Author Interview: Seven Questions with Horror Writer Bryan Hall

What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?

A little hint to my story

This past week I finished the first draft of a short story for an anthology I was invited to submit a story to.  I can’t go into too many details yet, but it sounds like I’ll be in good company for this particular anthology.  And I’m pretty excited about the story I’ve put together.  More on this later.

What does the future hold?

As you may or may not have noticed, this week’s post was supposed to be in response to my being awarded the Versatile Blogger and Kreativ Blogger awards.  However, this interview with Bryan goes along with a book blast organized by his publisher, and time was of the essence.  So next Friday I’ll be posting my seven (hopefully) interesting things about me.

But without further ado…

I’m not exactly sure where I first met Bryan.  Perhaps through a horror group of which we are both members on Facebook.  But what sticks in my brain is another interview he did at Stacey Turner’s blog.

Without going into too many details, I will say that I posed a question to Bryan and received much more information from him than I would’ve guessed.  We’ve had several correspondences since, and I’ve really appreciated how open he has been with sharing his insights and experiences.

Just another example of how horror writers are actually really nice people, just with twisted imaginations.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, today marks the release of Bryan’s short The Vagrant, a teaser for his Southern Hauntings Saga series.  I was able to get a “pre-screening” of The Vagrant courtesy of Angelic Knight Press, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Having lived in Georgia for six years, I could definitely pick up the nuances of the setting.  There’s just something about the South that makes it great for storytelling.  But beyond that, he has created an intriguing character in Crate Northgate.

But I’ll let him talk about that.

So NOW without further ado…

Seven Questions with Horror Writer Bryan Hall

1- As far as writing is concerned: a- your favorite pastime, b- your fiery passion, c- your full-time profession, or d- a combination of the above. Feel free to expand.

All of the above, really.  It started out as a pastime but I quickly started selling stories.  Now I write full-time, albeit a combination of fiction and freelance stuff, and am doing okay with it so far.  I’ll have to say it’s a passion now as well since those days when I don’t write I start to feel a little bit odd…like an alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in a day or two.

[PDD: Great analogy.  I think it’s good that you’ve reached that point… so long as it’s just with your writing and not with the drinking :) Sounds like you’ve turned passion into practice.]

2- What was the last book you finished reading? What are you currently reading? If it doesn’t seem obvious by title, what are the genres? Do either of these fall under your favorite genre (you know, the book you pick out when you’re going on vacation)?

I finished up a re-read of Salem’s Lot and a book called Finding Poe by Leigh M. Lane at right about the same time.  Both are excellent.  Right now I’m reading A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin.  I usually stick to horror and nonfiction when I read, but Martin is an absolute genius.

[PDD: George RR Martin is on my list.  About 99% of what I’ve heard about his storytelling is very complimentary.  And interesting that you include nonfiction in your normal reading.  I’d be curious to know what type of nonfiction.  Some truth is not only stranger, but also more horrific, than fiction.]

3- What is the TV guide synopsis of your most recently completed project… or whatever project you’d like to talk about today? (I’ve heard several people say you should be able to hook someone in 25 words or less, but I’m not offering to represent your work professionally, so 30 words will be accepted)

I’ll do this for just The Vagrant – Crate Northgate struggles to help a homeless man haunted by a malevolent spirit, only to find that some things are best left alone.

4- Okay, now your book jacket version (200 words or less).

For this, I’ll do the entire Southern Hauntings Saga instead of just the first book -  Creighton Northgate is a man haunted by his past as well as by the dead.  He sees spirits and walks the line between this world and the next, making a living as a vagabond and moving from town to town helping those facing the supernatural…for a fee.  For years he’s ran from the ghost of his brother and from the things that happened in his hometown, drowning his memories in booze.  But now the past is beginning to catch up with him.  His brother’s spirit is growing restless, and while he continues to help others with their problems he know that soon he’ll have to return home and face whatever evils lurk there.  The Southern Hauntings Saga follows him as he makes his way across the south, encountering a wide collection of characters living and dead.  All en route to a homecoming he dreads.

[PDD: The good thing for potential readers to know is that The Vagrant gives hints of this overall picture, with just enough left to the imagination to make you want to keep reading.  It hooked me.]

5- What is one of the biggest obstacles you have to (or have had to) overcome in regards to writing? Could be about content, your process, or any other way you interpret the question.

Probably me overthinking my writing – worrying too much about how it will be received.  I try to put a lot of subtext within my writing – each book of the Southern Hauntings Saga actually deals with different themes (redemption, acceptance of mortality, loneliness,etc.) – and I often struggle to make sure that it’s only there and noticeable for people who like to spot that sort of thing.  I want to be sure that those who just want a good scary story that will entertain them can read my stuff without feeling like I’m beating them over the head with the subtext.  Because of that I end up taking longer to finish a book than I should.

