Interview With Kevin Holton



Kevin Holton
Member of the ISA and HWA
CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

KH: Oh, wow, I must’ve been… Eight? Nine? I was reading a Stephen King book in the back of my Dad’s car. That much is for sure. I started actually writing five years later, and sought publication five years after that. Been going at it ever since.

CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like? 

KH: 2k every day, minimum, usually first thing in the morning, unless I’m doing poetry. So, the King routine. Free time throughout my day gets dedicated to extra projects (i.e. screenplays) or editing. Routine keeps my brain on track.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, what are they?

KH: I shut my eyes. My ergonomic keyboard keeps my fingers from hitting the wrong keys, so all I have to do is tell the page what’s going on in my head, no extra sensory input to distract. Since this is right after I wake up, it’s very immersive and hypnogogic. The only time I use music is for sci-fi stuff, and even then, I use ambient soundscapes like Solar Fields—nothing with lyrics. Lastly, I infuse almost everything with puns. I just finished a novella titled Crimson, Inc., about a company that makes books from flesh and blood. As in, crimson ink.

CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?

KH: Both! Depends on the concept, really. Crimson, Inc., started as a short story until I realized there was no way I could contain it to a few thousand words. On the other hand, I’ve written pieces that absolutely couldn’t have included another hundred without dragging down the plot and pacing.

CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?

KH: I live in a coastal New Jersey town, just a little too far to commute easily to NYC, so a lot of the scene around here is made of professors, beat era writers, and slam poets. I could complain that it leaves me without community, but then again, I get to occupy a nice little niche.

CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?

KH: Once in a while, I’ll use an outline, but I usually just go with the flow. You probably guessed that I’d say that based on the whole “I write with my eyes shut” thing. However, I do outline if I hit a block, or reverse outline when editing to make sure everything makes sense.

CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?

KH: My first short story, “Heartbreaker,” was a huge validation, but I realized the importance of research. I’d sent a few things around to random markets before that, but this time, I really focused in on what people wanted, so I penned the aforementioned piece for Siren’s Call Publications, not long after the company was founded. My first novel contract, fittingly offered by the same company, was for The Nightmare King, and that marked a dream come true. I wrote another novel, At the Hands of Madness, in about a month, and had that picked up by Severed Press shortly thereafter. Those two, and These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream (HellBound Books) should all be out this year.

CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?
KH: Empathy. You have to care about the characters, even if you hate them. Even if you want them to die, there has to be some element where you understand what’s happening—even for the Big Bad. Great stories have antagonists you care about, and protagonists you have to learn to forgive. No one’s ever pure good or pure evil, and a good story says, “Here’s are the worst people you’ll ever meet. You’re going to love them anyway, and sometimes, you’ll hate the heroes.” I try to make sure there’s a reason to both love and hate all of my characters.

CHHR: What are you currently working on?

KH: Well, I’m revising Crimson, Inc., and finishing a book of poems, Mechanize Me, which examine a post-organic future where humankind has replaced flesh with cybernetics, android, and synthetic bodies. I’m also waiting to hear back on a few things, so until the queue dies down, short stories. I’ll also be drafting a screenplay for These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream. Beyond that, I’m sure something will come to me soon.

CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?

KH: Good thing I have it next to me. Sarah Killian by Mark Sheldon, Experimental Film by Gemma Files, Sheet Music to my Acoustic Nightmare and Brothel by Stephanie M. Wytovich, and Writing Movies for Fun and Profit by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon. Also, the DMC tie-in comics, because I <3 my inner nerd.

CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?

KH: Honestly, writing These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream really freaked me out at times. Aside from my own stuff, though… Poetry: The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water, by Cameron Barnett (it’s not horror, though); Non-fiction: Abandon Me, by Melissa Febos (also not horror); and for fiction, I’ll skip some of the obvious, easy, Bram Stoker winning answers like Bird Box and say Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach. Really creeping, realistic tension there.

CHHR: What is your spirit animal?

KH: The Spider. Creative, artistic, able to plan well for long-term rewards, chill if left alone. Also, much like my arachnid friends, I spend a lot of time on the web.

CHHR: What is your favorite beer?

KH: Ah, you got me! I don’t drink. Not for lack of trying. I have diabetes and celiac disease, so I can’t drink most alcohol, and when I do, it’s a little… let’s say unpredictable. It’s easier if I avoid the act, even though I occasionally feel like I’m a traitor to the swarthy boozehound writers who came before me.

CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?

KH: Well, I know Stephen King doesn’t drink anymore, or at least I’m reasonably sure of it, so that’d actually work out well. Neither of us would want a beer. Dean Koontz would be another pick. From the newer writer crowd, maybe Tiffany Scandal, Christofer Nigro, or Stephanie Wytovich. I’ve spoken with all three of them, in various degrees and for various reasons, so meeting up with them would be far more likely—as long as any of the above are cool with, say, tea, instead of beer. That being said, if I had a chance to grab a glass of Lagavulin with Nick Offerman, I’d definitely say yes. I’ve watched Parks and Rec way too many times not to go for a drink with the inimitable Ron Swanson.

Author Bio:

Kevin Holton is a cyborg and coffee addict living in coastal New Jersey, usually found writing sci-fi and horror.

His upcoming novels, The Nightmare King (Siren’s Call Publications); At the Hands of Madness (Severed Press); and These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream (HellBound Books) are all aimed for a 2018 release. He also cowrote the short film Human Report 85616 alongside Kevin North Ruiz.

When not reading and writing, he can be found talking about Batman, narrating audiobooks, or recharging in a dark room somewhere.

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