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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Saturday Special Report-2023 Dark Dozen Interview Series: Brennan LaFaro

Updated: Feb 25


Our fourth author in this series is the highly talented Brennan LaFaro. His story, The Sleepwalk Society, will be joining the Dark Disasters anthology this November.



Brennan has quickly become one of my favorite authors and over this past year has also become a good friend. I'm honored to have him on board for Dark Disasters and I hope you enjoy learning more about him!


Read on to see how he handles the Dark Dozen!


 

When did you know you wanted to become an author?

If I had to put a date on it, it would be 2019. I’ve been an avid reader for a long time and never satisfied just engaging with art. If I hear music, I want to play. The thing is, I didn’t think I had the tools to be a writer. I’d only ever taken Basic English classes in school and passed those with flying mediocrity. I remember lying in bed at night, trying to craft a story in my head, and getting nowhere. Then one day, August 19th, to be specific, I sat down at the kitchen table with a notebook and just started writing. Those were the first words of what would become my first book, Slattery Falls. I haven’t really stopped since.



If you had three sentences to pitch your work to a new reader, what is your pitch?

I write character-driven horror with as much heart as I can cram into the pages. In my books, you’ll find tension that ratchets up until you can’t take it anymore, all kinds of things living in the shadows, and people you’d swear you know. Found family, sacrifice, disability representation, and looking out for kids are themes that pervade most of my work.



What is your favorite thing about being in the Horror industry?

Cliché as it might sound, it’s the people, and it’s not even really close. In the past four years, I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. People that read and support my writing, yeah, but more than that, people who check in when they haven’t heard from me in a few days, genuinely care when things are hard, and make life on this fucked up planet a little closer to bearable.



What’s the one thing that scares you the most in this world and have you ever written about it?

The older I get, it’s time. It’s unstoppable, unbeaten, and the only commodity you can’t buy. In a way, that fear leads me to live with a certain thoughtfulness, knowing I’ll never write every story that passes through my mind or read every book that lands on my shelf. No matter how much time I dedicate to my wife and kids, it’s finite.

In a way, the Slattery Falls trilogy, especially the second and third book, deal with this idea. No spoilers, go read it. Rather than devoting a novel to fully explore the idea, it seems like the type of theme destined to slither into everything I write, at least in small doses.



Tell us about a scene in one of your stories or someone else’s that you would not want to be stuck in and why? Name the book and author, if not you.

Call it cheating, but the entire third act of the first Slattery Falls book. I’ve never ever liked basements. Lights on, lights off, they are creepy, uninhabitable places. And that made it the perfect place to center that book around. Add in undead children, a vengeful ghost, and the way the environment changes at the whims of a madman, flying in the face of all logic? Shudder city. Fuck that.



Darkest or most disturbing horror movie ever watched:

I wouldn’t call it the darkest or most disturbing, but the movie that unsettled me the most was the Blair Witch Project. Remember that in 1999, found footage wasn’t all that common yet. Most of us fourteen-year-olds hadn’t really seen anything like it. Combine that with the marketing and the atmosphere of dread, arguably unmatched in the found footage genre, and that movie caused me a fair few sleepless nights. And let’s not discount the final scene. Again. In a damn basement.



Darkest or most disturbing horror novel ever read:

Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door is unmatched in this arena. Knowing it’s based on true events ups the ante, but mostly it's the way Ketchum presents it. As a coming of age. The moral ramifications are staggering, and Ketchum does not let the reader look away or skip past that thought process. Even though it gets lumped into extreme horror fairly often, it’s what Ketchum doesn’t show that makes the book truly horrifying. There’s a one paragraph chapter that follows some truly horrible and inhumane violence where the narrator basically says, I can’t tell you what happens next. With what’s come before, it avoids being a copout. Instead, it’s a chapter that will always stay with me.


Darkest/ Worst Way to Die:

Even I’m disappointed at the lack of creativity in this answer, but it’s got to be drowning. Being stuck underwater, unable to draw breath, lungs burning, chest pounding, and knowing there’s nothing you can do. So inevitable. I drew on that fear to write one of my favorite scenes in Decimated Dreams. If you know, you know.



If you had one hour to speak to any living author, who would it be and why?

Through hosting the Dead Headspace podcast, I’ve been spoiled to do just this with a number of authors I respect. The white whale we haven’t had on—yet—is the King himself. Like so many of us, Stephen King served as my introduction to horror. His work means so much to me, and not a year goes by that I don’t reread at least four or five of his books, in addition to catching up on the new ones. Beyond that, he’s lived and breathed horror for more than five decades, and since Dead Headspace prides itself on chronicling this era of horror, King would undoubtedly have a great deal of insight on the way the industry has changed and evolved over the years.



What has been one of the proudest moments of your writing journey?

I’ve been lucky to have more than a few to choose from, but probably selling my horror western, Noose, to Dark Lit Press. Obviously, signing a contract for my first book was a massive, over-the-moon moment. I celebrated appropriately. However, it was hard to shake the imposter syndrome. I’d established a relationship with the publisher. It was lightning in the bottle. Pick your poison. Finding a home for my second book entirely on the merit of my work gave me a little boost of confidence and made me think, hey, maybe I can do this thing.



Who are you outside of being an author? What makes you tick other than the worlds and stories you create?

Most of my non-writing life revolves around my family. I’ve got a beautiful wife and two awesome boys packed in a house with three hounds. It’s hectic, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My day job(s) revolve around teaching music to children, both in an elementary setting and through private piano and guitar lessons. It is an absolute privilege, as well as a great responsibility, to help young kids discover a love of music, and even more importantly, an ability to create.



What is a piece of advice that you WISH someone had given you early in your career?

That most advice is one rung up the ladder from useless. Everybody has a piece of advice to give and it’s important to listen, and equally important to realize they’re sharing, with every good intention, what has worked for them. Everyone’s process, experience, and voice is different. So, as it turns out, the most obvious advice is also the best. Write as much as you can. That’s how you get better. Oh, and read a metric shit-ton, but I already knew that one.



Brennan LaFaro's Bio:

Brennan LaFaro is a horror writer living in southeastern Massachusetts with his wife, two sons, and his hounds. An avid lifelong reader, Brennan also co-hosts the Dead Headspace podcast. Brennan is the author of the horror western Noose, the story collection Illusions of Isolation, and the Slattery Falls trilogy. You can read his short fiction in various anthologies and find him on Twitter at @brennanlafaro.


Brennan's Website:

 


 

 


 

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