Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Anthony Hains

This week's interview is with horror author, Anthony Hains.

1.       When did you first start writing?

Like many others, this was something I always wanted to do, but I never saw it as a career. However, the initial “nudge” occurred way back in my senior year in college when I took a short fiction writing course. For decades after that class, I always tossed around plots in my head, and even attempted to write once or twice. But, I could never sit still long enough. Finally, about ten years ago, I took the plunge and began writing fiction for real.

2.       What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid?
All of my books (there are three published at this time) are horror novels. I’ve been interested in horror for as long as I can remember. I think it stems from finding my older brother’s dinosaur toys was I was about 4-years old. I became infatuated with dinosaurs. That event led to reading books and then watching movies about dinosaurs. My favorites were dinosaurs rampaging through cities, destroying everything in their path. It was only a short leap to monsters running amok – and then ghosts, and so on.

Around the same time, in 1960, I remember seeing a trailer on TV for the movie Village of the Damned. I was scared to death yet infatuated at the same time. Little kids with strange eyes who were monsters? I couldn’t believe it. The genre was fascinating. The rest is history.

3.       What led to your love for literature? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?

Books were a huge part of my life growing up. This must be pretty common among writers. My parents, especially my father, were always reading something. As a young adolescent, I had to read To Kill a Mockingbird and In Cold Blood for school. I was amazed how books could make things come alive.

4.       What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
I’m fortunate that I can write anywhere and anytime. Most common for me is sitting on a couch with my laptop. But, I’ve written in Starbucks, libraries, hospitals, and sitting in a porch swing. I don’t outline—other than the vaguest notes. I do, however, have a complete story arc in mind before I can begin. That story frequently changes or is revised. And that’s okay.

5.       What did you find most / least useful in learning to write?
The most useful is reading. You need to read a lot before you can write. I learned about narrative, pacing, point of view, and plotting from other writers.

6.       Who or what inspires you? Where / how do you get your book ideas?
Good writers inspire me. I mentioned that reading others was my most helpful form of education.

The earliest influences, and hence my favorite authors, are Thomas Tryon and William Peter Blatty. I’ve enjoyed Stephen King for the most part, especially his earlier works and, strangely enough, his very recent works.

7.       Do you have a writing routine / schedule? Any specific rituals?
I don’t have a writing routine.  I write when I have time. I am a university professor which means my days are full with my work responsibilities. There are weeks and even months at a time when I do not have the opportunity to write fiction. My best time is over the summer when the university schedule lightens up some. When I do write, I try to produce at least 500 words. I find that reasonable. I am often able to double that amount.

8.       Do you listen to music while you write? What kind of music?
No. I would find that distracting.

9.       Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing?
As I mentioned, I am a university professor, specifically a counseling psychology professor. I think my profession has contributed to my writing in terms of content and topic. For instance, I try to draw on my knowledge as a psychologist to inform the emotions and behavior of my characters. I am a pediatric psychologist, and have spent my career researching various issues related to adolescents. So, many of my protagonists are younger teenagers. My narratives include emotional and behavioral problems of this age group along with mental health issues. Therapy sessions are sometimes incorporated into the plot. However, when I come to sections of a novel that involve some aspect of the plot that can’t be addressed by psychology (and there are many), I search the internet to aid my storytelling. I sometimes try personal mini-experiments to see if a certain sequence of events is possible.

10.    How much marketing do you do? Which platforms are you most active on? 
I don’t know if I can quantify the amount. I do the usual: twitter and Facebook. I write a blog in which I mostly provide reviews of other novels—mostly horror novels.

11.    What's the most fun aspect of marketing? The most challenging?
There is no fun aspect to marketing. I think most writers would tend to agree. Social media is time consuming but everyone has to do it.

12.    What project are you working on now?
This past summer, I began working on a demonic possession and exorcism novel. After about 10,000 words, I realized it wasn’t working. The characters didn’t interest me and it seemed flat. So, quit about two months ago. Since then, I have started thinking about how to recast the story in an entirely different way. I’ve come up with something and I think this has possibilities—so I am excited to resume. I just haven’t had time yet (lots of grading and research going on).

13.    What books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

Horror and suspense novels, of course. However, I belong to two book clubs and both have a decidedly eclectic approach to books. So, I do read other genres.  Currently, I am reading a novel entitled The Summer that Melted Everything.


Anthony Hains is a professor of counseling psychology with a specialization in pediatric psychology. His research and professional interests involve working with adolescents, especially those living with chronic medical conditions. His latest novel, The Disembodied, is a Kindle Scout winner and published by Kindle Press. A print version is also available through PCNY Books. He is the author of two previous horror novels, Birth Offering and Dead Works, both published by Caliburn Press. Anthony lives with his wife in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. They have one daughter.

The Disembodied

Griffin Rinaldi’s dissociative disorder makes him feel disconnected from his body and mind. After his dad’s death, Griffin is haunted by a red-haired boy only he can see. His sole support is his grandfather, Soren, an author of Outer Banks ghost stories. When a rare blizzard hits the Outer Banks, Griffin recognizes the boy as a vengeful specter from Soren's tales. Unsure if the boy is part of his disorder or an evil entity, Griffin must struggle to save his life, his sanity and maybe his soul.

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