Interview With… Duncan Ralston

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Hi folks. Today I am joined by Duncan Ralston. Duncan was a guest a few days ago with the release of his ne book, Gristle & Bone.

Duncan, thanks for being here today. Tell us about you –
I’m 38. I grew up half in Toronto, and half in a small town. I currently live in Toronto with my girlfriend and our dog, where I’ve worked behind the scenes in television for the past ten years.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Gotta get working! Write, write, write. It doesn’t hurt that my dog is probably panting heavily to wake me up for his walk.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I’d love to pick Stephen King’s brain for a day. Could it be ‘80s King, though? Is time-travel an option?

What’s the story behind your latest book?
I wanted to write a collection of horror stories because I love writing characters. With short stories, I could write as many as were necessary and take them all to their breaking points. I suppose that makes me a bit of a sadist. I also wanted to give potential readers a good idea of my writing style, and with Gristle & Bone, I was able to write in multiple styles and voices within the same book. I’ve always felt the style should fit the story, and I hope Gristle & Bone reflects that.

Tell us your writing process.
I try to clear out the day’s business first. That includes: Facebooking, tweets, emails, etc. Then I’m free to lose myself in the writing for a bit. Usually I read over whatever I’ve worked on the previous day, then get right into it. I break here and there for snacks and messing around with the dog. I don’t worry about writing every day or word counts (they’re a distraction), but when I do sit down to write, I try to make a day of it.

Do you have any advice for other writers how they can get the word out about their book? 
I spend a fair amount of time promoting, sometimes too much. What I’ve noticed is that “Buy my book” tends to annoy people more than it sells books. Connect with people. Discuss shared interests. Avoid paying for Facebook Page “Like” ads, as the people who end up liking your page rarely if ever interact. They may mostly be bots.
Also, be courteous to bloggers/reviewers. Be respectful of their rules. Seriously. They may be your biggest allies in the industry.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since age 15 or so, but I didn’t think it might be a viable option until about 2010, when I won a pitch contest for a TV pilot I was working on, essentially a short story about the series. After that, I wrote a novel, some pilot and spec scripts, and then the stories collected in Gristle & Bone. People seemed to respond to them when I self-published it last year, so I started reaching out to reviewers and publishers. I was pretty ecstatic when Booktrope’s Forsaken horror imprint picked it up in the winter for republishing, and their input has been invaluable.

Tell us about your main character.
As there are many main characters in Gristle & Bone, I’ll stick with one: In “Viral,” Tara Maxwell is a music journalist who’d always wanted to be an investigative reporter. She’s tenacious, and has the chops for it, but for one reason or another she’s stuck in her current gig.
When she sees a viral video of a depressed teen girl who disappears on camera, it strikes a chord. She’s worried about disappearing into obscurity herself, metaphorically, of leaving nothing of her behind, so she decides to find out if it’s real or a very good hoax. If it is real, what happened to the girl? We discover she has very personal reasons for looking into the girl’s story the closer she gets to the truth.

What are you working on next?
My “first” novel, Salvage, is due out this fall. Here’s the official blurb:
When his sister drowns, Owen Saddler follows in her footsteps, determined to uncover the circumstances surrounding her death by diving into the murky waters of Chapel Lake.
30 years ago, the town of Peace Falls was flooded for a hydroelectric dam, and its ruins remain below. The disappearance of the church’s Pastor and parishioners still haunts the citizens of Chapel Lake, but does the church haunt the lake itself? Is Owen really seeing ghosts, or has he succumbed to the depths of madness?

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
I can identify pretty much any song I’ve heard a couple of times within about two seconds.

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Hike, travel, read, walk the dog, and when I get a chance, hang out with the family and friends.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
Beyond Salvage, I’ve got several novels/novellas/short stories on the go, along with a screenplay or two. I’m very excited about the ideas I’ve got percolating. Unfortunately they’re top secret at the moment, but I’m itching to tell someone!

Where can people find you on the web?
You can find me at my website, The Fold (www.duncanralston.com).
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/duncanralstonfiction.
On Twitter @userbits.

Any final thoughts?
Thanks for having me. And Keep it Creepy!

EXCERPT

Excerpt of “Viral” from Gristle & Bone
“You are looking into the Walker disappearance, is that correct?” Constable Nadeau dropped into the chair behind her desk with a squeak. She spoke with a heavy Quebecois accent, the English slightly stilted; th becoming t or d, depending; lone hs dropped; emphases in all the wrong places.
“Yes, that’s right,” Tara said. “Do you mind if I record this?”
Nadeau waved the question away.
“How long has she been missing?”
“Two week,” Nadeau said. “The Bamber girl reported she had not seen her the afternoon Daria made her video.”
“Nor her parents.”
Nadeau wore mysterious smile as she shook her head. “Oh no. MacKenzie was supposed to meet Daria to work on a video project for school. I suspect it was this video you see on the internet, which she had uploaded later that day.”
“You think these kids worked on it together. That it’s just special effects.”
“Oh, I have no doubt, Ms. Maxwell.” She folded her hands over the desk, leaning forward on her elbows, reminding Tara of Hal Waterman. “And you? Surely you don’t think it’s real?”
“Of course not.” Her indignation seemed forced even to herself. “Why did you smile when I asked about her parents? Did they—?”
“Greta and Anson Walker are… unique.”
“Unique? How so?”
Nadeau raised her sharp eyebrows. “Let us just say, it’s no wonder to me why Daria Walker disappeared,” the detective said, then frowned a little at the unintentional implication, and corrected herself: “Went missing. The girl’s father didn’t even remember what she was wearing that day, not that it would have helped one way or the other.”
De udder was how it sounded in Nadeau’s accent, and Tara couldn’t help but grin. “Why not?”
“The thing is, Daria left a pile of clothes in front of the computer before she slipped out of her bedroom window. The hoodie, her jogging pant, a pair of socks and underwear. All the things she wore in the video. There was even an earring and a little beaded bracelet—”
Tara seized on it: “A friendship bracelet?” Left her clothes. Left her bracelet, and her jewelry… everything she couldn’t take with her to the Great Beyond.
“Maybe.” Nadeau shrugged. “She’d just left it there on the carpet beside her desk chair. Like she want us to believe she literally disappeared…”

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Posted on July 28, 2015, in Guest Authors and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks for having me, sir! Was a pleasure!

  1. Pingback: GRISTLE & BONE Blog Blitz! | THE FOLD

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