Welcome back to Part Two of Confessions of a Reviewers’ interview with our very own, Chad Clark.
In tonight’s segment, Chad gives his thoughts on his new book, Yesterday, When We Died, and gives you some more general information about himself. He will, of course, also be taking on The Ten Confessions.
It’s Monday so go grab a coffee and a bun and sit back, and most of all…..enjoy!
CoaR – Moving on to Yesterday, When We Died. What is this all about? What did you want to achieve or get across with it?
CC – The main character of the book, Kyle has experienced a loss at the suicide of his ex-girlfriend, Cheryl. After finding out that her emotional break came after spending a week alone in the upstate wilderness, Kyle rents the same cabin she stayed at and goes there, looking for answers. He takes along two friends, Grant and Shannon without telling them the reason for his trip. His search for an explanation ultimately turns up a lot more than he was expecting.
As I hinted at above, I don’t really think about my writing as a means of communicating anything specific to the reader. I hope whoever reads it finds it entertaining and compelling. The book does require you to work a little, fitting together pieces from different parts of the story. If it’s any consolation, the earlier versions of this were even more bizarre and hard to follow.
I actually wrote this over ten years ago, in its original form. I came back to it in 2014, gave it some heavy revisions and included it in my first book under the title, Borrowed Time. That book was never very successful as short story collections are a hard sell for new authors. I really believed in those stories, they just weren’t getting out there. So, this year I took that book off the market and have been releasing the stories individually. I gave this story a bit more editorial attention and you now have the book in its soon-to-be-released form, Yesterday, When We Died.
CoaR – This story is told from different people’s perspectives, telling you what happens to them all simultaneously. Why write it like this?
CC – I was really fascinated by the notion of perspective, and how point of view can alter how you perceive what is on the page. George RR Martin has now made this narrative style well known, but for me, at the time, this felt new and original.
One passage from Stephen King’s On Writing, talks about how all of the characters in a book feel like they are the star of their own story. No one thinks of themselves as secondary. So, in a way, I almost think of this as three different stories, intertwined. I really liked the moments in the book where you get to see a scene again, but from another person’s point of view. I also liked how much of the mystery of the story is dispelled by seeing crucial moments through another set of eyes.
This story was literally born from a single image, a guy sitting on a pier, fishing in a lake in the middle of the wilderness. I had a notion of him in a bedroom, confronting someone under the control of some kind of demon. From there, it was a matter of building and discovering this story that was in my head somewhere.
I can’t say for sure when I had the idea to jump around between points of view. I was writing this largely by the seat of my pants and it developed very organically and gradually.
I’ve heard that when Michelangelo was asked how he made David, he stated that he just started chiselling away and removing anything that wasn’t David.
My point is, it took me a long-ass time to find David.
CoaR – Each character is very distinct from the next lending a lot of different emotions to the story. Do you write the story around the characters or the characters around the story?
CC – I don’t necessarily have a set path but this one was definitely about the characters. I especially loved the chemistry between the three of them and the banter that filled some of the scenes. I think it’s a great representation of friends who care about each other but are also perfectly willing to drag each other over the coals.
Of the three primary characters, Shannon is probably my favorite. Mostly because, while he is the type of person who many would dismiss immediately as being a self-absorbed jock, he also provides quite a bit of low humor to the book with some fairly witty comments.
CoaR – You also play a lot on the fear of the unknown which is extremely effective in this one. Are you more a psychological horror man more than say, slashers or monsters?
CC – First off, I want to be clear that saying I like one doesn’t mean I don’t like the other. Because I love a good monster story. And I love writing monster stories.
But I have always been captivated by psychological horror. To me, the greatest ally you can enlist to your aid is the imagination of the reader. If you can get that reader’s mind running in a dozen different directions, anticipating what might be about to happen, I think you accomplish something that is far longer lasting. Jump scares are great but fear that is born of atmosphere tend to stay with you longer, in my opinion.
I’m a fan of the slow burn, for sure. But there’s an important balance to strike. Because with horror, you also have to be careful not to drag it out too much. In my opinion, the longer it goes on, the less the premise of the story is able to hold up. The timing is hard to establish and whether or not I hit that is going to be up to individual readers, but that is my goal.
CoaR – You take on the subject of suicide in this one as well. I have to say that the manner in which you dealt with that, and the mental anguish of the victim and her family, was admirable. But how did you write that? Was it difficult to come up with a storyline that would be sensitive as well as full of fear?
CC – Well first off, thank you. I’m glad you found that aspect of the book to be effective. For me, one thing that is particularly important is that the characters feel real. I think horror for the reader happens when they feel the horror of and are invested in the character. If you don’t empathize you don’t feel that fear for them.
I wanted to make sure that the suicide wasn’t just put into the story as an excuse to create a mystery. This couldn’t be exploitative. I wanted the grief and anguish of the situation to have weight and realism to it. I wanted there to be horror surrounding the supernatural aspects of the story but I also wanted a realistic horror, simply in the tragedy of these characters being drawn into something they had no control over.
CoaR – What’s coming in the future from Chad Clark?
CC – Quite a lot, actually. Following Yesterday, When We Died, I will be releasing a collection of flash fiction, titled Two Bells At Dawn. This will come out in July. In the six months following that, I will be putting out three novellas. An apocalyptic sci-fi thriller called The Child At The End Of Time, a monster story titled Winter Holiday and a gritty small-town horror tale, In The Course Of Daily Events. Also in that time period, I will be putting out at least two more short stories on Amazon.
