Q: Welcome! First off, if you could tell a little bit about yourself and what types of stories you enjoy writing as well as which genres you write in?
A: My name is Kevin M. Folliard. I’ve been writing all my life, and publishing fiction for about a decade. I currently live in the western suburbs of Chicago, where I am a member of the excellent La Grange Writers Group. For my day job, I work for the writing center of a university with a large online component, so assisting students with academic writing helps keep my grammar and mechanics skills sharp. I’ve written a number of books for young readers, but I’ve found a niche in writing adult horror. I really enjoy a variety of different kinds of writing from flash fiction to novels, from literary to genre writing, but I tend to write more sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.
Q: I’d love to share a bit about your most recent work, if you could let our readers know about it?
A: The Misery King’s Closet: An Anthology of Hidden Horror is the first adult horror collection I’ve put out which includes many stories I’ve published over the years, plus new tales unique to the collection. Misery King’s 24 tales range from 100-word drabbles to the debut novella “The Bagman Cometh” about a small town terrorized by Boogeyman’s curse. Themes of dark secrets, hidden shame, and lurking monsters span the anthology, which explores characters haunted by addictions, parasites, dark truths, and heinous choices. Some of my personal favorite stories are included, so I hope readers will check it out on Amazon and Kindle!
Another recent publication is my novella Tower of Raven, released by Demain Publishing. Raven is based on the “Maiden in the Tower” fable (AKA Rapunzel), and it explores the nature vs. nurture question: If a princess was kidnapped from birth and raised in seclusion by an evil witch, would she not become evil herself? It follows a naïve 17-year-old prince named Cedrick who becomes bewitched and entangled with a beautiful long-haired sorceress. Readers can find Tower of Raven on Kindle, and there will be a paperback available soon as well.
Finally, I wanted to give a shout out to The Dread Machine who published two of my longer, darker stories “Season’s Greetings” and “Satyr.” I’m very proud of those two, and they are in good company with a lot of quality fiction.
Q: You have a great mixture of short stories for adults and younger readers, how do you prepare yourself for each style of writing?
A: I don’t know that I do a lot of preparation to write for different audiences. Usually, I just let the idea guide me. Some stories and concepts lend themselves more naturally to younger readers. So I would say, it’s more about being aware of that audience during the writing and revision process. I also pay attention to feedback I’m getting from writers groups and test readers, who might catch things I miss.
When writing for younger readers, I do like to push boundaries and keep the stakes high. As a kid reader, I always appreciated when stories didn’t pull their punches and didn’t talk down to me. I think most kids who sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, and horror are craving real stories that represent real danger and powerful emotions. Kids have to live in the real world too, so their fiction needs to reflect real life. Having said that, there are certainly topics and imagery that are more appropriate for an adult audience. Usually when you get an idea, you have a sense pretty early on that it’s more for younger readers, strictly for adults, or maybe if you’re lucky, for everyone!
Q: Where were you born (and/or are you from) and how has that affected your work?
A: I was born in Chicago, which has had a profound effect on my work, and I grew up on the South Side. Chicago is a very cool, diverse place. We are urbane, cultured, yet we’ve got Midwestern sensibility. I often set stories in or around Chicago–first and foremost because it’s familiar and authentic to me–but also because we have enough stories about NYC and LA by now, right?
Q: Do you have a favorite character from your works that you plan on returning to?
A: I wrote a YA dark fantasy called Jake Carter & the Nightmare Gallery which I’ve always wanted to revisit. The villain of that story Dr. Shade is a personal favorite character. He’s a “creative elitist” with a very strong evil genius personality, and he kind of eerily seemed to write himself at times. I’d like to revisit him or his nightmarish world if possible. One of my other books for young readers Violet Black and the Curse of Camp Coldwater is about a 13-year-old paranormal investigator and detective, and there are endless creepy cases she could take on. Every time I write a book for kids, I leave it open for more, in case enough readers demand more. I’m always waiting for the day when I get to revisit one of my kid heroes or their worlds. It could definitely happen!
Q: As you have both short and longer stories in print, do you have a preference in length?
A: I enjoy short stories more, I suppose, because they’re more exciting to discover, and they’re also more manageable. There’s an “anything goes” quality to short fiction which makes it fun for me to write, versus the methodical plotting that is often required for longer works. Having said that, to write a longer piece and have it come together successfully is a much greater feeling of accomplishment in the long run. The idea always seems to dictate the length. I’ve often sat down with the intention to write very short pieces and ended up a monster on my hands.
Q: Being from the Chicagoland area, Cubs or White Sox? (I am judging you!)
A: White Sox! I am a Southsider! 😊
Editor’s Note: I’m a Cubs fan so I REALLY tried to be kind for the rest of the interview! 🙂 (J/Kidding! Sort of!) 🙂
Q: Speaking of Chicago, I see that you have a YA fantasy novel coming out this year titled ‘Grayson North: Frost-Keeper of the Windy City.’ That last part of the name makes it sound like it takes place here? What can you share about the book?
A: Grayson North indeed takes place in Chicago, and it’s about a heroic ice-wielding kid battling fiery elemental demons to prevent the second Great Chicago Fire. I enjoyed researching the city’s history and integrating famous Chicago settings such as Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, the “L” trains, the Water Tower, the Chicago History Museum, and more. This is the first YA book I’ve written that takes place right in downtown Chicago. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s coming this December from Dark Owl Publishing!
Q: We’ve seen what you write, what genres do you enjoy reading? Who is your go-to author?
A: I’m a fairly eclectic reader, with a soft spot for speculative fiction. Tolkien’s the Hobbit is my favorite book, but I’m a sucker for Stephen King! If I’m ever at a loss for what to read, I usually grab a King book or short story collection.
Q: What are you reading right now?
A: Speaking of King, currently I’m working through a short story anthology by his son Joe Hill called Full Throttle.
Q: When not reading or writing, what do you enjoy doing?
A: I love to travel, and I’ve done a lot of domestic US traveling! I’m looking forward to taking more trips as we’re coming out of Covid, but even during the pandemic, I’ve been taking road trips with my partner. I also really love movies and video games. I am only slightly addicted to my Nintendo Switch. I also enjoy making custom action figures and collecting comic books.
Q: Thanks again, do you have any teases of what you’re working on next that you could hint at?
A: Plenty of flash fiction, short stories, and at least one novel are in the works, so readers can expect more. My short story “Inner Skin” will be featured in an upcoming collection of weird western tales from Dark Owl Publishing titled Something Wicked This Way Rides. I’ll have more flash fiction coming to The Horror Tree later this summer. Finally, I’ve published a number of sci-fi adventure stories set in my shared world of New Pangea, where human settlers live side-by-side with dinosaurs. The New Pangea stories are my love letters to Arthur Conan Doyle and Michael Crichton. If all goes well, readers can look forward to seeing that world expand.
Finally, if there is anything else you would love to share with our readers, please do so here!
I regularly update my author Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter when I have new publications or writer news. You can also check out the blog on my website www.KevinFolliard.com for publication round-ups and other updates. And as a general author sentiment, if you like what you read (or even if you don’t) please, please, please leave reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews are very hard to come by, so if you take the time to read, remember to review. 😊
Author Website: http://www.kevinfolliard.com/
Christmas Terror Tales on FB: https://www.facebook.com/#%21/pages/Christmas-Terror-Tales/204731106257625
Interesting interview from an author whose fiction I admire and enjoy