I had the pleasure of interviewing Nelson Pyles, author and novelist living in Pittsburgh PA. He is an author of fiction with a leaning towards horror. He is also the creator/executive producer and former host of “The Wicked Library;” a weekly podcast spotlighting independent authors and their work.
ED: Hello Nelson thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! I’m sure you’re pretty busy with writing and narrating so I do appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. I’ll go ahead and jump right in and ask first of all how on earth you have the time to do everything that you are currently doing!? (Writing, promoting your books, narrating, producing) How do you have the time for it all?
NP: Who says I have time for it all?? It’s difficult and simple at the same time. There is always time, however it’s never really an ideal time. I wake up every day between four am and six am. No one in the house is awake yet and it’s just me, so I hit everything as hard as I can. I get everyone up for school and work and then I’m back to work from eight until people start coming home again. Then, I wait until they go to bed and do some more. Not every single day, but as much as possible. I screwed up this schedule by participating in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time…
ED: NaNoWriMo?!!! That’s tough! How did that go? Did you meet your goal?
NP: I did meet the goal! And it was really tough, but it was probably one of the best things I ever tried as a writer. Some of my peers tend to poo poo Nanowrimo, saying stuff like "Well, I have real writing to do. I can't be bothered by the likes of that." But, I saw the use of it. The very idea of it is tremendous. I resisted it for a few years, but it really tests you as a writer. Jessica McHugh has done it for years as has Mae March and C Bryan Brown. I had nothing to lose by trying it out and I'm so very glad I did. Did you give it a run?
ED: I really wanted to but decided it would be best to do it next year. I'm terrified of not being able to complete it but seeing the support that writers give each other during that time is very inspiring. I'll probably do it for sure next year!!
ED: Besides the short introduction I just gave, can you please introduce yourself a little more in your own words? Who is Nelson Pyles? What do we know and don’t know that isn’t written in your social media, website bio?
NP: Well, I’m all of the above with the addition of being what I call a “Stunt Vocalist.” I’m a musician, but I don’t do that too much anymore, so when I do, I write the lyrics and sing specifically for a band called Novus. We’re working on new material for a 2016 release. What you don’t know is that I run a Haiku page on Facebook. Very small group, but my friend Chelsea Cefalu and I started it years ago based on the fun we have writing haiku. But, only on Wednesday. Thus, it’s called….Haiku Wednesday. Good stuff on there!
ED: Let’s talk a little about your writing. When did you first start and realize ‘hey I should write a book!’ How long did that take? NP: Well, I’ve been writing for years, but mostly short works. I love writing and reading short stories and I was waiting for an idea that needed more than five thousand words to tell. I came up with DEMONS DOLLS AND MILKSHAKES several years ago and started writing it as a web serial. I lasted about three months and put it down for a few years. I finally just sat down and hammered away at it until it was done. I think in total, it took six years, but realistically I’d say the first draft took about three months. I still write more short stories than not, but now I have three novels in the works.
ED: Most writers have of course been inspired by other authors, books, movies. What or who really inspired and has influenced your writing?
NP: I read THE HOBBIT when I was in third grade and thought “Writing seems to be an awesome job!” I devoured all the LORD OF THE RINGS books in about a month. Nothing in my grade level would hold me after that. My babysitter Judi would watch my sister and I when we were kids and she was always reading Stephen King. So, I started reading those by the barrelful. I know it’s cliché to name him, but he was everywhere, even in the early 80’s. The one book of his that really influenced me the most was DANSE MACABRE because it listed his influences and that sent me on an author hunt of huge proportions. Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury…they all inspired me and they still do.
ED: I know you just released a new book in August, can you tell me a little bit more about the book? What it is about and where readers can find it?
NP: EVERYTHING HERE IS A NIGHTMARE is my first collection of short stories. Half of it is previously published work and the other half, stories I had lying around that really didn’t fit into anywhere particular. It doesn’t mean the stories are bad; it’s just harder to find somewhere for them to go. Some of my favorite unpublished stories are in there including an unproduced radio play. The book came about because DEMONS DOLLS AND MILKSHAKES spawned an interest in my other work, but it’s scattered over several different anthologies. Since all of the publishing rights were mine again, I thought it would be a good idea to house them all in one volume. You can find the book on Amazon.
ED: As a writer it can be difficult to start a new project what made you decide to sit down and actually start writing your books?
NP It really wasn’t a decision as much as it was just a natural progression. At this point, it’s more unusual to not have an idea, so it really isn’t difficult at least for me. It’s sort of in the genetic makeup I think. When you get to do what you’ve always wanted to do and on your own terms, it’s very freeing. It’s what I do and I do it often as possible. Writing is also more of a craft than people believe it to be. Talent certainly plays a part, but it’s also a craft. A discipline. It’s something you have to hone. There’s a lot of talk about “having a muse” and that’s all very romantic, but you are your own muse. If you approach it as a craft and not as something mystic, your “muse” is always ready to go.