[PDD: I know many will differ with me (especially those in the industry), but I think writers are better to err on the side of taking too long on a story than rushing it out.  And adding in that subtext takes a horror story from being just brain-candy to being a story that people talk about after they’ve finished.]

6- What is something that your readers might be surprised to find out about you?

How about…my bees?  I keep honeybees and have for a few years now.  It’s an amazing hobby and one that still fascinates me.

[PDD: Awesome.  I’ve wanted to keep bees.  Hopefully one day.  And it’s good for the environment too, right?  I’ve heard that’s the best thing your average Joe can do to help the disappearing bee populations.]

7- This interview is being posted on the day that Angelic Knight Press is releasing your short story “The Vagrant” as a teaser of your “Southern Hauntings Saga” series. This question will be two-fold. For me, ghosts are like aliens and God… I want to believe, but I’m still waiting for my proof. So how about you? Do you believe in spirits on our plane of existence? And have you ever had an experience to back up that belief?

I am a skeptic of the highest degree.  Like you, I have to have some sort of tangible proof before I can believe in anything – whether it’s God, aliens, ghosts, or Sasquatch.  All of the stories of ghosts and monsters and cryptoids have always fascinated me since I was a kid, and I’m always disappointed when something is proven to be a hoax – but not surprised.  I really want to believe because I’m terrified of the great nothing that I think comes after death (that probably shows through in a lot of my writing).  Seeing a ghost would be proof that there’s something else, and I’d have a much easier time accepting death.  Sadly, even though I live in a 100 year old home and have visited numerous ‘haunted’ locations, I haven’t seen a single thing that can’t be rationally explained.  I’ll keep looking, though.

[PDD: I remember reading a blog post somewhere about a haunted hotel someone visited where they had some pretty serious unexplained phenomena happen to them.  Hopefully it will be one of my readers and they can comment here.  Keep searching.

And thanks for taking the time.  Good luck with the release of The Vagrant.]

Now for Bryan’s Bio:

Bryan Hall is a fiction writer living in a one hundred year old farmhouse deep in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife and three children.

Growing up in the Appalachians, he’s soaked up decades of fact and fiction from the area, bits and pieces of which usually weave their way into his writing whether he realizes it at the time or not.

He’s the author of the sci-fi horror novel Containment Room 7, the collection Whispers from the Dark, and the upcoming Southern Hauntings Saga.  You can find him online at www.bryanhallfiction.com and learn more about the Southern Hauntings Saga at www.whoiscratenorthgate.weebly.com.

What do I want from you?

Any responses to Bryan’s comments?  Just want to say “hi”?  Or maybe you can give some recommendations of good haunted locations.

Check out Bryan’s links from his bio.  The weebly site has a fun, Blair Witch feel in its promotional sense.

Also, to find The Vagrant on Amazon, click here.

Finally, don’t forget to check back next Friday for my response to the Versatile Blogger and Kreativ Blogger awards (perhaps it’s more of a blogosphere acceptance speech?).

Please subscribe to this blog to receive posts via email or RSS feed (on the right hand column).  NO SPAM, I promise.

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30 responses to “Author Interview: Seven Questions with Horror Writer Bryan Hall

  1. Bryan, you seem like a really interesting guy. I definitely plan on checking out your work and following you more closely. Glad to get to know you, at least on some level.

    Paul, if that’s the anthology I’m thinking of, I’m insanely jealous. I’m still drafting away…

    • Thanks, Jonathan. Glad you liked the interview.

      I’ll send you an email about the anthology. I think it’s actually a different one, but if you’re talking about the one I’m thinking about, you’re way ahead of me (vague much? :))

  2. Pingback: The #TESSpecFic Weekly: Happy เดือนมิถุนายน! | Shaggin the Muse

  3. First– when do I get a look at that antho tale, sir? Second– great interview! You ask the best questions and get the best answers. Thanks so much! Glad you liked the tale. Let me tell you, the next one is just as good, if not better.

    • Thanks, Stacey. I’ve struggled a little with wondering if I should switch up my questions (even though I always switch up the 7th). With Bryan, I was definitely tempted. I think it’s our common bond of living in the South. Made me want to just ask more questions perhaps. But people seem to be okay with this format, so I’ll keep it for now.

      I’ll keep you posted on the story. I need to give it another day or so to breathe and then take another look. I already know there are a couple things I need to change. But should have it your direction soon. Hope things go well for Angelic Knight Press today.

