And now to my interview with Kevin Lucia.
The Horror Librarian: Your exciting re-release, Devourer of Souls, takes place in the small Adirondack town of Clifton Heights, New York. In fact, many of your stories take place in unforgettable locales, many of which are characters in and of themselves. What kind of research goes into your design of place? How do you design place and setting in your stories?
Kevin Lucia: All my stories have taken place in this small Adirondack town I've made up, and really, the town is an amalgamation of places I knew and frequented growing up in Harpursville, NY, and places locally where I live now in Binghamton, New York. I can't really say I do much research for them; I simply pick up places I know and have spent time at, and drop them whole into my mythical town, tweaking elements a bit as needed.
For example, A Night at Old Webb takes place in an abandoned elementary school not far from my house. I've always been intrigued by the place, so several summers ago, I did some exploring, and this inspired a coming of age story about high school senior who encounters a life changing experience in a similar abandoned school on the outskirts of Clifton Heights.
The Horror Librarian: What's your writing process like? How do you get from barest glimmer of an idea to full-fledged and fully edited story?
Generally, I come upon stories two ways. 1. I see things around me (like the abandoned school which inspired A Night at Old Webb), and begin asking myself the question: What if? 2. When I begin developing characters for those stories, I want to get at the core of their desires. What do they want? What are they afraid of? What needs drive them?
I generally handwrite my first drafts, then type the ensuing drafts. The typed drafts I line-edit by hand, also. I'm a tactile person, and this has always "worked" for me.
The Horror Librarian: What are you working on right now?
Kevin Lucia: My first novel. Actually, it's my "third" attempt at writing my first novel, so we'll see how it goes. It, of course, takes place in Clifton Heights, and it's that big, sprawling "coming-of-age novel which is autobiographically inspired." I took the time to outline it first, (which I've never done before), so I have hopes it will work out better this time.
The Horror Librarian: A lot of writers are involved in the literary world in ways outside of their own writing. How has being an English teacher informed your work or your writing process?
Kevin Lucia: Well, because of my job, I'm always in the act of reading and evaluating student writing, as well as reading and examining literature to teach my students. It leaves me in consistent, interpretative mind-set. Also, every year I'm digging deep in the literary classics, which is refreshing and edifying, for me to read outside the genre I write in.
The Horror Librarian: Aside from teaching and writing, you also review books for Cemetery Dance. How do you approach this type of work?
Kevin Lucia: Well, I no longer actually review books actively. I used to review for our city newspaper, The Press & Sun Bulletin, then moved on to Shroud Magazine. At Cemetery Dance, I'm the Reviews Editor, which means I distribute review materials to about 20 reviewers under me, and then I proof their reviews and send them to the magazine editor.
When I did review, I tried, as much as possible, to review every book on two things only: 1. the quality of the writing and 2. How well it successfully achieved its desired effect. You can't review a zombie novel based on the criteria you'd use for reviewing a philosophical work of quiet or cosmic horror.
The Horror Librarian: List 5 things that are currently on your writing desk.
Supernatural Horror in Literature, by H. P. Lovecraft
Danse Macabre, by Stephen King
Tales of the Uncanny and the Supernatural, by Algernon Blackwood
Jack: An Autobiography of C. S. Lewis
Walking On Water: A Writing Memoir, by Madeleine L'Engle
The Horror Librarian: Thanks, Kevin! See you soon in Clifton Heights.