When I first met Glenn Rolfe, I knew we were cut from the same cloth. We quickly talked about all things music and horror and had many common passions, from Springsteen to vintage Stephen King, to 80s metal to obscure punk bands. His career has been really taking off, and his writing output has grown tremendously. Each one of his releases has been different in story, but the characters are the kind of people you immediately feel comfortable with–like the guys you’d have a few beers with at the bar who’d give you a jump when that damn old thing won’t start on the way home. But Glenn being Glenn: there’s going to be something sinister lurking just behind that corner . . .
From your first collection of short stories, I feel your writing has gone on to be more and more successful with each release. You’re on fire, creatively. To top off your writing, you also are a successful rock n’ roll musician and a very esteemed member of your day job. Not to mention being a dad. How do you juggle it all?
I have a lot of help! I do a lot of writing on my overnight shifts at the hotel I work at. I don’t play in bands as much, but still do when I have a spare Saturday. My wife and kids are amazing. They deserve my home time and I give it to them. Writing success? I think it comes from hard work, constantly doing something to promote yourself or others, and having a good story to push. I just got started at this, so I hope to only get better as an artist, as a writer, and as person.
Speaking of: you’re a rocker! We spoke about our mutual love of Springsteen and 80s metal at one of the Stoker awards. I loved the Abrahm’s Bridge nod. How much does that inform your work?
Loads. Yeah, Abram’s Bridge was inspired by “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, as you know, I’m also working on another Springsteen nod, “Stolen Car.” I love to incorporate my favorite songs and artists into my stories. Everything from Alkaline Trio to the Boss to Taylor Swift.
Most highly creative people I know are multi-hyphenate great at several disciplines. We know about your writing and we’ve rocked out to some of your videos. Is there something else lurking inside? Painting? Filmmaking? Something like that?
Um…not that I’m aware of. I’ve been doing music since I was 17, but I didn’t start writing until I was 34…so maybe there is another avenue for me to discover down the road. I wouldn’t mind making a movie. I’ve heard my stories read like movies. I’d also like to throw my hat in the publishing ring.
Each of your works feels different to me, as if you’re exploring different styles and stories. Blood & Rain is a rip-roaring action book, but your latest is a haunting slow-burn that quite literally pulls you in at the end. Are there any other styles you’re writing in?
I don’t want to write the same story over and over again. I like the idea of complete freedom when writing. I have a book on the back burner that has nothing to do with horror (also inspired by one of the saddest songs I’ve heard in recent times). I like the idea of going full alien invasion someday, but I feel like 90 % of whatever I do will still have a toe or two in the horror pool.
So far, you’ve been all horror, all the time, as far as the public has been concerned. Do you have any non-horror works?
Like I said, definitely. I have the sad story, real dramatic piece about a boy who loses his mother and a father who has to try and figure out how to help him get past the immense loss. I also have a crime novel drafted up in my mind about some real life stuff from a town about two hours from where I live.
Most people who attain success pretty much focus on themselves, yet, you have spearheaded many Samhain authors and you are always looking out for everyone else, thinking of new ways to promote your fellow authors, and promoting them by hand. You don’t have to do this! I think it’s amazing, but what’s behind this generous and all inclusive spirit?
I came from a punk rock scene where we were all trying to get out together. We were all celebrating each other and each other’s successes, each step forward, each show, each record. We were a family. I think I just carried that with me into this next phase in my life. The horror genre is very much like the punk scene. We’re the black sheep, we’re the underdogs, we’re the misfits forced to work and fight from the shadows. You would think that with the success of King and a handful of others, combined with the recent success of TV like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead we’d find a broader reach, but that just remains to be seen.
I believe we can prevail if we work together. Most of the presses I’ve worked with or talked to or seen on social media do a good job of working together. There’s always exceptions, but I think we’re a mostly solid community.
As for my supporting others, I’ve had published authors supporting me, giving me advice since day one. I figure it’s my duty to repay that unnecessary support by doing the same. Ronald Malfi didn’t owe me a damn thing, but he’s been a helpful hand from the start for me. Russell James, Jonathan Janz, and Hunter Shea listened to me when I was just a fan asking questions about getting published, getting better at the craft. Paying it forward. That’s about the gist of things.
