Ty Schwamberger is a fresh voice in the world of horror. Besides numerous short stories, his first novel, Night School, was released in November. We take a few moments here to talk with Schwamberger about his experience in writing the book and having it published.
1. Okay, let’s begin with Night School. Why don’t you give us a brief overview of the story?
I’ll give it to you straight – with the back cover of the book.
Mr. Ben Sanders has gone missing and his infatuated student Brenda is determined to find him. She and Ben’s friend Tim are concerned his disappearance has something to do with the screams that came from a house on Denison Street and the mutilated bodies that are popping up all over town.
Things are about to become more complex in Brenda’s life. She uses the “skills” she has learned from being the community Peeping Tom to play detective and piece together clues to hopefully create a map to Ben’s location.
During the search for Ben, Brenda & Tim come face to face with seedy characters wandering the streets at night; drugs dealers, prostitutes and oh yes, all those dead bodies.
Who is this maniac running loose on the streets at night? Why does he do it? What does he want?
Brenda and Tim will find out soon enough.
2. What inspired the story?
Night School is actually the first novel I ever wrote. I pounded out 100,000 words in exactly three months. I was lucky that after many rejection slips, that a publisher finally gave it a chance.
I have always been a huge fan of Richard Laymon. His books always have great characters and story lines that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. I would say, that if I am in the same vain as anyone, it would be Laymon. Although, I definitely wouldn’t put myself in the same category as him. Hopefully someday I will be. But, I guess that is up to the readers to determine how I stack up.
So, since he is my favorite horror author, I wanted to come up with something that I thought if he read, he would have liked. I didn’t copy or take anything from his books, but instead put a new twist on a somewhat creepy tale of love between a teacher and student and how a madman running loose on the streets can come between two people that want to be with one another.
I hope I answered the question and didn’t ramble on there.
3. What’s been your experience with Publish America?
First of all, I think there is a negative stigma you can get with other people in the writing world when you’re an author with Publish America (PA). Some people think that if your work isn’t brought out by a ‘big time’ publisher that your work is crap. Well, I am a firm believer that the proof is in the pudding – so to speak. So, if someone picks up a copy of Night School and loves it, great – if not, it’s no one’s fault but my own.
Having said that, do I wish they did some things differently? Sure. But, it’s nothing that warrants complaining about it here.
4. What are you doing to promote Night School?
Where do I begin…
Since PA leaves the vast majority of the promotion of their books to the author (ok, this is one thing I wish they did differently), I’ve had to take a proactive approach to get the word out about my new novel. I, of course, have a website that is getting more and more hits everyday, I have listed my site with about every search engine dealing with horror you can imagine, contacted bookstores to arrange signings, libraries, I will be a panelist at two conventions in 2009, having bookmarks printed up, flyers – that I plan to blanket every car in the city with (as soon as the weather gets better), doing interviews on the radio; with magazines and online, joining forums that discuss horror … it’s really a never ending story, so to speak. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not doing something to promote the book.
5. How did you get started writing horror?
Believe it or not, I started back when I was in 5th grade. My English teacher at the time gave us a notebook each week to write short stories. Mine were always of the scary variety. I still have the notebook to this very day. When I look at them now, it’s some pretty messed up stuff that came out of my head being only eleven years old.
I have always been a fan of horror. My favorite horror movie growing up was Friday the 13th. I still love the slasher type movies from the 80’s and early 90’s. This, along with a slew of current horror books, is what got me interested in writing the stuff.
6. What’s your impression of the horror field at the moment?
I think it is more alive than most people think. You have today, more horror movies and books coming out than ever before. It’s alive and well…though the current economy isn’t helping when it comes to the large publishing houses and bookstores bringing out and trying to keep the ‘mid-list’ author’s books in the stores. In today’s climate, publishers and bookstores seem like they are looking to only accept and stock the current best-sellers or ones they think will make them a ton of money. I suppose you can’t blame them for that, but I think alot of great horror novels will ultimately get left out in the cold if things continue like this for very much longer.
7. What’s your next project?
Before Night School was accepted for publication, I started writing a new novel about a ‘monster.’ Though, once I found out I was getting published, I had to put it ‘on hold’ and concentrate on promoting Night School.
I’ve still had time to write and submit quite a few short stories to magazines, but haven’t had the chance to dive back into my novel-in-progress. Hopefully after the New Year, things will settle down a bit and I’ll start back up with writing what is still Untitled at this point. I will say one thing about the novel I started working on, it’s an idea that to the best of my knowledge hasn’t been written about in a very long time.
8. Any advice for horror writers just starting out?
As I am fairly new to the writing world, I won’t give too much ‘advice’ except to say, if you want to learn how to be a writer, I would suggest finding a copy (of which I am fortunate to own) of Richard’s Laymon’s A Writer’s Tale and proceed to read, “Laymon’s Rules of Writing.” If you can’t find a copy (or afford it) search online for the words in quotes that I just mentioned and you should be able to find it. Can you tell I am a major Laymon fan or what?!
9. And any final words?
I would like to thank you for the opportunity. Hellnotes is an awesome place for fans to visit to learn more about the horror genre … keep up the great work!
If anyone would like to learn more about my novel, Night School, learn more about me or just find out what is going on in this head of mine, please check out my website, at: Ty Schwamberger
Now … go out and buy a copy of the book or I’ll have to send an evil garden gnome to reek havoc on your vegetable garden!
Editor’s Note: you can purchase a copy here: Night School