing. So I take my laptop everywhere with me. That way I can steal snippets of time to write. I began writing in public places, like restaurants while having breakfast or lunch. Those are the noisiest places to write. You don’t realize how noisy the places we eat are until you’re really trying to concentrate on something important—there’s constant chatter and laughter, sometimes kids scream or cry, waitresses or waiters continuously interrupt, dishes and glasses clank. It can be a mad house, but I really learned to tune that stuff out and can now write pretty much anywhere, anytime. I’ve written a novel, a screenplay, and several short stories under just such conditions.AW
: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you opened that first acceptance letter?FW
: I checked the mail on my way into the kitchen to have lunch with my family. I expected it to be another rejection and debated on whether I wanted to open it before lunch, thus ruining my appetite. But of course not opening it and not knowing for sure was already making my stomach do flip-flops. So I opened it. After reading it, I still couldn’t eat. But for a different reason: Excitement!AW
: What was the most valuable advice you received as a writer?FW
: A writer friend said, “Get an agent.” She was right. Every writer needs a good agent to look out for them. The trick is finding a good one. Networking is probably the best way. I had been looking for months, sending out query letters, with no luck. Then fate stepped in. I got an email out of the blue from Brendan Deneen. Brendan worked as Director of Development for Miramax/Dimension Films and then the Weinstein Brothers. He remembered me because I had given him a copy of my novel Strange Days
to look at as a possible movie. Anyway, Brendan had started out as an agent with Philip Morris Agency before going into movies and had decided to get back into literary managing. He liked Strange Days and was trying to build a client list at the time, so he emailed me, explained his career move, and asked if I had anything new. His timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Sometimes fate just comes a knocking on the door. Be ready to open it.AW
: What has helped you the most to create truly horrifying scenes?FW
: I’ve always had a vivid and macabre imagination. I’ve often said that if I wasn’t a horror writer then I’d probably be a depressed schizophrenic or worse. My mind tends to dwell on the morbid, on the dark side of life. Writing horror is cathartic for me. I tend to get depressed and moody when I’m not writing. Releasing my dark side in my writing keeps me sane, happy, and balanced. I guess I better keep writing.AW
: What was your craziest convention experience?FW
: I’m not sure I’ve had a “crazy” convention experience. Everyone I’ve ever met at conventions—fans, fellow writers, and celebrities—has been friendly, approachable, and great. I’ve had “crazier” experiences through life in general than at any convention.AW
: Do you consider teaching to be a vocation?FW
: Well, for those who don’t know me, I am a teacher as well as a writer. I have a BA from the University of Cincinnati in Secondary Education. Currently, I teach Creative Writing, Academic Writing, Grammar, SAT Writing, and Public Speaking to both children and adults. So I guess my answer would be, “Yes.”AW
: Do you watch horror movies? Do you ever think, “Hey, I can do better that that,” or conversely, “I wish I’d written that,” or is writing for the big screen something you would rather leave alone?”FW
: It’s funny you should ask; I just finished my first screenplay Freak House. A small production company called Elftwin Films in LA optioned it and Lions Gate is considering funding the project. We also have Debbie Rochon set to play a small role in the movie. For those of you who don’t know Debbie; she was in The Night of the Living Dead, as well as a number of other horror films and has her own radio program on Fangoria Radio. Personally, I can’t wait to see my name on the big screen.AW
: Can you tell us about Holiday Madness?FW
: Holiday Madness
came about by accident really. Several years ago, a friend who is a local radio personality on a public radio station convinced me to write an original Christmas/horror story for his radio show and then read it on the air. Listeners seemed to like it, and it’s now become a tradition. In fact, listeners liked it so much we started doing a Halloween show too. Some writer friends told me that these stories were the best works I’d ever written. I wasn’t sure I agreed with them but decided to take the 13 (seemed like a good number) stories and put them into a collection. Now Holiday Madness is due out October 17 from Black Bed Sheet Books. It already has a few Bram Stoker award nominations, and people I respect are saying some good things about it. Here’re a few quotes:
“Ghouls and Santa, Ghosts and Aliens—a stocking full of bloody, holiday stories hung with care. Scrooges of all ages will shriek with delight!” Del Howison, Dark Delicacies.
“With Holiday Madness Fred Wiehe proves that Halloween is no longer the scariest time of year. Holiday Madness is weird, twisted, spooky, wild and outrageous. Very highly recommended!” Jonathan Maberry, Author and multiple Bram Stoker award winner.
“Wiehe’s 13 tales of holiday terror will shock and thrill you to the bone. Teens and adults alike will love the twists and turns in this collection. Not a word wasted. Great stuff!” Nate Kenyon, Author and Bram Stoker Finalist.AW
: What are you working on now?FW
: My agent Brendan Deneen is shopping around my new alternative reality novel, ALERIC: Monster Hunter
. It’s about Aleric Toma Bimbai, a two-hundred-year-old Gypsy who hunts monsters for bounty. He’s a gun for hire, with secrets as dark as midnight in a graveyard. He’s a hero and rogue rolled into one, with preternatural powers of his own, and only slightly better than the supernatural creatures he hunts. Anyway, I liked this character so much that I’m now writing a second novel for him—Zero Sin.
Find out more about Fred at www.fredwiehe.com
or visit him on MySpace
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