In our new feature, Between the Sheets, TrunkSpace picks the imaginative brains of authors to break down what it takes to create the various worlds and characters they breathe life into via the tools of their trade… sheets of paper. While technology continues to advance and change the pop culture landscape, the written word has remained one of the most consistent and imaginative art forms.
This time out we’re chatting with “Skitter” author Ezekiel Boone to discuss the spider scare, juggling two voices, and living a nightmare after watching Elm Street.
TrunkSpace: Are your books “Skitter” and “The Hatching” meant to inspire your readers to check beneath their sheets before bed or shake out their shoes before putting them on? The fear associated with creepy crawlies is the kind that sort of festers and intensifies the more you think about it.
Boone: Mostly I just wanted to write a series of fun, fast thrillers, but yeah, some of the premise came because I had the idea of a spider that burrowed under your skin to lay eggs, and once I had that idea, it was hard to shake. The problem is, like you say, it intensifies the more you think about it, and once you think about spiders on and in your body, it’s basically impossible not to think about. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that there’s something crawling on you. Just ask yourself, does anything on my body feel itchy? Might there be a spider crawling on me right now? Is there one on the back of my neck?
TrunkSpace: Even those who don’t fear spiders still don’t necessarily like spiders. What is it about them that causes people to feel so weak and small?
Boone: Some of it is just the way they move. They skitter. Something about them triggers the caveman brain inside of most people. The other issue with spiders is that they show up when you aren’t expecting them, quiet and terrifying.
TrunkSpace: There are so many different types of scares. Again, your books tap into the kind that lingers and intensifies. What is a scare that has stayed with you throughout your life by way of something you read or watched when you were younger?
Boone: When I was about 14, I watched “Nightmare on Elm Street” at a girl’s house who lived down the block from me. She was fifteen and had a few girlfriends over, so I tried to be chill about it. But then I had to walk home. It was near midnight, on a quiet street across from a park with a small lake, and of course, there was a nice, thick layer of fog rolling in. I got about halfway home when the streetlight above made a zzzzt sound and went out. I screamed and ran home the rest of the way.
TrunkSpace: Zombies continue to be one of the more popular scare devices across all forms of media these days. How would spiders fare against the undead in a world where it was SPIDERS VS. ZOMBIES!?!?
Boone: Spiders would rule. The spiders could put their eggs inside the zombies and the zombies would still amble about, spreading the arachnoid menace. Spiders ain’t afraid of no zombies.
TrunkSpace: Are there any thriller/horror staples (AKA cliches) you try to avoid in your writing and why?
Boone: Not really. I don’t have any of those “but it was all a dream!” moments, but I’d argue you can break almost any writing rule if you understand the rule and know what you’re doing.
TrunkSpace: The rumor is that Ezekiel Boone is your pseudonym and that you write literary fiction under your actual name. Can Ezekiel and, well, you, exist within the same workspace? Can you juggle a Boone book and one of your other books simultaneously?
Boone: I’m doing it right now. It’s actually a lot of fun, because when I need a break from one, I can go to the other. It’s refreshing.
TrunkSpace: It takes some writers years/decades to discover their voice. Do you think your writer’s voice is apparent in both areas of your work? Is there a literary signature that is visible for someone who reads both?
Boone: Maybe? I think voice drives a lot of good writing, and that usually ends up coming through. I’ve had a number of readers who’ve loved the Ezekiel Boone books go and read an Alexi Zentner book, and they’ve usually loved them as well. I don’t really know what my literary signature is, but I feel like I’ve found my voice.
TrunkSpace: Regarding the process, is writing a labor of love for you or does it feel more like labor? Do you enjoy the process?
Boone: Labor of love. There are some days when it can feel like a grind, and even though revision is incredibly important, that usually leaves me feeling drained. You have to treat it like a job if you want to be successful, but writing is a great gig.
TrunkSpace: And what does that process look like? What are the ideal conditions for putting in a good day of writing?
Boone: I’ve got kids, so I work when they are at school. I’m pretty happy in my office, but give me a decent pair of headphones and a computer and I can work anywhere. But the ideal conditions are when writing is the only thing I have to worry about. The deeper you can fall into your world the better. When I’m writing, I want to focus entirely on that.
TrunkSpace: Do you self-edit as you write?
Boone: Absolutely. It’s not the right way for everybody – I often tell younger writers to just crank out a draft – but it’s the way I work. Because of that, my first draft is usually more like a seventh or eighth. But then I do a lot more revision after that.
TrunkSpace: Where are you the hardest on yourself as a writer?
Boone: I always think I could be working harder.
TrunkSpace: What are you working on now and what will people be able to read next?
Boone: The third and final book in “The Hatching” series, “Zero Day,” is done and in with my publisher and will be out early next year. That’s going to be followed by a novel called “The Mansion,” which will also be out in 2018. Past that, I’m trying to finish a straight up action thriller, which is as of yet untitled.
Featured Photo By: Laurie Willick