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Interview with Author J. Tonzelli - The End of Summer: Thirteen Tales of Halloween

Interview with Author J. Tonzelli
The End of Summer: Thirteen Tales of Halloween

-What was your inspiration for your new release "The End of Summer: Thirteen Tales of Halloween" and do you listen to music or a score to help flesh out that your ideas?

J. Tonzelli: I've loved Halloween since I was young, and that love has never really gone away - it's just changed forms. As I got older I began to devour any kind of book having to do with Halloween, especially anthologies, but I found so many of them to be a cheat. Not that they were bad - just that they were filled with vampires or aliens and other random scary things, and none of them had anything to do with Halloween. I felt that was a shame, because the origins of Halloween, and all the myths and stories that go along with it, are so interesting and many of them were begging to be explored. I'm not saying my book is the first to do so, but we're a minority in that sea of those other books exploiting the Halloween name. That was the idea behind it.

As for the process, I've never written a single word without listening to music. I can't write in dead silence; it makes me nervous. I have a well-stocked library and something is constantly playing while I write - usually a film score. My go-to composers are usually Clint Mansell and Wojciech Kilar if I'm writing something moody. Hans Zimmer or Atli Örvarsson if I'm writing something big. Definitely Thomas Newman if I'm working on something small or intimate. There are several more straightforward bands I like, too. God is An Astronaut comes to mind. It has to be instrumental. Lyrics get in the way.

-In your life, what is one of the most terrifying thing you have seen, dreamed or experienced... that when someone says something related you get that image in your head?

J. Tonzelli: Not really terrifying, but a while back I went on a random drive with a friend to this area where stories about a ghost boy wandering the road were pretty prevalent (because every town needs a ghost boy story). She said there was a certain remote area in the middle of nowhere that had this really strange energy. I have no idea how she even found out about it, but I love a good late-night drive, so I went along for the hell of it. We turned off this main two-lane highway and went down this dirt road for a long while, and we were surrounded by the woods on both sides. We just kept making turns onto these other dirt roads - it's a miracle we didn't get lost - and the roads not narrower and narrower. There were deer everywhere in the trees and the headlights caught their eyes in the dark, so they glowed. That was already eerie enough. Finally we got to this area where there was this one isolated house out in the middle of nowhere. We weren't terribly close to it - it was still a ways off in this open area - so it's not like we were trespassing or anything. Still, we were miles into the woods. She kills the engine and we get out of the car, and she turns to me and says, "Do you feel it?" I stood there a moment and she was right. I have no idea what I was feeling, but I definitely felt something. It felt like sort of a crushing weight. It just felt bad. If there was such a thing as negative energy, it was all over that place. Now of course, the thrill of being somewhere you weren't supposed to - some place where if something happened there was no help coming for you - is enough to make your heart race and fill you with adrenaline. So maybe that was it. But places like that make your imagination run away. You're out there surrounded by the woods and these massive cornfields. There could be eyes all over you from every direction.

So I think about that a lot if I find myself on the road late at night. Everything seems more dangerous then. It's inspired a lot of my writing, and directly inspired one of the stories in the collection.

-What works best for you when you write; do you start with the idea, title or just start writing?

J. Tonzelli: Any and/or all of the above. Ideas can literally spring from anywhere. While I was working on the book, my eyes sprang open one night at 3 a.m. with this idea. It literally woke me up. I got up right then and there and turned that idea into a story. I wrote until the sun came up, then went back to bed. I'd never done anything like that before - wrote the beginning, middle, and ending - in one sitting. You just never know when that urge will come to put something down on paper. As far as titles are concerned, sometimes a title pops into your head and it gives you the idea. Sometimes it's the opposite. You just never know. Not every idea is going to be gold, but they're usually worth at least trying to see where it leads you. I've got a folder on my computer with the title "Don't Bother" and it's filled with "ideas" that didn't really pan out. But I gave them all a shot. Just never stop writing. Ray Bradbury said that and it's the most valuable thing a writer can know.

Please check out more over at "BEING RETRO" for the book!
Jeremy [HWR:OLM]

About Author: 

J. Tonzelli is a writer, blogger, and Halloween enthusiast who currently resides in South Jersey. When not prepping his first co-authored novel for publication, or obsessively checking the weather report for thunderstorms, he continues his appreciation for all things creepy while making too many jokes about skeletons. He loves autumn, abandoned buildings, the supernatural, and films by John Carpenter. You can read more of J. Tonzelli's short fiction, as well as his musings on the horror genre.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can't write unless music is playing either, although lyrics don't bother me.
Did you ever write a story about that place with the strange energy?

TEOS said...
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