ED: Were there any aspects of writing your books or getting published that you found somewhat difficult? How did you overcome these bumps in the road?
NP: I have found that the process gets difficult after you’ve finished writing. The part where you’re writing is the best. Second best is the contract, because everyone like being told “Yes.” But, once the work goes from your hands to the publisher and then back again, that’s when the un-fun stuff starts. Promotion, getting it in front of reviewers, book shows, etc. They’re all fun, but it’s difficult if you’re an introvert. You have to wear a lot of hats when promoting. I get through it because I try to embrace the difficult things as much as the easy things. I tend to not complain because it seems to me that would be a bit ungrateful. Not a lot of people get to do something like promote a novel that they’ve written. There are much worse things.
ED: Have you dealt with any internet trolls or any negative feedback? If so how did you handle that and what are your thoughts on other writers who go through the same thing?
NP: I have been very fortunate in that I haven’t gotten a ton of negative feedback from the work I’ve released. That being said, I have a stack of rejection letters I could beat a whale to death with, so I have had my share of negativity. To be a writer at any level, you need to have very thick skin. Not everyone is going to like your work, nor do they have to like your work. It’s all subjective. There is a review of my novel that said something like I telegraphed the ending early on and the reviewer was disappointed that the ending was a bit of let down because of it. And you know, there’s a bit of truth there. It was a crap shoot to end DEMONS the way I did and you either like it or you don’t. The reviewer paid money for the book and if that’s what he or she got out of it, then I’m okay with it. As long as the reviews aren’t overtly mean, I can take it.
But that’s the thing. If you get a bad review, you shouldn’t really react badly to it. I’ve seen authors go on rampages about bad reviews and it just makes you look awful. Suck it up, because in that negative review lies a problem you maybe didn’t see. Criticism isn’t just to build you up.
ED: What genre are your books? Does it vary? Is there a certain genre you prefer to read and another you prefer to write about? What draws you to this genre?
NP: I’d say mostly horror, but not exclusively. When DEMONS was in the print stage, the publisher asked if it was okay to list it as Horror/Comedy. My first reaction was no, but the more I thought about it, all of the advance reviews noted how surprisingly funny the book was, so I let it roll. I do write nonfiction work and non-horror things as well, but I prefer horror. It’s just more fun to write. It’s such a broad canvas and such a diverse genre.
ED: Have you written any other works in collaboration with other writers? If so how was it? Would you do it again? Are there any authors you would like to collaborate with in the future?
NP: I wrote a screenplay with an actor that made me swear off collaborations for a few years. Dan Foytik asked me to write a story for his podcast “The Lift” which was a bit of a challenge because I’d only written about someone else’s characters once before. I’m working on something kind of top secret with another author and that experience has been amazing. It’s something both of us want to put out but never direct attention to ourselves with it, at least at this point. It’s a good old fashioned pen name that we’re keen to get out there eventually.
I’d love to work with most of the authors I’ve met during my tenue of The Wicked Library. Specifically, Jessica McHugh, Mae March, Jon Towers, Paul Anderson, Lydia Peever, Kerry Lipp and Daniel Knauf. Maddie Von Stark and I have been trying to come up with a collaboration. We’ll work together again one day.
ED: What are your top three favorite books? Why?
NP: Wow…just three?? Hmmmm….HUCKLEBERRY FIIN by Mark Twain. It was the book I read after TOM SAWYER and loved it so much more. Tom was a dick and even more so in HF, but it was a funny, sweet story of friendship and made Twain one of my favorite authors. THE TALISMAN by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It’s very much like Twain on acid. Wondrous, terrifying and poignant. I loved that the chapters were sent back and forth between the authors in a time before email. I was also a huge fan of the character Wolf. THE BEST OF JOE R LANSDALE is a huge favorite. I’m a gigantic fan of his work and in particular his short fiction. His HAP AND LEONARD novels are awesome, but he cuts so much deeper in his short fiction. He’s probably the writer I go back for the most these days.
ED: Do you write full time or part time?
NP: I split the writing with book narration and the other million things I’m doing. Recently it’s been mostly writing, although the audio work is picking up.
ED:Are you currently part of any writing associations or groups?
NP: I’m a member of the HWA (Horror Writers Association) but that’s about it. I don’t do writing groups really. The times that I’ve done the whole “Writer’s Group” thing was really just excuses to hang out with other authors and they were total blasts. Very little talk about technique, a lot of swearing and making jokes.
ED: Last year you seemed to be on the road and visiting horror conventions do you have any plans in doing so this upcoming year? What have been your favorite events to participate in?
