Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc. I'm so happy you could join me today.
BK: Please tell us a little about yourself...
Well, I’ve lived in eastern Pennsylvania most of my life. I’ve had some short stories published in the past, and this is my first novel. It was originally set in New York, but I changed that after the first draft, moved it to PA, as I feel I know more about this state than any other.
That's great! I too am from PA. I love the mountains :)
BK: Please tell us a little about your book....
Evil Ambulance is about an eighteen-year-old kid named Eric who moves into his uncle’s house at the top of a four-mile hill overlooking a small town in Pennsylvania. Over the course of four nights, they are visited by a mysterious ambulance from the past, connected to a brutal murder spree from decades before.
BK: What inspired you to pen this particular novel?
I’ve always enjoyed the horror genre and stories about possession, which Evil Ambulance certainly is. I don’t have a great story of inspiration for the book; I merely caught an ambulance in my rearview mirror one night, and the idea came to me. I looked around online, and couldn’t find any books and movies regarding a haunted ambulance, so I figured I’d write one.
BK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I got an honorable mention in a local library’s writing contest, I’d say, when I was ten or eleven years old. The story I submitted was titled The Death Stalker, and even though it was just six pages long (single-spaced), I had chapter breaks, a prologue, and everything. My parents were encouraged by my writing, and supported it, despite the fact that the story was more or less a ten-year-old’s version of Friday the 13th.
BK: How do you keep your story flowing?
Proper use of cliffhangers, and piecing out the mystery behind the ambulance in an appropriate manner. It drives me crazy when authors end every single chapter with a cliffhanger (or every episode, if it’s television, as in the case of True Blood, a great show that just absolutely abuses the cliffhanger technique), but they certainly can be used effectively, keeping the reader intrigued about what will happen next. Hopefully the reader will sympathize with Eric and will, like him, want to know what’s going on with this ambulance and what it was used for in the past, and what it’s doing here now.
BK: Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?
I do have occasional problems with writer’s block. Sometimes I’ll move on to something else, coming back later to what I’d begun. I took about a year between drafts of Evil Ambulance, working on a different project, and when I came back to it, I had so many new ideas and thoughts on how the book should play out, that I more or less abandoned the first draft and started over, keeping only the few elements that worked in the initial version.
BK: What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?
I like to listen to music and enjoy a cup of coffee or bottle of beer while working.
BK: Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?
Hopefully available to a wide audience! I have ideas for more YA Horror books, as well as other genres (YA and non-YA). I’ve been working on my writing since I was very young, and will do so, I’d imagine, indefinitely.
BK: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I just hope that readers of Evil Ambulance will be entertained by the story. I don’t expect the book will change anyone’s life, necessarily, but will hopefully prove to be a fun time.
BK: What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?
Be wary of adverbs.
BK: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?
Be wary of adverbs! Really, though, this probably is one of the best pieces of advice anyone could offer to an aspiring writer. Stephen King touches on it a few times in his wonderful book On Writing. I guess that’d be my second piece of advice: read Stephen King’s On Writing.
BK: Are you currently working on any new projects?
What can we expect from you in the future? A book I started while between drafts of Evil Ambulance is currently called The King of Wolves, but that could change. I’ve got about ninety percent of the first draft completed, and am looking forward to revising that one. It’s a story about a guy who lost his wife and is losing his religious faith meeting a mentally disturbed young man, who takes up a friendship with him, much (he later finds) to the damage of his own mental health and well-being. It’s not a horror novel, but it is dark and occasionally violent.
BK: Where can readers find you?
I’m on facebook at facebook.com/markrrinkerpa, and twitter at www.twitter.com/markrrinker, and I have a page at http://markrrinker.blogspot.com.
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.
Eighteen-year-old Eric Donnelly moves to a small town in Pennsylvania, to live with his uncle, Dan, while his parents finalize their divorce. Dan has recently purchased an old house which sits atop a three-mile hill overlooking the town of Riverwood; a house which is host to the decades-old presence of Victor Devlin, a homicidal ambulance driver responsible for a series of brutal murders years before. Eric soon finds himself alone, as the spirit of the ambulance driver begins to inhabit his uncle’s body, and each night Devlin’s ambulance appears in the driveway, eerily glowing, calling to Eric.
Two people had been unfortunate enough to be home when Victor had showed up at the front door of the house on Winding Way. The house at the top of the hill. No neighbors up here. It wasn’t his fault; the cops had forced him there, chased him there. He hoped they were happy with what they found there: a young couple each with a new, red smile drawn across their necks. The result of their chasing him, forcing him into a corner.
You can’t trap a wild animal and not expect him to lash out—at everyone and everything around it.
He scolded himself, continued saying the words, tried not to think of the police upstairs. If the incantation didn’t work before they got down to the basement—
Yes, I am a wild animal.
His own voice shouted at him inside his head, demanding he focus, shut out distractions, focus on the words and—
He stared straight ahead at the wall, repeated the words, over and over, faster, then slower, trying to find the right pace—and blocked everything else from his mind.
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Mark R. Rinker was born in California, but has spent most of his life in eastern Pennsylvania. His short story, “Dog Mask” was published earlier this year by Dark Gothic Resurrected magazine, and Evil Ambulance is his first novel.