Yikes! Been a long time since I posted here. My apologies. I’ve been volunteering for a local political campaign, and things have been kind of crazy lately.
Anyway, I’ve got something on deck that I believe was worth the wait. You may have seen my review of Damien Walters Grintalis’ horror novel Ink. If not, you can read it here. Or you know what? Don’t bother reading the review. Just go ahead and order the book, because it’s really good. It’s a wonderfully original and unsettling story about a guy who gets a haunted tattoo.
Damien Walter Grintalis graciously agreed to an interview. So here goes:
Q: How long has Ink been in the works?
A: The first draft was written in early 2009. I tucked it away for a few months, then worked on edits for several months and started querying agents at the end of the year. I signed with an agent in April or May of 2010, and then he and I worked on edits before the manuscript went out on submission to editors.
Q: Where did you get the idea for the central premise?
A: I was leaving a tattoo shop in Fells Point (in Baltimore) and had a what-if moment. I thought it was going to be a short story because I’d just finished another novel a few weeks before. I was wrong.
Q: How did you get started as a writer?
A: I learned to read at an early age and was a bookworm all through childhood. I wrote an illustrated book when I was in third or fourth grade and tried to sell it to my friends. I can’t remember what it was about and, unfortunately, no copies survived. I wrote tons of poetry as a teenager and luckily, no copies of those have survived either. While my children were young, I wrote lots of poetry and vignettes and half-finished novels. In 2008, I started to write short fiction and decided I was going to start and finish a novel. I did. It wasn’t a publishable novel, but still, it pushed me away from the “I can’t finish a novel” mindset. Then I wrote another one. It, too, has been relegated to the trunk of nevermore.
Then I wrote Ink.
Q: Who would you consider to be some of your major influences?
A: There are so many but the three biggest influences are Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Joyce Carol Oates. I’ve always been partial to novels with strong characterization and those authors excel at making paper people real.
Q: As I mentioned in the review, I was impressed with the originality of the concept. Did you make a deliberate attempt to avoid some of the more common horror tropes such as zombies and vampires?
A: Not intentionally, no. I don’t plot, so the story unfolded as I wrote it. In truth, when I finished, I was afraid it was a little too typical, in truth, what with the villain’s true nature. I did have fun playing with the cliché of a sailor walks into a bar, though.
Q: What drew you to the horror genre?
A: As far back as I can remember I’ve always been drawn to the dark and creepy. At about nine or ten, I was reading Lois Duncan and then, when I was eleven, I saw the movie Alien and read Stephen King’s The Shining. From that point on, I was well and truly hooked.
Q: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in getting your first novel written?
A: For me, it was sticking with it all the way to the end. I’d started about a dozen novels before that, but I never finished them. One stood at 86k before I scrapped it. Long enough to be a full novel, but the story wasn’t done. Once I pushed myself to the finish line, it didn’t seem like such a formidable task anymore.
Q: Do you have any other projects in the works?
A: My agent and I are working on edits for another manuscript, Paper Tigers, about a heavily disfigured young woman and a haunted photo album. While still horror, it has a different flavor than Ink, I think. It’s more atmospheric creep and a bit Gothic in tone.
I have another manuscript awaiting edits about a man battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and ocular disturbances which may or may not be related to his treatments, and I’m nearly finished another novel about a woman who injures a hand in a minor accident and walks away with the ability to heal … sort of.
I also write a lot of short fiction in between. I do my best to write every day, even if it’s only a page or two because I think a steady routine keeps the word machine flowing.
See Damien Walters Grintalis’ Webpage here: