T.J. Tranchell – Author Interview

BY: BRITTANY LEWIS


Author T.J. Tranchell was born on Halloween, has worked as a journalist, horror movie columnist, pizza delivery man, warehouse worker, haunted house monster, customer service clerk, college instructor, and other less glamorous jobs. Tranchell has his master’s degree in literature from Central Washington University with, naturally, a focus on the horror genre.

Tranchell published his first novel, “Cry Down Dark,” through Blysster Press in 2016. In 2017, Blysster released a collection of short stories, poetry, and film criticism titled “Asleep In the Nightmare Room.” He has also published horror short fiction, is at work on his second novel, and was co-editor of GIVE: An Anthology of Anatomical Entries, a dark fiction anthology from When the Dead Books. He is a rising star among horror scholars, having presented work on Stephen King at the Popular Culture Association’s national conference, and has been a panelist and interviewer at Crypticon Seattle for several years

He currently is the author development coordinator for Blysster Press, writes for Northwest Public Broadcasting, and is a freelance writer and editor. Email him at tj.tranchell@gmail.com.


BRITTANY LEWIS

T.J. please tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up? How did that inspire your writing?

T.J. TRANCHELL

I grew up in Utah. One thing that did for my writing early was to push me toward darker stories. I’ve always been something of a rebel. In the last few years, however, I’ve accepted that Utah is a place that doesn’t have enough horror stories set in. So I’ve made it a point to do that.

BRITTANY

On the topic of inspiration, what authors/novels/short stories, etc. inspired your writings?

T.J.

I’m a huge Stephen King fan and I borrowed a line from one of his books for the title of my first book. Beyond that, and even beyond horror, I love Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac. Shirley Jackson has been huge for me, too. Lately I’ve gotten more into Brian Evenson, who also grew up in Utah.

BRITTANY

How did you choose which genre to write in?

T.J.

I write mostly horror. I don’t do a lot of gory stuff, though. I’m more about atmosphere and emotion. I leaned toward horror as a place where characters can face the worst of the world (and other worlds) and hopefully come out stronger. It doesn’t always work out like that, but it allows me to explore drama and comedy at the same time without being either. That, and my birthday is on Halloween. It’s a natural fit.

BRITTANY

Tell me about “The Private Life of Nightmares”? Where did the stories come from?

T.J.

The stories in The Private Lives of Nightmares are almost entirely from the last two years. I put all the good stuff I had written before into the collection “Asleep in the Nightmare Room,” so the next one had to be all new work. Many of the stories were written or revised for specific submission calls. They weren’t all accepted, but that’s how they started. Others were written during my brief time as an MFA student. As for the ideas behind them, most of them were inspired by music.

BRITTANY

How has becoming a published writer affected you? Are you the same T.J. you were before? What’s your schedule like?

T.J.

I’m basically the same person. A few more people know me now than did before and I’ve made a ton of new friends. But I am still the same me. Always thinking of stories and thinking “what if?” My schedule now is that I write when I can. I’m homeschooling my seven year old son and my wife now works ten hour days. And I’m a college English instructor (online for the year). Writing time is precious so when I get it, I work hard and fast.

BRITTANY

Do you have any tips for others out there who like to write but might not think publication is possible?

T.J.

These days, anyone can publish. The biggest tip I have is to finish something. You’ll never get anything published if you don’t finish. And don’t let other people tell you not to go for it. You want to be a writer? Then write. Worry about publishing after. You don’t need a Twitter account devoted to writing unless you have something written.

 

BRITTANY

Is there anything you thought I would ask that I did not?

T.J.

The other thing is to read! Read everything for a long time. Read bad books and good books. Short stories, poetry, nonfiction. Read the newspaper. I’ve had some of my best stories come from the news. Listen to people talk. Go to plays (when they return). I want to say “don’t just sit at home” but that was a different life. Find ways to engage with life, even if you don’t like people.

BRITTANY

Tell me more about how Utah pushed you toward darker stories. Is there a specific incident or event from childhood that stuck with you?

T.J.

My first book was set there because it was based on a true story. A friend of mine died from a brain tumor and the book was my grieving process. Then I wrote another (seeking publication still) and set it in a fictional version of the town I grew up in. After that, it’s been universe building.

In “The Private Lives of Nightmares,” there is an essay titled “Street View” that is about some things from my childhood. I don’t want to spoil it, but the unpublished novel is about Mormon exorcists. The incidences in “Street View” are the nugget of that novel. Utah has just seeped in. I’m almost 41 and now truly reckoning with my childhood on the page. Young adulthood was easy to write about because it wasn’t that long ago. Childhood, though, seems like a lifetime in the past.

BRITTANY

Tell me more about how music inspires your writing.

T.J.

When I write, I listen to movie scores. The consistency keeps me on track, and it comes with natural story beats. But the songs that inspire me can have a lyric that sends me off into a story, or something about the performer can give me an idea for a character without actually being that person. “The Private Lives of Nightmares” starts with a story inspired by Bruce Springsteen and John Steinbeck.

BRITTANY

Do you have any ideas for your next book? What have you been writing lately?

T.J.

I’m still trying to get that exorcist book published. I had a publisher who unfortunately closed before it could be released. But I have some scene sketches, not really an outline, for a follow-up that meshes that and “Cry Down Dark,” my first book. I also have an unfinished serial killer novel that my wife wants me to finish before I do anything else. I’ve also started working on a nonfiction project about horror literature. There are many scholarly books about horror films but not enough about horror novels.


Purchase T.J. Tranchell’s latest book “The Private Lives of Nightmares” through Blysster Press.

Even bad dreams have secrets.

Around the corner awaits a new set of shadows, demons, and nightmares. From T.J. Tranchell, author of CRY DOWN DARK and ASLEEP IN THE NIGHTMARE ROOM comes a thrilling set of tales—even a few that are true—to keep you awake past your bedtime.

Showcasing his penchant for bringing the monsters inside of us and the monsters surrounding us together, Tranchell invites you to walk with him through small towns, across a desert, along a beach, and into events that have shaped him and will chill your blood. You are even invited to a once-in-a-lifetime birthday party, where the cake has a special ingredient you will never forget.

And those are only the dreams seen from the safety of a pillow, covered in your favorite blanket. Tranchell has saved the worst nightmares for the bright light of day, where the truth can’t be denied.

The bad dreams are out in the open, but they hold tight to their secrets. Turn a few pages and you will discover THE PRIVATE LIVES OF NIGHTMARES.”

Buy Now!


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Author: Brittany Lewis

27 years old, paraeducator. I love to bowl, draw, read and to write.

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