Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: AMONG THE STACKS: Keith Deininger


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Keith.  Welcome to The Gal and thanks for being a part of The Gal's 31 Days of Horror.  I am so glad you decided to join us today. :)
            Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Keith Deininger:
Well, I grew up in Colorado Sprints, Colorado and Los Alamos, New Mexico.  I was a sheltered kid.  I read a lot growing up and have always had an overactive imagination (seriously, it's hard to get to sleep sometimes).  Now I'm married and live in Albuquerque with my wife amber, daughter Violet, and dogs Gordie, Bigby, Zelly, and Chewy.  I write almost every day.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Keith Deininger:
I'm always thinking about something in my head, which is why I often seem lost and confused in everyday life.  I hate small talk and I'm terrible at it.  Every time I climb stairs, I count them as I go.  I once stumbled upon a couple having sex behind a barn in the desert, but was so high on LSD at the time, I'm not sure if it actually happened.  Also, I write poetry.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Keith Deininger:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Keith Deininger:
I've been on a small classic science fiction kick, reading Heinlein and Clarke, but at this moment I'm reading Philip K. Dick's Ubik.  But I'm jouncing for some horror and plan to read Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts next.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Keith Deininger:
I "played pretend" a lot as a kid, which was mostly running around the playground at school pretending to shoot guns and waving a stick around as if it was a sword.  And I was always really into games.  I loved board games and puzzles.  I began designing my own games, usually by drawing and cutting pieces out of cereal boxes, which eventually led me to try and write rulebooks for my games - not as easy as you might think.  I remember writing a couple of stories in 4th grade, but I really wanted to be a video game designer and I kept a notebook of sketches and notes for proposed games, a lot of RPG sort of games like the Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy (I'm a Generation Y, original Nintendo kid, after all).  I eventually wrote a few stories in high school (still have most of them) and thought, 'Damn it'd be cool to be a writer.'

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Keith Deininger:
I like to write in coffee shops; too many distractions at home.  But I'll write anywhere.  I always keep my laptop readily available to bang out a few words in waiting rooms or on lunch breaks.  Gotta keep the flow going.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Keith Deininger:
Sometimes I speak dialogue out loud to see if it sounds right, or rock in place when I get to an exciting part in my narrative.  You know, like a crazy person.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Keith Deininger:
Organization.  Staying focused.  I have a lot of ideas bouncing around in my head that I would love to  write right now, but they're all so big and the process just doesn't work that way.  I often sit down to a project and it takes me some time to pick up where I left off.  I hate it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Keith Deininger:
I always come back around to Clive Barker.  I love his work.  It embodies everything I'm about, dark themes and a lot of imagination.  In fact, I'm about due for another re-read of Imajica.  Brilliant stuff. I'm also a big fan of unsettling and disturbing horror.  Stephen King was great to read in high school and he's still very entertaining, but I prefer Peter StraubRamsey CampbellShirley JacksonCormac McCarthy, and other authors of that nature.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Keith Deininger:
Characters.  I like realistic characters forced to deal with disturbing and sometimes fantastic situations.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Keith Deininger:
I like my characters to be interesting.  I'm not the sort who needs them to be likable.  I try always to let my characters lead the narrative and never allow what I think "would be cool" to force their actions.  That being said, it's important the characters are relatable and that we understand their motives.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all our characters, do you think is the most like you?

Keith Deininger:
The unlikable young men in a couple of my novels are a lot like I used to be when I was in my early twenties, Garty in Ghosts of Eden, Colin in Within.  I think I had to write those guys to help me reconcile with my misguided youth.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Keith Deininger:
I've had publishers ask for ideas, but typically the cover design is up to them.  I've never, however, been disappointed.  A cover has to be solid, I believe, for the book to be sellable.  For my latest novel, I worked directly with artist John Sumrow to design something that would be different, reflect your work, and stand out.  And I have to say, I'm very pleased with the results?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Keith Deininger:
A lot of things.  It's so important to building a writing career to be able to take criticism and grow from it.  Listen to editors, listen to other writers, and, more importantly, listen to yourself.  I've learned to absorb all the imformation I can, but then to trust my own judgment and to be myself.  I've been tempted to try to write to trends and chase a paycheck, but such efforts are temporary and I believe it is only by being myself and writing my own unique form of fiction that I will build a lasting career.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Keith Deininger:
I've written a couple of scenes that made me a little sick.  I sit back sometimes, my hands shaky, and think to myself, 'What the fuck did I just write?'

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Keith Deininger:
I have a surrealist, literary style that has taken me many years to develop, and I'm very proud of it.  My books, I know, are a little different and, although dark, do not fit snuggly into any one genre.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Keith Deininger:
I struggle with book titles constantly.  It's usually one of the last things I come up with after I've finished a manuscript.  I've had editors suggest titles that have worked perfectly, like Ghosts of Eden. I'm getting better with titles, however, and I'm very happy with The Godgame.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Keith Deininger:
I like novels over short stories.  My brain likes big ideas.  You can lose yourself in a novel.  I've written a lot of short stories, but there's nothing more fulfilling than a good novel.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Keith Deininger:
My fiction is, as a general rule, dark.  I have had three horror novels published (The New FleshGhosts of Eden, and Within), all with a touch of the fantastic.  My latest, The Godgame and The Blood of Talos, are the first two books in a dark series set in a world vastly different from our own.  It is difficult to classify, with elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror (and a bit of a steampunk vibe).  I want my readers to think for themselves, to question reality and celebrate possibilities.  I want them to revel in the wonders of the world, both light and dark.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us bout some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Keith Deininger:
I delete a lot of stuff.  Because I write in an organic, let-it-flow style, I have to go back and chop out a lot of stuff that slows down the overall story.  My original manuscript for Within was close to 110k words, but the novel was published at just over 70k.  I had to chop our entire chapters and characters. I've played around with some of this content for other things, but we'll see.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Keith Deininger:
I have tons of notes for projects that I'll probably never get to.  I also have a few erotic horror stories I've written that I don't know what to do with because of how sick they are.  I have a couple of half-finished novels I think I'll eventually return to.  And I also have a few game ideas I'd like to someday unleash on the world.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Keith Deininger:
I'm currently writing book three of The Godgame series.  I also have a horror novel called Road of Sand and Shadow that is being shopped to different publishers at the moment.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Keith Deininger:
This is me: websiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by today, Keith.  It was a pleasure having you. :)
            Before you go, do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Keith Deininger:
Take a deep breath, nothing is what it seems.  Reading is intellectual freedom!


