Wednesday, October 29, 2014

AMONG THE STACKS: The Light Brothers - Evans and Adam Light

Abry:  Today we are doing something a little different.  We have two Light Brothers to review and, when I asked Aunt Meghan which one was her favorite (so we could post that one's interview first), she said she likes them both equally (which is the same thing she says about her twin nieces ... and us).  So we decided to interview them together.  

Adam and Evans, welcome welcome WELCOME.  Make yourselves comfortable.  Fluta ... behave!  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Evans:  That I'm too lazy to adequately answer this question might tell you a little something about myself.

Adam:  I really suck at talking about myself, so I'll do the best I can here.  There's really not a whole lot to tell.  I live in Florida with my wife and youngest daughter.  I actually have two daughters, the oldest is just about to graduate from college.  The thing I care about the most will always be my family.  They are the world to me.  They come before all else.  They seem to really dig me, too.  For that, I consider myself to be the luckiest guy on earth.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are five things most people don't know about you?

Evans:  If I listed those five things, then people would know them.  That might be a bad idea.

1. I was born in the mountains of West Virginia, where I lived until I was twelve.  I was also an Army brat, and at one point my dad was stationed at Fort Knox.  At one point, when I was probably two years old, I was made an honorary guard.  I don't remember it, but I think I still have a few gold bars lying around somewhere.

2. I have a deep and everlasting hatred for tomatoes.  Yeah, they really gross me out more than anything.  Have you ever noticed that the insides have the consistency of undercooked egg whites?

3. I am an avid pool player.  I like to think I have a decent amount of skills on the table, but my wife still systematically destroys me.  One day, I hope to beat her in a best of five tournament.

4. I am a notoriously dreadful morning person.  I never want to get out of bed to get ready for work.  I have to have caffeine, and lots of it, before anyone thinks about having a logical conversation with me.  Every morning, without fail, I end up leaving and coming back about five times due to a stubborn refusal to remember anything I need to bring along with me.  This also goes for pretty much anywhere I need to go.

5. I've been playing guitar for fifteen years and I only know three songs from beginning to end.  I love to make up my own songs.  No one else loves this quite as much as I,

Abry:  What is the first book you remember reading?

Evans:  Jack in the Sack, by Ken Wagner, and The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter, by Evelyn Scott.

I still have and love both of those books.  If you've got kids, check them out (if you can find 'em).  The first "horror" book I read as a child was The Monster at the End of This Book, the one with Grover from Sesame Street.  I remember being pretty stressed about turning that last page.

Adam:  I started reading when I was three or four, and the first book I remember reading was the Bible.  I have since developed a distaste for this particular book, but I do recall the family sitting around awestruck while I rattled off the beatitudes or other such complex passages.  Did I understand what I was reading?  Doubt it.

Other books I remember from childhood would be Where the Red Fern Grows, The Hobbit, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, The Land That Time Forgot and lots of adventure stories like White Fang and Call of the Wild.  I spent a great many afternoons with a cedar chest full of extremely old Doc Savage books my stepdad passed down to me, as well.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are you reading now?

Evans:  Dweller by Jeff Strand, Best of Cemetery Dance Volume 1, and Cruelty Episodes 1-5, by Edward Lorn, plus multiple other short story horror anthologies I grab and read whenever I feel like it, including Toybox by Al Sarrantonio, Bleeding Shadows by Joe R. Lansdale, Black Evening by David Morrel, and Dark Universe by William F. Nolan, to name a few.

Adam:  At this time, I am reading a Bentley Little book called The Town.  I find Little one of the most bizarre imaginations in the business.  For instance, the scene I just read involved a woman giving birth to a cactus.

Abry:  What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Evans:  I've been writing for as long as I can remember.

My first completed story was called "Freddy Frog Face," back when I was five.  It was about a kid who accidentally dented his own head in with a hammer, and the resulting deformity gave him the appearance of the titular amphibian.  Thinking about it now, I guess it was a slightly horrific weird tale even then.

I was a little surprised to see an animated film with the same title recently appear on Netflix.  They better send five-year-old me some royalties!

Adam:  I've loved writing as far back as I can remember.  My mom still has tons of stories I wrote as an elementary school student.  A few years ago, I finally decided it was time to share my writings with he world, and so began the journey into self-publishing.  Now I am having the time of my life doing what I enjoy the most.

Cordelia Windygale:  Do you have a special place you like to write?

Evans:  Usually at the desk in my study, surrounded by my stacks of books, but recently I picked up a wireless keyboard for my laptop and have been trying to reduce my "sitting time" by standing up while writing more.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Adam:  I can write anywhere there are no distractions.  The slightest commotion anywhere near me kills the process completely.  The best place for me is in the garage on my laptop, especially when it is raining out.

Abry:  Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Evans:  I try to capture any ideas I have as soon as possible, many times using the voice-to-text function on my phone and the Notepad app.  I usually sketch out a one to five page general outline before I start writing just to make sure the story works, but once I start writing, the story usually takes on a life of its own.  The outline is really just the "bottle" I store the idea in until I'm ready to write it in earnest.

Adam:  I have to say, I am horrible at producing a first draft.  I continuously find myself going back and fixing errors as I go along.  This probably doubles the time it takes to get to finish anything I write.  I'm working on that, though.  I also like to take a basic idea and let the people take me where it wants to go.  Outlines are my bane.

Cordelia Windygale:  Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Evans:  Most of them arrive to me unbidden, usually when I least expect it, when I'm not even thinking about writing - almost like a voice starts whispering directly into my mind.  When this happens, I try to find a quiet place to listen and take notes.  Usually, stories that come to me this way are revealed a little bit at a time, often over the course of a few days or a week - I just have to keep an ear out for that little voice when it starts talking.

Other stories come to me in dreams, and I'll wake up and run through the house straight for my desk to write it down before it evaporates away in the light of day.  My works Arboreatum and Candie Apple are both the direct results of dreams.

Very little of what I write comes from trying to think of an idea to turn into a story, even though occasionally I'll try to do that just for fun.  The truth is, the other two methods have delivered so many ideas and story outlines that I could probably spend the rest of my writing life working off the dozens of outlines I already have.

Adam:  For me, ideas can come from pretty much anywhere.  I tend to have my best ones when I am driving or taking a walk.  Times when my mind is free to wander.  It is easy for me to find inspiration in the world around me in almost any situation.

Abry:  What books have most inspired you?

Evans:  The short stories of Edgar Allan Poe fueled my earliest interest in horror, followed quickly and even more significantly by the short stories of Ray Bradbury and the original Tales from the Crypt comics.  The early works of Stephen King led me to the horror explosion of the 1980s, and I've never looked back.

Adam:  Stephen King's On Writing.  Hands down.  Of course, Stephen King has always been a big influence on me.

Cordelia Windygale:  Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Evans:  Doing it.  Maintaining the energy required to complete a project once the original excitement has worn off, and months of writing and rewriting remains.  I tend to have so many new ideas coming at me that it took a while to learn how to quickly capture them and tuck them away for later while staying focused on the project at hand.  I'm getting better at buckling down and getting it done, though.

Adam:  I would say the biggest hurdle I have to jump would be finding ample time to sit down uninterrupted for any substantial amount of time with no distractions.  That's pretty difficult for me.  Also, the editing process gives me night sweats just thinking about it.

Abry:  What do you think makes a good story?

Evans:  I read to be entertained, first and foremost, and that is what I strive to achieve with my own writing as well.  If a work has literary merit, if it is uplifting, profound, educational, culturally significant or any number of other things, that's great - but if it fails to entertain while doing these other things, then you can keep it.

Adam:  I think the qualities I look for when I pick up a book or short story are a unique delivery and characters I can really care about.  I love action, gore, suspense and terror, but if there isn't a cohesive plot, I can't remember it two weeks later.  There are times,  however, such as when I am reading something by Laymon, when all I am looking for is a campy good time.  In those cases, everything else takes second seat to plain old fun.

Cordelia Windygale:  Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Evans:  Thankfully, none!  I may embed little details that relate to my life from time to time for fun, but none of the characters I've created are even remotely based on me, with the possible slight exception of Gerard in Whatever Possessed You - sometimes I wonder where these stories come from, and that story was inspired somewhat by how finished stories arrive to me from time to time.  Maybe it's Maazo Maazo?

Adam:  I have never written myself into any of my characters.  I can honestly say none of them are like me at all.  If there were anyone with similarities to me at all, it would have to be Greg Everett from Gone.  I do tend to be a forgetful slob.  So there you go.

Abry:  Why did you pick your particular genre?

