Interview with Armando D. Muñoz

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I did all of my K-12 schooling in Carson City, Nevada, and right in the middle of that, my interest in horror bloomed, faster than puberty.

Carson City was a smaller size city in a large, desolate state, with a lot of unsavory layers within it, the State Capitol buildings mixed with casinos and churches and a federal prison that did executions just a few miles away. Hearing about jailbreaks was not uncommon, and terrifying knowing the prison was just across the fields beyond the back yard fence. Those long nights I would be waiting for an unexpected knock at the doors or windows.

Stephen King frequently writes about Derry and Castle Rock, modest size fictional towns in Maine that are host to many terrible forces. It was easy for me to see Carson City as Nevada's equivalent of Castle Rock, only real, a dangerous and bad town occupied by evil. I felt justified in this comparison a few years later, after I moved away, when Stephen King wrote about Carson City in a few of his novels after passing through on a motorcycle trip and finding something off about it, off enough to write about.

I may have moved away, but I will return to Carson City in my upcoming novel Turkey Day.
What's the story behind your book Hoarder?
I love a good horrible house story, where the house is haunted, a killer's lair, or a death trap. The house you can't escape from, whether out in the middle of nowhere or right next door. With Hoarder, I wanted to build the most horrible house I could imagine.

I find hoards horrifying. The contents of them, the danger of them, and sometimes the psychopathology that creates them. Mixing a hoard with horror seemed like a perfect fit, a location that contains an excess of shocks and scares. I hope that when the reader opens Hoarder, they feel uncomfortably trapped in that house and hoard, afraid that it could collapse on them or swallow them up at any moment.

The hoarder mindset is not unfamiliar to me. There was a period on my life where my own collecting became excessive to the point where I had to make changes to reduce my stuff. I can understand hoarders and sympathize with many of them. But the reality is, sometimes a really bad person hoards. My hoarder is terror by the tons.
When did you first start writing?
Once I started to read, namely Star Wars books, I immediately started to rewrite them, first changing character names, then changing locations, until I started creating new scenes.

At the same early age, before I had a television in my room, I made my own television out of box, with the screen cut out and slits in the sides, where I would pull through a strip of storyboards, with story and characters drawn and written in each panel, original shows similar to the cartoons and programs I liked. I would then write my own TV Guide each week, where I would create a programming schedule for my shows every day, and I would stick to that schedule to watch my storyboard TV programs.

So what I'm doing now, writing books and writing/directing films, were the first interests I remember engaging in. Creating wild stories.
What are you working on next?
My second novel, Turkey Day, is complete and nearing release in the first half of 2016. Hopefully, for readers and horror fans, next Thanksgiving will be a new holiday for fear, on par with Halloween and Friday the 13th.

My novel Hoarder has a streak of dark humor running throughout, much like my short horror films. Turkey Day, however, is mostly devoid of humor, as I work toward a more serious tone and much bigger scares.

Turkey Day will be the first book in a series, and I'm halfway through the continuation.
Who are your favorite authors?
In early 1985, I picked up my first Stephen King title, Cujo, and followed that up with every King book I could get my hands on. He immediately became my favorite author.

One year later, I picked up my first Clive Barker book, Books of Blood Volume One, when it first hit US bookshelves, and I've picked up every novel he's written since.

To this day, King and Barker remain my favorite authors, and I pick up every new hardcover on the release day. They don't write exactly the same as when I first started reading them, nor should they. After decades of honing their craft they've gotten better. I am constantly inspired by their evolving imaginations and tireless work ethics.
Do you remember the first horror novel you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first horror novel I read was Amityville: The Final Chapter by John G. Jones. At twelve years old, I was easily susceptible to the scares, although I found it kind of silly and I definitely didn't believe it was a true story. Regardless, the book made me want to explore the horror genre further.

