I’m so excited to be hosting an interview with another author that I have the honor of calling a friend, Brennan LaFaro! You may know Brennan from his short story work, his presence on the Dead Headspace Podcast, or you may have heard the buzz around about a book called Slattery Falls!
Friendship aside; this is a name that you need to keep an eye on.
Let’s dive in to the interview!
Interview with Brennan LaFaro, author of Slattery Falls
Who is Brennan LaFaro?
Brennan LaFaro is a horror writer living in south eastern Massachusetts with his wife, two sons, and his hounds. An avid lifelong reader, Brennan also co-hosts the Dead Headspace podcast. His debut novella, Slattery Falls will release in July 2021 through Silver Shamrock Publishing. You can find his short fiction in anthologies such as Shiver, edited by Nico Bell, and ProleSCARYet, edited by Ian A Bain, Eric Raglin, et al.
What is your first memory of writing for fun?
Like so many millennial horror enthusiasts, Goosebumps was my gateway drug. I actually wasn’t a big fan of writing when I was younger, but I remember getting together with a few fourth grade classmates to write our own series in that vein. I wrote a few stories that have long since been lost (probably for the best), but the one I remember best was about an alien invasion in the cul-de-sac I grew up in. They were always more silly than actually scary, so I’m afraid I wasn’t that kid whose parents got a call from the Principal or the guidance counselor. Not for that, anyway.
How many books/novellas/short stories have you written?
Piggybacking off the last answer, I wasn’t a huge fan of writing when I was younger, and did the bare minimum to get through school. Reading is pretty much the same story. I got back into reading in a big way in my early 20’s and after a while, I wanted to try my hand at telling a story instead of just reading. I had no idea how to get started, however, so I didn’t. Not until summer of 2019 when I sat down one day with a “what’s the worst that could happen?” attitude.
Long lead-up to what the last two years have looked like. Slattery Falls is my first novella, both first written and first sold. I’ve got another novella out on submission right now called Last Stay, a sort of supernatural slasher. I’m about halfway through writing a novel right now, as well as working another novella on the side. I’ve also collaborated on a series of three novels with my Dead Headspace co-host, Patrick McDonough, that I hope will see the light of day eventually. Those were fun stories to tell.
I wish I could throw a number at you for short stories, but it’s a good-sized lot. I’ve had two published with a third coming in an anthology later this year. I’ve recently collected eleven of my favorites and a novelette into a collection. Now I just need to figure out what to do with it.
What are some of your other interests outside of writing?
Music is a huge one, but feels like a cheap answer since it’s what I do for my day job. Teaching aside, there’s nothing quite like sitting down with my piano, bass, or guitar and creating music.
I’m also a huge dog person. We have three boys, all rescues from Alabama. Huckleberry is a three-year-old treeing walker coonhound who was abused and abandoned, but has a big heart. You’d never know he endured so much before coming here. Benny is a two-year-old german shepherd mix, high energy and very affectionate. Max is a two-year-old black and tan coonhound mix who came to us just a few months ago. He’s a big goofball and he fits in perfectly here.
Are you also a reader?
Oh no, I only made it four questions in before repeating myself. I enjoyed reading when I was in elementary school, but fell out of the habit in middle and high school. I think a lot of people have the same experience, where the books assigned don’t resonate and they associate bad reading experiences with reading in general.
In college, I began reading Chuck Palahniuk and Kurt Vonnegut, then divine providence landed Stephen King on my doorstep and the rest is history.
I probably read about one hundred books a year on average, and try to review as many as I can, even if it’s just a few sentences.
What genres do you reach for the most?
Horror is the easy answer here, and of course it’s true, but like so many people before me, I don’t think you can write effectively if you relegate yourself to one genre. I adore the world building nature that fantasy lends. The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones series are some frequently revisited favorites. A well-written western, such as Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, keeps the pages turning with quality character work. I like science fiction in moderation, as well. Crime is easily identifiable as a cousin to horror and some authors like Elmore Leonard and S.A. Cosby blend them beautifully.
Two authors I mentioned earlier, Palahniuk and Vonnegut, certainly defy categorization to an extent. I think the same is true of Joe R Lansdale, a more recent addition to my shelves whose work is no less influential.
Do you have an all time favorite book or author?
Oddly enough yes to both, but the favorite book isn’t by the favorite author. My favorite book of all-time, and most frequently re-read, is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The book is perfectly, and I mean perfectly, executed, seamlessly mixing weirdness, humor, and heart. I can’t think of the epigraph “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt” without getting a little misty-eyed.
My favorite author of all time is Stephen King. A boring answer, I know, but my adult introduction to horror. From the first page in The Gunslinger to about three years later when I’d plowed through everything he’d written to date, the man’s ability to tell a story like he was sitting on a barstool next to you or across a campfire is one of the main reasons I wanted to try and write. With King, even his not-great books are memorable, and I believe it takes a great voice to pull that off.
