Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Kristopher Rufty

Meghan: Hey, Krist!! Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. It’s fantastic to have you back on the Halloween Extravaganza. It’s been awhile since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?

Kristopher Rufty: Took an extended break for a while to be a dad to my three children. We’ve had a difficult two years but are finally getting through it. Back to writing, putting a new life together, and rebuilding. It’s been a long, trying journey to get to this point, but we’re finally here.

Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?

Kristopher Rufty: A simple guy, really. I mostly spend all my time with my children—taking them to school, appointments, and events. Making sure supper is cooked. I also play music, watch a lot of movies when I can (which doesn’t happen often), and sleep.

Meghan: How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?

Kristopher Rufty: It depends on what else they enjoy to read or watch. When Angel Board was released, nearly all my relatives bought a copy. Even my grandmother was eager to get one. But then they all read it, and suddenly they weren’t so excited about my stories. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but they all had different opinions on the adult situations and the overall subject matter. After that, I hoped they would just stay away from my books, and all of them have.

But some of my closest friends are my biggest supporters. My friend, Katie, calls herself my Annie Wilkes, and tries her best to keep me motivated and inspired so the books keep coming. She’s been working really hard the last couple years with encouraging me, and it’s finally paid off. I’m writing a lot more than I have been, and it’s great.

Meghan: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Kristopher Rufty: The only curse that I can really think of is the curse of a deadline, yet, at the same time, it’s also a blessing because it keeps me focused. I could never think of anything bad about writing because it’s a wonderful gift to have. When it’s not fun, then I know the story is all wrong and it either needs to be approached from a different angle or abandoned entirely. Writing is magic, and I’m thankful to be able to do it.

Meghan: How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

Kristopher Rufty: A lot, actually. It’s sprinkled throughout most of my stories. The town Brickston from many of my books is actually the town I grew up in, but I changed the name. The library in Anathema and Angel Board is the local library my daughter and I visit all the time. The dirt road Joel Olsen lives on in Pillowface is the road I grew up on, just with my grandfather’s house replacing my parents’ house. The way certain character’s talk and the way they act comes from my watching people for so long and interacting with them. I used to work in retail, and I used to manage a video store, so I’ve met tons of people. Sometimes they wind up in books, or at least incredibly sensationalized versions of themselves.

Meghan: What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?

Kristopher Rufty: Before starting work on The Vampire of Plainfield, I spent a lot of time researching Ed Gein. I already owned several books on him, but I wanted to see more. I scoured through online databases for any info and photos I could find. I searched how someone could escape from being locked in a trunk. I looked up news stories on necrophiliacs for a story idea I have. I wouldn’t be surprised if the FBI showed up some day to question me about my internet history. I’ve looked up all kinds, but nothing seems really weird to me, though. So maybe that’s the problem?

Meghan: Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?

Kristopher Rufty: The middle. When I have trouble with a book, it’s always in the later section of the middle right before the ending is set into motion. I don’t know why this is. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, it hits hard. I’ll go back and read over everything I’ve written to that point, making minor alterations along the way. Sometimes, I scrap the whole first chunk of the book and start fresh. More times than not, it’ll click when I’m not expecting it and I’ll find myself going back to my old draft and picking right up where I left off, omitting the new version, and soaring through to the end. I doubt myself too much at times, and it takes doing something as drastic as rewriting a whole book before I realize I was in the right place all along.

Meghan: Do you outline? Do you start with characters or plot? Do you just sit down and start writing? What works best for you?

Kristopher Rufty: A little of all the above. My main routine before beginning a new book is sitting down with a blank page, either on my laptop or a legal pad, and I start writing about the ideas I have. I sort of have a conversation with myself about the book. I’ll get a basic premise and an idea for a few characters and then I jump right in. I’ll get past those parts and go back to my blank pages and talk out the rest. Other times, I just go right into it with a beginning and nothing beyond that.

Meghan: What do you do when characters don’t follow the outline/plan?

Kristopher Rufty: I just follow along. I’ve learned it’s easier that way than fighting what they naturally want to do. I used to disagree and move on with my own intentions and every time the book suffered for it, or could never be completed. Now, I save time by not fighting it and going with what they present to me and letting the story guide itself. It’s a lovely process and still amazes me to this day that it happens all on its own if I allow it to.

Meghan: What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?

Kristopher Rufty: I don’t really think there’s any real way to motivate myself. I either want to or don’t want to and, thankfully, I always want to. I don’t write like I used to, but I still write every free moment I have. I make sure there is some gap of time set aside to write. I can’t go without doing it, so I must ensure myself there is always that window I can escape through, even if for just a little while.

Meghan: Are you an avid reader?

Kristopher Rufty: Big time. I read as much as possible. I used to read multiple books at once, but I’ve cut back on that and read one or two at a time now. I love stories. I always need to have one nearby.

Meghan: What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?

Kristopher Rufty: Horror, naturally. 😊 I love crime fiction and westerns as well. This past year, I’ve started reading YA books from the 80’s and 90’s by Stine, Pike, and the slew of others. Some of them are actually pretty dark, and I’m surprised by the amount of violence some of them have. They’re just so much and have great covers that remind me of being in middle school and finding these books in the library.

Meghan: How do you feel about movies based on books?

Kristopher Rufty: I love it. I can’t really talk about it too much just yet, but I will be able to share more of how I feel about it soon. It’s only a matter of time, it looks like. Sure, anything could happen to where I can’t elaborate, but for now, it looks quite possible. But to give a response that isn’t so vague: I am in love with the idea! I hope that movies are made based on my books frequently. I have no problem with other people taking the books and adapting them into something else. It’s all a collaboration at that point, and it excites me to see these stories brought to life through someone else’s interpretation.

Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?

Kristopher Rufty: Many times. Sometimes readers enjoy a surprise like that, other times they hate it. I just go in the direction the story takes me. If that character is supposed to be let go, the story will let me know. I hate it when any of my characters meet their end, but it’s out of my hands. I think it’s harder to accept when it’s a character I’ve been with for so long, only to turn to the page and find out they’re no longer there on the pages that follow. The story moves on without them, whether I want it to or not.

Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

Kristopher Rufty: It depends. If they’re a bastard, then yes, I enjoy it. 😊 I don’t like it when characters I love suffer anything, but again, if the story calls for it, I have to go along with it. Desolation was filled with characters suffering and it was agonizing to write their pain. Yet, I couldn’t stop writing it. I had to know what was going to happen and the desire to reach to the end kept me going. I never want to write a book like that, again. It was brutal to go through, but when I was finished, I was very happy with what I had accomplished. But I’m just fine with never returning to that type of story at all. Soon as I had finished, I needed to write something a bit more fun. Bigfoot Beach was what I came up with, and it was so far away from the kind of story Desolation was that it was refreshing and such a good time to write about Bigfoot smashing people’s heads.

Meghan: What’s the weirdest character concept that you’ve ever come up with?

Kristopher Rufty: That’s a tough one. Herschell from Seven Buried Hill was pretty bizarre. The idea for him came from a photograph I saw on display at my local library of an artificial arm from the late 1800’s. It was a monstrous contraption that looked as if it had been built from steal. I asked one of the librarians about it and she told me that amputees would have those ungodly things attached to them. I had no idea how anyone could stand up with such a device on their body, let alone use it. On my way home, the idea for a horror-western hit and I began writing it that night. Herschell lost most of his body due to leprosy, so he’s part man, part steal, and has been turned into an unstoppable killing machine.

Meghan: What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received? What’s the worst?

Kristopher Rufty: I’ve been fortunate throughout the years to receive a lot of great feedback from authors I’ve admired for so long. I have even been able to collaborate with some as well. Before I was published, I received a lot of great advice from Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, Brian Keene, and Edward Lee, plus a whole list of others. I consider all of them now to be great friends.

The worst? Probably from some of those same people. When something doesn’t work, or I did something wrong, a good friend and writer will point it out. It was hard (and still is) to hear at times how badly I’d messed up in a story, but later it became feedback I still live by. It’s helped me to be able to construct a coherent story that, for the most part, people like to read. So, in my experiences, some of the worst feedback was actually the best I could have received.

Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?

Kristopher Rufty: I am grateful for each one. I still remember the first time a reader reached out to me. Still remember who it was, too. That fan later went on to be an editor on two of my books for Sinister Grin Press. He told me he would always cherish how responsive I was and how kind I was to him. I treat my readers like human beings because that’s what they are. I value all of them and, whenever I can, give them free stuff. I was at a convention a couple years ago and tried to give away so much stuff to my fans that one of them finally stopped me and reminded me they were there to buy things, too. I can’t thank them enough for supporting me and even if they didn’t like something of mine, they don’t turn away. They’re loyal to me and I will always be loyal to them.

Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?

Kristopher Rufty: I don’t know if I could steal any character from somebody else and do it any kind of justice. But I would probably have to pick Jason Voorhees. I grew up as a fan of the Friday the 13th series and used to daydream about making my own entry in the series. That was where the idea for Pillowface came from. I was a kid, mowing the field behind our house and fantasized about Jason staggering out of the woods, wounded from a battle. I helped him get healthy again and we became good buddies. Even as an adult, the dream of working on one has never left me. Maybe some day it’ll happen.

