• Gaby Triana

Interview with Horror Author JEFF MENAPACE

Hey, witches! I took a little break this last week to spend time with my kids before school started up again, but now I’m back and excited to be sitting down with horror author, JEFF MENAPACE! Jeff is the recipient of the Red Adept Reviews Indie Horror Award and author of BAD GAMES, WILD LIFE, and the new release, WILDLIFE RECKONING.

WH: Hey, Jeff! Thanks for being here. Please give us a brief introduction of your fabulous self:

Sure. Born in Philadelphia. Currently live in Bucks County, PA. Married with two cats. Love animals, horror movies, and mixed martial arts. Definitely more of an introvert, but I’m good at faking the social thing. My wife helps with that, often saying I need to “people more,” people being a verb in this case.

WH: I totally feel you. I socialize but only because I’ll end up cold and alone in this world if I don’t. What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?

Either something in psychology, or something with animals.

WH: So far, you’re my twin. What is your writing process like?

Usually get up, get caffeinated, and then get right to work. Sometimes I lose track of time and work for hours, sometimes I barely manage a page or two and want to smash things.

I’m not much of a strict plotter or outliner. I tend to have general ideas of where the story is going to go, but it usually never plays out that way; once the characters start to evolve and become real (to me, at least) is when the writing sort of takes on a life of its own. As a result, my productivity is often slower, but far more enjoyable and rewarding. I love being struck with new twists and ideas mid-way through a story. It truly is a wonderful form of escapism. I have tried extensive plotting, but it felt too much like a dictation i.e. work.

WH: I used to plot out everything before starting because I didn’t want to waste time. Recently, I’ve written whatever comes to mind, only following a few plot points, and that has worked wonders in writing a more organic story. Which of your written works are you most proud of?

Ugh. I really don’t know. I’m pretty insecure about my work, and don’t enjoy going back and reading what I wrote, because I always feel it can be better. I’m proud that I’ve managed to produce as many books as I have to date, and I’m proud that I’ve entertained readers over the years (always my number one goal, and always will be), but I am easily my worst critic.

WH: Understood. While I used to go back and reread my books, nowadays I publish and never look back again. Your novel, WILDLIFE, takes place in my backyard—the Everglades (the same setting as my 2ndHaunted Florida novel)! What inspired this tale of gruesome Gladesmen?

A boat ride in the Everglades!

My wife and I were visiting her folks in Florida (Kelly and I were still dating then, and I had never been to her parents’ place in Florida, where they winter) and they surprised us with an air boat ride through the Everglades. It was amazing, of course, but there was one specific moment when the driver killed the engine and we drifted in silence for a moment. I looked around, saw nothing but swamp for miles—it felt like another planet—and I immediately thought, this is the part where the driver robs us, then kicks us overboard. I thought it was a terrifying prospect, having to trek (or swim!) through the swamps of the Everglades on foot, seemingly endless miles from anywhere.

The driver didn’t rob us or boot us overboard, of course, but by the time we got back, I had a nice little seed growing in my head: Imagine having to trek the swamp on foot, but having to do it at night instead? And not just with gators and pythons and every other nasty critter all around you, but a family of backwoods psychos thrown in the mix. People who make the gators look downright cuddly. Boom—idea for Wildlife was born.

WH: I love it! I’m very familiar with that territory and could imagine every moment in chilling detail. How have you changed as a person from your early life until now?

I’ve embraced my weirdness. I’ve embraced who I am as who I am. As a kid, I used to be very concerned with what others thought of me, and often resented my creativity and weirdness because I felt it made me different than the herd, God forbid. While I still struggle with certain things of that nature from time to time, I have less and less fucks to give as I get older for people who are quick to judge and ridicule. My primary support in such zero-fuck-giving is my ability to now recognize that people who do such things are typically riddled with fears and insecurities of their own.

That and my hair is going gray. And my stomach refuses to be as flat as it once was.

WH: I’d rather be gray and bellied than under the self-imposed worry of what others think of me. So glad to be past that. How do you like your coffee? Do you have a favorite libation? What’s your favorite dessert? I can tell a lot by what people love to drink and eat.

Coffee black. Favorite libation Jack Daniels neat with a Miller lite to chase it down. Dessert? Hmmm…don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Can I pick wings? Or soft pretzels. Or wait—movie theater popcorn. One of those three. I like salty stuff.

WH: You’re a no-nonsense snacker. What’s your favorite Halloween tradition?

Watching horror movies!!!

WH: The best! And watching the little kids’ faces when you open the door to trick-or-treaters during a particularly gruesome scene. What is the witchiest thing about you (we’re all a little witchy)?

I’m kind of superstitious. Which makes me a huge hypocrite because I’m not religious, nor do I believe in cosmic thingies like everything happens for a reason or our futures are already written etc. etc. But still, come 11:11 I’m making a wish, or if something risky is mentioned, I’m knocking wood, so, yeah, total hypocrite.

WH: Ha, you’re at war with yourself. What do you feel makes a great horror novel?

Characters you care about. If you’re invested in characters, begin to care for them and even love them, then it is all the more terrifying and tragic when something awful happens to them. Cardboard or clichéd characters are akin to victims in a Friday the 13th film. We end up rooting more for Jason and looking forward to all the crazy ways he’s going to kill these annoying people. And that’s fine if you’re setting out to do something like that; I certainly enjoy those films for what they are. But in my opinion, if you want something truly unsettling that stays with you days or weeks after, then create characters people can identify with and care about…and then kill ’em! :)


WH: Absolutely. If we don’t give a shit, then we become spectators in a gladiator arena. What is the most awesome thing happening in your life right now that you’d like to share with us?

It’s almost August 18th. Every year for the past ten or so years, I have a tradition on August 18th. I get a ton of junk food, lots of booze, and then sit on my sofa from noon until whenever I pass out, and watch the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a continuous loop.

WH: Sorry we posted this on August 22nd then! Hope your TCM marathon was well worth the wait. What’s next for you? We can’t wait to see what you have coming up!

I just release a sequel to Wildlife! It is called Wildlife: Reckoning. On deck is the 5thbook in my Bad Games series, and Episode 2 in my Cliché series. Also, judging by the feedback from the Wildlife sequel (readers have been very kind), there’s a good chance that Wildlife 3 will be in the near future.

That’s awesome! I haven’t read the second one yet, so I’ll have to do that before your third in series comes out. Well, Jeff, thanks for hanging out with me today and I hope you have a great horror movie season. To check out more Jeff Menapace, visit the following links:

* Website: www.jeffmenapace.com

* Amazon Author page: http://author.to/Jeffsauthorpage

* Latest release: Wildlife: Reckoning

* Facebook: www.facebook.com/JeffMenapace.writer

* Twitter: http://twitter.com/JeffMenapace

* Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeffmenapace

A native of the Philadelphia area, Jeff Menapace has published multiple works in both fiction and non-fiction. In 2011 he was the recipient of the Red Adept Reviews Indie Award for Horror.

Jeff's terrifying debut novel Bad Games became a #1 Kindle bestseller that spawned three acclaimed sequels, and now the first three books in the series have been optioned for feature film and translated for foreign audiences. His other novels, along with his award-winning short works,have also received international acclaim and are eagerly waiting to give you plenty of sleepless nights.

Free time for Jeff is spent watching horror movies, The Three Stooges, and mixed martial arts. He loves steak and more steak, thinks the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the greatest movie ever, wants to pet a lion someday, and hates spiders.

He currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Kelly and their cats Sammy and Bear.

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