Glenn Rolfe has had an incredibly busy fifteen months. Having published five books during that time, Rolfe has claimed he will be slowing it down a bit for 2016. However, pardon me for saying- I’ll believe it when I see it.
Rolfe is one of the hardest working authors on the scene today, consistently publishing novels while also submitting short stories to publications by the boat load. With over twenty author credits on his Amazon author page, Rolfe simply does not stop writing. Which is a really great thing for us horror fanatics out there- because Glenn brings the goods each and every time.
With a full-time job and as the proud father of three young children, it’s a wonder Rolfe even has the chance- or energy- to pick up a pen, let alone create a library that has garnered him national attention. Fellow author Ronald Malfi, an award-winning writer in his own right, called Rolfe “a rising star in the genre”.
Fresh off the release of his latest novel Blood and Rain, Rolfe took a few minutes to chat with me about his career, his inspirations and what to look for in a, ahem, slower 2016.
MANGLED MATTERS: One of the coolest Facebook posts I’ve ever seen was the one where you were able to announce that you were signed on to Samhain Publishing. It really hit home for me, a fellow indie author, as inspiration that with hard work and a dedication to the craft, you can achieve your dreams. How long have you been writing professionally?
GLENN ROLFE: Well, let me first say, Samhain has a great team of writers and Don D’Auria, along with a fun team in the office, but it is still a very small company. I work full-time at my hotel job. Writing is still just a loving hobby. Would I love to get to a full-time writing place? Hell yes, but as of right now, most of us at Samhain are still full-time regular job folk.
As for how long I’ve been writing, I started late. I used to play in bands. I was usually the main songwriter/lyricist. I made the switch to author in 2011, when I scribbled the first draft of Blood and Rain, and I loved it! I dove in the short story world of constant rejections.
I got my first deal with Samhain in March of 2014 for my novella, Abram’s Bridge. That came out this past January. That moment when you get a “I’d love to offer you a contract if you’d be willing” email from Don D’Auria…pretty sweet.
MM: Who or what were inspirations for you as a youngster that really pushed you into the world of the macabre?
GR: For me, I was exposed to a lot of horror movies via HBO. My parents had cable for like a year in the early-mid-eighties. I saw The Exorcist, which still unnerves me, Terror Train, Happy Birthday to Me, and April Fools Day when I was really young. Totally scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t sleep in my room for months. My parents ended up getting rid of cable. When I hit twelve or so, I finally got to see A Nightmare on Elm Street, there was a fear still there, but suddenly I also wanted to see the again.
I was a big reader as a kid, but swapped books for magazines in the hair metal days. When I was 17 or 18, a friend gave me a copy of Stephen King’s The Dark Half. Horror was the only thing I was interested in reading from then on.
MM: Talk us through a typical writing day in the life of Glenn Rolfe.
GR: I work 40 hours a week at the hotel. I have a beautiful wife and three kids, aged two to eight, so I write when I can. Luckily, two of my shifts at work are the overnights. I get some clear writing time and try to make the most of those nights. Home writing, that’s trickier. I do it where and when I can. I’d love to make a schedule and stick to it, but my life’s a bit too all over the place.
MM: What is your writing area/office set up like?
GR: I have a Wolfman toy. I hung up the Samhain Ad featuring Abram’s Bridge and the other Janz, Shea, James books that came out with it in January that was on the back of HorrorHound Magazine. I also have some drawings from my kids and a painting by a former co-worker of mine.
MM: Your latest release, Blood and Rain, is infusing some much needed new life into the werewolf genre. It’s an exceptional read- a very fun and gory tale that is good old fashioned horror, plain and simple. What was your inspiration behind this novel?
GR: My brother, who passed away in 2010, got me into werewolves. He rented Silver Bullet and The Howling, he talked a lot about An American Werewolf in London. He was a werewolf for Halloween one year and his masked scared me. When I started reading a lot of horror, I decided to snag a copy of King’s Cycle of the Werewolf. When It was over I remember wanting more. I started thinking about the werewolf book I’d like to read. That was 2004. In 2011, I started writing the first version of that story.
I knew when Don asked me for a full length novel I wanted that to be Blood and Rain. I re-wrote the novel last summer and Don took it.
MM: Is there a specific horror subgenre that you’ve yet to write on that you’re dying to get into?
GR: Not really. I love almost all monsters. Zombies are my least favorite, but I’d write almost anything if the right idea hit me. I love ghost stories, vampires, aliens…
MM: You are also a musician, firmly established in the punk rock scene. Do you ever envision your music playing as the backdrop to one of your stories, or vice versa- do you ever write a song with a story of yours in mind?
GR: Punks and horror fans seem to mix quite well. I think I’ve used some of my lyrics in certain stories. I wrote a song called, “If Jewel were a Zombie”. That was based off one of the zombie stories that I loved. “The Rising” inspired the line If Jewel were a zombie, then we could make dead babies. That totally came from the scene at the front of that novel.
MM: What is the best piece of advice a fellow author has ever given to you? That being said, what advice would you offer someone who was committed to making their writing a career?
GR: Two things I was told have really stuck with me.
Rena Mason told me that I had a good ”writing” voice. We were talking at the Horror Writers Convention 2013 in New Orleans and I mentioned that I was in school for Creative Writing. She warned me not to let them change my voice.
The other was Ronald Malfi. He read the first chapter to my original manuscript for Blood and Rain and told me that even if a character has a small part, if I’m going to kill them I have to bring them to life first. Even if it’s just a kill scene, otherwise it reads like a cheap kill, something from a horror movie.
My advice would be to write without fear. If you don’t dare to let a scene or character be who they want to be, that character or scene will fail. The readers can sense when you cop out. I did a post on Jonathan Janz’s page about this subject.
MM: What is the Halloween season like in the Rolfe household?
GR: We always dress up and o trick or treating, of course. My kids are exposed to all sorts of monsters. They see what I’m writing and what I watch. They drew me a picture of Alice Cooper without being prompted. I try to up my horror film viewing in October for sure. My kiddos love howling at every full moon we have. That’s the Rolfe tradition.
MM: What are you currently working on?
GR: I’m always working on multiple pieces. I always have a number of short stories going. I also have two novellas at work and have four novels in various stages of completion, which are all unrelated—well, except for my Boom Town follow-up. Two of the novels are at around 12,000 words, just a start for me to pick up when I get the other two completed.
For stuff that is finished and coming next? I have a novella with Samhain called Things We Fear, coming in March. I also have another novella in the hands of another publisher and there’s no word on that yet.
MM: If you could collaborate with any fellow artist for your dream project, who would it be and why?
GR: Collaborations are a funny thing. Writing songs or fiction is such a private thing for me. If I had to choose, I’d love to write a ghost story with Ronald Malfi. I love his style. Very atmospheric, very beautiful descriptions that come across just right-not too overdone, yet a level above what a lot of my other favorites are doing.
Musically, it would be awesome to co-write a tune with Tim Armstrong from Rancid or Billie Joe from Green Day. Those two guys have written some of my favorite songs ever. I’d say Bruce Springsteen, but I don’t think I’d be able to function in his presence.
3 thoughts on “Writing Horror Whenever He Can: an interview with Glenn Rolfe”
great advice. and his productivity is inspiring. no excuses made- just fit writing into those small chunks of free time.
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