Meghan: If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?

Kristopher Rufty: That’s a good question. Though I feel Richard Laymon wrapped them up nicely, I might would like to take a shot at doing a Beast House book. Probably have it take place in present day, many years after the events of The Midnight Tour. The Beast House has been shut down for years, but somebody has recently purchased it and decides to reopen it. So much could happen in the meantime with new characters and maybe even some of the older characters could return as well.

Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

Kristopher Rufty: Wrath James White was always the answer I used to give whenever someone asked me this. And I’ve been blessed enough to get to do that with Master of Pain. Talk about a dream come true. I became a fan of Wrath’s work back in 2009. If you would have told me that one day I’d get to write a book with him, I would have said you were crazy. I’ve been collaborating with another writer on a book for a little over a year. It keeps getting put on hold because we have to work on other things, but we keep coming back to it. I’m almost finished with my turn, then I’ll send it back to him. I want to say who it is, but I know it’s too soon to announce it yet. Hopefully in the next couple months we can talk more about it.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Kristopher Rufty: I have a book coming out through Thunderstorm Books that I finished earlier in the year. They’re launching a new line of books and I believe this one will be the first. Soon as they make the announcement, I can talk more about it. I can say that it’s a book I’ve been asked about many, many times. Hopefully it’s everything my readers wanted, and even more! I also finished a draft of a book called Three Men and a Body. It’s a dark crime story with horror mixed in. Probably one of my darker books, though I didn’t start off writing it that way. I have also completed a draft of a book called Lipstick Wings and have begun to assemble stories for another collection that I hope will release early next year.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Kristopher Rufty: I’m still on Facebook and Twitter, though not nearly as much as I used to be. Next year will see the launch of a new website, a newsletter, and hopefully a lot of news to talk about. I’m slowly getting back to things and I hope to continue building back to full steam before too long.

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview or the last?

Kristopher Rufty: I’m back to work! I’ll see you all soon!

Kristopher Rufty is the writer and director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Alice in Deathland, Cutting Room!, and Wicked Wood, and also the author of Angel Board, PillowFace, and The Lurkers.

He used to host Diabolical Radio, an internet radio show devoted to horror fiction and film for five years and developed quite an archive list and following.

He is married to his high school sweetheart and is the father of two insane children that he loves dearly, and together they reside in North Carolina with their 120 pound dog, Thor, and a horde of cats. He is currently working on his next novel, script, or movie.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Steve Thompson

Meghan: Hi, Steve. Welcome to the new Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Steve Thompson: I live in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada with my girlfriend, Lisa. I recently retired from my day job as a housekeeping supervisor at our city hospital after 30 years of service. I’m now dunking my foot into the unknown depths of the publishing world and hoping I don’t drown. I have 8 pets at home, 4 dogs and 4 cats that take up a large part of my day. 3 of those dogs are Boston Terriers and one is a Chorkie, and never in my life did I ever think I could love any animal as much as those dogs; the cats, well, they’re just evil.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Steve Thompson: 1- I never graduated from high school because I was given the choice to quit or get kicked out 3 months before graduation. 2 – Most people know I am scared of heights, What they don’t know is if I get into a situation that I am up too high, I need to get down ASAP, even if it means jumping and I don’t know what is the greater fear, the heights or wanting to jump to get out of that situation. 3 – When I was 15, I broke into a portable classroom and peed in the desk drawer of a teacher I didn’t like because he bullied a lot of his students. 4 – When I was nine or ten years old I loved to burn things with a magnifying glass; plastic car models, the long grass in the fields next to our house and insects, I burned a lot of insects, and I didn’t turn out to be a serial killer. Got 4 out of 5.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Steve Thompson: The Stand by Stephen King

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Steve Thompson: Finishing up In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland with Jeff Strand’s Five Novellas on deck.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Steve Thompson: Jackie Collin’s Hollywood Wives. I read this back in the 80’s because it was the only book in the house at the time that I hadn’t already read.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write?

Steve Thompson: Reading Stephen King books is what turned me on to reading and writing.

Meghan: When did you begin writing?

Steve Thompson: About 25 years ago, but mostly it was just farting around, writing short stories for myself and some friends. I only started to take writing seriously about 6 years ago.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Steve Thompson: In my computer room/library.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Steve Thompson: Nope.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Steve Thompson: Everything, but mostly it’s the show don’t tell I struggle with but it is getting better the more I write. Also keeping my focus on one story at a time. Right now, I have 7 short stories that are half done and I keep jumping back and forth between them, writing a line or 2 on one story than a line or 2 on another.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Steve Thompson: That would be my short story “Kill Point Club” from the anthology When the Clock Strikes 13. It was a fun story to write and I had a great time with it. I used the names of some of the other authors in the anthology as characters and then killed them off. Fun Times.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you?

