Our next author interview is with Dale (Dale Hollin) who has been a member since 2012. When I first joined WritingForums.com one of the first posts I read was Dale’s Testimony in Progress. It inspired me as a new writer and I hope it will inspire you.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Adopted at birth. I always felt I was no one’s son. Scored high levels on testing in grade school. Once puberty hit? It became like…”Houston, we have a problem.” I began seeing basically the whole world as an enemy. Got into drugs and excessive drinking, because it was the only way I could smile at it all. Went to the penitentiary for a few years as a young adult. I am literally “prison educated” when it comes to writing. Some guys go in there and gamble and watch TV and screw homos or whatever. All I did in the pen was read. I exhausted entire libraries. I don’t think I’d be the same writer today if I hadn’t went there.
What inspired you to write your first novel The Abomination of Norma?
My wife had “a miscarriage that wasn’t a miscarriage”. What happened was she was on that DEPO shot birth control for a couple years. And under the law, they only allow a woman to be on it for 2 years. So after her 2 years on it, they told her she couldn’t have it anymore. And I remember them telling her that she could have side effects from the withdrawal such as moodiness and menstrual blood flow problems and what not. The doctors told her it might be something akin to a prolonged case of PMS. What happened was far worse. She began to have this illusion in her mind she was pregnant. Then due to the physical side effects of the DEPO withdrawal, she expelled blood clots in the bathroom. She believed these clots were a baby. She went to the doctor. They told her there was no sign of a miscarriage and no sign of a pregnancy. She came home and told me she didn’t care what the doctors said. She knew she miscarried a baby and it was all my fault it happened. And it destroyed my marriage because she hated me for supposedly killing this kid that never existed. So when she took our daughter and left, I checked into the seediest motel I could find, loaded myself up on cheap wine and opiates, and wrote “The Abomination of Norma”. My little family was all I loved. “The Abomination of Norma” was me cutting myself and bleeding the pain of loss onto the page. I’m surprised I remained as coherent as I did while writing it, considering 90% of it was wrote in a total black-out.
What is the book about?
It’s about this couple. They were happy. The woman becomes pregnant and aborts the child without telling her husband. The child comes back in 3 different manifestations and basically wreaks havoc, both psychologically and physically.
Can you share a short excerpt?
“I need to sit you up here on the table, Ben. We’ll put your mask on. I’m sure you’re ready to do that.”
Ben clapped his hands together and pushed himself atop the paper with the help of the doctor’s forearm. Nathaniel grinned and stroked his fingers through the boy’s hair, before turning to the cabinet to grab the decorated mask. Red and yellow. The colors of flame seemed both natural and obscene in modern science. Cut a man open and all the observer will see is yellow and red. But truth and science had become disassociated. Medicine was now either sterile white, or candy-coated in gelled capsules; dyed bright and happy in rainbow colors.
The doctor placed the brightly colored mask on the specimen’s grinning face. Only the native eyes smile now. Nathaniel rubbed his temple before strapping the device behind the boy’s ear. He turned the valve which let the nitrous oxide flow into Ben’s lungs. He glanced down and watched the eyes grin before closing a few moments later. He did enjoy seeing Ben happy, even before watching him go unconscious. God flows in the rivers and veins of all that breathes.
What importance do you place on cover design and why? (Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?)
I think it is important. But I hate that it’s important. On “The Art of Madame Whitsome”, I did play a small part in the cover design. But I largely left it up to the artist. On “The Abomination of Norma”? I didn’t have any input on it, except for giving it my approval.
Did you follow the traditional publishing route or self publish?
My books are published through small publishers. I won’t go the self-publishing route. If my work doesn’t fit the bill to the point where other people believe in it enough to invest in it? I’ll just trash it.
How much importance do you place on authors having their own website and/or Facebook page?
Not much at all, really. I have a Facebook page but I don’t put much stock in it. I don’t think it’s helped me much as far as sales.
How do you market your books?
I don’t, really. I don’t consider that my job.
Do you work to an outline, or do you just let the story evolve?
I write organically. I never know how a story will end up until it ends.
If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be and why?
It’s a toss-up between John Steinbeck and HP Lovecraft. They’re like polar opposites, stylistically. Steinbeck had this gift for brilliant simplicity. Short, simple sentences that are somehow extremely powerful. You can read pages of a Steinbeck story and never see a word over 2 syllables, but the way he did it would have me totally absorbed in his worlds. Lovecraft? He’s the opposite. His sentences were real complex. He used a lot of 10 cent words and wrote long, complex sentences. Both writers had the power to take you away and leave you lingering in their atmospheres long after you put the book down, though.
As a published author, if you could offer three tips to new writers what would they be?
!. Never believe your fiction is a lie. Because in one way or another, this shit is real.
2. Keep a sense of humor. Creative people sometimes have the tendency to drive themselves insane.
3. Never let a menstruating woman cook you spaghetti. Because it’s like they’ll be standing there with evil in their minds and stirring the sauce, getting angrier and angrier at the sauce while they’re stirring it, and then the sauce will end up absorbing her voodoo. And you don’t wanna eat that shit.
If you could be a part of any one story you wrote, which one would you choose and why?
Actually, I’m a part of all my stories. In one way or another, those characters are all me. As far as which story have I wrote that I would like to live as a real life experience? Jesus Christ. None of them.
Your second novel The Art of Madame Whitsome was published shortly after the first. Was this a project you were already working on?
“The Art of Madame Whitsome” was written first. It’s a novella, not a novel. The reason you see it was released after “Norma” is because they have 2 different publishers. The first publisher took over a year to release the book after it got contracted. The second publisher released that book 2 months after it was contracted. So that’s why it appears that “Norma” was written first. But no. “The Abomination of Norma” was really my second book written. “The Art of Madame Whitsome” would actually make a great B horror flick. I don’t know why Rob Zombie hasn’t been knocking down my door yet to purchase film rights to it.
I notice you normally write horror stories. Is there a genre that you would not attempt to write, and if so why?
Not anymore. I used to say I’d never write an erotica story, but then my ex asked me to write her one and I did. It ended up being my most popular short. It got accepted for publication by three different zines. I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed of that.
What are you working on now?
The novel I’m working on now is called “The Colour of Angels”. It’s going very slow. I really like it, though. Blows away anything I’ve done yet, in my opinion.
Where and in which formats are your books available.
Ummm…I don’t know. I know they’re both on Amazon. I think the novel is listed on about every online book site out there. I’ve even seen it on pirate sites as a free download. Not sure about the novella. I know it’s on Amazon and on the publisher’s bookstore website. It may be other places, too. I haven’t really looked into it much.
If you have any questions for Dale please don’t hesitate to ask!