Originally from Rhode Island, Richard Writhen also lived in NYC for about ten years. He has been e-published on several notable sites such as Techzwn.com, Grimdarkmagazine.com and Ragnarokpub.com and is the author of three novellas on Amazon KDP; A Kicked Cur, A Host of Ills and The Hiss Of The Blade. Richard also writes short form works in the styles of Gothdark, Grimdark, GDSF and Psychological Horror, and will eventually be exploring the weird west.
What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
Hello, thanks for featuring me; my nom de plume is Richard Writhen. I just released my first three novellas on Amazon KDP. Two of them were originally published as serials, one on a third party site and one on my WordPress; they are what I like to call Gothdark, which is a style that behaves like Grimdark, but is based on weird and gothic fiction. The third one, however, is all-new material; it’s my attempt at a purer, more Grimdark style. I like these sub-genres because I can use parallel world ideation, yet the characters and tropes behave much like reality. The end result is something that hopefully not only has a depth to it, but also rings true; you want the reader to say, “Wow …how many times have I scratched the back of my own head like that?” or whatever, and begin to identify with the characters as much as possible.
Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
My favorite thing about all three of them is probably the length. I love novellas; they’re shorter to write, shorter to read, and more to the point. I’m a big Narnia and Prydain fan; I want to be completely transported to a fantasy world, completely immersed, then kicked right back out on my ass in a timely fashion.
Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
Someone usually dies. Or gets wasted, then goes outside and kills someone.
If I were stuck in a room with your main character, what would we be doing?
Well, the main character of my first series, Lucylis Sontire, is a writer and sorcerer, so writing. The second series’ protagonist is Renita Blane … we’d skip rope indoors or something. She’s very effervescent. And the third series’ main character I guess would be Nick Khavel … who is a master thief, so picking someone’s pockets or a door-lock.
How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?
I don’t think in terms of pages in micro, but sometimes in macro I’ll work out projected length to page ratio, like say 36K is 120 pages or whatever. With word count, I shoot as high as I can, but I value quality over quantity, and often wind up with a number in the hundreds as opposed to the thousands. But that actually can help you in a sense, as less editing may be required to achieve a finished work. I see a lot of stuff that people post on Facebook about word sprints and count brags and think to myself, “Yeah … about all that.”
If you could change any one thing about the writing industry, what would it be?
It seems a bit sedentary more than anything else; not very receptive to new things, and subs can take quite a long time even now in the digital information age. If something takes off, like a Hunger Games or Twilight or whatever, then one can look forward to like ten years of clones at that point. Also, if one does not have a “name” yet, they are almost completely shrugged off; but this is not always the case, there are some resources for new writers that I admire, such as Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off.
You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
I read a lot of King and Barker in my early teens and wrote a few stories and an entire comic book which I later wound up throwing out. Same with my twenties, and a few early attempts at a narrative. I would tell young people to save everything to use it at a later date; the current term for this process is “cannibalism.” Also, to preferably begin submitting to paid markets before reaching their thirties if they feel able, due to the apparent length of the process. I had no idea how any of this worked when I first became active as an amateur about four years ago; and I’m still pretty much in the dark, as there is no tried-and-true method.
Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
I just use a HP notebook connected to a Samsung LED screen so I can see the letters larger as I age. For software, I use LibreOffice now, but in conjunction with OpenOffice if something isn’t displaying properly and then always Word for submissions. I tried Scrivener but found it unwieldy for what I do personally; some people swear by it like the second coming. I would rather just make a manual timeline and scenelist that look like basic programming, as long as they are effective.
Describe your muse.
My muse is a very dark and cold one; whips are too expensive, so I don’t self-flagellate and thus choose to write in lieu of that. All that weird fiction, the Lovecraft and Chambers, a little bit of Blackwood and Machen, crossed with the work of the corner-stone Grimdark authors and even the King James Version of the bible influence my work.
What piece of art, that is not writing, moves you?
I actually find myself very influenced by painters and musicians almost as much as other writers, in a way. I listen to a lot of metalcore and deathcore music, and then I am also a big fan of the baroque painters such as Salvator Rosa, Francesco Hayez, Frans Hals, Rubens, Van Dyck and Caravaggio.
If we wanted a good story—book, show or movie—one that you didn’t write, where would you send us?
Stephen King, George Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, Paul Tremblay, there are some crazy talented, genius-level writers out there. For movies, I like Dark Castle’s stuff, David Fincher, Scorcese, Ridley Scott, early Tarantino, and of course John Carpenter; I love ITMOM and The Thing with a fervent passion.
You have a chance to hang out with any literary character for one day. Who would it be and what would you do?
Me and Buck from The Call of the Wild can run amok around the forest; I would like that.
If you could choose any other writer, living or dead, to be your mentor, whom would you choose and why?
I’m a Lovecraft person, through and through. I consider him to be probably the best writer of all time, and after the Bible, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is my favorite document in the English language. The writers who were able to correspond with him during his lifetime were very fortunate.
FB Author page: facebook.com/wrychardwrycthen
Gothdark Speculative Fiction FB Group: facebook.com/groups/1787935258093459
More articles about his work:
The Planet, The Gods, and The Magic on MightyThorJRS
3 Flavors of Fantasy: Grimdark, Gothdark and Mythdark on Ragnarok Publications