Horror After Dark talks with Ronald Malfi
Let’s jump right in!
HAD– What is the first book you remember reading?
R.M.>I remember loving books as a young child, and reading anything I could get my hands on. I was particularly fond of a Sesame Street book where Grover goes to his first day of school. That one sticks out in my head. I also recall liking a book called A Mouse’s Tale, about a mouse who constructs a wooden dragon to fly him to the moon; the illustrations in that book were spectacular. As for my first “adult” novel that left an impact on me, it was Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon.
HAD–What story, from any genre or time, do you wish you could have written?
R.M.> I am a huge Hemingway fan and there are a number of his stories I wish I would have written. One book that jumps out when I think of this question is Stephen King’s Cujo, which is strange, because it’s not one of my favorite books nor is it one of King’s best, but there is something so hauntingly simple about that concept that just resonates with me.
HAD–For new readers of your work, what would you suggest they try first?
My new novel, Little Girls, mainly because I always consider my latest book to be my best. Aside from that, I’m partial to Floating Staircase and December Park.
HAD–Congratulations on your recent novel Little Girls. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
R.M.> At its core, it’s a ghost story, albeit a different take on that old trope, or so I hope. After Laurie’s father dies, she moves her family into his home—her old childhood home—to take care of his estate. She begins to uncover what she believes to be the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, and soon believes that his death may have come at the hands of the girl next door—a girls who bears a striking resemblance to a girl who lived there when Laurie was a child, and who died there.
HAD–What was the inspiration behind Little Girls?
R.M.> There are usually a multitude of themes and ideas that come together to eventually form the plot of a novel. This book was no different. I wanted to explore the concept of a dead man’s secrets left behind for his adult daughter to find. I also wanted to tell a modern ghost story that still bore some of the old Gothic conceits. I particularly like how I handled the “ghost” in the novel. She’s no phantom, no apparition, but instead she’s a flesh and blood child.
HAD–Can you tell us if you had any challenges writing LG?
R.M.> The book is primarily from a female perspective—that is, my main protagonist is a woman. I find writing female characters more taxing than men; they’re more complex, more contradictory, and I discovered that Laurie Genarro, the protag, required a delicate hand.
HAD–Speaking now of your other numerous works, are there certain characters you would like to go back to or an idea you’d like to explore?
R.M.> I’m asked this question by readers fairly often—will I write a sequel to any of my novels? From a reader’s perspective, that’s a perfectly reasonable question, but as a writer, I tend to bury my characters once their story is over and the book is finished. The books generally end when I feel their story is over, so I don’t know where I’d pick up with them for a sequel. I do like the idea of characters crossing over from one book to the next, and I’ve done that already (albeit subtly) in my fiction. Travis Glasgow from Floating Staircase and Alan Hammerstun from Cradle Lake share a similar dream in their respective books when they actually dream that they are each other, even though they’ve never met (as far as I’m aware). Stuff like that is fun and adds a sort of mythos that loosely connects my fiction. I would say the only character I’ve given serious thoughts to resurrecting is the private investigator John Jeffers from my novella Skullbelly. After having finished Skullbelly, Jeffers has continued to mope around in my head, working cases of the X-Files variety, and there is some appeal to me to revisit him and perhaps send him out on a few more investigative adventures of the supernatural variety.
HAD–Do you feel you’ve “made it” as a writer?
R.M.> That’s an interesting question. I feel I’ve achieved a certain amount of success in this business, and have earned a wonderful contingent of engaging and devoted readers. Little Girls marks my 13th published novel, and I suppose that’s quite a feat. I never entered this business—be it unwittingly or not—with stars in my eyes, or with the misconception that I’d strike it big and make a ton of money. I wanted to be published and tell the stories I wanted to tell without compromising my convictions about my writing. I feel I’ve accomplished that.
HAD–What’s on your To-Be-Read shelf?
HAD–Just to change things up, please fill in the blanks.
I hate ____willful ignorance___.
___The birth of my children__ was one of the best moments of my life.
I ___sometimes skip brushing my teeth____ before bed.
My favorite food is __sushi____.
I’ve watched___Raiders of the Lost Ark__ too many times to count.
I always wanted to ___live on a boat__.
I love ___my family__.
___The term “pet peeve”__ is one of my pet peeves.
Rainy days are good for__writing__.
HAD–What can we expect from you next? Any novellas?
R.M.> I’ve just finished up a couple of short stories, one for an anthology and another for a magazine publication. Other than that, next year’s novel is called The Night Parade and is about a father and daughter on the run from the government during the final days of a world-wide disease epidemic that has wiped out most of the population.
HAD–Would you like to say anything to your fans and/or potential readers?
R.M.> It never ceases to astound me whenever I get emails from happy readers, or folks who want to talk about books—and not just my books, but books (and writing) in general. I generally despise reading from my work in public, but I love discussing the works with fans, and learning their perspectives of each of my books. I’m forever humbled by them!
HAD–Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
We wish you much success!
R.M.> Thank you!