K. Allen Wood has contributed a gem of a story to The Zombie Feed Anthology Vol. 1 with “Goddamn Electric,” and those readers from the Northeast U.S. will likely recognize the deft portrayal of the region’s inhabitants. New Englanders don’t scare easy–maybe it’s the dark woods, or twisting dirt roads that don’t ever seem to go to the same place twice, or all the crumbling stone walls and old forgotten cemeteries–and Everett Sykes is no exception, even at a ripe old age. When mysterious dark clouds descend on Bridgetown and starts tossing vicious lightning like no one’s ever seen, he responds at first with calm rationalization from the shelter of his front porch. But as things get stranger, and people start coming back from the dead, crackling with the strange blue electricity from the clouds, Everett begins to realize that the world he knows has changed irrevocably. Survival is now squarely set on his own shoulders, and in typical New England fashion, he won’t be going down without a fight.
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1. The Writing Question: What piece of writing advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you started writing?
Without a doubt, start sooner.
I’ve been writing since childhood. Unfortunately there was never anyone there to encourage me, to push me, so writing just kind of blended into the background of my life. It was always there, something I always did, but it was never really something I consciously acknowledged doing. I just did it. Like breathing.
When I was around 12 or 13, I discovered Def Leppard and Run DMC and fell in love with music. I soon began playing the drums and guitar, then singing, and music quickly became this wonderful thing that I wanted to do in life. It became “the dream.” I was still writing of course, but music became this new thing that I needed to pursue. Or so I told myself.
I joined the Air Force at 20, spent nearly ten years traveling the world, playing in a band here and there, writing songs at home, but never really doing anything on a serious level. I told myself that was because it wasn’t very feasible while in the military, which was largely true. But after I left the Air Force, I quickly learned that my desire to play in bands had long ago burned out.
That was about eight years ago. A few years passed and I slowly began to realized that writing was my true love. For the first time in my life I was consciously thinking about what I was doing. The light was coming on, so to speak. However, I continued to find it hard as hell to let go of the music thing, even though I hadn’t played the guitar in two years, and probably hadn’t written a song in four! But I still couldn’t let go. Then I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and this short, so-goddamn-obvious passage kicked my ass in gear:
“Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic.”
Within a month I had sold all my recording equipment and all my guitars save for one, my first. I began to write stories and polish them, finish them, rather than just doing rough drafts and moving on. And now, after years of polishing those stories, honing my skills, and reading, reading, reading, I’m slowly beginning to submit some of my work and even see some of it published.
So if I could go back in time, I’d take all those old notebooks full of stories and poems and lyrics, and I’d kick myself in the ass and say, “This is you, dude!”
2. The Horror Question: What horror novel or short story are you ashamed (or proud) to admit you’ve never read?
Way too many to name. I’m a slow reader, so I’ve missed out on a lot of the classics. But since it’s been sitting on my desktop for months now, I guess I’ll admit to never reading “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson.
You would think I’d have read what many consider to be one of the best horror tales ever written, but I never have. Been meaning to, of course. And in light of my previous answer, I probably should. Now.
3. The Oddball Question: What, in modern society, do you consider to be the biggest waste of people’s time?
I’ve worked in the IT field since 1995, so I know how wonderful technology can be, but I also know how utterly pointless much of it is. Sadly, it sucks you in…and you like it. Trust me, I’ve spent countless hours wasting time surfing the Internet, arguing with dummies on forums, playing video games, and loved every minute of it. Technology is great. Technology sucks.
K. Allen Wood is a former musician and music journalist. His fiction has appeared in 52 Stitches, Vol. 2, The Zombie Feed, Vol. 1, and is forthcoming in Epitaphs, a Shroud Publications anthology. He is also the editor/publisher of Shock Totem, a bi-annual horror fiction magazine. He lives and plots in Massachusetts.
For more info, visit his website at www.kallenwood.com.