Wednesday, October 21, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: AMONG THE STACKS: Kristopher Rufty


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Kristopher.  Welcome to The Gal and thank you for being a part of my 31 Days of Horror.
            For those who don't know, I told the authors to send me a "non-boring author photo."  Some of them listened.  Mr. Rufty here, however, told me that he didn't have any non-boring photos - and this one is PERFECT.  Definitely not boring - and look at all those beautiful things in the picture with him. :)
            Let's get this started with an easy question: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kristopher Rufty:
I'm a shy lad, who enjoys a lovely sunset on a cool, autumn day (seriously).  I have loved horror from a very young age - five years old.  Married, with two kids, and when this interview posts, we will have had our third child.  I'm a pretty private person at times, to the point that people sometimes take offense to it, though I mean no disrespect.  But that's just how I was raised, I suppose.  Usually I don't talk about myself unless I've been prompted.  I guess I follow the criteria of: Don't speak unless spoken to.  But that could also stem from my explicit shyness.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
Hmmm...

1. I watch cartoons more than my children do: Scooby Doo, Gumball, Teen Titans, and SpongeBob are some of my favorites now.  But I also watch the classics I grew up on.

2. The Munsters is my favorite show of all time.

3. I'm an avid wrestling fan.  Not only do I watch it, I research it, study old matches.  I can have conversations that last for hours with wrestling enthusiasts. 

4. I hate bugs.  Spiders for sure.  I have scarcely written about bugs because I can't handle doing so.  My wife has to kill any spider that enters our house.  But she hates mice, and I have no fear of them.  Whenever the cat catches one outside and devours it, I have no problem cleaning up the remains.  Is that morbid?  Maybe.  I bet if you knew that I smeared the blood on me and danced around afterward, you might consider that morbid.  I just consider it celebratory.  I'm kidding, but of course, that's what you'd expect me to say.  Haha.

5. I do a lot of volunteer work for a local church.  We go out and serve in the community.  I enjoy helping when I can, who I can.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
I believe the first book I have an actual memory of reading was Nate the Great.  I believe I was in first grade and I immediately starting ripping it off for my own stories.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
About to wrap up Demonic Color by Pauline Dunn.  I read a lot of paperbacks from the '80s.  I'm going to start on Abracadabra by Stephen Gresham after some Halloween reading.  This year I plan to read Spook Night by David Robbins, Torments by Lisa W. Cantrell, and to reread Once Upon a Halloween by Richard Laymon.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
Movies actually made me start writing.  Horror movies.  My father got me into reading John Saul, but I was already very much into Stephen King at the time, though I had only read some of his edited works in Reader's Digest, I believe it was.  I read my first King book (Gerald's Game) when I was 12 and that changed things.  Saul's books led me to writing wild stories, but even then, my stuff tended to progress naturally to darker, saucier territory.  My mother hated it.  She loved that I liked to write, just not what I wrote, but she never discouraged me.  Neither did my father.  He brought home an old, electronic typewriter that seriously weighed around fifty pounds.  It loudly hummed whenever it was turned on.  I loved the beast.  Wrote on it for years.  He bought me a word processor, which wasn't as fun to write on as the typewriter, but I still loved it.  I wrote on it until after our first child was born.  Shortly after that, I finally bought a computer.  Been writing on those ever since.  But I still write longhand a lot.  Most of my short stories are written longhand.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
To me, nothing beats sitting at my desk.  The only downside is that my desk is in a room without a door, and now we have converted all but a corner of it into a nursery.  Where we used to live, I could close the door and shut out everything while I wrote.  Now I have to write late at night or very early in the morning.  I also take the laptop into the bedroom and write there.  Usually I doze off when I'm in the bedroom, though.  We're planning on moving within the next year, so I'll make sure to at least find me a nook where I can hide so nobody can see me write. :)

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

Kristopher Rufty:
I don't think so.  When I was a smoker, I liked to step outside, pace and smoke, while speaking what I was about to write.  My kids hated seeing me do it.  They were much smaller then and, to them, it looked like a mad, rambling man.  Now, I don't really have any quirks.
            Processes?  I have one that I always do.  Whenever I'm about to write a book or short story, I sit down with a blank screen - it used to be a blank writing pad - and I start typing out my ideas.  It always starts off like a list, then it develops into a conversation with the story.  I don't do any kind of character breakdown during this process, because I don't know them yet.  But I will start hammering out certain details about the situation they're about to find themselves in.  I'll get to a point, then start writing a draft.  After a few chapters, I'll return to my notes, start the process again, and return to the book.  The majority of the ideas from those note sessions rarely make it to the book, though.  Certain aspects might remain, but the majority of the plot ideas I thought would take place, don't, or I'll find myself surprised by an occurrence I didn't cover in my notes.  This happens because I get to know the characters better and they surprise me.  The characters always surprise me.  If they didn't, there would be no point in writing about them.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
I still struggle with pacing.  I like to start it off on a strong point in the story, then let it settle down for a bit before throwing the characters into the storm.  I enjoy my characters and like spending time with them, and because of what I sometimes linger with them longer than is needed.  If you read my earlier stuff, you'll notice that I flew through the story, getting from point-to-point in very swift speeds.  By the time I reached Proud Parents, I was a bit more confident with characterization and spent more time with them than their situation, when some of my earlier novels, the situations dictated everything.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
It's hard to pick particular books from because I read so much and seem to always take something with me.  I really enjoyed The CellarThe Stake, and Endless Night by Richard Laymon (really everything he's written), Off Season by Jack Ketchum, Watchers by Koontz, and University by Little.  Many westerns and crime fiction books.  But one book that comes to mind is Misery by Stephen King.  I know everybody takes different things from a book, but what I read in that story was an author that, no matter his dire situation, he found that writing could get him through it.  To me, that book is a true testament to the kind of compassion writers have for their stories.  I love that book.  Might be one of my favorite King books.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
My personal opinion - what makes a good story is the experience and how it leaves you feeling when you're done.  I think if it affected you in any way, then it's a good story.  If you're angry at the long paragraphs, words you don't understand, or overall technique of the piece, the story failed at its job.  To me, I think a story is good if I had a fun time writing it, or reading it.  If I keep thinking about the impact it had on me, it's a success.

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?

Kristopher Rufty:
When I read, I tend to click with the majority of the characters in the story.  Something about each of them, I can relate to.  When I'm creating a character, they just...come to life on their own.  It's weird.  When I do my notes, I jot out the circumstances and maybe give a vague description of the person.  I might even go so far as to pick their occupation, or things they might like.  Nine times out of ten, these characteristics change while I'm writing.  It's a character seed.  I plant it with something in mind, but what grows isn't always what I expected to get.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
Wow.  Hmmm...Thinking about it now, I'd say Joel from PillowFace was a lot like me as a kid.  I based a lot of the areas around his house on where I grew up.  I hope I would never have done some of the things he does in the book if I was in his situation, but it's hard to know for sure.  Andy from The Skin Show and Gary from The Lurkers are a lot like me, I suppose.  David from Angel Board, too.

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?

Kristopher Rufty:
Yes, I am.  A friend of mine actually modeled for a romance cover once.  I was so happy for him...until I saw it.  He was so ashamed of how badly it turned out, he never promoted the book.  I truly believe most people, maybe even myself included, judge a book by its cover.  It takes a lot for somebody to move past the initial disappointed shock of an awful cover to actually read some of the pages.
            I've been very fortunate with the publishers I've worked with.  They reach out to me for my ideas on what I would like to see on the cover.  I'll give them a few samples of what I'd like to see, those are handed off to the artist, who takes his/her own ideas with my and the editor's ideas and comes up with something amazing.  I've been very blessed with my book covers.  I love them all.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
Trust my instincts, trust the story.  There are times when I'm writing and veer off the path of my ideas.  I tend to disagree with the story's progression at times, especially if they stray from my notes.  I've even gone back, changed the story to match my original notes and have written myself into a slump because of it.  When that happens, I go back, start again where the story changed things and travel where it wanted to go all along.  All is fine from them on.
            I've also learned a great deal about what to write and what not to.  When I was starting out, I wrote everything.  Everything.  Described what the character was doing when they were undressing, piece by piece.  I would describe each tree.  Then I was told by Don D'Auria that I was over-writing.  Most people know what a tree looks like.  If it's a specific tree, he told me I could sum it up just by using its name.  Maybe I could describe it being olden and limbs heavy, etc.  Now when I write somebody undressing, I keep it quick: "Mary stripped, then got int he shower."  "Mary was walking through the woods, oak trees towered over her, offering lots of shade."  Same point has been made with a lot less wording.

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

Kristoper Rufty:
A scene coming up in my next Samhain book, Desolation.  Actually, that book is filled with hard scenes.  Since I don't want to spoil anything in the book, another hard scene to write was Ricky's assault in A Dark Autumn.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
Oh, wow.  What a question.  Maybe the way I write my books, the style.  I just like to have fun, writing in a pulpy style that's easy to read.  I usually don't hold back.  I know I tend to get a little raunchy in my stories, and that's fine.  If somebody has a good time reading them, then I'm happy.
            Nobody is safe in my books, and I think that's what keeps my readers on edge a bit more.

