Welcome to all horror lovers! Today, we have the privilege to introduce you to Dean Patrick, a writer who employs realism and horror to bring his stories to life.
A lifelong writer, Dean’s journey as a horror author began after he wrestled with his own demons. Through his struggles, he found his path to becoming a horror author.
In this fascinating interview, we’ll delve into Dean’s creative process, current projects, and future plans. Make sure not to miss the thrilling preview of what will happen on his upcoming project, the third book of his Terra Drake trilogy!
Join us as we understand Dean as an author who fearlessly uses his personal experiences as inspiration for his stories, giving us his heart and soul in the process. Are you ready to embark on this heart-pounding journey?
Meet the Author
Hi Dean! How are you? Could you talk to us a bit about your background and biography as an author?
I’ve been a professional writer in the technical space for over 25 years. After Graduate School I went into technical writing immediately after I’d been offered a position at the biotechnology company, Curtin Matheson Scientific (later to merge with Fisher Scientific). My original plan was to continue in school to finish a Ph.D. program, but my career took off in a different direction.
I didn’t start publishing horror fiction until much later as my life took a dark turn into alcoholism and drug addiction. It was after being in recovery and staying sober that horror became a tool to face past demons and turn them into characters in short stories and novels.
Can you talk to us about your previous work? Is there any notable achievement you’re proud of and can you highlight why that is?
My first published work, “She,” was first written when I was in a prison rehab in Texas. Of course, I had to write it with pencil and paper under conditions that were less than ideal, to say the least.
More than 12 years later the story was published in Infernal Ink in 2019. It’s the first story where I created the demon character, Terra Drake, a character I have since fully developed into the primary villain of my first two novels, The Lady Mephistopheles and Terra’s Sabbath.
I think any writer’s first published work is considered personally notable, especially when it comes from such an awful place.
“I wanted to succeed as a writer and make a difference with my words and ability to express what others cannot. I’m an artist like those in music or painting or acting. It’s my obligation, really, to use that talent and do what I can to resonate with those who read my work.” — Dean Patrick
What led you to begin your journey as a writer?
Writing was a natural ability I discovered early in my freshman year in college. From there I focused on English, literature, professional and technical writing, and so on. I worked as an editor at The University of Houston’s school paper and literary magazine.
The journey was launched there and became a full-time career working in sectors from biotechnology to IT to medical sciences and now with Microsoft’s virtual reality technology for the military, and of course horror fiction becoming a major factor in my daily work.
Why do you think that made you start the journey?
It comes down to knowing I had the ability to use it for the rest of my life which would always be in demand. I had a professor during my freshman year in college who said that if you had the ability to truly write then you’d be able to adapt to any marketplace. I’m glad I listened to him, and ever since I’ve worked on it diligently to hone and perfect over the course of 25 years.
What were your motivations?
I wanted to succeed as a writer and make a difference with my words and ability to express what others cannot. I’m an artist like those in music or painting or acting. It’s my obligation, really, to use that talent and do what I can to resonate with those who read my work.
Why do you feel that is your motivation?
First off, it’s what I enjoy most. Writing is a difficult process like any art. It must be perfected and challenged constantly. I read just about everything, and have studied, and practiced the principles of writing my entire adult life. There’s a lot of bad writing. Far too much. I know I’m as talented and skilled as any writer out there, it’s just a matter of getting discovered.
That’s my next reason: the mistakes I made for so many years in addiction caused tremendous loss and tragedy. Because of this, what motivates me the most is making up for lost time and making sure as many people as possible have a chance to read what I produce. Whether it’s professional writing or creative, every day is another chance to be discovered and make up for those terrible years of loss.
Your books have addressed alcoholism and drug addiction. Why did you choose to write about these topics?
Sadly, or not, it’s the subject I know best. What I have experienced most in life is the world of addiction and the horror trail that it leaves behind. Writing about it and creating stories and characters and scenes where the worst one can imagine is faced and dealt with, that’s a powerful method of overcoming whatever it is that lurks around the corner.
Why do you feel that it’s difficult for you specifically?
I’ll take the main villain I have created, Terra Drake, and say this: she’s my own personal demon. She’s also the representation of addiction itself. Whether it’s sex, drugs, food, violence, manipulation and lies, murder and power, she is the metaphor for all of it. The difficulty in creating such a character is it’s mandatory to relive things that I’ve done or experienced that I wish I had the power to never remember. But if such a power existed, there would be no personal growth.
Who is your favorite author and why? What about the author stood out to you?
I’ve had many over the years, from William Faulkner to James Joyce to Cormac McCarthy in the stream-of-consciousness style that I’ve always enjoyed because it’s so real, so challenging. In the horror genre itself, my favorites are Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, and Edgar Allen Poe. They’re the very best at creating a truly frightening backdrop of mood and tone.
What type of conversation would you have with them?
