Almost two years ago (which is an eternity in internet-time, it makes me feel like one of those old Jedi Knights — but not Yoda. Probably like one of the other weird alien looking ones — like a scary badass Pikachu) I met author Robert Pruneda on Twitter. That was our hang-out spot, like that diner where Opie used to hang out with John Travolta from Grease.
Which reminds me…
…what was I talking about?
Oh, Rob is super-cool and he has a new book out called The Devil’s Nightmare (but forget I said that part so you’ll be surprised later when I bring it up in a question) and I asked if he would give up the straight-dope about some important topics that are currently shaping our world … like yetis.
Robert Pruneda is @SharkbaitWrites on Twitter so I call him Sharky, because he already came up with that and I’m lazy with nicknames.
So prepareth now as we being the ritual known as:
11 Questions of Badassary!
1. So reading and drawing your own comics was a part of your earliest creative processes – it was for me too. I was in one of those hippie creative-artsy classes and when we got done early with our workbook nonsense we got to raid the art supply closet. The comics were pretty bad, we’d grid out manila paper and draw Indiana Jones, but he’d be like a bug. Those big Mayan temples were kinda ant hills too.
How important was that for you in setting you down the path toward telling stories?
My brother was actually a big inspiration for me early on when I was a mere Halfling drawing comic books. He created comics himself and also took a stab at writing short stories based on his favorite Dungeons & Dragons character Silhouette, a ninja assassin. My brother was a bit of a role model for me back in the day, so naturally I tried to follow in his footsteps and began creating my own stories. I would sit in the living room with The Flinstones playing on the tube and my map pencils, #2 pencil, and Elmer’s glue at the ready, all which were essential tools for a budding self-publisher. My first self-published work was Katie vs. the Ameoba (yes, it’s spelled wrong, but I was a kid, okay). J Think giant snake vs. a mutated version of Godzilla with six clawed tentacles. I’m still waiting for Universal Studios to contact me about the movie adaptation.
2. Then what did those earliest creations morph into? When did you get it into your head that wanted to become serious about being a writer and how did you approach it?
After my brother joined the Marine Corps and fought in Operation Desert Storm, I began drawing my next comic titled, The Marines. I know, catchy title . . . and original too! As I grew up for one reason or another the creative mind took a back seat to video games, school, and thinking about what I wanted to do for a living. It wasn’t until many years later during a dry spell in the employment arena that I started thinking about telling stories through writing again. It was always on the back of my mind, but when I was unemployed I had a lot of time on my hands. It was then that I decided that I was going to stop thinking about writing a novel and just do it. That’s when Pursuit of a Dream was born. Fast forward to my career as a newspaper dude and the age of e-readers and you have the formula for a novelist in the making. Being around journalists all day and in the publishing environment day in and day out really sparked my interest in publishing. After nearly seven years with the newspaper as an obituaries coordinator and advertising rep, and some major differences of opinions with new management, I parted ways and decided to pursue my dream of working from home and writing novels. I took a huge risk in doing so, but I think it was the best decision of my life, and I’m enjoying every moment of it.
3. How difficult was the process of making your first book Pursuit of a Dream a reality and not like a dream anymore (see what I did there?). Why did you decide to go indie and not seek out a traditional publisher? While we’re on the topic, tell us about the book and how you feel the story has resonated with your readers?
Ha! Clever move, my friend.
When I published Pursuit of a Dream I knew absolutely nothing about the process of getting a book into print aside from what I had read in Writer’s Digest magazine. It was through that magazine that I responded to an ad from AuthorHouse (I know, I know). I had no intention of sharing this book with the world at the time. I just wanted to write the story and get it in print as a personal goal. I ended up paying this vanity press around $800 by the time it was all done. In hindsight it was a waste of money, but at the time I felt it was worth it when I held the book in my hands. I think any author can relate to that feeling of holding your first printed book in your hands. My debut novel has since been revised and self-published for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.
Pursuit of a Dream follows the story of a kid with a dream of becoming a professional stock car driver. While the story does involve racing, as I am a fan of NASCAR, I feel it resonates to readers who may not be racing fans also because the story is much more than just motor sports. In a way it’s kind of my own story of pursuing my own dreams of working for myself and writing for a living. Most people who have read Pursuit of a Dream have told me that they have enjoyed it and since I never wrote the book for profit anyway, I gave what little royalties I made away at one time to a campaign to help a fellow author’s son who was fighting Leukemia. Pursuit of a Dream is now free on Kindle, Kobo, and Smashwords. Over 1,200 readers have downloaded Pursuit of a Dream since I began giving it away in January.
