Glenn Rolfe is an up and coming horror author from Maine and has recently released his latest (and in my opinion his best) novel Blood and Rain through Samhain Publishing. Blood and Rain shows a progressive maturation in his writing and a ‘coming into his own” that started with his novella Boom Town. With great characters and an eerie atmosphere, I wanted to get to know the man behind it all. I’ve reviewed Blood and Rain and Boom Town earlier on this blog. I encourage you to check them out. Without further ado, I give you Glenn Rolfe.
Name: Glenn Rolfe
DOB: September 30, 1977
Birthplace: Augusta, Maine
Marital Status: M
Children: 2 girls (ruby and Ramona), 1 boy (Axl)
Pets: cat (Meesha)
Into The Macabre: When did you first start writing?
Glenn: I became a writer in 2011. That’s when I drafted the first version of Blood and Rain.
Into The Macabre: How about before that? Were you the type that always dabbled writing stories in high school or was this something that you woke up one day and said I have an idea and I want to write about it?
Glenn: In 2003 I scribbled a three page story called, “The Eyes”. My girlfriend was a hair dresser and she had this mannequin head, practice thing that looked like its eyes were always following me around the room. I was starting to read more at that time, so I guess I grabbed my lyric notebook and wrote this tiny story. It came out pretty good. I remember buying my first copy of Stephen King’s On Writing and that was followed by a few more stories in my song books. So, I guess I dipped my toes in the writing waters back then, but I never went all in.
In 2011, I remember stumbling across one of those notebooks and deciding I wanted to type a couple of the stories up. One of those ended up being the first chapter of Blood and Rain. Once I typed that one up, I remember thinking it had something more to it. And I started writing and didn’t stop until three months later when I typed THE END.
Into The Macabre: What drew you to horror? What/Who were your inspirations?
Glenn: I was scared to death by The Exorcist, Terror Train, Happy Birthday to Me, and a bunch of other horror flicks as a kid. We had HBO for a year or something and I for one reason or another, watched all of those films. I couldn’t have been more than seven at the oldest. I remember at ten, me and my buddies being all about Jason and Freddy.
I’d say the horror movies got me started down this road. Something about being scared, but also something about good beating evil, ya know? That’s what helped you sleep at night after watching them. Whether it was the Dream Warriors besting Freddy, or Tommy Jarvis hacking Jason in the head.
When I started reading horror, it was like the most amazing world opened up to me. King and Anne Rice were my gatekeepers. They led me in with fantastic storytelling and unforgettable characters. Eventually I discovered Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little, and Brian Keene. The Four Horsemen of my descent into this wide open realm of monsters and fears.
Into The Macabre: King, rightfully so, seems to be the author that lures many people into their first foray of horror. Do you remember the first King story that you read?
Glenn: Oh yeah, it was The Dark Half. I loved it. I think it took me like four or five months to read. I didn’t spend much time reading back then. That was probably around 1997.
Into The Macabre: Describe the process it took for you to become published.
Glenn: I started writing and submitting short stories after I finished my novel. I knew the book wasn’t good enough to be published. I still needed to learn A L OT before I sent that manuscript anywhere. So, instead of becoming a Hunter/Gatherer of food, I became a Subbing/Gatherer of rejections. Six months into that harsh place, I sold my first short story: “Skull of Snakes”. That felt amazing, but the next half year brought another boatload of “Sorry, but we have to pass”.
At the end of 2012 I entered into the Amazon/Kindle world of self-publishing. I tried my hand there for about eight months before I realized I’d made a huge mistake. I still wasn’t a very good writer, I had no fans, and I wasn’t approaching it like a professional. I had great book cover (thanks to my friend, Jason Lynch) and a pretty good story, but no editor. I’m lucky that move didn’t kill my hopes of having a career dead in its tracks!
By the end of 2013, I’d written my first novella, Abram’s Bridge. I tried to sneak it into one publisher. They told me it just barely missed the cut. I was told that they had eight amazing stories to choose from (mine included) and only space for one. That told me all I needed to hear about the story. I’d finally written something GOOD!
I’d circled Don D’Auria on my wish list while I was writing my first book in 2011. I finally had something I dared to send him, and when I did…he loved it. I landed my first of five contracts with Don and Samhain.
Into The Macabre: I hear Don’s name mentioned everywhere even before all the stuff went down with Samhain. I don’t want to dig into any of that. What I’m interested in is why Don? Is he someone that you knew? Is he someone whose reputation caused you to seek him out?