Book Related Questions
When we spoke in preparation for this interview to go live, you mentioned that you’re in the marketing phase of the launch. We all know that word of mouth is some of the best forms of marketing. Slattery Falls is your debut novel and you’ve already gotten some killer blurbs from other horror authors! Can you talk us through some things you have learned during this stage of the process?
I am absolutely learning as I go. At first the blurb process was terrifying. Reaching out to authors I admire greatly and asking them to read my middling little attempt at fiction? The initial shudder is still happening. Ken McKinley at Silver Shamrock hit me with a sage bit of wisdom – the worst thing that can happen is they say no. And some people had to. Very understandable with the amount on some author’s plates, but I was thrilled/floored/ecstatic to receive blurbs from Ronald Kelly, Laurel Hightower, Tyler Jones, Todd Keisling, and Hailey Piper. Not only did they write magnificent things to print in the book, but their support and enthusiasm behind the scenes was incredible.
As I write this, advanced reader copies are on their way to reviewers around the country. Some received digital copies and have already started them. Knowing my little book jumped to the top of anyone’s pile is a beautiful and surreal feeling. I’m getting a little close to the line, but I haven’t decided yet if I’ll be the type of author who reads their reviews. I like to think no, but my self-control isn’t limitless.
The last thing I’d say here is as the release date approaches, I’m actively trying not to allow my feed to become one long advertisement for Slattery Falls. I’ve made a lot of connections and, dare I say, friends shouting about books I love the last few years. I’m not about to stop now. Besides, think about your own online experience. If you see someone who only ever talks about themself, you’re going to tune them out real quickly.
You live in New England now. Slattery Falls covers various haunted locations in the area. Were any of the stories or locations based on things from real-life?
For the most part, no, actually. Going backwards, the town of Slattery Falls is introduced in this book. We learn some pretty significant history, but it only scratches the surface. Don’t be surprised if the town pops up again in future works. It’s not really based off of anywhere I know, though the neighboring town of Hobson is, and appears in a few short stories, one of which will be released later this year.
I have relatives in Waterbury, and I wanted to make the second house a little bit further of a trip than the first. I used the city layout extremely sparingly, and didn’t base the Benson House off any actual haunted location. The Benson’s backstory poured out in one writing session and fought me less than normal, so I suspect it’s based off something buried deep in my subconscious.
Now the fun part. The Nathan Hale House that Travis and Josh visit early on is in Coventry, Connecticut. All of the “research” they do about layout, location, and paranormal experiences are based in fact, or at least real reports. After they enter the building, I made the rest up. Later in the book, there’s a list of haunted locales they visit, but don’t go into detail about. Most of those locations are based off real places, although I may have fudged one or two.
Have you yourself ever had an experience with something paranormal or unexplained?
Sorry, but I’m going to take the easy way out here while plugging my podcast. I’ve had one thing happen in my life that I would consider a paranormal experience, though it could have been lack of sleep and stress. I can admit that, no problem. I’ve talked about it once on episode 51 of Dead Headspace with guest, Michael Clark. He only pulled the story out of me because I was a couple too many beers deep. If you care to go back and listen to that episode, I can tell you I based a scene at the Nathan Hale House on that experience.
As you’re a co-host on the Dead Headspace podcast, can we look forward to a spotlight episode with a reading from your novel in the future? 🙂
There are no plans to record a spotlight episode with a reading. I suppose I should get my feet wet with doing readings at some point, but that idea didn’t come up and I’m not about to pitch it. We will be doing an episode promoting Slattery Falls at some point in July, probably released around the 20th. I’m told to expect some guest hosts grilling me as I jump into the guest seat for that one. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to someone else having to make sure there aren’t any awkward silences.
In addition to Dead Headspace, I’ll also be recording episodes of the Ink Heist podcast and Cursed Morsels with Eric Raglin, though the latter usually gets spoilery in the second half of the episode, so make sure you read the book before tuning into that one.
Just one last question; Where can readers find you?
You can find me on Twitter and Instagram, both at @brennanlafaro, although I’m considerably more active on Twitter. You can also check out www.brennanlafaro.com, which isn’t much to look at now, but I’ll be updating going forward. Check out Dead Headspace anywhere you listen to podcasts, on youTube for video episodes, or at www.deadheadspace.com. New episodes go up every Monday, and many Thursday’s, and some feature the wonderful Erica Robyn.
Here are some quick links:
Thanks for reading!
And major thanks to Brennan for taking the time to do this interview with me! Congratulations on the debut of Slattery Falls! July 20th is the official release date, so everyone can expect to see more buzz about this story popping up soon! 🙂 Go snag your copy today!