Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My name is Mark Allan Gunnells. I’m a 41 year old “southern boy” who lives in Greer, South Carolina, with my fiance Craig Metcalf. I work as a security guard to pay the bills while pursuing my writing. Storytelling has been my passion since I was very young, and I’m very proud to be getting my stuff out there.
I have thus far published 18 books with a variety of small press publishers.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is a short story collection called FLOWERS IN A DUMPSTER, released from Crystal Lake Publishing. While I like writing novels and novellas, short fiction has always been my first and truest love and I wanted to release a collection that really displayed my range. Tales that encompassed a variety of subjects, tones, themes. I also wanted to include pieces that dated as far back as my college years to ones I wrote just last year. And that’s how FLOWERS IN A DUMPSTER was born.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I’m very lucky in that I get to do the majority of my writing at my day job during my downtime. The thing is, I never know when I may have downtime or how long it will last, so I may just get to write for five minutes and have to stop for an hour then get back to it for fifteen minutes more. Some may find that sort of stop-and-start method hard to do, but I’ve sort of trained myself to write in the sporadic pockets of time that pop up.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Cliche as it sounds, King is a big influence on me. He has such a love of storytelling, and I adore his use of small towns and small town people. I also admire Joe Lansdale greatly, someone who writes what he wants and doesn’t worry about crossing genre because he is his own genre. Clive Barker also was a big inspiration for me coming up, both as someone who initially made his name in the short form and as a gay man working in the horror genre.
What are you working on now?
I just completed a collaboration with Australian horror writer Aaron Dries, a very different kind of zombie tale called WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE. And I’ve just started on my next solo project, a novella called BOOK HAVEN.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I do a lot of promoting on my Facebook page and my blog. However, I realize that with those I’m basically reaching the same people over and over so I like to do what I call “blog swaps”, where I let other writers do guest blogs on my page and I do guest blogs on theirs. That way maybe we can each reach some of the other’s readers and get them interested in our own work.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Have fun. Yes, you have to learn the business in, you have to self-promote especially in the small press, and you want to work to always improve your craft and get better–but none of that matters if you aren’t actually enjoying what you do. So pursue the stories that excite you, and just have a great time.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Write what you love.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently finishing up Clive Barker’s masterpiece Imajica. I’m ashamed it took me this long to read it, but what he has accomplished here is quite amazing. When I’m done with that I’ll dive right into King’s new collection. I’m very excited as I think the man can still do amazing short fiction.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m just going to keep writing stories that excite me. Once I’m done with BOOK HAVEN, I’m going on to a new novel 432 ABERCORN.
What is your favorite book of all time?
That is so hard to say. I have a fondness for coming-of-age type tales like King’s THE BODY, Lansdale’s THE BOTTOMS, and McCammon’s BOY’S LIFE. Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE is an extraordinary piece of dystopian fiction. Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE is a fantasy novel that truly illuminates so much about the human condition. So I guess the answer is, I can’t pick just one.