I'm thrilled to be hanging with bestselling horror and fantasy writer Keith C. Blackmore. He's probably best known for his Amazon blockbuster--and all-round awesome book--Mountain Man. Keith was nice enough to sit down and share some of what makes him tick as a writer.
Griffin: In December of last year you released a zombie novel called Mountain Man which has been doing quite well. Tell us a bit about it.
I was channeling "I Am Legend" in that one. I wanted to do a zombie story where we have a ordinary guy (Gus is a housepainter) who, by some miracle of fate, managed to survive a zombie apocalypse for two years on nothing more than common sense and not taking any chances. He doesn't have any training in anything, isn't a scientist with a cure, and doesn't have a cache of high tech weapons, but he does manage to get by on instinct and a healthy sense of fear and loathing for the undead.
Griffin: Any plans for a MM sequel?
Just finished the second part. The book was supposed to be one long story, but I realized that I wouldn't have the second part done in time for 2011 Christmas and the rumored rush of sales coming for writers of all genres in the new year. I needed the cash badly, so I took the gamble of releasing the first half just before Christmas. Luckily it worked and the money I've made off the first half has essentially kept me from seeking a day job and delaying the release of the second half.
"MM:Safari" should be on the market around early May with luck.
There is also a third book, which I'm working on now and hope to have ready for a summer release.
Griffin: Describe your journey as a writer?
Long man, long. Been doing this for maybe 22 years+ now and still learning. Gave up on traditional publishing about six months after I learned I could publish the books online and sell them through Amazon. Haven't looked back since (although come close in the last year to giving up and going back to a day job to raise funds once again). Taught overseas for 14 years while trying to put together novels to sell to (at the time) publishers. My goal all along was to work until I could make the transition from teacher to writer.
Griffin: You seem to write in several different genres. Which is your favorite?
I have pretty eclectic tastes. I like fantasy just because I grew up reading a lot of pulp fiction from Robert E Howard. Also grew up reading a lot of Stephen King. There were other writers in there as well of course, which all led to me dabbling in the two genres now. I like the world building of fantasy, as well as the sword on sword action, while with horror, I'm a sucker for well told monster/ghost stories. Science Fiction is in there too because of the world building and action.
Griffin: Do you have a daily writing schedule and if so what is it?
Get up at around 7am, go through the morning routine, take a walk, get at the PC around 9 and try to hammer out at least 1500 words by 4 or 5 pm. On good days I get around 4000. On great days, I reach 5000. Weekends are off.
Griffin: How much planning, outlining and research goes into each of your books?
Research can take up a lot of my work during the day--just finding stuff on the net, in reference books, or talking to professionals and taking notes. It can be a chore and really slows down actually producing. On really heavy days, I'm lucky to get 1500. Planning and outlining doesn't usually take so much time as I do it in my head most times--getting things straight on what I want to do and where the story is heading during my morning walk.
Griffin: How do you deal with writer's block?
Walk. Mountain Bike in the summertime. Works for me.
Griffin: Which of all your characters have you enjoyed writing the most?
Characterization is my weak point and I try really hard to get it right. I'm closing in on it, but it's still hard to get the voice right. I can still read dialogue (without seeing the names of who is saying the lines) and wonder, "okay who is that?" Very difficult.
Having said that, the latest one "Gus" is probably my favourite cuz he's the most recent attempt.
Griffin: Finish this sentence. If I wasn't a writer I'd be...
...teaching until I could afford writing full time.
Griffin: How do you come up with your ideas?
Everywhere, although I try not to read genres if I'm working on something in that genre--zombie books were out while I wrote MM. I did watch AMC's "The Walking Dead" though. My first horror novel "The Missing Boatman" is derived from a Greek myth about immortality that I came across while taking a course in university.
Griffin: What's the best thing about being a writer?
It's the job I've always wanted (cliche I know but *shrugs*). Always. Every job I've had up to this point was just paying the bills and supplying life lessons until I could make the final transition.
Griffin: What's the worst thing about being a writer?
Writer's block. Missing Boatman had a 3 year block once. And the fear of one day not having a good idea.
Griffin: What's your favorite flavor of Hot Pockets?
Never had one. Them's pizza thingys?
Griffin: If you weren't doing this interview right now, what would you be doing?
Working on a gunfight scene with one guy and a mess of zombies. And keeping an eye on the stove fire (still winter here in Newfoundland).
Griffin: Where can people go to satisfy their Keith C. Blackmore itch?
My blog is at www.keithcblackmore.com and other than that, my work's on sale at Amazon.
Thanks for having me here :)
Thanks for dropping by Keith! Can't wait for MM:Safari.