Chainsaw Exorcism With Brian Moreland and his novels The Devil's Woods and The Vagrants
Could you tell me about yourself and your writing?
I grew up in Dallas, Texas. I’ve had an active imagination since I was a little kid. I was a typical introvert growing up, watched lots of horror movies, read comic books, and had an active imagination. I was a shy, geeky kid who turned that imagination into writing horror fiction when I got older. I’ve published three novels, two novellas, and some short stories. I love stories with monsters, so I mostly write supernatural horror.
Why do you write?
I think it’s an inner calling. I feel compelled to write stories. I really enjoy it when I’m in the zone and writing comes easy. It’s fun inventing characters and fictional worlds where anything can happen. I also love editing books, hanging out with fellow writers, and meeting fans at book signings. I don’t what I’d do if I didn’t write. It’s a natural part of who I am.
Could you tell me what the process is like? What inspired you to write The Devil’s Wood’s and The Vagrants?
Well the process is anywhere from having a blast as my imagination plays movies in my head and I write what I see as fast as I can type to extreme frustration when no ideas come and I have to force myself to type words just to tap into the creative flow of writing. I’m most creative early in the morning or late at night when I don’t have any distractions from work or demands of life. I also write my best when I go on writing sabbaticals for a week and stay at my friend’s cabin in the woods. I’ll write for several days straight and will avoid the Internet and watch very little TV. For that stretch of time is all about dreaming up my story, my characters, and typing, typing, typing as fast as I can. When my mind does finally get into “the zone” of writing, it gets so easy that I’m having an absolute blast and the characters and the stories come to life for me.
The Devil’s Woods is a revised edition of my very first novel that I wrote in college 25 years ago. Back in the ‘80s, I loved movies about people isolated at a cabin in the woods. My favorites were Evil Dead and Prophecy (1980). Those movies scared the be-Jesus out of me and I wanted to write a book about an evil creature in the woods that was terrifying like those classic films. While my characters travel up to Canada to stay in a remote cabin, my story veers off into an entirely different direction and I take my characters through hell and back.
The Vagrants is based on a short story I wrote after college. It’s greatly inspired by all the scary Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft short stories I’ve read. The Vagrants is a mix of horror and urban fantasy. Here’s the premise:
Beneath the city of Boston evil is gathering.
Journalist Daniel Finley is determined to save the impoverished of the world. But the abandoned part of humanity has a dark side too. While living under a bridge with the homeless for six months, Daniel witnessed something terrifying. Something that nearly cost him his sanity.
Now, two years later, he’s published a book that exposes a deadly underground cult and its charismatic leader. And Daniel fears the vagrants are after him because of it. At the same time, his father is being terrorized by vicious mobsters. As he desperately tries to help his father, Daniel gets caught up in the middle of a war between the Irish-American mafia and a deranged cult of homeless people who are preparing to shed blood on the streets of Boston.
Readers can read a free excerpt of The Vagrants at my blog the Crypt of Horror.
What about writing makes you feel most powerful?
The overall creative process. I love building fictional worlds and watching them take on a three-dimensionality. Once I finish a book, the old haunted house in the woods or the war-battered church feel like real places to me. I love watching characters who didn’t exist before I thought of them come to life on the page. I have the power to kill them off or have them persevere by the end of the story. It’s also fun to watch them come to life for readers. People will tell me they loved a certain character or retell a scene they enjoyed in one of my books. Knowing that a story I created from my imagination is playing like a movie in another person’s head, that’s a pretty powerful feeling.
Is The Devil’s Wood’s or The Vagrants scary? What is it like writing the scary parts?
Well, I think what induces fear and is considered ‘scary” is different for everyone. I write about what scares me and do my best to build suspense and mystery and write about characters that readers will connect with. When I care about my characters and want them to live, then I feel fear when they are put in situations where they can get killed or have to face the unknown in dark, isolated places. The goal of horror novels is to induce fear in the reader and give them a thrill ride into terror. In both The Devil’s Woods and The Vagrants I offer plenty of dark suspense scenes that are meant to induce fear and the excitement that goes with it. I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide if I pulled that off for them.
Writing the scary parts is when I’m having the most fun. I see a vivid movie in my head of the scary place or the action scenes of my characters running or fighting for their lives. Writing these scenes get my adrenaline pumping and I can’t type fast enough as I write what I see happening in my mind. When I finish a terrifying scene I have to sit back and catch my breath. Then I feel this rush of excitement knowing that one day I’ll get to share this very scene with my readers. It’s a very fulfilling feeling.
What did you learn about yourself as you were writing your books? What might your readers learn about themselves?
I learned that I can face my fears head on. I learned how I would act or react in high stress situations where death is a possibility for myself or someone I loved. A horror writer has to consider their options when putting their characters through trials and challenges against killers, whether they be serial killers, ferocious animals, or creatures of pure evil. I also learned where my morals stand, my spirituality, and that I would fight to protect my loved ones, while lesser characters flee for their lives like cowards and leave their friends or families to die.
For readers, I guess they can come to their own conclusions of whether or not they would respond like my characters or handle the situation differently. Most of my books include history and mythology of some kind, so I think they’ll walk away learning more of a subject matter that they didn’t know a lot about before reading the book.
Where can readers go to find out more about your writings?
To keep readers current of my writing and book signings, I have a blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com
My books are sold nearly everywhere. Here is a list of my books: