Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I’m welcoming, Zach Lamb to the tearoom, Welcome, Zach and as always my first question is what drink would you like while we chat?
Thank you for the invite into your secret lair, Paula. If you happen to have a spiced chai among your teas and potions, that would be great.
Now we have our drinks lets start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey, what drew you to your chosen genre?
I’ve always read from a wide variety of genres from classic literature to horror, so I have a lot of influences. When I had the idea for my first novel, The Suicide Killer, I was reading a lot of true crime and thrillers about serial killers, so it was a natural progression from there. I have a novel coming out on May 17th called Dark Water Sacrifice, and it’s a paranormal horror story. So I don’t set out to write one particular genre over another. However, no matter what kind of story I write, it’s always going to be dark fiction. And I don’t think that’s a choice. It just seems to be the way my brain is wired.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
As I just mentioned, I have a new novel coming out the elevator pitch is: When horror writer Adam Blackwell’s daughter drowns, he flees his small town in Georgia vowing never to return. Two years later, his father’s suicide brings him home to settle the estate and face the relationships he abandoned. An unseen force bent on destroying Adam and all he loves has called him home and haunted visions of his father and daughter force him to confront his role in her death. Other than that, I am also working on the sequel to The Suicide Killer. I’m currently calling that Mourning Glory. It’s a relatively new idea. When I wrote the first book, I hadn’t ever planned on writing a sequel, but one day I had an idea, so I started on it when another book I was writing kind of fizzled.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I have a number of ideas for novels and short stories that all have various amounts of notes written for them, but I only have the one I just mentioned that has been started and not finished. I haven’t abandoned the idea. I quite like where the story was going when I started it, but to say the last year has been disruptive would be an understatement. All of my fiction is dark, but I felt like it was shaping up to be the darkest thing I’ve ever written, and I just wasn’t in the right headspace for it at the time. One day I was writing and hit a dark wall that I didn’t have the strength to push through at that moment. I even stopped writing in the middle of a word in a sentence. I’ll eventually finish it. Not sure if it will be the next novel, though.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter?
I like to say I’m a plotting pantser. I don’t set out to plot any story I write, but I inevitably end up plotting portions of it at some point. When I have my initial idea for the story, I sit down to write and see where it goes. The problem is I’m a linear writer, but not a linear thinker. I write the story in order, but while I’m writing other ideas for future events pop into my head. Or when I’m not writing, but doing something else, an idea will hit me for the story. When I write, I always have two word documents open. One is for the draft and the other is for notes or ideas that I know I’m going to have. I keep the notes open and use them as I get there. Sometimes it will be small passages that I need to flesh out or the occasional cryptic message that I have to decipher. It’s rare that a full scene will develop in my notes, but that has happened as well. As far as a synopsis goes, I’d rather never write one of those again. They are my least favorite thing about being a writer.
When reading your work through, do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
Definitely. And I can feel it while I’m writing it too. There have been a couple of times where the mood I was in clashed with what I was writing, and I had to step away.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Kind of, I guess. Most of their traits, mannerisms and other characteristics have come from people I know and from people I have observed around me. They’re all an amalgamation of different things I have observed. Something might seem familiar to a reader, but I haven’t based an entire character on any one person.
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
I learned I had the nerve to write a novel. It sounds easy when you say it out loud, but to do it for real is completely different. I learned a number of other personal things about myself. I live in Georgia. For all my friends across the pond, that’s in the U.S. south. There are so many negative stereotypes about people from the south and I used to feed into that. I hated it and every negative connotation that went along with it. So far, all of my stories have taken place in Georgia and through writing, I have learned to look for beauty in negative spaces. I still have a lot of issues with things that go on here, and those stereotypes are there for reasons, but I have found an appreciation for the good things that I never paid attention to before. As far as research goes, I haven’t had to do too much research for either one of the novels I’ve written. There were some questions I had about police procedure and law enforcement that I needed answered, but I was lucky enough to have a friend in the Sheriff’s Department to answer those, so that was as easy as a phone call or late night text.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Never. I always say my ego is far too big to let anybody else take the credit for my work. I’m sure there are writers out there who have deeply personal reasons for using a pseudonym, but I don’t really see the point. I know some do it when they’re writing different genres than their usual fan base is accustomed to and I read an interview where Stephen King said he used one because his publisher said readers wouldn’t buy more than one book a year from a single writer. None of that is really how the industry works anymore. Now you see books that have the author’s name writing as the pseudonym on the cover of the book, and that makes even less sense. So unless you have a reason to hide your identity, I don’t see the point.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Sometimes I use a name that I like or I’ve heard recently and I like the way it sounds. The protagonist’s name from Dark Water Sacrifice is Adam Blackwell. I had no idea what to name him or his brother in the book, so I used the first names of two friends I had when I was younger. I got Blackwell from the side of a construction company’s truck. I liked how it sounded and if you read the story, you will see how it fits symbolically. I didn’t plan that. I ended up changing the brother’s name toward the end because I didn’t want it to look like I was using my friends as characters, but I kept Adam. I’d lived with his character for too long to know him by any other name. I also have a short story with a character named Shad, which is a type of fish, so really I get them from everywhere.
What was your hardest scene to write?
As a writer, there’s always going to be scenes that you take a breather from no matter what genre you are writing. It doesn’t matter if that scene has dragon or ghost or any unnatural being in it. If the interactions are true to life, it’s going to happen. That being said, the hardest scene I’ve written is in Dark Water Sacrifice. Adam is back home at his father’s funeral and has a flashback to the day he had to give the eulogy at his daughter’s funeral. That scene wreaked me. I have a younger daughter and it hit too close to home. I had a couple of tall glasses of scotch the night after I wrote that one. It’s still a gut punch to me every time, and I’ve had to read it numerous times. I hope that comes out in the scene when people read it. It’s hard for me to tell because it’s such a deeply personal scene for me and I can remove myself from it or how it makes me feel.
Thank you for joining me, If you would like to find out more, Zach’s books and writing please click on the links below:
Website – zachlambauthor.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Zach_LambAuthor
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.