Interview with Dick Grimm

So, Dick... Er... It *is* all right if I call you Dick, isn't it?
Whatever, man. If I'm calling myself "Dick" on the covers of my books, then I guess you can call me whatever you want.
All right then, Dick. When and why did you decide to become a writer?
I didn't read much through my childhood, except for some Isaac Asimov and Anne McCaffrey and a shitload of comic books. I also read some Star Wars novels--Splinter in teh Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster, and two Han Solo novels..

When I got to be in my early 20s, I started reading Tom Clancy novels. That led me to read Robert Ludlum novels, which I didn't think were nearly as compelling as Clancy's writing. In fact, I was reading one Ludlum novel in particular with implausible dialogue and insensible character decisions--this was back in the early 90s--and I thought, "I could write better than this!"

So at that point, I decided to try my hand at writing fiction.

I quickly learned that I *could not* write better than Robert Ludlum. But I believed that I could learn to write publishable fiction, so I worked at it and worked at it and worked at it. In the meantime, I grew disenchanted with Tom Clancy's "every problem can be solved by a good man with a bunch of bullets" philosophy. I started enjoying Anne Rice, Stephen King, and Peter Straub's horror. I discovered Christopher Moore's paranormal absurdism.

So, for the last 20 years or so, I've been working at learning to write. I think I know enough about writing at this point that I can put together a good story. But it'll be up to my readers to make the final call on that one.
Your profile says you're working on an 18-volume series. What the hell is *that* all about? That sounds a little bit crazy. Do you really have 18 stories planned out?
Yeah, I actually do have an idea of how all 18 stories will play out in this series, and how they all build on each other. When I first came up with several of the characters who populate the series, it was for the story which now occupies the 14th spot of the 18 novels. I took a couple of years to develop the main conflict of the story and a subplot--the internal conflict of the two principal protagonists. The more I worked on this secondary conflict, the more I realized, "This story would be even MORE awesome, if there was some build-up to this excruciating choice these two characters have to make!" I figured if readers were more invested in the characters, the internal conflict would become more dramatic and powerful.

And at that point a series was born.

I'd grown up in churches that taught that the Tribulation was about to begin any day now, and that the Antichrist was going to take over the world and God was going to slaughter about 2/3 of the world's population of (Mostly) wicked people. So I've always had this interest in apocalypticism. So I began trying to figure out how to roll my apocalyptic interests into the series I was coming up with.

It took another decade for the series to build into the 18-volume monstrosity that NIGHTFALL has now become. Along the way, I wrote one complete novel--Dogfight, a werewolf story--but I knew the story had problems, and I didn't yet know how to fix them. Dogfight was going to be the introduction to the series (back before I was calling it NIGHTFALL, before the overall series even had a title), but one of my writer friends (Stephan Loy, whose work appears here on Smashwords and other platforms, including Amazon) who loved Dogfight said at one point, "I wanna know how this guy [Paul Reagan, who is a principal protagonist in over half the stories] got to be this way!" Because, honestly, Paul is a bit of a nut.

So I started thinking about that, and I backtracked from Dogfight to Paul's childhood, which is explored in the novella SLUTSHAME and the full-length novel ICEBITCH.

And DOGFIGHT, which was going to the the first of a five- or six-novel series, got moved back to the eighth of an 18-volume series and will receive a complete rewrite.

Meanwhile, I fell in love with a woman whose childhood was rough, and yet she became this highly intelligent, creative, beautiful person. And while I wrestled with her emotional baggage and my own, I learned that I suffer from a personality disorder and from recurrent Major Depressive Disorder. So I became interested in how people overcome difficult pasts and also in the impact of mental illness.

Also, somewhere along the way, I stopped believing in the Bible.

So now, the NIGHTFALL series is dealing with mental illness, the tension between religion and secularism in America, spirituality in general, American culture and politics, paranormal creatures, the psychology of abuse and trauma, and how violence impacts us all. And I decided that each story was going to have a principal paranormal theme--in ICEBITCH, that principal paranormal theme is ghosts and demons--along with a secondary theme which is cultural. In ICEBITCH, that secondary theme is the psychology of sexual abuse.

