Author Interviews

Author Interview with Horror Writer Michael Aronovitz

Welcome, everyone! It’s time for another interview, this time with horror writer Michael Aronovitz. Judging from the reviews of his book, The Witch of the Wood, his works are must-reads for horror lovers. Read on to meet today’s guest!

It’s great to have you with us today. Would you mind starting us off by telling us a little about yourself?

I am a college professor of English and a baseball nut.  I love heavy metal music and horror movies.

Where does writing fit into your busy life, and what keeps you motivated/inspired when discouragement sets in?

I write at every available opportunity.  At the moment I am only teaching college classes so I have a bit more time, but when I taught in public schools I would write for a couple of hours each morning and all day on the weekends.  Often, I would bring pages drafted in the morning to school and revise them on my breaks.  In terms of discouragement, I don’t see it that way.  Every page and scene is fun to write no matter how much I obsess.  Reconstructing the “discouraging” rough work is part of the process.

What’s your writing background?

I have published two novels and two collections.

When it comes to reviews, do you have a thick skin?  How do you handle negative feedback?

When I am fortunate enough to have a review of my work appear somewhere I celebrate regardless of the “thumbs up or down.”  The fun is being reviewed in the first place.  It means people are talking about the work!  As for negative feedback, I take it to heart and move on.  Hey…it’s still someone talking about the work.

What inspires your stories?  What draws you to your preferred genre?

My initial inspiration was Stephen King and his ability to draw characters.  In reference to genre, horror is really just my favorite spice.  It interests me and keeps me reading (and writing).  The supernatural opens up strange timelines, and it makes things more fun.  Add a time limitation or two, something at stake, and a gut-wrenching discovery and you have the essence of why horror works for me.

Can you tell us about your books?  What other projects are you working on?

Interview2Seven Deadly Pleasures and The Voices in Our Heads are collections of stories I published around the horror marketplace starting in 2007.  Alice Walks is my first novel, a ghost story, and your featured novel here The Witch of the Wood is my second novel, more a dark apocalyptic journey.  My third novel titled Phantom Effect is a serial killer / supernatural piece to be published by Night Shade Books in February of 2016, and my first young adult novel titled Becky’s Kiss comes out through Vinspire Press this coming November.

How did you build your writing support team?  Do you have tips and suggestions for other writers?

A great question.  I built my “team” begging and pleading to anyone who would listen.  I was incredibly fortunate back in 2007 that horror scholar and Lovecraft biographer S.T. Joshi took an interest in my fiction and put my first collection through Hippocampus.  Since then I have been lucky enough to have contact with other writers like Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne, those who not only write wonderful fiction themselves, but have given me exposure on Haunted Nights Live (as well as some blurbs).  I also bounce ideas off a couple of independent film directors from Australia named Donna McRae and Ursula Dabrowsky.  Locally, I have contact with Ken Bingham, writer, stage producer, editor, and teacher.  All these wonderful people are essential to my success.  I do not have an agent.  I have gotten all of my work published on my own.

What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into your genre?  Advice on marketing and selling?

I’ll answer the latter part first and assure you that I am learning the marketing as I go.  The more I explore in this business the more convinced I am that marketing is a major part of the deal.  My advice to new horror writers is always to stick with what you love.  Trends are fickle.

Hmmm. “Trends are fickle”. I like that statement very much. An excellent reminder to always focus on what drives us.

How can readers get in contact with you?

My website is currently http://michaelaronovitz.weebly.com/

My Facebook Author’s Page is: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelAronovitzAuthor?ref=hl

I am currently building a new website to be nicknamed “The Author’s Graveyard” and readers can email me at theauthorsgraveyard@gmail.com

Thank you so much for visiting with us today, and for sharing about your writing experiences. Readers, please let Michael Aronovitz know how much you enjoyed getting to know him by leaving a message below and/or connecting with him via his links. Thanks for reading!

