Shells Chats with author Patrick D’Orazio
When did you start writing?
I have written since high school...well, earlier than that, but I wrote a book back in my high school/college days that was absolute garbage, but it got me on track to tackling more writing challenges over the years. I didn't really focus on getting serious enough to be published until a few years ago, when this zombie story grabbed a hold of me and wouldn't let go. So I had to write it, and I decided that I also wanted to at least try to get it published. Since then, I've also written a bunch of short stories that are being published, and doubt that I will ever stop, now that I am addicted to the process of writing.
You have a degree in Psychology, do you feel that has helped you in your writing?
I think it would be most accurate to say that the same motivations that made me want to study psychology also make me want to write stories about people and how they react to extreme situations. As far as how my psych degree has helped me, I think what it did was make me more curious about the human mind and how it responds to different stimuli.
Does your wife read your writing?
Only when it is published. She is not a big horror fan in general, but is extremely supportive of me as a writer. She has asked me if I would be willing to write a children's book or even jokes that I should write romance novels, but she knows where my passions lie, and respects that. I in turn respect the fact that this isn't her cup of tea.
You also review and help authors read draft copies, how do you feel that helps your own writing?
I've learned so much from other writers. Sharing insights of mine and gaining theirs is a pretty fantastic way to continue to get better at writing. You have to respect how challenging it is to create a world from scratch, inhabit it with characters, and develop a story around them that other people will want to read about. Seeing how others undertake that task, and seeing their first drafts as well as the finished products is like watching a building getting built and being able to speak to the architect about how they did it, or learning how a chef concocts their favorite dish. You don't want to duplicate their efforts-you want to blaze your own trail, but seeing how others create strengthens my own creative processes.
You have written short stories, what is your favorite character?
I guess the one that brings the quickest smile to my face is a super villain that I didn't actually invent, but breathed life into. Slow Goth is a disaffected teen from Ohio who was a unpopular geek who tries to kill himself by drinking cleaning products he finds in his garage, but instead gains super powers from the toxic mix. His skin is bleach white, while his hair is as black as midnight. He can drain the life force out of his enemies through his touch. He was invented for a new superhero/villain universe, and I wrote a story about him and one of the super heroes in that world crossing paths. The anthology my story is in should be out in the next few months, and the editor really loved my take on my little villain. So I guess I know how to write about evil teenagers...I guess that will be good preparation for me, since both of my kids will be teens within the next few years!
Where can we find some of these short stories?
I have had about twenty short stories that have been accepted by various small presses for different anthologies. About six of them have already been published: I have a letter in "Letters from the Dead" by Library of the Living Dead Press, something in "The Zombist", which are zombie stories from the Old West, plus a story in "Zombiality: A queer bent on the undead" from the Library as well. I have a story in "Eye Witness: Zombie" from May December Publications, which is also available as a stand alone short story on the kindle, entitled "A Soldier's Lament", I have a Bizarro story in "Houdini Gut Punch" from the Library of Bizarro Horror, and a piece of Flash Fiction in Pill Hill Press's "Daily Bites of Flesh, 2011". The rest of the stories of mine that have been accepted will hopefully be released throughout the course of this year. They range from horror, to science fiction, to comedy. I continue to write more of short stories, and really enjoy tackling the shorter subjects.
I think it really pushes boundaries. I think fear is such an exhilarating emotion. I think what I really like is trying to bring that down to a level that feels real, despite supernatural or fantastical elements in a story. Zombies may not exist in our world (or do they?), but even so, what they represent scares the hell out of me, and I think they scare the hell out of a lot of people. They can really get the adrenaline pumping and the heart racing. They can also make you think about your own life, and what you would be willing, or unwilling to do to save yourself and the people around you if faced with unthinkable horrors.
Have you ever written anything that even scared you?