If I had the chance to talk to any of them, I would ask their own personal reasons for doing what they do, and what they did.
Inspiration and Creative Process
“When something strikes me that could be disturbing or terrifying, I take that moment and go from there.” — Dean Patrick
What normally inspires you to write a new book?
I gave a presentation a year ago and spoke a lot about this. I happen to be a scene writer or an idea writer. Writing scenes – or even chapters – as they come, and stories as they come to me. What I do to find these scenes and what I do to get into the mood and thought of writing a scene or a story or a chapter, is constantly ask the question, “What if this was the case?” Or “What could happen if this person was this kind of monster?”
I’m always questioning what if such and such were to happen, or could be the case, or could this person become something very very wrong. What scares me most is what could happen with this person, place, or thing that is unthinkable. I think of the situation far more than the plot, as the plot will always unfold.
Why do you think this method works for you?
It works because it works is the simple answer. For me. Every writer has their own method. Some writers use outlines and then fill in the blanks. That has never worked for me because I believe outlines will keep me inside a box. The best writing must be WAY outside the box.
And how does it differ from other methods that you’ve heard about or tried before?
As I said, some writers use outlines. Some will create a distinct beginning, middle, and ending and go from there. That’s never worked for me. When something strikes me that could be disturbing or terrifying, I take that moment and go from there.
Writing Routine and Habits
What is your writing routine on a daily or weekly basis?
I write every day, all day, as a professional. Because of that, it’s a real challenge to work on my fiction. But I put down scenes and ideas as they come to me just about daily. From those scenes, the full story begins to unfold and I write it and polish it along the way.
Any advice for authors that are just starting out?
Yes, read everything. Learn the styles of others. Next, master the fundamentals. Know your grammar. Know structure. To be any good and become a master of the craft, hammering the fundamentals is key. Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style is a fantastic place to start, and constantly reread.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Why is that your favorite part?
I enjoy the polishing and editing process the most. A lot of writers hate this, but I work as an editor just as much as I do a writer, so it’s something I truly enjoy. This is where producing something fabulous takes place. It’s hard work, but it’s worth every minute.
Challenges and Overcoming Obstacles
What are some of the obstacles that you’ve encountered on your journey as a writer?
The biggest obstacle, and challenge, is marketing. This takes a lot of time and effort, and, many times, a lot of luck. I can’t tell you how many terrible books I have read that have made the author a small fortune. It’s because of great marketing and creating a brand that resonates with readers. That’s tough work.
How did you manage to overcome them?
I haven’t overcome it yet or I’d be rich (laugh out loud). But I’m working on it daily.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I don’t know if I’ve ever had true writer’s block. I know it’s a real thing, I’ve just never had it personally. There have been plenty of times when I have searched for a scene or even a topic, but that usually happens when I don’t force the scene to come to me if that makes sense.
Writing something every day about something is one way, though I would always recommend it. Even if it’s journaling.
Current Projects and Future Plans
Could you tell us some details about your current work-in-progress?
I’m hard at work on the third book in the Terra Drake trilogy. And I’m not even sure if three books will do it, so I’m leaving it open-ended.
The next book takes place just after the ending of Terra’s Sabbath, and I’ll give one piece of intel away: it opens with Terra Drake having a sit-down with Jack the Ripper at one of the famous London pubs when those murders took place in 1888.
Are there any upcoming projects you’re excited about?
The third Terra Drake novel.
Final Thoughts and Closing Remarks
Do you have any additional advice you would like to share with fellow authors who may be reading this? Any valuable insights? And if so, why these specific insights?
Getting published today is far more difficult than it ever was because of modern technology. The traditional way that is, and getting discovered for massive success even more so than that. Still, modern technology also gives everyone a chance that wasn’t available years ago. If you have something to say and the ability to say it, there’s nothing to lose. That said, master the fundamentals, write what you know and what you feel. That’s also key, to writing from the heart and being fiercely honest.
Finally, what message would you like to convey to your readers?
More than anything I want anyone who reads my work to know how grateful I am for taking the time to read it. Gratitude is the key to it all. I’m also grateful I’ve been able to overcome alcoholism and manage it. It’s an illness that’s lifelong. A single drink would send me right back to the pits of jails and institutions. I’m grateful for the support I have from friends and family, especially my wife, Lisa, who has been the constant support and reminder to me to keep pushing my work out for everyone.
Dean’s passion for horror is almost palpable through his writing. Using his personal experiences, Dean makes sure to evoke gut feelings in the reader that stay with you long after.
Likewise, Dean’s story exemplifies how we can use our experiences as the gasoline that moves us to write and express ourselves.
We thank you, Dean, for sharing your valuable experiences with us. Let’s hope your books resonate with those readers who are also fighting their own battles, trying to get out of their own horror stories every day.
Stay tuned to Dean Patrick’s future works and follow him on his writing journey here. Happy writing!