Welcome to the ninetieth edition of 10 Questions With. . .
Today we are joined by
Michael David Anderson
***Michael David Anderson would like to give one person the chance to win a signed copy of Teddy, Wake, and In the House of Wolves. More info after the interview.***
Before we jump into the questions, can you tell the readers a little about yourself?
I am an independent horror and suspense thriller novelist currently based in Knoxville, Tennessee. I live with my significant other, Christine, and our two dogs, Bandit and Rory, both of whom do everything in their power to distract me from my writing. I still work a day job in retail, but my goal is to make a living as a full-time novelist. I currently have a short film in post-production at Snow Global Productions based on one of my unpublished short stories “Inside Out,” which should hopefully be out next year.
I’ve been writing stories since I was seven years old, and I published my first novel, Teddy, in 2014, and followed it up with its sequel Wake, a spin-off eBook set after the second novel entitled Desynchrony, and a new Teddy Dormer story called “Flux” in the anthology Inn Between Worlds: Vol. 1 edited by Thomas A. Farmer. My new novel, In the House of Wolves, releases at the end of this month, and while it is not a Teddy Dormer story, it is set in the same universe.
In January, I’ll also be launching a new podcast with fellow author Thomas A. Farmer and Whitney Petelka called Authors in Abstract on the Southern Fried Radio network, where we’ll be talking predominately about writing and the creative process.
1.) What is something that many people might not know about you?
A couple of things, actually. For the past few years, I’ve dabbled in stand-up comedy. I was in drama in high school and missed performing, but I haven’t possessed the time to get involved in theater troupes or anything of the sort as an adult. Comedy allowed me to perform and write, and I took many of the lessons from writing comedy into writing suspense and horror.
2.) What book or book series had a major impact on your life? Why did it have such an impact on you?
There are far too many to name. I remember reading Goosebumps by R.L. Stine as a kid, and my mom would just roll her eyes—not because it was horror, mind you, but because she suspected I would outgrow the series and I had a plethora of those books; back then, Stine published a Goosebumps book once a month. One day when I was in middle school, she handed me a Stephen King book, and while I stuck with Goosebumps a little while longer, I still read King to this day. Desperation was one of my favorite novels as a kid, and when I hit high school, I was fascinated with The Dark Tower series, which—along with many other epic fantasy and horror novels and series—have greatly influenced my writing. Dean Koontz was also another major contributor to my upbringing as a writer. A lot of my writing has been influenced by sources other than books, however. I was a big fan of science fiction shows as a kid, and I was mesmerized by The X-Files. I’m really looking forward to the new revival season in January!
3.) If you could co-author a novel with any author, who would you want to co-write with and why?
I don’t think I’d want to co-write a novel with someone I look up to. I think a lot of horror authors would jump at the chance to team up with Stephen King or Clive Barker, and while King is doing a lot more collaborative work as of late, especially with both Sleeping Beauties and Gwendy’s Button Box out this year (co-authored by his son Owen King and Richard Chizmar respectively), I feel like I’d be pressured to hit a bench mark I would never meet—not by readers’ standards, but my own.
I normally tend to write in my own bubble. I co-wrote a script a decade ago called Torment, which is actually in pre-production with an independent film crew and will film in February, but otherwise every other collaboration I’ve partaken in fell apart before it came to fruition. I am talking with Thomas A. Farmer to co-write a story or two for his Inn Between Worlds anthologies, however.
4.) Which one of your characters do you identify with the most?
Sullivan Doyle, the author who shows up throughout my work. To say much more about the character himself would venture into spoiler territory, but there’s a lot of me in him… although I dare say he’s more of a chaotic neutral or chaotic good type of character than I am in real life.
5.) Which one of your characters do you wish you were more like?
None of them? I put my characters through the wringer. I’d hate to be in their shoes! Teddy Dormer, however, has an innate ability to adapt and overcome no matter how insurmountable the obstacle… that, and despite the madness in which he often finds himself, he is usually lucky enough to get out of it. I admire that.
6.) Can you tell us the title of your latest release and what it is about?
In the House of Wolves releases on New Year’s Eve. It’s a haunted house novel with a dash of science fiction set in the same universe as my Teddy Dormer novels, Teddy and Wake. Consider it a distant cousin to the Teddy stories.
