Interview With Author Eric J. Guignard

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Here is my standard 3rd person bio to kick things off:

Eric J. Guignard is a writer and editor of dark and speculative fiction, operating from the shadowy outskirts of Los Angeles, where he also runs the small press Dark Moon Books. He’s twice won the Bram Stoker Award (the highest literary award of horror fiction), been a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award, and is a multi-nominee of the Pushcart Prize.

He has over 100 stories and non-fiction author credits appearing in publications around the world; has edited multiple anthologies (including the current series, The Horror Writers Association’s Haunted Library of Horror Classics with co-editor Leslie S. Klinger); and has created an ongoing series of author primers championing modern masters of the dark and macabre, Exploring Dark Short Fiction through his press.

His latest books are Last Case at a Baggage Auction; Doorways to the Deadeye; and short story collection That Which Grows Wild: 16 Tales of Dark Fiction (Cemetery Dance).

Outside the glamorous and jet-setting world of indie fiction, Eric’s a technical writer and college professor, and he stumbles home each day to a wife, children, dogs, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles.

Visit Eric at: www.ericjguignard.com, his blog: ericjguignard.blogspot.com, or Twitter: @ericjguignard.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

Sometimes I write stories for a given market, and sometimes I write stories for “me” (i.e. whatever I feel like at the given moment). For example, a novella I wrote recently was “for me,” exploring relationships and impacts, emotions, fears, and also digging into new themes as well as ones I often include in my other writings: Death and how we handle it; the fluidity of memories; explorations of uncharted territory; loss of loved ones; unexpected ways to emerge victorious from dark situations… Additionally, I admit my creative process just goes all over the place! I take on roles (and look at projects from the multiple eyes) of Editor, Marketer, Distributor, Publisher, Author, etc., which I feel makes me a better “creative” overall.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I think all creators are inspired by those who came before, by works they encountered that vitalized them with passion. So, first, I grew up on Stephen King. He was my introduction into horror novels and contemporary author collections, and he immensely influenced my early horror tastes. I first discovered his work in fifth grade, because my father and my grandmother read Stephen King and Dean Koontz paperbacks, and passed them down to me, dog-eared and crumpled. I earnestly read everything he wrote for about fifteen years afterward, through my mid-twenties.

Tastes change though, and as much as I loved him and Dean Koontz and Anne Rice in those formative years, I find I enjoy different “styles” of stories now, more of “quieter” horror or dark fantasy, thrillers, books that take challenges, such as Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, and Joe R. Lansdale. Some authors I currently adore and consider influences and inspirations include Cormac McCarthy, George Orwell, Stephen Graham Jones, Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Morton, Kaaron Warren, Dennis Lehane, Seanan McGuire, Lauren Beukes, Jack Kerouac, Mark Bowden, O. Henry, James Ellroy, Steve Rasnic Tem, Helen Marshall, John Steinbeck, Weston Ochse, and many, many others.

Besides authors, the Twilight Zone television show has always been a big influence from my childhood. Part of the series is horror, but much of it is just speculative and imaginative. I was a comic reader too, which also influenced much of my formulative years. I wasn’t really into the Super Hero comics, but I could never read enough of the “Anti-Hero,” the truly flawed protagonists like Swamp Thing, Jonah Hex, Punisher, Rom, etc. (all loners, too, now that I think about it!)

# How do you deal with creative block?

Sometimes I have to step away from my desk and meditate or focus on an issue. If that doesn’t work, I sleep on it and try again the next day! Reading lots of different books, genres, and styles of writing also helps to keep my thoughts invigorated.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

To stop working on it, or to not be true to yourself and write how you think someone else wants you to write.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

Remember the old axiom: You can’t please everybody. Also, negative feedback can often be helpful, bringing to light valid concerns. Otherwise, if it’s just spiteful or not applicable, you have to ignore it. Don’t let it affect you.

