LM: Tell us about your latest release, ABRAM’S BRIDGE.
GR: Abram’s Bridge was supposed to be a short ghost story, but once it got rolling I realized it was bigger than that. I got the idea from the lyric in a Bruce Springsteen song. “tell ‘em there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge, and tell ‘em there’s a darkness on the edge of town”. I set out to discover what happened beneath Abram’s Bride. I started with a boy (Li’l Ron) and a girl (Sweet Kate) and let that take me where they wanted. Before I knew it, I had a real mystery tale on my hands. Ron finds out Sweet Kate is a ghost and he sets out to discover what happened to her. It’s a ghost/mystery/thriller. I’m super proud of it.
LM: One of the most interesting aspects of the novella is how classical it felt. Were there certain works you had in mind when writing it, or was your process more natural?
GR: I’m sure it’s a mix of all of my influences, but I can pinpoint a couple of them for you. Sweet Kate is definitely the product of reading Mercedes Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows. I come from a Laymon, Ketchum, King back ground, raw and gritty, but brutally honest, but Mercedes showed me you could open some of those prettier doors in our hallway of terror and let slivers of brighter colors into our darkness. Other than that, I love Ketchum’s ability to create human monsters. I think a few of the grown-ups in this story fit that mold. And lastly, Ronald Malfi. A couple of his pieces definitely showed me how to do this.
LM: What do you like about writing novellas versus full-length novels?
GR: I love both. Like I said, Abrams Bridge was supposed to be a short story. Having the novella craze take off like it has certainly allowed me to forget about the word count and roll with the story. As writers, I believe that’s the ultimate freedom that we should allow to all of our characters. Obviously, if you’re trying for a specific anthology call you want to keep it short, but I don’t believe we should stop ourselves or our stories if they prove bigger than that.
Novels are still my favorite beast to tackle, but it’s pretty much the same for me. I start with a scene and see where it takes me. I don’t outline until I absolutely have to, and even then it’s just a couple of ideas where that particular story seems to be heading. I feel like with a novella, the difference is that there is zero chance of letting any “filler” crap in there. There’s no room for it. It’s pretty much a compact novel, free of any side streets. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Stephen King stuff where you venture into characters pasts and really get to know them, but that’s the trickiest part of writing a novel. It is so easy to get lost in your characters backstories. The best authors know when to cut those from the final manuscript and when not to. Some of the younger novelists tend to keep too many of them and wind up slowing down a great story. And that’s the one thing you don’t want to do in a great story, lose the reader, or make the reader say “get on with it already”. It’s a very tricky line to walk, but when you do it right, it’s one of the subtleties that make a novel length work shine.
LM: As a reader, what length do you prefer?
GR: I’m sounding lame here with my answers, but again, I love both. I used to pick up a book of short stories to read between novels, but now there are so many great little novellas being written and published that I tend to reach for those first. Something like Hunter Shea’s The Waiting or Jennifer Loring’s Conduits, give me just the right amount of compact storytelling with maximum impact that I’m looking for. Nothing beats a great novel, but novellas like the ones I mentioned are certainly worthy of our time.
LM: Since ABRAM’S BRIDGE is a ghost story, tell us your favorite ghost story.
GR: I have two favorites. Hell House by Matheson and Floating Staircase by Malfi. I think Floating Staircase is my favorite traditional style ghost story. I also think that there are definitely connections between Malfi’s masterpiece and my novella, Abram’s Bridge. That whole mystery/thriller aspect. Obviously I’m not at Malfi’s level, but this story is my first step in that direction. I’ll keep busting my butt to improve my writing and reach my potential.
LM: Do you have a favorite passage from ABRAM’S BRIDGE you would like to share here?
GR: I had to go back and look! I think this one sets up the story nicely.
Li’l Ron was silent. There were too many questions, too many things to say, but they were all running into one another before they could roll off his tongue. She was real. A real ghost. Frightened as he was, intrigue had captured the flag.
She led him to the spot he’d seen her in the day before. They sat down upon the cold ground, holding hands, listening to the melody of the creek. It was a sweet song, sweet like Kate. He wanted to know her story.
LM: In April your second novella with Samhain Horror, BOOM TOWN, will be released. What’s the premise for that one?
GR: Boom Town is a Horror/Sci-Fi tale. An early reader says it is in the Tommyknockers vein. My editor also likened it to The Blob meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers; I’d say it’s that with with a side of heart. That’s the one thing I find in some of my favorite Richard Laymon books–you get this really horrific tale with characters that surprise you with how special they are. I think I achieved that in Boom Town.
LM: Where else can we find your work?
GR: I’ve got a number of short stories out there in various anthologies. Those, along with my debut novel, The Haunted Halls, and my first short story collection, Slush, can be found at my Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Glenn-Rolfe/e/B00AXYEBTY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1.
LM: Tell us a fun fact about yourself that you think readers would like to know.
GR: Well, if anyone that reads my novels is into punk rock music, I also moonlight in a nineties-style punk band called, The Never Nudes. We have an EP available on iTunes and Amazon. If you like Rancid, Green Day, Bouncing Souls, Street Dogs, or remember One Man Army, you should check us out.