Most people would only think of one name when they think of ‘horror writer’ and ‘Maine’ –– but you are quickly rising in visibility, and people are noticing it’s not a one man show up there. I imagine there may be a horror writing scene brewing, kind of like Seattle in the late 80s. Any truth to that hunch?
There are plenty of aspiring and talented folks up here. Nate Kenyon is from here. Kristin Dearborn went to the same school as me. Although he’s a transplant, Peter N. Dudar, who was nominated a few years back for Best First Novel (Stokers) for his novel, A Requiem for Dead Flies, lives about twenty minutes from me. April Hawks, Morgan Sylvia, and many, many more.
The small towns, creepy woods, and freaky weather tend to inspire the creative types that lurk up here.
Being an author is changing drastically. When pretty much anyone can and have written books and uploaded them to Amazon, what distinguishes a pro from that onslaught? And how can readers know the difference?
You can’t know the difference without reading the work. There are good self-published books out there, but they do seem to be in the minority.
Best to go with reviews by people or names that you trust. Maybe if the cover looks like it was drawn by a 4th grader, steer clear. If you see the guy or gal responding poorly to negative reviews, that’s often a sign of unchecked ego. See Labbe, Rod.
Going with a book by a publisher is still the best barometer of professionalism. At least there’s a gatekeeper that agrees that the author’s story is worthy of being read. Even some of those are still misses, but the percentages are better going with traditional pub vs. self-pub.
What does the future hold?
I’m working on my next short story collection, the follow-up to Blood and Rain, a number of novellas, and much more. I have some plans up my sleeves in the wake of our publisher’s shake-up, but that’s down the road.
My next official release will either be my short story collection or my novella, Chasing Ghosts, which is coming from the fine folks at Sinister Grin Press in early 2017.
Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.
He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.
He is the author the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and his latest, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will also be released in March 2016. His next book, Chasing Ghosts, will be coming by 2017.
He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!
Praise for Things We Fear
“Things We Fear is a compulsively readable tale of obsession and dark suspense, with one of the creepiest villains I’ve encountered in recent years.” — Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh
“Glenn Rolfe’s new thriller is addictive. A quick, compelling read. Rolfe creates tension with a minimal amount of words. His characters are so well-drawn they come alive (before they die).” — Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage
“Fast paced and tense, with one of the most interesting monsters I’ve read about in recent times.” — Patrick Lacey, author of A Debt to Be Paid
“Glenn Rolfe is quickly establishing a name for himself as one of a number of excellent new writers to ensure the horror genre is kept alive and well. His previous books – Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town and Blood and Rain – have also served to show the extensive breadth of his imagination and Things We Fear carries on that trend. Quite simply, each story is fresh, new, exciting, and unpredictable.” — Catherine Cavendish, author of Dark Avenging Angel
“In this frighteningly real look at true horror, Rolfe manages to up the ante of tension while balancing genuinely heartbreaking moments, while showcasing his talent for creating unforgettable characters placed in equally unforgettable moments.” — David, Beneath The Underground
“There is a definite old school feel about this novella. It isn’t an over the top gore fest. Instead, what we have is a tense, psychological thriller that builds steadily towards a fitting climax.” -Adrian Shotbolt, at Ginger Nuts of Horror
Praise for Abram’s Bridge (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)
“This is a stellar debut from Glenn Rolfe, a tale that will give you chills as much as it will make you question the hardness in men’s hearts and the spirit of redemption.” -Hunter Shea, Author of The Montauk Monster and Island of the Forbidden
“If you’re looking for a page-turning who-done-it with a touch of the supernatural and a solid all around story that satisfies, then look no further.” -David Bernstein, author of Goblins and Unhinged
Praise for Boom Town (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)
“Short and sharp, Glenn Rolfe’s BOOM TOWN packs in in for a novella. An excellent blend of horror and sci-fi, with way more character development than you usually see in a shorter work like this.” -Russell James, Author of Q Island
“Boom Town is a fun, fast-paced read packed with action, copious amounts of alien slime and an aura of creepiness that is sure to appeal to both horror and science fiction fans.” -Rich, The Horror Bookshelf
Purchase Things We Fear
Purchase Where Nightmares Begin
Amazon (Kindle edition. Print link coming soon)