When traveling in the southwest, through New Mexico, Arizona, then southern California, the austerity and heat of the desert will get to you. Signs that point out the last rest stop for miles and miles, campgrounds that are little more than a wind-blocking fence around yet one more square, sectioned-off piece of desert. Joe Scipione’s short story, “Cameraman,” takes the reader into that desert and asks, what might be living in the wasteland that we can’t see through the heat haze over the sand…
Q (Crone Girls Press): What do you write? How long have you been writing? What are your preferred genres and why?
A (Joe Scipione): I write horror and dark science fiction and fantasy, and sometimes a little bit of crime. I wrote my first horror story as an assignment in fourth grade and ever really lost the urge to keep going. I’ve always been a fan or horror and science fiction as a reader and it has naturally spilled over into my writing.
Q: What inspired your story in this anthology? Tell us the “story behind the story.”
A: There was a scene in a movie I watched recently shot out in a remote part of the desert outside Las Vegas. This story came to me while I was watching that scene. I’ve always been interested in larger than life monsters and the two just kind of melded together in this story in a perfect, or horrible, way.
Q: What draws you to the genre of horror/dark fiction? What do you find there that you don’t find anywhere else?
A: I’ve always loved reading the genre because of the wide variety of stories you can experience while still remaining in that genre. Within horror and dark fiction there are so many different types of stories that you can work with. If you feel like writing something paranormal there is space for that, if you want something more grounded in reality, there’s room for that too.
Q: There are a number of subgenres/tropes/flavors of horror. Where does your story fit? What drew you to this particular category?
A: This is definitely a creature feature which is something I love to write, but it also has that psychological aspect to it. I don’t want every story to have a sort of ambiguous ending but from time to time I really like them and I think it works well in this story.
Q: Why horror? Why do you write it? What about the genre appeals to you as an author?
A: I like writing it for the same reason I like reading it. It can be viscous and graphic at times but also beautiful and touching. I like the atmosphere [of] it. The reader knows something is wrong and can’t quite put their finger on it as the story unfolds.
Q: Of the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite, and why?
A: The first novel I ever wrote was a complete mess. It didn’t flow and I didn’t really know what I was doing. It was a total mess. But I love the antagonist in that book. I know that I will write about him again in the future.
Q: What do you find the most challenging about the writing process, and how do you meet that challenge?
A: I think the challenge is different with each piece I write. Sometimes figuring out the plot is the hardest after I come up with an idea. Other times the story just comes to me and getting it out is the easy part but putting it together in a way that makes sense is challenging. Some times I love sitting down to edit a story but there are times when getting started on that piece of it is challenging. Finally once a piece is done, finding the right market for it can be a challenge. I enjoy the challenges though and welcome each new one as it presents itself.
Q: What was the worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice? Why, and how did it affect your writing?
A: I don’t think there is any bad advice, just advice that hasn’t been useful to me yet. When I first started thinking about writing more seriously, someone told me that in order to take it seriously, a writer needed to get better everyday; whether that was reading, editing, writing or just brainstorming. If you do something to get better every day you’re making progress. I really took it to heart and I try to improve each day even if it’s in a small way.
Q: If someone asked you to recommend books/stories similar to what you write, who/what titles would you be giving them? And, why?
A: Stephen King was a huge influence on me early on and when I was a lot younger my writing was very similar to his. Over the years as I’ve matured as a person and a writer there’s been many more influences that I think show in my writing. Brian Evenson, Adam Nevill, Edgar Allen Poe and Thomas Ligotti have all influenced how I write but that list is always growing.
Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
A: I’m continuing to write short stories and fine tune this novel and get it ready to publish.
Q: Anything to add?
A: As a book reviewer I read a ton of horror every year and write at length about a lot of it. There is so much good horror coming out each week from so many good writers. If you like my story or any of the others please go out and support those other writers too.
Joe lives in Illinois with his wife and two children. He has had several stories published including “Satan is Your Friend Anthology,” “Forgotten Ones,” and “Throw Down Your Dead: An Anthology of Western Horror.” He is also a book reviewer and senior contributor at horrorbound.net.
To read “Cameraman” by Joe Scipione, pick up a copy of Stories We Tell After Midnight 2. And, once you are finished, please think about leaving us a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Reviews make our cold, dark little heart so happy…