NIGHT WORMS: I'm here with author Patrick Delaney. Patrick, thank you so much for joining me today!
PATRICK DELANEY: Thank you for having me, I'm thrilled to be here!
NW: So, for anyone who might be coming across your work for the first time, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
PD: I'd be happy to. I'm originally from LA County. I moved to Northern California when I turned 18 and I have 3 siblings. I've been writing short stories since I was in my early teens and wrote my first novel when I was 18. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and plan to pursue an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. I've been reading books since I was a kid, but Goosebumps were the first horror books I really got into, and they still hold a strong influence over me to this day. I enjoy my day job right now, so it's hard to think about going back to college, especially because it leaves me with so little time for reading and writing.
NW: Yeah I get that. Speaking of little time, how DO you find the time to write when you're also working a full-time job?
PD: That's a good question. It is difficult. As with most writers, I hope for a day when writing is my full-time job. Fortunately for me, my job is very accommodating as far as schedules, and I often have free days I can use to try and get in a couple of pages. For a while there my work was closed, and in that short two weeks, I was able to nearly finish my latest work in progress, which was fantastic. I'm the type of person who does well with routines, so I try and figure out what works for me and stick to it when I can.
NW: Yeah it seems like some people have been able to be very productive during quarantine Ok, let's talk about your process as a writer for a minute. You mentioned a routine. Do you plan a specific word count or a number of pages for each week, or how does that work?
PD: Well, although I try not to place too much of an emphasis on word count, it's always there in the back of my mind. For me, I try and aim for about 2,000 words for the days I write, but there are times I get close to 5,000 and I love those. Most times when I write, I like to go back through what I got down last time, so I go back through and reread my last couple of chapters. Page wise it's nice to be able to get to 5 or more, but on the days I hit ten I'm extra happy.
NW: It sounds like rereading what you wrote helps get yourself in the writing zone?
PD: Yeah, it definitely helps me zero in on where I am in the story. It's easy to get lost in your own work sometimes, so sticking to the path is important.
NW: Besides looking back over the previous day's work, do you have any quirks or must-haves when it comes to "getting in the zone” for writing?
PD: I've never really thought about that until now. I don't think there's any specifics really that I need. I'm pretty flexible when it comes to writing. Sometimes I write on my laptop at work, sometimes in a Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, but most times just at home on the couch.
NW: Ok fair enough. Have you ever experienced writer's block?
PD: Writer's block is an interesting thing for me. I see writers post all the time that they get it, but I've never really had that challenge. Once I start a story, I can usually power through it (at varying speeds of course). That being said, I think one of the hardest parts for me about writing is how to start a book. I think that is such a difficult part of the experience because you're figuring out what you want to start with and where you want to go with it. But once those things are down I can usually get it done.
NW: Yeah that makes sense. In my own writing getting started is always one of the most challenging parts. Ok, let's go back really quickly. You mentioned you wrote your first book when you were 18. That’s pretty impressive. Is that a published piece?
NW: Those comparisons alone make it sound awesome. And I hear it won some awards?
PD: It actually won two book awards, including the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYS) Gold and the Bronze from Readers' Favorite Book Awards. There was a gala in NYC for the IPPYS that was an absolute blast! It had an open bar and was hosted at this fancy restaurant/club in Times Square. That trip is still one of my fondest memories to this day. And it's always nice having your work validated.
NW: Wow I bet that was fun. That's a pretty neat success for your debut work. So, you wrote Dante's Town of Terror, and then what?
PD: My debut was the start of a trilogy, which continued in Dante's Wicked World. The third and final book in the series is unreleased thus far, but I hope to get it out next year at some point. I'm huge on having novels all set within the same universe, so every single one of my books will have ties to the others, whether they're standalone novels or not. I think it's fun for readers who are fans, though, who can make those connections and say "Hey! I know that name or this character!"
NW: I saw in some of your Instagram posts that you've had that first novel featured in your local Barnes and Noble? Can you tell me about that?
PD: Back when that book was released, I did a book signing here at the local Barnes and Noble to celebrate. It was a lot of fun, and I ended up seeing a ton of fans come out to buy a copy and chat. A lot of people will stop by my work and ask me to sign their books. It’s a lot of fun. And a week or so ago, my girlfriend and I were there so I could get Paul Tremblay's new book Survivor Song, and we happened to see a little display set up in the horror section that included my book.
NW: That’s so cool! Ok, let's talk about your upcoming book The House That Fell From the Sky. This isn't a part of your other trilogy, so what inspired you to write this book?
NW: So you decided to drop a haunted house smack dab in the middle of a city?
PD: Yeah, I wanted to take all these notions and turn them on their head. So I thought, why not have some sprawling mansion appear in some metropolitan city? Why not have something that the public knows without a doubt is extremely dangerous to be exposed to? I wanted to treat the house just as you would treat any other public hazard, and I wanted to make sure people knew that it was lethal and would harm them. That it wasn't a question of if, so much as a question of how.
NW: I see. So the house has this biohazard/radioactive feel to it?
