Welcome to the Press Kit. Designed for journalists, publishers, and readers alike, it contains biographical information on William Blackwell, as well as press releases, interviews, videos, etc. Learn all about William Blackwell’s pulse-pounding world of dark fiction. Enjoy…
ABOUT 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 dark fiction novels. He has written over twenty novels and has also written for advertising companies, radio stations, and numerous newspapers.
Prior to his writing career, Blackwell 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 crap for a living.
Although he writes predominantly horror novels, Blackwell has dabbled in other genres including science fiction, 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 edgy, graphic, and at time terrifying.
Blackwell lived in Vancouver for many years, where he studied his craft and honed his skills. He also lived in Calgary for over a decade, where he began his journalism career. Currently he lives on a secluded acreage on Prince Edward Island and travels often to third-world countries where he finds much of the inspiration for many of his books.
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.”
Interview from Who Knocks? horror magazine, the brainchild of author Krystal Lawrence (originally published Feb. 4, 2019)
Who Knocks? recently managed to intercept William Blackwell’s break-neck writing schedule and lock him up for a candid interview. Below is a rare glimpse into a strange, prolific, dark and creative mind.
Q: What motivated you to start writing in this genre?
A: More than anything, my nightmares motivated me to start writing horror and dark fiction novels. As far back as I can remember, I’ve had nightmares, many so terrifying they jolted me awake, terrified and sweat-soaked. They seemed so real at times that I started writing them down in a journal. Many of them became the seeds for my novels. Often my nightmares occur during a work in progress and end up forming an entire chapter or a key element of my work in progress. Incorporating my nightmares into my novels has become a therapeutic exercise as well as providing entertainment, chills and thrills for my readers.
Q: What authors have inspired your work and which are your favorite authors?
A: Horror master Stephen King, one of my favorite authors, influenced me a lot. I love The Stand, his Bible of post-apocalyptic fiction. Dmitry Glukhovsky, author of post-apocalyptic thriller Metro 2033, inspired my Assaulted Souls series. I also enjoy reading books by Michael Crichton, Clive Barker, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Sidney Sheldon, H.P. Lovecraft, and Douglas Preston, to name a few.
Q: What was the first book you read that ever made you cry?
A: I don’t remember, but there have been a few. My writer friend Sharon McKay recently gifted me The End of the Line, a young adult fiction novel based on the holocaust. Sharon travels to wore-torn countries and writes gripping fiction novels about strife and suffering. Her style is very compelling and powerful and one scene in The End of the Line in which a character dies had me teary-eyed and running for the Kleenex.
Q: What do you think are the most common traps aspiring writers fall into? What advice would you give to avoid them?
A: One of the most common traps aspiring writers fall into is not promoting themselves. As an indie author, I think one of my biggest mistakes in the beginning was not concentrating on promotion. I used to just churn out novel after novel with the mistaken belief that the sheer volume and quality of work would separate me from the sea of mediocrity. Not true. To succeed in this business, you have to be more than a great writer. You also have to be a great marketer. Next year, I’ll be spending a lot of time on promotion and I’ve even started submitting my novels to literary agents and publishing companies in the hope of landing contractual representation.
Q: What do you think is the best cure for writer’s block?
A: In two words, keep writing. I very rarely suffer from writer’s block. But when I find myself stalling and the prose becoming a little wooden, the dialogue stilted, I write through it. Normally I find that as my mind becomes immersed in the story, the sentences become smooth, clear and concise. Since I edit my work ad nauseam, I know I can return to the clunky bits and polish them up later.
Q: Do you think someone can be an effective fiction writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
A: I think to convey emotions in a powerful and compelling way, you need to feel them in much the same way. If an author fails to experience emotions strongly, his or her story would probably come off as contrived.
Q: Have you ever based a fictional character on a real person? If so, who and why? Was it someone you liked or disliked?
