We here at GLAHW have met so many amazing and talented people out in the big wide world (you know, OFF the internets) and thought it was high-time we introduced them to you. Who knows? You may end up discovering a favorite new artist, photographer, writer, or all-around awesome human. This time around, we will be talking to Michael Cieslak
GLAHW: How long have you been writing? When did you get started?
MC: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I always enjoyed making up stories and telling them to people. Somewhere my mother has a very humiliating collection of early material.
GLAHW: Why did you choose the horror genre?
MC: It chose me, haha. When I first started writing, my focus was closer to mystery and sci-fi, but I gradually started focusing more on the darker side of things. I’ve always enjoyed reading and watching horror, so it just seemed like a natural progression.
GLAHW: Were you inspired by a person or event to begin your writing career?
MC: Does re-inspired count? When I pursuing my Bachelor’s degree, I decided it was time to be more serious, to give up on writing and focus on other things. My sister, who was living in the San Francisco at the time, heard of this new thing called NaNoWriMo. She suggested I give this “write a novel in a month” thing a try because I was, and I’m paraphrasing to keep it safe for work here, nicer when I was writing.
GLAHW: Are you a Plotter or Pantser?
MC: I refer to myself as a modified Pantser. People old enough to remember the days before GPS might remember getting TipTicks from AAA. You would go into a AAA office and tell them where you were going and they would print up a flip map which read top to bottom. Each page had one city or landmark at the top and bottom. They would highlight the best route between the two, but the maps included all of the other roads as well, just in case you want to take a side trip to see the World’s Biggest Hairball or whatever.
That’s the way I write. I know the big scenes, the beats that I need to hit, and have a general idea of how they are going to connect but I never let it prevent me from taking an interesting detour.
GLAHW: Have you ever had an encounter with the supernatural?
MC: Not a personal encounter, at least not that I remember. I have seen some amazing things during paranormal investigations, notably at Fort Wayne and Eloise.
GLAHW: Are you superstitious? Why or why not?
MC: Define superstitious. I certainly avoid doing things if I have a bad feeling about them. I have had dreams that I was sure were premonitions.
GLAHW: What do you do for a living, outside of writing?
MC: I have a day job in retail. I also run Dragon’s Roost Press, a small publishing company specializing in dark speculative fiction. We started in 2014. We are on schedule to publish our 20th book by the end of this year.
GLAHW: Do you keep a journal every day?
MC: Who has time for that? I used to journal, but now that material ends up on my blog or scattered somewhere on social media.
GLAHW: What do you prefer to write – short stories, poetry, novels, scripts, etc.?
I usually write fiction of one length or another. I don’t have a preference regarding length. If it is not something I am writing for a specific market, I let the story itself let me know how long it should be. For a huge chunk of my writing career, I wrote long — really long. If a market had a 4,000 word limit, I would aim for 6,000 and give myself time to clear cut the excess.
GLAHW: What truly scares you?
MC: Politicians. In all seriousness, what scares me the most has always been the thought of something happening to those who are close to me. That and slowly going mad.
GLAHW: What sort of hobbies are you into?
MC: Whatever my wife says they are. Honestly, I couldn’t come up with anything, so I asked her and all we could come up with was reading.
GLAHW: Do you read outside of the horror genre? If so, what else have you read?
MC: I read everything. I occasionally dip into “Literature,” but for the most part, I tend to hang out in the genre end of the pool. I read lots of horror, sci-fi — especially steam-punk, fantasy, and mystery. I also read plenty of non-fiction, particularly true crime, history, and physics. I am usually reading three or four books in various formats and I switch off between them all.
GLAHW: What’s your favorite genre to write?
MC: Dark speculative fiction is my wheelhouse. I’ve written horror, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, erotic romance, and material for role playing games, but I am always happiest when the stories have a dark overtone.
GLAHW: Do you use a pseudonym?
MC: No, I want everyone to know who wrote every single word.
GLAHW: What do you think makes a good story?
MC: A good story is a blend of interesting characters, an engaging plot, and great writing. This is a really tough balance to strike, and to be honest, I am glad if I hit two out of the three. A good story should move the reader emotionally and that doesn’t mean that they have to leave the reader happy. Some of the best stories I’ve ever read have been ones that pissed me off, but I could not put down.
GLAHW: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
MC: I always wanted to be a writer. I also cycled through Oceanographer and Astronaut, but learned that via the magic of books I could live as both of those things and more without having to learn horrible things like math.
GLAHW: Are you spiritual?
MC: In many different ways. I firmly believe in the spirituality of science. The universe is an amazing place and it is a shame that people think that science takes away from this wonder. Depending upon the day, I may also believe in ghosts, monsters, UFOs. On others, not so much.
GLAHW: What are your influences?
MC: There are writers whose work I admire and which inspire me to want to be a better writer. These include Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, Larry McMurtry, Louis Erdrich, Cherie Priest, Neil Gaiman, and more recently Gwendolyn Kiste, Grady Hendrix, and Josh Mallerman.
GLAHW: What are you reading right now?
MC: I had a difficult time concentrating on reading during the beginning of the isolation so I spent a good bit of time reading graphic novels. Fortunately I have been able to move past this and dive back into reading again. I just finished The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix and Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. Currently I’m listening to Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore and reading Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn.
GLAHW: What else do you want your readers to know? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests, your favorite ways to unwind — whatever comes to mind.
MC: I am extremely proud of how far the GLAHW has come in the last, jeez, nearly a decade and a half. I’ve been a proud member since the very beginning, served as an officer, and made some of my best friends here. This is a group of truly talented authors and I am honored to be a member.
Beyond that I would recommend reading outside of your wheelhouse. Find something by an author you have never heard but that you find interesting and give it a try. Be open to new literary experiences, both in your reading and your writing.
Main Website: http://www.thedragonsroost.net
Dragon’s Roost Press Blog: http://www.thedragonsroost.net/blog-2/index.html
Dragon’s Roost Press Bookstore (coming soon): http://thedragonsroost.biz
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Cieslak/e/B00SWE25LI/
Dragon’s Roost Press Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/DragonsRoostPress/