1. So how did you go from graduating from Harvard Law School to being an author of horror and science fiction?
Long before I even dreamed of going to law school, I knew that I loved writing. I wrote my first book—if you can call it that—when I was in second grade. It was a vampire novel that was five chapters and five pages long. I like writing all sorts of things, but horror has always interested me the most.
2. Who has been your biggest influence as a writer?
Probably H.P. Lovecraft and F. Scott Fitzgerald. A weird combination, for sure, but they have more in common than most people might thing. I love the lyricism of their writing, the ebbs and the flows. And the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft has had a huge impact on me. The unknown is the key to horror, and no one was better at exploiting that than him.
3. What’s the greatest moment in your writing career?
When I published my first novel, That Which Should Not Be. Anyone who has ever written anything and tried to publish it knows the heartache and heartbreak you go through. When I learned that I would actually cross that finish line, I was ecstatic. Little did I know all the work that’s involved after publication! Still, it remains the best moment for me.
4. How did growing up in the South affect you as a writer?
I think the southern gothic is engrained in the DNA of every southerner. I love that old style and that old language. When I decided to write my own horror novel, I deliberately set it during that period so that I could explore the gothic form more fully. I even tried to bring some of that feeling into The Void, which is primarily a horror story in space.
5. How has the digital revolution and the emergence of ebooks affected you as a writer?
The main effect on me has been as a reader rather than a writer. E-books simply make it easier to read many different kinds of books quickly. I love old books, and I would never abandon physical bound copies, but it’s hard not to fall in love with a Kindle.
Of course, the other impact of the electronic revolution is that it’s easier to get my books into the hands of more people. That makes me pretty happy.
6. Who is your favorite writer?
F. Scott Fitzgerald. As I noted earlier, that’s probably a strange answer for someone who writes primarily in horror. The Great Gatsby is my favorite book of all time. It’s perfect. If I could write one sentence as great as good as that novel, I could die happy.
7. What attracted you to write a story set in space in the future in The Void?
Two things. My first book was set at the turn of the 20th century, so I wanted to do something completely different. But the bigger reason had to do with the mystery of space. It’s such a rich subject. We can guess at a lot of things, but the fact is, as Star Trek points out, space is the final frontier. The unknown is our greatest source of fear, and with space, you can really take advantage of that.
8. What advice do you have for beginning writers?
Never, never, never give up. Writing is one rejection after another. It takes a hundred no’s before you get a yes. But it only takes that one yes.
9. Where did you come up with the concept for The Void?
One of the great old stories is the abandoned ship. From the Marie Celeste on, the ghost ship is one of the truly fascinating set ups. I decided to take that and run with it with the spin of putting it in space. That story’s been done before, of course, but I think the concept of the dreams makes things unique.
10. If you could invite five people to a dinner party (alive or dead, real or fictional) who would you invite?
H.P. Lovecraft, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Alexander Hamilton, and Jesus.