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Interview With Philip Fracassi

CHHR: Please give a brief introduction here.
I’ve been a writer since I was a kid, and began writing seriously about 20 years ago, producing over a hundred short stories and three novels in that time. About five years ago, I became a professional screenwriter, working as a script doctor and a work-for-hire, and writing scripts that were produced by Disney and, most recently, a thriller for Lifetime Network called Girl Missing. A few years ago I decided to try my hand at genre fiction and wrote a horror story called Mother, which ended up being my first published story after years of writing literary fiction. Since that story came out in late 2015, I’ve published over a dozen stories, a collection and several novellas. It’s been a fun ride.

CHHR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Third Grade. I have a very vivid memory of writing my first creative short story, and I fell head-over-heels in love with writing. I’ve never stopped writing and I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I was born with the writer gene deeply imbedded in my DNA.
CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like? 
I work in film & TV production, which means when I’m working I have very little time to write, as production days are typically 12-14 hours, and sometimes 6-day weeks. So I write whenever I can find time and am not exhausted. When I’m on hiatus, my writing schedule is more consistent. I typically write 4 hours in the morning, then I take a break in the late afternoon and early evening, then try to do a 2nd session of 3-4 hours at night. If I’m on deadline, those numbers increase. If not, that’s pretty much my schedule.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?
Not really. I just hammer away at my desk. I do listen to music when I work, but nothing with vocals. Rachmaninoff and soundtracks, mostly. Lately it’s been a lot of the Dunkirk soundtrack, which I love to work to.
CHHR: Do you like writing short stories or novels?
If I could make a living writing short stories, I’d probably do little else. My favorite format is novella-length stories – it allows for world-building and character development while still telling a streamlined story. Novels can often have a lot of filler and many would be better experiences for the reader as a novella (i.e. Cujo). That said, if you want to make a living writing fiction, you gotta write novels. So that’s what I’ll be primarily focusing on moving forward. That and my screenplays, which I still write (and tend to pay better than novels).
CHHR: How is the horror scene where you live?
Pretty absent, sadly. I live in Los Angeles and all the action seems to take place on the east coast. I might have to move.

CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
It depends on the project, but overall I have a structure for any story I write. If it’s a screenplay, the outline is very precise and intensive, involving spreadsheets and scene summaries. Ditto for a novel. If it’s a short story or a novella the outline is pretty much just in my head, but I do set a course before launching from the dock. I like to know where I’m going.
CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?
I don’t think having a book published change much, if anything, for my process. Maybe I pay a bit more attention to word count now, having a better understanding of the markets different length stories can be sold to. But the artistic process is the same.

CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story? 
For me personally, I think what makes a story jump from good to great is that it creates an emotional response for the reader. I like my stories to be sticky, and take my time setting things up and establishing characters, so that when things go south, the reader is more invested in the action, or horror, of what’s happening to the people in the story. In addition, I think a story has to be well-written, but also have a plot that folks can follow and invest in. A lot of horror tends to be one or the other, I prefer to try and have my stories do both. Whether I accomplish that or not is up to the readers.
CHHR: What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a few screen projects right now, all of which are in some stage of development. I’m also starting work on adapting one of my own stories for the screen. On the fiction side, I’m working on a novel currently. That’ll likely be my workload for the rest of 2018 – I don’t see myself writing any short fiction for a while. These bigger projects are the priority for now.

CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?
I just finished The Outsider by King – it was awesome, btw. I’m currently reading Laird Barron’s new crime novel, Blood Standard. On deck – at least for now – is Robert McCammon’s The Listener, Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling and Kealan Patrick Burke’s KIN. I’ll likely sneak another Laymon in there, and possibly a Bentley Little. Oh, and the new Paul Tremblay (A Cabin at the End of the World) comes out soon, so that’ll be up as soon as I can get my hands on it.

CHHR: What is the last book that scared you?
The Stake by Robert Laymon. What a wonderful book. I highly recommend it.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror book?
IT, by Stephen King.
CHHR: What is your favorite horror film?
The Thing, duh.
CHHR: What type of music do you listen to? What’s your favorite album?
I listen to a wide swath of stuff. Jazz, Classical, Rock, Pop. I dig Radiohead. I’m a middle-aged white guy, no shockers here.
CHHR: What is your spirit animal?
I have no idea. Bear? Coyote? Duck?
CHHR: What is your favorite beer?
Right now, 805. Flavorful but light. Highly recommend.
CHHR: If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?
Uncle Steve, of course.

AUTHOR BIO:
Philip Fracassi, an award-winning author and screenwriter, lives in Los Angeles. He is the author of the novellas FRAGILE DREAMS, SACCULINA, and SHILOH. His debut collection of short horror fiction, BEHOLD THE VOID, was named “Short Story Collection of the Year” by This Is Horror UK, and is available in print, ebook and audio.
His stories have been printed in numerous magazines and anthologies, including BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR, Cemetery Dance and Dark Discoveries
You can visit his website at http://pfracassi.com to join his newsletter or to find more information on his books and movies.
Find him via social media on Facebook, Instagram (pfracassi) and Twitter (@philipfracassi).
Facebook: Philip Fracassi
Twitter: @philipfracassi
Instagram: pfracassi
Author website: pfracassi.com

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