Thursday, December 1, 2011

Interview with Horror Author Andrew Wolter

About this time last year, I learned of a brand-new charity drive founded by horror author Andrew Wolter. The charity was called Horror Against AIDS, and the goal was to provide toys for Christmas to children in the Phoenix, Arizona area affected by the epidemic of pediatric AIDS.

I had gotten to know Andrew Wolter through social media and our shared love of horror and dark fiction, and when he asked if I would consider supporting his cause, all I needed to do was check out the charity's website and I became an enthusiastic supporter.

Andrew is now in the middle of the second annual Horror Against AIDS toy drive, and as December 1 marks the twenty-fourth annual World AIDS day, it seems the perfect time to post my latest author interview.

Andrew Wolter is the author of the novels The Rules of Temptation, Nightfall, Much of Madness, More of Sin and the upcoming Seasons in his Abyss: A New World Mythos, as well as numerous short stories. He very graciously agreed to undergo a lengthy interrogation without the benefit of his lawyer...

You’re in the middle of your second annual charity drive, Horror Against AIDS. For those who may not be familiar with this cause, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I formed the Horror Against AIDS fundraising group in 2010 to help bring awareness and raise funds for children who are affected by HIV/AIDS. As both a dark fiction author and non-fiction columnist for a nationwide LGBT publication, I felt it would be a great idea to pull my resources from leaders and fans in the horror and LGBT communities to help in the battle against this horrible epidemic.

The funds raised through my Horror Against AIDS fundraiser go toward the purchase of toys for the children of Logan’s Playground (A Sanctuary for Children Affected by HIV). Logan’s Playground is located in Phoenix, Arizona and houses approximately 150 children whose lives have been affected by HIV. Without the help of such fundraising, these kids wouldn’t have the means to enjoy Christmas.

A toy drive seems like an unusual choice of charities for a dark fiction author. Why this particular cause?

I have always been a major supporter in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Throughout the years, I have seen a number of friends and loved ones affected by this epidemic. I have looked this untamed beast in the eyes and have suffered the horror which it has brought to the lives of those around me. It made me realize that some of the most terrifying plots in the world of horror fiction couldn't compare to the pain and hell of those affected by AIDS experience. Four years ago, I witnessed the last days of my best friend pass away from his longtime battle with HIV/AIDS. It caused my rage to come out, stronger than ever, in advocating AIDS awareness to all.

Since then, I have used what free time I've had to get involve with a number of projects revolving the LGBT community. From being an active member of the Human Rights Campaign to Thanksgiving drives benefitting the homeless, to being a strong voice in the “It Gets Better” campaign, I have done my best to use my voice to bring both tolerance and awareness to the issues affecting the LGBT community (my community).

Last year, I decided I wanted to do something more for the LGBT community. Not that everything I had done and was currently doing wasn't enough; rather, I felt the need to take the next step in making my voice heard on the issues that were closest to my heart. I thought to myself, Imagine the possibilities if you could take your strong followings from both the horror industry and LGBT community! Hence, I decided to create the group Horror Against AIDS.

During the Christmas season, many charities compete for a seemingly shrinking pool of resources. What would you say to readers who may be trying to decide what charity to donate to?

While there are many fantastic charities from which people can choose to donate, my biggest concern in this is how much of the money is truly going to the cause. Many charities claim to be “non-profit”; however, a number of them don’t consider certain overhead as an actual expense. Thus, I’m aware of several “large” charities in which 100% of the donations do not go to their cause. When donating monies to any charity, I always take it upon myself to ensure that 100% of all funds are going to the cause. This might mean having to talk with charity organizers or directors, but to know that every dime donated goes to the actual cause (this is the case with the Horror Against AIDS fundraiser) is the only factor in my decision to donate to certain charities. While I am by no means putting down charities that are household names, I prefer to stick with organizations where I know that every dime donated is accounted for.

You say you want to be known as an author without genre limitations. In an age where the so-called experts claim book sales rely on “branding” and marketability, how do you feel this affects your work?

This question comes up often.

I think my ability to go against and blend genres has definitely affected my sales (not necessarily the work itself).

I don’t feel a writer should be limited to a scene or characterization because it may be considered “over the top.” If a tale contains the fundamentals of a plausible story (beginning, middle, end, etc), it deserves to be both published and read. I don’t limit myself at all. My characters can be crude and my scenes tend to be graphic (layered with sex and gore). Ultimately, there is a moral to each of my tales and novels. That is what my readers have grown to love. I’m not afraid to mirror the pure reality of our daily lives (as much as we may want to keep certain exploits secret) into the actions and mannerisms of my characters.

