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An Interview with Andrew Buckner, Writer

by Mike Haberfelner

October 2019

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First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who don't already know you?

 

Of course! My name is Andrew Buckner. I am a poet, author and self-confessed cinephile and book fanatic. Also, I run and write for the review site AWordofdreams.com!

 

Do talk about some of the most recent stories/books of yours, and the ideas behind them?

 

My most recent stories are Rules for Monsters (2019), The Normal House (2019) and The Crickets Called with Human Voices (2019). I have also had an anthology of short tales called Junk: A Sextet of Trashy Horror Stories (2019) come out in July. Also, I’ve had a book of poetry called Meaning Plucked from the Gods: A 7-Poem Set (2019) come out in early August.

 

The Normal House came from looking out my window and seeing a house decorated as terrifyingly as possible for Halloween. Upon doing so I one day had a thought, “What if a Halloween house went the opposite way and it terrified the onlooker because of how ‘normal’ it appeared?” I think that notion helped set the approach of the story as well.

Rules for Monsters was born from just the image of a typewriter writing by itself in the attic and a vague idea of someone crafting rules for a new society after it was destroyed.

The Crickets Called with Human Voices came in a similar fashion. It was sparked from the notion of the odd sound crickets make and the question, one that really appealed to me, of “What if the crickets spoke in human voices to someone? What if things only got weirder for the protagonist after the crickets spoke to him this way?”

Junk was me poking fun at the idea that my stories are trash. The title also worked because all the stories in the volume revolved around, you guessed it, trash!

Meaning Plucked from the Gods is my way of pondering my importance and potential impact as a writer.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I am currently working on a collection of micro-fiction stories and a new poetry book! They are both in the early stages and neither have titles right now.

 

What got you into writing to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I had a few years of Journalism classes in college, but otherwise no real formal training. The sheer immersive power of stories and being able to create entire worlds out of mere words was an addiction to me since I learned how to spell. Being a fervent reader and witnessing again and again how easy it was to escape into someone else’s world and viewpoint as I devoured the works of my favorite authors as a child only fueled this fire. I wanted to be able to have this power over readers. Hence, my lifelong obsession with writing.

 

Do talk about some past writings of yours, and in your eyes, how have you grown as a writer over the years?

 



My first published book of poetry was The Human Condition (2008). It is a wonderful concoction of experimental free verse, introspection and social themes. You can also get a great sense of my yearning to be a rapper, and my love for the rap genre, at the young age I was when I penned them (approximately 19-21 years old). This is based on the content, tone and rhyme schemes in a lot of the poems in the work.

I mellowed out a bit with my sophomore poetry book, Song of Survival (2010). Regardless, as was the case of The Human Condition, I really admire the amount of topical ground I was able to cover.

 

Looking back on these first pair of published books, it really set the groundwork for the introspective and social focus in my poetry. I might have branched out past free verse to more classical forms in my later collections of poetry, but the foundation of self-expression at all costs set in The Human Condition and Song of Survival is still prevalent in my more recent collections of verse. This social and introspective center is a big part of my earlier and more current works of prose as well.

 

What are some of your personal favourites among your stories, and why?

 

My debut novel The Extraterrestrial Presence (2012) will always be one of my favorite stories of mine. It is because I have always been fascinated with real-life tales of alien abductions/encounters. It is also because I have always dreamed of publishing a novel. I think I used all the information I gleaned on the subject well in the story. It also has a nice mix of character development, suspense and emotion.

There is a sequel to it I wrote several years ago, The Abduction Syndrome, that I would love to publish one day.

 

I enjoy my most recent stories The Crickets Called with Human Voices, Rules for Monsters and The Normal House because they have a great balance of the surreal and creative. Rules for Monsters has some timely themes and questions. It also provides some nice answers for said social questions in an inventive and entertaining way.

 




I also really enjoy my young adult novella, Locker 222 (2016), which was inspired by my love of 1950’s drive-in movies. It’s a lot of nostalgia-laden fun for me and, hopefully, for similar-minded audiences.