PD: Precisely. The house does in fact disturb the environment around it, even more than the characters are aware of.
NW: I can say from reading the book that the house has a very alarming and spooky aura about it. What you’re saying reminds me of Annihilation a little bit.
PD: Yes! Annihilation was a big influence as well. I thought that novel was brilliant.
NW: Your book certainly feels like it has a unique take on the haunted house genre, but there also seem to be lots of other influences. Beyond haunted houses and Annihilation, can you speak to any other influences for this book?
PD: I almost feel like there are too many to name, but I'll try and say the ones that are most prevalent. Some of them are even referenced in the story by the characters themselves. Event Horizon was a big one. I saw that movie with a friend of mine and GOOD GOD it was creepy. I loved the concept of the ship going to hell and coming back and being possessed. And the stuff that happens on the ship is genuinely disturbing.
NW: Yeah, I remember the characters mentioning several works, including Inception and Event Horizon. There are also several parts that felt very Lovecraftian.
PD: The entire novel has many references to Lovecraft's work. The concepts of the unknown and cosmic horror were really pushed into the center stage with his stories, and those influenced many of the elements in my own story. There are also many nods to Stephen King and The Shining.
NW: Ok so you have this haunted house that does more than just haunt, but you also have these 4-5 main characters. Scarlett is such an interesting character to me. I love her personality and background as a horror vlogger. What was the inspiration for her? Why make her a vlogger?
PD: I based her character on Juno MacGuff from Juno. That movie is one of my favorites of all-time, and I absolutely love her witty/quirky sense of humor. Having Scarlett play the role of horror vlogger just seemed like a natural place for her to be in as a character. She likes to talk and loves connecting with people and being able to share her thoughts. And I also thought it might be fun for all the horror reviewers out there to be able to follow a character that they might encounter themselves on Instagram or YouTube.
NW: Oh I can totally see the Juno influence. And yes, the horror reviewer aspect hit home (part of what made me more curious about her).
PD: I spoke to a gentleman the other day who was dealing with the stresses of social media and reviewing and keeping up. I could totally understand that because I feel like that myself oftentimes. I don't review or even do half of what others do on there and it's exhausting. I thought that Scarlett would sort of be in a similar mindset, and just sort of tired so to speak.
NW: There's another interesting character named Vincent (an infamous magician). You could have easily left the book as “four friends explore a haunted house”. Why add a magician into the mix?
PD: Vincent was one of my favorite characters in the book. While you're certainly right, Vincent played the role of a compass in a way. All these characters are people that have lost their way, and they don't really know how to go on and move past the previous traumas in their lives. They're all stuck. Vincent on the other hand is wiser to a degree, and can see the deeper issues to their problems, but is very methodical in how he brings that information to light. Instead of merely telling them the problem, he uses his wits to help them come to those conclusions themselves.
NW: Yeah I like Vincent a lot. He’s a comforting presence when their world gets turned upside down.
PD: Here’s a fun fact: Vincent is based on Patrick Jane from The Mentalist. I binge-watched all the seasons from that show when I found it and absolutely loved his character! Loosely based, obviously, but a huge influence nonetheless.
NW: Very nice. It’s always interesting seeing where authors get their inspiration from. Speaking of, let's switch back to the house real quick. The building you’ve created is an incredibly imaginative and inventive setting. I love how each room or part of the house is completely different. How did you come up with the ideas for all these different rooms?
PD: While this is never explicitly said in the book, almost all the rooms in the house are based on memories or fragments of memories that the characters have. That's partially why oftentimes the rooms are so chaotic and unpredictable. Naturally, the house's original state does play a part in the design, but it's safe to say that what they see is often projected by their own thoughts. The lanterns and Red Room are one example that comes to mind that should be easy to connect. The intricacies are jumbled, though, and a huge mess to speak frankly, so it's not always obvious why they're the way they are.
NW: Do you have a favorite room in the house?
PD: The Gallery is probably my favorite room in the house. I'm not an author who likes to spell out things for the reader, that's just not my style. I do love to leave clues though sprinkled throughout so that you can sort of form this picture of what's happening and what's going on. The Gallery was one of those spots in the book where there's so much information the reader can glean from the different exhibits and art, and I loved being able to put little hints here and there.
NW: Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say the ending of the book seems ripe for a sequel. Is that something you are planning on doing?
PD: Originally, I had come up with a whole plan of what happens in the next book. I think some of those plans hinge on whether people want another book or not. Half the fun of writing is being able to see how much readers enjoy the story, so if there's a demand for it, maybe there will be a "Return to the House that fell from the Sky"? Regardless of whether a sequel happens, I guarantee you haven't seen the last of these characters.
NW: Patrick, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day for this interview.
PD: The pleasure is all mine. I want to thank all of the Night Worms Crew along with all of my other reviewers for taking the chance on a new author.
If you want to learn more about Patrick Delaney and his work then check out his website or follow him on Instagram and Twitter. His latest book The House That Fell From the Sky is coming out September 1st, but you can preorder your copy now on Amazon.