Jeremy and Reggie Mayer watched their mother die at the ethereal hands of three terrifying phantoms. Now they live their lives as best they can, outrunning the memory, and hoping to put enough distance between them and their tormentors. Unfortunately, their ghosts won’t be kept away so easily. They have plans for the brothers and their friends. No one is safe as the attacks escalate. Jeremy and Reggie will find themselves in places that blur the lines of reality, as well as life and death.
What gave you the idea for In Shadows of the Wicked?
I started it over fifteen years ago. It evolved and changed so much over the years, taking on a life of its own, much to my chagrin. I wanted to explore the idea that a ghosts ulterior motive started long before it became one. Another inspiration for the story came from my love for Industrial and Gothic music. I wanted to bring some of the excitement and fear the music inspired back when I first exposed myself to it. There are plenty of references and even a ‘soundtrack’ playlist on YouTube for it.
What got you into writing in this genre?
A life-long fascination for anything creepy and dark. When I was a kid, scary stories and horror movies terrified me and I couldn’t handle them. Even my nightmares had nightmares. Despite that I couldn’t stay away. I combed the horror sections of book stores and video rental shops, daring myself to get one. When I did I regretted it and enjoyed myself immensely. Eventually I overcame my trepidation and now it’s woven into the fabric of who I am like a good suit, or comfortable underwear.
Tell us about your past books and stories?
Night Shall Overtake is my first novel. It is a horror detective mystery set in a city where monsters are everyday citizens. One shapeshifting detective must navigate her way through a strangely complicated conspiracy run by a idiots.
Pale Winter Sun is a LGBT+, bi-centric, young adult novel set in rural Idaho. It is about two boys who are cast out by their families and must survive a cold Idaho winter on their own. All the while the family must learn to reconcile their decisions and live with what they have done.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I don’t take ideas at face value anymore. Instead I turn it on its ear and shake it down for its lunch money. I know its hiding something more from me and follow it to its illogical conclusion. Then I apply it to my work.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Good editing. Good editing software is a boon companion but a trustworthy editor is invaluable. Having both is ideal. They can take steaming pile of good ideas and turning it into a well polished pile of good ideas. The other tool is time. Ideas cannot always be rushed and giving them time to evolve makes a big difference. Even if they evolve into big green boogeymen that try to eat you up in the process.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
“You are not other authors; you are your own author.” It’s easy to compare ourselves to other writers, famous or not. Their way of writing, habits, and work ethics may not always be the best way for you. I struggled with it at first, always comparing how I did things against others. Once I stopped and worked on my own terms, thing came much easier. I refuse to feel guilty because I’m not doing the same daily word count as others anymore. My style and habits, for better or for worse, are my own.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Like most, I use a lot of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. But I’m not against thinking out of the box. I’m not above leaving printed ads on bulletin boards and random public venues. Getting local interest through libraries and book store events helps. But horror is a hard sell to begin with. Horror and dark fiction has its diehard fan base, but it’s not always a large fan base. Trying to bridge that gap and bring others over to ‘the dark side’ is one of the biggest challenges. Finding groups (on and offline) that are into the dark stuff has worked well for me in the past. It’s also led to some lasting friendships along the way.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
The first is always the proudest moment. Night Shall Overtake was meant to be just a writing exercise and somehow it managed to get published. It came out with a bang and drew quite a reaction from readers. Not only is it my first step into my career of being a published author, it is also how I met my wife. If she hadn’t have read it, we wouldn’t have connect the way we did, and she wouldn’t be stuck with me now.
What are you doing next?
I’m working on an anthology of short stories, all macabre. From ghosts, to ghouls, to outer space horrors. Each will touch on a different range of human emotions in regards to fear and horror. Plus they are cluttering up my hard drive and getting surly.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Keep at it and keep moving forward! Write to your passions because that’s what the readers will pick up on above anything else. Keep in mind why you write. It’s nice to remind yourself why the hell you started in the first place, to keep some perspective. It’s easy to get bogged down with all the extra work that goes beyond just throwing you brain against paper and seeing what sticks.
Michael R. Collins was born at a very young age in the wilds of southern Idaho. After a few decades he finally got his fill of all the sagebrush and rattlesnakes he could eat so he struck out into the world. After a long stop in Austin, Texas, he currently lives in Pennsylvania with his partner Mel. He has written three books, scores of short stories, and a few alibis. (Just in case)