Meet our guest author, Andrew Saxsma!
Where are you from?
Originally, I’m from a teeny, tiny town called Clifton in Illinois. When I say teeny, tiny, that’s no stretch of the truth. My graduating class only had about sixty-something people. Main street is a string of 2 bars, an antique store, and a deli. Our elementary school was closed down and a pizza chain bought the space in the cafeteria. Seriously. But, about a week ago, I moved to Los Angeles, even after I’d heard all the horror stories about living here. I will say, the traffic lives up to its reputation, but really, it’s no worse than Chicago (which was only about 40 min away from where I used to live). I’m in love with this city. So much to do, so much to see. It’s incredible.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book, Redial, actually hit me, the idea anyway, while I was watching PS I LOVE YOU, with Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler who passes away very early into the film. There’s this scene where she’s lying in bed and she’s calling his cell phone over and over to listen to his voicemail. It’s very sweet, very sad, very emotional. It’s a great scene, but as I was watching it, a thought hit me like lightning. What if he answered?? Or better yet, what if something else answered? Suddenly, this very sappy scene became something of horror, and I loved it hah! From there, my brain just sort of catapulted with ideas, eventually turning into my first novel.
Do you write full-time or part-time? How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life?
I am a part-time writer, sadly. In economic times like these, even us authors have to get day jobs to get by. The thing that kills me is all day at work that’s what I think about, writing. I wouldn’t say it’s distracting, because it’s worse than that! Somehow, though, I manage. I try to write between 25-30 hours a week, but honestly, that’s not always attainable. So, it’s a struggle, and I know I’m not the only writer who battles with that. Why can’t we all just do what we love, all the time!?
What jobs have you held that influence your stories?
When I was 15, I worked at a small grocery store in my hometown. I was a stockboy, at first, and a chicken cook (basically, I fried chicken). I worked side-by-side with a butcher who was batty as shit! Seriously, he was so strange, but he was a really nice guy. Anyway, on my blog, I run a series called Hell Breaks Loose, which is post-apocalyptic zombie stuff. The beginning of the series takes place in my hometown, and in one scene the main character, Mitch, goes to the store and encounters a Mad Butcher, which is based off the guy I used to work with.
Do you have a specific writing style?
If you’d asked me this a year ago, I would have said that I hadn’t found it yet. I’ve done quite a bit since then, and I’m actually proud to say that I think I’ve finally nailed down my writer’s voice to coincide with my style. I prefer a bit of action with my horror, and I love to toss in some gore, but not for gore’s sake.
How did you come up with the title?
The title for my latest book, Old McDonald, came to me after a few days of trying to squeeze a title out of my head. I don’t think I’ve ever had as hard a time coming up with a title as I did for this book. Usually, after it’s done, or sometimes in the middle of writing it, a title will just sort of step out from the shadows, revealing itself based upon the material on paper or in the CPU. That didn’t happen for this one. But, I’ll say the title is pretty much self-explanatory, and I quite like it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The main character, Gene, is a simple guy. He likes simple things and he loves simple living. When he strays from that, shit starts happening. I grew up on a farm, so I can empathize with that small, simple living. Science catches up to Gene, and that’s the downfall. It’s not an opinion that I have, that Science is inherently evil, but I think there are things that just shouldn’t be messed with, and I definitely exemplify that in this tale.
How much of the book is realistic?
If you discount crazed farm animals rampaging across the countryside as realistic, then not much, hah!
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Like I said, I grew up on a farm, and some of the experiences I had in my own childhood played a part in the story. The farm in the book, as I describe it, is identical to the one we lived on. Everything else is completely fictional.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Oh, there are soooo many! The one that I saw in my head first, after reading this question, is the book IT, by Stephen King. It’s one of my favorites, because it has a little bit of everything, and those everythings are done so well. I can only dream of crafting a book as great as that one.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Honestly, my writer friend, Greg, would fall into that role. He’s the one that got me started in actually taking my writing seriously, about 6-7 years ago. Since then, we always bounce ideas off each other, giving each other feedback and critiques. We look over each other’s work for grammar and such. He’s a huge part of my writing, even to this day, and he’s brutally honest, which I take with a gran of salt.
What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m reading The Skinner by Neal Asher. I’ve started getting into hardcore Science Fiction lately, and am really enjoying it so far. Neal Asher is a spectacular writer.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
In my spare time, I work as an Associate Editor for Trembles Horror Magazine, and every once in a while we’ll get some wonderful stories from unknowns, which is a joy.
What are your current projects?
I have a lot of projects on my plate right now, one of which is absolutely TOP SECRET. But, I’m working on a novella called When Angels Scream, and am still trying to finish my fourth novel A Velvet Kiss Goodnight.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My friends of course, who continually yell at me to finish what I’m doing so they can read it, hah!
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It’s something I take very seriously, and it’s something I treat like a job. I can’t call in sick, I can’t take a vacation. It’s there, it’s real, and it has to be taken seriously as such, otherwise what is then? A hobby?
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not at all. It came out just the way that it should have, I feel. I mean, there were times when I wanted to go back and change things, but I got myself to believe that it was complete, in and unto itself.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It started back in high school, with a creative writing assignment in an Advanced English class. I wrote a crappy story about a band of pirates plagued by this vicious sea creature. I mean, the story was atrocious, and not at all cohesive, but that’s where it started.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Dialogue is always a point of contention for me. It just doesn’t come as naturally to me as the rest of the writing does. For me, it’s a question of believability and finding the right words for that character. Everything else, I can see in my head clear as day.
Who designed the covers?
I was actually approached earlier this year by an artist from the UK, named Stephen Cooney. After sampling his work, I was sold. His artwork appears on the cover of Old McDonald, and will appear on the cover of A Velvet Kiss Goodnight. My first two book covers were created by a friend named Luke Imbery.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write. Write often. Write genuinely. If your head is screaming at you to put it on paper or on the keyboard, you must obey. Also, read! Get your hands on as many books as you can. Devour them. Eat them whole!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I just want to say thank you for supporting me, for reading my work and thanks for all your kind words and harsh criticisms. We cannot improve without knowing what we’re doing wrong.
What do you think about e-publishing versus technical publishing?
I think it’s wonderful. It gives so many people access to their piece of the publishing pie, and it empowers them, with the right tools and the drive, to their own successes.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I just moved to the city I’ve always wanted to live in!!!
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
I would wanna’ fly like superman or have the ability to teleport like Nightcrawler!