Interview with Jack Kardiac

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
The majority of my ideas come from reading other books. I love to read, so when I’m getting into a book and trying to predict the direction it’s going to go I’m constantly surprised when the writer’s ability to trip me up. Usually, it’s a satisfying experience. But those times when I don’t like the ending or something else along the way, my mind instantly conjures up ways it could have turned out. If the idea is strong enough and I think it has potential, I’ll jot it down and flesh it out as a full-fledged story later on.
What do you think makes a good story?
My original answer was going to be “giant monsters,” but it occurs to me that not every story I’ve enjoyed has a giant monster in it. So… let me dig a little deeper.

The stories I like have to be pretty simple, without being weighed down with a bunch of needless distractions or chatter. Ideally, they should have a minimum amount of characters, good dialogue, a ticking clock of some sort and have a satisfying end. And by “satisfying end” I mean justice. I’m a sucker for justice, in all its forms. I want the bad guy to get what’s coming to him, and if he happens to lose a toe or a little blood along the way? Well, so be it. Sucks to be a bad guy.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
As I kid, I would’ve answered “flying” without a moment’s hesitation. But as a responsible adult who who grew up watching “The Greatest American Hero” and now understands that the sky is filled with bugs? I’m going to have to pass on the whole flying bit.

These days I’d go with invisibility. Again, I’m an introvert. As much as I like people one-on-one, I’d be just as happy if no one said anything to me all day. Being invisible would make this happen. (Except for those crazy people who talk to themselves all the time… those guys would drive me nuts…)
What does your writing process look like?
I begin with three primary components: Setting, Characters and Chronology. First I try to determine Where it’s happening, Who’s doing What and in what order. Once I have a basic idea outlined, I’ll try to flesh it out with specific scenes, snippets of dialogue and jot down a list of keywords to fit the story - thematic phrases, descriptive adjectives and the primary emotions I want to evoke in the reader. The more work and effort I put into the beginning of the story, the more satisfying the ending will be.
What authors have inspired you to write?
Peter David, one of the Marvel Comics writers for The Incredible Hulk back in the 90’s, is a virtuoso when it comes to interesting characters and dialogue that pops off the page. Matthew Reilly rewrote the rules of pulse-pounding action-adventure with Ice Station (then escalated the intensity with Area 7, Scarecrow and Scarecrow Returns). Finally, Alfred Hitchcock is the master of suspense, and taught me how short stories can be legitimate, thoroughly enjoyable forms of entertainment.
What are you reading now?
This week I discovered a flash fiction author, Chuck Grossart, and the guy is amazing. He’s able to write a compact, character-driven story that delivers genuine thrills (or chills, if you’re reading his horror stuff). Thoroughly impressed.

I’m also reading Richard Matheson’s classic collection, The Incredible Shrinking Man. Just like Bradbury and Hitchcock, Matheson had a large impact on my style of writing and the pace and delivery I aim for.
How did you come up with the title for Snapdragon?
My wife and I serve as dorm parents at an international school, and one day one of our kids was making Snickerdoodle cookies. She commented how much she loved the word, and I told her my favorite word was “Snapdragon,” partially because of its sound but primarily because of the imagery it elicits when you say the word aloud.

Seriously. Say it for me. Out loud.

“Snapdragon.”

Whether you scream it or whisper it, the word reverberates in your head. Snapdragon. I love it. So I wrote a story to go with it.
Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
I don’t dream as much as I used to, but I still get about 3-5 memorable ones a year. When I was a child I used to have a recurring dream where an alligator would crawl into my room and start to eat me from the feet up. I’d always wake up in a feverish sweat just as he got to my head.

To this day I have a long-standing hatred of alligators, and have taken great care to learn how to survive an attack should I ever be in that position again. And I will beat the living SNOT out of that thing! Stoopid alligator….
Do you have any suggestions for wannabe writers?
I suppose the first nugget of wisdom I’d like to impart is to fan the flame of your passion. You have the desire to write, so don’t give up so easily when the euphoric feeling of creating wears off and the hard work of becoming a bonafide writer settles in.

Ideas are easy. Writing is easy (for the most part). What separates those who would like to write “some day” and serious writers is really quite simple: Writers write. And rewrite. And rewrite. And then they rewrite again. They don’t stop rewriting and polishing and publishing and marketing their work until it’s done. (And it typically takes a loving third party to make the call.)

Secondly, there’s going to be a lot of writing advice out there, and much of it will be overwhelming or contradictory. Don’t freak out. Absorb what you can, process it and let the ones that resonate with you rise to the top. You – and you alone – know exactly what kind of writer you are or want to become. Learn from others but carve your own path. Embrace your inner Frankenstein and lumber forward, taking one stiff baby step at a time.

Finally, if you want to be a serious, professional writer you simply must read. There’s no excuse for a writer who doesn’t read regularly. To improve your skills you have to familiarize yourself with the work and how other professionals have done it. Conversely, don’t waste your time slogging through someone’s work that you hate. Life is short. Reading junk that will cloud your writing judgement is pointless. Read what makes you feel alive, afraid and amazed, and do it often.
What writing tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
First and foremost would be Evernote. I was late to the Evernote party, but now that I’m on board I use it every single day. When it comes to collecting and sifting through ideas for short stories (or novels, movies, etc.), it is indispensable. (And FREE!)

Secondly, Scrivener is the writing software that streamlines the novel creation process from concept to execution. Writing would be much, much more difficult without Scrivener in my life. Very affordable, flexible and powerful. Go get it now!
Do you have some handy links to help readers better stalk you and your work?
Why, yes. Yes, I do...

Website: www.JacKardiac.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8571070.Jack_Kardiac
Amazon Author Page: http://goo.gl/ClP6Lv
Smashwords: http://goo.gl/CLhNhO
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/4972454
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JacKardiac
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/360006563937252789/
Published 2014-10-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Squint: And 10 More Surprising Short Stories
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 83,140. Language: English. Published: January 14, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction, Fiction » Christian » Short stories
Using a deft mix of humor, horror and humanity, the 11 original stories in Squint feature some of the standard Jack Kardiac themes fans have come to love: creatures, super-powered people and swift justice for all! Whether you're a fan of peculiar children, gifted teens or stranger things, Squint is guaranteed to give you some surprises you won’t soon forget!
Room for One More
Price: Free! Words: 8,170. Language: English. Published: August 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author
A midnight carjacking victim comes up with a permanent solution.
Model Pet
Price: Free! Words: 3,730. Language: English. Published: October 21, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
A short story from the pages of Snapdragon. A friendly neighbor. One cat. One weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Written for fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Matheson and The Twilight Zone, Snapdragon features seven original short stories you can sink your teeth into.
Orange, Black and Blue
Price: Free! Words: 1,300. Language: English. Published: September 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
A starter single from the pages of Snapdragon. When fate catches up with a former baseball star he makes a desperate, last-minute play for freedom. Written for fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Matheson and The Twilight Zone, Snapdragon features seven original stories to sink your teeth into.
Snapdragon: And Six More Short Stories with Bite
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 28,680. Language: English. Published: October 19, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(5.00 from 1 review)
Written for fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Matheson and The Twilight Zone, Snapdragon brings you 7 original stories ranging from creepy creatures to unlikely assassins and a few sudden surprises. These are stories to sink your teeth into. But let the reader beware: some of these tales just might bite back…