Good mornin’ Creeps… time for another round of 20 Questions, courtesy of the good folks at Seventh Star Press. Today’s victim is the ultra-talented Bob Freeman, here to talk about himself and his new book, Shadows Over Somerset. This book is gorgeous, kids. Start to finish, it’s one of the prettiest books I’ve ever held. Haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but it promises to make me very happy.
But enough about me… come on in and let’s see what Mr. Freeman has to say…
About Shadows Over Somerset
Michael Somers is brought to Cairnwood, an isolated manor in rural Indiana, to sit at the deathbed of a grandfather he never knew existed. He soon finds himself drawn into a strange and esoteric world filled with werewolves, vampires, witches… and a family curse that dates back to fourteenth century Scotland.
In the sleepy little town of Somerset, an ancient evil awakens, hungering for blood and vengeance… and if Michael is to survive he must face his inner demons and embrace his family’s dark past.
Shadows Over Somerset is the first Cairnwood Manor Novel.
20 Questions with Bob Freeman
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.
Or, I’m a husband and father by day, and an author, artist, and paranormal adventurer by night. I live on the outskirts of a tiny little rural town in northern Indiana, roughly two miles from the farm where I was born and raised.
I studied anthropology in college, with a focus on witchcraft, magic, and religion, and have been something of an amateur occult detective since 1983.
How long have you been writing?
43 years, give or take, if you count me writing short stories as a weeling by cribbing from Mighty Thor comics. If we’re being more honest and using first publication as the high-water mark, then a little more than ten years.
What is a typical day in your life like?
I work seven days a week, either in office or on call, as the manager of the tech support office of a small ISP. That equates to roughly 96 hours a week. My typical day is me trying to talk your grandma off the roof of her house because she either hasn’t received the latest church newsletter in her inbox or Farmville has locked up her computer and she desperately needs to water her strawberries.
In between that, wrestling with my 10 year old son, and gazing lovingly into my wife’s pretty blue eyes, I manage to squeeze out some writing time. Luckily I type fast. Sometimes.
Robert E. Howard, without a doubt. I discovered Howard as a boy, when I snatched up a Boris-covered copy of Conan the Freebooter in a Marion bookstore. The first story I read was “A Witch Shall Be Born” and it blew me away. It literally changed my life. I have been Howard obsessed ever since.
Howard, for me, embodies that kinetic prose that fires the imagination and drips blood off the page. It is fierce and brutal and bristling with a feral energy unmatched by any author since.
And the characters — Conan, Solomon Kane, Steve Harrison, Kull, Bran Mak Morn, and so many more… In twelve short years, Howard had more than 100 stories published in pulp magazines. The vast majority of them were pure freakin’ gold.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
When people emigrated to America, what happened to the gods they left behind? This is the question Gaiman tackles in his ambitious American Gods. But more than that, through Shadow’s eyes we see America for what it really is, in the undercurrent of reality, and we see what shape reality takes when the blinders come off.
A brilliant, evocative piece of work, and one I revisit often.
Spectre — a 1977 TV Movie (Failed Pilot), Directed by Clive Donner, Written by Gene Roddenberry and Samuel A. Peeples, Starring Robert Culp as William Sebastian, Gig Young as Dr. Amos Hamilton, and John Hurt as Mitri Cyon.
I’d already begun to have a fascination for occult detectives prior to Spectre. There was The Night Stalker, The Norliss Tapes, The Sixth Sense on Night Gallery, and a host of stories I’d fell upon by Howard, Hodgson, Quinn, Wellman, and the like. But there was something altogether special about Robert Culp’s potrail of criminologist and occult detective William Sebastian. Sure, some of the symbolism is dodgy and the effects rather cheesey, but the essence of the tale, the heart of the matter, was pure.
The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin
When I was younger, I referred to this as the song one should be married and buried to. Richly textured, the song defies classification. At its core, it is a ballad, but it swells between melancholy and triumphant elation, beautifully orchestrated and performed by these legendary and iconic rock gods.
Page’s guitar is sublime and magical. Plant’s lyric and vocal, transcendent.
Before I die and drift off into the great hereafter, it is this song that I want to carry me over the Abyss.
What’s worse for you: a bad reader review, or a bad review from a fellow author?
Neither. You can’t be a slave to the opinions of others. You have to write for yourself and be true to your vision. To pay too much attention to reader and peer reviews is the way of madness.
When choosing reading material, what factors are important to you?
World-building, internal consistency, and emotional resonance.
Tell us about your most recent book and how we can get it:
Shadow Over Somerset is a gothic romance with testosterone.
Michael Somers is brought to Cairnwood, an isolated manor on the outskirts of the sleepy little town of Somerset in rural Indiana, to sit at the deathbed of a grandfather he never knew existed. He soon finds himself drawn into a strange and esoteric world filled with werewolves, vampires, witches… and a family curse that dates back to fourteenth century Scotland.
Shadows Over Somerset, the first novel in the Cairnwood Manor series, is available through Amazon or Barnes & Noble in electronic and trade paperback formats..
Of your backlist/coming soon agenda, what’s your favorite story? Why?
Mourn Not the Sleepless Children, originally published in 2009 by Burning Effigy Press in the anthology Fresh Blood.
Mourn was the first story I’d written that got serious critical acclaim. It, likeShadows, had a gothic romance feel to it, and I think it really showcased the kind of prose I was capable of.
Mourn Not the Sleepless Children will be republished in First Born, the first book in my Liber Monstrorum series, in 2015 by Seventh Star Press.
How many genres do you write in? Which is your favorite?
All the stories I have published thus far have been in the horror genre, though many might rightly be called urban fantasies, gothic romances, or the like. My preference is to write within the occult detective genre, and is what I am best known for. I do have a keen interest in the sword and sorcery genre and hope to address it more fully in the future.
Your inspiration – is it from your imagination or from personal experience?
If I were to guess, I’d say it’s in the neighborhood of 30% imagination. 70% personal experience. I live and die by the old adage, write what you know.
Are the blood and guts necessary? Why or why not?
Not by a long shot. For me, it’s mood. It’s atmosphere. Gore is all about shock factor. Without the proper ambiance, it rings hollow and untrue.
Plotter of Pantser? Is there an advantage to either?
Seat of my pants, all the way. I enjoy the sense of discovery one gets from not knowing where the story is going. I’ve never been able to follow an outline and hate pitching synopsis’ for unwritten stories. I don’t know how plotters do it, to be honest. For me, an outline sucks the energy write off of the page.
How do you go about researching your stories?
Research? Is that a thing? Honestly, I’ve been investigating the paranormal for more than 30 years, I just cull from the best cases and, sometimes, amp them up a bit.
I also, typically, write about places not too far removed from my backyard, or, at the very least, locations I’ve spent a fair amount of time in.
As an author, what’s next for you?
From Seventh Star Press, I have two Cairnwood Manor novels on the horizon,Keepers of the Dead and Shadow of the Wolf, and the Liber Monstrorum series, which will consist of First Born, Descendant, Born Again, and Afterbirth.
For Permuted Press, I am co-writing a horror novel with Brendan Deneen calledUnderhill.
Best monster ever: vampire, werewolf, or zombie?
Werewolf. Traditionally they’re terrifying, feral creatures, cursed with a ravenous hunger for human flesh, enslaved to the course of the moon overhead. Theirs is an existence of horrific torment, forced to live as man andbeast, but never being able to fully embrace either.
If you could live in any period throughout history, which would it be and why?
I have a fondness for modern conveniences, but I can’t help but wonder what it might have been like to live during the late 19th and early 20th Century. I would have dearly liked to have been a part of the Hermetic and Spiritualist movements of the time period and to have rubbed shoulders with the giants of that era. And later, to have wormed my way into the Lovecraft Circle, by hook or by crook.
About Bob Freeman
Bob Freeman doesn’t just write and draw occult detectives, he’s also a card carrying paranormal adventurer who founded Nightstalkers of Indiana in 1983.
A lifelong student of witchcraft, magic, and religion, Bob’s studies are reflected in his art, both as an author and illustrator.
Bob lives in rural Indiana with his wife Kim and son Connor.
He can be found online at http://www.occultdetective.com