Over the years a number of fans have said that John Bellairs motivated them to write. You know – books. This month we introduce one such writer, Richard Denney, who has authored stories for teens and children such as Violet Fury and The Immortalists. Denney lives out in the west Texas town of El Paso and shares his thoughts about John with us – and he’s such a fan he says he’s getting a tattoo in memory of him this summer. During his down time from writing, blogging, and YouTubing, Richard has been known to catch The Vampire Diaries on the telly, too.
Q: How and when did you first become aware of John’s books?
A: In elementary school I despised books. I don’t remember why I did, but I did. When middle school came around I for some reason ventured into the school’s library and found my escape. I read a few teen horror novels and one day, while it was snowing outside I came upon The Lamp from the Warlock’s Tomb by John Bellairs. I was captivated by the cover art by Edward Gorey and after reading the synopsis, I took it to the check-out counter and that, dear readers, was the day I fell in love with John’s books. Fast forward to 2012 and I still reread John’s books and spread the word about my favorite author. No other writer has come close to making me feel the way a Bellairs book can.
Q: Tell us about your books. How much did Bellairs have an influence over your writing?
A: My first book was A Girl's Guide to Falling in Love with a Zombie - it's YA fiction and it was a blast to write. The Immortalists is my favorite of my books because it's middle grade and I had the most fun writing it. I am currently writing the sequel, Fateful, which is slated for an early 2013 release.
As for John, he had plenty of influence over me and my writing. I wouldn’t be where I am today without reading his books and without him inspiring me writing wise. He is my favorite author and always will be.
Q: If you were going to recommend one of your books to someone, which one, and why?
A: I would recommend The Immortalists because I think I put my entire heart and soul in it when I wrote it. I put my heart and soul into all of my books, but this holds a special place. It also has plenty of adventure and suspense that I think everyone would enjoy.
Q: What advice would give you other fans about writing and self-publishing?
A: Write what you love! Don’t attempt to write the next Harry Potter or Twilight phenomenon, just be true to yourself while writing and I can guarantee you will never regret a single day you’ve spent on a novel or short story.
To publish my books I use CreateSpace. I love the site because your books are available on Amazon and on AmazonUK and in Europe. When I have my final draft, I always make the book cover first and then upload the final draft to the site and format it for paperback. I also use AmazonKDP which is for publishing eBooks. I love self publishing and I don't I'll ever stop.
Q: You have a blog, a YouTube channel, you write, and surely you have an offline life – how are your time management habits?
A: I always make time to write and read, that is for sure. I tend to write in the middle of the night because for some reason I get a surge of writing energy when two o'clock in the morning comes around. But I prefer to write in the morning, though it never works out that way. I also work in a public library where I work with children and teens who are barely venturing into the world of books and I always sneak a Bellairs recommendation into what I do there. But I make time for writing and when not reading or writing I can be found watching a horror movie with a pint of chocolate chip mint ice cream to keep me good.
Q: What’s next in your writing and online endeavors?
A: I am currently finishing the second book in my middle grade trilogy The Immortalists and writing another middle grade series about a twelve year old witch. I do hope to one day have the type of fans that John has and to be remembered for my books. All of my books and even I can be found on Goodreads.
Q: In this fast paced, high-tech world of ours, do you still think John’s work has a valid place?
A: Yes, I think they do. I have always enjoyed the fact that his books took place in the fifties or earlier and I think that is what makes them extra wonderful. I think if someone were to revamp one of his books with a modern feel it would completely ruin everything and just wouldn’t be the same.
Q: What other author/book(s) would you recommend to a Bellairs fan?
A: I would recommend my middle grade line of books I have written, as well as Harry Potter and Michelle Harrison’s Thirteen Treasures trilogy. I am 24 years old but I still enjoy great middle grade novels.
Q: If you were making a movie based on one of John’s books what’s one thing you would to ensure is included?
A: The 1950s setting would have to be included, and I would love to see The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb become a motion picture.
Q: Just for grins...speaking of movies, being from El Paso, has Manos: The Hands of Fate ever been remotely considered an influence?
A: I have never seen that film so I don't consider it an influence. But I will have to check it out one day.
Q: Compleat this sentence: You know you’ve read too much John Bellairs when –
A: ...you name your cat Professor Childermass.