THE QUESTIONS 10 FOR RAY GARTON by David T. Wilbanks
[Ray Garton is the author of over 45 books, including the vampire classic LIVE GIRLS and the thriller SEX AND VIOLENCE IN HOLLYWOOD. He lives in far northern California with his wife Dawn and their eight cats, where he is hard at work on his next book.]
1. How did you develop interest in the horror genre?
RG: Actually, it didn't develop, it happened instantly. At the age of four, I saw my first horror movie, William Castle's 13 GHOSTS, it scared the hell out of me, and I loved it. After that, I was hopelessly hooked.
2. Please tell us about the sale of your first novel, SEDUCTIONS.
RG: My first sale spoiled me because it happened so quickly and so easily. I got an agent when I sent him a few short stories and he said, "I can't do anything with short stories, do you have a novel?" I told him I had a novel half-done, which was a lie. I immediately went to work on SEDUCTIONS and wrote it in three or four months. I submitted it to my agent, he showed it to an editor at Pinnacle, and it sold, simple as that. It just about knocked me over. It hasn't been that easy all along, though.
3. How does the horror publishing environment today compare with the '80s and '90s?
RG: It doesn't. In the '80s, publishers were buying up horror like crazy, right and left. In the '90s, it cooled off. Now, if you say the word "horror" in the same room with a New York editor, he'll kick you out.
4. You seem to have a close relationship with Cemetery Dance. Please tell us about that.
RG: I've had a GREAT relationship with Rich Chizmar at Cemetery Dance. I honestly can't tell you how it began -- it feels like it's always been. I've had a bad experience in the small press, and I approached Richard with caution. He's turned out to be not only a fine publisher, but an honest guy whom I now consider a friend. He's published some editions of my books that I'll always be proud of -- it's been a wonderful relationship that I have every intention of continuing, whether Rich likes it or not.
5. How does writing a TV- or movie-tie-in compare to writing an original Garton novel?
RG: With a novelization or tie-in, you're writing someone else's story with someone else's characters. A lot of people seem to think a writer just cranks these things out carelessly, but you're dealing with someone else's hard work here, their story and characters. In that case, I want to take care with them. So I give it my best in the short period of time usually given me. I enjoy doing them, they're fun. It's enjoyable sometimes to sit back and write something that's already laid out for me for a change.
6. If you could change one thing about the writing biz, what would it be?
RG: Editors would be able to buy stuff they like without having to take it to the sales force to see if they could market it first. The decisions would be made by editors again, not by the sales people.
7. Which is more difficult to write: fiction or non-fiction? And why?
RG: The only real non-fiction I've written is movie reviews. I wrote a book that was SUPPOSED to be non-fiction, but that was a lie. I prefer writing fiction -- I can make everything up that way, it's a lot easier. Don't slow me down with facts.
8. Who are some of your literary heroes and what makes them special to you?
RG: Stephen King really woke me up to the fact that I could be a horror writer. Dean Koontz was a big influence on me early on. Every book written by John Irving is an event to me, I love his stuff because he peoples his fiction with such fascinating characters. I've recently discovered noir and I'm encountering a lot of writers I've never read before like Jim Thompson and David Goodis and Charles Willeford -- writers who are opening up a whole dark new world for me.
9. Who are some of your favorite new writers and what makes them special?
RG: I'm afraid I haven't been reading any new writers in a long, long time. Lately, all the writers I've been reading are mostly dead.
10. Please tell us about any upcoming Ray Garton news.
RG: My new horror novel, THE LOVELIEST DEAD, will be released by Leisure Books in January. After that, Leisure will reissue LIVE GIRLS in paperback, followed by its sequel NIGHT LIFE. In the near future, Cemetery Dance will be releasing my first two noir novellas in one volume under the pseudonym Arthur Darknell: MURDER WAS MY ALIBI, and LOVELESS. Soon, my agent will begin shopping around my first roman noir, TRAILER PARK NOIR. I'm almost finished with DISMISSED FROM THE FRONT AND CENTER, the fictionalized story of my two years at a Seventh-day Adventist boarding academy. Beyond that, I'm not sure.