P. S. Gifford: Both my published works are anthologies. The first, The Curious Accounts of the Imaginary Friend, is aimed primarily at an older audience. The collection was greatly inspired by Roald Dahl’s wicked short stories which invariably concluded with a devilish twist. Some generous spirited reviewers have compared it to the television shows “Twilight Zone,” and “Tales from the Crypt,” which I consider glowing praise indeed. Some of the tales are macabre and menacing; others have an ample splattering of dark humor, but most are a weird combination of the two. I enjoy shocking the reader with one sentence only to make them chuckle with the next.
Here’s the pitch;
“Who Am I? Well, I am the Imaginary Friend. You know–the one you conjure up for conversation when you’re consumed with loneliness, greed or visions of imminent doom. I have listened to thousands of stories and it would be a shame if they just stayed with me, never to be heard again. I have chosen to share only the ones I found to be particularly… curious. Have you ever been troubled by nightmares? Were you relieved when you woke up? No matter. Are you sure you can tell the difference between the nightmare and the waking state? Think it through before giving me your answer. Sometimes only an imaginary friend can truly listen to your deepest troubles and most distressing woes. Wouldn’t you agree?”
My most recent collection, Dr. Offig’s Lessons from the Dark Side-volume one, is similar in style with the keen difference being that it was aimed a young adult reader. I would have no qualms about any child reading it, although many mature readers have apparently enjoyed it also. My intent was to not only entertain the reader but also to get them to think. It actually tackles many serious topics that the modern youth face on a daily basis. As the title suggests several more volumes of Dr. Offig will be forthcoming.
Here’s the pitch;
Some people are optimists and some people are pessimists, but Dr. Offig is a “gruesome-ist!” Visit him in his cluttered and curious office ce and he will surely tell you one of the wonderfully creepy stories he is famous for-the kind that makes your eyes bug out, your skin shiver and crawl and your tummy wiggle like a very large bowl of incredibly nervous Jell-O®. And once in a while they might-just might I say-even make you laugh out loud. But be forewarned, most dearest, charming, intelligent and, might I add, particularly shrewd reader-these stories can also become very, very, very (yes, THAT very) addictive. Once you finish with one of Dr. Offig’s stories, you will most certainly want to read another, then another, and then another still. And sometimes that makes it hard to go to sleep with the lights out…
BAB: No two authors seem to take the same route to publication, but almost every author has an interesting story about their journey. Care to share yours?
P. S. Gifford: In a word luck; however I don’t think that gives me enough credit as it really consisted of paying my dues. By that I mean I was very active in small press magazines both on-line and printed form. This managed to create a small fan base and exposed my work to people in the industry. I was literally approached by the publisher and asked if I would consider them publishing my work as an editor who had worked with me previously on a magazine was now working for them. After I jumped up and down a few dozen times screaming at the top of my lungs, and doing the occasional cart wheel as I clucked like a chicken- I calmly told them, “Yes.”
BAB: How did you get the idea for your book?
P. S. Gifford: I have always had a love for short stories; a tale that can whisk you on a magical journey, scare, thrill or excite you- and do it in four thousand words or less. In many ways writing an abundant amount of short stories is harder than writing a thousand page novel. For you need a constant flux of new ideas to maintain the pace. I also felt that the fun factor in horror was not as apparent as it once was. The collection itself was written over a period of several years and I am flattered at the way it has been received.
BAB: Do you have another book in the works?
P. S. Gifford: I actually have three! The next release will be the very creatively titled Further Accounts of the Imaginary friend, which naturally is another collection in a similar style to the first. Only this time I have kicked it up a few notches. Expect more gore, more chills and more laughter than the first one! I feel this book is my finest hour to date and eagerly await for it to reach the public- which will happen in a few months.
The next project is another follow up- this one will be Dr. Offig’s Lesson’s from the Dark Side- volume two. This is a project I hold dearly to my heart.
Thirdly, and arguably most significantly, I am also working on my first full fledged novel. I am hoping to have it finished by the end of 2009 and I can guarantee you that I am holding nothing back with this project.
BAB: One of your current books is marketed as a young adult collection. Did you originally set out to write a YA book?
P. S. Gifford: Interestingly the answer is no. I was actually approached by a very enthusiastic editor a few years back who had read more than my work than any doctor worth his salt would consider advisable. It was her belief that I had what it took to write a book to capture the imagination of the young adult reader. Inspired by her energetic enthusiasm I began to write one. As soon as I wrote the first story I realized that, by golly, she was right.
