Monday, November 20, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 30: Among the Stacks with I. Clayton Reynolds


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Clay.  Welcome back to The Gal.  It's been awhile since we sat down together.  What's been going on since we last spoke?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
A lot of life changes. I admit my writing output has suffered. I’ve had to focus on other things. I’m glad to be back to it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Who are you outside of writing?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
Right now I’m a person in transition. I’m rediscovering some of my interests including music, art and other creative outlets. My day job is in mental health. My education is in Anthropology and History.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
It depends on the person. If it’s someone who has an interest in the types of things I write, I’m very encouraging of it. Well, I mean, those are the ones I’m most interested in giving me feedback. I guess I really want everyone to read my work. I always think they’ll like it if they give it a chance. But, since I write horror, a lot of people just reject it outright. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
It is a great gift. Just having that mastery of language can make a huge difference in life. The more I write, the more creative I become. It helps in every aspect of life. As far as the perspective of a career in writing, it does have its challenges. Writing with the intent of having a career is not for the faint of heart. But every little recognition seems huge and rewarding. Even on the worst days, it still feels like a gift.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I was fortunate, at least in respect to writing, to have grown up in a very rural setting. It was a world full of hidden secrets, good and bad. There were places where people never, or seldom, went. Vast tracts of land where anything could be taking place. This was always good creative fuel. I had a lot of freedom in my youth to explore the wooded hills in my little slice of the world. I found places where stories were hiding, waiting to be told.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I don’t know if it’s the strangest thing, but the one that jumps out at me is twofold. I had characters, a father and son, squatting in buildings in a part of a city that was abandoned. They left this environment by hopping a freight train. I did a great deal of research on abandoned urban areas in the U.S. and the ins and outs of riding freight trains. I had to do some interlibrary loaning to get books on these subjects. Both sets of research were fascinating and a part of American culture that is not always out in the open.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
The end. Always the end. Beginnings are easy. I can write by the seat of my pants and let the story take me where it will. The middle is where the story comes together. The end, though. The climax, the denouement. It must be satisfying. It must bring everything together. It must resolve the impossible. Then it has to wind down in a meaningful way. This is where the real pressure is. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “falls apart in the third act.” But, that’s the biggest challenge to me, avoiding that. I understand that many writers thrive on the climax of a story, but I find it the most intimidating. It can’t be rushed, and it can’t be overly drawn out.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you outline?  Do you start with characters or plot?  Do you just sit down and start writing?  What works best for you?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I don’t begin by outlining. I sit down and write for about a third of the story. Then, once it has good direction, I start making notes on characters and I do a list of scenes to stay on track. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you do when characters don't follow the outline/plan?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
As stated in the previous question. I do a list of scenes. The characters will inevitably mess with that. So, I rearrange scenes, create new ones, and if it’s big enough, I will rewrite the list to change where the story goes. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
Not nearly enough. Motivating myself to write is my biggest challenge. There are so many ways to entertain oneself these days, and so many things that we get connected to that make us want to stay engaged. I’m terrible at putting these things away and giving myself time. Really, the best way is to just schedule a time and force myself to put my butt in the chair.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you an avid reader?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I’m a casual reader. Knowing many of my fellow authors through social media, I realize I don’t read nearly as much as most do. I read slow and savor every word, so I read about one book a month normally. So, yes, I’m always reading something, but I’m not plowing through everything I can get my hands on.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
That is difficult to answer. I like to read well-written books that have something that appeals to me. It would be easy to say horror fiction, but that’s an oversimplification. I like to read everything by authors like, Joe R. Lansdale, Robert McCammon, and Stephen King, even though a lot of their output is not truly horror fiction. They’ve all written in the genre, but they have something more. It’s about setting, character, and plot. About finding just the right place to stretch reality tight, and possibly break it. I need the work to relate to my life. I don’t find much that I like in the way of fantasy, because it is too far removed from my reality. But I do like my reality to be broken, to go a step beyond. I think that is the spot where horror fiction lives. A slight breaking of the ordinary world.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How do you feel about movies based on books?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I’ve seen so many that have missed the entire point of the story. I Am Legend is a great example. Three movies based on that book have been released. The first, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, got the story right, but it was cheaply made and ineffective. THE OMEGA MAN and I AM LEGEND both missed the entire point of the story. It’s a short work. It could easily be filmed true and complete to the story and be quite moving. But, it doesn’t seem meant to be. GHOST STORY, based on Peter Straub’s book of the same name, is another example where the point of the book was totally missed. It’s time for a better adaptation of that book, my all-time favorite.
            On the other side, there have been some satisfying adaptations of books I love. Frank Darabont’s Stephen King adaptations were all three amazing. I was pretty satisfied with the recent adaptation of  Stephen King’s It. This is an example of a lot of changes to the details of the story, but it managed to maintain the point of the story. That’s the important thing, the overall concept. The details are fun to discover, but the meaning of the story must be maintained.