 

Essays, Misc

When You Are Discouraged

I haven’t posted many articles about my ‘writer’s experience’ lately, mostly because I figured a series of depressing posts featuring my rants and raves wouldn’t be very interesting. Okay, maybe interesting but not very useful.  We all face moments of frustration and disappointment when we strive to succeed at something we are passionate about. The challenge becomes how to get out of that black hole and what to do with ourselves once we do. 

Months ago, when the first phase of this downward spiral hit, I was coming to grips with reality: finding success as a writer is extremely hard. Not to mention that no matter how good our writing might be, that is no guarantee that an agent or publisher will want to work with us.   

Reality check number two: wanting to reclaim control of my book, I cancelled the contract with the company that published it, but now I had the monumental job of doing everything myself: republishing the book, marketing and promoting it, figuring out the numbers and following stats and purchases, if there were any. I felt like I had made a huge mistake. The burden is massive. Fact is, I just don’t have the financial or time resources necessary to sell my books the way the experts say I should. And, I’m not an island. I have kids, a household to maintain and a fulltime job. No matter how much I wish otherwise, I can’t just dump my job to write fulltime. In order to maintain balance in my life, I had to sacrifice writing time to be present elsewhere. It was that, or burn out. 

Still, this current phase was different. I wasn’t feeling good about my writing. I’d produce something I thought was good, but the comments I got back all seemed negative to me. Then the doubts set in. Had I lost my touch? Were people just not into what I was writing? Did they not get it? And so on. And on…and on.

image from youthvoices.net
image from youthvoices.net

Part of this comes from the writing group I joined. The group itself is great. I love the social aspect. And chatting about the art-form we are passionate about while working together to improve our pieces is wonderful. However, we each have our individual styles, most often skewing towards literary fiction. I have often felt a little like a fish out of water. Sometimes I wondered if I would be better off in a genre-oriented group. But a big part of the reason I joined was to benefit from the lit-oriented environment. 

Anyway, I finally broke. And it was this breaking that led to getting out of that black hole. Below are two of the main things I learned: 

  1. Talk to the right people. I have a small circle of internet writing friends I trust, and they gave me a place to vent. I’m sure I tried their patience, but I appreciate their concern and the time they gave me. Then someone in the writing group mentioned an upcoming writing retreat, so I took a chance and contacted the host. Her name is Lise Weil, professor, founder of literary magazines, and award-winning writer, though I didn’t know this when we spoke. (Thank goodness because I would felt intimidated otherwise). Mrs. Weil ‘got’ my problem right away. When she voiced my own suspicion that my writing world had been ‘shaken up’, I immediately relaxed. The tension seeped out of me, like someone had just sucked the poison from a snake bite. Just having someone name your problem and empathize with you can get you back on track. Needless to say, I will be attending the retreat and I will be blogging about that. 🙂
  2. Always come back to your centre. Exploring new writing styles led me away from my own Voice. This insecurity caused me to seek approval and validation from others and to concluding my work was bad when things didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. I forgot that failure doesn’t mean the work itself is bad, or that I suck. It just means I need to work harder. And I must be patient. Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how I was feeling and inspiration led me to bang out a flash fiction piece to accompany it. It was raw and fuelled by angst, but it felt great to put my feelings in prose. The piece even won a flash fiction contest I was encouraged to participate in. Last weekend, I went for breakfast with Sharon from my group again, and we wrote short pieces based on paintings hanging in the restaurant. I had no idea what to write, but I shut out my doubts and let my fingers do the work. I was thrilled with the result.  The point is, these experiences reminded me that writing from the heart is what makes me happy, and that I most enjoy writing when I don’t always know where the story is going to go.  I feel alive when I’m not trying to be this or that kind of writer. When the most important critic of anything I write is me because what is on paper is my truth. 

And that is what I learned. I’m going back to basics, back to what makes me love writing in the first place—pure self-expression. Some will get on board and some won’t. I may never become famous, and people might not ‘get’ or like my work. But at least every piece will be me.

Picture by Amanda Staley
Picture by Amanda Staley