A: I’ve never based a fictional character entirely on a real person. However, I have combined elements of different people to make a unique and interesting character. One such character is Franklin Reiger, an antagonist in horror novel Freaky Franky. Although it seemed unlikely at the time, Franklin, aka Freaky Franky, has become one of my favorite characters. What makes a horror novel interesting is when characters are not black and white. Shades of gray encourages readers to identify with characters. Freaky Franky is more than an evil character. As a child, he witnesses the deaths of many close family members, and eventually believes he’s cursed. Almost everyone associated with him dies and perhaps reluctantly he decides to give a few of them a little nudge. But, guild-ridden and contrite, he embarks on a dramatic path for redemption and rebirth.
Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
A: Many of my novels are the result of a lot of research. Sometimes a year of research. Sometimes six months. Sometimes less. When I started The Dark Menace, for example, I spent over three months researching string theory and the notion of ten dimensions and alternate realities. I also studied Shadow People, the Hat Man phenomenon, and sleep disorders such as sleep paralysis, somnambulism, sexsomnia, and lucid dreaming. The result is a bizarre supernatural thriller—slated for release in about three months—about a nightmare-plagued man who suspects an enigmatic doctor may have unleashed a torrent of horrifying attacks by the Shadow People and the Hat Man.
Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
A: When writing female characters, I take great pains not to sound sexist. Nor do I want the woman to be portrayed in an exploitative manner or characterized as an object. I have a female editor and two female beta readers who are quick to set me straight if they find me straying in any way, shape, or form.
Q: Of all the characters you have created, who is your favorite and why? What do you like about him/her?
A: I have many favorites and one of them is Doctor Neil Samuelson, from The Dark Menace. Before I tell you why, here’s a brief synopsis:
Noah Janzen is plagued by nightmares and numerous sleep disorders; night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, and a terrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes chilling images of the Shadow People and the Hat Man.
Determined to prevent his nocturnal demons from interfering with his successful career and newly formed relationship with Angela Rosewood, he meets her in a local pub. But when he sees a shadowy figure wearing a fedora and a trench coat eerily watching him through a window, he freaks out and flees.
He soon learns that a hat-wearing psycho has viciously attacked Angela, smashing in her door, trashing her apartment, and nearly killing her. Worse still, Angela suspects Noah has morphed into a conduit for evil and starts distancing herself from him. She might even think he is the Hat Man.
Desperate to save his new relationship and find answers, he seeks the aid of physicist and sleep specialist, Doctor Neil Samuelson. While remaining tight-lipped on his experiments involving the Shadow People and the Hat Man, the enigmatic doctor informs Noah that an old woman has been brutally murdered at the hands of The Dark Menace.
As blood-curdling reports of Shadow People and the Hat Man escalate, Noah suspects Neil has accidentally opened up a portal from another dimension, unleashing a torrent of shadowy evil entities, hell-bent on terrorizing and destroying humanity.
He’s thrust into an epic battle to preserve his relationship and sanity and find answers to a strange and mysterious real-life phenomenon that has haunted and terrorized thousands of people around the world for centuries.
I find Doctor Samuelson so interesting and intriguing because of his motivation. His wife of over thirty years passes away and he dedicates the rest of his life to trying to find a means to travel to the eighth dimension, where he believes she is. But his purpose is twofold. He also believes the eighth dimension holds the key to saving humanity. Such dedication and hard work motivated solely by love is hard to resist. It make him very real, very vulnerable, and one of my all-time favorite characters.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, William. Do you have any closing remarks?
A: You’re very welcome. I’m really excited about The Witch’s Tombstone, my latest work in progress. It involved extensive research on legends of witches who reportedly lived on Prince Edward Island during the 17th century. One such which was falsely accused of witchcraft, convicted, and burned at the stake. I expect The Witch’s Tombstone to be released in about six months. Here’s a short synopsis to whet your appetite:
Chelsea McGuinness is saddened and disappointed when her husband Taylor Madden takes her to a cemetery on the evening of their two-year wedding anniversary. But he calms her down, assuring her the witch’s tombstone is nothing more than folklore and myth—a joke really.
