When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
As a lifelong reader, I always fantasized about how very cool it would be to have a book sitting on a bookstore shelf with my name on the spine. But that distinction was set aside for an elite group of people. Once I realized that you didn’t have to be a hot shot writer living in NYC to get published, I started to take my writing more seriously and working toward that dream. I was encouraged by coming across authors I knew had come from Podunk towns in middle America who were signing book contracts with real publishers.
What does your writing schedule look like?
I’ve found I write best in the morning. Lately, I’ve been getting up at 5 a.m., grabbing some coffee and writing for about an hour before work every day. I get more done with a bonafide routine than simply trying to squeeze in an hour here or there. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, you can find me at the local coffee shop.
Do you have any interesting writing rituals? If so, what are they?
Not sure how interesting it is, but I like to listen to music while I write. Specifically, film scores. Nothing with lyrics that might entice me to sing along and lose focus on the writing. Otherwise, I write mostly on my laptop, so I don’t have that lucky pen or notebook or coffee mug that I need to use every time. I’m pretty boring.
Do you like writing short stories or novels?
I like both. Short stories can be fun and great exercise, but are limiting. You have to focus on the key points and leave out all of the fluff. Novel writing allows me to stretch my legs a little, add a little more detail. The problem is that it takes me forever to write a novel, whereas I can produce a short story in a week or so.
How is the horror scene where you live?
It’s actually pretty good. There are several very talented and successful horror writers here in Central Ohio. We’ve even established an Ohio Chapter of the Horror Writers Association recently. I’m looking forward to meeting even more like-minds and seeing what kind of trouble we can stir up.
Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
For short stories, I wing it. For novels, I will chart out the story to a point, but nothing is set in stone. Things change all the time and sometimes entire chapters I thought needed written go out the window.
How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?
My first book, a novella titled Shadows Remain, gave me a taste of being published that I needed more of. Sharing my story with the world, while terrifying, became a drug. Writing went from something I did a little of here and there when I had time, to a focused priority in my life. I told myself (and my family) that if I was going to do this at all, I didn’t want to just be that guy that wrote a book one time. I wanted to be a full-fledged author of books. Thankfully, everyone has been nothing but supportive.
What do you think makes a good horror story?
I think for me, it’s all about the fear and tension. Horror gets my heart racing, and that’s one of the things I like about it. If I can’t turn the pages fast enough, it’s probably a good story. The storyline doesn’t have to stay with me for weeks afterward, or alter my view of the world like other genres might. A good horror story simply has to have me by the throat at the time of reading. If the story does that, I’m satisfied.
What are you currently working on?
The novel I’m currently working on revolves around a 1940s era movie theater that has recently changed hands. The original owner lost the theater due to financial reasons, and distraught, set himself on fire on the theater’s steps. Let’s just say that things don’t go well for the new owner and the paranormal experts he eventually calls in. The Chamberlain Theater, after all, holds more than its share of secrets.
What is in your TBR pile?
There is so much great horror coming out right now, that my TBR pile is more of a leaning tower. I’m having trouble keeping up. By the time I read one, two more have come out. But, I’m seriously enjoying the work of so many great contemporary horror authors right now. Everyone seems to be hitting their stride at once. It’s an incredible time to be a horror fan.
What is the last book that scared you?
I would have to say it was The Girl Next Doorby Jack Ketchum. The barbarity that takes place within those pages is not only horrifying, but you just know things like that happen in the deep and dark corners of our society where civility’s light doesn’t reach. There are very real monsters in this world, and that book reminded me that they could be living, literally and figuratively, right next door.
What is your spirit animal?
My spirit animal is a dog. I’m independent, loyal and like to do for others. It’s a curse sometimes.
What is your favorite beer?
I’m not very adventurous when it comes to the craft beer craze. Occasionally, if I’m in a bar or restaurant, I’ll try something new. When I’m at the grocery and picking something up, I tend to stay close to the tried and true beers that I know I like. Heavier Oktoberfest-style in the fall and winter, island style lagers when the weather is warm. I’m all about Mexican and Caribbean beers. Modelo, Dos Eques, Red Stripe, the various Kona offerings.
If you could have a beer with one author, who would it be?
Interesting question. Since I’ve started writing books and attending cons, I’ve had beers with authors I never would have imagined I’d meet, much less have a drink with. But one I would love to have a beer with would be John Saul. He’s the author that first hooked me on horror, and is such an underrated talent. He never makes the ‘who influenced you’ lists, and that’s a shame.
Tim McWhorter was born under a waning crescent moon, and while he has no idea what the significance is, he thinks it sounds really cool to say. A graduate of Otterbein College with a BA in Creative Writing, he is the author of the novella SHADOWS REMAIN, the suspense-thrillers, BONE WHITE, and its sequel, BLACKENED, and a collection of short stories titled SWALLOWING THE WORM. Described as “an intelligent thrill ride that presents itself as a love letter to slasher stories,” BONE WHITE came in at #11 on HorrorUnderground’s Top Books of 2015.
He lives the suburban life just outside of Columbus, OH, with his wife, a handful of children and a few obligatory ‘family’ pets that have somehow become solely his responsibility. He is currently hard at work on another thriller with just enough horror to keep you up at night. He is available for conversation through Twitter (@Tim_McWhorter), Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Tim-Mcwhorter-…) or his website (www.timmcwhorter.com).