Erik Hofstatter is a UK-based author who first wowed us with Moribund Tales, a collection of short stories that went on to become one of Amazon’s Top-10 bestselling anthologies in the UK, USA, and Canada. He and I met on the internet (how unusual!), and a while ago he asked me to read and review his latest novella The Pariahs. I have no idea how I made it onto his hit-list, but I’m glad I did! The Pariahs is a fantastic, clawing, fighting scream of a story that whirls you through its 79 pages so fast you don’t even remember turning them. You can read my full review of it here.
While I had him in one place, I pinned him down for a quick author interview. Why not?
Due to a secluded childhood, I adored stories of isolation – classics like Robinson Crusoe or another favourite of mine Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez Pinol – works where the protagonist is trapped in solitude and tormented by an unknown terror. Isolation has always been an element that I could identify with so that triggered my desire to write a confined novella of my own.
Just like the great Joseph Conrad, you write in English though it isn’t your first language. How did that come about? How do you feel jumping between languages? Do you have anything/plan to write anything in other languages someday?
I don’t really jump between languages and have no plans to write anything in Czech as it’s not the most popular of tongues. I’ve lived in the UK for a long time so my command of the English language is quite solid although there are minor hiccups now and again!
Why horror? Are you interested in any other genres?
I was corrupted by the dark side from an early age and writing horror/dark fiction simply poured out of me.
I like perusing all types of genres, it’s important for a writer not to become trapped in one circle but to read as many different books as possible to expand one’s knowledge, to examine different styles etc. But when it comes to writing, it’s strictly horror for me.
For a long time now, people have been saying that short story collections, anthologies and novellas are a bad idea because nobody buys them. Yet there seems to have been a shift in that particular tide of late. What’s your opinion on this, and what were your experiences in finding a publisher for both Moribund Tales and then The Pariahs? Do you think there’s a brighter future ahead for the shorter form?
I haven’t been in the game long enough to offer much of a perspective. Publishing is a ruthless industry no matter what length your work might be but yes, it’s common knowledge that collections/anthologies are a tough sell.
Publishers can be incredibly picky, that’s why I teamed up with Creativia. When I studied writing, my tutor often said to me that if I want to succeed and make money from writing, I need to write what the market requires – otherwise it’s like building a window first and then running around construction sites to see where it would fit.
Of course the eternal rebel in me ignored this advice – “I’ll write what I want to write, dammit! Not get told what to write by somebody else.” I often argued with myself. Creativia provided me with this much needed freedom.
Ultimately, it all comes down to your readers. If you have a small, dedicated following of people who enjoy reading your work then they will always invest in you no matter what format it might be – a novella, a novel or a collection.
What projects do you have in the offing? What can we look forward to next?
I sold a couple of flash fiction pieces recently to various anthologies but there are no confirmed publication dates as of yet.
I also started mind-mapping my next project and writing will begin just before Christmas. The novella will tackle sleepwalking, mummification and incest. Merry Christmas, everyone!
And finally… that question we never get bored with: What advice do you have for aspiring writers, particularly in the horror genre?
First of all, attempt to make friends within the writing community. Join groups, forums, etc. Contact other writers for advice (be polite but don’t kiss ass!) listen to your elders, pros who have been in the business for a long time and absorb all the precious details they are willing to share with you.
I’ve been very fortunate to receive support and guidance from some ridiculously talented horror writers when I first started and let me tell you that it’s a huge boost to your confidence if someone you look up to compliments your work!
But at the end of the day, it’s all about persistence. You have to believe in yourself and never give up.
You can find Erik here, and/or follow him on Twitter @ErikHofstatter