Hi, folks! Today, we’re continuing our Quick Q&A series by speaking to Duncan Ralston, the author of Gristle and Bone. The two of us are both represented by the Forsaken imprint of Booktrope, and so we have lots of cool stuff to talk about! Read on to find out what happened…
SocialBookshelves.com: Can you tell us a little bit about Gristle and Bone? What’s the book about?
Duncan Ralston: Everything! Gristle & Bone is a collection of short and novella-length horror. Some stories are gruesome, some are merely dark, others have comedic elements, but I’d like to hope that each story offers a little glimpse into my own (often twisted) view of what it means to be human… or a monster.
SocialBookshelves.com: What’s the scariest (or spookiest) thing that’s ever happened to you?
Duncan Ralston: I get wigged out often by creepy coincidences, but as far as being spooked by a real-life incident goes… it’s been a long time. When I was younger, I did a fair amount of illegal substances. For a few days, my paranoia became so bad that I started to recite song lyrics in my head in order to keep people from reading my mind. I wasn’t sure if I thought they were psychic, or alien body snatchers, but that was it for me and drugs.
SocialBookshelves.com: How did you get involved with Forsaken?
Duncan Ralston: Maddie Von Stark posted a call for submissions on Facebook, and I immediately looked into Booktrope. I liked the idea of a community of creative people, from writers to cover artists, all working together to produce great material. I also liked that I wasn’t going to be waiting years to see my books in the stores, as I might have with a traditional publisher.
SocialBookshelves.com: What will be your first release on the imprint?
Duncan Ralston: The first book will be a shiny new version of Gristle & Bone in June, followed by my first novel, Salvage, in September. While I’m proud of the work I did on G&B, I’m very pleased with where my Forsaken editor has taken Salvage. He’s offered up a lot of ideas that I might never have thought of on my own, and I’m certain Salvage will be a better book for it. I want it to scare as wide an audience as possible, and everything I’ve done with both Salvage and Gristle & Bone since joining Booktrope/Forsaken has been to make them clearer, better, more focused stories.
SocialBookshelves.com: How are you planning to get the word out about your work?
Duncan Ralston: Aside from the usual methods – the Bookbub, Twitter blasts, and an online release party – I plan to put both Gristle & Bone and Salvage on Netgalley. I’m also considering a giveaway or two, either of signed paperbacks, Amazon gift cards, or both.
SocialBookshelves.com: What was the last book that you read and what did you think of it?
Duncan Ralston: Did I mention I always read two books at once? One on Kindle, another in paperback.
The last physical book I read was Stephen King’s Revival, and as one of his biggest fans, it pains me to tell you that I didn’t like it much. I’d love to know the word count, because it felt like a novella, drawn out using spacing to King’s standard novel length. The ending was predictable, the characters were flat, and the main character seemed like a “bag of bones”, to use a quote King borrowed from Thomas Hardy. I won’t say the Emperor (or King) has no clothes, because I did love 11/22/63, but I feel like some of his later books might be suffering due to stringent contractual obligations.
As for books on my Kindle, I just finished J.R. Park’s terrific techno-thriller, Terror Byte. It’s about a computer virus that literally kills people, and I highly recommend it. Before that was Thomas S. Flowers’ novelette, Are You Hungry, Dear? Both books are well written and genuinely unsettling.
SocialBookshelves.com: What makes a good book, in your opinion?
Duncan Ralston: Well-drawn characters in interesting situations, with prose that makes them come alive. Beyond that, it’s all window dressing.
SocialBookshelves.com: What’s next for you? Tell us about where you hope to be in 3-5 years!
Duncan Ralston: Next I’ve got a dozen novels and several dozen short stories to pound out, some sequels to a few stories in Gristle & Bone, and a novel series called Shadow Work. I’m also going to be working on a couple of feature screenplays this summer. In 5 years, I hope to have 7 more books out (working at an average of 1.5 books a year), at least a handful of short stories in various anthologies, and maybe an option or two on screenplays. I’m optimistic.
SocialBookshelves.com: What is it about the Booktrope and Forsaken model that makes you want to work with it?
Duncan Ralston: Community, talent, innovation. Booktrope’s hybrid model seems poised to be at the forefront of the new publishing industry trends, and I’m thrilled to have joined Forsaken on the ‘ground floor’.
SocialBookshelves.com: Tell us something that you’ve never told anyone else
Duncan Ralston: No one else? Nah, I wouldn’t want to incriminate myself.
Note: Big thanks again to Duncan Ralston for stopping by the SocialBookshelves.com blog today! You can find out more about Duncan on his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter or check out his books on Amazon.