I’ve always considered trekking down the traditional route, but I feel the flexibility and having full control of the indie publishing process is what works best for me. This may change in the future, but right now I’m an Indie. This, however, does not mean I’m going at it alone. There is still a team involved, which is a whole other post altogether.
4. You day-jobbed it at the local paper as an obituaries coordinator and you have on more than one occasion driven a hearse (I don’t know, maybe that’s night-jobbing it?). Did that give you any special insight into the metaphysical-more-big-words nature of life and death? The afterworld? Have you ever had an experience with a ghost or other paranormal this-n-that’s that you can’t explain?
I see dead people. My life as an obituaries coordinator was definitely one of the most interesting job’s I have ever had and I’ve learned a lot about the funeral industry since then through my associations with funeral home directors. When I left the newspaper one of the local funeral home owners asked me if I would be interested in helping out for extra green while I started heading down the path of self-employment. I agreed and now night-job it at the funeral home from time to time. Rumor has it there is a ghost in the funeral home, but I have yet to experience it personally. However, I sure as hell have some material for a future horror novel. J I have to say working at a funeral home has been . . . interesting to say the least.
On a serious note, the first time I drove the hearse was for a WWII veteran’s funeral, and considering how much I support our military, I was very honored to do so. One of the directors keeps asking me about going to mortuary school, but I think I’ll pass. I’ll stick to writing and operating my administrative support business from home.
5. You own a 1981 Corvette Stingray? Did you watch that show called Stingray? It was kinda cool huh? About this ex-government badass who was a Navy Seal or used to work for the IRS or something and he drove a Stingray so he called himself Stingray. It sounds like a great story to pickup girls “Hey, my name is Stingray. I didn’t make that up, these snipers did because I’m such a badass and I know how to survive in the jungle just eating snakes and coconuts. I’m a Virgo.”
Stingray does sound bad-ass. I need to go do some web surfing and check it out. That ex-IRS government operative Stingray dude does sounds like a badass, but he doesn’t hold a candle to the intimidating badassary of “Sharky” vV””Vv J. I may eat PB&J sandwiches and chocolate milk, but don’t let that fool you. I’ll take on that Stingray guy any day. (Where’s my stunt double?)
6. What about Automan? That shit was kinda lame and I didn’t buy it for a second, it’s called suspension of disbelief not total-disregard of disbelief, right?
Agreed. While we’re on the subject of Hollywood car stuff, we can’t forget that bad-ass car Kitt from Knight Rider. We all know that Hasseloff took the back seat to Kitt and was really the co-star.
Who would win in a fight against Airwolf and Blue Thunder?
Blue Thunder! Only because the bad-ass piloting that chopper is the same dude that went fist to fin with a monster Great White shark and won . . . TWICE.
What about Street Hawk vs Knight Rider?
Knight Rider of course (and not because of that Baywatch dude). Kitt is the real bad-ass in that series.
Beau Arthur vs Manimal?
Bea Arthur. Have you even seen Golden Girls? I wouldn’t want to be caught in a dark alley with her. Yikes!
7. Speaking of Beau Arthur, your brand new thriller is called Devil’s Nightmare. Crack and ostrich egg of knowledge on our ass and burn us into a literary omelet with some details of this very exciting new book.
Contrary to popular belief Bea Arthur doesn’t actually have a cameo appearance in Devil’s Nightmare that I’m aware of. Horror is my favorite genre and it was only natural for me to take a crack at it, and from what I’ve heard from readers so far, it does fall into the category of bad-ass entertainment. You won’t find any cutesy Care Bears in this story. You also won’t find a long drawn out story line before we get into the action. No sir, you get thrown right into the blood, guts and decapitations of the story from the get go. It’s a page turner and has just enough horror elements in it to keep it creepy, but also isn’t smothered in blood and gore – that’s what Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger are for, and they don’t have starring roles here (although, Voorhees did ask).
Devil’s Nightmare is written from the perspective of Detective Aaron Sanders, a bad-ass cop with an attitude who’s investigating the brutal deaths of two adults and three youths. All but one victim is dismembered and decapitated. This investigation put Sanders on edge and he may have a bit of a chip on his shoulder sometimes, which gives him personality. His demeanor may not even resemble that of your everyday big city cop, but that is by no means a flaw. Real cops can be found on one of those late night “Reality TV” shows. Devil’s Nightmare doesn’t give you that; it doesn’t have a TV crew following Sanders around with a producer trying to pull the strings. This horror-thriller isn’t going to teach you the ins and outs of law enforcement policy and procedure either. No, Devil’s Nightmare is going to entertain you, keep you turning the pages, and creep the hell out of you. That’s the goal, and from what I’ve heard so far, that goal has been met. So, put that TV remote away (you can’t watch reruns of Baywatch and Cops later), and snag yourself a copy of Devil’s Nightmare and find out for yourself. There will be blood.
