"Page by page, Dansky builds the tension..it slowly layers on just enough fear, just enough confusion, and just enough weirdness to keep you reading. The end, when it comes, falls quite neatly into place and left this reader chilled."
"Starred Review... a supernatural thriller that effectively breathes life into one of the genre's staples-the haunted house."
"Firefly Rain is an eerie but wonderful journey that will have you tearing through the pages, yet you’ll still feel like you’re not reading fast enough."
As many of you know, I'm all about the Southern Gothic. I fondly remember a summer spent tanning while reading William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. Okay, it was a grim summer, but my tan was fantastic.
When I had a contest about favorite settings for paranormal stories, most people mentioned that the humid, mysterious atmosphere of the South as their choice. So, I'm very happy to have author and game designer Richard Dansky here to talk about his new novel, Firefly Rain.
Richard's other fiction includes:
- Trilogy of the Second Age: Chosen of the Sun, Beloved of the Dead, Children of the Dragon
- Shadows in Green
- Clan Novel: Losombra
I'll let Richard tell you about Richard, though. Simon & Schuster has generously offered a copy of his fab new novel for a CONTEST here. Read to the end of the post for rules.
MARTA: Hi, Richard, and welcome to Vampire Wire! Tell us a little about Firefly Rain.
RICHARD: Thank you! It’s a pleasure to be talking with you. Firefly Rain is the story of Jacob Logan, an expatriate North Carolinian who spent years dodging his promises to come back home. Years later, after his parents’ death, circumstances do bring him back to the town and the house where he grew up. And that’s where the consequences of all those broken promises are waiting for him.
MARTA:I am what is known as a scaredy-cat, and haunted house stories spook me like crazy. What do you think makes this theme so timeless?
RICHARD: I think it’s a lot of fun to be scared – in a safe environment. Knowing you can put the book down any time you want – but you don’t want to until you read one…more…page…is a wonderful feeling. That’s what keeps the ghost story going, the lovely contrast between being scared out of your socks and being able to control how scared you get. We do it to ourselves, really, because we enjoy it. A good scare is a lot of fun, as long as we’re sure – or at least pretty sure – there’s no real ghost at the end of it.
As for ghosts, they’re human in a way that vampires or werewolves or other critters aren’t. They’re unfinished business and unkept promises, and we can see ourselves or the people we love in them. That’s why they have so much power in the imagination, I think. And, of course, because each and every one of us has been home alone late at night and heard a noise, or a footstep, or a voice that just shouldn’t have been there, and we find ourselves thinking maybe, just maybe….
MARTA:Why in the world did you decide to write a novel when you are actually capable of doing something else (designing video games) that makes money?
Writing, on the other hand, is very much a solitary act. I can do it at my pace and everything that’s on the page is from me, good or bad. So ultimately there’s a neat dynamic going on there that lets me get the best of both worlds, creatively speaking.
MARTA: Vampire Wire readers recently expressed their fondness for the South as a location for paranormal stories. What’s your connection to North Carolina? Are there qualities about the South that add to the atmosphere and plot of Firefly Rain?
As for North Carolina, I’ve lived here for more than ten years and fallen in love with it. My wife and I were married here, up in the mountains past Asheville, and we get up that way every chance we get. It’s the place I really found myself as a writer, and hopefully that comes through in my work.
MARTA: Would you share a few of your favorite Southern Gothic stories (books, movies, shows)?
Manly Wade Wellman, especially his Silver John stories. They have this absolutely marvelous sense of having just been told around a campfire, with just enough truth to them to make you start looking over your shoulder at the woods. Beyond that, Robert McCammon’s novels Boy’s Life and Gone South are both favorites, and of course the work of Joe Lansdale.
Movie-wise, I find that I’m partial to The Gift, not least because of the really interesting performance that Sam Raimi got out of Keanu Reeves in it, and of course Bubba Ho-Tep. You really can’t argue with a mummy in a cowboy hat, nor should you even try.
MARTA: I get the feeling that you were going more for a feeling of unease and creepiness than gore and horror. How did you building the tension, and did you use any lessons you learned as a game designer help?
RICHARD: Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of gore. What’s going on inside people’s heads is so much more interesting in terms of storytelling to me than random body parts getting strewn all over the place. It’s what’s going on in characters’ minds that is much more intriguing to me. Like you said, it’s all about the tension, and a certain amount of that tension is released when you see the bloodstains on the walls. But if you don’t know for sure that something’s out there – don’t know what’s clawing on the other side of the door at midnight, don’t know what’s really going on in your own home – then that tension keeps getting ratcheted higher and higher, to better and better effect.
And that, I think, is where some of the video game work comes in. So much of good gameplay comes out of pacing . Where you place your challenges and how far apart they are is as important as what they are, in terms of the effect the have on the player. The same holds true for a good ghost story. Pile all your scares up front and you have nothing to build to. But building bigger and bigger ones, and giving the reader almost enough time to recover from one before the next one hits? That’s an awful lot like setting up encounters in a good bit of level design.
MARTA: This is a vampire site, so I have to ask you, which vampire mythology is your favorite? Are you a sparkly vampire kinda guy, or do you think Nosferatu rules?
Lasombra? I actually spent a good number of years writing for Vampire: The Masquerade and its associated games, so I have a track record for my literary vampiric proclivities that I can’t hide from. That being said, my two favorite vampire movies are “Near Dark” and “Let the Right One In”, so I guess you can plant me a little closer to the Max Schreck end of the spectrum than the Robert Pattinson one.
MARTA: What’s next for you and where can readers learn more about you and your writing?
Splinter Cell: Conviction, for which I was the primary writer. It’s a little different from Firefly Rain – more shooting and secret agents, fewer fried catfish dinners and fireflies. Writing-wise, I have a story in the upcoming anthology Dark Faith, and I just wrapped up co-authoring a sasquatch-themed private detective novel with my good friend, John C. Hay. Then there’s an essay in a book on board games, and another one in a collection on slasher movies, and some video games that haven’t been announced yet, and, err, well, I tend to keep busy. All the gory details are generally up at my website.
MARTA: Obligatory inane question. How would your horror story have differed if Homer Simpson was your lead character instead of Jacob? What other Simpsons characters would have important roles?
Treehouse of Horror episode coming out of this one, though I think a grown-up Bart would probably fit the role of Jacob better. I can definitely see Marge haunting him in an attempt to get him to straighten up and fly right, while the ghost of Homer stole all his beer. Groundskeeper Willie could do a pretty convincing Carl, and Moe could run the soda counter without skipping a beat. On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s room for a comic book shop in Maryfield, though, which would leave my favorite Simpsons character out in the cold.
MARTA: Thanks, Richard, and best of luck with your book!
CONTEST RULES: To enter the contest for Richard's haunting new spooky Firefly Rain, just tell us how you feel about ghost stories -- too scary for you, or do you love them, or do you have a favorite, or is there one that terrifies you? Yes, I still get freaked out by a flashlight under a chin while someone says "oooooooooh!" I do like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, though, which is actually a little scary at the beginning. You can also leave a comment for Richard.
The contest runs through May 9 and a winner will be selected in a random drawing (i.e., a bunch of slips of paper in an old shopping bag).
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