Duncan Ralston: Crazy, Twisted, and Addictive

Okay, so you have read every Stephen King book there is, and you’re a little edgy. So you pick up some Clive Barker novels and read those. You realize you enjoy some of that weird and spooky stuff. In the middle of The Midnight Meat Train, you’ve come to the great horror that you’re actually enjoying this nonsense! You thought Dean Koontz was great, and Joe Hill tickled you. But you need more. Now you crave something exciting and new. But who, dear reader, will do that for you? *giggles at own rhyme*

Well you are in luck! I have just the man for you!

I first came across Duncan Ralston on Goodreads. I am a part of a horror group (of course) and there was a promotion going on. Be one of the first so many people to email Ralston, and you got a free copy of his e-book Salvage. I was lucky enough to score a copy, but for all I know, he actually gave them out to everyone (don’t tell me Duncan, I want to feel special!). I started reading and was instantly hooked! 

Now, I will be completely honest. I am annoying! I am sure I bugged the hell out of the man, emailing him left and right about his book, and I mentioned I was starting a book blog. I asked him if he would be okay with me reviewing Salvage on my blog and, the sweet man that he is, said of course and offered to promote it once I was finished. I was so excited because if you’ve been with me from the start, you’ll know that my Salvage review was my first! I guess you could say Ralston took away my blogger virginity (too weird?).

Anyway, now that I’ve rambled on and on, let me tell you that this guy is great! He has been patient with me and has kept in touch since then. I have also read two more of his books, which will not be the last. I also just preordered a copy of his new book The Method, which is set to come out in June. And people, his books are great!

I will say, I am glad Salvage was the first Ralston book I read, as the rest are a bit, well, extreme (you can check out the reviews for this within my blog). I was getting a taste of the weird world of Duncan Ralston and I wanted more. I followed up with Woom, then Gristle and Bone. I was not disappointed in any of it! While parts may be a little hard to stomach, his story telling is off the chart! 

So, the man has been kind enough to humor me and answer some questions in a little segment I think I’d like to simply call 10 Questions. Enjoy!

1. I know some of your inspiration comes from authors like Clive Barker and Stephen King. What is an inspiration that you maybe don’t tell too many people about?

I’m inspired by a lot of difference writers, but my influences aren’t limited to books. Tarantino was a huge inspiration when I was younger. Before King and Barker, it was Roald Dahl. In the early 2000s Chuck Palahniuk’s stuff reinvigorated my love of writing. Lost and Twin Peaks inspired a lot of my early attempts after I returned to writing fiction. More recently the movies of Lars Von Trier have pushed me to experiment a little more.

2. Do people treat you differently after reading some of your weirder novels, such as Woom?

I haven’t noticed it, although some people have asked what the hell is wrong with me.

3. Which one of your stories do you think is your favorite?

My latest novel The Method is my favorite at the moment, as it’s freshest in my mind. But I like them all. It’s like picking your favorite kid. They all have aspects I can appreciate.

4. What are your three favorite colors?

I tend to wear black, brown and green. Does that count? When I was little my favorite color was blue.

5. Favorite movie?

That’s tough. I guess I’d have to go with Trading Places. Whenever it’s on I will watch it.

6. What’s one of your guilty pleasures?

I don’t have any pleasures I feel particularly guilty about. I guess maybe the closest would be playing video games when I should be writing.

7. Where’s your favorite vacation destination?

I’d be satisfied at a cabin in the woods on a lake. But my favorite place that I’ve traveled is a tossup between Poland and Austria.

8. How do you come up with some of the twisted stories you write? Woom and Baby Teeth come to mind for this question.

I came up with the idea for “Baby Teeth” after finding what looked like a baby’s tooth in the bathroom cabinet of a house I’d been renting. The story came to me pretty much whole cloth from there. I’d always been fascinated with the idea of a “phantom pregnancy,” that a woman could experience all the symptoms of pregnancy without having conceived. Obviously that’s not where the story leads–at least not in the literal sense–but it was those two separate thoughts that merged to conceive “Baby Teeth.” It seems to be one of my most popular stories so I guess it worked out nicely.
Woom came about differently. I saw a post from UK extreme horror author Matt Shaw saying he was looking to publish a few newbie writers and I knew I wanted to work with him. His work ethic is extremely admirable, and he puts out some great stuff. So from there it was scrambling for ideas. That night I ended up watching the movie Room. A few days prior to that I’d seen the White Christmas episode of Black Mirror and I liked how it was structured. Just two people telling stories in a cabin. The von Trier movie Nymphomaniac was the final piece of the puzzle, structured similarly to White Christmas.
From there all the pieces came into place pretty easily, and I sent off the synopsis. Matt liked it, but I wasn’t sure I could actually write the damn thing! I’d written some sick stuff before (“Baby Teeth,” and “Cuttings” from the first Black Room Manuscripts anthology, for instance) but Woom would definitely be the sickest. Turned out it practically wrote itself, almost like the story of john and prostitute Angel and Shayla in room 6 of the Lonely Motel possessed me.

9. If you could meet one fictional villain, knowing he would not kill you, which one would you want to sit and have a conversation with?

Probably Francis Dollarhyde from Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon. He’s one of the most complexly written and villains I’ve ever read. Although it would probably be more interesting to pick Hannibal Lecter’s brain, if he didn’t pick mine first.
Although for some reason my mind went instantly to George Stark from Stephen King’s The Dark Half. That dude messed me up when I was a kid.

10. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Read and write faster.
Well folks, that about does it for Mr. Duncan Ralston. His books are amazing and you really need to go check them out. Until then, happy reading anf watch for my next featured author!
And I’d like to give a big thank you to Duncan for putting up with me and helping me out! You’re okay in my book!

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