I had the pleasure of talking to horror author Rudolph P. Kraul, who is working on several books at the moment, and i asked him some questions about his upcoming books "Mirrors of Anguish"(Will be released in 2012) and "Gates of Perdition"(Will be released in 2013). He has been writing since he was a teenager and several years ago, he finally finished his first novel. At the beginning of 2011, Rebecca Hamilton and Rudolph decided to put together a joint venture: Immortal Ink Publishing because they wanted a venue for their own books.
First of all i want to thank Rudolph for taking the time to answer my questions of course and wish him the best of luck with his releases!
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a little bit about your two upcoming books, "Gates of Perdition" and "Mirrors of Anguish".
R.P. Kraul: Mirrors is my first novel. It's the story of Jill, who goes to Belcorte, Pennsylvania to investigate her grandfather's life. He was accused of some hideous crimes, and he may have been involved with a serial killer still active in the area. Mirrors was originally called The Dunkirk Horror (a homage, in name only, to Lovecraft's Dunwich Horror), but I changed the name to avoid confusing the setting with the seaport in France.
Gates of Perdition is the prequel to Mirrors; it's the story of Jill's Grandfather, Arthur, and it's the story of the serial killer and how he came to be. It shows how all these different characters crossed paths and how the horror in the town began.
Books & Writing: Are your characters based on people you know?
R.P. Kraul: Not entirely, no. I never take a real person and turn him into a character. I take traits and quirks of several people and mix them together. I also think that there are little pieces of me in all my characters, even the bad ones. I think it's neat to study strangers and imagine the personality behind the physical mannerisms.
Books & Writing: Where did you get the inspiration for these two books?
R.P. Kraul: When I was quite young--kindergarten, first grade, second grade--I fell in love with horror movies and television shoes. While my mother was asleep, I'd sneak down into the family room and watch late-night shows and movies. I recognize in my books these influences--the early Universal films, the fifties sci-fi films, the Italian films of the sixties and seventies. Mirrors in particular went through this metamorphosis, implementing cool things I'd seen in horror forms. I eventually went back to basics with the story, but I suppose my stories still have a vintage horror-film feel.
Later, the influence of Poe, Lovecraft, Matheson, Bloch, et al. manifested in my stories. I didn't realize it at the time, but as I wrote Mirrors, I was building the framework for Gates of Perdition.
Books & Writing: Why did you decide against publishing "Mirrors of Anguish" and "Gates of Perdition" at the same time, as was the original plan?
R.P. Kraul: Publishing them close together was the original plan, but after contemplating the timeframe more and discussing things with my business parter, writer Rebecca Hamilton, I've decided to stagger them. I really want Mirrors to be read first because Gates gives away some secrets. Gates is currently with an editor, so it's probably a year from publication, mainly because I want to release another book between them.
Books & Writing: Did you decide at the start to divide the story into two separate books?
R.P. Kraul: In early versions of Mirrors (then The Dunkirk Horror), Jill's grandfather was still alive and part of the story. Over time, that changed. In truth, when I finally finished Mirrors, I didn't know there would be another story. But, as I was going through the draft, I thought to myself, there's another story in there. Mirrors gave me the framework for Gates. Gates, however, is much different. There are more characters, more points of view, and the story is probably more literary than Mirrors. Plus it's set more than twenty years in the past.
Books & Writing: When will both books be published, and where can people buy them?
R.P. Kraul: My goal for Mirrors of Anguish is February or March of 2012. I will release Gates of Perdition in January of 2013. Both books will be available in e-book format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple's iBook Store. Rebecca and I are considering options for print versions. We want readers to be able to purchase a print copy for a reasonable price.
Books & Writing: You are working on a few other novels at the moment. When can people expect to see those coming out?
R.P. Kraul: My third novel, Demon of the Fall, will be available in October of 2012. We shifted the timelines a bit because Demon of the Fall is a perfect book for Halloween. It's a traditional horror story with roots going back to the pulp comics of the mid-twentieth century. To make room for Demon of the Fall, we shifted Gates of Perdition to early 2013.
