This is Carl's Brain
11 Questions with Mary SanGiovanni

1.  When you first wrote The Hollower did you intend for it to be a series?

I didn’t, actually, but after the first book came out and met with some success, I was asked to do a sequel, and I agreed.  When I moved to a different publisher (Thunderstorm – they specialize in beautiful limited editions), I was asked to round it out as a trilogy to make a nice collector’s item.  In my opinion, it was a good learning experience, and I think each one is better than the one before it.

2.  Who has been your biggest influence as a writer?

Stephen King

It would be difficult to pick one, but I suppose, like many horror writers, Stephen King was a huge influence.  He was the one who inspired me to wantto become a full-time writer.  Clive Barker was also an early influence, as were Poe and Lovecraft ad Matheson. Im also a very visual person, so I’d have to admit John Carpenter was an influence as well.

3.  What’s the greatest moment in your writing career?

Speaking to my son’s class about writing was most definitely a highlight.  They were enthusiastic, interested, and fun.  It was awesome.

4.  In Found You, you used some of the same characters in The Hollower, and introduced new ones.  How did you decide on whom to keep for the sequel?

Well, I tried to plan out each character’s overall story arc, the span of their lives and the affects having to deal with Hollowers would have on those lives. I can remember a review of The Hollower once that mentioned no one really dies in it, except one character in the prologue. And I thought about that; each subsequent book, while remaining true to the material, ought to build on the story and amplify the horror or terror.  It was tough, but I had to decide who was tough enough to survive another onslaught by a stronger Hollower, and who could only find closure and resolution in death.  The same extended to the third book, where generally, all bets are off about survivors and victims.

5.  How has the digital revolution and the emergence of ebooks affected you as a writer?

Like many other writers, I’m of a generation straddling the fence between having learned about the business from the experiences of writers who have come before me, and having been one of the first generations to be affected by and to learn to use to our advantage the technologies of today.  I’ve seen a major shift from publication in mass market or trade paperbacks to e-books, and while the nostalgic part of me bemoans the fading popularity of paperbacks, the practical part of me sees the earning and fanbase potential in their substitute.  E-books have been good in that royalties for them are generally higher, and I feel I’m reaching a generation who, while not known for being big readers, are seamlessly integrating technology, including e-book technology, into their lives.  I believe that lasting success as a professional writer means adaptability; you have to be willing to embrace the new technologies and publishing models adplan the steps of your career accordingly to reap the most benefit.

6.  In Found You, your protagonists are flawed.  How do you create flawed characters that are still likeable?

I believe characters who are likeable but still flawed need to have flaws people can sympathize with and relate to.  In the case of The Hollower books, the flaws of the characters are driven by their insecurities and their fears of not living up to being the people that others in their lives need them to be.  I think if the fear or insecurity is commonly enough shared, people can put themselves in the positions of the characters.  I also think that adds to the fear of the monster; one can’t exclude oneself from its hunting parameters if one shares so much in common with its victims.

7.  Who is your favorite writer?

I have a few: Stephen King (although I generally prefer the horror stuff over the other fiction), Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell, Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft.  I’d say they’re my current favorites, although there is so much talent  in horror nowadays, it’s hard to limit it.  I’ve enjoyed work by Sarah Langan, John Langan, Tim Lebbon, John Farris, Robert Bloch, Kelli Owen, Brian Keene, Robert Ford, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Tom Monteleone, F. Paul Wilson, and geez, too many others to name here.

8.  What current writing projects are you working on?

I’ve recently finished a novel (due out late 2013) and a novella (due out early 2014).  I’m working on a short story for an upcoming anthology, as well as a novella for an innovative new project I can’t disclose too many details about yet, and both another novella (werewolves) and another novel.  I’m keeping busy. 😉

9.  What type of scenes do you most enjoy writing?


(grin) The scary supernatural scenes are my favorite – the ones that ratchet up the tension, the descriptions of monsters or surreal moments where other worlds brush, claw at, or tear through ours – those are absolutely my favorites.

10.  What inspired The Hollower series?

I wanted to write about a monster that was different than the usual horror tropes, something that fed on insecurity, something no one who had human flaws would ever truly be safe from.  I didn’t see it at the time, but comparisons in reviews to Pennywise from It and Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street make sense – I read/saw these at a pivotal point in my development, and so I’m sure played some part in the formation of my own kind of boogeyman.

11.  If you could invite five people to a dinner party (alive or dead, real or fictional) who would you invite?

William Wallace

Aside from family and close friends…hmm.  I think Beethoven, William Wallace, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and Harrison Ford.  Each of them has struck either a chord of heroism or inspired creativity which I hold up as a model for one aspect of life or another.  I think it would be fascinating to know them in private life.