I don’t know. I loved reading from a young age and it seemed like a natural progression to writing your own stories. I have a compulsion to write but I haven’t always been so serious about it. A few years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately it was caught very early. Nothing wakes you up to your mortality like a brush with a potentially fatal disease. At that point I decided if I wanted to be a writer I should become serious about it because the clock is ticking.
What books have had the most influence on you as a writer?
John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. The first time I read that book, I gave up writing for awhile. I was making many of the mistakes he talks about. I came back to it later and found I wasn’t making those mistakes any more. I guess the lessons from the first reading had taken root.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring two books and one movie, what would you bring?
I think everyone gets to bring the Bible to these islands or maybe it’s already there. My two books would beThe Lord of the Rings (I could read that over and over again and never get bored) and Crime and Punishment (another long book that you can chew on for a long time. It also reminds me of winter. I don’t like to be hot). For a movie, that would be a tossup between Das Boot (I like submarines) and The French Lieutenant’s Woman (I’m a sucker for costume dramas).
What was the hardest part of writing this book for you? And on the flip side what was the easiest?
I don’t know how many times I revised/rewrote the first section (Paul’s initial encounter with the ghost). The first part of story sets the tone for the rest of it so it’s important to get it right and sometimes very hard. The easiest parts were the secondary characters: the preacher and the caretaker at the cemetery. Those two came to me fully formed. All I had to do was transcribe what they were saying.
Have you ever had a paranormal experience yourself?
No, I haven’t. Not sure if I want to. But I have driven on some lonely highways and they are definitely creepy at night.
What is something funny/weird/exceptional about yourself that you don’t normally share with others in an interview?
I love cats. I had three when I was growing up and I have two now. Cats and I connect. We seem to understand each other.
And here’s the fun part…below are three list of words from the magnetic refrigerator poetry set…if you so choose, please write up a little piece of poetry or prose from these words.
There’s a ground squirrel in the attic, digging for the nut of our skeletons that we keep beneath the shadows of the steps. I step in a cold puddle of sour take out. I give up the climb. He will find not but the dark manuscript of my soul up there and the dead dancing in a breeze. Why investigate? A spider will manacle him.
Highway 24 blurb:
On a lonely country highway, a young travelling salesman runs down a teenage girl. It was an accident. Why she was wandering around on a highway in a pink, formal dress, he can’t imagine. There’s no doubt she’s dead. Fear takes over and he flees the scene, absently taking one of her shoes with him. An old memory, something familiar about that shoe, struggles to surface. As he speeds away from the accident, he thinks his nightmare can’t get any worse, until he sees a pair of green eyes in his rear-view mirror. The shoe and those eyes lead him to a small town where he meets an all too knowing preacher and a sheriff obsessed with the girl’s tragic demise. As Paul digs deeper into the mystery of the girl and her shoe, he comes face-to-face with a dark secret from his father’s past.
Jeff Chapman writes software by day and speculative fiction when he should be sleeping. His tales range from fantasy to horror and they don’t all end badly. He lives with his wife, children, and cats in a house with more books than bookshelf space. You can find him musing about words and fiction at jeffchapmanwriter.blogspot.com