|Nate Burleigh will kill you... with suspense.|
I’m a busy man so when horror writer Nate D. Burleigh showed up at the Blog Mansion for an interview about his chilling book Sustenance. We’d arranged the interview weeks before but I was a little put out because I was in the middle of John Hughes movie marathon. I can’t get enough of the The Breakfast Club, who can?
Johnny: Hey Nate, I thought we said next week.
Nate: We did. Last week.
J: Oh. But hey, uhm. Yeah. Uhm… but Molly Ringwald…!
N: Had a pin up of her in my room when I was growing up. Child of the 80's, what can you do?
J: Okay okay… Tell me about Sustenance, what’s it about? I’ll turn down the TV.
N: If I told you what it was about, that would give away the entire story and it's one of those books that you have to keep reading to try and figure out what's what and who's who.
J: So which on of the Breakfast Clubbers were you most like growing up?
N: That's a trick question if I ever heard one. I'd say I was a conglomeration of all of them. I wrestled, hung out with stoners, played in the Jazz band, and chased girls that were way out of my league.
J: Is that why you set Sustenance in High School in the 80’s? A little payback?
|This is Molly Ringwald.*|
If you didn't have a crush on her in the 80's
you weren't there.
*She does not appear in SUSTENANCE.**
**Wait... yes she does.
J: I have to think that High School is the perfect setting for a horror as anyone who lived through it would attest. What special challenges did the setting present to your story?
N: I loved High School, so the setting only had one problem, the characters. Each of my characters is loosely based off of someone I knew in High School. In fact some are even named after the people they are loosely based on. I did however, get these persons permissions to use their names. In fact, I do that in a lot of my short stories. My coworkers get a kick out of reading through my stories to see which one of them gets the Axe, as it were.
J: How much is your protagonist Coert like you? Which member of the Breakfast Club is he?
N: We digress to the previous question. Coert in named after my son, but if you knew me in High School, you would be able to tell right off the bat that the character is loosely based on this guy. So, he is a hodgepodge of each type of click that is represented in The Breakfast Club.
J: The Breakfast Club takes place in southern California. Sustenance takes place in southern Oregon. Do you ever think that California would have been a better setting for your story?
N: Nope. No Southern Oregon, no Sustenance.
J: Some people have thought to put Sustenance in a young adult genre. Others think that it’s too scary for delicate snowflakes. Where do you think it belongs?
N: After further consideration, Sustenance should really be for 14 yrs old and up. I would say it falls into the TV-14 rating. But due to violence and a few sexual situations, it might be R if made into a movie.
J: How much sex and violence is there in your book?
N: There is no sex. There are sexual situations. There is a lot of violence. Blood, guts, and the occasional head roll.
J: What’s the final body count?
N: Ah … ah … ahhhhhh. That's for me to know, and others to read about.
J: What’s your writing process? Do you start with a nightmare or near drug overdose and go from there, or do your stories grow slowly like a fertilized Alien egg in John Hurt’s chest?
N: I sit down and start writing the first thing that comes to mind. With Sustenance, it started as a two page beginning of my autobiography, but holy crap it bored me to tears. After adding a few supernatural beings, it started to take shape.
J: Many people know you from your work as a short story author, how is writing a novel compared to short stories.?
N: I actually wrote my novel right after I got my first short story published. In my mind there really is no difference. Each chapter of my novel has a beginning, middle, and end. Just like my short stories. Therefore, the novel ends up being a string of short stories that are nicely woven together, each with a cliff hanger ending to keep the reader turning the pages.
J: How’d you get started writing?
N: I loved telling my kids stories. Hated reading them, but loved to sit on their beds and weave little intricate stories. Usually starring the child or children to whom I was telling the story. However, these tales somehow turned dark and scary. Not bad enough to warrant editing, but frightening. The kids were great about it. They grew up watching scary movies with Dad. One day I decided to write one of the stories down. Once written, I spoke to my Dad. He belonged to writing community called FanStory.com. I submitted this short story for review by the community. The first thing everyone said, was that the story telling hooked them all the way through. However, the writing SPAG (spelling, punctuation, and grammar) were awful. After receiving reviews, I began fixing the story and resubmitting it, learning how to write in the process. After about 20 rewrites, my story “Quilty as Charged” garnered multiple 5 star reviews and people began to urge me to get it published. I submitted it to a free horror e-zine and it was published. So far, everything I have written since that story has been published in one form or another. I guess the success of the first published story told me that I had an untapped gift and I've been writing every day since.
J: Do you own any John Hughes movies, DVD or VHS?
N: Of course we have DVD's of his movies. There are too many to be named, but probably my favorites are The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science, Curly Sue and Ferris Beuller's Day Off are a close second.
J: I’m always curious how writers go from having a book to getting it picked up for publication. Tell me your journey.
N: Ughhh. Do I have to? Hehe. Here's the readers digest condensed version. Boy writes novel. European Independent publisher picks up novel. Publisher goes bankrupt after novel out only six months and has barely any sales as publisher did not know the meaning of the word promotion. In comes Rainstorm Press. Lyle swoops in and lets Authors know he will look at their books. Subbed novel to Rainstorm Press. Novel is republished. There you have it.
J: Besides me, who are your favorite authors?
N: Hmmm … the usual suspects. Double K's (King, Koontz), Ann Rice, Ann McCafrey, JRR Tolkien, Piers Anthony, etc … And some that many don't know. Laurel K. Hamilton and Stephen Gould.
YouTube Book Trailer: <-- this is cool
N: In a time when friends, wrestling and graduation should be his top priorities, Coert unlocks a terrible secret about himself, unleashing an ancient evil that threatens to destroy his very existence, but to overcome this evil and save those he loves, he must learn to gain sustenance and harness the power trapped within.
J: You want to stay for Sixteen Candles? I’ll try not to cry at the end.