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Interview with E.M. MacCallum

Front cover of zombie killer bill by E.M. MacCallumTell us about what you have written.

It is a western/horror novella titled, “Zombie-Killer Bill.” It’s about a gunslinger who is commissioned to kill the Illegal zombies in the wild west. In this particular novella he’s up against a clever mad-scientist who plots to change the zombie disease as they know it, though at the price of many innocent lives.

What inspired you to write those things?

Strangely, it was a submission call-out that started the whole thing. My short story of the same title will appear in Sonar4 Publishing’s anthology called “Throw Down Your Dead” coming out December 2010.
After the submission I was asked if I’d be willing to write a novella based on the same character. I thought it was an excellent idea and had so much fun with it.

Do you have a favorite thing that you’ve ever written?

I can’t pick out one favorite thing that I’ve ever written. Each new project becomes a favorite as I go along.

Do you have a favorite character that you write about? If so, who is it, what makes it your favorite and tell us about the character.

I do have a favorite character but it changes with each story. In “Zombie-Killer Bill” one of my favorite characters was Garrett. He was so much fun to create. He was perverse, friendly, comedic and endearing. Oh, the shenanigans.

Almost every writer is inspired by someone else. Does anyone inspire you?

The person who inspired me when I was young was an author named Ann Hodgman. She wrote a series called, “My Babysitter is a Vampire.” It inspired me to write my own version when I was seven.
Now, I find writers like Robert McCammon, Richard Matheson and John Ajvide Lindqvist, just to name a few, to be the most inspiring.

How long have you been writing?

Over twenty years, but hadn’t looked into publishing until 2009. It’s been an exciting couple of years so far.

When did you start writing?

The writing bug really hit me when I was in Grade 3. I wrote a 100pg story, which consisted of one sentence and a picture, but I was really proud of it. After that I began making up my own stories.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written? Why

I find most of what I write to be strange because with each story I try to push my own boundaries.
The latest hunk of strange I’ve come up with is a twisted love where a fledgling necromancer reveals his adoration for a young woman by not eating her.

Some authors have said that their parents were supportive of their efforts when young, and some have said they had to sneak around and hide. What wasthe case with you?

My parents were laid back on the subject. They supported me but didn’t lean over my shoulder to see what I was writing.
If I needed something for my writing they always helped if I asked. I even got them to buy me a typewriter one year because the really old one I borrowed from my Grandma pinched my fingers and a few letters didn’t work too well. (This was before we got a computer).

Who drives the story, you or your characters?

I like to think it’s a combined effort. For the majority of my earlier stories, I’ve driven most of the story but recently I’ve been trying to allow my characters to take the reigns. It’s taking some practice.

Who proofreads and critiques your work?

Whoever I can rope in. Mostly I rely on friends and family to help me out. They’ve all been great at giving constructive criticisms. I can never accept a, “yeah, it was good.” I badger them for details.

Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere and anywhere. I keep a note pad on me at all times and have about two in my house. I find road-trips, outlines, pictures, dreams and socializing dredge up most of my ideas.
I’m one of those creepy people who can sit in a public place and make-up names, careers and situations for random people that walk by.
I’m sorry to anyone out there who’s caught me staring!

Where do you write?

Mostly, at my computer in my very own room where no one can bug me.

When do you write – set times or as the mood moves you?

Nighttime and complete silence offers the best mood though I’m not restricted to it. I can write anywhere and everywhere.

If you could take a character from someone else’s book on a date, who would it be and where would you take him/her/it?

Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. That character is hilarious, entertaining and witty.
On our date I’d probably take him out vampire hunting, just for giggles or maybe a sci-fi/fantasy convention, but that would be showing off.

If you could invite any other writer to dinner who would ask and why?

I would ask Robert McCammon. I love his writing and his intricate characters. If I could pick his brain even for an hour I think I’d be in heaven.

Do you use the Internet to check facts, or the library?

I miss the library but it’s been Internet lately. It’s easy to cross-reference and gather all the information in minutes/hours. Though if I need something very specific I’ll definitely go to the library or just buy the book I need.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I’ve always had a passion for drawing. I also play video games, watch lots of movies, exercise and hang around friends and family.

Do you ever have a problem with writer’s block?

Definitely. I don’t think there’s a single writer out there that hasn’t suffered from it at one point or another. We all have our ways around it. Mine’s stepping back and working on something else. Sometimes I involve myself so deeply that I can’t see beyond the problems I’ve created and need a day or two to relax and think outside the box.

Who’s your favorite author (other than yourself)? Why?

There are too many favorites. A few from my top ten would be: Robert McCammon, Richard Matheson, Richard Laymon, J.K. Rowling and Jim Butcher.

What’s your favorite book (other than one of your own)? Why?

“Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It has been a long time since there was a book that I “just couldn’t put down.” I found it to be haunting, frightening and fascinating.
I admired how he tackled taboo subjects, created complex characters and had me empathizing with bullies. He pushed boundaries that I thought no one would ever touch and he did it amazingly well.

What’s the last book, other than your own, that you read and really enjoyed?

“The Dragon Factory” by Jonathan Maberry. Highly entertaining.

Some writers say that they have to write a certain amount of words every day. Do you do this? Why or why not?

I try to write three to five pages a day for up to five days a week. If I’m on a roll or have more time it can be more. I think it’s important to keep writing and continuously practice.

If you could be any character (other than one of your own) from a book or movie who would it be? Why?

Anita Blake. She is tough, stubborn, sarcastic and funny. The handsome men that trail after her isn’t too bad either.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes! Explore a new author or genre on your next trip to the bookstore/library. There are some gems out there that I would have missed otherwise.

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Posted by on Dec 26 2010. Filed under Authors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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