In the House of Wolves is the story of the Wolf family—Stephen, Samantha, their three-year-old son Axl, and their dog Merlyn—who move into a new home with a sordid history. Shortly after, Axl dies under mysterious circumstances while the family is visiting family in another city, and Samantha, who remembers nothing of that night, spends six months in an institution. Stephen lives in the house alone with Merlyn. When Sam finally comes home, she returns to a life she doesn’t recognize and begins witnessing bizarre phenomena in the house. Something has been waiting, and it means to destroy everything they hold dear.
7.) Where did your idea for this story/series come from?
I’ve always wanted to write a haunted house story, but I didn’t want to write a typical one either. I wanted to explore the tale as an exploration of loss and grief and what happens to us when we lose those closest to us. The science fiction aspects of the story are an intrinsic aspect of the horror.
8). Can you tell us something about the story/series that people might not know?
It shares surprising connections to the Teddy Dormer novels. To say more than that is to once again venture into spoiler territory.
9.) What was your biggest challenge writing this book/series?
It was an emotionally charged novel, and whereas the Teddy stories follow an extraordinary individual, the characters I predominately write about in In the House of Wolves are ordinary people dealing with the extraordinary and supernatural. It was a challenge to maintain that balance, but I’m happy with the results.
10.) Can you share with us a few paragraphs from the book (no major spoilers please)?
Sure, although the scene is mildly censored.
Sam slept. For how long, she wasn’t sure, but when she came to, Stephen wasn’t beside her.
The room was cool—not chilly, but comfortable now that the air in the house seemed to be working properly. She’d slept under a sheet, which she threw off before slipping out of bed. She retrieved a robe from the closet, then set out in search of her husband.
Their son’s bedroom door was open again, as was the closet. There was no sign of Stephen within, although it seemed obvious to Sam he’d at least been in here.
Merlyn came upstairs. He rounded the banister at the far end of the hall and happily sauntered over. He offered Sam a brilliant smile: lips drawn back, teeth exposed. Once he reached her, he sat, lifted his right paw, and swatted at her hand. Smiling, Sam took it and shook his paw, running her thumb back and forth over his fur. He opened his mouth, tongue protruding, and looked at her in reverence.
“I missed you, Merlyn,” she said.
He looked up at her, smiling once more. I missed you too.
Sam let go of his paw and scratched behind Merlyn’s ears, which he appreciated. As she did so, she looked back into her son’s room. So caught up in the tragedy of his passing, she had not been afforded the opportunity to look through the things he left behind. This space, which had perfectly encapsulated his belongings, was a door into the past. It provided a glimpse, however minuscule, of who he had been.
She was in the middle of the room without realizing it, drawn in by the room’s ability to mesmerize. Merlyn followed, of course; humans shouldn’t venture anywhere without an escort, after all.
Sam circled about, surveying the room. The closet still housed her son’s clothes. The bed looked as if he might simply walk in and sleep in it. Across the room, his toy chest sat, closed, and next to it was a short bookshelf. Upon it was a number of children’s books as well as some of the old VHS tapes Sam had collected from when she was a child. In the corner, next to the shelf, was a stand with an old projection television sitting upon it. A DVD player and a VCR were hooked up to it. The television, however, was unplugged. Axl had been unable to reach behind the stand and the television set, so Sam and Stephen kept it unplugged unless they wanted him to be able to watch. It was their way of limiting how much time he spent watching television.
Sam knelt before the bookshelf and began looking through the titles. Merlyn came up alongside her and sat, looking as if he were perusing them as well. Among them were titles from the Little Golden Book series, including the Sesame Street book The Monster at the End of This Book. Disney titles were also a part of that particular collection, like 101 Dalmatians, Bambi, and Lady and the Tramp. In the midst of these, however, were other children’s books, one of which was The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree. Sam frowned at this, extracting the title from the shelf. She looked at the cover, lingering on its title, specifically the Berenstain part.
That looks wrong, she thought. Shouldn’t it be Berenstein, not Berenstain?
She looked down. On the shelf below it were some of the tapes from her childhood. Among them, she noticed, was a tape without its original box and the accompanying artwork. However, the yellow label still adorned the front and top of the VHS. She picked it up, comparing the two. The book, obviously, was one of the many adventures of the Berenstain Bears… but the VHS, released by Random House Home Video, with a header above the title which read FIRST TIME on VIDEO, was titled The Berenstein Bears Learn About Strangers PLUS The Disappearing Honey.