# When did you first decide to become a writer?

I’ve been writing fiction with the goal of publication since February, 2011. However, I’ve been writing and drawing stories ever since I was a child. I’d just done it previously for my own interest, or for friends. I stopped in college, in order to pursue business and serious-minded life necessities… which, of course, I now regret. I don’t regret the pursuit of those other things, but I regret having given up writing for so many years. I never went to school for writing, and I only jumped into as a potential career-type desire after the realization struck me that I was missing out on something I’d been passionate about, and had been stuck in these other job cycles about things that gave me no enjoyment or enthusiasm!

# What’s your favorite thing to write?

My main profession is as a Technical Writer, and I used to work in advertising and wrote campaign copy at that time. I’ve written for marketing, and academia, and also non-fiction of various subjects. Persuasive writing, content writing, descriptive writing, ghost writing, you name it. And each of these types of writing has different styles and nuances. But my favorite thing to write? Dark fiction short stories, of course!! Totally, totally, totally!!

# How do you approach writing your characters?

I don’t have any formula for writing a character, but rather it’s more of a litmus test. If I start to write someone, and they feel “flat” or without purpose, I dispose of them and start over. I usually think of people in terms of flaws (myself included), and that carries over to characters. Everyone has emotional issues, disappointments, fears, curious or morbid ways, and that often drives what I write in the realms of dark and weird fiction.

# How do you develop your story settings, and do you “write what you know” or try to imagine different places?

I always try to imagine different places, and enjoy researching different settings, even if they’re commonplace locales—reading what other people have written of geographic areas helps me imagine them in different ways. I don’t think I’ve ever written two stories in the same place… It hasn’t been a conscious decision either, so considering that, I guess it’s just part of the creative process in that I want to “learn” about new ideas and places. I’m constantly surfing news and social media for interesting items that I store away in a Notes document.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

My creative process feels pretty fragmented… I let it lead me where it wants to go a lot of times. When I try to reel it in, I start to feel stifled… but that also leads to a lot of wanderlust in projects, and I find myself stretched thin between editing and publishing books, promotions, and multiple writing projects, not to mention day jobs and family and all other life obligations. I do try to work on my creative projects at least an hour each day, and as time allows up to twelve or fifteen hours in a day.

# What are your plans for future books?

Through my press, Dark Moon Books, I’m publishing a series of author primers created to champion modern masters of the dark and macabre, titled: Exploring Dark Short Fiction (Vol. 1: Steve Rasnic Tem; Vol. II: Kaaron Warren; Vol. III: Nisi Shawl; Vol. IV: Jeffrey Ford; Vol. V: Han Song; Vol. VI: Ramsey Campbell, etc.).

And through SourceBooks I’m curating a new series of books titled, The Horror Writers Association Presents: Haunted Library of Horror Classics, reissuing classic novels with new introductions and other ancillary material.

I’m also still writing short stories, averaging about one new publication a month. And I’ve started FOUR new novels, although I’m not very far into any of them! One is a pulp science fiction, one a paranormal detective series, one a literary historical horror, and one a cosmic slipstream time-travel.

I’m editing and publishing the anthology series, +HORROR LIBRARY+, which promotes unthemed horror short stories. Open call submissions will be opening soon for Volume 7!

Lastly, I’m editing a new anthology about haunted buildings around the world, which I’m co-editing with Professor Charlatan Bardot (submissions open November 15–December 15, 2020), titled: Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World (2021 edition)

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

By day job, I’m a technical writer and college professor, and before that I worked in mortgage banking. I’m married, with a young son and daughter. Plus I have dogs, a desert tortoise, and a terrarium filled with mischievous beetles. I’ve travelled quite a bit, but I’ve lived in the same 25-mile radius in Southern California my entire life. I can jump rope all day long. I founded a hackysack club, that’s long gone under. My wife and I grew up together. She and I are both the first people in our respective families to go to college (her family immigrated from Mexico in the 1970s, and mine immigrated from Switzerland in the 1910s.). I feel more comfortable in a dive bar than a fancy club. I like to spend time with my children. I coach AYSO Soccer and Little League baseball (when not in times of COVID quarantine), and I’m Assistant Scoutmaster of my son’s Boy Scouts Troop. I enjoy hiking, and I study entomology (insects) and genealogy (family history); I woodwork in my garage; model miniatures; and read, read, read!