And I've lined up 18 of these stories with what is now a small army of characters, and I FUCKING LOVE the story I'm telling. It's George R. R. Martin-esque in scope, although my novels tend to be more complete stories than Martin's. Whereas he has a dozen protagonists per novel, I focus in on just a couple per book to tell more tightly focused tales. And whereas there's not really much of a resolution at the end of Martin's SONG OF ICE AND FIRE stories--it's just "to be continued" until you get to the end (if there ever *is* an end)--I hope to give my readers a series of complete stories where they could read one book and enjoy it and not feel like they have a choice to ether read all the rest of the series or be completely robbed. However, for those who read the entire NIGHTFALL series, I hope to give them a satisfying story of a group of people who witness and play a role in the end of the world as we know it.
It sounds like you're saying you think you're as good a writer as--or maybe even better than--George R R Martin!
Oh, I'm not saying anything of the sort. I know I don't write as well as he does. I'm just saying that in the same way that he's writing this massive series of epic fantasy, I'm working on what I've started thinking of as a series of epic horror. If people like the moral ambiguity and politics and religious themes of Martin's work, they *might* enjoy the way I explore those ideas in a world that's a lot more like the one we live in.

Except in the world of NIGHTFALL, angels and demons and werewolves and vampires all exist; and sometimes, creatures come over to our world from other worlds.
It seems you're writing a series entitled NIGHTFALL, and SLUTSHAME is part of that series, but it's Volume 0.5. What's going on with that?
My original plan was to write a short story that I could offer for free to people who liked ICEBITCH while I'm working on DEMONBIRTH. However, that short story quickly ballooned into 40,000+ words. So it's not all that "short". Also, I've been working on ICEBITCH for five years off and on, and I really wanted to take a break from it and write about something else, because whipping that story into shape has turned into a gigantic headache, even though I love ICEBITCH to pieces.

What I consider to be the heart--the emotional core--of ICEBITCH is when Autumn and Paul (who are both 17 yrs old) deal with the fallout from an incident that occurred when they were twelve years old that transformed them from best friends into strangers. A past secret is unearthed in ICEBITCH which totally transforms the way Autumn and Paul look at each other. SLUTSHAME doesn't delve directly into that crucial incident, but it looks at the events that led up to it. It sheds some light on Autumn's psychological state when she was ten and twelve years old, and it shows what Paul was like at that age, and it examines how kids might try to deal with trauma that's beyond their developmental coping abilities. I hope that some of my readers will fall in love with both Autumn and Paul the way I have and want to learn more about the way they related to each other when they were younger.

So while SLUTSHAME fits into the NIGHTFALL series, it's not one of the 18 full-length novels I have planned. It's a bonus story that's under 50,000 words, so I'm calling it a novella, even though it's really a short novel.

I also plan to write another novella that'll take place between DEMONBIRTH (vol 2 of NIGHTFALL) and OATHBREAKERS (vol 3), which will explore Autumn and Ike's relationship with each other. I don't have a title for that (although I'm now leaning toward UNHOLYLAND), and I might not write it in sequence with the rest of the series, but that novella will be 2.5. And I may or may not insert more novellas in between the really big novels. It just depends on if I want add depth to some of the character relationships as I tried to do with Autumn and Paul in SLUTSHAME and as I hope to do with Autumn and Ike in that 2.5 novella.
You mention "novellas" and "the really big novels." What do you mean by that?
I have a feeling that all my novels are going to be huge (I'm talking word count here, not financial success. Although I wouldn't complain if I made a ton of cash from them). ICEBITCH is over 200,000 words. DEMONBIRTH is going to be between 150,000 and 200,000 words--and I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see it finally weigh in at over 200,000 words, too. And these stories don't get simpler as they go on. They're all pretty complex. I want to include elements of mystery and suspense. I want to deal principally with two characters' stories in each novel, with the two stories intertwining at the climax. I want to explore these various tropes and myths that appear in horror and paranormal fantasy (ghosts, witches, demons, werewolves, vampires, etc). I want to say something about the culture we live in--what's good about our society and what's bad. I also want to explore a lot of psychological territory. That should be clear to anyone who reads ICEBITCH and SLUTSHAME.

One of my goals for the first six stories of the NIGHTFALL series is to show Autumn overcoming her childhood trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder to become a healthy, mature adult who can help other people overcome their problems. To accomplish all of the goals I just listed, these stories will have to be long. I guess I could try to simplify my stories to make them shorter, but then I wouldn't like them as much. So it looks like I'm going to keep writing big monster novels [look at that double meaning there! I'm so goddamn clever!].
What are you working on next?
Well, I'm finishing up ICEBITCH right now, which is the story of Autumn Faust dealing with the ghost of a girl who died in 1978. I've already begun work on DEMONBIRTH, which is volume 2 of the NIGHTFALL series. Where ICEBITCH deals with ghosts and demons, DEMONBIRTH goes into a little more depth on the demon subject and also explores American ideas about angels.

