Dave: Today’s guest is horror author Zach Bohannon, author of the Empty Bodies series and co-host, with J. Thorn, of the Horror Writer’s Podcast. Great podcast, I’ve been on it a few times, definitely recommend listening to it. Hello, Zach.
(If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on the 8 Questions Podcast)
Zach: Hey, Dave, how you doing?
Dave: All right. Thank you for being on. Today we’re going to talk to Zach about his creative routines, that is the usual for Eight Questions. The first question what is your creative routine like?
Zach: Well, I have a day job still and I also have a two-year-old and a wife, so I’m one of those people who just kind of has to, as of right now, have to kind of get things in when I can.
I’m a wake up at 4:30 a.m. guy. I’ll get up and do the biggest chunk of my writing in the morning. I usually do that at a coffee shop, because I have about a 25 minute commute. So, I try and get there, beat all the traffic and go to a coffee shop and write for about an hour and a half, and then I go into work.
I usually go to lunch around 1:00 or 2:00 and I used to sit in an office, but people figured out that I was back there. And I’m a manager, so they’d come back and bug me.
And a lot of times I don’t like to drive. I’m kind of near a library and a couple of coffee shops, but a lot of times I like to have all the time I can so I’ve started staying in the back seat of my car, out in the parking lot and people won’t come bother me out there.
I do that at lunch and then occasionally I will write in the evening. It just kind of depends, but I usually try to save that for family time.
And since I’m waking up so early, I go to bed early.
Then I have my weekends. My wife works on the weekends, typically. She’s a stay-at-home Mom during the week, but she’s a massage therapist so on the weekends she usually does that.
But we have some time carved out in the morning and stuff for me to be able to get some stuff done. I usually take Saturdays off but then I’ll do Sundays.
I just get it in when I can.
Dave: The hustle, man. And I have a tip, since you’re a relatively new parent, something that can work with your child and with employees. Whenever anybody comes to ask you anything, just give them more work to do. They’ll eventually leave you alone.
Zach: Exactly! That’s what I need to start doing.
Dave: What are some of your favorite creative tools, stuff that helps you get the writing done? I know you’re on the go and you’re carrying a laptop around with you. So, are there specific apps or music you listen to? What do you use?
Zach: Yes. I mean definitely the laptop like you mentioned. I’m a Mac guy. Scrivener of course.
Dave: Of course.
Zach: Yes, Scrivener is great. It’s going to be really nice when they get the mobile version going too because I will also – I haven’t been doing this as much lately because I’ve started dictating. So, dictation has definitely been a thing. I got a little audio recorder and stuff, I got Dragon.
For a while, and I still do this occasionally, I use Google Drive and I’ll have what I’m working on in there. If I’m in the middle of a chapter in the morning, I’ll throw it in a Google Drive file I have and if I get a couple of moments and I have my phone on me, I’ll do it on my phone.
Sometimes I’ll take little breaks at work and then do it when I’m not supposed to be doing that. Google Drive is really good to have.
And as far as music, I definitely do listen to music as well. I’m one of the fortunate people that can listen to music with lyrics and I’m a huge metalhead so I usually listen to a lot of heavy metal when I’m writing. Or sound tracks.
Dave: I hear you there. What are some of the biggest obstacles to writing and how do you overcome them? I’m guessing time is your biggest one.
Zach: Yes, time for sure, but honestly I learned a long time ago not to use that as an excuse. Back in 2012 I went on a whole weight loss thing and I lost 100 pounds in a year.
I kind of learned a lot of stuff about discipline and waking up early and just making priorities.
We all have the same amount of hours in the day, so it’s just how we use those hours. For me, getting my writing done is a priority.
But that being said, that would definitely be my biggest obstacle would be time regardless. And just trying o find that balance. You’re a parent so you understand.
Zach: Just trying to – I mentioned my wife works, so she works on the weekends. She’ll also usually work a couple of nights a week. Sometimes we go a couple of days without really seeing each other.
Just trying to balance stuff is probably my biggest obstacle.
Dave: What makes up your daily creative diets, like what inspires you, TV shows, books, anything that you consume that you think helps make you a better writer?
Zach: A few things. I do read a lot. I do a lot of audio books. I have a 25 minute commute like I mentioned before, so I listen to a lot of audio books,. Podcasts are also a pretty big influence for me.
TV shows more than movies. We’re in this great age of television where we have all this great serialized TV. There’s definitely a lot of inspiration to get in it.
I feel like I’ve learned most of my story telling chops probably from watching television.
But honestly, music’s a big one for me too. I’m a musician. I played drums since I was nine years old. I don’t really play much anymore, but I spent most of my twenties playing in a metal band.
The company I work for right now is a pretty popular cymbal and drum company, so music’s a big part of that. So a lot of my favorite bands were lyrically and stuff and influenced me, so that’s why I like listening to a lot of that stuff while I write because I find a lot of inspiration in that.
Dave: Sub-question, I had not planned to ask, who’s the best drummer of all time?