 

On Love, a drama about a man trying to write a story with no negativity and only actions of love in it, is also a personal favorite. It is a contemplation on positivity and kindness that our violent world can benefit from.

 

My novelette Weary Travelers (2016) is another favorite of my stories. It is an inventive look into the creative process. I also really relate to the main character, William Le Crux. He is a 74-year-old man who is still clinging to the hope that he will be a famous writer. As someone who still hasn’t been anywhere near as successful in my writing adventures as I would like to, I found it easy to speak through him when penning the book.

 

Many of your stories are of the horror variety - so is horror a favourite genre of yours, and do talk about your overall approach to horror!

 

Horror has always been my favorite genre! I love the imagination and the cathartic value of it all, whether literary or cinematic horror, by being confronted with your deepest fears. It’s an escape from the routine of the real world that often reflects some of the most terrifying elements of the real world. Some of the best horror stories smartly weave social issues into the fabric of their stories, which, as I mentioned earlier, is a big component to my writing. Thus, horror often reflects the fears and issues of its time. They are also often far more character-oriented than many give the genre credit for. This is one of the main reasons why I have always idolized Stephen King. He almost always follows my main rule of “character’s first”. You can’t have an effective story if you, as the storyteller or the audience, don’t care about the characters. King knows this and he utilizes it brilliantly. My overall approach is almost always of the “characters first” variety. There are times, like with The Crickets Called with Human Voices or Rules for Monsters, where I focus a bit more on creativity. Regardless, a character focus is always important in my material.

My only other rule in my writing approach is to try my best not to recycle ideas, especially plotlines, that I have used before. I think I’ve been mostly successful at this.

 

You've also written a handful of screenplays, right? So what are your intentions for those, and how does writing a screenplay compare to writing prose, and which do you prefer, actually, and why?

 

Yes, I’ve had a few feature-length screenplays that I have completed. My first finished screenplay was for Whispers in the Darkness (2012). It was co-written by my friend from high school Russell Stiver. We are both really into demonic possession stories, so it seemed natural that we would do our take on the sub-genre. Stiver is also a paranormal investigator, so he was able to use some of his firsthand experience and weave it into the tale to make it more authentic. We were going for a more subtle and intelligent, 1970’s psychological thriller/character-oriented style approach to the script. I think we succeeded. Whispers in the Darkness was a runner-up at The Great Lakes International Film Festival Screenplay Competition in 2012. That honor was a real rush! It has been one of the highlights of my writing journey thus far!

 

I also have DeShawn Deathblow: Prehistoric Hunter, which I penned solo. The idea was to combine Jurassic Park with Indiana Jones. I wrote it in 8 days. This was while I was anticipating the release of Jurassic World (2015). While I pride myself on having a relevant social theme or emotion to our society in most of my stories, I just had fun writing DeShawn Deathblow: Prehistoric Hunter. I think it shows in the finished script itself. If I had the funds for a movie, I would’ve loved to direct it. The finished product is on sale at Amazon as an eBook, if anyone is interested in checking it out.

 




I’ve also done several short film scripts that were published on Amazon. The Fun Family Christmas Vacation of Death (2017) is part comedy, part horror. It is like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) set in a place that sells Christmas trees.

Another short film I wrote is Cheap Schlock: The Epic, Short Film Motion Picture (2017). It is another comedy/horror about two horror icons from the 1930’s getting together in a house and trying to create a modern genre effort. This is while deliberately inserting as many terror clichés as possible into their work (with jokes aplenty about the found footage sub-genre).

 

I also have the feature-length screenplay, The Cycle of 666 (2014), available at Smashwords.com! It was my first attempt at an “evil child” type story. That one is pure horror from the first page to the last!

 

My intention with these scripts was really to get the story onto the page and out into the world. While I am a bit sad that none of these have been turned into actual features, due mostly to the hefty financial issues of making a film (even a low-budget indie picture), I am glad they exist in one form or another.

