Author Interview with Richard Chizmar

  • How long have you been writing?

Ever since I was a kid, so we’re talking forty plus years. I sold my first short story when I was twenty, and it saw print a year later, so I’ve been a published writer for thirty years now.

  • What is your favorite genre to write?

My fiction tends to be all over the place, ranging from suspense to crime to mystery to horror to tip-toeing the line of mainstream. I don’t really have a favorite because I rarely set out to write in any one genre. I just try to tell a good and interesting story.

  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would you like to try out?

I’d love to tackle a western some time and maybe a romance novel (yes, seriously).

  • Please tell us about your book.

Darkness Whispers is set in a sleepy little town called Windbrook in western Pennsylvania. It’s one of those picturesque, nothing-ever-changes-here kind of towns. But one day, something does change. A mysterious visitor arrives in Windbrook, and he’s up to no good. It’s up to Sheriff Ben Logan to stop, but Logan has problems of his own. Ultimately, it’s very much a traditional horror story of good versus evil.

Darkness Whispers is actually based on the very first short story I ever sold, way back in the late 1980s, called “The Sniper.” Some time last year, I was going through some old files in my office when I stumbled upon the original manuscript, as well as an acceptance letter and a contract – but a contributor copy was no where to be found, and I realized I had no memory of the story ever being published. A comic adaptation of “The Sniper” had been included as a bonus item in Midnight Promises, my first short story collection, but the prose version appeared to be unpublished after all these years. I thought about rewriting it myself, but then I had a better idea and asked co-worker Brian Freeman if he would be interested in doing a rewrite and expansion of the story. He quickly agreed, and we traded it back and forth for a few weeks, and came up with Darkness Whispers (Brian gets credit for the cool new title!).

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Sheriff Logan is my favorite. He’s your typical Everyman. Solid and dependable, but flawed. He’s fighting some pretty serious inner demons, but is determined to try to do the right thing – for his family and his town. My least favorite character will be pretty obvious once you’ve finished reading the book (don’t want to give anything away!).

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

For me, the most difficult part was not allowing Darkness Whispers to become a full-fledged novel. The main characters, the townspeople, even the town of Windbrook itself, all provided the seeds for a longer work to develop. But the story we set out to tell was of a shorter length and the contract we had signed was for a shorter work. I’m not sure what Brian’s answer would be to this question. I’m curious.

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

My schedule varies quite a bit from day to day, and that makes it difficult to have a regular routine. I just write when the time presents itself. Sometimes that’s the morning, other times the middle of the day or late at night. I don’t need much to write. Laptop or a notebook. I can write anywhere – at my desk at home, at my office, in the car waiting on someone, doesn’t really matter. I’m pretty low maintenance.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

If memory serves, I believe the original short story that Darkness Whispers is based on took about a week to write. The expanded novella took Brian and me about a month.

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

I tend to be a fairly quick and clean writer once I know where the story is taking me. When I start for the day, I almost always go back and revise the previous page or two. Most of my rewriting gets done at that stage and during a second start-to-finish pass. Then, it’s a couple of polishes and done.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

It wasn’t written as the first book in a series, but the ending certainly allows for that possibility. Time will tell whether Brian and I decide to return to the story.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Be stubborn and be ready to make a lot of mistakes. It’s a long and hard process. You are going to stumble. If you truly want to write, and if you truly believe it’s what you were meant to do, you have to accept and immerse yourself in that process. You have to embrace it.

  • Why should everyone read your book?

Well, I’m not sure everyone should, but if you’re a fan of traditional, throw-back horror stories, the kind that were so popular back in the 1980s and ‘90s, then Darkness Whispers should probably find its way to your To Read pile.

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which authors would you choose?

John D. MacDonald. Thomas Harris. William Shakespeare.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

Right now, I’m wrapping up two new short stories for anthologies and putting the finishing touches on a top-secret novella collaboration. After that, I have a novel waiting and more short stories.

About the Book

Darkness Whispers will introduce you to the town of Windbrook, a sleepy little community nestled deep in the secluded Skullkin Valley of western Pennsylvania.

All is well in Windbrook, just like usual, just like always. Nothing changes here, nothing is different.

Except… except today something is different.

An old man with piercing gray eyes will arrive in town this morning. This man isn’t human. Not even close. And he isn’t coming alone. Death travels with him.

Richard Chizmar, award-winning author of A Long December, and Brian James Freeman, acclaimed author of The Painted Darkness, have combined forces to create an old-fashioned tale of horror, full of good and evil, with a breathtaking ending that will leave you wondering when this peculiar old man might be coming for you…

Praise & Reviews:
Darkness Whispers begins as a visit to a golden-hued, idyllic town that soon gets dark. Very dark. I quickly gave up trying to second-guess the formidable authors and simply surrendered to their lead all the way to the shattering conclusion. Chizmar and Freeman know that horror doesn’t work without humanity, and with this story they succeed in chilling our blood and breaking our hearts.”
— Ray Garton

Buy the book on Cemetery Publications, and Amazon.


About Richard Chizmar

Richard Chizmar, Award-Winning Author of A Long December, has edited more than 30 anthologies and his fiction has appeared in dozens of publications, including, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. He has won 2 World Fantasy Awards, 4 International Horror Guild Awards, and the HWA’s Board of Trustees Award.

Chizmar’s work has been translated into many languages. He has appeared at numerous conferences as a writing instructor, guest speaker, panelist, and guest of honor.

Richard is the owner & founder of Cemetery Dance Publications. He is the creator/writer of Stephen King Revisited.

About Brian James Freeman

Freeman sold his first short story when he was fourteen years old and his first novel when he was twenty-four. His novels, novellas, anthologies, short stories, essays, and interviews have been published by Grand Central Publishing, Cemetery Dance Publications, Borderlands Press, Book-of-the-Month Club, Leisure, Random House’s Hydra imprint, and many others.

He’s well-known in the Stephen King fan community for his retired website,, and his two well-regarded books of Stephen King trivia: The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book (with Bev Vincent) and The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Trivia Book

His essays, columns, and interviews have been published in every volume of The Stephen King Library Desk Calendar from 2009 through 2014 (Book of the Month Club), Jobs in Hell, Hellnotes, and Cemetery Dance.

He is also the managing editor of Cemetery Dance Publications, the publisher of Lonely Road Books, and the founder of Books to Benefit.

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