Interview with Jeff Strand on his ferociously funny tales, writing and inspirations. | More2Read
 

Interview with Jeff Strand on his ferociously funny tales, writing and inspirations.



Jeff Strand is the four-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of 40+ books, including Blister, A Bad Day For Voodoo, and Wolf Hunt. Cemetery Dance magazine said “No author working today comes close to Jeff Strand’s perfect mixture of comedy and terror.” He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


 


Lou Pendergrast

Welcome! Thanks for having a chat today and letting me tickle a few feathers (or fur, shall we say). The last book I’ve read of yours was Dweller, a novel I loved, and now you have this new Ferocious tale. What’s it about? 

 

Jeff Strand

It’s about a man who lives with his niece way off the grid in a cabin deep in the woods. They start to notice odd behavior in the forest animals, which turns into a real problem when they discover that the animals are, in fact, zombies. 


 


Lou Pendergrast

Tell me more about the creature created in this and inspiration behind it? 

 

Jeff Strand

There are lots and lots of creatures in this. Zombie forest animals! Zombie squirrels and zombie bears and…I won’t give away all of the surprises. The inspiration was: “Zombie animals!!! How cool would that be???”

 


LP

How have you changed as a writer since Dweller?

 

Jeff Strand

Hopefully I’ve gotten better! I think there’s more care taken with each individual sentence these days. That said, it’s probably a weird comparison, because Dweller is a heartfelt, serious, epic tale, whereas Ferocious is crazy B-movie creature feature type of book. I’d done a couple of very, very dark novels (Sick House and Bring Her Back) before that and wanted to switch to “fun” horror. 



LP

Which of your works thus far was your most enjoyable to write and release into the world? 

 

Jeff Strand

It’s not my favorite of my novels, but A Bad Day For Voodoo was the most fun to write. I just really enjoyed the constant breaking of the fourth wall and all of the goofy self-referential stuff in that book. It was also the first time I got a contract with a big publisher for a ridiculous comedy.



LP

Jack Ketchum penned some great tales of visceral human horrors and taught many great aspiring authors. He had written a few blurbs for your works. Tell me what he meant to you and horror with his works. 

 

Jeff Strand

I’ve been a huge Ketchum fan since Off Season. Ironically, he was a fan of my work because of the humorous elements, not the horrific stuff. He wasn’t an influence on the level of, say, Richard Laymon, but Bring Her Back was intended to be like a Jack Ketchum novel done as a black comedy. 



LP

What ultimately do you hope to communicate with your books and be remembered for? 

 

Jeff Strand

Honestly, I’m just trying to entertain. There’s the occasional message (“It’s okay to fail” pops up in my Young Adult novels) but mostly I just want people to read my books, have a good time, and feel like they got their money’s worth. 


LP

When, where, and with what do you write? 

 

Jeff Strand

I generally write off and on all day. I’m neither a “morning” nor a “nighttime” writer. When it’s nice outside I like to write in my backyard. It’s not nice outside today so I’m writing this at my dining room table. My current computer is a MacBook Air—nothing is handwritten.


LP

Story mechanics, do you outline? 

 

Jeff Strand

When I have to, or when I need to. If a publisher says “We need the first three chapters and a synopsis before we’ll give you money to write that book,” I write the first three chapters and a synopsis. My current work-in-progress required me to write an outline, because there’s a huge plot twist halfway through and I need to make sure everything leading up to that is consistent with the “real” story of what’s going on. Typically, though, I prefer to have a general idea of how things end and maybe a few plot points along the way, but not a full outline. 


LP

What key advice would you give to the writer trying to write their first novel? 

 

Jeff Strand

It’s okay if your first novel sucks. It’s okay if your second novel sucks. It’s okay if you write ten novels that suck, as long as they suck progressively less. You don’t decide to become a football player and go straight to the NFL, and you have to practice to be a writer, too. 


LP

Ray Bradbury wrote: ”You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.” Did you lurk in libraries and what have they done for you?

 

Jeff Strand

Oh yeah. There’s no way I could’ve been as voracious of a reader as I was without the library. Sometimes readers will be embarrassed because they checked out my book from the library instead of buying a copy, and I have to say “No! Use that library card!” I love hearing that people got my books from the library. That’s what they’re for. 


LP

What three films are your favorites, your recommended viewing, and you wish you had written the screenplay for?

 

Jeff Strand

My three favorite movies right now (subject to change in five minutes) are SHAUN OF THE DEAD, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, and the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I’m not sure all of your criteria match all of the movies—I mean, part of what makes SHAUN OF THE DEAD so great is that it is very, very British, so I don’t wish I’d written that script, but I’ll go with these three.



LP

We are going to have little time travel. Pick an author and his book, you have a first edition and attending a book signing. Which book and author? What would be the one or two questions you would ask him about his novel, his writing, or writing life? 

 

Jeff Strand

I would go back in time with a first edition of Carrie by Stephen King, and I’d say, “Did you know you’re going to be the most successful horror author ever?” And I’d tell him how rich he was going to be and how not only would almost every one of his books be made into a movie, but they’d start remaking them, and he’d go, “Ha ha, yeah, whatever,” but then over the years as his success grew and grew he’d always think of our encounter.



LP

Who are you greatest influences, and their books, that made you want to put pen to paper and become an author? 

 

Jeff Strand

I already wanted to be an author when I read Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it was influential in the shocking discovery that you could publish a novel that was really, really goofy. I didn’t think it was allowed! 



LP

Thank you for this interesting peek into your writing life and all best with Ferocious and tales past and to come.

 

Jeff Strand

Thank you!




 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 22 March 2019