8. So there’s a cop and he’s investigating crazy shit in Texas. How come it’s always Texas were the weird stuff goes down? How come it’s always cops? Why isn’t it ever a plumber who comes across a secret Satanic conspiracy and goes, “I should totally solve this and save the world. Cause I’m a plumber and I know how to problem solve and track down clues. I have a big-ass wrench, so get thee behind me.”?
Hollywood always has the crazy shit happening in New York City, L.A., and Chicago. Ha! You and I both know the real weirdness and bad-ass stuff is happening right here in the Lone Star State. Texas is where it’s all going down.
Let’s talk about those plumbers, shall we? I think plumbers have been stereotyped. Thank you, Nintendo, for turning our bad-ass wrench-wielding plumbers into a little man jumping around with a plunger and riding on a chubby dinosaur collecting gold coins. I mean, seriously, who does he think he’s intimidating? Give that plumber an M60 and a grenade launcher and then you have a kick-ass hero.
9. You and I both live in Texas, but because it’s Texas it’s like we both live on different planets. I would have run over and had some beers and done this interview live, but it’s like a 17 hour drive. What’s the Yeti to chupacabra ratio over in your part of the state like? Is the coastal yeti hunting kit different than the lonely double-wide in the woods yeti hunting kit that I have?
I think it’s like 10:1 Chupacabra:Yeti, but that’s just based on the last U.S. Government census. I’m sure the yetis lied on the form to keep us yeti hunters guessing.
10. You’re a gamer, I can tell you are because you’d have 18 books released by now on Kindle. What games are you playing now?
I’ll have to get back to you on that . . . I need to finish this side quest on Elder Scrolls: Skyrim first. Oh, wait, it’s a question about video games. I’m currently playing Black Ops 2, Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and Borderlands 2. There are a ton of other games that are in my queue, but those are what I’m playing right now. I have to admit that being a gamer does make it very hard to also be a writer. Now, back to the game . . .
Best game platform ever?
Crap! I forget to save my game before stepping away for the rest of the interview. There goes 20 hours of dungeon dwelling down the tube.
I’m torn between PC and console. I think back in the day I would definitely say PC because I was mainly an RPG player. I loved playing games like Baldur’s Gate, but nowadays you have to have something like a $20,000 computer in order to get the best out of PC games nowadays. So, I’m more of a console player now. That could very well change if I’m able to build a better computer after all those new downloads of Devil’s Nightmare following this interview of course. Hint! Hint!
Nostalgically, what was the best game system from back in the day?
I know the popular choice would be to say the Atari 2600, but (buzz) wrong, I have to say the good ‘ol Mattel Intellivision system, followed by the Sega Genesis. Games nowadays have awesome graphics and sound, but there still nothing like the games of the 80s where you really had to you use your imagination to get the feel of the adventure. I still have my original Intellivision that still works (barely) and another that I bought on eBay that’s in good condition. When I’m feeling all nostalgic, I’ll hook up my Intellivision to my LED TV and kick ass. However, going from Black Ops 2 (2012) to Commandos (1987) is quite a bit of a shock to the system.
11. Is the Devil’s Nightmare going to be a series?
Yes, I’ve decided that Devil’s Nightmare will be at least a three-part series. I’m in the brainstorming stages of Book 2 right now.
When can we expect more Sharky books?
My plan is to have at least one book published this year, possibly two. It all depends on various factors.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the sequel to Pursuit of a Dream, currently untitled. I may also begin working on the sequel to Devil’s Nightmare soon (also untitled).
Thanks for hosting me on your site, JJ. We definitely need to hook up in Austin sometime to do some demon and yeti hunting. There’s always the ComicCon event in November too. I’m sure the yetis will try to blend into the crowds there. We may have difficulty getting our Acme yeti traps through security though.
Robert Pruneda is author of Devil’s Nightmare and Pursuit of a Dream, the first book in a trilogy. AuthorHouse published Pursuit of a Dream in 2004; Pruneda later published a revised e-Book edition of Pursuit of a Dream for the Kindle on September 10, 2011. Pruneda has recently published the supernatural horror Devil’s Nightmare which is now available on Kindle.
Billy Purgatory and the Curse of the Satanic Five is the second book in Jesse James Freeman’s Billy Purgatory series. He has been at war with dark forces (stuff like: cobras, lasers, yetis) his entire life. He enjoys Tweeting, scented candles, and waffles. He is hard at work on Billy Purgatory 3 and an epic poem entitled Witches vs Robots.
If you have a caring heart, like Erin Grey…