Has becoming a dad changed what you find scary, both as a writer and a reader?
Absolutely. Inherently, (most) people can empathize with the kind of pain and fear that come with something bad happening to a child. I remember when Eric Clapton’s son died. I think I was a teenager, but hearing that, and how it happened, was crushing. Now, every time I hear “Tears in Heaven”, that heaviness seeps back into me. I had my first kid in 2007, and I’ve been fearful ever since. Man, the crazy amount of love that overcomes you when you look into the eyes of your child is insanely amazing. It put an end, then and there, to that young, too tough to die mindset. And I’ve had two more babies since then, so obviously the radness outweighs the fear. That said, it has become my greatest fear, putting spiders, snakes, and The Exorcist in the rearview mirror.
Obviously, it makes reading and writing things where kids get hurt or killed much heavier, adding depth to the experience in both cases.
Being a musician, has that influence the type of writer you gravitate towards, or your writing itself? You seem to enjoy a more streamlined approach, like a good Punk number — straight forward and fast paced. It’s refreshing.
It does. Coming from the punk rock community, I wrote these one and a half to two minute songs almost exclusively. While I can appreciate larger, more complex songs—Holy Wars (Megadeth) ,Master of Puppets (Metallica), Jungleland (Bruce Springsteen) come to mind—I seem to gravitate toward the short, sweet, and all-out judo-chop offered in a fast and catchy punk song. That mindset followed me into the writing world. For me, you need good characters, good dialogue, and a fun story. That doesn’t take four hundred plus pages. Not in my book. And still, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy longer works of fiction. I do. I think I have writers and readers ADD, for the most part. I love the rise of novellas. I always loved the Leisure Books horror line where a lot of the books were around two hundred and seventy pages. That became my template for my novel writing. Keep the words, the side treks away from the main story, at a minimum. A lot of writers, like musicians, fall in love with the sound of their own talent. You see a lot of stuff that will really impress their contemporaries, but I always feel like I ‘d rather perform or writer for the pure readers and the listeners. Good and simple is what hits the majority. It’s why pop music has always been huge. Most people don’t need all the frills, all the impressive language, or complex arrangements. They just want something that puts a hook in them, catches their ear or eye, and takes them away for a minute. And that probably applies more so nowadays. Everybody’s multi-tasking, wandering through each day constantly changing direction. They seem to need things fast and furious or they move on to the next thing on their to-do list.
I love writing and reading novels, but I have a blast with novellas. That’s why I’ve written and published four already with my fifth, FOLLOW ME DOWN, coming in time for Scares That Care. They offer as much punch, sometimes more, as their counterparts. Think of what The Clash could do in two minutes. Taking on politics, racial relations, and disillusionment. They did it well and became legends. I look at a novella like James Newman’s ODD MAN OUT and see a writer smashing the idea that novellas are in any way less-than. Not many stories can hit as hard as Ketchum’s classic THE GRL NEXT DOOR in the novellas condensed medium.
Sorry for the long answer.
Can you pinpoint the moment you decided, ‘This is it for me. Writing is what I want to do’? And do you have a moment that almost made you think the opposite?
I tried my hand at a couple short stories in 2004. I was out of bands at the time. I bought a copy of King’s ON WRITING and was inspired to give it a shot. I think I scribbled about six or seven bad stories in some of my lyric notebooks before diving back into music. Fast forward to 2011. My (semi) touring band called it quits. My day job laid me off, and I was a stay at home dad in desperate need of a creative outlet. I pulled up one of the old short stories I’d started back in 2004 and re-wrote it on my computer. That became the first chapter to my novel, BLOOD AND RAIN. I shared it with a few friends on Facebook and they loved it and wanted to know what happened next. With them demanding more, I ended up writing a sixty-five-thousand-word story. My first novel. When I wrote THE END, I was officially a writer, whether I was ready to admit it or not. I of course wanted to write another story the very next day, so that’s what I’ve done. Haven’t considered turning back since.
Living in Maine, do you have a favourite local legend? And have you visited King’s home?
Unfortunately, I don’t know the local legends. I’ve never been to King’s place. I’m still waiting for the invite.
Feet to the fire, what do you think your ‘magnum opus’ will involve? What elements will make up Glenn Rolfe’s Nevermind, or The Stand? And when do you think you’ll get around to writing The One that will cement your style and you’ll always look back on with pride — or has it happened already?
Definitely hasn’t happened yet. I feel like I’m still in my diapers. I have a long way to go. When I do write The One, it will have to be heavy, emotional, contain a great romance, and be scary as hell. Hopefully, it will happen before I’m seventy.
Finally, what’s your favourite Irish mythological creature?
Sadly, I’m not up to date on my mythological creatures, let alone the Irish ones. That probably makes me lame, but I am what I am. I did recently see an Irish-based horror movie called, From The Dark. I think the creature in there was a vampire. Decent flick.
Glenn Rolf’s BECOMING is available for Kindle here. Paperback coming soon.