I enjoy writing prose and scripts about equally. Scripts are a bit more challenging to me comparatively because I have less experience with them as opposed to writing a prose story. Regardless, they are both rewarding in their own ways.

 

Can you take us through the process of how you're writing a story, and do you have any writing habits?

 

What I enjoy about the writing process is how different it is every time. On some occasions, you get a cool nugget of an idea and build the story around it. Sometimes an entire plot will fall into your mind while you are thinking about something else. For me, it usually happens out of the blue as I am going about the routine of my day.

 

The only real habit I have is to make an outline of a story once it is fully formed in my brain. That way I can utilize all the ideas I have for it. I feel that outlining too much ruins the story. It usually makes it hard to write or no fun at all. This is because you are so focused on crossing off every occurrence you have on your outline while writing the story. I like to have enough room to surprise myself as I am writing with certain situations that occur or ideas that bloom while the creative process is going. That part has always been one of the most fascinating elements of writing to me. It is like being an audience member and the man on the stage all at once.

 

How would you describe yourself as a writer, and where do you get your inspirations from?

 

I’m mainly a horror author, but I am not afraid to branch-out into other genres. My inspirations come mostly from my love of reading and movies. It’s always fascinating to me how certain scenes, or even a vague notion, in a book or film can bring on an entirely new story if you look at it right or think about it long enough.

As I said before, sometimes ideas just drop unexpectedly into your mind unprovoked. All you need is the motivation to get it down on the page and story working the story out. A lot of the time I can be inspired to write by simply thinking about a topic or idea and asking myself the simple question of “What if?”

 

Writers who inspire you?

 



Again, Stephen King has always been one of my biggest inspirations. I’ve always admired his unique structure, character focus, brilliant imagination and writing style as well as his ability to pull terror from everyday situations. I’m also an avid reader and admirer of the work of his son Joe Hill. I am also a huge John Grisham fan. I have always been in awe of how he can take social themes, his firsthand knowledge of the legal system and his effortlessly enjoyable and meticulous writing style and turn it into a literary four-course meal every time he spins a tale. I also adore the works of Michael Chrichton, Whitley Strieber, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz. There are plenty more, but those are the main ones.

 

You also run the review blog A Word of Dreams - so what can you tell us about that one, and the philosophy behind it?

 

AWordofdreams.com was born from my desire to be a critic and my love of film and books. I review both there.

The philosophy is to bring well-written and respectful reviews, primarily of lesser known films that deserve the extra attention, to readers. I also do an occasional interview on the site.

 

Since this is first and foremost a film site, your favourite movies?

 

My all-time favorite movie would be the original Jurassic Park (1993). It is the film that showed me the sheer power and exhilaration of cinema. I had always enjoyed movies beforehand but seeing Jurassic Park at the drive-in for the first time, upon its initial release, was such an unforgettable experience that it cemented my eternal love and passion for film. I also love the original Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989). They are a huge part of my childhood. Having re-watched them both recently with my oldest daughter, I must say that after all these years they both hold up beautifully. Like Jurassic Park, these movies are so brilliant that every viewing feels like the first. That is the definition of “a true classic”.

 

Some of my other favorite films are Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Joe Dante’s Gremlins (1984), Willian Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973) and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), the original King Kong (1933) and Fritz Lang’s masterpiece Metropolis (1927) are also top-tier pictures in my book. I also adore Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011), Schindler’s List (1993) from Spielberg, Eraserhead (1977) by David Lynch, Poltergeist (1982) from Tobe Hooper and Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful (1997).

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

I’ve never been able to get into comic book/superhero films. Nothing against those who enjoy those types of films. It’s just a type of picture I have a hard time getting into.

 

 

Feeling lucky ?
Want to search for books by
Andrew Buckner
yourself ?

The links below
will take you
just there !!!

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

AWordofdreams.com for reviews, lists and interviews.

I am also on Facebook and Twitter @Moviesforlife09.

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Not that I can think of. Thanks for covering so much ground! Also, thank you for your time, Michael! I appreciate it!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD