For this fifth episode of Writer’s Spotlight, we have M.R. Ward – another ‘A Journey of Words’ author and member of the Scribes’ Circle whom I have gotten to know recently. With his quick wit and pleasant demeanor, one might be surprised to learn he is quite the terrifying horror writer.
Give us a short introduction to you.
I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, and will probably spend my entire life here, which I’m fine with since I’m really close to my family. I don’t have kids, but I love my two small nephews as if they were my own. I have three cats with my partner, but one day soon I hope to have another dog. They bring a special kind of love you can’t find anywhere else.
How long have you been writing, professionally and/or as a hobby?
I first put pen to paper in 1990 when I was twelve and spent two years writing, but I didn’t have the proper skills at such a young age. I didn’t pick it up again until 2011 when I began a novel (The Carrier) I had been outlining and thinking about for years. I got about thirteen thousand words into it before I lost confidence. In 2015 I decided it was now or never and began writing a short story (“A Letter from Home”) for a competition in Glimmer Train magazine. I didn’t win, but it got me back in the game. I picked up The Carrier again and wrote more of that until I came across another short story competition in 2016, this one for Scout Media’s A Journey of Words. “The Open Road” became my first (and so far only) published piece. Since becoming published I have written two more shorts (“Tootsie” and “The Road Back”) and began a new novel called The Children of Halloween.
In what genre(s) do you write?
Horror, but have also dabbled in Paranormal Romance (“Tootsie”) and Sci-Fi (The Carrier).
Do you outline your stories ahead of time, or do you let the story grow as you write?
I outlined The Carrier so much that I never started writing the story because I didn’t know all of the details or ending, but finally just started writing it, and turns out it started completely different than I had anticipated. Since then I just let my stories grow as they wish.
Which authors have influenced and inspired you the most?
R.L. Stine and Stephen King. I read most of Stine’s Fear Street stories when I was a teenager, which were the types of stories I loved. I graduated to King naturally, and it was actually after reading Under the Dome that I began The Carrier.
Do you write in other ways, such as poetry, songwriting, technical articles, etc?
I wrote poems from 1992-1995, two of which were entered into competitions. “Remember Me” and “River Moon” both received Honorable Mentions, and the former was published in 1994’s Odysseys by Iliad Press
How has your life experiences affected your writing?
In “The Open Road,” Dean Carrington’s car is a burgundy 1967 Chevelle Super-Sport. My father had the same car when he was young, but it was gold. I used to play in it for hours. For “Tootsie” I wanted to do a tribute to my deceased relatives. The main characters are named after my mother’s parents, while the supporting characters are from my father’s side.
What scene that you’ve written has moved you the most, and why?
There’s a scene in “The Open Road” where James and Lenoir are trapped in the car and the Deer Man’s head just keeps ramming the windshield as they’re trying to get away. The image of that still creeps me out.
Beta Readers – Yes or No? Why?
I’ve used them a few times to get a feel of how people will receive a story and get their advice on what works and what doesn’t.
What inspires your story ideas?
Most of the time I don’t know where I get my ideas. Other times, like for “Tootsie,” the idea came to me as I was trying on one of my dad’s suitcoats.
Do you belong to any Writing Groups?
I am a member of the Scribes’ Circle, Fiction Writing, and Writing Without Drama. I plan on becoming an active member of Horror Writers Association at some point.
Tell us about all of your works in progress (include your favorite snippets).
The Carrier – After waking up with amnesia on a mysterious island, Greg Walters must put his trust in strangers in order to stay alive. Lisa Monroe awakens in a motel room and quickly realizes she is unable to account for the past year of her life. The two stories intertwine and lead Detective Marc Rodgers on the most twisted case of his life.
The Children of Halloween – Patricia Price loves spending Halloween drinking wine, passing out candy, and watching scary movies with her friends, but when six strange children show up in 1970’s costumes her love turns to fear as Heath Grant eats the last piece of candy in front of them. The Children stalk Patricia and her friends, leading to a bloody showdown.
Have you been published?
I only have one short story published, and it appears in Scout Media’s 2016 anthology A Journey of Words. “The Open Road” is about four friends on a late night road trip who find themselves on a looping collision course with a supernatural creature.
How can readers follow you?
I’m pretty active on Facebook and Instagram, but I do have a Twitter account as well. I try to bring something different to each platform, so be sure to check out all of them.
Is there anything else you want readers to know about you?
I may write about blood and guts and things that’ll devour your insides, but I love puppies and chocolate too. My favorite television show ever is The Golden Girls. How’s that for variety?
Thanks, M.R., for taking the time to share a little piece of you with us!