    • Hey Stacey, forgot to link to your blog, but I’ve done it now. Hope you guys are having success with Bryan’s launch.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Jonathan!

    Paul – as for the nonfiction stuff I really mix it up. I try to alternate between fiction and nonfiction, but I just love fiction so much it’s hard to to it. I have a huge stack of reference books – The Encylopedias of “American Crime”, “Demons & Demonology”, “Ghosts & Spirits”, and “Vampires, Werewolves, and Monsters” to name a few – that I draw ideas from, along with numerous books on history, war, and strange events. The last nonfiction thing I read was “God No!” by Penn Jillette and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a book in my life. It’s really funny.

    • Okay, so that answers my question about nonfiction. I enjoy it as well, but mostly I gravitate to fiction for my free reading. I think the last nonfiction I read was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Yikes. Talk about scary.

      On a lighter side, I imagine Penn Jillette’s book would be pretty entertaining.

  5. I’m reading this on the bus to a school recorder recital, so I had to read quickly. This guy sounds a lot more grounded than most horror writers. I’ll have to check him out!

    • A recorder recital, eh? Talk about scary. ha ha. I remember quite a few band and “orchestra” school concerts. Gotta be supportive, but man, were some of them painful.

      Yeah, Bryan is a pretty good guy. I can’t speak for how level he is, but then again, I’m probably not the best judge :) But yeah, if you get a chance, check out his stuff. Hope you have a good weekend.

    • I hope you like what you find if you check it out, devilintheflesh. Great avatar pic, by the way.

  6. Thank you so much for having Bryan Hall on your blog, Paul. Talk about timing! Stacey’s doing some great work with coordinating everyone. Of course, it would go nowhere were it not for people such as yourself. All of us at Angelic Knight Press are very happy to have Bryan aboard the team. I am certainly happy to see that Bryan will be doing a series with us. His first story is great!

    Blaze

    • Hey Blaze, my pleasure. As I said, he’s been very generous with his advice to me in the past when he certainly didn’t need to. He didn’t know me from Adam. That says a lot about a person, in my opinion. I hope great success for Angelic Knight’s partnership with him.

      Hope you are having a good weekend.

      • Bryan is good people, Paul. He is definitely a team player at the Press and is a world class human being as well.

        P.S. He likes to drink brown ale, too.

        Blaze

  7. Interesting interview, I’m going to go and check out Bryan’s books when I’ve finished commenting. I like the setup, and I do like to read series books. I have read the first two books in the Fire and Ice saga, so we have common ground there in our reading habits. And beekeeping?! Wow, that’s fantastic. Definitely a good thing to do for the environment, I wish I could do the same.
    Thanks for the interview Paul and Bryan. I’m off to Amazon now…

    • Thanks much Ken. I hope you enjoy it!

    • Hope you like it, Ken. I’ll be curious to see how many there are and if they are all roughly the same length (I think The Vagrant was about 10,000 words). I like the shorter pieces in a series. Gives you nice bite-sized pieces to digest periodically and then wait for the next one. Kind of like what King did with The Green Mile.

      And hope you are having success this weekend with your free promotion for The Devil and Edward Teach.

  8. Nice to meet you, Bryan! The Southern Hauntings Saga has an intriguing concept. Was there any particular reason you chose to cause it a ‘saga’ as opposed to a ‘series?’ I think it sounds better, but I was wondering if you have a reason beyond that – not that you have to! Writers who write lovely sounding phrases need no further reasons. :-)

    Thanks for hosting the interview, Paul – and best of luck with your anthology!!

    • Hi HHW! Thanks for the interest. It was mainly just a question of aesthetics, as you’ve mentioned. It sounds better and in the scheme of things I (and the publisher) felt that it certainly fit the theme and style of the story better than series. Thanks for asking!

  9. Hello, Bryan! Thanks for getting back to me, and promptly, too! Do you know there are people I work with who never, ever return emails? Here you are, no obligations whatsoever, and writing back. Paul always hosts the good ones on his blog, and this is further proof! Thanks for the explanation. You have got me toying with other synonyms for ‘series’ that would be a thematic match for my horror/sci-fi WIP. Not ‘saga,’ but hmmmm…. this will be fun!

    Have a great weekend!

    • Hey Aniko, thanks as always for stopping by and commenting. You’ve kind of left me out of the loop with your comments, so I’ll just leave it at that :)

      Oh, and hope you are having a good weekend.

  10. Hey, Paul. Thanks for sharing. I had yet to hear of Mr. Hall or his work. I’m very curious to get to know him much better.
    Thanks for your kind comments yesterday on my blog, Paul. I did finish that first draft of that new novel that I have been working on. Tomorrow’s post will include a blurb. Enjoy your time off now that school is ending, and good luck catching up on all of those projects.

    -Jimmy

    • Hey Jimmy,

      Thanks for stopping by, and congrats on the first draft. I will be stopping by soon to see the blurb. I also wanted to check out your most recent vlog. For some reason, my computer wasn’t wanting to load it up when I went last time.

      Hope you have a good week.

  11. Thanks for an interesting interview, Paul. And thanks to Bryan. I’m definitely going to check out your work. And can I ever relate to your answer to question 5!

    • Thanks for your comment, KG. I’m glad you liked question #5. That was kind of my point of including that question… so that other writers could find areas where we agree. Writing is primarily a solitary activity, and with that solitary activity often comes moments of doubt and struggle. It’s good to know that we’re not alone in these struggles.

  12. RE: Storm of Swords

    I thought it was great. In fact, I consider it one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read.

    Just finished “A Feast for Crows” and have to say: it was unnecessarily long, and did not significantly advance the plot in any direction. I felt like I was reading “Battlefield Earth.”

    Furthermore, setting up the Stark clan as the primary protagonists/sympathetic characters of the first and second books – and then subsequently killing Rob and Catelyn Stark – and then not addressing any of the other family story lines (significantly) during AFFC was ridiculous. Yes, I know Sansa Stark has a few chapters and Lady Stoneheart makes a few appearances.

    This also holds true for Danerys Tygareon (sorry if I misspelled) – who I view as the secondary – and eventual hero of the story.

    I really don’t understand the necessity of 400+ pages on Circe Lannister’s treachery. We all know she’s a viscous power-hungry, murdering mongrel. I’m fine with more and continued development of her character, but she has no connective qualities, and IMO, occupied too large a portion of the novel. Jaime Lannister is admittedly more interesting. His relationship with Circe and Brienne is intriguing and worth exploring, but combined, their stories dominate the book and only make for a wonderful snooze fest because they are SO LOOONG.

    MINOR SPOILER ALERT:

    In addition, Brienne of Tarth’s (or whatever her name is) entries were a joke. I mean, why have her in there if she’s only going to have her face eaten and be possibly hanged? Or maybe not – since she spoke a name involving a character that the author won’t reveal – or maybe has, but can’t be mined after 3000+ pages of reading from the other books.

    BTW – that’s not a cliffhanger, that’s freaking stupid.

    I’m not saying everything needs to be tied up in a pretty bow. That’s why I like GRRM – because he does not do that. I dunno. The whole thing is just getting really boring and turning into an incredible waste of my time.

    I recognize and respect the author has a right to his own creativity. That’s cool and the gang. However, as a consumer (and fan), if I don’t like it, I can choose not to invest any more money and time.

    FTR, I will not.

    I only tell you this because the books are very long and require a time commitment. You may be better served watching the next two installments on HBO. You could also just read the synopsis’ on Wikipedia – or the Wiki of a Song of Ice and Fire.

    I wish I had. Sorry so long. I am just so enraged at the time I spent on this book at the expense of work and family. I’m giving up on the series … at the very least, for an extended period.

    Flame on GRRM fans.

    And also, thanks for giving me a place to vent my rage.

    • Heh, Erik – I’ve already been warned. Sword of Storms was absolutely amazing, and the last half of that book was just one ‘holy crap’ moment after another (in a good way). But I’ve heard so many saying the same thing about the next two books – that they’re basically nothing but a couple thousand pages of the characters treading water and never really moving forward beyond just a couple of steps – that I did exactly what you said to do and used Wikipedia for Feast for Crows. Probably gonna do the same for Dance with Dragons. I love the first three books, and I love the characters and think Martin is a genius, but enough people have warned me and after reading the synopsis for Feast for Crows I think I dodged a bullet.

  13. Again, I loved “Storm of Swords.”

    You might find more satisfaction with “A Dance with Dragons” – simply because it spends more time with Tyiron Lannister (the imp), Jon Snow (at the wall), and Danyreas Taegareon (I can’t spell her name). Those characters are much more likeable to me.

    And the plot advances a little better in that book, although much of it seems to take place simultaneously with “A Feast for Crows” – and again, really doesn’t move the story forward significantly.

    Admittedly, “A Dance with Dragons” it is marginally better and does move things forward a little better than the previous installment, but not much.

    Hope that helps.

    Happy reading.

    • Hey Erik,

      Thanks for the comments. Hell, you should have your own review blog :)

      I will take all this advice into mind when I get to Martin. Although at the rate I read, it could be years. Thanks again.

  14. Pingback: Taking the Plunge into Full-time Freelance Writing | Paul D. Dail

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