Meghan: Hi, Austin. It’s been awhile since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?
Austin Crawley: A whole lot of real life, but I’ve been writing. I’ve got a Halloween story wrapping up now and a couple of series coming together in bits and pieces as well as another stand alone book.
Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?
Austin Crawley: Picture Ritchie Valens if he had lived to his late 30s and was into writing instead of guitar. That’s pretty much me.
Meghan: How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?
Austin Crawley: My relatives don’t read my work. I use a pen name so most of them don’t even know I write Horror novels.
Meghan: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
Austin Crawley: Definitely a gift. Creating imaginary worlds brings more euphoria than any form of intoxicant. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Meghan: How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?
Austin Crawley: I grew up in a low income area of East Los Angeles where everyone is Catholic, but later went to college at UCLA, so I’m very aware of cultural divides. This came out a little in my first book, A Christmas Tale, which is about three middle class white college girls who do a séance without thinking out the implications of what could happen. One of them does some volunteer work to help the less fortunate.
In my second book, Letters to the Damned, the contrast between a guy from California and people in a small English village makes for a different kind of contrast. I’ve traveled in England so the village, though fictional, is based on a typical northern England village model.
There’s a lot of superstition in Latino Catholicism and that makes good source material for Horror novels. There’s a lot of symbolism couched in my stories, like the white raven who shows up in most of my books.
Meghan: What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?
Austin Crawley: A Catholic exorcism rite for my most recent story, A Halloween Tale. Also some information about New Orleans voodoo to get the description of a Ghede right.
Meghan: Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?
Austin Crawley: Making sure I enough middle has so far been most challenging. I go for fast action and so far my books have been novella length as a result. I have a plan to flesh out the stories I have planned for the series to come.
Meghan: Do you outline? Do you start with characters or plot? Do you just sit down and start writing? What works best for you?
Austin Crawley: I think of a concept and start taking notes. At some point the start of the story will start running through my head and I just go with it. A sort of outline forms along the way.
Meghan: What do you do when characters don’t follow the outline/plan?
Austin Crawley: Characters are independent creatures. I don’t over plan them but let them show me their story.
Meghan: What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?
Austin Crawley: There’s a lot of self-discipline involved in writing. The most prolific writers I know choose a time of day that works for them and make an effort to sit and write at that time every day. I’m working on that. Real life gets in the way a lot. As far as motivation goes, the stories constantly going through my head are my main motivators. They want out! They want to be read by enthusiastic readers! It’s my task in life to bring them across to this plane of existence.
Meghan: Are you an avid reader?
Austin Crawley: Oh definitely! I read every moment I get free. Not just my own genre but a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction.
Meghan: What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?
Austin Crawley: I go through phases of Horror, Fantasy, Historical, Dystopian, and even Steampunk when I can find some written for grown-ups. I keep an open mind. Anything well-written is a possibility.
Meghan: How do you feel about movies based on books?
Austin Crawley: It depends on how well they’re done. A lot of books I enjoy and don’t want to see a film version because that’s going to be a different story. Others translate better in video media, like Game of Thrones. I really enjoyed those books but the television series was so rich with costumes and top quality CGI that my imagination struggles to keep up.
Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?
Austin Crawley: I write Horror and Dystopian novels. Yes.
Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?
Austin Crawley: Not suffer so much as giving them challenges to overcome. There’s no guarantee of a happy ending in my genres so they might suffer if they fail, but the struggle is what makes the story interesting.
Meghan: What’s the weirdest character concept that you’ve ever come up with?
Austin Crawley: smiles The little boy in The Locked Door. That started as a short story and you can still read it online, but it was the kid and his uncanny ability to get into secret places not of this world that made me decide to flesh him out into a novel. It’s in progress now.
Meghan: What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received? What’s the worst?
Austin Crawley: The best was responses to that story telling me I should expand it into a book. The worst, someone didn’t get why a Mexican protagonist would find fried tomatoes and baked beans in an English style breakfast would seem out of place when Mexicans eat refried beans and salsa. That told me I needed to explain the differences in more detail.
Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?
Austin Crawley: Every writer likes to know that someone enjoys their stories. I would always write even if no one read it, but finding followers on my blog and Goodreads as well as Amazon gives me a warm feeling and inspires me to strive to constantly improve my storytelling skills.
Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?
Austin Crawley: This one took some thought. I’m big on respecting the boundaries between my imaginary worlds and those of others, but if there’s one character I wish I had written, it would have to be Terry Pratchett‘s version of Death. The concept of looking at things from Death’s point of view isn’t entirely new, but he made him a sympathetic character, along with Death of Rats.
Meghan: If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?
Austin Crawley: That would be a real challenge. An author leaves their own mark on a series and trying to fill the next slot would be like doing a cosplay of that author, or else derailing the feeling of continuity for the series.
If I had to choose one, Roger Zelazny‘s Amber series has a lot of room for expanding imagination. It already has prequels written by a different author, written well I might add, but adding something to that world could be an interesting challenge for the imagination.
Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?
Austin Crawley: I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman. His collaboration with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens is one of my favorite books of all time, so I think if we were paired up it would have to be some kind of Dark Fantasy with very imaginative supernatural overtones.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Austin Crawley: I have two series formulating simultaneously. The Locked Door will be finished first, but I anticipate four books in each of the series. Whether I alternate between them or finish one before going on to the other is yet to be seen.
Meghan: Where can we find you?
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?
Austin Crawley: Reading expands the mind, it’s all good. Just be prepared to explore some dark corners if you read my books. I like books that make people think.
Austin Crawley writes Horror and Dystopian fiction with a supernatural twist. His lifelong love of ghost stories and interest in comparative religions has led him to seek the darker corners of human existence and to exploit them in prose, touching on our deepest fears. he has been known to spend his vacations visiting places that are reported to be haunted.
Crawley is the author of A Christmas Tale, a story about three young women who perform a seance to raise the fictional ghosts of Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol with surprising results, and of Letters to the Damned, about a post box in a small English village that reportedly transmits written requests for favours to the dead and damned. His most recent release is A Halloween Tale, which came out last month, a haunted house tale filled with horrific, inter-dimensional terror.