Thursday, June 23, 2011

Check it Out: Darren Pillsbury

Hi everyone! It's time again for me to introduce you to a new author! Today I have Darren Pillsbury, author of Peter and the Vampires! He was kind enough to answer some questions for me, so here goes:

Have you always loved horror? What are some of your favorite horror books & movies?

Yeah, I’ve pretty much always loved horror novels. Mostly because of Stephen King, and partly because he was ‘forbidden.’ I grew up in a pretty conservative, religious household, and while my father read King’s books (because my dad did whatever he wanted to), my mom forbade me to even look at them. So I remember sneaking into the grocery store book aisles when I was nine and ten and reading ‘the good parts’ of books like SKELETON CREW and PET SEMATARY.

I never saw horror movies growing up because I couldn’t see anything Rated R. When I finally went off to college, I never really gravitated towards horror movies that strongly, especially not slasher films or overtly gross ones. I vastly prefer being creeped out and frightened rather than disgusted. That’s what I shoot for in PETER AND THE VAMPIRES and its sequels (PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES and PETER AND THE FRANKENSTEIN).

As far as books, PET SEMATARY is my favorite horror novel of all time. And I’d say SEVEN is my favorite horror movie, although you could just as easily call it a thriller. I also like THE RING quite a bit.

Is anything in your book true to life? There's obviously some creative license involved, but is anything in the book based on real people or experiences? If not, what's your favorite ghost story?

Oh yeah, there’s a ton of stuff I take from my own life. Mostly small plot details or characters. The most obvious one is that Peter has a two-year-old sister named Beth who is a terror. She’s just hellacious. And she’s taken directly from my own real-life sister, down to details like they both wore a Strawberry Shortcake bathing suit over their regular clothes in the wintertime. (My sister now is very nice and sweet, and since she doesn’t remember how bad she was as a toddler, she always thinks we’re lying when we tell stories about her at family gatherings.)

As far as spooky stuff, no, I've never encountered anything supernaturally creepy in real life. My favorite ghost story is about a woman who goes into a deserted church late at night. She sits down near the front and notices a silver platter on the altar - and in it she sees the reflections of a bunch of skeletons in the pews behind her. They claw at her as she runs out the front door, and she barely escapes with her life. Nobody in the village believes her until they find her shredded scarf lying in front of the empty church. I like that story so much I actually stole it and put it in the book! Anybody who reads PETER AND THE VAMPIRES will recognize that scene immediately, even in its modified form.

What age group would you say your book is for?

Everybody. No, I’m serious! Like the Harry Potter series, PETER AND THE VAMPIRES has young protagonists, but the stories are definitely entertaining for older audiences. Ten-year-old kids will enjoy PETER, but I blogged the series for three years, and most of my fans are in high school, college, and their 20’s and 30’s.

Wait – you blogged these books for three years?

Yup! I wanted to try to build up an audience first by blogging the stories for awhile. ‘Awhile’ turned into three years and four novels (PETER AND THE MUMMY will probably be out in Fall 2011). I took down the blog posts, but I made some Youtube videos that are still around. Just google ‘Peter And The Dead Men video.’

Do you have any specific inspirations & muses or do you pick up ideas randomly?

Mmmm…I’d say that I get core ideas from simple images, and I build off of those through a lot of daydreaming. Usually I see something interesting and I think, “Hey, what if…”

For instance, in "Vampires," the image in my head was of a little girl in a rainstorm, calling up to a window in a faint, creepy voice. And then, when the lightning crashes, she’s gone. Who was she? Why was she there? That's fairly typical of how I'll start a new story.

I notice that you're active with charities. Any specific one that you really love that you want to mention here on the blog?

Yes, thank you for mentioning it! SaveThe Children is a great charity that helps impoverished kids throughout the world. If you want to donate, they’re a wonderful organization.

Writer's block: the author's worst bogeyman. What do you do to slay this horrendous beast? Any suggestions for other authors?

The hardest part of writing every day is the first ten minutes. Every day it’s a struggle to get started. Then once you warm up and you’re in the zone, it’s fun. So just start, and it gets a whole lot easier after that. When I begin writing for the day, I go back and revise the last page from the previous session, and that usually gets me into the frame of mind for putting down new material.

The other thing is I don’t write nearly as much as I daydream. For most of the stories I write, I’ve already daydreamed a movie in my head with all the major plot points. I usually have A, B, E, J, M, P, Q, and Z. I just have to fill in all the other letters so the story’s complete. (That’s a big ‘just,’ by the way.) So as long as I make it through that first ten minutes, knowing what big scene is coming up next helps me stay on track and away from writer’s block.

Do you have any news I can dish out for you?

Let’s see…go buy PETER AND THE VAMPIRES (99 cents!), PETER AND THE WEREWOLVES ($2.99), and PETER AND THE FRANKENSTEIN ($2.99)! Available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords!

I eventually plan to put out paper versions, but it might take a year, and they’ll be a whole lot more expensive.

PETER AND THE MUMMY (Volume 4 of the series) will hopefully be out in Fall 2011.

I also have another book, IMAGINARY FRIENDS (about a single dad who can see his two little boys’ imaginary friends), that is currently available in paperback on Amazon. It should be out as an ebook at the same time as MUMMY.

What made you want to write? Was there a specific moment in your life that made you realize this is what you wanted to do or did you always know?

I think I always knew. It crystallized a bit more when I started reading Stephen King – “I wanna do that when I grow up!” – but I always made up stories in my head, from the earliest I can remember. There weren’t many kids in my neighborhood growing up, so I came up with all sorts of imaginary stories and worlds to pass the time. More than anything, I think it was that need to entertain myself that eventually led me to writing. Now hopefully I can entertain other people, too!


Curious to read Darren's books? You can find them on Amazon, Smashwords, & Barnes & Nobles!

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