TGR: Where did your love of reading and writing come from?
Sitting in my Papa’s lap at age 3, looking at the big world map behind his desk. He taught me to read with that map and road signs when we would go for a drive – I suppose that’s what gave me the wanderlust bug! Since then, I’ve devoured books, maps, pamphlets, encyclopedias, magazines, and everything else I could get my hands on!
TGR: What are some of the books/writers that had an impact on you and inspired you to write?
Stephen King, absolutely. He’s an incredible writer in so many ways, but what I love most about him is his characters – they’re complex, interesting, and very real.
TGR: What does a typical day look like for you?
Get up, go to work (where I write for a university), come home, watch true-crime shows. But I do try to make some time to write when I can, whether it’s for my blog (thedeadlydigest.com) a short story or my next novel.
TGR: How much research do you do before you begin writing?
Too much, probably! I come from a journalistic background so I’m all about the research. I watch dozens of hours of true-crime and forensics shows to put together a unique and truly evil antagonist. Then I read and watch everything I can about the time period my novel is set in. My first one was set in the 80s, and research was a lot of fun! I lived through that time, but it’s amazing how much your memory can fade or play tricks on you.
Now I’m absorbing everything I can from the 70s for my next book.
TGR: What genres are you comfortable writing in and is there any other(s) you would like to write in?
I’ve been a professional writer for decades so I can write anything from a Tweet to a Master’s thesis, and everything in between! But for myself, I love writing essays and short horror stories the most. I wish I could write more true crime.
TGR: What is the most important aspect of your writing? Is it character, plot, tone, or something else?
I think all those things are equally important for a good story, but I probably put a lot more energy into my characters than anything else. The setting might come in as a close second since I really love my Ozark Mountains and try to bring them alive to the reader.
TGR: What writing lessons have you learnt from you first publication to your most recent?
Structure! Know what the story is before you start writing! The good old 3-act structure works, so don’t shy away from it – stories that ramble on or drag will lose your reader.
TGR: I’m a big fan of ambiguity in stories. Particularly with short stories, I like to be made to think about the story and its meaning long after I have finished reading. What are your thoughts on ambiguous stories? Is ambiguity something you incorporate into your stories?
I agree. I tend to recoil from neat, happy endings, though sometimes they are just what’s needed. My short stories are more ambiguous than my novel.
TGR: Social media is a tool for getting yourself noticed. Do you think it is easier or more difficult these days to get your work noticed? Why?
Much more difficult. The days of the large-circulation periodicals that paid writers for fiction are long gone. Coupled with the rise of web-reading (short and skimmable) and publishers’ “outsourcing” of promotional work to the writers themselves, this has nearly suffocated the novel as a medium. But I have hope people will return to reading long narrative stories, somehow.
TGR: As a writer, what do you consider to be the do’s and don’ts of self-promotion?
Do: get yourself out there, be approachable, have a positive attitude. Don’t: bash other writers or your readers. And especially don’t spam your followers with incessant ads for your book.
TGR: Tell us about your work. What does your back catalogue consist of and what is your most recent release?
Actually, my fiction catalogue is just this one novel. Before this, I wrote news and feature stories, and I’ve got dozens of clips on topics from school lunches, to marijuana legalization, to dumpster diving. I find everything interesting.
I have several short horror stories that are as yet unpublished if that counts.
TGR: You’ve been invited to contribute a story to an anthology! If you could choose 5 other writers (living or deceased), who would they be and why?
Stephen King – he really is at his best in the short genre
Mary Roach – she can make anything – including dead bodies – interesting and even funny
Grady Hendrix – he’s an expert on horror and a damn funny writer to boot
Gillian Flynn – she’s just an incredible writer
Hunter S. Thompson – because he’s my spirit animal
TGR: Your latest book is being turned into a movie! Well done you! Who stars in it and who directs it?
Whoo hoo! The Devil in Black Creek, starring Sadie Sink, directed by Debra Granik.
TGR: What are you working on now (apart from these questions) and where can we stalk find you on the World Wide Web?
While recovering from a broken arm, I started writing a fun little horror short called “Bob is an Officious Little Prick,” about an office worker’s plot for revenge on her boss, but she ends up getting into more than she bargained for.
However, my primary WIP is a novel set in the 1970s, about a girl whose mother goes crazy, taking her boyfriend and daughter with her on a murderous spree across the country. Then they end up in an abandoned house in the Ozark woods, where things go really wrong…
You can find me on Twitter: @DRBartlette
Facebook: D.R. Bartlette
Or my Goodreads author page: D.R. Bartlette
And check out my blog on psychos, sadists, and serial killers: www.TheDeadlyDigest.com