My first guest this month is author Ralph Hartman. Ralph’s latest book, The Loosening, is published by Etopia Press.
Steve: Tell us a bit about Ralph Hartman.
Ralph: Well… it’s 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon and I’m still in pajamas. Just came in from walking our three Golden Retrievers in the snow. My wife and I live on a little piece of land in Central Alberta, Canada; our closest neighbors are a half-mile away, which is good ‘cause I don’t think they’d get the whole walking your dogs in pajamas thing. I’ve built trails through the trees; sometimes I walk and think – sometimes I just walk and let the dogs do all the thinking.
S: Most of my followers are horror fans; tell us what you write and why.
R: Horror happens on so many different levels. What I truly enjoy is exploring the making of those things we fear most, material or spectral, of the world or of the mind, where and how our worst terrors originate and the way we grow and nurture then into palpable reality. Fun huh?
S: Well, I think so! Now, have you always wanted to write?
S: And how was the road from starter to first publishing contract for you?
R: I started many years ago, then pushed it aside as things like building a career and a home shouldered to the forefront. Pushed aside but never pushed away. A few years ago I got to looking through all the bits and scraps and manuscripts and thought…maybe? Write, polish, query,submit…manage the rejection…learn…repeat. Eventually my third novel was accepted by a small Canadian publisher. Oh joy! Now, I’m hooked – I have a plausible reason to do something I love.
S: So tell us about your latest books. Tempt my horror fans to go and buy them.
R: THE LOOSENING is my latest, a horror with Etopia Press. I got to wondering one day…about the physical manifestation of evil. If a benevolent entity needs faithful believers to exist then it carries an evil entity would gain strength and substance from the same. A twisted sort of devotion, if you will; a coven of witches work to bind a curse in a tiny Oregon community and indoing so empower and embolden a potent evil. Take a couple of interesting themes from history; the weave and the snake and a hunter druid and mix it alltogether. What if, despite their well-meaning efforts, it’s the witches that enable the evil to achieve physical form? Thus the tag line: “Witches! Above all else –do ye no harm…”
EVER SINCE is also a recent work. It’s a YA dark literary (didn’t know that until an editor told me) about a kid with an inexplicable sensitivity to the macro. He experiences a challenging childhood, is diagnosed as a dissociative, becomes involved in a subculture faith, and grows up misunderstanding and being misunderstood. There’s a sinister undertone to this story, an honest questioning about social morality and accepted normalcies. It’s a tragedy. “It’s not about getting fixed – it’s knowing you aren’t broken.”
S: I think my TBR pile may just have grown! And listening to you talk about The Loosening, you might like my novel, Diavolino. So, where did you find the inspiration, the one flashing idea, for your stories?
R: I daydream. A lot.
S: What plans do you have for the future? What can we expect?
R: I’ve got a YA paranormal, RAT ROD, coming out this fall with Musa Publishing. It’s a ghost story. About a young man, just starting to get it all put together, the ghosts he brings with him and the ones he finds on his way, and the hell that happens because of them.
I’ve been shopping two manuscripts, been experimenting with shorts, and working on a couple of fresh novels. And loving it…
S: What’s your position on e-books? Do you like them? Do you believe they are the future, or do you think print books will prove to be unassailable in the long term?
R: Ouch. This is tough… If it wasn’t for e-books my stuff would still be sitting in towering New York slush piles or be rubber-banded and forgotten in a cardboard box. I am thrilled to see my stories out there, and hope e-publishing will tighten up and continue as a desirable consumer option,but I doubt if print will ever fade away. A good book is something substantial,a prized item you can put on a shelf and flip through as a physical connection to thoughts and ideas and words that touch and affect. When I go to my bookshelf I get a feeling different than when I boot up my e-reader.
S: How would you like to be remembered?
R: I’d like to be remembered by not being forgotten. Huh?
S: Ralph, thanks for dropping by and the best of luck with the books. Maybe you’ll come back one day in the not too distant future and let us know how you’re getting on? Before you go, where can people find you?
R: Thanks, Steve. Here are my main haunts: