Today’s featured author is Nelson Pyles! He is the author of Everything Here Is A Nightmare, which is a very intriguing collection of his writings that I had the pleasure of reading. Check out the interview that I had with him below, and be sure to snag his book on Amazon!
- What is the first memory you have of writing?
The first memory I have of writing was trying to write the third story for Star Wars right after watching The Empire Strikes Back. I didn’t think I could wait three years for the sequel. It was fun to write-horrible, but fun. I was always an avid reader as a kid and the more I read, the more I wrote. The first solid story I wrote was in sixth grade. I wrote a decent murder mystery for my teacher. It wasn’t hard to solve the mystery; it was only eight pages long.
2) Which authors inspire you, and why?
This will sound very cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Stephen King, but in 1980 when I was in fourth grade, you couldn’t escape him. You can’t escape him now, but that isn’t a bad thing. He’s good. He’s really that good. He was the most prolific author by the end of the 20th century and he’s still going strong. He was also a gateway author for me. In his nonfiction book Danse Macabre, I discovered Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson and the great Harlan Ellison. I do have to add Mark Twain and Joe R. Lansdale as well. Joe is so versatile and his writing continues to amaze me. He refuses to limit his work to any one thing and I think it’s important. I write mostly horror, but I love reading and writing in other genres as well. Limiting yourself to one thing is dangerous to your creativity I think and it also helps your writing in general.
3) What is your favorite genre to read, and why?
I’d say horror, but just because I mostly write in that genre, doesn’t mean it’s all I read. I love all fiction and I read everything I can grab. No real specific genre honestly. As long as it has soul t it, I’m going to devour it. I learned as I began to write more, that it is important to read as much as you can even if it is in a genre you normally wouldn’t read. Romance novels, for example. I’ve read a bunch of those believe it or not. I never unwind with a good book. I get riled up. It makes me want to attack the keyboard.
4) What is your favorite genre to write, and why?
I’ve always considered myself a horror writer, but I’ve started leaning on the “speculative fiction” label as of late. That being said, I love to write scary, horrific things. I enjoy building likeable characters and then just tossing the worst thing I can think of in front of them. It’s slightly sadistic, of course, but it’s also a lot of fun.
5) What are you currently working on?
I’m currently editing my second novel and working two others. It’s been a lot of work thus far, editing being the least fun part of the process. That being said, there are much worse things that will happen in my life. Being an author is a lot of work that I absolutely adore. It’s a lot of work and so completely worth it. I’m also in the middle of recording with the band Novus for our second album. That should be out towards the end of the year.
Questions Concerning “Everything Here Is A Nightmare”
1) I also love introductions and notes inserted into books! What do you want your readers to get out of your notes and your introduction?
Hopefully they get a little insight into what goes on in the process of writing. I’m always fascinated by how other writers get their ‘machine’ to work. I love stories about stories! The introductions are a part of that as well. I had asked Paul Michael Anderson to write the introduction to the book for a bunch of reasons. He’s a really great writer and editor, but he’s also my friend. What I didn’t tell him was why I asked him specifically to write an introduction. Paul’s probably done more for my writing than almost anyone else I can think of and that’s because he’s honest. I’d send him something and he’d tell me in great length why it didn’t work. That kind of insight is damn near impossible to get, much less from someone who claims to like you. It’s the best thing a writer can get.
2) The first book I thought of when reading this novel was “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” by Stephen King, which you happen to mention! Was this anthology of his part of your inspiration for your collection?
“Nightmares and Dreamscapes” was invaluable to me as a guide to putting this together. Of all of his collections, that one for some reason was the most fun for me. At the end of the day, I want my readers to really enjoy reading my stuff, thus the notes after the stories. I just loved the way his book had been structured and went for that same vibe. Since my favorite work by King has always been his short stories, I’d say it was for sure an inspiration. These days, its very cliché to claim King as an influence and an inspiration, but it doesn’t make it any less true. I wave the King flag high and proud.
3) Why did you choose “Everything Here is a Nightmare” as a title?
I worked for a company that had a very bad work environment. No one was happy, everyone hated it and through that, we all had bonded. My friend Becky was standing outside on a break and I asked her how her day had been going.
“Nelson, everything here is a nightmare.”
I stopped, laughed and told her that I would use that as the title of my first short story collection. She chuckled and said “Don’t forget where you got it from,” and I haven’t.
My friend, Sydney Leigh is a really amazing author and she suggested that one of the stories should bear the title of the collection. I didn’t have one originally, but after some thought, I changed the title of a story that had the clunky title of “Love in the West with Dead Folk.” I still like that title, because it had the charm of a Lansdale story…at least I thought so, but I think “Everything Here is a Nightmare” worked better as a title for story and collection.
4) Did you write all of the short stories in the anthology at the same time, or have they been collected over years?
The collection time frame spans about 15 years total, the oldest story being “Spring in New York” which was finished right after 9/11. The most recent was written in February of last year, which was “The Moon Sees You.” Everything in between has all either appeared elsewhere or been waiting for this book I suppose. I tend to overwrite a lot the older I’ve gotten and I have a stack of stories either waiting for publication, or volume two of the next collection.
5) My personal favorite in your collection is “Monk’s Run – Pilot”, and I found it interesting that it was a script instead of a short story. Why did you choose to add this script into your short story collection?
I’m so glad you liked that one! That’s been floating around the universe without a home for a while now. It’s one of the best things I think I’ve written and the folks who had read it still ask me about it. I had written it as a TV show pilot obviously, and actually had a five season storyline attached to it. I like to try different things and different styles. I’ve always loved screenwriting and thought I’d give it a good go. The screenplay format is very structured and acts more or less as a blueprint. You don’t need to be as descriptive with the set ups, but you do need to still keep it compelling. But in the framework, there’s a bit of freedom from being overtly descriptive. A script is a guide for a director and she’ll decide what kind of room it’ll be and what kind of tone the scene will have based on how she sees the scene in her head. Small example:
The man walked through the door into the small, dimly lit room. He let the door shut behind him.
“Well,” he said, through his teeth. “I’m here.”
INT: ROOM-DIMLY LIT
Man enters through door.
Well, I’m here.
The director can add whatever she wants to this scene; delivery of the line, if the actor slams the door or lets it close, etc.
My job as a writer is to convey what I see in my head in words, but the reader ultimately is going to see what they’re going to see while they’re reading. It’s translating an idea. The script format is very sparse for set up and allows the imagination to really run wild in a different way.
I really thought it would be cool to add it to the short stories to break it up a little bit. It’s a fun, spooky idea that I have not abandoned.
Thank you, Nelson, for taking the time to answer these questions with such intriguing answers, and I look forward to seeing what you do next!