Interview With Author Robert Herold

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

I’m Robert Herold, author of two award-winning supernatural horror novels in The Eidola Project series. The first is cleverly titled, The Eidola Project. It’s about a team of paranormal researchers in 1885 who become ensnared in a deadly investigation of a haunted house. Book two has the team going to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of grisly attacks on a Black community rumored to be caused by a werewolf. It’s titled, Moonlight Becomes You. I am currently finishing book three in the series, set on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. It involves a deadly shape-shifting demon and is titled Totem of Terror.

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

The Eidola Project is headed by William James, the father of psychology in the U.S., who was an avid investigator of the supernatural. He ran afoul of the American director of the Society for Psychical Research, and I imagined him starting a splinter organization that gets caught-up in all sorts of investigations of things that go bump in the night—or worse!

My books also show the characters confronting the real monsters of the day — racism, sexism, substance abuse and bigotry (things we still struggle with today). The books are set in the late 19th Century and are researched in depth to provide verisimilitude for the supernatural events.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

The supernatural has always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved-in. (Well, not literally!).

My interest in writing goes back to a junior high English teacher who loved my work and let me read my latest stories and poems to the class. (You educators out there, know that you can and do make a difference!)

As a young adult, I got several plays published for the school-aged market, and got some interest in my novels and short stories, but frankly I wasn’t ready for the hard work and discipline that must accompany the creative aspects of writing. Also, continuing to be frank, I lacked the self-confidence and resolve to face repeated rejection as a beginning writer.

# How do you deal with creative block?

I imagine the worst things that can happen to my characters and then have them deal with these. It always works!

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

Being boring is a cardinal sin. Another transgression involves not editing one’s book thoroughly. Too many books (especially self-published books) are riddled with grammatical errors. Plot-wise, put your characters in terrible danger, but then find ways for them to overcome these situations, leading to a satisfying conclusion. Do not have the character wake up and discover it was all a dream. (The Wizard of Oz was the last time that worked.)

# How has your creation process improved over time?

Learning to be meticulous in editing was something I had to learn. You work a long time creating a piece (especially a novel) and part of you wants to hurry and show it to the world. ‘Don’t. Slow down and polish your work until it shines. Don’t rely exclusively on an editor or on software. They make mistakes. Your work is going to have a life of its own. You want to give it every chance possible of achieving success and longevity. Make it the very best you are capable of achieving at this point in your writing career.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

It needs to be both. One’s writing should be personally rewarding. You are going to be spend a chunk of your life working on it. I understand the need to put food on the table and a roof over one’s head. Few writers make their living exclusively by writing. Given this, save your passion for your writing. Get by with something else.

Ultimately, we need to recognize that writing is communication, so being able to connect with an audience is important. Serve your readers by writing engaging work that feeds your passion and theirs. It should be a win/win.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

Growing up we all had dreams and ambitions. Me, I wanted to be a werewolf. In winter, fresh snow provided the opportunity to walk out onto neighbor’s lawns halfway and make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn! (They were skeptical.) My favorite movie and model kit was, you guessed it, “The Wolfman.”

Given my love affair with the paranormal, haunted houses and I go way back. I used to set up a haunted house display in my parent’s garage and enlist my brothers and friends to play the roles of various monsters as I, as a mad scientist, led other neighborhood kids through the chamber of horrors. The tour would end with me dissecting a monster in a seriocomic way, removing all manner of things from its abdomen (such as a pop bottle, an old shoe, and a dirty sock). At the conclusion, the creature’s arm would swing out at the other kids, courtesy of a little fishing line, and send the frightened kids running from the haunted garage.

After college, I took a job in a nursing home as I dipped my claws, er, toes, into the writing life. At the nursing home, I reprised my earlier passion for haunted houses and got other members of the staff and the management to buy into the idea of putting on a haunted house for the patients. People were encouraged to retrieve a treat from the bottom of a bowl of intestines (OK, it was pasta). There were opportunities for (geriatric) boys to meet ghouls, and gals to hang out with all sorts of unsavory monsters. The conclusion, once again, was me as a mad scientist werewolf (of course!) who would operate on a monster and once again pull out various things from its abdomen (this time it included a bedpan – I’m such a wit).

Since I was an adult, I also jazzed-up the childhood shtick with beakers of dry ice and colored liquid bubbling away behind me on repurposed bookshelves. The pièce de résistance was me (as the ersatz wolfman/mad scientist) throwing the breaker switch (OK, it was a sponge mop handle) and causing the creature’s eyes to light up. At this point, the creature’s arm would swing out, as before (remember the fishing line trick?) and grab one of the patients. As I look back on my cavalier sensibilities, I realized I was damn lucky I didn’t cause a heart attack.

When my older son was in kindergarten and first grade I resurrected the haunted house motif, this time for my son’s birthday parties. I used all the same ideas to great success, perhaps too great. After causing one little girl to pee her pants, I realized I had ridden this horror express perhaps a little too far. My forays into this live on only in the nightmares of former kids, now adults.

The haunted house that left the biggest impression on me was as a high school student when I participated in a spooktacular haunted house that was put on by a local rock music station. I helped with the construction, mostly as a gofer, and got to be a werewolf (oh, the joy) once the place opened. This haunted house was not for kids and had many a frightful room as we repurposed an old home before it was to be torn down. I, as the wolfman, was in a room with Dr. Frankenstein and the monster, and we’d all jump at folks and delight in their screams. Then, toward the end of the evening, in a moment of werewolf abandon, I decided to jump up onto the wall and grab the bars on a window. Much to my chagrin, and pain, the iron bars were wooden dowels that broke off and I crashed down onto my werewolf tailbone. I howled in pain. People loved it! However, I was too embarrassed to admit my pain and mistake, so I limped the three miles home that night instead of begging a ride from someone with wheels. My lesson: One must suffer for one’s art!

To provide a stable income for my pack, er, family, I became a jr. high/middle school history teacher for many years. Along the way, I joined various rock bands and played saxophone and flute. Nagging me this whole time was the siren’s call to write. You could say I was haunted.

Finally, I started writing television pilots. These did well in contests, but went no further. A television guru/mentor, Larry Brody, suggested I turn one into a novel. Thus, The Eidola Project was born. I was hooked and I’m having a blast writing novels.

I hope you’ll join me in following the Eidola Project team on their paranormal adventures!



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