Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Adrian Ludens. I live in Rapid City, SD. I am a radio announcer and program director for a classic rock radio station. I also perform intermission contest duties for our local AA hockey team during their games. I started writing several years ago. I’ve been slowly learning from my mistakes ever since!
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
That’s a good question. Horror brings with it many preconceived notions amongst potential readers. I like the term weird fiction because it reminds me of Weird Tales, a magazine with such a rich history. However, I’d say Dark Fiction best describes what I write (and also what I read) because it’s not as confining.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Stephen King is a favourite. Tom Piccirilli and Joe R. Lansdale round out the top three. I love early Ray Bradbury, and most of Chuck Palahniuk’s books. I need to mention Karen Heuler; more people should seek out her work. Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Dan Simmons, Mort Castle, Graham Masterton. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” remains a favourite. Authors like Avram Davidson, Joseph Payne Brennan and Roald Dahl were among my earliest discoveries in the world of weird/dark fiction. I love authors who cannot easily be classified.
What are you reading now?
Stephen King’s Desperation (yes, for the first time). Recently finished Tom Piccirilli’s Last Whisper in the Dark. Next on the agenda are all five books in the Borderlands anthology series.
How would you describe your writing style?
I like to write “quiet” horror. I sometimes delve into splatter and gore, but not usually. It must be the early Sturgeon/Dahl/Bradbury influence that keeps me grounded more in the weird/dark. I love weird westerns. Based on several reviews and comments from other authors, I employ an economy of words (I take that as a compliment) and often show my rural roots and interest in history in my fiction.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I do a rough draft, usually built around an idea or phrase or image. I’ll make sure the rough draft has the basic elements of a story, then go back and polish the wording a couple times. Then I go back again and check the story against two different checklists that I like to use. I’ll do another draft and run the story through a “five senses exercise” and an “inventive word exercise”. Then I read it aloud, which is particularly helpful in improving dialogue. Then I bring it to my local critique group. I polish a story or address editorial comments and suggestions (if an editor is kind enough to give them) before resubmitting any rejected manuscript.
This takes place over weeks and months. A typical day is one where my kids are out of the house, and I have some peace and quiet. I will grab a coffee and turn on some instrumental music. I can write for a couple hours and then I need to walk around, go outside for some fresh air before resuming. I write the same way I read: SLOWLY.
What’s your favourite food?
Indian food, easily. I love the spices used.
What’s your favourite album?
Angelo Badalamenti’s three soundtracks of Twin Peaks-related music are staples, as are a couple works by Philip Glass. That’s only for when I am writing. Anything by They Might Be Giants is great to listen to while driving in my car. Daniel Amos is a band no one has heard of but their singer and lyricist, Terry Scott Taylor is a poetic genius. I have a soft spot for bands I grew up with, like Guns N’ Roses, Cinderella, Stryper, Def Leppard and the like.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
You have to get used to rejection and you must learn from your mistakes and move on. A rejection is an opportunity to improve your writing. I look upon it as a challenge.
I’ve found that editors all want something different. I recently read an interesting article where eight different editors critiqued the same story. They all passed on it, but for different reasons! I felt simultaneously disheartened and encouraged.
Fame and fortune, or respect?
Respect. I don’t believe I will ever be the name placed prominently on the cover in order to help sell more copies of a particular anthology. But if I can look at an anthology that I have sold a story to and read the names of several authors whose work I have read and enjoyed myself, then I am satisfied.
I have a long list of authors I would be honoured to share a Table of Contents with!
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
My first professional sale was to Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, from Pocket Books. Many thanks to Kevin J. Anderson, who purchased my story. Not only was the payment quite good, I also gained a lot of confidence with this sale. I opted to write the story in second person, which just about anyone will advise against. And, believe it or not, the version accepted was a second draft! I made two small corrections when the story was sent back to me for final approval. It was one of those rare stories where nothing needed to be forced and I felt like I was on the right track from start to finish. I had fun writing it, and I think it shows in the final product. The story is called “A Misadventure to Call Your Own”. The book is only a couple years old and is still in print.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My first collection, Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles, came out last Halloween (2012). It features 19 previously published stories. Most of them are dark fiction. A few are as dark as my story Coke Mule Deer. Others mix horror with mystery, or steampunk, or humour, or just about anything else that strikes my fancy. A fellow author said the collection made him feel the way he felt when he first read “The October Country” by Ray Bradbury and “Night Shift” by Stephen King. That is exactly how I want my readers to feel! As of this writing, Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles has ten 5-star reviews and one four-star review. So far, so good!
Bedtime Stories for Carrion Beetles is available on Amazon.com in quality paperback and Kindle formats, and from several other online book vendors like B&N and BAM in quality paperback.
I am working on a second collection. I’d like to shop the manuscript around, but I have found that a single-author collection of horror stories is a very tough sell unless you are an immediately recognizable name. Most publishers won’t even take a look.
Right now the manuscript features nine previously published stories and nine never-before-published stories. We’ll see what makes the final cut! I write at a snail’s pace; maybe ten new stories per year, so this collection might be a while in coming. I want to do it right.
Thank you for this opportunity to reach potential new readers!
Adrian Ludens lives with his family in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Jekyll part of his personality is a radio announcer. The Hyde part of his personality has numerous publication credits, including stories in: Blood Lite 3: Aftertaste, Zombie Kong, The Mothman Files, Blood Rites, Darker Edge of Desire, and the Stoker-nominated Slices of Flesh, among others. Adrian won Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine's Mysterious Photograph flash fiction writing contest two consecutive months in 2008, has appeared 3 times in Morpheus Tales, contributed the cover story to the Spring 2012 issue of Big Pulp, and sold a solve-it-yourself mystery to Woman's World. Adrian enjoys horror, hockey, and hair metal. The cracks in the walls of his house give him recurring nightmares. He is glad you took the time to visit!
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