I then picked up my second horror novel, Stephen King's Cujo, and that is the book that solidified my interest in horror writing. At twelve, I recognized that Cujo was a much more sophisticated and suspenseful work than Amityville: The Final Chapter, and it felt both forbidden and educational, so far as how the adult world worked. I quickly followed Cujo with Firestarter, Carrie, Night Shift, Christine, and all of King's past paperback, leading to my first hardcover King purchase of It in 1986. I still have that dogeared paperback of Cujo that I first read on my bookshelf.
How do you approach cover design?
Designing my book covers isn't much different from designing the posters for my films. I have worked with a variety of artists to bring these posters and covers to life, but I always have a strong early concept to work with and direction to go. The artwork and tag lines often come before the project is finished. Its a fun part of the creative process that I put a great deal of thought into.

I am completely satisfied with the Hoarder cover. The book looks great in a reader's hand, or in a reader's hoard! Special thanks to Kevin Mangold for executing this eye catching design and Tori Pulkka for taking the cover photo.

I'm having more of a dilemma in designing the cover for my next novel Turkey Day, because I have a number of cover designs that I love, but have to narrow them down to just one.
How much violence is appropriate for a horror novel, and how much is too much?
Each horror story dictates the level of violence that it needs. A good scare does not always require violence, and yet some of the biggest and most memorable scares are graphic. I like a mix of techniques to create a scare, including great suspense, atmosphere, and sometimes shocking bouts of ultra violence.

Hoarder has a few strong bloody scenes, but most of the time it is gross without gore. Hoarder is a filth horror novel, filled with a great number of rotten and nasty things.

I don't believe there can be too much violence for a horror novel, it just becomes an extreme type of novel for readers who enjoy that material. The graphic gore is certainly part of the appeal of Clive Barker's horror novels or other titles like American Psycho and Hannibal.

My next novel, Turkey Day, is a much bloodier book than Hoarder. Turkey Day is a great day for carving!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I can't recall the first story I wrote, but I do have a memorable story about a story I wrote in school, in the 9th grade. I was an honors English class student all throughout school, and always eager to read and write. I was definitely the bookworm, nerd type.

For this particular assignment, the teacher wanted everyone to write a short story, a fiction that had to be two pages long. Well, for some reason I saw this as a challenge to create the most elaborate story I could. And terrifying, to mirror the horror novels I was reading steadily at this time.

I didn't get much sleep that night, and the next day I returned to class with a horror story between thirteen and sixteen pages long, with color illustrations. It took place on Halloween. It involved a sleepover of teens, where the power goes out and their worst fears come to life to kill them. It was a complete body count story. I was disappointed when I did not get an A+ for effort alone. I thought the story was good and complete with three acts, but the teacher found it too scary and violent. Particularly the scene where the jack-o-lantern lights up by itself and flies off the nightstand, hitting a kid in the doorway, where they explode. This homework assignment ended with world annihilation by nuclear war, one upping the ending of my favorite film at the time, Return of the Living Dead.

My classmates' stories were read aloud. Mine was not.
Describe your desk
To add to Hoarder's mystique, I'll say there's no accessible desktop in a hoard, so it was written atop an old television with the screen busted out and a nest of rats living inside.

For my following novel Turkey Day, I graduated to carving my tale atop a blood stained chopping block.
Published 2016-01-29.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Turkey Day
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 118,110. Language: American English. Published: November 21, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
On Thanksgiving morning, Kelly and her wife Angela return to Kelly’s rural childhood home for a family reunion. Not everyone welcomes them to the feast; like the country, they are a family divided. Also in attendance is a secret guest in an intricate turkey costume, somebody who hollows out humans and decorates with their insides. Can Kelly and Angela survive until Thanksgiving dinner?
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 79,030. Language: English. Published: October 23, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
Four teens break into the house of town kleptomaniac Missy to reclaim a stolen bike and cat. Inside, they encounter a shocking, rotten, and treacherous hoard. The teens find themselves trapped when Missy returns home early from her weekly shopping spree. Missy welcomes them, but her mirth soon gives way to madness, and she will resort to murder to keep her new friends and add them to her hoard.