Saturday, October 31, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: AMONG THE STACKS: Kealan Patrick Burke


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Kealan!!  Welcome to The Gal.  Thanks for stopping by.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Kealan Patrick Burke:
Starting with the easy one, eh?  Well, I'm from Ireland.  I write books and design covers, but all of this is just a facade to keep people from figuring out who and what I really am.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
People know pretty much all there is to know about me.  At least the stuff that's worth knowing.  I'm mouthy and don't have many secrets.  The few I do have, obviously I'd rather not say or they wouldn't be secrets anymore.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
A tattered old hardcover book of fairy tales with creepy illustrations.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
A combination of discovering Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King early on, and watching horror movies with my mother on Friday nights, led me to my fascination with storytelling.  I've been writing since I was about eight  years old.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I have a home office, away from the hustle and bustle, but if inspiration strikes, I can write anywhere.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
None.  I'm very boring.  Unless procrastination can be considered a quirk, in which case, I'm prone to frequent periods of quirkiness.  

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
Overcoming self-doubt.  There comes a point in every story where my enthusiasm takes a hit and I start questioning myself.  It's always been this way, and I suspect it always will.  Most of the time I soldier on, but there are times when it can kill a story.  That's the worst.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
A lot of Stephen King's early stuff inspired me, as did the work of Charles L. GrantRamsey Campbell, and a whole host of others.  These days I like to read Dennis LehaneJohn ConnollyCormac McCarthyKen Bruen, and many more.  I'm a voracious reader.  Naming favorites is cruel and unusual punishment, but in one way or another, I get inspired by almost every book I read.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
Good writing, characters, dialogue, and plot.  A good balance between technical mastery and the ability to draw in the reader.  All the flowery prose in the world doesn't make a good story unless all the other elements are there.

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?

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I think to create a character you love, you have to imbue them with the best qualities of people you know and admire, people you love in real life.  That's what brings them alive on the page and keeps you, and the reader, invested in their journey.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
Probably Timmy Quinn.  I learned at a very early age that the world had teeth.  Substitute his ghosts with my own demons and we're one and the same.

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?

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I loathe bad book covers, and while I might forgive it if it's a book by an author I love, there's little chance I'll pick up a book by a writer I've never heard of if the cover is atrocious.  I design all my own digital book covers and a fair amount of the print editions, too.  Even when I haven't, I've been fortunate enough to work with professional publishers who feel the same way I do about the cover art: if you want a reader to notice the book, the cover is critical.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
Writing is as much a learning process as reading.  Every sentence I write teaches me something, whether about the mechanics of writing, or about myself.  With the advent of digital publishing, I've also learned a lot about technical requirements for making a book look good.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
There have been many, but the one that stands out is the end of my short story The Grief Frequency.  I wanted very badly for things to work out for the main character and knew that if I made that happen, I'd have been chickening out and betraying the organic direction of the story.  Ending it the way I did, the way I had to, left me quite upset.
            Also, the description of Momma-In-Bed from Kin.  Shudder.  I had to take a shower after that one.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
Every writer has a different perspective on life, love, death, fear, and horror.  My books are my way of exploring those themes in the voice I've developed as a result of my own experiences.  So reading my books, you're getting inside my head.  I apologize in advance.

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)?

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I rarely have difficulty coming up with a title.  Sometimes it's the first thing to suggest itself.  Other times it comes to me midway through the story.  And sometimes it'll change a dozen times before I settle on the right one.  It's a fun part of the process, and easily the least taxing.  But a good book title is as important as a good book cover.  Imagine how much harder a sell The Shining would have been if King called it: The Alcoholic Who Beat His Kid.  Oh, and There's a Creepy Hotel in Colorado with Dead People in It.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
A novel is a much bigger undertaking, thus I feel more of a sense of accomplishment when I type THE END on something I've been working on for months to years.  But I love writing short stories, too.  It's less the length of the tale than the telling.  That's why I'm here.  I love what I do, no matter the length.

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.

