With SUNFALL back in 2014, you, Chad Scanlon and Pete Draper constructed the idea of series and episodes for fiction well before the likes of Serial Box. With the rise of Netflix, do you think this format could go mainstream anytime soon? And would you attempt such a distribution design again?
I've always loved the idea of a serialized novel. I'm not so sure all readers feel the same. A part of me believes that the majority of seasoned readers would prefer a book. Just give me a whole book. As far as serialized fiction becoming mainstream, I guess that would depend on the platform. For example, when we released SUNFALL: SEASON ONE episodically back in 2014, Amazon was the best way to reach potential readers. And they still are, at least I believe so. Their marketplace, however, isn't really set up for the serialized novel. It can be done, but can often become more costly for the reader, less profitable for the creator, and can sometimes come off as a cheap sales tactic. I think traditional novels work better if you're going the Amazon route, but serialized fiction can work great in a place like Patreon or, as you mentioned, Serial Box. I might try it again in one of those places, but definitely not on Amazon. The first rule of writing I ever learned was know your audience. Same applies with book marketing: know your consumer.
In SHARKWATER BEACH you married a Sci-Fi movie concept with jaw-dropping prose. When I sped through that novel, I expected a quick read and 'popcorn' fun, but not such an economic and confident voice. Is the seesaw of well-written and b-rate something you consciously try and nail? Richard Laymon, for example, is a favorite of mine, but his prose is what some call 'white bread'. I think you lean more towards 'literary', where did you begin to craft that voice?
Firstly, thank you so much for the kind words. My heart skipped a little at “jaw-dropping prose.” As for your first question: when writing, in terms of style, I don't overthink it much. I just write and see what happens, and let those things work themselves out naturally. But every project has been different. Sometimes I have a clear vision for what I want to accomplish, sometimes I don't. I usually end up writing multiple drafts and countless revisions to improve the prose, and I usually outline the story—sometimes in my head, sometimes on paper—so I have a somewhat clear understanding of my characters' goals. With SHARKWATER BEACH, I envisioned something like you said—a quick popcorn read. However, it evolved into something different all on its own.
As far as the 'shlock' style story mixed with what you called a more 'literary' approach? I dunno. I guess I inherited that from reading a lot of Robert McCammon? Novels like Stinger, Swan Song, and The Wolf's Hour are some of my favorites. The way he takes science fiction and horror and does something beautiful with it really resonates with me. Stephen King is another author I grew up worshipping for all the same reasons. Those two were always merging B-movie ideas with inspiring prose. I love Richard Laymon too, though, and I think his style—while largely considered 'basic'—was extremely effective.
You do a lot of podcasting and live interviews, is this a tool more authors should take advantage of in the current age of self-promotion? Have you seen good returns?
I don't know if I can quantify how much crossover there is between the podcasting stuff and the writing stuff. I'd like to think there's some. Honestly, podcasting is just plain fun and I enjoy doing The Aperture Hour Movie Podcast (on the Project Entertainment Network) with my wife, Ashley, and SUNFALL co-author, Chad Scanlon. We don't really plug the books on the show, though, now that I think of it, we probably should. But also, I think they're two completely different audiences. As far as the live interviews—I love doing them and I think we've definitely made a few readers and friends during our broadcasts. That reminds me... we should probably do another one real soon!
With DEMON BLOOD, you took a 'go big or go home' approach and crafted a huge universe, an epic tale spanning three novels over ten years in the making. Would you ever broaden your stand-alone books to incorporate characters from elsewhere (a Samson with a minor role in another book, for example?), or does the concept of an overarching universe appeal to you?
I've often considered transporting characters from other books and putting them elsewhere. Haven't really done it yet, however, I do sprinkle occasional Easter eggs throughout my books, tying them into other works. So I do have an overarching universe that connects most of my stories. For example, Costbusters, the retail-warehouse that our characters from SUNFALL: SEASON ONE hide out in, is mentioned across many of my other works. The town of Red River, the fictional version of my hometown that was first featured in my novel IN THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS, is the setting of several other short stories and novels. So, there is a connected universe. DEMON BLOOD, however, I've kept separate from everything else. Now that the series is over, I don't know if I'd ever return to that world again. Writing those books took its toll on my creative reservoir.
Expanding on that, if you could take two characters from previous stories and set them out on an all-new adventure, who would you choose and what would they do?
Interesting question! I literally just said I'd never return to DEMON BLOOD, however, at one point in time I thought about retconning the entire series and having Danny Samson be a supernatural detective of sorts, pairing him with a real homicide detective. They would go around the country like Scully and Mulder and solve murders that had a supernatural bend to it. Hmmmm... I wonder if Jill McCourty from SHARKWATER BEACH is available. Imagine those two together? Good Lordy. (Author's note: Jill McCourty isn't available, sadly. She may or may not be involved in a top-secret mission to investigate Petruski-Corp, the mysterious organization responsible for the events that took place at SHARKWATER BEACH.)
Tim Meyer's Amazon page can be found HERE.