However, her experience is anything but a joke. She sees the apparition of a young woman resembling herself, hears a desperate cry for help, and for a terrifying moment becomes catatonic with panic and fear.
Soon after, strange things start happening. Chelsea develops shadowy supernatural powers and her friends begin behaving erratically. A stranger in a bar savagely attacks her with a broken bottle, trying to slit her throat. Her home mysteriously disappears down a powerful sinkhole.
As events spiral out of control, Chelsea learns she’s the descendant of a witch who was burned at the stake in the 1700s for her crimes. Worse still, she believes a psychotic preacher is brainwashing his congregants and spearheading a modern-day witch-hunt designed to purge society of his twisted version of blasphemy and evil.
As grisly murders and natural disasters ravage Prince Edward Island, Chelsea joins forces with an unlikely band of followers. She’s plunged into a fight for her life and a desperate battle to prevent one of her worst nightmares—the coming of a devastating apocalypse.
Press release, January 19, 2018. Santa Muerte worship spreads across Canada like wildfire
The cult worship of a female grim reaper known as Santa Muerte is spreading like a raging wildfire across Canada.
In recent years, Santa Muerte, Spanish for Saint Death, has exploded in popularity, both in Mexico and the United States. But now, worship of the Skeleton Saint, the personification of death, is spreading into Canada.
In his newly released horror novel Freaky Franky, Prince Edward Island dark fiction author William Blackwell examines both sides of Santa Muerte worship—the gruesome and macabre murders committed in her name, and the benevolence she bestows upon those who revere her positively. Although a work of fiction, Blackwell said Freaky Franky was painstakingly researched and many scenes were inspired by real-life events.
“Freaky Franky is much more than an examination of the horrifying consequences of worshiping Santa Muerte with evil intentions,” Blackwell said. “It offers a message of salvation, redemption and hope for people who are willing to change for the better.”
“From Chile to Canada, Santa Muerte has no rival in terms of the rapidity and scope of its expansion,” said Andrew Chesnut, a professor of religious studies and author of Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint.
The statues used in Santa Muerte worship depict a tunic-draped skeleton, often holding a scythe and a globe, a sort of female grim reaper. Devotees burn symbolic candles, offer gifts to their saint, and pray for prosperity, healing, love and protection.
In many news reports, Santa Muerte worship is depicted as evil, since criminals and gang members pray to her for safe passage of drugs and death to their enemies. The FBI has documented numerous murders related to the worship of Santa Muerte. In some cases, victims were decapitated and used as sacrificial offerings to the mysterious folk saint. The Catholic Church considers it evil, blasphemous and satanic.
But, according to Toronto resident Tom, who asked that we use his first name to protect his professional life, nothing could be further from the truth. “I was going through a very bad patch in my life. I was depressed, suicidal and jobless. A friend turned me on to Santa Muerte and my life turned for the better almost immediately. Now, I’ve found love, have a great job and I’m at peace.”
Tom said worship of Santa Muerte helps you come to terms with your death so you can live your life to the fullest. “She’s pretty far from evil, I’ll tell you that much. So many murders have been committed in the name of Christianity and Islam, yet Santa Muerte gets the bad rap. It isn’t fair.”
Tom said because many Canadian Santa Muerte devotees are concerned about their personal and professional reputations, they’re reluctant to let the Skeleton Saint out of their closets. They worship in private and refuse to discuss their worship publicly or join public internet-based groups that venerate the Skeleton Saint.
Montreal-based Vice Media recently interviewed Cindy, a Toronto health care worker, who asked that her last name not be used to protect her professional reputation. Although skeptical at first, Cindy turned to Santa Muerte in her time of need. “I was in a really dark place for a while,” she said. “I lost my job and couldn’t find anything else. I was depressed—I didn’t know what to do. I was desperate for the momentum to turn my life around.”
Although Cindy knows of public shrines to Santa Muerte in Montreal, she worships in the privacy of her own home using a statue of the Skeleton Saint and votive candles, Vice reported.
A Facebook search produced a number of Santa Muerte groups and pages. One page called Santa Muerte Canada at last count had 112 likes and 113 followers. On it, people post images and prayers to their beloved saint. One post depicts a female skeleton with her iconic scythe. Above the post, a message: “Holy death sweet mother, don’t walk away… don’t step aside. Come with me everywhere and never leave me alone. Since you protect me as well as true mother, make me bless you in the name of God, father, and my mother, my holy death. Amen.”
Another group, Santa Muerte Grupo, at last count had 51,888 members and 151,325 likes. Members often post images of Santa Muerte that quickly generate hundreds, if not thousands, of likes and comments, most of them simply “amen.” One image depicts a skeleton with angel wings holding an hourglass. Its message: “Today I come to you to do that miracle that you need so much. If you believe in me, comment amen.”
In another group called Santa Muerte, an image of the Skeleton Saint proclaims: “Santa Muerte of my heart, do not forsake me and give me your protection.” Santa Muerte at last count, had 70,010 members.
From marginalized members of society such as the poor and disenfranchised, to lawyers, doctors and police, the growth of Santa Muerte is on fire. It is said to have as many as fifteen million followers worldwide. It is believed to be the fastest growing cult—or religion—in the world.
Enriqueta Romero is credited with taking Santa Muerte mainstream in Mexico around the turn of the 21st century. “She shouldn’t be feared,” Romero said. “She is not vengeful, she will not hasten your death. She is part of life and she protects those no one else will.” Often referred to as a high priestess, Romero has a shrine to Santa Muerte at her home in Tepito, Mexico, where worshipers come from around the globe to give offerings to their saint. Offerings include tequila, cannabis cigarettes, votive candles, incense, sodas, chocolates, fruit, flowers, tacos, pastries, and amulets. Often devotees arrive on their knees to worship at the Santa Muerte shrine.
Romero defends her Skeleton Saint. “Everyone thinks the Santa Muerte is for narcos (drug traffickers). But it can be whatever you want and for whoever wants to have faith in her.”
Freaky Franky author William Blackwell also defends the mysterious Skeleton Saint taking the world by storm. “Life is never black and white,” he said. “There are always shades of gray. It’s obvious the worship of Santa Muerte is not all bad; she has followers from all walks of life—looking for prosperity, protection, healing and love.”
Press release, January 23, 2018. Little-known Canadian author William Blackwell explodes onto horror scene
Little-known Prince Edward Island author William Blackwell explodes onto the horror scene, writing and publishing seventeen novels in just five years.
In 2013, Blackwell left his career as a realtor in Calgary, Alberta, escaped the rat race, and moved to Prince Edward Island to pursue his passion for writing. He didn’t decide one day that he wanted to be a writer, he says. He’s been writing stories since he was a little boy growing up in Hamilton, Ontario.
He achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree, literature emphasis, at The University of British Columbia, and studied journalism at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, before working for about three years as a print journalist for two Canadian weekly newspapers.
Since 2012, Blackwell has written over twenty novels, most of them in the horror fiction genre. But, as an independent hybrid author, he admits it’s sometimes a struggle navigating the often murky waters of digital book promotion. “I don’t have an easy time with self-promotion,” he says. “Frankly, I’d rather be creating novels. And I’m not the best multi-tasker. It’s tough to remove the author hat and don the marketer hat.”
Over the last five years, Blackwell says most of his sales, while falling short of New York Times best-selling status, have come from the United States. He hopes that 2018 will be his break-out year. “I’m hoping to get more recognition and support from Americans and Canadians alike. And I would like to break new ground all over the world.”
When Blackwell left his job in Calgary, he moved to a forty-five acre oceanfront property on PEI, hoping the peace and tranquility of Mother Nature would inspire more stories. “And it worked. It’s idyllic and incredibly beautiful here. After being a realtor for many years, it was time for a new chapter.”
Blackwell’s titles include Brainstorm, Nightmare’s Edge, The Rage Trilogy, Assaulted Souls Trilogy, Orgon Conclusion, Rule 14, Resurrection Point, The Strap, A Head for an Eye, Blood Curse, Black Dawn, The End Is Nigh, Freaky Franky, The Dark Menace and The Witch’s Tombstone.
