My guest today is author, Cory Cone, who has taken time out to answer a couple of questions for me. Please help me make him feel welcome.
Thank you for joining me today Cory, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and moved to Baltimore in 2003 for college. I have a BFA in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and now work there as a Business Systems Analyst. My son recently turned three, and he’s the best. I tend to get absorbed into rotating hobbies, some of them over the last few years include: sleight of hand magic, Twitch.tv streaming, and birding. Since 2012 I’ve sold 20 short stories, including the one that will be in Tales from the Lake vol 5, “The Boy.”
What made you decide to write books?
When I was younger I had two great passions: drawing and writing. When it came time to choose a college, I was torn between going to school for writing or going for drawing and painting. In the end, I chose painting and moved to Baltimore for school. While I loved painting, after graduating, getting a full-time job, getting married, I started to struggle finding the time, resources and space to keep up with the work. Before long, I wasn’t painting anymore at all, and was beginning to feel creatively starved. I thought back to my interest in writing, and, because writing is free, started working on a few short stories, for the first time with the goal of making them good. I began to read more widely than I had when I was younger, discovering many writers who I had until then never even heard of, and are now some of my favorites. I fell in love with the work and the hobby, and here we are.
How do you create your characters?
I feel like character creating is an always changing art, but it generally works for me like this: I keep the characters very simple, with little to no descriptors at all, especially while working through the first draft. At the start, they often feel vague and thin, but by the time I reach the end of the first draft, they’ve become who they need to be, with their fears and feelings and beliefs pretty solid in my head, and the story. On the second draft, all the uncertainty of who they are is wiped out, and by the third draft they feel, I hope, like genuine characters.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Story ideas usually start with an image or a small moment, and more often than not sputter out and die from there. But sometimes they don’t. My story in Tales from the Lake Vol. 5 came from a walk home from work one day, when I was passing a playground and a young mother called out “Alex, honey, where are you going?” My own son wasn’t even born yet, and I was thinking a lot about what it was going to be like to be a parent, because in that moment I couldn’t relate to this mother all that well. I wouldn’t finish the story until my son was a year old, so I think I was able to bring some real parental worry into it eventually. But that’s what spawned the idea, that little moment on a walk home from work.
What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?
My son was born mid-drafting of this story, and for the first 9 or 10 months of his life, writing was put on hold completely. But of all challenges to have, I’d say becoming a new father is worth every minute of lost writing time.
How do you cope with writer’s block?
I try not to let it bother me. I figure if I’m not feeling it, why force the issue? I’ll watch movies, read books, refill the creative well. I also love digging into new hobbies, which I think feeds into the creative well also. Currently, if I’m feeling pretty empty, or blocked, I log onto a video game and zone out for a while. A little ‘me’ time goes a long way.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Tom Piccirilli, Joe R. Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Brian Hodge
I am a huge fan of writers who go the distance, who take chances with troubling and often disturbing content, and do it in a way that leaves you feeling a little sick, a little sad, and in absolute awe. Some examples of books and stories I return to often for inspiration:
Tom Piccirilli – Choir of Ill Children (novel), Alchemy (short story)
Joe R. Lansdale – Night They Missed the Horror Show (short story), Edge of Dark Water (novel)
Ramsey Campbell – Again (short story), The Face That Must Die (novel)
Jack Ketchum – Gone (short story), The Girl Next Door (novel)
Brian Hodge – Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls (short story, probably one of my all-time favorites)
What plans do you have in your writing future?
I plan to write many more short stories, and, with discipline, a novel or two. I’d like the stories to stay honest, and to stay horrifying. I also am trying to break out of my shell and get to conventions more often to meet new people. I’ve been to NeCon and StokerCon so far, and hope to make both of them yearly trips. I’ll also be at World Fantasy this year, since it will be in Baltimore.
Lastly, what advice would you give to those thinking about writing a book?
Don’t give up, even if it’s the steamiest pile of crap you’ve ever written. Nine times out of ten, it isn’t so bad after a good night’s sleep. And along with that, finish what you start.
Thank you for being my guest today, good luck with the anthology and with future books.