Glenn: His name was in all of those Leisure Books Horror titles. He was the acquisition editor who was responsible for choosing all these great stories by all of these great writers old and new. Nobody really knew who Brian Keene was until Don plucked The Rising and contracted it with Dorchester Publishing/Leisure Books. ALL of thise great Leisure Books titles were picked by Don. As a writer, even from the start, I knew his thumbs up would be proof that I really had something in this business.
Into The Macabre: If you could turn back the hands of time and go back, what about the publishing process would you do differently?
Glenn: That’s a great question. I mean, I don’t think I’d undo any of it. As bad as trying to self-publish was, I learned A LOT from the experience. Even if that was what NOT to do. That helped push me to become a better writer.
Into The Macabre: I read the first article in the series that you wrote for Samhain’s website about your experience with self-publishing. Now obviously it’s a self-serving piece for publishers, like Samhain, to get talented newcomers to use established publishers instead of going the self-publishing route. With that being said, there’s some great info in there and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
(For those that haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. It’s an eye-opener for any aspiring author)
Do you feel that, for you, you needed the trials and tribulations of the route you took to become the writer you wanted to be or was there anything along the way that you wish you could’ve avoided to speed up the process to where you are today?
Glenn: I tend to be one of those guys who have to learn the hard way. I wouldn’t take any of it back. I like where I ended up. That said, it was sort of… stupid. Or more naïve. It could have ended me as a writer. Luckily, I realized quickly that it was the wrong way to get where I wanted to go. Now, I hope my experience can help people stay on a more proven path. The traditional route is a bitch, but it is the best barometer of where you’re at level-wise. I was writing some “good stories”, but my writing wasn’t quite there yet. I had to learn and I did, and I still am.
Into The Macabre: They say its not about what you know but who you know. Who helped you along the way and what did they do?
Glenn: Man, this could get long…. Okay, first off, you need help. Some inherit that help. I don’t know that Joe Hill used his dad in any way (probably not, Joe is a great writer), but knowing that he was there and had connections if you needed them…that had to feel okay, right? So, some people have that. They have family in the business in some fashion (writer, publisher, editor…), or somebody knows somebody that knows somebody. The other side of that is a person who lives in the woods and has NO connections. In this business, if you want to get your stories from your computer and into a readers hands, you need to make friends. You need to “network”, Thank you, internet!
I’m not going to give you each person and how and why…I’ll just jot down this list:
Ronald Malfi – As a naïve little man, I reached out to him and asked him to read my early work. He said okay and gave me some of the best writing advice ever.
Kristin Dearborn- A fabulous horror writer who attended the same high school as me! We found each other on a mutual friends Facebook and got along right away. She also beta read a bunch of my short stories and gave me amazing tips and advice. Her Red Pen corrections and pointers helped my writing immensely.
RJ Cavender- He edited the first draft of Blood and Rain and did what Kristin did for me but on a novel length work. Lots and lots of Red Pen. Lots of fantastic advice.
Erin Sweet Al-Mehair- She was among the first fans I made. Little did I know how big a part of my life she would become! She’s now my pre-editor, my publicist, and probably still my number one fan. She is AMAZING.
Jonathan Janz, Russell James, and Hunter Shea- These guys have been pulling for me the whole time. I made friends with them all on Facebook around the time I started to get serious about looking at Samhain. All encouraged me and all gave me advice. That meant a lot to me then, and even more to me now. I’ve got to hang out with them since joining Samhain and they still keep me pumped and gladly unload pearls of wisdom. It seems like some sort of weird ass fate that my first Samhain novella came out alongside their new novels in January of this year.
Don D’Auria – He’s the man. He made this all possible. Thanks to his belief in my stories, I now consider myself a real writer. I know he’ll land on his feet, and I look forward to working with him again in the not-too-distant future.
There are a lot of other names that could go here: Matt Molgaard, James Ward Kirk, the team at JukePop Serials, Erinn Kemper, Rena Mason, Robert S. Wilson, The Tuesday Mayhem Society (Peter N. Dudar, April Hawks, JoJo Mason-Schnopp, Morgan Sylvia), Max Booth III, Joe Hempel…. the list is HUGE!
Into The Macabre: What would you say are the biggest challenges you face today as a writer?
Glenn: Personally, finding time to sit down and write. I have three kids. They impose quite the challenge! Businesswise…I’d say finding a way to get your book into the hands of people who might really like it. That is a big challenge. I’ve been busting my ass through GoodReads and Facebook, but it seems like I’m still missing something… That’s what I use as my motivator: that bridge is out there and I will find it. Or, I’ll end up making my own path along the way.