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I'm primarily known for the Timmy Quinn series of books, which follows the life of a young boy whose life is altered drastically by a  chance encounter with a ghost on the banks of a local pond when he's eleven years old.  These books have proven pretty popular over the almost ten years it took me to complete them.  Another fan favorite tends to be my novel Kin, which is at the opposite side of the spectrum.  While Timmy's stories are quiet, creepy ghost stories, Kin is an ultra-violent exploration of the emotional aftermath of a Texas Chainsaw-like event.
            I'd like for readers to have a good time with my books, that's all.  I think unless you're writing an instruction manual or academic volume, it shouldn't be the writer's place to dictate what the reader should take away from the books.  That's half the fun of it, after all.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I don't really retain much about the stuff that gets cut from my novels, though I do remember that The Turtle Boy had a much different ending in the first draft.  Once I realized it was going to be a series and that there were more stories to tell, I changed it a great deal.  Generally, though, if something gets cut from my books, it needed to be, and it fades rather quickly from memory.

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?)

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I don't have any completed novels or stories in the trunk, but I have roughly a million works in fragments, some of which will die there and others which will be revised as time allows.  I've been able to cannibalize some good stuff from those fragments over the years, so they're nice to have around.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I'm currently working on two novels.  The first is a series featuring Cassandra Quinn, Timmy Quinn's daughter, called Night Falls on Memory Lane; the second is a sequel to Kin.  Other than that, there are the usual plethora of stories in various magazines and anthologies, and a top secret project I'm quite excited about that will hopefully see the light of day next year.

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

Kealan Patrick Burke:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
It was an HONOR having you here today and thanks for being a part of The Gal's 31 Days of Horror.
            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?

Kealan Patrick Burke:
I'd like to thank you for the questions and for having me on the site, and I'd also like to extend a thank you to my readers who keep me going!


About the author:
Born and raised in Dungarvan, Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of five novels, over a hundred short stories, seven collections, and editor of four acclaimed anthologies.  He has worked as a waiter, a drama teacher, a mapmaker, a security guard, an assembly-line worker at Apple Computers, a salesman (for a day), a bartender, landscape gardener, vocalist in a grunge band, and, most recently, a fraud investigator.  He also played the male lead in Slime City Massacre, director Gregory Lumberton's sequel to his cult B-movie classic Slime City, alongside scream queens Debbie Rochon and Brooke Lewis.
            When not writing, Kealan designs covers for print and digital books through his company Elderlemon Design.  To date, he has designed covers for Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, Scott Nicholson, Bentley Little, William Schoell, Tim Lebbon and Hugh Howey, to name a few.
            In what little free time remains, Kealan is a voracious reader, movie buff, videogamer (Xbox), and road-trip enthusiast.
            A movie based on his short story Peekers is currently in development through Lionsgate Entertainment.

About the books:

Kin
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Publication date: 10.25.2011
Pages: 306

On a scorching hot summer day in Elkwood, Alabama, Claire Lambert staggers naked, wounded, and half-blind away from the scene of an atrocity.  She is the sole survivor of a nightmare that claimed her friends, and even as she prays for rescue, the killers - a family of cannibalistic lunatics - are closing in.
            A soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder returns from Iraq to the news that his brother is among the murdered in Elkwood.
            In snowbound Detroit, a witness trapped in an abusive relationship gets an unexpected visit that will lead to bloodshed and send her back to the road to a past she has spent years trying to outrun.
            And Claire, the only survivor of the Elkwood Massacre, haunted by her dead friends, dreams of vengeance... a dream which will be realized as grief and rage turn good people into cold-blooded murderers and force alliances among strangers.
            It's time to return to Elkwood.
            In the spirit of such iconic horror classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance, Kin begins at the end and studies the possible aftermath for the survivors of such traumas upon their return to the real world - the guilt, the grief, the thirst for revenge - and sets them on an unthinkable journey... back into the heart of darkness.

Timmy Quinn 1: The Turtle Boy
Genre: Horror, Ghosts, Young Adult
Publisher: Necessary Evil Press
Publication date: 9.2.2010
Pages: 87

School is out and summer has begun.  For eleven year old Timmy Quinn and his best friend Pete Marshall, the dreary town of Delaware, Ohio comes a place of magic, hidden treasure and discovery.  But on the day they encounter a strange young boy sitting on the bank of Myers Pond, a pond playground rumor says may hide turtles the size of Buicks, everything changed.  For it soon becomes apparent that dark secrets abound in the little community, secrets w which come cupped in the hands of the dead, and in a heartbeat, Timmy and Pete's summer of wonders becomes a season of terror, betrayal and murder.