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)?

Kristopher Rufty:
I think a title is as important as the story itself.  I'll spend a lot of time on a title, sometimes changing the title as the story grows or changes.  Usually the title pops in my head before I even begin writing the story, other times the title doesn't come until way later.  The Vampire of Plainfield started off with that title, but was later changed to Plainfield Gothic, then switched back to its original title.  What was strange was how my style changed with the title switch.  When I added "gothic" into the title, the story took on a Shirley Jackson feel.  That wasn't the tone I wanted.  So I reverted back to my original title and the story shifted back to what it needed to be and I was able to finish it pretty quickly after that.  I think a title will catch somebody's interest just as easily - if not quicker - than the cover.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
Finishing a story, no matter the length, brings about a feeling of accomplishment.  When I've had a hard time writing the story (short or long), the relief and gratification is even greater, along like being victorious in a battle.  I'm happy to write the story, even happier to finish it.  It's a wonderful blessing, getting to write it all.

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.

Kristopher Rufty:
My books aren't for everyone.  I tell that to anybody who's interested in reading my stuff.  Parents have brought their kids to my tables, asking which of my books they should let their seventh grader read.  I tell them - and this is the truth - none of them.  After I explain why, I leave it up to the parent to decide.  When I sign the book, I remind them in a joking way that I was against this from the start. Haha.
            I tend to go for the jugular, naturally.  And there's some sex in some of my stories, and in others there isn't any.  My target audience is anyone who wants to have fun reading stories, the same kind of fun I have while writing them.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
Every now and then, they are chunks taken out of my books, usually just certain things to help the flow.  I know there's a popular saying: "Kill your darlings" and I don't know if I completely agree with it.  I believe the story should be as polished as possible, but if something works well with the story, then it should stay in.
            Angel Board was heavily trimmed.  There's a character in there, Martin, who works with David at the office supply store.  In the book that Samhain released, he's a minor character, only appearing in a couple of scenes.  In the original draft, he was a major character.  I wrote in his wife and their newborn child.  Martin is later killed during the angel's rampage.  I cut his stuff out myself because, instead of adding to the story, it seemed to slow it down.  I found that I liked Martin and his family, wanted to explore them even more.  But this book wasn't the place for Martin.
            Oak Hollow was cut down from 165,000 words to 98,000.  A lot of characters went out, as well as scenes.  I had just read Salem's Lot and was heavily influenced by it while I was doing my notes.  I wrote it in an odd style, completely unlike how I usually write.  It turned into a multidimensional tome.  I enjoyed it, but not the way I thought I would.  It took me a year to write it, most of it written while I was sick with pneumonia.  When it was done, I was glad to be rid of it.  I turned it into Don D'Auria.  A couple of weeks later, he sent me an email.  He enjoyed the book, but asked me to write it again, with my own voice.  I'm glad he did that.  I sat down and stripped it apart, starting at the beginning and working back through it.  One day, I think it'd be neat to release the unabridged version, just to see what people think of it.

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?)

Kristopher Rufty:
Unfinished short stories, novels, and novellas.  I have this killer rat story that I have yet to write an editing for.  Every time I go back to it, I have such a good time reading it, adding to it.  Maybe one day I'll reach the ending.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
The Vampire of Plainfield just came out a few days ago from Sinister Grin Press.  Thunderstorm Books released a limited, hardcover edition last summer.
            In January, Samhain Publishing releases Desolation, a novel that has zero supernatural elements in it and yet, is the most brutal thing I've ever written.  I'm very nervous about it.
            In May, DarkFuse will put out Something Violent, my first of three books with them.  This was a blast to write.  A bit of an experiment with contrasting point-of-views.  A bit of crime fiction thrown in with some horror and a love of exploitation movies.  It's about a thrill-killing couple that lose the thrill of killing, so they kidnap a renowned marriage counselor to help them.
            Then in September, Samhain Publishing will release my horror-western, Seven Buried Hill.  I'm actually doing the rewrites and polishing on this book right now.  I love it.  I've always loved westerns.  My father always wanted me to write one, and I did write a few western short stories throughout the years.  My grandfather is a big fan of westerns and I plan to give him a copy.

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

Kristopher Rufty:
I'm on Facebook and Twitter.  My blog is located here.  I've been mostly lending it out to my buddies, but I plan to really work on it more and more.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Learning more about you in this interview, I realize just how perfect that picture you chose actually is.  
            It's been great fun having you here.  And you're welcome back any time. :)
            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?

Kristopher Rufty:
I just want to thank everyone who's been intrigued enough by my stories to try reading one.  The fans I've made in the few years I've been doing this are amazing.  I love them all.
            Here's to a lot more fun together over the years.


About the author:
Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets.  He's written the books The Vampire of PlainfieldJaggerBigfoot BeachThe Lurking SeasonPillowFace, and more.  If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he's often sent to his desk without supper.

About the books:

The Vampire of Plainfield
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication date: 10.15.2015
Pages: 386

Plainfield, Wisconsin.  1954.

Robbing graves to appease his malevolent desires, Ed Gein inadvertently sets loose an ancient vampire on the unsuspecting town of Plainfield.  As the number of missing persons rises, Ed realizes the vampire's ultimate plan has been put into motion, and to prevent his dastardly practices from being exposed, he decides to slay the vampire  himself.  But he soon understands that he's all the hope Plainfield has.  As the few people closest to Ed are sucked into the vampire's realm, he'll be forced to reach deep inside himself to bring the incredible nightmare to an end.
            On this night, the Ghoul of Plainfield must battle the Vampire of Plainfield...to the death!

Jagger
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication date: 2.16.2015
Pages: 335

Other than the trailer park left to her by her deceased daddy, Amy's favorite treasure is Jagger, her 180-pound bull mastiff.  One day, while she is away, Clayton, her best friend's scumbag boyfriend, sneaks into her yard and takes the dog.  His prize fighting pit bull was killed during his last match, costing a lot of bad people a lot of money.  To make up for his dog's losses, and to save his own life, Clayton enlists the help of a medical student dropout to turn Jagger into a killing machine by pumping him full of experimental drugs and muscle enhancers.  Now Jagger is a monster, a beast that can't feel pain, with an unquenchable thirst for blood.  He quickly breaks out of his pen and starts making his way home, tearing apart anyone in his path on his way to the one he feels has betrayed him the most - Amy.

Bigfoot Beach
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Lazarus Press
Publication date: 4.13.2015
Pages: 340

A bizarre, brutal murder.  A missing woman.  And a giant footprint in the sand.  Now, the dying beach community known as Seashell Cove finally has a hook to attract the tourists - a Bigfoot on the beach!  As the summer season winds down, the tourists go home and the town begins preparing for the colder months.
            Soon, more strange footprints are found, other mysterious sightings are reported.  Then the deaths begin.  Could there really be a Bigfoot running loose in Seashell Cove?
            A tracker with a personal agenda, the local sheriff, a hero whose fifteen minutes of fame expired a long time ago, and a female reporter looking for a scoop will team up to find out for sure.

The Lurking Season
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publication date: 2.3.2015
Pages: 339

The legends were true.  The creatures were real.  And now they're back!
            People have whispered about the tiny humanoid creatures in the woods and cornfields of Doverton for decades.  Three years ago, a wildfire devoured much of the rural village, but as the ashes were cleared, more questions were uncovered - including abandoned houses, missing people and dead bodies.  Since the fire seemed to wipe out the majority of the town's woodland acres, the murmurs about the creatures have gone quiet.  The residents have begun to rebuild their lives, trying to forget about the tragedy that nearly killed them all.  Yet the mysteries remained unsolved.
            Now a group of people will go there with good intentions, venturing into the dead heart of Doverton, thinking it's safe.  But they will find out that the legend was only sleeping.  Now it's awake.  And ready to kill again.

PillowFace
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Lazarus Press
Publication date: 3.9.2012
Pages: 240

Twelve year old Joel Olsen loves all things devoted to horror.  Movies, comics, books and, of course, his true passion, special effects.  Being raised by his older sister Haley after the sudden death of their parents, Joel is in a world truly of his own.  But at the launch of summer vacation, Joel finds lying bloodied and near death in his backyard, a masked man that is the epitome of what he adores.  A flesh and blood slasher maniac!  When he invites the masked man into his home to recover from his wounds, an unexpected friendship is born, but Joel quickly realizes he's actually become involved in a true to life horror tale that he'll be lucky to survive.  This maniac, known as Pillowcase, is not only an uncontrollable killing machine, but he also has others searching for him, and they will go to great and bloody lengths to find him.

1 comment:

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Ooh, I'm reading THE STAKE right now.