Trick-or-Treat Thrillers is very proud to present our interview with Gregg Zimmerman, the author of the novel Verdure.
Verdure is a unique gem in the horror genre. While many horror stories I might compare to a serial killer smashing through someone’s front door with an axe, this book I would compare to a stroll at midnight on a forest path…just as you hear a foot step in the shadows behind you.
This novel is extremely well written and thought out. The author expertly created complex characters and a haunting mood that builds into a spine-chilling situation.
I was completely absorbed in this book and actually felt sad when it ended.
1) What gave you the idea for your book Verdure?
I actually wrote Verdure 30 years ago, in 1984. I’ve always loved fantasy and horror. I wanted to do something unique and unlike other works (I’ve never really been a genre writer). I came up with the idea of a brilliant misanthropic outcast who is in the process of discovering the methods of metempsychosis (taking over the mind of another person) in a setting where the psychic energy his practices release disturb a Nature Entity that has lived there since time immemorial. This sets up a clash of two very strange, but powerful antagonists. The human interest stories grew up around this central premise. There are a lot of autobiographical elements incorporated into the story to give it immediacy and help bring it to life.
2) Is this your first published book? Do you have any other published stories?
Verdure is my first and only published book. I have published about a half dozen short stories in small circulation magazines and an e-zine. Two of my stories have been accepted for inclusion in horror anthologies scheduled for release this fall.
3) What got you into writing horror?
I’ve loved horror stories since my early teens. I like the creativity, power, atmosphere and suspense that can be found in good horror writing. Plus the sky is the limit in terms of imaginative content. All these elements have made horror a gratifying and fun type of story to write.
4) What are you doing next?
My current project, and one that excites me, is the post apocalyptic novel The Queen of Bones. It takes place in Seattle of the near future. A series of devastating solar storms known as Sunthrobs that recur every three to five weeks has wiped out most life on earth, destroying civilization and leaving a landscape where predatory criminal bands roam robbing, raping and killing any survivors unlucky enough to fall into their clutches. Sara Hill, the 17 year old protagonist, has discovered a method in which people can survive the Sunthrob storms. She’s trying to travel to Seattle where she believes there is a group working to rebuild civilization. She wishes to impart to them her survival method and participate in their great work. But can she survive the journey? Sara is young, but this is not a young adult book. It includes violence, sex, and adult language. I hope to complete the book by late July/early August this year. I’m also submitting horror stories to several anthologies that are in the works.
5) What is it like being a published horror writer? What do your family and friends think?
I’m happy to be a published writer. Writing will probably never result in a living wage for me and my family, so I have to keep my day job. But it’s not about making money for me. I enjoy envisioning an alternate world and intriguing characters, and then plunging heart and soul into literary creation. When the words are flowing, writing is not hard for me: I get to live the story as the words are set down on the paper. It’s recreation, a productive hobby. I’m conceited enough to think that others will enjoy my story as well. I am exhilarated when my work receives positive reviews. If I can give a few readers a memorable experience that they will carry with them, then it’s all been worth it.
My family and friends are very supportive, and are willing to read and comment on works in progress. While I don’t enjoy Stephen King’s status even among them, most of them view writing books and stories as a skill that I’ve worked hard to develop.
6) What advice would you give aspiring authors?
PDN, patience, determination, and networking. Your first work will not be a masterpiece. The more works you do, the better you will get. When you first start, the only way to avoid rejection slips is to not submit, so have a thick skin and keep your expectations modest. Continually seek to learn, continually attempt to improve. Courses, classes and seminars are helpful, but I don’t think necessary (although knowledge of grammar is a must). I believe in both nature and nurture. Good writers have an innate proclivity for writing, just as good athletes must be athletic. If you don’t have that proclivity, you are probably not going to successful. If you do have that proclivity but are not energetic, productive and committed, you are also probably not going to be successful. Study markets; understand genres and the dos and don’ts for the genres. Remember that the most important priority is good, believable, empathetic characters, and the second most important priority is a strong story line and narrative drive. As a lover of vocabulary and complex, sophisticated, poetic styles, I’m sad to say that a simple style, short sentences, and use of common words is much more salable now-a-days. The typical reader is very busy and doesn’t have a lot of free time. She/he wants something that they can read on the bus, during lunch breaks, between their kids’ soccer game and cooking dinner. There are dozens of competing forms of entertainment, and people don’t have much time for any of them. So your book has to pull them in and keep them turning the pages. Books sell by word of mouth. Also, network, network, network! There is no excuse for not networking in this information age. Join Facebook genre talk groups – there are dozens of them. There are talk groups that list calls for submission from publishers and magazines. Participate in other social media as well. Talk to readers and writers and publishers, get to know them, befriend them, and have them get to know you. Write reviews for other writers, talk to them and ask their advice. The more networking you do, the more doors you will open. And remember this: when you publish a book your work is just starting. Guess who will be primarily responsible for marketing and promoting. If you guessed the
person who looks back at you in the mirror, you guessed right! And set realistic goals. Very few published writers earn enough from their writing to make a living at it. Some do, and they are not only extremely talented, they are also workhorses. All this is to say it’s not easy, and you’ll need to have a fire in your belly to succeed. But some do, and you could be one of them. Good Luck!