With the release of my new occult/ghost horror novel DIRTY SPIRITS (my first novel in 10 years!), I thought I would answer some questions about what makes this book so special.

Q: Why did it take you 10 years to write another novel?

A: Letting a decade elapse before releasing my next novel-length book was never my intention. I started and paused / abandoned at least 3 other long works of fiction in the interim. On one I hit a roadblock in plotting and have yet to work it out. On another I lost interest in the story I was telling. And the other started to jump the shark (i.e., it got stupid). I started writing DIRTY SPIRITS in earnest in 2020. The novel is very me in style, tone, and themes. While it deals with a very serious (and rather personal) topic — addiction — I still managed to apply my brand of offbeat, sometimes over-the-top horror elements. The book just came together in all the right ways for me. I hope readers will find the wait was worth it.

Q: Why write a ghost story?

A: Historically, ghosts are the only things that give me the heebie jeebies. I love monsters and slashers, but they don’t unnerve me nearly as much as an effective paranormal story. (I remember getting nightmares as a kid from watching Disney’s CHILD OF GLASS.) After I had my sole experience with the supernatural back in 2015, which you can read about in the introduction of DIRTY SPIRITS, I was thrilled (and a little terrified) to finally tackle this well-loved subgenre of Horror.

Child of Glass (1978)

Q: You also call DIRTY SPIRITS an occult story. Why?

A: My 3rd favorite subgenre of Horror, after Monsters and Paranormal, is Folk Horror, particularly anything related to cults. With the Fowlingtons, the eccentric family in DIRTY SPIRITS, I was able to create a rather bizarre religion (a somewhat nebulous fusion of Christianity, Paganism, and metaphysics) that employs some rather ghastly rituals. It was fun.

Q: Did any books or movies inspire you to write DIRTY SPIRITS?

A: Absolutely. I would say Edgar Allan Poe’s works, particularly THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, and David Ambrose’s SUPERSTITION were prominent tonal influences, while Joe R. Lansdale’s THE DRIVE-IN and Sam Raimi’s film EVIL DEAD 2 inspired me to take the story in more batshit directions.

Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Q: How did you approach the addiction aspects of the story?

A: As authentically as possible. Having once dated a recovering addict who relapsed during our relationship, I felt it was important that I didn’t portray addiction in a way that readers would find unbelievable. Part of this was out of respect for those battling addiction, and part of it was because I found a relapsing addict’s change of personality so chilling. I didn’t have to hyperbolize it much; addiction is a living nightmare. I made that real-life nightmare part of the story.

Q: Why is the novel titled DIRTY SPIRITS?

A: There are a few ways to interpret the title. Many might think it lurid or even cheeky. (I acknowledge a book about horny ghosts is appealing.) But for me, the title is metaphorical. When you make a drink “dirty” (e.g., a dirty martini or dirty chai), you change the character of the drink so it becomes something else in taste and/or color. When someone succumbs to addiction, they often become a different person. Hence the title DIRTY SPIRITS represents this transformation.

I hope people will accept my invitation to read DIRTY SPIRITS. I think it’s my best work yet!

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