Timmy Quinn 2: The Hides
Genre: Horror, Ghosts, Young Adult
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications
Publication date: 5.1.2005
Pages: 156

It's been almost seven years since the events of Myers Pond.  Seven years since a child rose from the dead, seeking Timmy Quinn's help in finding a murderer, a search that left more questions than answers in its terrifying wake.  But for Timmy, the dead never leave.  They're everywhere, reaching out to him, and there is nowhere to hide from their quiet desperation.
            Following a nightmarish encounter at home, Timmy's search for peace takes him to his grieving grandmother, and a small harbor town on the South coast of Ireland.
            But no peace can exist in a place whose past is colored by hate, betrayal and murder, and it is not long before Timmy realizes his haven has become a cage.
            And in the very foundations of an old crumbling factory, the dead are gathering.
            Uniting.
            To save his life and the lives of those he loves, Timmy Quinn must step behind the Curtain, into the realm of the dead and face something far more terrifying than he has ever encountered before - a monstrous entity known only as The Hides...

Timmy Quinn 3: Vessels
Genre: Horror, Ghosts, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloodletting Press
Publication date: 11.21.2006
Pages: 137

On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, an unpiloted boat drifts ashore, watched by a man to whom the dead are something to be feared...
            In a small stone chapel that stands hunkered against the vicious island winds, a woman whispers a frantic prayer to the gathering dark as something pale and dreadful scratches at the window.
            A young girl races to the shore to meet her lover and find something monstrous instead...
            And in a confessional, a dead man waits to tell his sins...
            A gunshot in a church in Los Angeles leads Tim Quinn halfway around the world and into a nightmare, for on Blackrock Island, he will find love, murder and madness, and discover an earth-shattering truth about the Curtain, and those who hide behind it.

Timmy Quinn 4: Peregrine's Tale
Genre: Horror, Ghosts, Young Adult
Publication date: 12.20.2010
Pages: 66

The fourth volume in the award-winning Timmy Quinn series.

At eleven years of age, strange things started to happen to a boy named Timmy Quinn.  His ordinary life was abruptly thrown into chaos by the revelation that there exists a separate plane of existence reserved solely for the vengeful spirits of the murdered: The Curtain.  Worse, Timmy is a conduit for these monstrous entities, allowing them to walk freely between worlds to exact their brutal vengeance.
            His search for answers has taken halfway around the world, forcing him to endure many horrors, among them the revelation that the spiritual realm known as The Stage may have been man-made, and that the dead do not operate of their own free will, but are instead influenced by an enigmatic figure known only as "Peregrine."
            About this man, Timmy knows nothing.  But h e will learn, and in time, he will come to know Peregrine as an adversary worse than the vengeful dead.
            This is Peregrine's Tale.

Timmy Quinn 5: Nemesis
Genre: Horror, Ghosts, Young Adult
Publisher: Thunderstorm Books
Publication date: 10.1.2012
Pages: 257

"We no longer need the sun to cast our shadows, for we have become them."

For over twenty years Tim Quinn has lived in the shadow of death.  Now, the Curtain has come down and the dead no longer need him to facilitate their vengeance.  As the air turns amber, the shadows deepen, and murderous revenants begin to stalk the streets, Tim and the woman he loves must race to find Peregrine, the man they believe responsible for the sundering of the veil between the living and the dead.
            While the sins of the past intertwine with the present and vicious entities old and new arise to claim dominion, Tim must learn the secrets of The Stage and uncover the genesis of those who created it before The Stage becomes all there is.
            But just as there are enemies in Tim's dark new world, so too are there allies: The Conduits, people possessed of similar gifts who share a common goal: to find and destroy Peregrine before Peregrine destroys them all.
            In the final battle, Tim will fight not only for the woman he loves and the life she carries within her, but for the very fate of mankind.  It is a battle that will transcend realms, cost lives, and at last bring Tim Quinn face to face with his nemesis.

NEMESIS is the epic novel-length conclusion of the acclaimed Timmy Quinn series, which began in 2004 with the Bram Stoker Award-winning novella THE TURTLE BOY.

2 comments:

Charlene said...

Love me some Kealan Patrick Burke. Great interview!

Meghan H said...

I knew you'd like this. :) He's a really interesting guy. And very talented. I'm glad I had the chance to interview him.