July 20, 2015

B-Horror or Be Square: an interview with David Bernstein, author of "Skinner" and "Goblins"

David Bernstein writes horror. All kinds of it. From atmospheric to balls-to-the-wall stuff.  He has two new novels out this summer, one from DarkFuse and another from Samhain Publishing, so I got the chance to ask him a few questions about his writing and his views on horror. Enjoy!

Gef: Looking back at 2014, you had more than a couple titles released. A bit of a banner year for you, and things don't seem to be slowing down for you in 2015 with two more books set for release this summer. How have you been taking in your progression as a writer thus far?

David: Little by little. I just keep writing because I love doing it and I keep getting story ideas. I try to remember that the writing "thing" is a marathon. It takes time to gain readers, but as long as you keep writing and putting out stuff people seem to like more than not, the readership grows.

Gef: Skinner, coming out via DarkFuse, sounds like it has a survival horror vibe to it. What was the impetus behind this one?

David: I love B-Horror movies. I wrote Witch Island because my wife loves them too. It was for her. A total slasher about kids getting slaughtered in bloody ways in the woods. I also love books and movies that take place in the snow. I used to have a summer house in the Adirondack area of upstate New York. I remember traveling over the mountains and how treacherous the roads could be. I decided to write another B-movie slasher that takes place there. It's total survival horror.

Gef: Then there's Goblins, which Samhain's horror line will be putting out in August. At first glance I'm not sure if this fits in with the cryptozoological type of horror or something more paranormal. Or maybe a blending of the two. Where did the inspiration for this one come from?

David: I wanted to write a horror novel using something a little different. Not that goblins are unheard of, of course. Everyone knows what they are, but I'm not sure they've been in too many horror novels. Goblins are usually associated with Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery stuff. I wanted them to be pure horror, splatterpunk style. I was going to do a troll horror story and a goblin one. The goblin one is done! It's supernatural and gory.

Gef: Lately, I've seen some pushback against the notion of epic fantasy working best exclusively in novel of great length. When it comes to horror, do you think it lends itself better to shorter works or full-length novels? Or do you consider it malleable and broad enough to work equally well no matter what the story length?

David: I've read many GREAT novellas. I've read many GREAT novels. I think horror works in all forms, long and short. Sometimes it depends on the reader and what they want or expect. Some people prefer longer works, saying they needed to get to know the characters better. Wanted more. Sometimes books can drag on and have lots of filler and get bogged down. Myself, I like to get to the point and love writing novels as well as novellas. I consider myself more of a pulp horror writer than someone who writes beautiful prose and spends a lot of time having an underlying meaning. I like to tell stories, entertain. Allow someone to lose themselves for a few hours and forget the world and its goings on.

Gef: Over the years, have you found you approach writing horror differently than you did even a few years ago?

David: Yes. I never used to outline. I find it extremely helpful now. Helps get the story flushed out and shows me a general direction on where to go. I don't need it, but it allows me to write faster and give the publisher an idea of what I'm working on next. I like to get their "okay" before starting a project so I know it has a home.

Gef: Was horror your first love with regards to reading or something you became drawn to later?

David: I've loved horror since I was a little kid. My mom always liked scary movies and shows and decorated the house for Halloween and had Halloween parties. We still watch horror movies together. My love for horror has remained and stayed the same, except now I can appreciate subtle horror more than I used to.

Gef: What do you consider to be the saving grace of the horror genre?

David: Small press. Without it, I'm not sure what horror would look like. Small press allows writers to write stuff the BIG HOUSES would NEVER publish, and gives readers more choices on what to read. My novel The Unhinged would probably never get published in one of the BIG 5 or whatever number they are now. It's simply too extreme.

Gef: You've written stories with and without supernatural elements. Do you have a preference in your horror? Is there one that comes more easily to you than the other?

David: I think my favorite is supernatural horror. There's something great about creatures with powers, undead and the fantastic. Real-life horror is right there too. But I write more supernatural because it's so damn fun. Either can be scary, but real-life, non-supernatural, can be scarier because there's the possibility it could happen.

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

David: When it comes to reading, I stick mainly to horror and thriller. But when it comes to movies and television I watch the gamut, from comedies, to dramas, to horror, to action and sci fi. I watched Gossip Girl and Desperate House Wives and loved them. I also love so many of the shows the SyFy channel puts on. The CW, Supernatural and Arrow and The 100. The Black List. Sons of Anarchy. The Big Bang Theory. Castle. Etc. There's so many.

Gef: What other projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

David: I've got a lot of obligations coming up. More Samhain novels. A novel called The Sludge from Great Old Ones Publishing. Episodes of Violence from Sinister Grin Press. Machines of the Dead 3 from Severed Press. A grindhouse novella from Bizarro Pulp Press, tentatively titled Tossing Cookies (figure what that's about). And I'd like to write something for an agent or one of the bigger houses, say Kensington or Random House.

My work and other goings on can be found on my website/blog:

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