Being that I don’t believe in limitations, I think the only boundaries that haven’t been pursued are those silenced by the voice of the author in the name of current trends and which books are selling thousands of units. I may not be a bestselling novelist, but my voice is strong. I’m not afraid to use it, and that is what readers enjoy about my works.

What’s most important to me is that I am content with the work I produce.

You recently released an updated and unabridged version of your 2008 novel, NIGHTFALL. What’s been added to the new version and why re-release it?

Two factors went into the re-release of NIGHTFALL. One being the availability to my readers at an affordable price; the other being the book being available with it’s original content.

One of the battles I faced with selling the initial manuscript was that the word count exceeded 150,000 words. In addition, another reason the novel was "passed up" by a couple publishers was that they felt two scenes in particular were potentially too graphic for readers (one of them incorporating bestiality). While I took such rejection in stride, I continued to shop the manuscript to other publishers. Ultimately, my persistence paid off when a small press contracted the novel. However, part of the publisher's decision to put the novel in print included cutting back the length of the book and toning down the two scenes in question previously pointed out by other potential publishers.

In August of 2008, NIGHTFALL became available to purchase. Although the original manuscript was altered and scenes omitted, the novel still made for a long book (almost 100,000 words). In a publishing world that was beginning to feel the excessive cost of printing, manufacturing and shipping such a lengthy novel, NIGHTFALL would see this reflected in its retail price. As a result, the book became available as a “collector's hardcover edition” with a hefty price tag. While it sold well, I longed to have my readers experience the book the way it was intended and at a cheaper cost.

Fast forward to 2011. With a brimming technology providing various electronic book platforms, I discovered that I could allow NIGHTFALL to be released the way it was initially intended. With the advent of Amazon Kindle, along with the growing interest in e-books, not only did I discover a way to forego the worries of a publisher's manufacturing and shipping costs, but I also found that I could present the original content of NIGHTFALL to the reader.

While the story remains the same, the unabridged version of NIGHTFALL contains additional references and those two “questionable” scenes to help further the readers experience with the characters.

Can you name some of the authors and/or works which have influenced you the most as a writer?

While there are so many great authors and works that have been a major inspiration, the following authors (and their works played a pivotal role in helping shape my writing):

Poppy Z. Brite’s DRAWING BLOOD and EXQUISITE CORPSE made me unafraid to create gay characters as major players in a story without having their sexuality become the crux of the plot.

John Rechy’s CITY OF NIGHT and THE COMING OF THE NIGHT taught me how to use sex between my characters as an instrument to move a plot forward.

Armistead Maupin’s TALES OF THE CITY series of books gave me insight on creating memorable characters with which readers could easily identify.

Of course, the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker taught me how to incorporate the most fantastic creations in a tale in which I could induce fear without compromising the belief of the story as a whole.

Hypothetical situation #1: You are marooned on a desert island, but before your ship sinks, you are given the opportunity to grab any one book of your choosing. What book do you choose, and why?

My choice would be Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY. I never tire of reading Wilde’s prose. The ideology expressed in that particular book (the purpose of life being to experience everything without any limits or boundaries) would make for a great mantra on an island that would offer a new, unexplored territory for me.

Hypothetical situation #2: You are given a choice by the Gods of Publishing. Your books can either bring you tremendous monetary wealth or they can be universally acclaimed as outstanding by the critics. Which do you choose, and why?

I would definitely choose the outstanding acclaim by critics. I’ve never seen myself making millions of dollars as a writer. In fact, I’m content with my writing allowing me to pay my bills and have a few nice things. Thus, the monetary wealth wouldn’t tempt me at all. However, to know that world of my tales are being praised and shared with others is enough to keep the stories coming for a long time.

What are you reading right now? What’s next on your “To Be Read” list?

I just finished reading Robert Dunbar’s MARTYRS AND MONSTERS . I must say that the book was a breath of fresh air in a world in which the horror genre is becoming less literary. Next up is Clive Barker’s ABARAT: ABSOLUTE MIDNIGHT and a return to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES (the latter being research for an upcoming project).

Thanks very much for taking the time to visit A Thrill a Minute. Any last words of wisdom you’d like to share with my thousands hundreds dozens handful of readers?

I’ve always been a firm believer in going after your passions and “owning the dream.” Quite often, I tell people that they are the only ones standing in the way of all they can achieve. Thus, I’ll end the interview on that note.

Thank you for having me as a guest. I truly appreciate it!

As the Christmas season gets into full swing, there's no question we're all bombarded by people and causes, all seemingly itching to get their hands on your wallet. In a shaky economy, it's not always easy to determine what charities will be receiving your hard-earned cash.

If you have the means and opportunity to donate and are looking for a worthy cause to support, please consider checking out Andrew Wolter's Horror Against AIDS. I did and am proud to be able to help provide a Christmas for children facing a future most of us cannot even imagine...

No comments: