Today we have the pleasure of interviewing author Kolby Diaz. Kolby is a relatively new author who enjoys focusing on the horror/thriller genre. He has already experienced some great early success in his writing career having sold several short stories to different magazines/publications this year, and we were honored to feature one of his short stories, “Blirp!“, in our first issue this past July (which you can read HERE).
1. What made you start writing? Were there any particular books/events/people that inspired you to start writing?
I started writing because I felt I had to, I think the same probably holds true for most writers; it’s too hard and too time-consuming to pursue otherwise. I have always found storytelling one of the most enjoyable experiences in my life, both giving and receiving, and love letting my imagination go wild with what-if scenarios. The logical side of my brain is often more than happy to chill in the backseat while the creative right side goes bananas with a concept, transforming a what-if scenario into a living, breathing world full of characters that (at least to me) feel as genuine and as deep as anyone you could meet walking around in the real deal. For example, I get paranoid walking down my dark hallway at night, so this what-if question popped into my mind: What if when you went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, there was actual danger lurking in the darkness? Most of the time it feels like I have no choice, a story forms in my head, and I better be quick enough to plop my butt in a chair and dictate the goings-on for the newly met characters who have crawled from the depths of my subconsciousness. I love everything about it! I love getting to know my characters, I love the little (and sometimes massive) discoveries that seem to develop on their own as I work through a story, I love the brilliant ah ha! moments that get me out of a writer’s block rut, and I love setting readers’ expectations up like bowling pins and then blowing them up with dynamite! *Insert maniacal laughter here* It’s a blast, and it’s utterly gratifying to share something I’ve worked so hard on with my friends and family to enjoy; I hope you enjoy my work too!
I’ve been creatively inspired for as long as I can remember, but I’m not sure what kicked it all off (Godzilla maybe?), so I’ll list a couple of my cornerstones. My genesis is comic books, so with that fact in mind it may not surprise that The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Watchmen by Alan Moore are two of the most influential pieces of fiction that I’ve ever consumed. I’ve read comic books since I was about five-years-old, but I only enjoyed them for the reason that simple-minded little boys enjoy reading comics… face punching. The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were gateway drugs to fiction with real depth. I read The Dark Knight Returns when I was thirteen, and I’ve never looked back. Suddenly, most of my old collection was trash, and I had a thirst for stories with substance. I could go on about these two books and what makes them so great forever, but I won’t; pick those bad boys up yourself if you haven’t read them yet, and you’ll see what I’m talking about!
Honorable mention: Every Harry Potter book. “¡Lavate los manos!”
2. What is your writing process? Is it a set process or more fluid?
My writing process is constantly changing, it can be set or fluid depending on where I’m at on a piece, but I’m always willing to try anything (no matter how ridiculous it might be) when writer’s block rears its ugly head. The main thing I make sure to do is write every day. I don’t care how I do it, if it means writing out chapters in outline form on a Word document (because my brain doesn’t get intimidated that way), or scribbling away messily in a notebook only to transcribe it to type later like some archaeologist deciphering chicken scratch hieroglyphics that almost resemble words complete with incomprehensible side notes to myself and scarce amounts of punctuation. Sometimes I roll out of bed straight away and begin writing before my brain wakes up because I’ve found that logical thinking only gets in the way of creativity, and I know I’m very illogical when I’m half asleep. Overall, I’d say what has proven most effective for me is to just write everything out, throw it all up on the page, get brave, get weird, create a mess, and then clean it up later during the editing process.
3. What advice do you have for new/aspiring writers?
The best advice that I could give to new or aspiring writers is to write! It’s crazy to think of how many “aspiring” writers I’ve talked to who do not do the very thing that makes people writers to begin with. Of course, you’re going to suck when you start out, the trick is to keep doing it until you suck less! Write! Especially when you don’t feel like it; if you sit on your hands waiting around for inspiration to strike you’ll never get anywhere. Write the things that you’d love to read, think of all the amazing ideas that make you want to slap yourself in the face because you’re wondering why no one else has ever come up with such brilliance. Write and read! If you’re not writing, you should be reading. Cut down on TV, video game, and social media time (except when you’re promoting yourself). Learn from the greats, and maybe some of their genii will seep off the page and into your brain. I’m far, far, far from a grizzled veteran, but I’ve listened to enough of them to know that what I’m saying is true… plus isn’t writing to become a writer kind of a no-brainer?
Here are a few books that I’m eternally grateful for in my growth as a writer:
On Writing by Stephen King
Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass
Thank you for sharing so much of your insight, Kolby! It’s great to see how you take so much inspiration from works you read and study. You’re definitely an author people should stay on the look out for, and we were honored to publish one of your early works!