Welcome back! For this week’s author interview, I’m excited to spotlight Calvin Demmer. Calvin is a mystery, crime, and horror writer whose fiction has appeared in multiple publications including Sanitarium Magazine, The Sirens Call, and Pilcrow and Dagger.
Recently, Calvin and I discussed writing rituals, favorite stories, and finding inspiration in creepy medical procedures.
A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
Though recollections of my youth are vague, I do recall making up many stories, but more importantly always having a lingering desire to write them down. My clearest memories of this was when I was around twelve or thirteen and actually typed a few stories out on the PC just for the joy of it (one was about zombies breaking into a research facility and another was about a possessed guitar). That probably truly lit the flame, but it wasn’t until about mid-2014 that I actually rekindled that fire and started to sit, write, edit, and then submit completed work. Once again, I found that I enjoyed creating my own characters, and sending them on arduous journeys through the worlds and situations my mind could think up. So I’ve stuck with it ever since.
My favorite authors list grows by the day and seems to be ever changing. However, looking at some authors/writers who heavily influenced the first phase of my writing, I’d say: Dan Simmons, Philip K. Dick, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Joe Hill, Alan Moore, Brian K. Vaughan and Dean Koontz.
Do you have any rituals as a writer? Also, do you subscribe to the “write every day” philosophy, or do you simply write when inspiration strikes?
Finding the perfect conditions to write everyday can be difficult, but I’m sure I will develop some habits as I go along. I do tend to grab an energy drink and put on the headphones (usually hard rock/metal). I’ve heard a couple of writers talking about this “wall of sound” when writing, and after trying it, I have found it can work for me at times.
I try to write everyday, but some days are just more productive than others. I do find myself editing most days though. I seem to blaze through a first draft of anything, and then end up spending ten times the amount of time going through it and making it better. But there is joy in that process as well, being able to get the story tight and clear.
Much of your work is in the speculative and mystery/crime genres. What in particular draws you to this type of fiction?
It’s what I’ve always read, so I guess it just came naturally.
My first few stories were either all fast-paced pulp-style mysteries or horror stories with a twist, some with a bit of a Twilight Zone feel. Of late, I have written more science fiction and fantasy stories, but once again it all falls under the umbrella of the type of stories I enjoy reading.
I don’t doubt I will eventually try other genres, I find it interesting to push myself and try things that are different, but speculative and mystery/crime genres will always be home.
If I had to pick one on the spot, I’d say “Heartless” which was my first published story (Sanitarium Magazine issue #29). I was reading a book on medical procedures, can’t even recall why now, and when I came to the section on heart surgery, I thought, that’s cool, but how can I make this into a dark, creepy tale? . . . And through that, my character James Vandersson was born.
Where would you like to see your writing career in five years?
Having the time to construct longer and more complex worlds and plots for my characters is definitely a goal. So, hopefully in five years I would have written a novel or two.
Also, I want to venture down the other paths writing can take you. This includes things like comics and graphic novels. I enjoy the whole writing process, and am eager to see and try the different ways stories can be presented.