Book Nerd Interview
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Actually, I never wanted to be a writer as a kid. My first love was dinosaurs in elementary school, so I wanted to be a paleontologist. When I was in high school, I wanted to pursue a law degree – I think I was influenced by the excitement of lawyer shows on TV (little did I know that their real jobs were never that dramatic). During my freshman year in college, I took an Introduction to Psychology course and fell in love with the field of psychology. I never looked back. I went to graduate school, earned by PhD in psychology and I am currently a professor in counseling psychology. All throughout my history, though, I loved to read. In the back of my mind, I would often think “wouldn’t it be cool to actually write a novel?’ Finally, I listened to that inner voice.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
We are stories. Our lives are comprised of them. We are defined by them. Some chapters within our individual stories are wonderful, some are not so wonderful. Some people have chapters that are filled with tragedy and misery. Others have chapters filled with excitement, luck, and good fortune. Most of us have combinations of all of these chapters. I think we like to learn or read about other people’s stories – or at least certain chapters of their stories. Storytelling takes us out of ourselves for something that is unique and out of the ordinary.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
Wow, I don’t know how other people answer this. I don’t know if I can. The answer probably varies depending on the day.
If I had to mention my favorite horror novel – which is my genre, I think I would have to go back to the novel that really hooked me in my youth: The Other by Thomas Tryon. I was amazed at how well Tryon was able to draw you into a world of madness and terror in a manner that was seemingly effortless.
For non-horror, my favorite is probably To Kill a Mockingbird. Although, there are a number of others works that could easily be mentioned. A current favorite mainstream writer is Kent Haruf. His novel Benediction is outstanding.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
After you complete a work of fiction, put it away and let it sit for a few months. Then, go back and re-read it and find out how awful it is.
In your book; Birth Offering, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
When fourteen year old Ryan Perry moves to his grandmother’s stately coastal home in South Carolina after the death of his father, he begins seeing his double, a twin who is not really a twin…a boy who is not really a boy – but a specter of ancient evil intent on using Ryan for its own resurrection.
As the encounters with his “twin” become dangerous, Ryan suffers multiple injuries which his mother fears are self-inflicted. Ryan feels betrayed by his mother, especially as repeated strange occurrences indicate that the ghostly twin is real. Soon, Ryan encounters an additional threat to his life: two feral boys who seem intent on harming him. Ryan learns that these boys are not human, but are fiendish and monstrous beyond imagination – and very likely connected to his being haunted by his twin. Ryan begins to realize that he must confront an ungodly menace if he is going to save himself and his family.
For those who are unfamiliar with Ryan, how would you introduce him?
You cannot get around the fact that Ryan is a 14 year old male. So, all characteristics associated with being a young adolescent boy are present. He argues with his mother and is confused about girls. However, he is also more complex than what you see at first glance. He is independent, thoughtful, and very aware of his surroundings. In addition, Ryan is grieving the death of his father. Ryan idolized his father, and works hard at imitating his father’s resourcefulness and deliberate approach to solving problems. This skill mitigates the impulsive actions typical for a boy his age – although he still makes a few, probably because he is rather overconfident in his abilities. So, when he comes face to face with something horrifying, he does not shy away from taking a stand. His courage is admirable, but his lack of life experiences places him in great danger.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I have a second novel titled Dead Works which will also be published by Damnation Books coming out later in 2014. And, yes, it is another horror story.
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
I’m not even sure what they are in my own work. The only thing that works for me is practicing a lot (by that I mean writing a lot) and reading a lot. The latter is important – you learn by observing how other authors do it. Then you practice it, and then practice it again. In my day job as a university professor, I’ve noticed that my colleagues who are especially prolific in terms of scholarly writing do it daily. Some of the stuff may not ever see the light of day, but they keep plugging away – often for as little as 15 minutes at a time. But the process becomes second nature. The same is likely true for fiction writers.
Who was your first girlfriend?
My wife, of course.
Tell me about your first kiss
I was scared to death.
When was the last time you cried?
In 2006, when my wife suffered a major stroke. I was on the phone with my brother giving him the news.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
The only time I could imagine being a teenager is the time that I actually was a teenager. I would not choose anything different. After all, we can’t change the past.
Where can readers stalk you?
Readers can stalk me on my website: http://www.anthonyhains.com/index.html
Also, Twitter and Google plus…
Birth Offering is a horror novel about a boy thrust into a living nightmare, and the cumulative psychological impact of evil actions by multiple past generations.