Thursday, April 29, 2021

Interview With Writer Kevin Lewis

 Hello again! Spring is here, and time for another interview- this time with writer Kevin Lewis.

He's a graduate of Emerson College. His stories have appeared in publications such as Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Sonar4 Science Fiction and Horror E-zine, Hocus Pocus & Co., and FunDead Publications. 

His novella, The Catcreeper, is available from Unnerving as part of the Rewind or Die book series. Kevin is a member of New England Horror Writers and resides in Massachusetts.

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. Originally,  The Catcreeper was meant to be a short story that ended up turning into a novella. The first draft was about 10000 words. I started it back in seventh grade and it was one of my first horror stories I worked on. I had been reading Stephen King and decided to write a King-esque story.  I worked on this story for about twenty-five years. In the past several years, I started submitting it to small press publishers and was met with rejections. Then, I stumbled upon an open submissions call from Unnerving. They were looking for horror books to be part of the Rewind or Die book series. The editor, Eddie Generous, was looking for horror stories that would remind readers of the horror movie titles they would peruse in the horror movie section of a video rental store in the 80’s and 90’s: crazy, over the top and gory horror films. I thought  The Catcreeper fit what Eddie was looking for, so I did another edit and submitted it. It got accepted.
Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?
A. I didn’t write the first draft based off of an outline, or notes. The story and characters just poured out of my head and onto the page. As the years went on, and I revised the manuscript, I would write notes in a notebook, or I would free-write additional scenes in a notebook and type them on the computer later on.
Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?
A. I think what makes a good book and even an engaging story are characters readers can relate to, and a plot that will interest them. 
Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. I have many writer influences: Stephen King, Paul Tremblay, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Tom Deady, Joe Hill, Brian Keene, Sarah Langan, and Tony Tremblay. They are all phenomenal horror writers and I have learned a great deal by reading their work. What attracts me about their work is how they take ordinary and everyday characters and throw them into these scary and horrific situations. These amazing writers have taught me that caring about certain characters and what happens to them  is truly what makes an effective horror story.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. For me it’s mostly entertainment. I enjoy telling stories, and I love scaring people. What’s fun for me is creating different characters and throwing them into these horrific scenarios and seeing how they fare. Who will survive? Will they defeat the monster or will they fall prey to it? 
Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?
Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A.  I definitely revise a lot, and I probably too much revising. After a while, you just need to say to yourself, “I’ve done all I can.” That’s when I will either hand my story off to a beta reader, editor, or submit it. Ultimately, whenever I submit a story to a publisher, I am always confident that it is the best version of the story. Lately, I have been challenging myself as a writer. I am trying to write more cosmic/Lovecraftian horror because it is such an interesting subgenre of horror. Also, I’d love to dive into non-fiction, particularly true ghost/haunting stories. I enjoy reading them and would love to write one as well.
Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. For my novella  The Catcreeper, Rob Smales and Stacey Longo from S & L Editing edited one of the drafts. They did a phenomenal job editing for grammar, prose style, plot and character issues. Tom Deady beta read a version of the book  and provided very helpful feedback on plot and character issues. 
I worked with Amber Newberry, who edited the anthology, ONE NIGHT IN SALEM, which featured my short story, “A Ghostly Tour.” She and I went back and forth on suggestions for improvement in some of the scenes. For example, she helped me on the logistics of a car crash in the water in Salem, MA. Editors and beta readers can be extremely helpful to a writer in pointing out story issues that a writer might not be able to see.
For my recent publication in the anthology, THE BLACK STONE. STORIES FOR LOVECRAFTIAN SUMMONINGS, I workshopped a version of the story, “Trapped on the Night Shift,” in a creative writing class. I received a lot of helpful suggestions.
I have also had the good fortune of taking writing seminars with Christopher Golden and James A. Moore through their River City Writers group. Those seminars were invaluable, and I received constructive feedback on a young adult horror science fiction novella I’m working on, as well as seminars on contracts and pitching. 
Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. I would say start with short stories. Submit them to magazines and anthologies. That’s a great way for editors and readers to read your work. Also, writing seminars and college/university courses are great ways to hone your craft, especially if they are taught by writers that you admire. Lastly, beta readers can be immensely helpful in terms of advice on your manuscript. They can point out areas of improvement in your story from plot to character issues.

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?
A. I could see  The Catcreeper as a movie, especially a Made-For-TV movie on the SyFy channel. I think it would make a cool creature feature film. A visual medium would alter the telling by—if effectively done—providing the audience and reader of the novella the look of The Catcreeper (the monster in my novella). The audience could put a face to my description.
Q. What's the next step in your writing world?
A. Currently, I am writing a Middle Grade horror novel. I’m also planning on revising a young adult horror/science fiction novella, and a feature film horror screenplay. I enjoy the screenwriting format and would love to work in movies and television. Recently, my short story “Trapped on the Night Shift,” appeared in the cosmic anthology, THE BLACK STONE. STORIES FOR LOVECRAFTIAN SUMMONINGS.” This horror anthology was curated by Raffaele Pezzella, and the book is accompanied by a music CD called THE BLACK STONE. MUSIC FOR LOVECRAFTIAN SUMMONINGS. As a fan of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, it was an honor to be published in this anthology alongside terrific writers such as Ramsey Campbell, Richard Alan Scott, E.A. Black, and Edwin J. Buja.

Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?
A. Thanks for interviewing me, Dale! It’s been fun. For those who read my work …Happy Nightmares!


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