Evans:  Horror is the genre that most closely aligns with the type of stories I write.  Even though some of my work crosses into humor, bizarro and even perhaps sci-fi, they typically end badly for someone, which is a basic trademark of horror.  Horror is the underdog in today's literary environment, and I love swimming against the tide, working from a position of adversity.

Adam:  There was never a conscious decision to write horror.  For me, it seemed the genre had already chosen me.  I write what makes me happy, and I have had a love affair with horror since I was a child.

Cordelia Windygale:  What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Evans:  I think my work often goes places others haven't.  Even if they sometimes start and end in familiar places, I try to choose the road less travelled for the journey.  If I wanted to write a book that's just like other books already available, I'd just go read those instead.

Personally, I like to be shocking without being disgustingly crude, to break up the tension with little moments of levity, and don't mind taking chances with an idea that's so crazy that it's highly likely to fail.

Most importantly, I don't want to ever take myself too seriously.  So much horror today tries so hard to be solemn, serious and "important."  Many contemporary horror writers act ashamed of the genre, hide behind the cloak of "dark fiction" to make their work more palatable to the general public, and appear to be on a ridiculous mission to earn "respect" from the mainstream for the genre.

Literary horror is fine and dandy if it is honestly entertaining, but so much of what tries to pass for "literary" horror these days comes across as whiny, angst emo bullshit, scared to have a sense of fun out of fear it won't be taken seriously.

There are exceptions, of course.  See Kealan Patrick Burke's The Tent for a shining example of how horror can be both "literary" and fun.

Adam:  I would have to say that I write with tongue in cheek a lot, and although there are others that do it well, and certainly better, I think that not taking myself too seriously helps to lend a certain unique tone to my work.

Fluta:  This one is for only you, Evans.  Jerry or Tom?  Scooby or Shaggy?  Ren or Stimpy?  Pinky or Brain?

Evans:  Tom and Ren for sure.  Can't have Scooby without Shaggy, that's just common sense.  You're welcome to keep Pinky and the Brain.  In fact, please do.  

Fluta:  Adam, which super power would you like to have and why?

Adam:  I would love to have the power to stop time.  The reason is really a no-brainer.  If I could make everything stop for any duration, I could write to my heart's content and when I started the clock moving again, everything would go on as if nothing had ever happened.  Plus, I'm not getting any younger, and I feel time passing more now than at any other time in my life.

Abry:  What can we expect from the two of you in the future?

Evans:  Well, Adam and I recently released Harmlessly Insane: The Complete Collection, which is the first volume collecting all The Light Brother short stories and novellas to date.  It's a massive volume (and a great value) currently available only in paperback.  I highly recommend that people new to my work start there.

Look for my brand-new Halloween story in Bad Apples, a new anthology featuring original stories from Adam Light, Edward Lorn, Jason Parent and Gregor Xane.  Some really great stories there.

Also, work continues on the debut novel from The Light Brothers, tentatively titled Tranquility's End.  The release date is still pending as we finish it up and evaluate release options, but hopefully you'll be seeing it on shelves someday soon.  It's been quite a massive undertaking, and I can't wait to set it free.

A second collection of short stories will likely be released in 2016 as well.

Adam:  You can expect plenty of new material.  I have stories that will be coming up in at least two anthologies in the year to come.  In the meantime, there are two novellas that have been in the works for a long time, and the novel Evans and I are slowly but steadily chipping away at.  That one will be the first novel from us, and we are totally stoked about it.

Cordelia Windygale:  Thanks for stopping by, guys.  Before you go, where can we find the two of you?

Evans:  The official website for The Light Brothers can be found at The Light Brothers Horror.  I'm also on Facebook (send me a request, I'm friendly), on Twitter @BrothersLight, and on Goodreads people can join the "Q&A with The Light Brothers" group to receive special offers and freebies.  There's other social media links easily found on Google as well.

Adam:  Our websiteFacebookGoodreads.  Those are the main places you can find me hanging around.  My Amazon page is here.

About the authors:
Evans Light is a writer of horror and suspense who suffers from frequent bouts of delusional grandeur interspersed with moments of soul-crushing suspicions of personal inadequacy.

Adam Light lives in northeast Florida with his wife, daughter, and their Walker Hound aptly named Walker.  He writes horror stories at night and haunts a cubicle by day.


taniekitty said...

Another great interview!

Meghan H said...

Thanks, Tanya!! :)