I think I get cold chills when I think of certain things I've written. I want to create something that is emotionally taxing on me, and can only hope that it resonates with someone else who reads it. I think I can appreciate the fear that parents have for their children, their ability to protect them, shelter them, and do everything they can to keep them safe. Having that ripped away from you, or having any sense of control ripped away from you is terrifying in so many ways, and that is what I have written about with my trilogy-a man losing control. Perhaps it isn't the fear that comes from having some monster closing in on you, but on the fact that you can do nothing to prevent the people you love from suffering horribly. How do you cope with that...and can you? So yes, what I have written does scare me, in many ways.
Zombies seem to be popular in the Horror genre today. How did you get started in writing about zombies?
I loved the Romero movies as a kid, when I first saw Dawn of the Dead on cable TV as a teen in the early eighties. I was fascinated about surviving the apocalypse then, and how I would be so much smarter than everyone else about what I would do to prevent those monsters from devouring me and turning me into one of them. When the zombie renaissance occurred in the past decade with the remake of Dawn and movies like 28 Days Later (and yes, I know they aren't technically zombies in that movie, but still...), I was married and had my own children, and all the sudden, my perspective on zombies changed dramatically. I was suddenly in a free fall of imagining not how I would survive the zombie apocalypse, but how I would protect my family, and if that would even be possible. Zombies seem the most real, the most visceral of all the horror creations. They aren't pretty, they aren't romantic, they aren't anything but a slow moving dread that consumes you and everything around you, sooner or later, no matter what you do to prevent it from happening. You can't negotiate with them, plead with them, or reason with them, because they have no other desire than to feed. They are chilling in their simplicity.
Can you please tell us about you’re the Dark Trilogy?
The Dark Trilogy is really a simple story about a man who has lost everything at the hands of the undead. His family is torn from him at the beginning of the first book, and he is forced to participate in their demise because of the infection that turned them into monsters. He is barely more than suicidal, with the desire to do as much damage to the monsters all around him before he dies himself. But then he discovers other people who aren't so willing to give up, and want to live, and find a reason to keep on living. So he reluctantly becomes a leader, and has to come to grips with the fact that he is needed and still has a purpose. It shows both the good and ugly sides of being a human being in a world filled with blight and devastation. The first two books, Comes The Dark and Into The Dark, have been released already by The Library of the Living Dead Press, and the third and final book, Beyond The Dark, is being released in March.
Who did the artwork for your books?
Philip R Rogers, an incredible artist who took my meager ideas for the covers and backs of each book and created something far beyond what I expected. He asked so many insightful questions, and what is really beautiful about these covers is that they all tie together and show a real progression with how the main character and the world around him changes every step of the way. I have seen some sketches for the final cover, and they look awesome. I can't wait to see the final result.
How was it to work with The Library of the Living Dead Press?
Mike West, aka Dr. Pus, treats his authors like family. It is a business, and he is in the business of publishing books that he hopes will be successful, but more importantly, he wants to give new authors the chance to really develop and find their voice. He produces a wide array of anthologies, so that fresh new voices in the genre will get a shot at getting their name out there, and also so that names already familiar with horror and zombie fans can continue to have a home for much of their new work. It is amazing how many different books he's published over the course of the last couple of years. He really cares about the horror genre, and cares about giving new authors like myself, a chance to really shine.
What advice would you give a new writer jumping into the Horror world of writing?
Get to know your peers. In other words, communicate with other writers on publisher's message boards, ask them for feedback, and ask as many questions as you can. You might be surprised at how willing they are to help you out. I cannot tell you how invaluable the advice and critiques I have gotten have been. The friends I have made over the past year and a half have been one of the greatest highlights of my experiences as a writer. You can learn a tremendous amount if you keep an open mind and are willing to connect with the other folks in this community.
Where can people find you?
I have a website at www.patrickdorazio.com, where I let folks know what I am up to and where they can find my novels and short stories as they are released, and I also post a few short stories there as well every now and then. And of course, feel free to connect with me on Facebook. You can never have enough friends!
Posted by Shells W