Into The Macabre: You learn real fast that being an author is a business. It would be nice if all you had to do was write and then the book would sell itself. But, unfortunately, if you want your product in the hands of the consumers, you have to sell it. You could have the next Great American novel, but if you can’t get it out to the masses, its simply nothing more than a paper weight on your bookshelf. Was the business and marketing side of being an author a big shock to you when you first started?
Glenn: Not really…but when I got to Samhain, I did think it would be a little easier. I wasn’t naïve enough to think I’d just have to write and leave the rest to them, but I did think it would be easier. I learned quickly though. Coming from the music side of things, I was pretty good at using social media to get my name out there. I’d always had initial success in pumping up my band’s music, but then something would happen in the band and the momentum that I’d created would just stop. Usualy someone ended up quitting or moving. It’s a lot easier being a writer. You don’t have to depend on anyone else. I like that.
Into The Macabre: What role has social media played in your successes?
Glenn: I’d be nothing without it. That’s where you network. You should also attend conventions and talk up as many folks as you run into! But yeah, Facebook and GoodReads, man. That’s where I reach out.
Into The Macabre: How many conventions and book signings do you typically do? Do you have any coming up that you’d like to let your fans know about?
Glenn: I aim for two a year. I did both of Samhain’s Horror Hound gigs this year. Next year, I’m aiming to attend the first annual Stoker Convention in Vegas (in May) and doing the Scares That Care convention in Virginia. (in July). I will probably slip in at least one more, but that’s all up in the air right now.
Into The Macabre: My first exposure to your work was through recommendations on Goodreads. What would you say is your level of interaction through fans on GR and other sites?
Glenn: What’s the highest level? That’s where I’m at. I’ll take nights away from writing to scour Goodreads for potential readers. It’s hard, time consuming work, but I’m willing to do it because I want other people to give my work a chance. I try pinpointing people with similar taste in books and then I’ll message them and offer a copy of one of my works. The key is being polite and remembering that they don’t know you and don’t owe you shit. The moment you start thinking they owe you something, you need to stop and get out of the game. Just like you gotta earn your kills in a book– you gotta earn your readers, as well.
Into The Macabre: So, so true. I love that Goodreads has let the average Joe be able to communicate with the up-and-coming authors.
Glenn: It has been a great tool to meet new readers and get your name out there. I stand behind it 100%.
Into The Macabre: Have you had any “Misery/Annie Wilkes” moments where a fan was creeping you out to the point where you were looking over your shoulder?
Glenn: Not yet. There’s plenty of weirdoes in my neck of the woods though, so I’m waiting.
Into The Macabre: Well here’s hoping that you don’t roll your car in a snow storm and get rescued by your number one fan that also owns an axe and a blow torch!
Glenn: I think in my neck of the woods I’m still my number one fan! I don’t own anything that dangerous.
Into The Macabre: The world of horror fiction appears to be a big fraternity where many of the authors hang out at conventions and keep in touch with each other. Have you found this to be true and have you had any moments where you went from being Glenn Rolfe the author to being Glenn the wide eyed fan?
Glenn: Absolutely true and yes! I saw Stephen King at a Joe Hill signing. I didn’t even try to get close to him. Couldn’t do it. Thought I’d just be a pest. Saw Jonathan Maberry at my first WHC in New Orleans…same deal. I stayed far away from him. Brian Keene at WHC Portland. I at least got him to sign my copy of Ghoul and spoke with him for a few seconds. Jack Ketchum…. This guy. I was in awe, but I made myself say hello. He ended up asking me to walk with him and we had a full blown conversation. I was probably in shock, but it happened. He was super cool.
And most recently, John Everson. I did manage to keep my cool in check. He probably doesn’t even know how psyched I was to meet him. I hung with him and the Samhain gang at Horror Hound in Indianapolis a few months ago.
Into The Macabre: That’s a great list. I wonder if they get just as “weirded out” by us fans that put them up on a pedestal or if they’re used to it by now. Is there any author that you are just dying to meet and pick their brain, if you could?
Glenn: I’d love to sit down with Ketchum, King and Keene and go over things.
Into The Macabre: I’ve seen a progression in the maturity of your writing with each subsequent novel. Which one of your stories are you most proud of?
Glenn: Probably Abram’s Bridge. It was the first one that I felt was really special. It was the first one Don said yes to. When I was writing it, I had a feeling it was different from everything I’d written before.
Into The Macabre: I’ve found that many writers have a routine that they like to follow when writing. Give me a breakdown of your day and how you create the next Rolfe masterpiece.
Glenn: I have no ritual. I have one I’d like to keep, but life doesn’t allow it right now. I typically work on multiple pieces whenever I can. If the story gets going in one, I’ll stick it out until the end or I run out of gas. Each work ends up coming together in its own time and in its own unique way. I ended up re-writing 50-60 percent of Blood and Rain in about five weeks last summer. That was intense.
Into The Macabre: My two favorite stories of yours, so far, have been Boom Town and Blood and Rain. Can you describe how those stories came about?
Glenn: Boom Town is based off some real life underground booms that occurred a few years back in Clintonville, WI. There were news reports about mysterious unexplained booms under the ground… I gave them an explanation. I love aliens, so it was great fun bringing that to the table.
Blood and Rain in its current form came about when Don (D’Auria) asked me for a novel. I loved that story and those characters, but my original manuscript wasn’t working. I took the whole thing apart with the help of my best friend, Ben. He told me if something sucked or was stupid or if it was just bad. I ran my new ideas by him and when he said yeah, I like that, I wrote it and added it to the story. After I completed the new draft, I sent it to my friend, Erin. She did all the pre-edits and I ran a few more minor details by her that I was unsure of. She helped guide those last pieces and there you have it!
It was obviously inspired by my love of werewolves. Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf and the movie, The Howling probably had the greatest impact on my writing brain.
Into The Macabre: For the aspiring authors out there, I see the minuscule amounts that they charge to download a story and I have to wonder – Can you really make a living being an author?
Glenn: Not unless you have a great fan base or you get lucky, or you just happen to write an unquestionable, brilliant novel. For the most part, we get pennies for our passion. Unless you have built a fan base, like Brian Keene and Bryan Smith, you will have to maintain a day job to survive. But guys like Keene and Smith have spent the last decade or so building those loyal fans, so if you continue to write, improve, and nurture your little flock of fans, there’s no telling where you might be in ten years!
England seems to be its own story. I’ve seen guys like Iain Rob Write, Matt Shaw, and now Stuart Keane come up from seemingly out of nowhere and have an amazing impact on the horror genre. Besides being great writers, they seem to be doing something else right. It’s very impressive…and mysterious.
Into The Macabre: Stephen King has the spooky house in Bangor surrounded by the wrought iron fence with gargoyles on it. Do you have anything crazy at your house that makes your neighbors clutch their children when they see you coming?
Glenn: I have toys on my porch and pink bikes next to my garbage can! Nothing creepy, no.
Into The Macabre: What are you reading these days?
Glenn: Too many books! Right at this moment: Sentinels by Matt Manochio, Hannahwhere by John McIlveen, Bag of Bones by Stephen King, Sacrificing Virgins by John Everson…and I think that’s it for right now.
Into The Macabre: Top 5 horror movies?
Glenn: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Thing, Jaws, Alien, The Howling
Into The Macabre: Another great list. How about music? I hear you might be a metal head?
Glenn: Music is awesome. I wouldn’t classify myself as a metal head. I’m all over the map. I like great songs. My five favorite artists?
Bruce Springsteen, Guns N’ Roses, Taylor Swift, Green Day, Rancid… for real.
I love all the hair metal era stuff, too. I love Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, KISS. I love Metallica, Megadeth, Garth Brooks, Katy Perry, Kasey Musgraves, Cobra Skulls… so many great artists.
Into The Macabre: What are you working on now and what can we expect to be coming down the pike in 2016 and beyond?
Glenn: Working between my next novel, Window and a new novella. Those will probably come out in 2017.
Just finished edits with Samhain on my next novella, THINGS WE FEAR (March) and will have the reprint of my first novel, THE HAUNTED HALLS in November. There’s also another finished novella with a different publisher called, THE LAST SHOW. That will see the light of day eventually. As for most of 2016, I plan on releasing my next collection. It will contain short stories and at least two new novellas. Aiming for the end of next summer on that one.
Into The Macabre: Plug your stuff here. Where can we find the great literary works of Glenn Rolfe?
Barnes and Noble
Audio Realms Publishing
Search my name, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram…. all that good stuff.
Into The Macabre: I really appreciate you letting me grill you for my blog and look forward to chatting with you in the future. Take care, my friend.
Glenn: Thanks, Ken. Great talking with you, too. Cheers!