Who are some of your favorite authors?
Wilton Barnhardt, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Kate Mosse, Michael Gregorio, Edward Rutherford, and of course, Edgar Allan Poe.
I would have been surprised if Edgar Allan Poe wasn't on your list, Ivan. Having read Dead Scared, I see some influence there.
What motivated you to become a writer and at what age?
A professor in university once challenged me to critique my own writing as if I were reading a stranger’s work. And what horrible writing I discovered it to be. The experience taught me to be truly self-critical, and was critical to making me a writer.
What 3 words describe you as a person?
Curious, imaginative, and enthusiastic.
What 3 words describe you as a writer?
Compelling, at times poetic, and a pretty good story teller.
When not writing, how do you spend your time? Hobbies?
Travel, pottering around the house, enjoying our patio and fish pond, and spoiling my granddaughter.
Ah, spoken like a true and passionate grandfather. As a new grandmother, I totally understand the 'spoiling' part.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Just William books by Richmal Compton. I chuckle to this day at the antics of William Brown. The book that made me want to be a writer was Murders in the Rue Morgue by Poe which I read in Grade Nine. Poe’s language was intoxicating.
Describe your desk.
My computer stands on a tiny desk that belonged to my wife as a child. There’s no room on the desk for anything other than the keyboard, monitor and a printer. I don’t mind the cramped workspace because I can’t imagine being confined to one room to write. I wander all over the house as I’m working out ideas. Getting them into the computer is only the last stage in the process.
Who is the main character?
What’s his story?
Chris is seventeen and a half and an embittered loner whose father travels from town to town across America closing factories for his employer, Allied Paper Products of Wisconsin. Chris’s mother suffers from acute depression, and his siblings are too young to mean much to him In whichever hellhole his dad’s job drops the Chandler family, Chris’s survival strategy is to keep a low, brooding profile and shun the company of anyone. Then one fateful day he makes two mistakes. He discovers his neighbour is stealing corpses from the local funeral home, and he attracts the attention of the most popular—and the cruelest--girl in town, and all hell breaks loose.
Where/when does the story take place?
In Bemishstock, Maine, a dying factory town at the mouth of the Roan River on Maine’s North Coast in 1985.
How did the story come to you?
I’ve written radio documentaries, a TV Christmas special and a vampire stage play, all of which I’m pleased to say have been performed, but I’ve always wanted to write a novel. My first effort was a romance but my sons said, “Dad, you always told us terrific ghost stories as kids. Do that.” So I did.
Who is your target audience?
Young adults certainly, since the hero is a young man struggling to find his place in the world, but there are also issues and themes in the book that should appeal to readers of any age.
What makes your book different from other similar ones?
For one thing, I deliberately set out to write a story in which the dead are not the shambling zombies of so many other horror novels. The dead in my tale are to be pitied, protected even, from the living who would disturb their slumber. I’m not aware of another novel in which the hero is a defender of the dead.
What do your fans mean to you?
I write because I love telling stories. I can only hope my readers find my tales as engrossing as I do cooking them up. I try my very best not to be predictable. I want my readers to be surprised at every twist in my stories. Only my readers can tell me whether my efforts have succeeded.
Where do you get the inspirations for your book(s)?
I’m always on the hunt for strange news stories and odd beliefs. I can’t recall where this particular tale originated but authors often say, ‘write what you know’. So perhaps something in my own past prompted this story.
Any advice for new writers just beginning this trek down the wonderful world of publishing?
First, read your work aloud, read it as though you’d never read it before, and forgive nothing. If it sounds awkward and confused to your own ear, then it probably is. And second, the story is everything. Don’t waste a word in needless lyrical flourishes or working out your own personal issues. If a passage doesn’t move the story forward, then don’t use it.
Thank you once again, Ivan, for your time.
Don’t miss Ivan's chilling series: The Mortsafeman, Book 1, DEAD SCARED, now available. Perfect read for those fall windy nights.
Who knew the dead have more to fear from the living than the living have to fear from the dead? Certainly not seventeen-year-old Chris Chandler, not before his family moved to Bemishstock, Maine in the autumn of 1985.
"Fans should claw at Blake’s windows for more graveyard tales after this delightful series opener."
Dead Scared by Ivan Blake
Book 1 from his The Mortsafeman series
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