About the author:
An award-winning writer of fantastic and disturbing fiction, Keith Deininger is the author of several novels and novellas, including The New FleshWithinMarrow's PitThe Godgame, and The Blood of Talos.  He currently resides in the American Southwest with his wife, baby daughter Violet, and four dogs.

About the books:

The New Flesh
Genre: Horror
Publisher: DarkFuse
Publication date: 6.25.2013
Pages: 260

When Jake, a shy fourth grader, starts a fire in the woods behind his school that gets away from him, he's punished and forgiven.  But his life is never the same.  Three years after the incident, the dreams begin.  Dreams of flames and a strange creature Jake calls The Melting Man.  Waiting and watching with an insidious grim, it lures him deeper and deeper into his darkest fears, and closer to an otherworld of fire and torment.  And then, Jake begins to see The Melting Man wherever he goes.
            Come with me, Jake... Come and see...
            As his dreams bleed into waking life, Jake realizes he's been dragged toward a very real apocalypse, and that The Melting Man's powers are growing stronger.  Asleep, awake, or trapped between the two, Jake must fight to understand not only who and what The Melting Man is and what the dreams mean, but how this creature and Jake's mysterious family legacy ties into a disturbing, violent and enigmatic film associated with his father, a failed screenwriter.
            But there may be no way to stop what has already begun... because this is a new nightmare... a new terror... a new Flesh...

Within
Genre: Horror
Publisher: DarkFuse
Publication date: 5.5.2015
Pages: 324

Something's wrong in the eclectic mountain town of Mesa Rapids.  Something's always been wrong.  Sometimes it's citizens behave in strange ways - sometimes to the point of violence...
            When the wealthy and enigmatic art collector Harold Klimt moves into the long dilapidated house known as the Upshaw Mansion, most don't think twice about it.  But when Mr. Klimt begins to throw lavish parties for the town's elite, Colin Thorne - a young, aspiring artist still grieving over the recent death of his childhood friend - sneaks inside the house to explore, suspicious something's wrong.
            What he finds are the buried secrets of a town with a troubled history and something else... a plane of horror so vast that it threatens to alter reality.
            Soon after that, Mr. Klimt offers Colin a job - painting a mural in the basement of the Upshaw Mansion.  As Colin becomes more and more obsessed with the dark vision he is creating, the horror begins to bubble to the surface of not only his psyche, but the entire town.

Marrow's Pit
Genre: Horror, Steampunk, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: DarkFuse
Publication date: 3.11.2014
Pages: 126

Built to encompass the entire range of lifeless mountains, it had always, relentlessly, clanked on and on.  Within, vast halls and endless corridors were filled with the sounds of metal on metal, with hissing steam, with squealing gears.  In the eye of its citizens, it was scared, defied, omniscient.  Enshrined in their mythology for innumerable generations, it had gone by countless designations, but its truest name was perhaps its plainest: the Machine.
            For Ballard, the Machine is a place of tedium, and ignorance, and cruelty.  He sees little use in his mundane job an secretly questions the purpose of the Machine.  When tragedy strikes, Ballard is forced to embark on a paranoid journey that will take him outside of the Machine, and everything he's ever known, over the edge into the darkness, past the point of no return... toward the blackness known as Marrow's Pit.

The Godgame 1: The Godgame
Genre: Horror, Steampunk, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Meridian Codez
Publication date: 10.1.2015
Pages: 242

Some say the world of Meridian is in its last age of existence.  The Flood is coming, an event that will wipe the planet clean of corruption.  But for humanity, there are more immediate troubles.  A war is brewing between the decadent and industrial City of Talos and the rural territory of Nova.
            When twelve-year-old Ash Alexander is recruited by the Novan militia, his life - and the life of each member of his family - is thrown into chaos, into a war far deadlier than anyone could have predicted.
            While Ash's sanity is tested against the horrors of war; a woman seeks to uncover the mysteries of the School of the Unseen in her lifelong quest to travel the world; a man will do anything to cure his wife of a horrible sickness; and the chief advisor to the ruler of Talos will align himself with grotesque and otherworldly beings in order to achieve his ambitions.
            The Godgame has begun.

The Godgame 2: The Blood of Talos
Genre: Horror, Steampunk, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Meridian Codex
Publication date: 10.1.2015
Pages: 229

The territory of Nova is in chaos.  The Talosian attack has left hundreds dead, the village of Fallowvane burned, and the Alexander family scattered.  While her son is taken prisoner before the ruler of Talos for an insidious purpose, a determined mother emerges as the unlikely commander of the Novan militia.
            Here a young girl leaves everything behind in search of a new life; a woman seeks the truth to a dark conspiracy; and a man without knowledge of its cultures and customs will enter the City with warning of a threat far deadlier than the war between Nova and Talos, something that already gnaws at the edges of Meridian, bringing with it the smell of rotting flowers, and death.

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