INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM BLACKWELL

Canadian author William Blackwell studied journalism at Calgary’s Mount Royal University and English literature at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia. He worked as a print journalist for many years before deciding to pen novels.

Prior to his writing career, Blackwell wandered aimlessly from job to job. He held many titles including laborer, painter, auto-body mechanic, road lane marker, fish plant worker, gas jockey, clothing salesman, used car salesman, hardware sales clerk, warehouse shipper/receiver, and even a short stint shoveling shit for a living. He has written for advertising companies, radio stations and many newspapers.

Although he writes predominantly horror novels, Blackwell has dabbled in other genres including sci-fi, psychological thriller, dark thriller, inspirational fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction and paranormal.  Some of his novels are difficult to categorize as they cross into multiple genres. His work has been characterized as “raw, gritty and real.”

Blackwell lived in Vancouver for many years, where he studied his craft and honed his skills. He also lived in Calgary for many years where he worked as a journalist for various newspapers. Currently he lives on a secluded acreage on Prince Edward Island and travels often to third-world countries where he finds the inspiration for many of his books. He loves to travel, read, write, socialize, and live life on the raw fringe of society.

Blackwell writes first to feed his addiction and satisfy his need to create. He also writes to “educate, influence, entertain, and scare the hell out of you.”

Here is a Q and A with William Blackwell:

Q: What do you read for pleasure?
A: I read practically everything and anything I can get my hands on. I used to believe that I should stick to the genres I write in, mainly horror and post-apocalyptic fiction, but I’ve since learned it makes me more well-rounded as an author if I also dabble in other genres. I’ll even read technical literature to help me get a handle on technical jargon and delve into the thought processes involved in technical writing. Currently I’m reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula again, a sort of Bible for horror writers like myself.
Q: What is your e-reading device of choice?
A: I do own a Kindle (and do plenty of reading on it), but I still love the feel and texture of a good old-fashioned paperback novel. It also makes it easier to take notes if I’m using the novel for research. I can dog-ear the pages and write my notes right inside the pages.
Q: What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
A: When it comes to book marketing, I sometimes feel like I’m lost in a stormy sea of virtual digital reality, getting swept out to sea, and have no idea where the life raft is. Having said that, I have found success with Twitter and targeting advertising campaigns on Amazon. I’m basically a digital marketing newbie, however, and am still learning the ropes.
Q: Describe your desk.
A: I live on Prince Edward Island on 45 acres, with my own private beachfront. Although I have a handful of friends here, when I’m working, for the most part my companions are wild animals and characters I create in my novels. I have a big black desk in my office that sits in front of a bay window overlooking the tranquil forest. I’m surrounded by trees and can’t see a single neighbor. The setting is certainly idyllic and inspirational for creation. So quiet you can hear a pin drop.
Q: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
A: I was born in a tough blue-collar neighborhood of Hamilton, Ontario, and that rough upbringing has influenced my writing in many ways. Growing up, I was one of the have-nots in a financial sense and it taught me street-smarts and to fight and work hard for what I want out of life. That blue-collar upbringing has created grit, determination, and toughness in many of the characters in my novels, along with some colorful language.
Q: When did you first start writing?
A: I worked as a print journalist in rural Alberta for about five years before I started writing novels in 2010.
Q: What’s the story behind your latest book?
A: My latest novel, Freaky Franky, is based on Santa Muerte, one of the fastest growing religions in the world. Here is a short synopsis: When an enigmatic town doctor saves the life of Anisa Worthington’s dying son, she abandons Christianity in favor of devotion to the cult of Saint Death. Some believe the mysterious skeleton saint will protect your loved ones; help in matters of the heart; provide abundant happiness, health, wealth and justice. But others, including the Catholic Church, call it blasphemous, evil and satanic.

Anisa introduces Saint Death to troubled Catholic friend Helen Reiger and strange things begin happening. One of Helen’s enemies is brutally murdered and residents of Montague, a peaceful little town in Prince Edward Island, begin plotting to rid the Bible belt of apostates.

Anisa suspects Helen is perverting the good tenets of Saint Death but, before she can act, a terrible nightmare propels her to the Dominican Republic in search of Freaky Franky, her long-lost and unstable brother, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace twenty years ago.

To her horror, Anisa learns Freaky Franky is also worshipping Saint Death with evil intentions. As a fanatical and hell-bent lynch mob tightens the noose, mysterious murders begin occurring all around Anisa. Unsure about who’s an enemy and who’s an ally, she’s thrust into a violent battle to save her life as well as the lives of her unpredictable friends and brother.

Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?
A: In discussions with some of my writer colleagues, I came away with the feeling that it would be difficult for me to get a breakthrough and ink a deal with a traditional publishing company, or gateway publisher as some say. Some preliminary research showed ridiculously long waits to even get manuscripts read by the big boys. So, I decided to go the indie route. I love the independence of being an indie author and I have a very good team in place. For example, my editor edits best-selling authors and she’s often told me the only difference between them and me is big promotional dollars. Rest assured, if she doesn’t like elements of my stories, I find out in no uncertain terms. But, she’s a Godsend and has helped me enormously to hone and refine my craft.
Q: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
A: It’s the often indescribable feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment I get from finishing a novel. Often I get so attached to certain characters I have a difficult time letting them go and, believe it or not, even get a little teary-eyed as I’m nearing The End. But, paradoxically, I love typing The End. It brings forth a feeling of deep and personal satisfaction that a long journey of creativity has ended but new characters and themes have been born and will be immortalized in the digital world and in print for all eternity. That’s incredibly mind-boggling when you think about it.
Q: What do your fans mean to you?
A: My fans mean the world to me. Without my readers and supporters, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. From the bottom of my heart, thank you dear and loyal readers. You’ve helped me make a dream come true and, for my part, I’ll work tirelessly to educate, entertain, and (as many of you love) scare the hell out of you.
Q: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A: For me, there is no greater satisfaction than being possessed with the ability to create (at least in my mind’s eye) a living, breathing character out of thin air.
Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
A: I spend my time reading, online marketing, socializing, and working and playing in the back-forty, usually on my sandy beachfront or close to it. I feel a great affinity, attachment to, and love for Mother Nature.
Q: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
A: I started Orgon Conclusion over twenty years ago, claimed writer’s block, and shelved it.  Then I wrote Brainstorm and sent it to my editor. If she would have said it was trash, I would have thrown it in the trash and given up on my writing career. But, she found it powerful and deeply moving and that encouraged me to re-write, finish and publish Orgon Conclusion and begin my career as an indie author; which I’ve long believed is my calling.
Q: What is your writing process?
A: When I’m writing a novel, I’m very disciplined. I don’t suffer from writer’s block. I sit down every morning and begin cranking out the words. Sometimes they start out feeling wooden and hollow, but I write through that and eventually the muse finds me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Q: How do you approach cover design?
A: I have a talented cover artist. I search images that relate to my cover vision. Then I send them to my cover artist, along with a detailed description of my cover vision, and the collaboration between two artists begins. If you look at my covers, I’m sure you’ll agree, that they are some of the most powerful, menacing, and eye-catching in the industry.

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