While his novels have garnered praise from readers and book reviewers alike, with all titles hovering in the four to five star range overall, Blackwell has yet to plant himself firmly in the spotlight as the next great storyteller. With his latest horror release, Freaky Franky, a well-researched novel documenting the exploding popularity of Santa Muerte cult worship, Blackwell hopes the sea of mediocrity will part, providing him smooth sailing to critical and financial success.
“Inspired by real-life events, Freaky Franky is much more than an examination of the horrifying consequences of worshiping Santa Muerte with evil intentions,” Blackwell says. “It offers a message of salvation, redemption and hope for people who are willing to change for the better.”
“Maybe my editor is biased, but I doubt it,” he adds. “She represents New York Times best-selling authors. She says Freaky Franky is one of my finest works. And my publisher says it is my finest work.”
Blackwell’s blueprint for success for 2018 includes concentrating entirely on book promotion for the first half of the year and starting a new novel during the second half. “I’ve read dozens of books on digital book promotion and I think I’ve finally developed an organized and effective plan. In 2018, among other things, I’ll be soliciting more book reviews, writing weekly blog posts, and communicating more with my readers. I’m also exploring the possibility of starting a YouTube channel, something tongue-in-cheek like William Blackwell’s Wacky World. I’m even planning on pitching some traditional publishers.”
And while Blackwell is hoping his efforts will increase book sales, and maybe even land a traditional publishing contract, he maintains money wasn’t the main reason he embarked on his new path as a scribbling scribe. “An inner voice, a calling—even my regularly scheduled horrific nightmares—drove me to it. I write first to please myself and second to feed my writing addiction. But I also write to educate, influence, entertain, and scare the hell out of my readers.”
Blackwell has dabbled in other fiction genres including paranormal, post-apocalyptic, psychological thriller, inspirational fiction and science-fiction. His work, often well-researched, has been described as “raw, gritty and real.”
While most of his themes are dark, Blackwell says he strives to impart positive messages in his prose. “I try to impart messages of moral fortitude to help better humanity in some small way.”
January 21, 2018. Interview with Canadian author William Blackwell
Ginger Nuts of Horror is the United Kingdom’s largest independent website dedicated to the world of horror. It’s full of reviews, features, news and interviews, all horror-related. Recently, they decided to interview yours truly, since horror is my main genre, and I do have a UK following. Enjoy.
Q: Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
A: Sure. Encouraged by some friends, I started writing novels about six years ago. Before that I worked for over fifteen years as a real estate agent in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Prior to that I held many jobs, but my passion has always been writing. I worked as a journalist for a couple of rural Alberta weekly newspapers and was always writing creative blurbs on scraps of paper in my spare time. Much of these story ideas were inspired by my nightmares, which I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: I live on 45 acres of oceanfront property in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Weather permitting, I love to enjoy the outdoors and can often be found grooming my numerous sites with my trusty chainsaw, Mister Stihl. I love nature and my backyard is a giant outdoor playground. When I’m not writing, I also enjoy reading, online book promotion (maybe I don’t really enjoy it, but it must be done), horror movie, documentary and news watching, and socializing with my friends in an attempt to solve all the world’s problems. We usually do, by the way.
Q: Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
A: I’m influenced constantly by everyday events, people, places and things. Often while I’m writing a novel, I find ways to incorporate news of the day into my story line and this often adds a dramatic twist to a novel and takes it in an unexpected and terrifying direction.
Q: The term horror, especially when applied to fiction, always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
A: The horror genre is intended to scare, disgust, or startle readers. Many horror readers just love to be frightened and it has almost a cult-like following. But horror often crosses into other genres such as thriller, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic fiction, suspense, murder mystery, etc. I would like to see the definition of horror broaden to not only scare the hell out of readers, but also be a medium to entertain, educate and influence. Although my novels contain many macabre and grisly scenes, and I try my damnedest to shock and frighten my readers, I also try to impart a positive message somewhere in a book, a golden nugget of my moral code; something readers may take away that may help them on the pothole-laden path of life. My road to hell is often paved with good intentions.
