Horror on the Homestead with Ivan Ewert - Writer Interviews #2
This week's writer interview brings us closer to the mind behind upcoming horror series, "Famished: The Gentleman Ghoul Omnibus."
This harrowing series of tales strung together by Illinois native, Ivan Ewert (Twitter: @IvanEwert) follows the dark path of the Velander bloodline as their cannibalistic reign of immortality is challenged.
Stephen Blackmoore of DEAD THINGS describes the first story in the series as follows:
"Ivan Ewert's FAMISHED: THE FARM is some fun, old-school horror. Ancient gods, cannibalism, and more than a little madness. Ivan Ewert is a seriously twisted writer."
Ivan's twisted talent seems to stem from an incredible life full of inspirations and influences.From graphic design and acting to audio engineering and tarot reading, his experiences span fields, disciplines and interests.Not only is he an excellent writer, Ivan is also one heck of an inspiration. He brings a wealth of insightful ideas to the table in his awesome answers to our questions below.
What first inspired you to take up writing?
My father had a large library of classic fantasy and science fiction. Both my parents encouraged me to read voraciously.
I wrote my first stories and plays in the third grade. Penguins and cuckoo clocks featured heavily ... I started seriously trying in high school.
I submitted a story a month for a long time to various magazines in the pre-internet days, and never quite got there at that age, but now here we are.
Does your interest in food and experience as a culinary writer play a part in your horror novels?
Certainly in the Gentleman Ghouls series! It’s funny, you can track my progress as an amateur chef through the books, from simple roasts and stews in Famished: The Farm to the spices, flavor profiles and menus of Famished: The Ranch.
Sensuality is a key part of any good writing for me. I love lush descriptions of how things look, sound, feel, or taste.
That kind of description makes me put a book down and try to summon the same reactions in my own body.
Food is so evocative as well. In the same way that real estate agents will sometimes bake fresh cookies in a house they’re trying to sell, I find that tying some kind of food to a character or a scene can provide so much information that the reader may not even pick up on.
For example, I have a friend who was brought up on nothing but Midwestern casseroles, meat, and potatoes. She joined me for sushi one night, and tried everything I put in front of her.
She was clear about what she liked, what she hated, and what didn’t make sense.
I hadn’t thought of her as particularly adventurous or opinionated before then, but here we are, over her preferred eel sauces.
"The Suicide Tourist" presented a revolutionary glimpse of a difficult topic broached in similar fashion by author Terry Pratchett.
How do you feel experiencing such a situation has shaped your writing?
Thank you for watching, and for the question. I’m still processing the effects of my father’s decision to die so publicly, to be honest, and may be for life.
I suppose it informed the sense of melancholy which colored Famished: The Commons.
Seeing how the various members of my family process that sadness showed me how different characters may react to the same stimuli, which I’d never really wrapped my head around before.
And it reminded me that I didn’t have forever to accomplish what I wanted. That none of us have forever.
Finally, when I asked if he had a final request, something he’d like me to do for him, he asked me to get published. He was always encouraging me, and said he knew I had a book in me.
So that *definitely* shaped my commitment to get it done.
With such a diverse range of talents and previous occupations, what would you say your top three favorites are?
Ha! I don’t ever think of my life path as diverse, but it seems to surprise people. I’m just interested in many different things which require different skill sets.
Acting and speaking remain twin passions of mine. I’m currently doing mostly public speaking, although of course, I am writing the speeches, stories and lectures.
I really loved being able to perform a couple of one-man shows by Mike Daisey – two-hour memorized monologues take a LOT of time and effort, but are so, so worth it.
I admire monologists like Daisey, Ira Glass, Spaulding Grey and David Sedaris for their ability to not only put their thoughts into words, but to deliver those words through their own voices.
Cooking is my favorite hobby by far. I’ve never been paid for it, I probably never will in any real capacity, but that’s not a bad thing.
Having a passion that you’re not relying on is critical in staying sane.
Many of the others have fallen by the wayside, which doesn’t bother me much.
I’d need millions more hours in every day to pursue everything I was fascinated by for brief periods.
I’m something of a mayfly at heart, and I’m comfortable with that.
What advice could you offer young, aspiring novelists?
Most of the practical advice I have, I got from my publishers:
Use alpha readers. Show them unfinished work.
Show them chapter by chapter so you don’t need to rewrite half a novel.
Communicate, even if it’s not good news. Collaborate when asked.
Of the two pieces I’d add to that, I’ve followed one, and am working on the second myself.
First of all, be *passionate* about things. Find what makes you super curious and weave that into your writing.
Don’t just write what you know, write what makes you want to know and learn more!
As you learn, let it affect your work and words. If it changes, great! Keep the old knowledge but add more layers and complexity.
If all you know about life is how to construct good sentences in English and meet deadlines, you might do well, but you won’t truly *succeed*.
Secondly: When you find your voice, defend it. This is a difficult one for me.
Left to my own devices, I’m admittedly wordy. I’m sometimes florid.
I like delicious multisyllabic words and long, lush, beautiful sentences that tumble ‘round your teeth and tongue, skipping widdershins around a hillside thicket holding something sight unseen.
Editors don’t like that, by and large. Most editors like clear and straightforward statements. M
any publishers like easily understood constructions. They sell better, probably; and I have learned to edit my work for them.
I’m still not certain I’ve learned how to do it while maintaining what I love about my own voice, my own writing.
Thanks for reading! Be sure to preorder Ivan's book here on Amazon!
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