Author Interview – David Rider

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Story Art Sneak Peek

Amazing Artwork By Daniela Rivera

"Ladies First"

Anthology: More Than a Monster
Release Date: Sept 8th, 2023
Preorders: Paperback
About the Author: David Rider is the author of "Tweakers, Crane Girl and the Semi-pocalypse" on Kindle, and the novel series We Are Van Helsing. He has also written stories published by Sinister Smile Press. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association.

He grew up in Calumet City, Illinois, where the smiley-face water towers never looked the same after a leering stranger in a green sedan invited young David for a ride (which he declined).

He now lives with his wife and kids in a rural Midwestern town that has no smiling faces on the water towers…only the scowling faces of dark entities lurking within the surrounding cornfields.
Q & A

How does it feel to have this story published for the first time?

I’m super excited for folks to discover it. My protagonists tend to be readers like myself, and Esther from “Ladies First” is no exception. In that respect alone, I think readers will relate to her.

What inspired the idea for your story?

To be brutally honest: I read another publisher’s submissions guidelines wrong. They wanted a horror-themed homage to the “coming of age” movies of the ’80s. But my brain pushed back and reinterpreted their idea to make it less a movie tribute and more an original horror story with a loving nod toward literature. I fell in love with the characters and settings, then wrote it despite knowing it wouldn’t fit that other publisher’s theme. I’m happy Grendel found a place for it.

We know that writing can be a tumultuous journey with a lot of obstacles, what is your kryptonite as a writer?

Like many indie authors, being satisfied with a limited amount of writing time while working a full-time gig is tough. I’m one of those pale folks who are up at five a.m. with a mug of coffee. I could easily tap away at the keys for six hours straight, but I’m lucky to get half that on a regular weekday. So yeah, the eight o’clock sun is my kryptonite because it means I have to stop doing the work I love and drive to the work that pays the bills.

Clearly, you’ve succeeded at writing a captivating story for GrendelPress, but we all start somewhere. What advice would you give yourself as a young writer?

Don’t stop filling those notebooks, champ. You’ll need to write a metric ton of crap before you learn to write well. And you’ll need to read a lot—not just Stephen King or classic literature. Sometimes you’ll feel incredibly inspired reading poorly written best sellers. I don’t think there’s anything that’s bolstered my motivation more than throwing a weak paperback across the room and muttering, “Damn, I know I can write better than this guy.” (I would also tell myself, “In interviews, don’t name the author whose book threw across the room that one time.” LOL.)

We’d like to argue that every good story makes both the author and the readers feel something. What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with your story?

Without giving too much away, let’s just say that in addition to serving up a social commentary sandwich, I’m intentionally sneaky and low-key with my overall narrative approach. On a surface level, my criticism of racial bigotry is obvious. A second reading reveals certain other tricks one may have missed the first time through.

What do you love most about your story’s genre?

I grew up close to Chicago, then I moved out to the sticks as an adult. Folk horror scratches a particular itch I have for depicting rural areas. My work is rife with themes of isolation. This story may be the first one I’ve written where my characters fully embrace their separation from society—even as a violent antagonist threatens them in their usual safe spaces.

Tell us about your favorite author. What about their book(s) call to you and how do they inspire your own writing?

Neil Gaiman is one of the heavy hitters for me—especially in terms of the sheer variety of tales he’s written (I’m counting Sandman and his other comics work). His attention to detail and love of mythology blows my mind. He can do it all. I occasionally fall down rabbit holes in my research, looking for a fresh spin on something obscure. A few years ago I thought I stumbled into an original take for a creepy little story I’ve never finished: I could use a huldra from Norwegian mythology. Then I sat down and read Mr. Gaiman’s Fragile Things collection, only to find he had already used the so-called “hidden folk” in one of those stories. I shook my fist at the ceiling and shouted, “Gaimaaaaan!” But he taught me to put in the prep work because so many unexpected and rich plot ideas come from research alone.

What are some other genres you’d like to break into and why?

Alternative history is next for me. I wrote a weird, noir detective story during NaNoWriMo awhile back that fits this genre. It checks all my boxes when it comes to world-building, creating protagonists with mysterious pasts, and splicing genres. I’ll be revising it in coming years.

If you had to pick another story of yours to share with your readers, what would it be?

My first novel We Are Van Helsing - Book One is the one I’m proudest of in terms of how much effort I put into it. I wanted to pay homage to Stoker’s Dracula using his epistolary structure, but updated for our current time. His Van Helsing was always my favorite character, so I made my protagonist Ilse a descendant of the actual vampire hunter who inspired Stoker to write his novel in the first place. She finds herself hunted across Europe by a mysterious mastermind bent on destroying her family’s legacy. She meets a new crew along the way.
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