The Malleus Maleficarum a Q&A
Here is a Q&A I did perchance it would be picked up for an UK site with a great title, The Ginger Nuts of Horror. Since I am an unknown quantum in the horror world, I have decided to publish it here.
David Sharp is a writer of creative fiction. A dreamer, he grew up identifying with the outsider from his teenage punk years on. His stories are filled with characters on the fringe of society, from troubled youth and thrill seekers to hardened gunslingers and mysterious loners. Each one is on a journey to find themselves and pursue their desires across exciting and sometimes dangerous landscapes. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in Chicago with his partner Bo. Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders (2017), a compendium of stories following queer, punk, outsiders in worlds of chaos crossing genres of queer fiction, horror, and dark fantasy, is his first self-published book now that he has the rights to his past works. He is an affiliate member of the Horror Writer’s Association and you can follow him at davidsharpwriter.com and FB @Writer.DavidSharp.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I have had an adventurous life from being a wild punk, working in a huge nightclub, managing an arthouse movie theater, some acting, stand-in and extra time on film sets, and the crazy world of experiential marketing. I am married to my partner Bo since 2011 and travel a lot with work. Writing has become my thing after diving in around 2004 from screenplays to short stories and novels, learning and growing ever since. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love to read. Currently, I am reading Deliverance, Stephen King’s The Bizarre of Bad Dreams, and the final part of the Bill Hodges trilogy End of Watch. I am also a huge horror fan especially of the 1980’s, the decade I grew up in. Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
William Burroughs has been an influence with his sense of hallucinatory rawness. S.E Hinton’s young adult novels definitely shaped me from an early age.
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
Horror is a wide field and there will always be misconceptions. I feel the term should be embraced. To change people’s minds, one must create characters, situations, and actions that are relatable — no matter how bizarre. A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
I think we are in for a time of extreme horror and political statements in subtext. Although, I am not sure if it is going to be as daring and political as the 1970’s or manifest in another bout of ‘torture porn’ and extreme gore seen after 9/11 in the early 2000’s. There will probably be a burnout of supernatural things and zombies, but everything goes in cycles. What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?
Sacrament by Clive Barker was a great influence; it went beyond horror to a rich dark fantasy and had a gay protagonist that was fleshed out in a real way. What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
Joe Hill has surprised me in his own right, aside from his famous father. How would you describe your writing style?
My style is descriptive, like it is happening in the moment. I draw a lot from film in the way I see things play out. It is probably a little rough around the edges in places — raw like the characters themselves. Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
There was a negative one for Escape from Dolphin Street with the headline: “I have no idea what I just read. I want to scrub my brain.” I so wanted to use that as a blurb on the cover as it seemed positive in light of the book’s antisocial nature. What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Having the discipline to write at the same time each day, to compartmentalize and block it off, is a challenge. Deadlines do help. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
Every subject can have its challenges. I would not say never to any topic since it all depends on the approach. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
A name has to have meaning to the story and sum it up. I think they should sound cool too. As for characters, I like to let names come naturally to the story’s environment.
Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?
I feel that you teach yourself as you go. You learn from your mistakes, but the key is not to get stuck rewriting something forever. Some stories have to live in their moment. Deadlines are important too as they give you motivation. What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Scrivener — I don’t know how I survived without it. Notebooks and pens for ideas on the fly and organizing structures before typing are a necessity. What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
Don’t stop no matter what and keep writing. Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?
I am still learning the process of that with lots of searching and trying different things. I feel that over time I can build something — well at least something cultish or underground. To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favourite child, and who is your least favourite to write for and why?
Lane Bowden is my favorite as he has hope against insurmountable odds, even if he makes some bad choices along the way. My least favorite would be Hound from Dolphin Street. He was a mute killer with a doll fetish and did unspeakable things to some of the protagonists— a very Rob Zombie sort of character. What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the shorts The Carny Cage and Under the Moonbow, as well as my novel manuscript for The Journey of Lane Bowden aka Dark Journey 1973 so far. Depending how Rebel’s Edge continues to develop, it may soon make me most proud. And are there any that you would like to forget about?
The Trouble with Furries is one I want to revisit someday and overhaul the story and fix some things. What I would like to forget about is the Studio 54 styled scripts entitled Tracer, Trade, and Tweaker that are the basis for the story minus the furry angle. Dark times bring dark stories. For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?
Anarchy - Strange Tales of Outsiders is a good start since it has a wide selection of material spanning quite a bit of time and includes street punk fiction, dark fantasy, and horror.
Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
“I am going to kill them, every goddamn one of them,” is the first line of Wild Boys - A Peculiar Western. I had read some advice from Elmore Leonard on writing and it became important to open in the middle of something and let the dialogue set the moment. Stephen King also has mentioned the importance of the opening sentence. The aforementioned line sets the tone of revenge and the story in motion.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Anarchy - Strange Tale of Outsiders, a punk compendium of horror, is my latest book with a new version of my peculiar western, Wild Boys, getting the finishing touches for a summer release to be followed by Dark Journey 1973, a cautionary tale of reckless youth and serial killers, this fall. I am currently working on the second volume of series set in my punk teenage years of the 1980’s called Rebel’s Edge.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
The unnecessary need to over explain every detail in the assumption that the audience needs things spoon fed to understand; this applies especially to supernatural stories. What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Deliverance by James Dickey is a great book. I get it now that I am older and see the social norms of the times, rising corporate culture, vanishing nature, and class issues that are called out with some great prose. Unlike when I was young and it was all about the shock value, now stories have deeper impacts. The last book that disappointed was Dr. Sleep. I love Stephen King but for some reason that book put me off. It lacked a certain horror and mystery of the unknown and did not feel like a true sequel to The Shining, then again I like the movie better than the book so what do I know. What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
Can we option one of you short stories or novels for a film? My answer would be, “Hell yeah,” and I might even do it like Stephen King, for one dollar bill just to see it happen.
Below is a picture of Cumberland Falls, Kentucky, the inspiration for Under the Moonbow.