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Have you ever killed a main character?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I most certainly have. I won’t go into detail of the situation in which I kill the main character because it is the centerpiece of the plot of a forthcoming novel. But he dies for a beautiful and meaningful reason. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I don’t think enjoy is the right word. I feel a need to make them suffer. Suffering raises the stakes. Suffering is something that makes someone take action. Suffering is pivotal in many stories. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the weirdest character concept that you've ever come up with?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I’m not sure I have many weird characters. I suppose the strangest would be the “devil” from The Devil in Orchard Springs. He was some sort of tuxedoed, alien, drum major kind of thing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the best piece of feedback you've ever received?  What's the worst?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
Someone said on social media that they were re-reading my book. I’m thankful anyone would read what I write, but to know someone liked it enough to read it a second time was incredible. As far as the worst, “predictable.” I hate that one, but it is inevitable. All the clues have to be there. Some people are going to figure it all out easily.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do your fans mean to you?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I don’t ever think of myself as having fans, though I know I do, a few anyway. And, they mean the world. That I can create something and someone will want me to create more gives meaning to what I do. It’s an amazing feeling to have that.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, what would it be and why?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
Agent Pendergast from the novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. He has a great wit and southern charm that makes me smile every time I read him. He deals with cases that are pseudo-supernatural. I’d love to take him and make him get down with some real horror.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
If you could a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
I would love to collaborate with Joe R. Lansdale on a coming of age, small-town Texas, horror novel. He captures the voice of small Texas towns better than anyone in the business.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
You can expect my first full-length novel, very soon, I hope. Then there are several more in the works. Or possibly more slacking. But my editor says I can’t do that anymore.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (STaLKeR links.)

I. Clayton Reynolds:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview or the last?

I. Clayton Reynolds:
Yes. Thank you for reading this and having an interest in my work. I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview and the hard work that The Gal puts into this blog. If you’ve enjoyed this, or have any questions or comments, please leave comments to let us know you’re out there. It’s an honor to be asked to be on this blog. Thank you for everything.


About the author:
I. Clayton Reynolds is an author of horror, suspense, and the supernatural.  He studied Anthropology, Psychology, and History at the University of Texas and Iowa State University and gained extensive knowledge of legends and beliefs from around the world and deep into the past.  His research has helped him to understand how and why frightening legends and cautionary horror tales have developed throughout the human past.  A native of North Texas, he now lives in the Texas Hill Country.

About the books:
A wooden elf Christmas decoration found in a box begins to reveal sinister secrets to a blind girl and her family.

Tack and Jim are looking for women.  When Lacey and Janelle meet them at a night club, they have no idea what the night has in store.  It won't be like any hook-up they've had before.

Tiny Rootlets grip and crawl.  Vines slither imperceptibly slow along the walls.  Waxy green leaves choke and suffocate all in their path.  Ivy, it creeps.
            After a post-war industrial boom, Ivy and her husband find themselves wealthy and ready to live out an idyllic life together.  When they build their dream home, Ivy grows nostalgic for her namesake vines that covered her childhood home.  When a shadowy gardener delivers on her desire, her life begins to spin out of control.  Death lurks in every dark corner and there is no escape.

In the small town of Orchard Springs, something is coming.  The signs are in the air and in the townspeople.  And one young man, seemingly immune, struggles to find answers.

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