Q1. Eric, it’s wonderful to have you with us for this Q&A. Please tell us about your humble beginnings as an author.
A. Thank you so much for your time, and it’s wonderful to chat with you!
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!
Anyway, I do realize I probably should have a more formal approach to writing, but because I do it for the passion, I mostly just write what I feel like, when I feel like it, much in terms of being a “Pantser,” i.e. writing as I go, although if the story becomes complicated or I get burned out, or stuck, then I turn to plotting or outlining to figure the proper direction.
Q2. Could you elaborate more on your vast experience as an editor/anthologist?
A. I started editing because I wanted to improve as a writer, and it’s helped immensely. I recommend it to anyone wishing to improve their writing. By reading submission slush I saw what everyone else was writing about, the same tropes and styles, and immediately knew to write something different and unexpected. By an aggregate of stories, I would find flaws in writing that I would then recognize in myself. And I learned it’s true that you can accurately judge a story based on the opening paragraph, and in most cases the opening sentence. From editing, I gained experience in story development, author communications, layout, promotions and so on. I now look at projects from the multiple eyes of “Editor,” “Marketer,” “Distributor,” “Publisher,” and it’s made me a better person.
I find editing is easier for me than writing, although writing brings more satisfaction. Writing is emotionally exhausting, whereas editing I can do all day long. And I’m always thrilled with the chance to connect and work with other writers while editing. But I love so much to type “The End” at the end of a writing piece—it’s a wonderful, fulfilling sense. Both are different journeys to a creative destination.
As an aside, my day job is working as a Technical Writer, which can get dull at times, but it’s also definitely improved my fiction writing, by articulating stories in concise language, with focus on impact, brevity, and an understanding of audiences.
Q3. Which writers have influenced your storytelling the most?
A. 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, and began to 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.
Q4. Any advice for aspiring authors/editors/anthologists?
A. Be confident to fail. Read broadly. Experiment. What I tell others, and what I repeat to myself like a mantra, is simply: “Keep writing, and remember that every rejection is an opportunity for improvement!”
Q5. What are your favorite pastimes?
A. Besides fiction writing, and besides “day jobs,” 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. Also I enjoy hiking and I study entomology (insects) and genealogy (family history); I woodwork in my garage; model miniatures; and read, read, read!
Q6. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
A. Through my press, Dark Moon Books, I’m continuing to publish 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).
Volume VI for Ramsey Campbell should be hitting bookstores in early summer and includes brand-new work!
And through SourceBooks I’m co-curating (along with Leslie S. Klinger) 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, and I’ve started THREE new novels, although I’m not very far into any of them! One is a pulp science fiction, one a paranormal detective series, and one a literary historical horror.
I recently acquired the horror anthology series +HAUNTED LIBRARY+, and will be reissuing new editions of the former volumes as well as opening up submissions soon for future volumes.
Lastly, I’m editing a new anthology about haunted buildings around the world, which I’m co-editing with Professor Charlatan Bardot, titled: Professor Charlatan Bardot’s Travel Anthology to the Most (Fictional) Haunted Buildings in the Weird, Wild World (2021 edition).
Eric J. Guignard: