1. I live within 10 minutes of the Evil Dead cabin (yes, the original one).
2. I live within 5 minutes of the house of a guy who supposedly murdered 30-something people; his house is now a haunted attraction.
3. The first novel I wrote, while I was a sophomore in high school, was loosely based on the above-mentioned serial killer.
4. I have had several “unexplained” encounters which may or may not be paranormal (including my bed shaking up and down when I was really little, hearing a mysterious crying woman, with familial witnesses, on two occasions, and having my name called in an empty house by a creepy-sounding woman).
5. The most I’ve ever written in one day is 15,000 words.
6. Loud noise annoys me more than anything else in the world.
7. My favorite food is southern-style biscuits and gravy.
Zakary McGaha is a writer, reader, dog-lover, and complete horror nut case, currently living in the eastern, mountainous part of Tennessee. He lives and breathes horror. He is also a student at East Tennessee State University.
He has been writing since he was a teenager and has had stories appear in a couple anthologies. His comedic horror novella Locker Arms is coming soon from Kensington Gore Publishing.
The first of many books we hope.
KG: What or who inspired you to be a writer?
ZM: Movies were my thing when I was a kid; horror movies, mainly. Once I figured out you can make movies, people like Tobe Hooper and Sam Raimi became my idols. Around that young age, I was never big into books, save for the usual Goosebumps things, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and various other examples of kid-lit; I just wasn’t one of those bookish kids who lug around YA books; I stuck with my movies. In high school, though, I kind of “discovered” adult horror fiction when I was watching a behind-the-scenes thing for the third Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the screenwriter, David J. Schow, was interviewed; of course, his horror novels were discussed, so, out of curiosity, I tracked them down. After that, I became hooked. However, on a “bigger picture” sort of basis, I can’t count out music. I’ve always had little music videos play in my head when I listen to stuff; said music videos usually correlate with movies or books I’m into at the time. So I credit music to kind of forcing me to find my imagination. Sorry to make this answer longer, but the two biggest musicians who’ve influenced me are Chris Cornell and Buckethead.
KG: What gave you the idea of your latest book?
ZM: I was listening to a Black Label Society song (that is neither about lockers nor arms), and a trailer/music-video asserted itself in my frontal lobe.
KG: Who is your favourite writer and why?
ZM: I can’t pick one. I’ve never been an absolute fanboy of any author. There are too many great ones to choose from. Some current favourites are: Dennis Etchison, William Faulkner, Ruby Jean Jensen, John Skipp & Craig Spector, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (based on one awesome short story!), Thomas Mann, Martin Amis (in spurts), Tom Robins, A.M. Homes (definitely her!), and…I guess I’ll end it with Dean Koontz, since his novelization of Tobe Hooper’s movie The Funhouse was awesome, as was Watchers; man gets too much hate.
KG: What's your favourite book?
ZM: Ha! I’ll list off some of my all-time favourites: The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan, Celia by Ruby Jean Jensen (best cozy-ish horror novel I’ve ever read), Jake’s Wake by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow (best heavy-hitting horror novel I’ve read), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins…I’ll go ahead and end the list there.
KG: Do you read a lot? If so what are you reading right now?
ZM: Yep, I read a lot, but I would be able to read more if I wasn’t in university. The last novel I finished was Goodnight Moom by Jack Maclane (a.k.a. Bill Crider). I’ve been wanting to get some more nonfiction in my diet, so I’m currently reading: Paperbacks From Hell by Grady Hendrix, Psychic Pets and Spirit Animals by the editors of Fate Magazine, and Selected Writings of Paracelsus, edited by Jolande Jacobi. I only read one piece of fiction at a time, but I can juggle several nonfiction titles at once.
KG: What writing projects are you working on?
ZM: I’m working on a horror novel and a bizarro novella. I enjoy working on multiple projects at once.
KG: What do you like most about writing?
ZM: This is gonna sound cheesy, but it’s similar to both entering a dream and directing a mind-movie. You still call all the shots, but, most of the time, the dream takes you where it wants you to go.
KG: Where do you see yourself and your writing in five years time?
ZM: Hopefully living in a cool, haunted old house full of books. I want to have even more novels and novellas under my belt…and maybe even a series or two.
KG: What one writing tip would you share?
ZM: This is more than one tip, but it all adds up to what’s essentially my number one tip/method: slow down and pay attention to how the work feels, sounds, etc. Definitely mind language, but focus more on what the work means and how effective it is as its own thing. Never, ever, ever, ever write something hoping it will fit easily into a genre or other type of category; we’ve all made that mistake. Write what you’re honestly going to be happy with. And stop worrying about getting recognition or prestige. Write what you want and have fun doing it, then submit, then sleep, then repeat.
KG: What would you say to educate and inspire young writers?
ZM: Look at your favourite movies or books. Are there little things that, maybe, other people don’t pick up on, but they ring as special to you; things as small as how something looks or, perhaps, a repeating type of setting that you’re drawn to? A repeating story-arc or era? If you have something like that, that idiosyncratic piece of love for a piece of a piece of art is basically all your own, because, no matter what the art is, it lit something up in you. Take hold of what that is, understand it, and use it to make your own stuff. Pay attention to how works of art affect you. The little things are what make up the bulk of a story.
© KGHH Publishing 2018