NP: I absolutely LOVE horror conventions. I attend as many as I can either as a vendor or just an attendee. My favorites this year was the World Horror Convention in Atlanta and the Wizard World Comic Con here in Pittsburgh. Atlanta was fun because I got to hang out with Maddie von Stark who is a great author, but also did all of the art for The Wicked Library. She’s like my sister and we had massive amounts of fun.
ED: Let’s switch gears a little now and talk about your work in podcasting. I know there are a lot of fans of The Wicked Library I’ve tuned in a few times too. Can you tell us a little about how it got started and your role as the executive producer and former host?
NP: The Wicked Library was created by podcaster Jon Towers and myself in 2012. Jon doesn’t like taking credit for it, but I always give it to him. The idea was to create a podcast that could be entertaining as well as a tool for independent authors to promote their work. Early on in season two I enlisted Maddie to do the artwork for the episodes and we ran the show hard, built a respectable audience and really managed to stand out in a sea of horror podcasts. About midway through season five, I realized that I was promoting all of these fantastic authors, but almost completely ignoring my own writing. I decided that before I started getting weary of doing the show, I’d look for a replacement host. I’d know Dan Foytik for a while and he was a big fan of the show. He’s got a great narrator voice and really great production skills. I thought about it and choose him as the new host.
Dan is far more collaborative than I am, and we talk frequently about the show, how to make it better, etc. He has really great ideas and he bounces them off of me a lot. He made some really good changes when he came on board, revamped the website and has really expanded the spirit of the show. I choose well.
ED: What was the inspiration behind TWL?
NP: I’m a huge fan of anthologies, not just in book form. Anthologies on TV, film, and comics as well. I was a gigantic fan of EC Comics when I was a kid and then later with HBO’s Tales from the Crypt. Absolutely loved it. When Jon approached me about doing a podcast reading stories that were in the public domain, I thought why not read new authors work in lieu of older works? The show was originally called Storytime at the Wicked Library, but I dropped the “Storytime as” in season two. The character of the Librarian came as a result of my love for Tales of the Crypt. The bad puns, maniacal laughter, etc.
ED: What did you love the most about your time as a host?
NP: Honestly, I loved every bit of it. It was something I truly had fun doing. Picking out the stories, reading them and finding different voices for the characters and adding the music was just a wonderful thing for me. I befriended so many authors that have become friends. It was worth that alone.
ED: What are some of your favorite stories on TWL?
NP: I have a ton of favorites, but there a few stand out for me. Paul Anderson’s “Love Song for the Rejected” from season one is one for sure. I think it was the best production of that whole season since I was still learning how to produce good sound from the tin cans I was using at the time. The story is amazing, frightening and heartbreaking. Lydia Peever from season two had a story called Bad Shepherd that really allowed me to stretch out voices and production aside from the fact that it remains one of the scariest stories ever read on the show. I simply adore her work. Mae March’s first appearance on TWL was a long story called Night Management. At the time, there was a five thousand work cap on short stories for time purposes and hers was nearly double that, but I couldn’t put it down. I broke that rule a few times in my tenure, but that one knocked it out of the park in my opinion. Sydney Leigh’s work in season five was nothing short of amazing because the material was just so powerful. So many more…I could talk about it all day!
ED: Besides TWL are there other projects you’ve worked on that involved narrating? Can you tell me a little bit about that?
NP: The most recent was a non-horror audio book adaptation from an author named Bret Bouriseau. Bret’s a very talented author and artist. He’s also incredibly creative when it comes to marketing. The audio book version of THE PRINCE OF KNOCKNAFAY is sold in a bottle and in the bottle is a cork. In the cork is a flash drive with all twenty chapters and the ebook as well. It’s been amazingly fun to not only record, but to work with Bret. We plan on working on his next two books and something more collaborative as well.
ED: What got you interested in narrating stories?
NP: I used to do theatre when I was younger and time doesn’t really allow that anymore. The podcast filled in nicely as its all dramatic readings. The Wicked Library really trained me for narrating. One of the authors who had done the show, Kenneth Cain, asked if I wanted to do the audio version of his collection of short stories called FRESH CUT TALES. I jumped at it. I really fell in love with the process of it. It’s very expressive and very fulfilling as cliché as that sounds.
ED: Why did you decide to leave The Wicked Library and what are you currently working on as far as podcasting?
NP: As I said earlier, I didn’t want to hate it. I think it’s important that whatever you do, if you start dreading doing it, or think you might dread it, you should stop. One thing I learned from Jon Towers is the “fun metric.” As long as you’re having fun, you should do it. I was still having fun, but I could foresee it getting to be unfun if I kept going. In lieu of just ending the show, I chose to find a new host. The show has its own life at this point and the host is almost secondary to what the show provides. As it turns out, I was right. The show is getting more popular and is in more places than ever.
ED: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
NP: Thanks so much for this interview! It was a lot of fun and I hope you have a lot of success with future interviews!
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