Rich Evans, author of “Asylum Lake,” was kind enough to reveal some facts about his haunted soul on my blog this week. Check out my interview with this amazing author of the horror genre then give his fabulous novel a read. You’ll be glad you did.
AB: When and why did you decide to start writing?
I can vividly recall participating in the Young Author contests while in grade school. I had always been an avid reader and remember wanting to try my hand at it. Seeems like I never outgrew it, either. I didn’t formally decide to write a novel until 2007, however.
AB: What have been your best and worst experiences as a writer?
I remember typing “The End’ at the completion of the first draft of Asylum Lake. That was quite a rush. There were plenty of times when I had considered giving up. Of course, the positive reviews and sales milestones have been great, too. As for the worst, I have 137 rejection letters. Each of those took a small bite out of my soul.
AB: How have those experiences prepared you for being an author?
I’m not sure anything can really prepare you for being an author. It’s one of those learn as you go type of undertakings. I’m a much better writer today than I was when I embarked on Asylum Lake and I owe much of that those rejection letters. They gave me reason to see the project through and really hone my craft.
AB: Please tell us about your latest work.
After the sudden death of his wife, Brady Tanner moves to the small Michigan town where he spent summers as a youth. But he soon learns that small towns can be stained by memories…and secrets too. As Brady is drawn into unearthing the secrets of the town and of the abandoned psychiatric hospital on the shores of Asylum Lake, he discovers a new love in an old friend. But there is an evil presence lurking beneath the waters of the lake. What is the source of this evil–and what does it want with Brady Tanner?
Asylum Lake hit the shelves in 2010 and has received some great recognition. It’s a dark tale about the power of memories and how they can attach themselves to places and things…waiting for you to return. There’s an abandoned asylum, a nefarious doctor, and plenty of paranormal activity. I grew up on Stephen King and wanted to create that same kind of Castle Rock small town horror story. People laugh when I tell them it’s a love story.
AB: What were your inspirations for writing it?
I spent 10 years working for the public mental health system here in Michigan and found myself on occassion touring some of the more notorious psychiatric instituions in the state. I couldn’t help but wonder what memories clung to the crumbling brick and mortar. It was also during this time that I lost my father to cancer and upon returning to my own small hometown I “bumped” into many memories that had been lieing in wait for me.
AB: Are you a “blank-pager,” or do you utilize an outline?
I use notecards. For Asylum Lake I had 53 notecards with catchy chapter titles. I pasted them to the wall in my home office and would take one down and work on that chapter. The finaly version was reduced to 35 chapters and I can;t evenb begin to tell you how many times I rearranged the order. I like to think of it as organized chaos.
AB: To what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?
There’s a lot of me in the main character of Asylum Lake, Brady Tanner. But its me from 10 years ago. Names are important for me. I use names of real people in my life so I can attach emotion to them. My friends and family get a kick out of trying to fogure out who is who. It’s like an Easter Egg hunt for them.
AB: Briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.
I’m self-published and love it! It’s a great deal of work but I feel like my success or failure is totally in my own hands – and I kinda like that. I’ve been offered two contracts from small publishers and have turned them both down. The world of publishing is evolving and there are so many options now that allow any author to get their work out there. Persoanally, I believe there’s never been a better time to be an author.
I’m working on a children’s book right now. It’s a collection of campfire stories and my son is doing the illustrations. I’m also toying with a fantasy project. I don;t think I’ll stray to far from horror, however.
AB: Can you tell us a bit about your next project?
Grave Undertakings, the sequel to Asylum Lake will be released in the next several weeks. I’ve spent so much time in Bedlam Falls and with those characters that it’s bittersweet to turn the page onto something new. That being said, I’ve completed the first draft of a project I’ve tentatively titled FLIGHT. Here’s my teaser:
U.S. Air Marshal Liz Downie thought she had lucked out with her assignment – a half-empty red eye from London to the states. The passengers – an odd assortment of State Department staffers freshly plucked from the embattled U.S. Embassy in Iraq. These arent your usual friendly skies, however. Tucked into the passenger jet’s shadowy cargo hold hides a secret the U.S. Military will do anything to protect – and Liz Downie everything to stop.
Where do you run when you are 33,000 feet up?
AB: Describe your ideal surroundings/conditions for writing.
I can write anywhere anytime. I’ve jotted down some of my best stuff while waiting in line at the grocery store. Typically, however, I write from 3-6am six days a week. That schedule came about when my eldest daughter was a newborn. i would take the late night feeing and then stay up to work on Asylum Lake. I’m a bit supersticious so I’ve stuck with it.
AB: Do your dreams influence your writing?
Sometimes. There have been times when I have found myself “stuck” and then I’ll have a dream that sorts everything out. I keep a notepad beside my bed for just that reason. Trust me – there have been mornings when I’ve looked at those scribbled notes and wondered “WTF was I thinking!”
AB: Have you ever co-authored a piece?
Yes and no. Steve Umstead, author of the fabulous scifi thriller Gabriel’s Redemption, and I are toying with the idea of doing a BLOVEL together. Truth be told, he sent me his intro and it intimidated the hell out of me. He’s a very talented writer and I worry that I’d be the weak link in the writing team.
AB: What advice can you share with writers who are just starting out?
Have a thick skin. Rejection is just part of the business – don’t let it derail you. It’s also important to understand that much like any other activity, practice makes perfect. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of support and information out there.
AB: What are a few of your quirks, and do they influence your writing?
Music is an important part of my writing process. I try to plan out my playlists to go along with what I’m working on. The wrong song can completely give me fits. Likewise, a good playlist can fuel my creativity.
AB: Please share with us, a little-known fact about you which others might find interesting/entertaining.
I am a wicked-good Wii bowler. So much so that my 4-year-old daughter refers to me as “The Turkey”. Wait, now that I think of it maybe she refers to me as that for some other reason…
R. A. Evans writes. By day he pours his creative energy into meeting the varied needs of his clients. By night, he writes for pleasure. It’s what he does. It’s who he is. If you like your humor dark, your blood-letting messy, and the creepiness factor cranked to eleven, he’s the author for you. His debut novel, Asylum Lake, hit the shelves to rave reviews and its sequel Grave Undertakings will be unearthed in May 2011.
A graduate of Grand Valley State University, Evans started his career at a small town newspaper, and has spent the past fifteen years working in marketing and public relations.
Please check out Rich’s blog too. http://raevanswrites.wordpress.com
Al, this was a terrific interview, and Rich, I will be sure to read Asylum Lake. I love all the spookiness/ hair raising, weaving in a love story to boot, awesome.
Thank you, Rich, for the insight into your writing process.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the interview. You’ll have to let me know your thoughts on Asylum Lake!
Great interview! 🙂 Can’t wait for Grave Undertakings to hit the e-shelves!
Same here, Shay! It won;t be too much longer and I promise it will be well worth the wait!
“he sent me his intro and it intimidated the hell out of me. He’s a very talented writer and I worry that I’d be the weak link in the writing team. ”
Wow – Rich, that’s one of the most amazing compliments I’ve ever gotten. But don’t sell yourself short – I LOVED Asylum Lake, great characters, settings, suspense. Let’s get this BLOVEL (what in the world does that mean anyway?) rolling my friend!
I promise, Steve, as soon as I get Grave Undertaking wrapped up (couple of weeks) you and I will reconnect with this blovel. It’s your fault that I am so slow – you challenged me to write all the dark parts in first person!
Great interview, Rich. I read a lot of truth in your words. I must try the notecards. It sounds like a great way to make a manuscript twist and turn.
You really do have a great way about you. Isee #pubwrite light up when you arrive.
Thanks for an inside look of a great writer
You are far too kind. As for #pubwrite lighting up when I arrive – that’s just the booze talking. In all honestly, they’re a great group and a tremendous support system.
I encourage you to try the note cards. I think you’ll enjoy the challenge!
Hi Rich, the idea of notecards scares the living daylights out of me –all the more reason I have to do it! I’m the ultimate pantser and it’s worked for me for short stories, but I need to organize better for a full length novel. Notecards were something I used frequently to study for exams way back when…perhaps it’s time to pull them out again for planning a novel.
My TBR list is growing daily – just added Asylum Lake to my list.
Good to meet you,
Thank you, Eden. Give the note cards a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to organize your thoughts. Plus, if you use chapter titles like I do, it’s a great way to outline your story and move the chapters around.
Keep me posted as you read Asylum Lake and good luck with your WIP!
This was an awesome interview containing some real nuggets of info for me as an aspiring author! I’ll definitely be watching out for Rich’s books in the future – they sound fab!