Q: A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate; considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
A: To say the least, we now live in dangerous and uncertain times. In the next few years, I think you’ll see more horror writers reflecting that in their work. From a horror writer’s standpoint, we now have more real-life material than ever to draw from.
Q: What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?
A: As corny and overused as it sounds, horror master Stephen King influenced me a lot. I love The Stand, his Bible of post-apocalyptic fiction. Dmitry Glukhovsky, author of post-apocalyptic thriller Metro 2033, inspired my Assaulted Souls series. I loved Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and, as lame as it sounds, I think all the horror films I watch influence and shape me as a writer to greater or lesser degrees.
Q: What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
A: Stephen King’s son Owen King is definitely gaining traction, particularly with the recent release of Sleeping Beauties, a father-and-son collaboration.
Q: How would you describe your writing style?
A: Raw, gritty, real, clear and concise. Trained as a journalist, I’m not a fan of overly descriptive, verbose or flowery prose and edit my own words ad nauseam for clarity and brevity. I love Earnest Hemingway’s simple writing style; it communicates to audiences from all walks of life—from elementary school children to scholarly doctorate degree holders.
Q: Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
A: The first novel I wrote, a strange hybrid of inspirational fiction and horror, is called Brainstorm. After many long months, I finally finished it and was unsure of its future. I sent it to Winslow Eliot, my editor, and said: “If you don’t like it, I’m trashing it and giving up novel writing.” I waited with anxiously for a response. Finally, one came. One of the first things she said was, “Wow! What a truly amazing story of courage and personal transformation. I was deeply moved by this novel.” If it weren’t for her inspiring words, I wouldn’t have written seventeen novels. She confirmed that indeed I do have talent and encouraged me to pursue my calling.
Q: What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
A: Sometimes the editing process is a real grind for me. Before I even send a manuscript to my editor, I do at least three editing passes of my own, in addition to having a beta reader provide feedback. Then after Winslow performs her masterful surgery, there are usually at least two more edits and a final proof-read before it goes to press. By the time I’m done with it, I’m more than ready to move onto the next project.
Q: Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
A: I’ve read excerpts from non-fiction books about women who’ve been abducted, held captive, tortured, and sexually abused. While I’ve written about abduction and torture in a fictional context, I could never write a novel on this topic based on a true story. I would be too afraid if would further scar victims of such heinous crimes.
Q: How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way they sound or the meaning?
A: I love symbolism and sub-text. I pick names very carefully based on sound and symbolism.
Q: Writing is not a static process. How have you developed as a writer over the years?
A: I’ve become far more disciplined. I aim for 2000 words a day and don’t leave the office until I’ve accomplished that. I used to write a lot at night but I found when I went to bed, I couldn’t turn my brain off and would be getting up every few minutes and writing down new ideas. Often I’d find myself at the keyboards churning out words deep into the night. Sleepless nights is not a way to maintain a steady and productive writing schedule. Now, while drinking gallons of coffee, my fuel, I write first-thing in the morning and don’t shower, eat, or talk (unless it’s to myself or one of my novel characters) until I’ve reached my daily writing quota. I also make sure all social media and the phone is shut off during this creative time.
Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A: William Shrunk and E.B White’s The Elements of Style. Also Stephen King’s On Writing; an AP Style Guide; a good dictionary and a good thesaurus.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
A: I believe great writers are born talented. However, bad writers, with practice, can become good writers. A writer friend once told me, “Writing is not rocket science. If you want to become a good writer, read a lot and write a lot.”
Q: Getting your work noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?
A: I’m one of the worst examples in terms of self-promotion. I’d rather start a new novel than try and sell one of my existing ones. But this year, out of necessity, I’ve actually developed a marketing plan. I’m slowly developing an email list of my fans. I blog regularly, have a fixed time for posting and interacting on social media, and am constantly searching for that evasive book-promotion secret that will set me apart from the sea of mediocrity.