My books are also moving towards being available in audiobook format. By the time this interview goes public, my novella, Down The Beaten Path may already be available via Audible. My apocalyptic novel, Behind Our Walls will be going into recording soon and my upcoming book, Yesterday, When We Died will be available at Audible on or shortly after release day.
THE TEN CONFESSIONS
1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?
I know it’s cliché, but I really don’t view anyone as competition. There are plenty of readers out there and last time I checked, most people who own books are willing to buy more than one.
I would be lying if I said that I never felt jealous when I see friends getting books accepted for submission calls I was rejected from or are placed in anthologies I wanted to be in. But it’s more important to me to be supportive of their talent and hard work. In the end, we are a small community and there’s no room for bad blood.
2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?
Not going there, even if I had an answer. The thing is, even the worst book on Amazon still has a handful of good reviews and fans. I’m not going to tell anyone who they should and shouldn’t like. The best thing I can do is worry about myself and see to it that the product I put out there is as good as possible.
There are plenty of authors who cram their writing up onto Amazon without doing much more than a rough spell check before selling it. I don’t like it but I stay silent and let the market do what it’s supposed to do. No matter what I feel about specific authors, I won’t build my name by stepping on the backs of others.
3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books been based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?
I certainly use my own knowledge base to add textures and detail to the universe of my books. And there have been little scenes here and there that I have taken from my own experiences. But for the most part, this stuff is background content. I’ve never really had any supernatural experiences of my own to speak of.
4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?
No. However, I will say that there is nothing really new anymore. At its core, there are only so many types of stories out there so it’s probably inevitable that my work will have shades of other books that came before it. What makes writing unique is our own outlook and perspective. As such, I have always endeavored to make sure any story I tell is my voice and no one else’s.
5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?
Never. There have been instances where I haven’t liked a book as much but what I do at that point is to simply not leave a review. As I have books on the market myself, it seems inherently to be a conflict of interest to give bad reviews to other authors. It would be like a restaurant owner going on to Yelp and one-starring all his competitors. And I think if I were to do post a review like that, hiding behind the cloak of an anonymous handle, I would be more of a coward than anything. I don’t say anything publicly unless I’m willing to have my name attached to it.
6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?
In high school, I was on the swim team and on this particular day we had gotten the prints of the team photo. I was making fun of one of the guys in the picture, no idea that he was right behind me the whole time. He played it off and when we reconvened a few weeks later he acted like it had never happened. Still, I was ashamed of that for a long time, clearly just going for a cheap laugh at someone else’s expense.
7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?
Somehow, I ended up with these two incredible boys that light up the world around us every day. I’m proud of the role I continue to play in their lives and for being here for them.
In terms of my professional accomplishments, I’m most proud of my drive to improve my skill-sets and knowledge base. My know-how as a baker and a writer both came about with a lot of work and time spent doing it. I tried to seek out people and sources of information that I trusted and did my best to learn as much as possible.
Having the focus and dedication to write and publish a book is something I am exceedingly proud of.
8 What’s your biggest fault?
My ego. I don’t do a good enough job seeing other perspectives on things. I tend to be a person who waits to talk instead of listen, and I know it’s something I need to work on. I also need to have more patience and control over my reactions. There are days when my emotions get way out of control and I need to do better keeping them reeled in. I let my self-pity swell up too far to grab hold of my outlook and I need to do a better job appreciating what I have.
You asked for one, didn’t you? I’m also bad at following instructions.
9 What is your biggest fear?
Losing grasp of my mental faculties. The prospect of dementia type illnesses as I get older terrifies me. My mind is probably my favorite asset so I hate the notion of that same mind turning off on me like a light.
10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?
I’m sorry for being so amazing.
I’ve been honestly raking over my brain on this one. I just haven’t lived the drug and booze fuelled life that many around me seem to have led. I don’t have any crazy stories or near-death experiences.
I suppose if anything, I need to work harder to see the world through the eyes of people I don’t agree with. The politics of the world have become incredibly hostile and confrontational. I need to work harder at seeing those at the other end of the political spectrum as people, not enemies.
Well, unfortunately that’s it for the interview.
I am sure you will all agree that you know, nearly all there is to know about Mr Chad Clark by now.
I want to personally thank Chad for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer everything we threw at him. This was all thrown together very last minute and it just proves to me, once again, the level of dedication and enthusiasm Chad has for everything connected to his writing.
I have a lot of admiration for this man and all that he does. He is tireless in his home life work, looking after the family, concentrating on his writing and coming through on everything that we, at Confessions, throw at him.
It is an absolute pleasure to be able to call him a colleague, and a friend.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for Confessions review of Yesterday, When We Died!
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!
Chad is a Midwestern born author, living most of his life in Iowa as well as in Illinois and Michigan. He studied at the University of Iowa and has been cultivating his own passion for the written word for most of that time. He focuses on genre fiction, namely horror and science fiction. In 2014, he published Borrowed Time, his first book, a collection of short stories. His writing can also be seen at his blog, bakedscribe.com where an original piece of short fiction is shared every week.
And for more about Chad, visit his site, or find him on social media: