Today’s special guest on my page is author M. R. Ward, whose short story, “The Road Back,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes authors from all over the world. Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:
1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn’t live without?
Coffee. I mean, I could live without it if I had to, but I wouldn’t want to.
2. What was your inspiration for your story?
After the buzz of my first short story, “The Open Road,” I knew I wanted to continue the story because I love a good horror series. The only feasible way I could continue was to tell Mindy McAllister’s story, who was only mentioned once in the first story.
3. If a genie could grant you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
I would wish for free-flowing words, to make a modest living from my writing, and to go back in time twenty years so I could advise myself to not give up on my dream.
4. Has reading influenced your decision to be a writer? What book(s) made you want to write?
I was a moderate reader as a child, but it wasn’t until my pre-teen years that I found a series right up my alley. R.L. Stine’s Fear Street was the first series of books I had to have and devoured them when they came out. They confirmed my love of mystery and horror.
5. How would you describe your writing process? For example, do you write in a specific place, have music playing or is that a no-no? Do you lean toward outlining specifics, or are you a pantser?
I write at my desk, usually without music. I have listened to some horror soundtracks at times, but it just depends on my mood. I don’t outline, which could be the reason it takes me so long to finish a story, but I plan a few plot points or scenes in my head and let the story go the way it wants.
6. When faced with the dreaded “writer’s block,” how do you push through and find inspiration? Is there a ritual or process you have to get yourself back on track?
I don’t. If I’m not feeling it, it’ll show, or I’ll just sit there and think of other things to do. I haven’t disciplined myself enough to push through or write every day.
7. Did you know how your story would end when you started writing? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?
I knew how it would end and foreshadowed the scene throughout the story. An interesting tidbit: I started the story with “dusk” and ended it with “dawn” in reference to the film From Dusk till Dawn.
8. If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters? Who would direct?
I have no idea who I would cast, but I would love it if Blumhouse Productions produced it with Andy Muschietti directing. He did a phenomenal job with 2017’s IT.
9. How close did your story end up being to the original concept you had in your mind? What were the biggest changes? Why did you make them?
The story ended up the way I had envisioned. There weren’t any big changes I had to make.
10. What book were you reading when you thought, This stuff sells??? Oh, hell, I can do that…
I can’t say.
11. Did you have to do any odd research for your story? How did you conduct that research, and then how was it used in your story?
I researched the New Haven area to find a real place for my characters to meet for coffee, but that was about it.
12. If you could pick one place to sit and write, where would it be?
I’m easily distracted, so I have to stick with my desk.
13. How closely do you relate to/identify with your characters? What inspired them? Did they take over your story or did you direct them?
I can’t say I identify with any of them. Mindy is the type of person who has no qualms sleeping with someone else’s boyfriend. Tommy is an all-around good guy who tries to protect Mindy at all costs. I’m a good guy too, but I couldn’t be a cop. I don’t have the gumption for it.
14. What do you consider your all-time favorite novel? One that you would read again and again.
Stephen King’s Under the Dome. I’ve only read it once, but while I was reading it, I knew it was the type of story I wanted to write. I started writing again after I finished it.
15. How much of your writing is outlined from the beginning and how much of it is ‘pantsed’ or written on the fly?
I don’t outline. I let the story take me where it wants to go.
16. What are your favorite snack-as-you-write or eat-as-you-write foods? How do they help your creative flow or process?
I might have a Dove dark chocolate every now and then while writing, but I don’t typically eat or drink anything while I’m writing.
17. How is your ACOW story typical or atypical of your writing in general?
“The Road Back” is typical of my writing, as it is horror, and that’s what I do. All of my stories, despite genre, deal with death, and who is more terrifying than the Deer Man?
A huge thank-you to M. R. Ward for taking the time to answer these questions! I would have to agree with his last statement: there’s no one more terrifying than the Deer Man!
If you want to be chilled to the bone by this fabulous story, you can order on Amazon (worldwide), Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, or get a FREE companion soundtrack CD if you order through Scout Media’s online store here: http://www.scoutmediabooksmusic.com/of-words-series/