Zach: The best drummer of all time and my favorite drummer I guess would be two different things. Best drummer of all time, there’s Buddy Rich, John Bonham. There’s a lot of different ways you could go.
My favorite drummer is a guy named Gavin Harrison who plays in King Crimson now but he was in a prog rock band called Porcupine Tree. That’s who my favorite drummer is, but best drummer in the world? I don’t think you could really answer that.
Dave: I can. The guy from Tool.
Zach: Oh, Danny Carey. Yes.
Dave: End of discussion.
Zach: Yes, Danny Carey is a great drummer too.
Dave: I do love talking to drummers. I’m not a drummer but I wish I could, but I love talking to drummers because usually when you ask a question like that, you’re going to get a very impassioned answer and/or a fight if you say the wrong person.
Zach: Yes, Danny Carey is – well, the cool thing about Danny Carey is he’s one of those guys who like – I mean a lot of guitar players, you can tell when they start playing, or singers you know who they are.
But there’s not a lot of drummers like that, and Danny Carey is definitely one of them. Like him and then Jimmy Chamberlain from the Smashing Pumpkins is another guy who’s got a very distinct style.
Danny Carey would definitely be up there though.
Dave: I love watching that. I went to a concert and I brought my binoculars just so I could watch and see how he does what he does. It was just magic.
Zach: Yes, he’s like seven feet tall.
Dave: You work on the Horror Writer’s Podcast with J. Thorn. How does working on that podcast and talking to other people, and talking about books or movies, how does that affect your work?
Zach: If I’m being honest with you, it really hasn’t.
I think talking to J from week to week, not necessarily talking to him on the podcast, but just chatting to him like beforehand. I’ve learned a lot from him and we pass emails and stuff all the time. We talk a lot. I’ve definitely learned a lot from him.
But as far as the people we talk to, honestly not a lot. I think if we were doing more what you guys do and we were doing these types of podcasts, it would be one thing, but we’re usually just chatting with them about their books and stuff.
Occasionally I’ll get little tidbits. We just did an interview with Josh Malerman who wrote a book called Bird Box and the interview was hilarious. He was crazy. But there was some interesting things that came out of that interview.
But for the most part it’s more about the stuff that I do with J, like when we talk off camera.
Dave: Is there anything that you would specifically like to do in writing that you haven’t done yet?
Zach: Yes. Right now I’m actually working on my first fantasy novel, which I’m going to put out under a pen name.
I have a really big idea for a big epic fantasy with a lot of moving parts and stuff, that kind of Game of Thrones, lots of politics and a lot of points of views and stuff.
That’s definitely on my radar and something I want to do. But I just am not ready to do that yet.
I’m going to write other stories in this world where I kind of build up to that.
Another thing would be collaboration. I’m kind of doing one right now with J, but it’s not like a true collaboration. I’m actually writing a novella in a world for a novel that he has not put out yet.
He’s having a few different authors do that. And he and I have started a book together, but things kind of flamed out. I think eventually we’ll do it, it’s just got to be the right time. But I would definitely like to do a collaboration at some point too.
Dave: If you could go back in time before you started writing, what piece of advice would you give yourself then that you think might have helped things go a little better quicker?
Zach: Honestly, I mean I moved pretty quick, but I think the one thing that I would change, and I’m seeing a lot of people having a lot of success with this now, is I think I would have waited to put the first book out until I had at least the second book written, but maybe the first three.
My first book really took off and got really sticky on Amazon. If I had had that second book available right afterwards to put out, that second book would have been a lot stickier and been a lot higher on the charts.
It did well, don’t get me wrong. And I got it out as quick as I could, but I wrote something else in between and so I didn’t get it out quite as fast as I wanted to.
I think I would be a little more patient, which is kind of what I’m trying to do with my fantasy stuff. I think I’m going to try and write two or three of those books before I actually release it. If I can be patient, which is hard to do, especially when you have a full-time job.
Zach: I can’t write 6,000 or 7,000 words a day unfortunately. But that would be the biggest thing, is try to get ahead a little bit and then put stuff out, either all at once or really close together.
Dave: And our final question, what do you want your legacy to be?
Zach: It’s funny, I know you guys ask this question and now that you’re asking it I’m kind of like, I don’t know.
Honestly, I think the most important thing for me is just to know that I entertained people and was able to connect with some really good fans, by either they reach out to me and we build friendships or just by them enjoying my work.
I think the most important thing for me is just for my daughter to be proud of what I did, and leave something good for her behind where she’s making money when I’m gone. It would be really awesome.
But just making her proud, I think that’s probably the most important thing.
Dave: Great answer. Thank you. And thank you for your time. What website should people go to find your latest and greatest?
Zach: www.zachbohannon.com You can find everything there.
As far as social media, I’m probably most active on Facebook so you can find me on Facebook as well.
Dave: All right. Thank you for being on, I appreciate it.
Zach: Thanks Dave, I appreciate it.