Thanks for doing this interview for Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews!
CHHR: What does a typical writing day look like for you? Do you have any writing quirks?
RM: At the moment, I’m not sure there is a typical day. Some days I’ll get up early before the rest of the house wakes, get a few pages down, then revisit them later in the afternoon. More often, I’ll stay up late and go for a few hours, particularly if I’m on a roll. I don’t necessarily have any quirks, though I do have a favorite writing shirt that I like to wear. Depending on the time of day, I’ll drink a hot cup of coffee or a glass of scotch while I work.
CHHR: How many drafts and edits do you make on a manuscript before you send in the finished product?
RM: I tend to edit as I write, so I may go over a particular chapter or section a few times after I’ve written it before moving on. After I turn it into my editor, we general go through one round of strong edits followed by a cursory review with a copyeditor.
CHHR: What influenced you to write Bone White? Are there any characters in Bone White that you relate to?
RM: For a story to interest me and get me writing, I’ve got to find that story’s metaphorical “open window” for me to climb through and access it. For Bone White, I liked the dichotomy between the two brothers. They’re identical twins, but their personalities reside on opposite ends of the spectrum. I’ve got two brothers—in fact, the book is dedicated to them—so I can certainly relate to those types of relationships, and the themes that come along with them. There were some other moral questions that I was interested in tackling, too, which prompted me to write the book, although to talk about them here would be to spoil some of the revelations in the novel.
CHHR: Which of your books is your favorite? Which one was the most fun to write?
RM: Each new novel tends to be my favorite, so Bone White is up there right now. I tend to appreciate one of my novels more when the finished product tends to be as close to how I’d originally envisioned the story—so often, when the actual writing process begins, stories tend to change into something other than the thing you first thought them to be, so I find some satisfaction in being able to capture that initial vibe I had when I first thought of it on paper. Those books would be Little Girls, The Night Parade, December Park, and Floating Staircase.
I enjoyed writing them all for different reasons, but possibly December Park was the most enjoyable because it was also my most autobiographical, and I allowed myself some time to revisit places I knew in real life—even though I’ve altered them in the novel—and even friends that I knew back when I was younger. It was a joy to write that book, even though it took some work to get it to its final version.
CHHR: What was your first published book?
RM: It was a fluffy sci-fi novel called The Space Between, which is now, blessedly, out of print.
CHHR: When it comes to writing, what advice would you give your younger self?
RM: I probably wouldn’t go back and say anything, for fear I’d gum up the works. But seriously, I think every writer at some point struggles with their own identity—who they are, or should be, as a writer. I think that only confuses things. I’d say write for yourself, write what you have a passion for, and if you’re not enjoying it, write something else. That’s good advice for the present-day version of myself, too, by the way.
CHHR: Do you prefer outlining your books or do you let the story take you where it’s going?
RM: I don’t outline. I’ve attempted this on a few occasions, only to find that when the story is so fully fleshed out in an outline—or sometimes even just in my head—I lose all interest in actually writing the story. To keep me interested, I need to question characters’ motivations, and where they take the plot, as I’m writing. I approach writing as if I’m the first reader, and the story and characters need to keep my interest throughout. I’ve found that outline sort of kills that magic.
CHHR: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out?
RM: Read voraciously.
Ronald Malfi, Biography
Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Bone White, this summer’s release from Kensington.
In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.
Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.
Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at http://www.ronmalfi.com.