Author, Dallas Mullican graciously took time to answer questions about the characters, and inspiration behind his latest horror novel, A Coin for Charon.
A Coin for Charon is available NOW from Winlock Press, Amazon and major online booksellers.
Francis Xavier: What are the first lines from A Coin for Charon?
Dallas Mullican: Gabriel knelt low, watching her struggle to breathe. The air, elusive, rattled in her throat, interspersed with pitiful moans. Her heart raced, pounding against his outstretched palm. Eyes filled with terror pleaded for the pain to end. A familiar feeling came over him—fingers tingled, stomach tightened, his head thumped with a dull ache.
FX: What inspired A Coin for Charon?
DM: I think it was an amalgamation of several things. I wrote a short story years ago which had some elements of the novel. Reading works by Boris Starling and Thomas Harris certainly had some influence. More than anything, I’ve always been fascinated with the subject of serial killers, and madness in general. I wanted to use the troupes of serial killer fiction and try to do something different with them. Primarily, making the novel more character driven, and focus on the psychology of the main actors, as well as attempt to incorporate a nice dose of philosophy while still creating a compelling and entertaining read.
FX: Three words to describe your writing?
DM: Visceral, descriptive, literary
FX: Which part of A Coin for Charon challenged you the most?
DM: Each of the four major characters take heavy emotional journeys. Many aspects of their lives required an almost symbiotic relationship to fully flesh out their emotion and reactions. Getting inside their heads left a residue in me, which wasn’t altogether comfortable. I hope in the end, that immersion comes through on the page.
FX: Which of the characters in A Coin for Charon do you most identify with?
DM: Probably Max. I went through the battle with cancer with my dad, though his was colon and not the brain. I’ve felt much of the despair and hopelessness Max experiences at times in my life. I’m not sure identify is the right word. Perhaps, I sympathize with him the most.
FX: What did you learn about yourself as a writer while working on A Coin for Charon?
DM: So much. Charon is the second novel I’ve written, first published. With Charon I built on what I learned from the first effort, but also elicited the aid of mentors well ahead of me as authors. Through critiques and revisions, I learned a great deal about pacing, character, and the overall flow of plot and language. The result is a colossal leap forward from my previous work. Hopefully, that improvement will continue.
FX: What elements make for good horror fiction?
DM: I believe suspense and tension are the most important. Blood and gore, brutal kills, interesting terrifying villains/monsters, all mean nothing without a sense of dread and anticipation. It’s the toughest part to pull off because it requires near perfect pacing. Knowing when to pull the trigger is the biggest obstacle. You can’t linger too long and deplete the momentum, but neither can you rush in and spoil the fear building in the reader.
FX: What are your thoughts on genre blending in works of fiction?
DM: I enjoy it. Everything has been done at this point. Old troupes grow boring and cliché. The only way to achieve something original and fresh is to merge a host of influences from a variety of genres and interests. I pull from a love of horror, but also from classic literature, philosophy, and even my time in metal music. I read biographies, fantasy, and a host of other topics. The more streams you can turn toward the river and make them flow seamlessly, the better chance you have of creating something meaningful that can stand out.
FX: Where can we find you online?
DM: Facebook & Winlock Press
1. Favorite horror writer?
A: Robert McCammon
2. Favorite movie?
A: The City of Lost Children
3. What scares you?
A: Freaking spiders. Hate the little bastards.
4. What’s one word you overuse?
5. Favorite place to write?
A: Sofa, alone in the living room.
6. Title of your first published work?
A: A Coin for Charon
7. What book do you wish you wrote?
A: A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
8. What are you currently reading?
A: Rereading Steven Erikson’s The Crippled God
9. Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee by the pot
10. Favorite color?
11. Beer or wine?
A: On the wagon, but beer was a favorite