Monday, January 23, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: RICHARD CHIZMAR ON A LONG DECEMBER.

Hello Darkings:

Today in the MADHOUSE, we've captured Richard Chizmar for a chat about his latest collection, A Long December. Chizmar is the founder/publisher of Cemetery Dance magazine and the Cemetery Dance Publications book imprint. He has edited more than 30 anthologies and his fiction has appeared in dozens of publications, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and multiple editions of The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. He has won two World Fantasy awards, four International Horror Guild awards, and the HWA's Board of Trustee's award.

Chizmar (in collaboration with Johnathon Schaech) has also written screenplays and teleplays for United Artists, Sony Screen Gems, Lions Gate, Showtime, NBC, and many other companies. He has adapted the works of many bestselling authors including Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Bentley Little.

Chizmar is also the creator/writer of Stephen King Revisited, and his third short story collection, A Long December, was recently published by Subterranean Press. With Brian Freeman, Chizmar is co-editor of the acclaimed Dark Screams horror anthology series published by Random House imprint, Hydra.

Chizmar’s work has been translated into many languages throughout the world, and he has appeared at numerous conferences as a writing instructor, guest speaker, panelist, and guest of honor.

Needless to say, you’re all in for a treat this morning, my friends, so bit back, bite your bit, and get ready.
With chills and secrets,
Stephanie M.Wytovich

WYTOVICH: Tell us about your collection. What inspired you to write it and how did you go about doing so, i.e. what was your thought process/research like? How did you pick what stories went into the collection?

CHIZMAR: A Long December is my first collection in almost two decades, so it’s a hefty one, collecting thirty-five stories that stretch over almost thirty years of writing. The earliest story (“Cemetery Dance”) was written when I was a 20-year-old college student and the most recent (“A Long December”) was finished just shy of my fiftieth birthday. When it came time to select stories for A Long December, I decided to reprint the majority of my first two collections (both long out of print) and all the most recent publications from the past few years. I was tempted to include three or four more of my very early stories, but common sense won out in the end.

WYTOVICH: What made you title the collection A Long December?

CHIZMAR: When I first came up with the idea for the novella, “A Long December,” I instantly knew the novella title would end up doing double duty as the book title. It just…fit. It’s moody, evocative, and hopefully a little mysterious.

WYTOVICH: What was your favorite story to create and explore?

CHIZMAR: Hmmm, I’d have to go with either an older story called “Heroes,” which is pretty much a father and son love story with a Dracula twist thrown in there or the novella we just discussed, “A Long December.” I’ve always liked to explore secrets and the masks we wear and how people are often very different than we believe them to be. “A Long December” is a prime example of this and was a lot of fun to write.

WYTOVICH: What piece in the collection haunts you (whether because of the subject matter, or because it was the hardest to write)?

CHIZMAR: Hands down, that would be “The Silence of Sorrow.” Heartbreakingly tough subject matter and an impossible situation to imagine yourself living through. Second place would probably go to “Midnight Promises,” the title story from my first collection, which deals with cancer.

WYTOVICH: In regards to your writing process, what do you find is the hardest part? The most enjoyable?

CHIZMAR: Hardest part is extensive rewriting. I loathe it. I know, I know, I’m an editor, so how can I dislike it so much? Dunno, but I do!

Most enjoyable is the initial creation of a story, just laying down the words in a kind of feverish daze. That part of the process is, almost without exception, exciting and fun. I also enjoy that last polish, when you’re working with a scalpel instead of a chainsaw.

WYTOVICH: How would you describe your writing style to those who are new to your work?

CHIZMAR: I think I’ll let a couple of the fine folks who blurbed A Long December describe that for me (as they do a better job than I ever could): Stephen King says, “Chizmar writes clean, no nonsense prose…” and John Saul adds, “…his prose is sharp, simple, and to the point…his writing never gets in the way of the story. It flows so smoothly it’s as if you’re experiencing it rather than reading it.”

I consider myself much more of a storyteller than I do any kind of a stylist or master plotter. I just write about people and places and moments in time that matter to me, and I’m grateful that readers have responded in such a favorable manner.

WYTOVICH: Who are some of your influences in the genre? Do you have any writing rituals that you tend to follow either before/during/or after you write?

CHIZMAR: No rituals to speak of. My daily schedule varies quite a bit so there’s probably not a whole lot of wiggle room for rituals. As for influences, I could name a dozen or more, but I’ll stick with just a handful today: Stephen King, Ed Gorman, Joe Lansdale, Robert McCammon, and John D. MacDonald.

WYTOVICH: What books are sitting in your TBR pile?

CHIZMAR: The Bruce Springsteen biography and advance copies of Joe Lansdale’s Rusty Puppy and Christopher Golden’s Arabat. Plus a bunch of overdue manuscripts for work!

WYTOVICH: What is next in store for your readers?

CHIZMAR: Let’s see…I have a graphic novel, The Fallen (with John Schaech and Brian Keene) coming out in 2017, as well as a script book called The Washingtonians, and a half-dozen or so brand new short stories in various anthologies. I also have a solo novella, as yet untitled, due to see publication, and I’m just now finishing up a Top Secret collaborative novella that should also see print this year.

WYTOVICH: If you could give one piece of advice to new writers, what would it be?

CHIZMAR: Embrace the process. The Ups and the Downs. You have to fail to succeed. It all sounds like just so many clich├ęs, but it’s right on target. Writing is not an easy business. Very few overnight successes and a long list of talented writers who gave up before they saw their due. Embrace the process, be stubborn as hell, and be prepared for a long road.

Praise for A Long December:


“Powerful…I love it... Richard Chizmar writes clean, no-nonsense prose...sets his tales in no-nonsense, middle class neighborhoods I can relate to...and writes terrific stories served with a very large slice of Disquiet Pie.”-- Stephen King

“Chizmar's stories are hard-hitting, spooky, suspenseful, poignant, harrowing, heartbreaking and most of all very well-written. Excellent work!”-- Robert McCammon

“Richard Chizmar’s talent is a fierce, poignant marvel. His exquisite stories shatter.”--Richard Christian Matheson

“Richard Chizmar has a very special talent for creating a homely, believable world -- the kind of world that you and I live in every day. But he gradually invests that world with a creeping sense of unease, and then he throws open those suburban front doors and brings us face to face with all the unthinkable horrors that have been hiding behind them.”--Graham Masterton

“Richard Chizmar is a master delineator of two phenomena – the human condition and the inhuman condition. Some of his people may be monsters, but Chizmar has the rare talent to make you see his monsters as people. His work eloquently and expertly expands the dimensions of the genre...and should concern anyone interested in exceptional writing talent.” -- Robert Bloch

“...a writer of great accomplishment. His work, always effective, is notable for its clarity and originality of concept. Chizmar has a great gift for the sinister.”-- Peter Straub

“Tight, imaginative and totally engaging writing make this a must have book. Grab a copy of A Long December. It's fantastic.”--Joe R. Lansdale

“Richard Chizmar writes like a man who’s been to hell and back and lived to tell its tales.”--Clive Barker

Please visit the author’s website at: Richardchizmar.com