Behind the Book: Michaelbrent Collings
Today we have in conversation with us a very interesting author. From winning awards to earning the title of 'Bestseller', he has done it all. Interestingly he also writes across two very contrasting genres and that too effortlessly. The success of his book is a proof enough for the love he garners amongst book lovers. He is none other than, Michaelbrent Collings.
To give you a brief introduction about him before we start the interview- Michaelbrent Collings is an American horror novelist. He wrote the screenplays for two horror films: Barricade (2012) and Darkroom (2013). He has self-published many novels, with two of his novels being finalists for the Bram Stoker Award in 2016, and two being finalists for the Whitney Awards in 2014 and 2017. (Source)
1. At the onset I would like to thank you for sparing some of your precious time for this interview. Moving on with the interview, can you share a bit about your writing process? How do you conceptualize a book?
My writing process is pretty much as follows:
1) Wake up.
2) Sit in chair.
3) Turn on computer.
4) Refuse to leave until I have written words. Hopefully some of them are good.
5) Eat, sleep, repeat.
It sounds pretty basic, and it really is. I write quite a bit (usually four or so novels a year, plus short stories and screenplays) and I often get asked how I do that. The answer is just time. I work hard, and I stay at my seat when I want to leave. Doing those and applying fingers to keys will result in words. Simple as that.
2. How important is research according to you for a book?
Pretty important. I don't write medical thrillers or something like that, so I don't spend weeks embedded with surgical teams or watching special forces train or anything on that level, but I do want to get things right. So if I'm writing about something outside my knowledge frame, I'll research it. If I'm writing about another religious belief, I'll talk to as many people who believe those things as possible. If I'm writing about a policeman, I'll ride along with police to see what their daily life is like. If I'm writing about a ghost, I research stories and experiences of others.
The bottom line is this:
I don't have to be a world expert for most of my work. But I want to be respectful, and that means I want to get it right, and research is a part of that.
3. You have majorly written horror novels including some bestsellers like The Loon, The Colony Saga, Apparition, Predators and Terminal. However interestingly there are some romance novels featuring in the list too. Written under your pen name 'Angelica Hart', these titles stand out from the rest of your books. How was the experience writing a romance novel? Do you we see you experimenting with genres in future too? If yes, which ones do you wish to try your hand at.
I have enjoyed EVERY genre I've written in. I find romance and horror (oddly) to be extremely close, as far as they are both about people who suffer extreme difficulties, and often rise above them to become better people and better TO other people. I love fantasy and science fiction because they allow my imagination to run wild and create new worlds. I love thrillers and mystery for the escape of it and the mental challenge of trying to keep one step ahead of my readers.
I'm best known for horror, but I've never thought of myself as a "horror writer." I'm just a guy who tells stories, and am lucky enough that readers have followed me where I meander.
4. It is said ,‘Don’t judge a book by its cover!’ but almost all the covers of your books have a very important role to play on a reader’s mind for they set the tone and create an impact at the first glance itself. Do you think one should judge a book by the cover?
Yes. Sort of. Sometimes.
A lot of authors lament that people do judge books by covers. For a traditionally published author, I actually am less likely to judge a book by its cover, because the reality is that the author could write the best book in the world, and if the publishing company does a poor job with the cover then it probably won't sell - and that is not the writer's fault.
For indie authors (like me), I definitely look at the cover. Because the independent author has total control of that aspect of the book, and if they don't care enough to either create or commission someone else to create a stunning book that fits the market, then it's a good indicator they are not writing at a level that will make me want to read their work.
Do we judge a book by its cover? Yes. And is it superficial of us to do so? Sure - if that means we only read or look at pretty things. But a cover also tells us something about the work that's gone into the book, and THAT definitely matters.
5. How does it feel being a bestseller, a multiple Bram Stoker awards finalist and a top horror writer? How has your journey as a writer been so far? When you started, did you have all of these as your goals?
When I started, I had NONE of those as my goals. And they still aren't, really. They are all wonderful, and I am so grateful for them. But really, my main goals are 1) to tell good stories and 2) to use them to pay for my family. I am eternally grateful that I can pay for food and shelter for my loved ones by telling stories. It's a great job, and knowing that peers think I'm good enough to get an award is a really nice feeling. But nicer by far is sitting down to dinner and knowing I had a hand in providing the things that are most needed to those I most love.
6. What/Who is your inspiration to write?
My inspirations are my fans and family.
Every single thing I write, I try to think about what my fans will enjoy, and what will make my family proud. Someone once told me how lucky I was because I worked for myself and "didn't have a boss breathing down my neck." I responded that I didn't have one boss... I had tens of thousands of them!
I think everyone who buys my books has given me a great gift, of time and of thought. So I think of them as I write, and join that thought to "what can I do that will leave my family, my friends, and my world a better place?" Hopefully it turns out well. And that is my inspiration.
7. Have you ever experienced a writer’s block? If yes, how did you cope with it?
I never have. There are definitely harder days, where my job is much harder and less fun than I would like. But the truth is that I am a writer. I do this full time, and it is my job. I don't know of any job that looks kindly on a worker saying, "No. I won't write today. I'm just not feeling it." I think writing is the same. Lots of writers have "writer's block," but I think that most of them aren't really blocked. They're just so worried that what they're doing isn't GOOD enough that they put the pen down rather than risk making a mistake. I get that urge, too, and I try to remind myself that ANY words I make happen will be better than a blank page at the end of the day. It always works.
8. What message do you want the readers to take away from your books?
That's different for each one. I try to write books that are, first and foremost, a fun or exciting or romantic or scary trip that lets them step out of their lives for a bit. The story should transport the reader, and give them a break from reality. But I also try to embed messages in the stories that will leave people a bit better for having read them. Sometimes the messages are about true love conquering (as in the romances). Sometimes they are cautionary tales that remind people that no good end comes of evil. Sometimes they are to alert people of problems in our world. My most recent novel, SCAVENGER HUNT, had a lot to say about human trafficking, and I hope that people who read it came away changed for the better.
9. Any tips for aspiring writers of horror and otherwise.
A lot of people - new writers and old - get so bogged down in marketing and publicity and making a website or growing a social media following that they forget what matters most at the end of the day. A writer who doesn't write isn't really a writer. A storyteller with few stories to tell will not keep that job very long.
We are writers. And writers, since they are so defined, must always write, write, WRITE!
10. Any message for your readers
The message I always want to convey to my readers is a profound thanks. I could not do what I do without them, and I appreciate that they have let me have this wonderful, frustrating, magical, banal, hopeful, terrifying, beautiful, miraculous career.