Where ICEBITCH's internal theme is about the psychology of sexual abuse, DEMONBIRTH's internal theme deals with the Problem of Evil.

Following DEMONBIRTH will be OATHBREAKERS, which will deal with demons and warlocks. But its internal theme will be about the conflict inherent in making promises one later regrets. All of my titles have at least a double meaning. I call the third novel OATHBREAKERS for several reasons, one of which is the fact that the word "warlock" literally means "promise breaker" or "oath breaker."
Who are your favorite authors?
I've already mentioned several. Anne Rice, for sure. Christopher Moore. Peter Straub. I love authors who deal with the supernatural. I like George R R Martin's stories, but they're a little frustrating at the same time. He kills off so many characters. But I'm probably gonna do the same goddamn thing.

Neal Stephenson is a favorite of mine. I loved Snow Crash, Cyrptonomicon, REAMDE, and the Baroque Cycle.

I've read a lot of Stephen King. I don't read every new thing he puts out like I used to, but there's no arguing that he's influenced my writing, and I wouldn't want to have never read his books.

Mary Doria Russell's sci fi book The Sparrow was one of the great explorations of the intersection of religion and science. The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle was another good one.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I already told you I have recurrent Major Depressive Disorder. Who the hell said I get out of bed every day?
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Mostly, I wallow in poverty and think about writing. Even when I'm reading or watching a movie, I'm thinking, "What can this chick or dude (whether they be a director or an author or a screenwriter) teach me about storytelling?"
What is your writing process?
When I first started writing, I wanted to come up with an opening scene and figure out from there where the story would take me AS I WROTE IT. That was a stupid approach for me. I can't finish anything that way.

So what I do now, is I ask myself, "What is this story about?" whether it's about "the psychology of sexual abuse" or "the Problem of Evil."

Then I line up my characters and figure out what their arcs are. All the major players in the novel will have a beginning, a middle, and an end to their individual stories.

Then I figure out, "How does tension escalate in this story?" A story where the beginning is a lot more tense than the ending is a poorly crafted story, in my opinion. If you can't raise the stakes throughout the story, your audience is going to be disappointed at the end or maybe even halfway through.

And finally, I figure out how to resolve the conflicts--hopefully in a satisfying way.

I already have an idea where the overall series is heading for each of the main characters, so I make sure the individual stories make sense within that framework--so that just as tension escalates over the course of a novel, tension also escalates over the course of the series.

I've also begun using music to give my stories a variety of emotions and moods. For each chapter I write, I select one song that covers the themes or moods or emotions I want to address. Sometimes I select the songs before I even come up with the story, and the songs help me decide how the plot will flow and build towards the climax. Sometimes I already know the plot when I choose a song, and the song just helps me focus on the emotion I want to evoke. And then sometimes, I pick a song after the fact which reflects material I've already written. And get this--my incredibly awesome playlists for my books are available on my YouTube channel! Just search on YouTube for "Dick Grimm writer," and BOOM. There you are. Lots of music to listen to. I've also got ads for my books there, set to music. And I've recorded myself reading a few chapters of ICEBITCH, if you want to hear my voice. Because hearing me reading this material is every person's dream, right? I have a playlist for every novel in the series, along with a few other books I'm working on, but I only make the playlists public for the books that are already available and for the books I'm in the process of writing in earnest.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm cheap and lazy. I find a free (public domain) image--generally classical artwork with a thematic or a metaphorical connection to the story I'm telling--and I slap my name and the novel's title on there.

I make my book covers on Canva.com, although my good friend Stephan Loy was kind enough to do some work to tweak my cover for the novella SLUTSHAME.
Well, thanks for your time, Dick.
Dude. You don't have to thank me. You're actually *me*. I didn't sit down with another real-live human being and answer their questions. I either made up my own questions, or else I used the auto-prompt questions that Smashwords provided.
Published 2017-05-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Slutshame
Series: NIGHTFALL. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 50,690. Language: English. Published: August 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
(5.00)
SLUTSHAME A missing girl with a reputation. A shallow grave beside a creek. And two preteen kids in over their heads. Autumn Faust sees ghosts. Paul Reagan loves adventure. But when they uncover clues about a murder, will anyone pay attention to them? Or will they attract no one's attention but the killer's? SLUTSHAME is the harrowing tale of two kids confronted with adult crimes.
The Werewolf at the Grocery Store (a very short story)
Price: Free! Words: 1,500. Language: American English. Published: August 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
(4.00)
You meet all kinds of strange people at the grocery. Some of them may not even be people. Some of them may be werewolves.