Hunter Shea’s the first Samhain Horror writer I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person. This happened at Chiller Theatre in Parsippany, N.J., last October. We both went through the heartbreak of Dorchester Publishing’s epic collapse in 2010 (we both signed to have novels published there). Neither of us gave up. Especially Hunter. He’s like James Patterson when it comes to putting out books, but in Hunter’s case, he actually writes them. Hey-O! Hunter’s stopping by blogs to discuss his new book, Island of the Forbidden, and other fun things.
1. You currently have six novels available, including your most recent, Island of the Forbidden, and a slew of short stories and novellas. How do you stay so prolific?
I just keep writing. That’s not to say I’m one of those people who write every day. I’ve learned that skipping days or just unplugging yourself for a week or weeks at a time helps recharge your brain. I just love the process of writing, of creating entire worlds. Writing can be a lifeline or a refuge. I remember when my dad passed away suddenly in 2013, I slept at the house with my mom all through that awful day and the funeral to give her whatever comfort and support I could. I found myself writing every night (I was working on The Montauk Monster at the time). Working on the book gave my soul a break from the sorrow it was feeling. I told our editor, Don, that I was going to write 4 books in 2015. I’m definitely locked in for 3. We’ll see if I have time to get a fourth in.
2. Are you able to work on multiple projects at once? I know some authors can bounce back and forth from one project to another. Is that you, or do you prefer to focus on one project and see it through to conclusion?
I’ve tried and it doesn’t work for me. I’m like a dog with a bone. I have to sink my teeth into one book and work it until it’s done. When I write, a part of my brain is living in that story 24/7. It’s hard for me to drag it out of that world so it can exist in another.
3. Where do you write? I’m always fascinated by author work habits. So do you have an office where you lock yourself away? And how many hours a day do you commit to writing, and do you try to hit a difference word count?
I do have a great what I call writing den, loaded with books and tons of horror related collectibles. But I’ve also spent a lot of time the past couple of years writing in the kitchen, surrounded by chaos. The beauty of working on a laptop is that you can go anywhere. I’ve learned to sit my ass down wherever and just write, canceling out any outside distractions. During the weekdays, I get an hour or two in a night, after dinner. On weekends, I work the mornings, sometimes putting up to 4 or 5 hours before I move on with the rest of my day.
4. Most influential horror movie of the last five years — and it doesn’t have to be a blockbuster or big studio release — and why.
I think it has to be Insidious. James Wan has kind of resurrected the horror atmosphere of the 1970s, updating it to the new millennium. The first half of that movie scared the bejesus out of me. It’s led to this small universe of movies like Sinister and The Conjuring that have given the genre the serious boost it needed.
5. Full disclosure: I’ve yet to read Island of the Forbidden, but it’s absolutely in my Kindle queue, and I believe it can be classified as a ghost story. With werewolves and vampires and Montauk monsters, you have physical creatures roaming around. But ghosts offer more of a psychological element to things. So was it harder writing about ghosts than it was for other supernatural creatures?
Best time to read Island is on a cold night, preferably with a wind storm raging outside. A couple of cocktails can’t hurt, either. J
Living in a haunted house with a small boy who just kind of comes and goes, writing about ghosts and the effect it has on one’s psyche has been pretty easy. The twist with my 20-year experience with this phantom is that, with the exception of one instance, his appearances go hand in hand with a feeling of peace and calm. It’s very hard to explain, though I tried my best in a quasi fictional account of it in my book, The Waiting. If ghosts are real, then souls are real, as is the afterlife. Out of all the things you can write about and explore in horror, I think ghosts are the most fascinating, with implications for the infinite for all of us. Everyone reacts differently to seeing a ghost, whether it be their personal temperament, belief system or culture. As a writer, I get to explore those points of view, which is kind of like taking an anthropology class without all the expense and boring homework!