Sam looked around the room. It was only then she realized something else. The wallpaper in here was a light, pastel green, nearly mint. However, she blatantly remembered painting this room pastel blue.
“What the—?” she wondered, setting the titles back on the shelf. Merlyn stood and performed an about-face, as if he were examining the walls along with her.
She wasn’t simply misremembering, was she? Was it possible the trauma of losing him might have rattled her recollection?
No. She was certain of it. She remembered the trip to Lowe’s and the conversation over various shades she and Stephen had regarding it. She remembered taking a day the week before the trip to Johnson City to paint this room and leaving space heaters in here to help the paint dry.
Sam left her son’s room, Merlyn following along close behind, and went back to her own, the one she had hardly shared with Stephen before the nightmare began. She went to her nightstand; Stephen told her he’d stashed her phone after she’d gone to the institution. I was crazy, she thought, but I remember everything from those early days clear as day.
She just couldn’t remember the night he died.
The phone was right where Stephen told her it was. She pulled it out and powered it on. The boot process took approximately a minute, and once it had, she noted the battery life—seventeen percent—before searching through her applications for the photo gallery. There, she went through the most recent days to find that, yes, the photos on her phone showed the walls were blue. She clicked on one to enlarge it for full-screen viewing. The photo showed her smiling with a bit of blue paint on her nose. It also showed the room around her, which was in the midst of being painted.
Phone in hand, she walked briskly back to her son’s room, and Merlyn dutifully followed her… but she slowed her pace as she crossed into the hallway and was able to see into the room once more. Eyes widening, she stopped at the threshold and studied the space.
The walls were blue, just like she remembered. Just like in the photos.
She looked down at her phone. The photo remained on the screen, but it was different now. She was still smiling, blue paint on her nose. Now, however, a dark figure loomed over her shoulder: indistinct, fuzzy. The mouth was open in a snarl. The eyes were feral.
A hand gripped her shoulder.
11.) Why did you pick those paragraphs to share with us?
The excerpt is a great encapsulation of the themes and difficulties of the novel without 1. getting into the most frightening aspects of the novel and 2. spoiling major plot points, although this scene does broach one particular aspect of the novel with which many people will already be familiar: the Mandela Effect. I won’t tell you how it ties into the overall novel, but it’s certainly there.
12.) What is the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for one of your books?
The Mandela Effect is one. A lot of what I research is fun, however, like how to escape from handcuffs when you have to use something in your environment rather than an ordinary lockpick. There’s a cool scene in Wake that involves just that.
13.) Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few readers will find?
There are certainly details hidden throughout my work that will come back up in other works. I’m building a mythology throughout all of my work, so there are story elements in Teddy and Wake that resurface in In the House of Wolves. I’ve been reading it to my significant other, Christine, as of late, and there have been a few times where she’d smile, look at me, and say something to the effect of, “Yes, I caught that.” A lot of the Easter Eggs are easily overlooked though.
14.) What would your autobiography be called and why would you call it that?
…I honestly have no idea. I don’t think I’ll ever write an autobiography though. Aspects of my life get sprinkled throughout my fiction. Those who know me can often point to scenes and scenarios and will know where the real-life inspiration came from.
15.) A penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
He’d throw his sombrero on the floor and with a drunken slur proclaim, “This ain’t Margaritaville!” He’d then do a faceplant and knock himself out. No one knows where he came from, or why he can talk, for that matter. Shortly afterward, however, a clandestine organization some may know as Black 9 would arrive and take him away.
Where can people go if they want to learn more about you and the books you have written?
What social media platforms can you be found on?
***GIVEAWAY: Michael David Anderson would like to give one person the chance to win a signed copy of Teddy, Wake, and In the House of Wolves. Tell us in the comment section:
What is your favorite horror movie or book?
This giveaway will run until Friday, January 5, 2018. Due to shipping cost, this giveaway is only open to those in the Continental United States. Good Luck!***
This week’s interview is sponsored by:
When an Earth-based terrorist group targets Hannaria’s Ambassador, two teenagers become entrapped in the conflict.
Alex Verin is the son of an Earth Independence Party representative and doesn’t want to follow his father’s path of political manipulation and corruption.
Rica Miller is the adopted daughter of an engineer and nurse who later discovers she’s not human but Hannarian.
Alex must decide between his family loyalties and saving the life of an alien he’s been taught to fear and hate while Rica searches for the truth of what happened to her birth parents.