I'm also starting a series with a central reporter character. Those books are probably more film-noir-based than horror. I have also written a few chapters for the sequel to Demon of the Fall, and I'm co-writing two novels with Rebecca Hamilton.
Books & Writing: What is it like to co-write a book?
R.P. Kraul: I can't say how others have done it, but this is how Rebecca and I do it: we discuss the story, and then we each write the chapters involving certain characters. It's been challenging because we're both pantsers (spontaneous writers). I normally sit down and just write things randomly without any plans at all--just a seed of an idea. I don't think you can do that when you're co-writing because you need to keep the story more focused to avoid issues later. Cleaning up the mess of one writer who flies by the seat of the pants--that's tough, but it can be done. Two together, though: you'd likely end up with a mess beyond reprieve. The plans we're using are loose, and they give us freedom to creatively roam.
Rebecca and I are still early in the process, but we have several chapters written for both books. We're doing the simpler story first, for obvious reasons.
Books & Writing: What attracts you to the horror genre?
R.P. Kraul: I fell in love with horror movies and television shows when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. So maybe I possess some sort of a dark gene. You know, I've been re-watching season two of Night Gallery--what a fantastic Christmas gift--and it has occurred to me that horror often turns the what-if question on its ear. You sometime see what-ifs like this: what if a character is guilty of the murders he's accused of? Horror takes it one step further. What if a character blames the murders on the monster from his dreams, and he's telling the truth? Horror sort of projects bad human behavior, sometimes to the paranormal. At other times--and this is the case with Mirrors and Gates--horror depicts intrinsically depraved human behavior. That someone is a killer is interesting, but I'm more concerned with the "why." Horror lends itself to the "why." Plus, I think horror is great escapism.
Books & Writing: Is there an author who inspires you?
R.P. Kraul: There are several. I envy Ramsey Campbell's ability to describe things. He's one of the most talented writers I've ever seen. I love Jack Ketchum too because he pushes the envelope further than any other writer. He crosses lines others wouldn't dare approach. I'm also heavily influenced by Poe, Lovecraft, Peter Straub, and some writers outside of horror. Hemingway and Vonnegut are the two names that come to mind.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
R.P. Kraul: I have several:
1) Read widely in your genre--and outside your genre. Read some nonfiction too.
2) Learn the craft: language, grammar, idiom, punctuation, etc.
3) Taste in fiction is not objective. Do your best, but realize that some readers will love your writing, while others will not. Don't try to please everyone. Write to please yourself.
4) If you want to learn dialogue--it's a very important aspect of fiction--watch film. Screenwriters, not novelists, are the artists of dialogue. Every writer should study the work of Woody Allen; he's an expert on dialogue and realistic human behavior.
5) Relax. Write with a sense of humor. Have fun.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on the Internet?
Below is an excerpt from "Mirrors of Anguish"
The air in Belcorte, Pennsylvania tasted like death.
It swooped among the gambrel roofs and crouched behind the panes of dormer windows.
Jill sensed it watching her, grinning at her. Death hid behind crumbling chimneys, jumped across rooftops, and prowled among the locust trees along the river. Death rang the town hall bell three times, and death stuck out its forked tongue to taste the snow that fell lightly on the ancient buildings of Belcorte.
In this town, more than twenty years ago, Jill’s grandfather had kidnapped a teenage girl and locked her in the spare bedroom of his Victorian home. He’d murdered her with a chef’s knife and scissors.
A college professor prior to his madness and suicide, Grandfather had written in his preface to Modern Anthropology the following:
Belcorte resides in the Southern Catskills, but Pennsylvanians call these mountains the Poconos. Belcorte is ancient; roofless shards of abandoned mining shelters spring from the hillsides as intrinsically as veins of anthracite jettison through the soil beneath.
Belcorte’s Victorian homes bend in disrepair. One should expect state- tax dollars, if the fools we elect send them here, to return Belcorte to her prestige. This once beautiful maiden is a muddy-faced ghost, a dirty doll, and a receptacle for flies.