Steve Thompson: The Stand by Stephen King, Animosity and Odd Man Out by James Newman. These are the only books I can remember ever pissing me off to the point I almost threw the books across the room and to make me shed a tear.

Meghan: Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Steve Thompson: Stephen King, James Newman, and Richard Laymon to name a few.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Steve Thompson: Believable characters that grow on you and you care what happens to them, because if you don’t care the story just feels flat and lifeless. If something happens to a character, I want to be able to feel something for them and not just Johnny fell off a bridge and drowned and think who cares I wish they would all fall off a bridge and drown so this story would end.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character?

Steve Thompson: Again, I’ll say believable characters. Characters you can relate to and it doesn’t matter whether you love them or hate them as long as you feel something.

Meghan: How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Steve Thompson: I try to make my characters as real as possible, I use characteristics from people I know or myself and then throw in a few quirks.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Steve Thompson: There’s a little piece of me in all my characters, so there really isn’t just one that is most like me.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover?

Steve Thompson: No, bad covers don’t turn me off. There’s a ton of great books out there with crap covers. It’s what’s inside that counts.

Meghan: To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Steve Thompson: I had pretty much full control on my book covers for better or worse, except for When the Clock Strikes 13. I wanted all the authors involved to be ok with the cover before I finalized it.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Steve Thompson: I learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Steve Thompson: There was a rape and torture scene in my short story “Pearl” that was hard to write and I ended up cutting most of it out because it was too graphic. I still got some flak for it from a few readers telling me they didn’t like what happened to the girl and I would just reply well, you’re not supposed to like it and if you did, I’d think there was something wrong with you.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Steve Thompson: I don’t really know, but all my stories are written in a very simple form that anyone can understand. You definitely don’t need a dictionary beside you to read one. Nothing takes me out of a story faster than not knowing the meaning of some words.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Steve Thompson: The title is very important and can sometimes be hard to choose the right one. I try to make the title reflect what is inside the book.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Steve Thompson: I have never written a novel or novella for that matter; I love short stories. Reading them and writing them.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Steve Thompson: My short story collections are a mix of sci-fi and horror with one collection having a few non-fiction stories in it from periods of my life that have stuck with me. I just hope readers will enjoy the stories. If only one person likes the story, I still call that a win.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Steve Thompson: I tend to ramble on at times and then delete most of it.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Steve Thompson: Body parts. Just kidding. Or am I. Actually, I’m thinking about turning one of my short stories (Johnny Dewitt) into a novella.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Steve Thompson: Right now, I am working on a short story collection and hopefully going forward with a signed limited-edition chapbook with one of my favorite authors.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Steve Thompson: Amazon, Facebook, and In Your face Books.

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Steve Thompson: I would like to thank you for doing this interview with me, my very first one, and thanks to everyone that read it until the end.

Steve Thompson is the author of two short and flash fiction collections. You can check out his 2 latest short stories “Kill Point Club” in the anthology When the Clock Strikes 13 from his In Your Face Publishing that he started in June 2019 and “Malignant” which he co-wrote with Kenneth W. Cain which is in the Shallow Waters 2 flash fiction anthology by Crystal Lake Publishing.

When the Clock Strikes 13

Tick – tock 
Tick – tock 
Tick – tock

Your time is running out. When the clock strikes 13, all manners of hell will break loose.

When the Clock Strikes 13 is a collection of thirteen short horror stories by some of the best horror and dark fiction authors writing today. Inside, you will find stories to frighten, shock and gnaw at your inner fears, and take you places that belong only in the dark recesses of your mind. There are monsters on these pages; some are human, some are not. 

Table of Contents 
Introduction by Joe Mynhardt 
“The Boy in the Pond” by Mark Allan Gunnells 
“Open Waters” by Richard Thomas 
“Memories” by John R. Little 
“Detrition of War” by Kenneth W. Cain 
“Comes the Red Man” by Tom Deady 
“Mommy’s Girl” by Somer Canon 
“Taking Up Carpentry” by Justin M. Woodward 
“Kill Point Club” by Steve Thompson 
“Calm Down Time” by Richard Chizmar 
“Carrion: My Wayward Son” by James Newman 
“Bear” by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason 
“When Arachnids Attack” by Sheri White 
“A Song Above” by Glenn Rolfe 
Afterword by Steve Thompson