Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Horror with Heart: A few minutes with Keith Pyeatt

Today, I’m pleased to introduce author Keith Pyeatt. For the past few months I’ve had the privilege of editing his novel, Dark Knowledge, which is due for release through Lyrical Press, Inc. in October. Keith has been an absolute pleasure to work with and I'm not ashamed to say he taught me a thing or two about our craft.

So, without further ado, I'll begin by sharing Keith's biography, just to give you a little more background, before plunging into a little Q&A.

Keith Pyeatt spent a decade living in an isolated log cabin he built in northeastern Vermont. He began that decade an engineer and came out of it a novelist. One can only imagine what happened out there in those rural woods of Vermont that turned him, because he won't talk about it, but he writes horror.

Keith's first published novel is Struck, a paranormal thriller set in Albuquerque, a nearby pueblo, and the Anasazi ruins in Chaco Canyon. Dark Knowledge will be out on October 19.

In a nutshell, tell us about Dark Knowledge, and what sparked the idea for this novel.

Dark Knowledge is Flowers for Algernon with a Dean Koontz twist. It's about a mentally challenged man who can't resist a gift of knowledge, but it comes with a dark destiny. He's thrust into a deadly contest where he must fight for his life while piecing together his mind and his heritage. The more he learns, the harder it becomes to distinguish good from evil. The greater his intellect, the more difficult his choices – and sacrifices – become.

My spark was a desire to write a different kind of good vs. evil story, where the extremes couldn't be separated, sometimes not even identified. I also wanted to let loose my imagination in wild and wicked ways, and the alternate worlds in Dark Knowledge gave me that opportunity. The resulting novel is tough on my hero, imposing psychological tension on top of the physical threats, but it was tough love. He's stronger for it. The perk was that I didn't have to worry about momentum. Pace took care of itself.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading and look up to? What is it about their writing that fires up your imagination?

I read various genres and find inspiration from any writer who holds me in their fictional world by letting me move into the character(s) so I live the story as opposed to always being aware that I'm reading about it.

Like so many horror writers, Stephen King hooked me on paranormal thrillers, and I admire his character building and story-telling skills. Jonathan Kellerman triggered my love of psychological novels with his Alex Delaware series. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler left me inspired over the power of characterization. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz fired me up for well-written paranormal novels. More recent reads (not necessarily recent novels) that inspired me with story-telling, story, and characterization were Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and Pompeii by Robert Harris. The classic horror of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House inspires me as a horror writer who loves character development.

Have you ever had any weird, inexplicable experiences, or heard about some that may have crept into your novels?

I have had inexplicable experiences. They're too personal to put into my novels, but they opened my sometimes overly logical mind so wide it hasn't closed again. Letting my imagination wander into areas previously closed off has helped me write paranormal fiction (and, I think, be a better person). I'm still a bear about making my characters react logically and arrive at logical conclusions, but what they're reacting to often comes from that wide open area of my mind.

What scares you?

Writing has helped me understand some of my fears, and they often center on losing control, especially of my mind. Some aspect of being possessed and/or replaced and losing the essence of oneself tends to creep into my novels. Water and swamp critters with big teeth and dead eyes scare me--alligators, crocodiles, sharks and moray eels. Things I can't see but I can hear or smell or just feel are near and threatening scare me.

Are you willing to give hints about your next project?

I'm superstitious about my works-in-progress and don't discuss specifics, but I'm excited about what I've got going. I've enjoyed writing a few novels with distinct but somewhat subdued paranormal elements, but now I'm returning to some of the things I enjoyed about Dark Knowledge. My next novel will be even darker than Dark Knowledge, with a strong paranormal element, but if it works out the way I have planned (which isn't always the case with my novels), the threat will come from man, and it'll be the paranormal element that's in jeopardy, the opposite of Dark Knowledge.

What is your advice to aspiring authors?

In addition to the usual advice about reading widely and writing continuously, I recommend writers learn their craft and then learn some more. A clever or thrilling tale is great, but there's a lot of competition. Unless you're connected, famous, or infamous, you need every edge to get a publishing contract. I advise aspiring writers to finish their book or story, find good critique groups, work hard, be open, and learn from giving critiques as well as from getting them. Then write another story or book. Then another. Keep going back to early works and use sharpened skills to improve them.

Local writers' organizations can be a great asset and can even help writers find critique groups, but if there aren't organizations near you, go online. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the critique groups and helpful sites you can find on the internet. Keep improving. There will always be room to get even better than you are now. That's the fun and the curse of writing.

Link it! Find out more about Keith and his novels:
Keith's Website: http://www.keithpyeatt.com/
Keith's Blog: http://www.keithpyeatt.blogspot.com/
Keith's Author's Den Page: http://www.authorsden.com/keithpyeatt
See what others are saying and purchase Struck at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Struck-Keith-Pyeatt/dp/1935053175/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246886110&sr=8-1
Prepare for Dark Knowledge by visiting Lyrical Press: http://www.lyricalpress.com/keith_pyeatt


Horror with Heart said...

Thanks, Nerine. You're as talented an interviewer as you are an editor. Great questions. I'll be around in case anyone has additional questions or comments.

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Keith, to Frightening Journeys! We are pleased you could join us today. Dark Knowledge sounds deliciously terrifying.

Great interview and first post, Nerine!

Horror with Heart said...

Thanks, Bethany. I'm glad to be here. I lucked out landing Nerine as my editor, and I think we made a great team as we gave Dark Knowledge a high-gloss shine in preparation for its October 19th release. Now I get to hang out with Nerine some more and make new friends here. I'm a lucky man.

Jill Lynn said...


Congratulations on the stellar reviews you've been receiving for STRUCK, and may DARK KNOWLEDGE find equal, if not greater, success. I've read the first chapter of DARK KNOWLEDGE, and love, love, love it! I can't wait to read the whole novel.

Word verification: worwoof. What's your take on that, Mr. Paranormal Writer? HA.

Horror with Heart said...

Worwoof. Ha! I think it's from baby's first horror novel. The second is about "wampwias."

I've kept you hanging on Dark Knowledge a long, long time, my friend. And I'm glad you're still looking forward to reading beyond the first chapter. Only a month or so more to wait...


My word verification is picab, and I don't know what to do with that one (other than type it in the little box).

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Excellent interview. You're an inspiration, Keith, and well deserving of great success. Hoping I see you on tv soon! hint!

Horror with Heart said...

Thanks, Joylene. I'm getting more comfortable behind a speaker's podium lately, but I don't think I'm ready for my close-up, Ms. Demille.

Hope your radio readings are going well. If you build up an audience, you may need to put Dead Witness in audio form.

Dawn McClure said...

Loved your line - Dark Knowledge is Flowers for Algernon with a Dean Koontz twist. I read Flowers for Algernon a long time ago, but the book still stays with me all these years later. :)

I'm hooked! I'll be adding your book to my TBR pile.

Question - Being a fan of Stephen King's, have you picked up his book, On Writing? I adore that book. Great motivation.

Horror with Heart said...

Thanks, Dawn. I like being on TBR piles. *smile* It's been a few years, but I did read King's On Writing. He has some great things to say, and I like his approach to things. Interesting man.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Koontz fan, I'll admit it, but horror with heart snagged me before I even read the description of your book. Sold!;) Dark Knowledge sounds very good and I'm happy to "meet" a new-to-me author to try on Frightening Journeys today.

Horror with Heart said...

Nice to meet you too, embracetheshadows, and I appreciate knowing horror with heart snagged you. My novels can be hard to categorize, as my Struck reviews at Amazon confirm, so I came up with that as a "brand." I think it fits, and I hoped it would do some snagging.

Embrace the shadows does you proud too. Nice.

Nichole R. Bennett said...

A big Black Hills welcome to both Keith and Nerine!

Horror with Heart said...

Well Hello up there in South Dakota. Thanks, Nichole. It's a pleasure to be here.

belkowta said...

Keith, I loved Struck, and your description of Knowledge certainly makes me anxious for its release. And I'm intrigued by your skirting the issue of your paranormal experiences. Personal, PAH! I'll just have to stalk you on facebook until you tell!


Tom B

Horror with Heart said...

Hey Tom, you little stalker, you. Ha. I had a fun surprise this morning. The Kindle Edition of Dark Knowledge came out early. It's available on Amazon for $5.50. WooHoo!


Javila said...

Excellent interview, Keith and Nerine.

Having read four of your novels, Keith, I just KNOW you are going to be bigger than King and Koontz combined. And you deserve to be bigger. Your stories are gripping, imaginative and scary as hell. Your protagonists step right off the page and into the reader's heart. And your antagonists strike terror to the marrow of one's bones.

Plus, I love you to pieces!!! (Jack, too.)


Horror with Heart said...

I love having good friends, but it's even better when they're completely supportive and hugely talented like Judy. Thanks, JuJu.