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Nick Kolakowski - Crazy Kill Coordinator

I featured Nick's book Beach Bodies in an Evil Eval, and I was SO not prepared for the twists and turns contained within! There was something unexpected around every turn, and I was dying to ask that creative mind some writing questions (and of course ridiculous ones). I was so glad he was willing to participate!


I can't say enough how much I love doing these, and learning more about the members of our fantastic horror community. This never gets boring, and I hope you all enjoy these segments as much as I do!


1. What popular movie that isn’t horror, do you think could be turned into an excellent horror movie? What changes would you make?

This might be a bit weird, but ‘Easy Rider’ could easily be tweaked into a horror film. In case you haven’t seen it (major spoiler alert), the characters played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are gunned down in the final moments by some dudes in a pickup truck who really don’t like counterculture types. I’ve always thought—what if the Fonda and Hopper characters came back as revenants of some sort? What if they wanted revenge? What if they had powers?

I even have an alternative title: “THE 60s WILL NEVER DIE.”


2. What are your earliest memories of digging into horror?

When I was in fifth grade, I discovered King’s “Skeleton Crew” at the local library. It’s a uniformly excellent question, but I particularly fell in love with “The Monkey,” a story about a toy monkey that brings an immense amount of death and destruction down on an unsuspecting family. I tried writing my own horror story about a wind-up toy unleashing the apocalypse, and my parents thought it was pretty good—which sparked me to keep writing. In a very roundabout way, “Skeleton Crew” is responsible for my writing career.


3. Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

Virtually every character I write has elements of people I know. Sometimes it’s conscious—I’ll model an element of a fictional character off someone I know in real life, often as a homage. At other moments, it’s decidedly unconscious—I’ll re-read something years after publication and realize I’ve essentially replicated someone I know in print. Taking bits from real people for fiction helps make your fictional characters more real.


4. How did you initially get into the writing community, and what are a couple of the most important lessons you’ve learned along the way?

In New York, there’s a regular event called Noir at the Bar where people read their latest crime and horror stories; that was my entrance into the local writing community, and from there I discovered a larger community on Twitter, Discord communities, and more. It’s important to make friends with other writers—real friends, not transactional relationships—because it’s often a lonely profession.


5. Would you rather be lost in the woods with a wendigo or Bigfoot, or in the middle of a city during a zombie outbreak?

In the middle of a city during a zombie outbreak, 100 percent. I have some outdoor survival skills, but I assume Bigfoot knows the woods a lot better, and it’s also faster and stronger; I’d have maybe a few hours before it popped off my head like a champagne cork. With a zombie outbreak in a city, I feel like you have far more options for survival—lots of places to hide, lots of things you can convert into weapons, lots of potential allies (so long as they don’t get bitten).


6. What would be your plan for post-apocalyptic survival (think The Stand by Stephen King, rather than zombies)?

A couple of my friends and relatives have farms or compounds in more rural areas. In the initial stages of the post-apocalypse, I’d definitely head for one of their homes. I’d offer up my skills in exchange for shelter. Beyond that, I’m not sure what I’d do—I’m not one for roving the wastelands.


7. If you were offered a job like Julia’s in Beach Bodies, would you take it?

If I could bring my family and my animals! At the very least, that kind of isolation would allow me to get some serious writing done—although as ‘The Shining’ taught us, sometimes an isolated writer will lose their mind…


8. What do you look forward to the most when Halloween rolls around?

Halloween is always an excellent excuse to break out and binge on every classic horror movie (‘Night of the Living Dead,’ ‘Halloween,’ etc.) that I haven’t revisited in quite some time! Technically, I could do that at any time of year, but Halloween seems to provide an additional impetus for actually making that happen.


9. What advice would you offer someone new to writing horror?

I think a lot of people who are new to horror try to emulate what’s come before—and that’s OK! I certainly did. But at a certain point, it’s important to establish your own identity. Instead of leaning into the trope or cliché, it’s always good (and fun) to step back and ask yourself: How can I subvert what’s come before? How can I spin this differently? Once you start thinking along those lines, you can produce some pretty unique stuff.


10. Do you have a set routine for writing? Specific music you listen to, snack nearby, etc.?

I have a set 90 minutes a day, almost every day, when I sit down and write. Usually later at night. I always listen to music, although the artist or type of music doesn’t matter; I need it more as a way to help block out the surrounding world. I don’t really worry about the daily word-count during the initial draft, but I’m very regimented about editing—I hold myself to a goal of editing 10 pages a day during that stage.



Nick can be found here:

Twitter: @nkolakowski

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