Interview with Jeff Strand
First of all I’d like to thank you for participating in our interview series.
Would you be so kind to introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Jeff Strand. I usually write horror novels with lots of humor. I live in Tampa, Florida, USA, and I’m a huge fan of Haribo gummi bears.
Your novel “Wolf Hunt” has just been released here in Germany. As usual by Michael Preissl and Voodoo Press. How did it come to this cooperation?
I wish I had a more exciting answer, but it really was just Michael Preissl sending me a Facebook message asking if the German-language rights to my books were available. He started off with „Benjamin’s Parasite,“ published four others, and he’ll be publishing plenty more!
You’ve released 31 books so far which almost seems like a full-time job. In fact you still have a normal job beside writing and promoting your books and visiting conventions. Did you ever think about becoming a full-time writer?
I hadn’t updated the bio on my website…but now I’m a full-time writer! I’d thought about it for many years, but it’s not easy to make enough money to write without a day job, at least not if I wanted to eat more than once a week.
All your novels (as far as I know them) show a combination of horror elements, some bloody scenes and a very special sense of humor. Why did you decide to bring in comedy elements to your releases? Is it important for you that your readers don’t take this horror stuff too serious?
Actually, it worked the other way around: I brought horror into my comedy books. I grew up wanting to write humor, not horror. So I’m not trying to make readers take it less seriously; it’s just the way I write. I can’t imagine that I’d ever write a horror novel (or any kind of novel) that didn’t have a lot of humor in it.
You’ve been nominated for the Stoker awards four times. Is this kind of success important to you?
I like the attention it brings to my books. I don’t care that much about winning awards themselves; I’ve never campaigned for a Stoker, and when the names are announced I’m usually more focused on my next joke (I’ve emceed the Stoker awards banquet for the past several years) than whether or not I’ve won. But when I have to write a short bio, my Stoker nominations are always in there!
You’re visiting conventions all around the U.S. and stay in touch with your readers via Facebook and Twitter. How important is it to you to stay in such a close contact to your fans? And could you imagine visiting conventions outside the U.S.?
I think social media is important, but for me it’s also a lot of fun. I’d do social media all day if I didn’t have to worry about actually writing new books! If any convention outside the U.S. wanted to pay my way over there, I’d be there in a second.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
It depends on the review. If they’re REALLY bad, sometimes I’ll post them on Facebook. The ones that aren’t really reviewing my book („The package arrived in bad condition! One star!“) are annoying, but I just ignore them. Sometimes there’ll be a bad review that legitimately hurts, but all books get bad reviews at some point, so I wipe away my tear and move on. I never interact with the reviewer. That always backfires.
How do you work? Do you use a computer, a pen or a type writer? Do you have a special place to write?
I use a laptop computer, and usually write on my back porch. It’s finally starting to cool down a bit here in Florida, so it’s a pleasant place to work.
How does a normal day in your life look like?
If I’m not doing any public appearances that day, it really just involves sitting outside and working most of the day, and maybe going to a movie in the evening. Also, I hunt vampires all night, but I don’t like to talk about that.
Do you have any idols or writers that influenced your work?
Douglas Adams and Dave Barry are my two biggest influences by far.
Do you read a lot? Are there any writers you would recommend?
I read a lot, but I don’t read anywhere near as much horror as I used to. These days I’m more inclined to read people like Jonathan Tropper, Dennis Lehane, and Sara Gruen, which I think comes from having read almost nothing BUT horror for a long, long time.
What inspires you? Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
There’s usually not an „Aha! That’s my next book!“ spark of inspiration. My process isn’t consistent from book to book, but with something like, say, „Wolf Hunt,“ all I started with was the idea that I wanted to write a werewolf novel. Then I decided to combine it with a crime novel. Then I decided that the werewolf should be as horrible as a human being as he was as a werewolf. And so on…
How long does it take you to finish a novel?
It takes as long as I have before the deadline! Usually 3-6 months, with a LOT more writing done in the last month than the first.
Times change and the world gets more and more digital. Do you prefer eBooks or good old paperbacks? And what’s your opinion on eBooks at all?
I read both, but I have to admit that I prefer reading on my Kindle. I love eBooks. My first novel was an eBook sixteen years ago, back when everybody hated them. I love that all of my books are available to readers within a few seconds. I don’t want print books to go away, but eBooks are the reason I was able to quit my day job!
If somebody came to you and told you he wants to become a writer, what would be your first advice?
Don’t be in a hurry to get published. You can finish a novel in the morning and have it published by that evening, but that doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. It’s okay to write some „practice“ books.
What kind of stories most interesting to write for you? Short stories, novellas or novels? And why?
I like them all. I think some of my best work has been in all three formats. If I could only write one, I’d pick novels, because I’m the most proud when I finish one, but I enjoy all three.
What can we expect from Jeff Strand in the future?
My next novel to be translated into German is „Dweller,“ which is about the decades-long friendship between a boy and the monster that lives in the woods behind his house. After that is „Mandibles,“ about giant killer ants.
So that’s it from me. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my question. The famous last words are up to you. Anything left to say to your German readers?
I love you all! I wish I was there to enjoy delicious German chocolate!