Q: To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favorite child to write for and why?
A: In my new horror release Freaky Franky, Franklin Reiger is one of my favorite characters. What make a horror novel interesting is when characters are not black and white. Shades of gray helps readers identify with characters. Freaky Franky is more than an evil character. As a child, he witnesses the deaths of many close family members, and eventually believes he’s cursed. Everyone around him dies and perhaps reluctantly he decides to give a few of them a little nudge. But, guild-ridden and regretful, he embarks down a landmine-laced path for redemption and rebirth.
Q: What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
A: A Head for an Eye, The End Is Nigh, and Freaky Franky are among my favorites. Maybe they’re biased, but my editor calls Freaky Franky one of my best works and my publisher says it is my best work.
Q: And are there any that you would like to forget about?
A: Inspired by true events, Brainstorm chronicles the lives of an epileptic man and his mentally challenged wife who have so little but give so much. Although my editor’s glowing praise of Brainstorm brought me to where I am today, when I read it I can certainly see how much my writing has evolved and improved over the years. If I decide to rewrite any of my backlist, Brainstorm is first on the chopping block.
Q: For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?
A: It’s a tough question as I have many favorites. But, since I’m under duress, I’ll take Freaky Franky. If I believe my writing improves with every novel (which, I do), then Freaky Franky represents the most recent culmination of that evolution.
Q: Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
A: I have many favorite passages. This excerpt is from The End Is Nigh, a recently released post-apocalyptic thriller about an unlikely group of people who retreat to an underground shelter as a blazing inferno decimates the world.
“It wasn’t just the flames that made Ralph see red as the trailing SUV skidded to a stop about thirty feet from the inferno. Nor was it the dark red blood dribbling down his face from Steel’s sucker punch and Crass’s boot to the nose. No. It was something else. The agitation had started with Penny’s betrayal of the whereabouts of his friends—slowly unleashing the uncontrollable fury of the intermittent-explosive-disorder monster lurking inside him. Then it was the rejection demon intertwined with the green-eyed monster of jealousy that had begun to unravel the ties that bound him to a semblance of sanity. Frankenstein’s monster had begun to unravel. He first noticed it during the interrogation, but had dismissed it as tricks of his imagination. A look Penny had exchanged with Steel. A look of affection. Nothing. My mind playing tricks on me. But on the way to Sandra’s house, he had seen it again. Not once, but twice. And, to rub salt in the wound, he had also watched her exchange a weird look of affection with Crass.”
Q: Can you tell us what you are working on next?
A: I’ve become fascinated with the mysterious landscape of dreams. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research and writing blog posts on nightmares, lucid dreaming, night terrors, sleep paralysis and other sleep-related phenomena. I can feel a great story idea gelling that involves many aspects of dreams. The idea has a horrifying shape, but has yet to solidify into a discussable form. When the mold has form, I’ll give you more.
Q: If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
A: The evil cat. Why don’t they make the cat the good guy for a change?
Q: What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
A: Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is well-written and contains great character sketches. Also some very meaningful social commentary. Found Dean Koontz’s Shattered somewhat lame in terms of action and character development, although it is well written.
Q: What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
A: People ask questions such as: “Are you making any real money? How’s it going with your new book? Do you ever think you can really rise out of that ocean of obscurity?” And, although I’m not one to arbitrarily begin discussing writing without being prompted, I sometimes wish they’d ask me why I write. I write for many reasons: to feed my writing addiction (there are worse things to be addicted to), to please myself, and to educate, influence, entertain, and scare the hell out of my readers.
Brandy Mulder, of JB’s Bookworms, interviews William Blackwell. Originally posted February 5th, 2018, on JB’s Bookworms website.
Q: Tell us about your newest book.
A: In my latest horror novel, Freaky Franky, I explore the terrifying consequences that occur when Santa Muerte devotees worship with evil intentions. A well-researched, fact-based fiction novel, Freaky Franky also examines the exploding popularity of the skeleton saint. Here’s 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 Santa Muerte or 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 Randon 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 Santa Muerte 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 Santa Muerte 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: Writing isn’t easy. What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing your newest book?
A: Although Freaky Franky was well-researched, it started as a seat-of-your-pants endeavor. I didn’t have a clearly defined idea of where it was going. I told one of my friends, “I think maybe it’s crap and I should just toss it in the garbage.” She read what I had and disagreed, encouraging me to plod on. At the halfway stage, I slowly developed a plot outline and suddenly realized where to take the story. It was like a door to salvation miraculously opened. After that I moved along at a good clip, averaging 2000 words a day. I’m glad I took her advice. Maybe my editor and publisher are biased, but my editor, who represents New York Times best-selling authors, says it’s one of my finest books and my publisher says it is my finest book.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your writing career.
A: Sure. Encouraged by some friends, I started writing novels about six years ago. After graduating from The University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts degree, I worked for over fifteen years as a real estate agent in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Prior to that I held many jobs, but my passion has always been writing. I worked as a journalist for a couple of rural Alberta weekly newspapers, wrote ad copy for a few years, and was always writing creative blurbs on scraps of paper in my spare time. Much of my novels were inspired by my nightmares, which I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
Q: They say hindsight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?
A: As an indie author, I think one of my biggest mistakes was not concentrating on promotion. I used to just churn out novel after novel with the mistaken belief that that the sheer volume and quality of work would separate me from the sea of mediocrity. Not true. To succeed in this business, you not only have to be a great writer. You also have to be a great marketer. This year I’m spending a lot of time on promotion. I’m also planning on submitting my next manuscript to Amazon’s Kindle Scout, and if they reject it, seek the services of a literary agent.
Q: What was your most difficult scene to write?
Q: With Freaky Franky, the last four or five chapters leading up the ending (and the ending) were the most difficult to write. I’ve always thought the ending has to be sensational—shocking, gripping and even unexpected. And I think toward the end, the writing should be a lot tighter, since most, if not all, of the character development and backstory has already been dealt with.
Q: Are themes a big part of your stories, or not so much?
A: I love themes, sub-text and symbolism. I always try and impart positive moral messages in my stories. I also try and create stories that operate on many levels—a theme below the surface, a theme on the surface and possibly even another theme above the surface.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on dreams and the amazing subconscious landscapes they produce. I’ve researched and written blog posts on a number of sleep disorders including lucid dreaming, night terrors, sleep paralysis, sleepwalking, even sexsomnia—where people actually initiate and have sex in their sleep and wake up with no recollection of it. I envision a character who suffers from many, if not all of these disorders, whose life is spiraling out of control as a result. Sounds pretty terrifying, right?
Q: It does. Is there a release date planned?
A: The middle of summer sometime. Maybe June or July.
Q: Who is your favorite character from your own stories, and why?
A: In my new horror release Freaky Franky, Franklin Reiger is one of my favorite characters. What make a horror novel interesting is when characters are not black and white. Readers are able to identify more with multi-dimensional characters. Freaky Franky is more than an evil character. As a child, he witnesses the deaths of many close family members, and eventually believes he’s cursed. Everyone around him dies and perhaps reluctantly he decides to give a few of them a little nudge. But, guild-ridden and regretful, he embarks down a landmine-laced path for redemption and rebirth.
Q: Most writers were readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?
A: I hate to admit it, but frankly I don’t remember. A few years ago I read Stephen King’s The Stand, considered by many to be the Bible of post-apocalyptic fiction, and loved it. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird, is also a one of my favorites, among many others.
Q: What are your plans for future projects?
A: This year I’m going to be far more disciplined with promotion and review-seeking. One of the biggest problems indie authors face is getting reviews. I’m going to spend half of my day doing promotion and the other half researching and writing Deadly Parasomnias, a working title I just invented now for my next novel.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?
A: I’d like to thank you for having me. You have an awesome website and I wish you a world of success.
You’re very welcome, Mr. Blackwell. Good luck with your newest release, and thank you for being with us today.