Another bit of trivia if you wonder where Dr. Offig came from take a look at it in the mirror.
BAB: How did you get the inspiration for characters?
P. S. Gifford: Nearly all my characters are based on people I have known or at least have met. I enjoy placing seemingly ordinary people in most extraordinary circumstances. I do not write about astronauts and super heroes- I generally write about next door neighbors, post men, and people everyone encounters on a daily basis. I feel this way the reader can more easily identify with them.they might even see some of themselves in the character- and occasionally they will be correct.
BAB: Who is your favorite character? Why?
P. S. Gifford: This is a tricky one. Naturally I am very fond of the narrators of both books and feel that they are the glue that binds the works together. I suppose if I had to pin down one name it would be the protagonist in one of my tales from The Curious Accounts entitled The Cucumber man. Not only is this one of my favorite pieces I have penned it is also one of the earliest. I also have to nod my head towards the multi-talented Stevie Farnaby who not only features in Farnaby’s Head, is one of my dearest friends. Cheers Stevie!
BAB: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
P. S. Gifford: From a very early age I discovered that books were perfect escapism. They could take me away from my seemingly dreary existence and take me on incredible adventures. I lived vicariously through the imaginations of such greats as Jules Verne, HG Wells, Alexander Dumas and dozens others.
It was 1977 when I got my first typewriter. It was a turquoise blue electric portable. I remember the thrill I got as I tap tap tapped away at the keys. In 1978 my life was about to change forever though. I had always had an interest in the horror genre- particularly the classic horror movies from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. However in 1978 at the tender age of thirteen I felt inspired to fork over my pocket money for a copy of John Saul’s Suffer the Children. I read it in one sitting. Then read it again the next day. From that moment on I knew I wanted to be a horror writer.
A few months ago I got to meet John Saul and we had a chance to chat for a few minutes. I was introduced to him as a talented writer destined to go places. He congratulated me on my career and mockingly joked that it was all his fault and then we posed for a photograph or two. It was one of the most perfect moments of my life and one I shall never forget. That photograph sits proudly in my office as a constant reminder- and whenever I second guess myself it brings me renewed inspiration. My next book is going to be dedicated to him.
BAB: In writing your books, what was your most surprising discovery?
P. S. Gifford: I suppose it wasn’t the writing itself but what happens afterwards. I never considered how much work- and traveling- would be involved in promoting them. Not that I am complaining it has afforded me a chance to mingle with some incredible writers. My next appearance- here comes the blatant plug- will be at http://www.hypericon.info I was a guest last year too and would urge anyone in the Nashville vicinity to check it out.
The fact that I am writing this interview is something else I never really considered. The more successful I get at writing the less time I get to actually do it.
And I am loving every single minute of it!
BAB: What’s your writing routine? Do you write in the mornings, nights, daily, or when the mood strikes you?
P. S. Gifford: I have an insanely rigid routine. I work each day Monday to Friday as if I am punching a time card. This produces anything from 500- to 3,000 words depending on how generous my muse is feeling. Weekends are family time. I also try to read for thirty minutes a day- which I feel it is important for every writer to do.
BAB: What experience did you have with your publisher? Good? Bad?
P. S. Gifford: Exceptionally good; I hit the jackpot with my publisher Virtual Tales. They have an abundance of passion and have been extremely supportive from day one. They also publish a wide array of genres to if horror is not your cup of tea I will guarantee you will find something to suit you amongst there published works.
BAB: If you had to pick one author as your favorite, who would it be?
P. S. Gifford: I suppose you already know the answer to the question I would have to credit John Saul as being my favorite. But I would be amiss if I did not drop a few more names so here goes (I will try not to make it sound like an Oscar acceptance speech.)
Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Roald Dahl, O’Henry, Charles Dickens, Ramsey Campbell, John Everson, Kimberly Raiser, Alicia Benson, Brian Keene, Richard Laymon and countless others.
BAB: Finally, thank you for taking part in this interview. Before you go, what message would you like to send to your fans?
P. S. Gifford: Thank you for inviting me. I find interviews so much cheaper than therapy. And as for my fans- what can I say- I would like to thank each and every one personally. So here goes.
What’s that? There isn’t enough time. Bugger. Well anyhow thanks to you all- you know who you are.And be ready for 2009 as it is going to our best year together yet.
Author: P. S. Gifford
Publisher: Virtual Tales
Hardcover: 244 pages
Author: P.S. Gifford
Publisher: Virtual Tales
Hardcover: 172 pages