“Kristopher Rufty is the demented reincarnation of Richard Laymon!” –Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller
If you’ve been following the literary world of horror for the past few years, you no doubt know his name. With about one billion books published since 2011 (I might be exaggerating there, slightly), Kristopher Rufty has carved out an impressive and loyal fan base. The Rufty Army includes readers, editors,reviewers, and publishers alike.
2015 alone saw the release of 4 major titles — The Lurking Season, Jagger, Bigfoot Beach, and The Vampire of Plainfield. All well received and all full-on Rufty.
He’s been compared to (and rightfully so) the great and dearly departed Richard Laymon. His no-holds-barred style mirrors that of Laymon without feeling like a cheap clone. With his 2013 novella, A Dark Autumn, he also proved, like Laymon, that he could bring in real thought and emotion and dance effortlessly through a complex story and character with the best of them.
In this interview, we touch on his prolific catalog, where he finds the time, what family life of a writer is like, and of course, dip into a number of his works including his next offering, Desolation.
Glenn Rolfe: First off, looking at your bibliography…. holy crap. I mean, you put out Angel Board in October of 2011 with Samhain, you were one of the originals. Now going into your fifth year of being a published author you have a lot of titles.
I have to ask, do you still have a day job, write full-time or what? How do you pump out so many works?
Kristopher Rufty: Thanks, man. It was an honor to be part of the original launch of the Samhain Horror line. I still can’t believe it happened, even after a few years have gone by.
I still have a regular job, but I’m self-employed, so that helps and hurts me. Because I drive a lot for my work, I don’t get to pump out the words quite like I used to. Now we have a baby, and my writing time has become very limited. There are days that my wife will take our three kids with her somewhere, so I can I have the house to myself to play catch-up. On those days, I start writing the moment they leave and don’t stop until they get back.
I think why I was able to write so many books for that stretch was because I used to do I.T. for a hospital. I had a small office, a computer, and Microsoft Word. In between work orders, I would write. I ate lunch at my desk a lot, and would write. When I ate in the cafeteria, I took my notebook with me and wrote longhand at the lunch table. I cranked out a lot of words during the day, then would still write at night before bedtime. I think back then I was doing anywhere from 4,000-6,000 words a day.
GR: Out of all of your published works, do you have a couple that are really special to you and if so, what make them standout to you?
KR: Well, I love them all, but I do have a couple that just seem to linger with me, or make me smile when I think back to them. ANGEL BOARD and THE LURKERS were the first two novels I wrote, so they hold a special place in my heart. THE SKIN SHOW and PROUD PARENTS were written while I was in bed due to medical issues. They helped me through a lot of pain and worry, so I feel I owe them a lot.
I wrote JAGGER in six, fun-filled weeks. That book poured out of me, and I worked on it before dawn most of the time, while the kids were out of school. I really liked doing that.
OAK HOLLOW will always stay with me because I wrote it multiple times in a six-month period. One version was turned into Don at Samhain and he said he wanted to publish it, but he just had one request: “Rewrite it in your voice.” I had experimented with the King style of writing the book like an outside observer. I loved it, but Don thought that I would turn off my core readers by switching to such a diverse voice like that. I think he was probably right.
So I sat down to rewrite it…from scratch. This time, I was sick with pneumonia during a huge chunk of it and I dreamed up some of the scenes during a fever-induced sleep, then wrote them the next day. Some of the wilder crap that happens in that book was written while I felt like I was dying.
Recently I wrapped up a novel for DarkFuse called SOMETHING VIOLENT. That one was a lot of fun to write because it was so different, and I experimented with rotating first-person POVs.
GR: I loved A Dark Autumn. Can you talk about that one a bit?
KR: Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. Well, it’s a novella about Ricky—a writer—who has rented a cabin to work on his new book. Life has been overly hard for him; he’s recovering from alcohol abuse and a rocky relationship the only way he knows how: by writing. At the same time, a group of women have also decided to go to the mountains for a reunion of sorts and are staying across the lake from Ricky. When their paths cross, a lot of bad things happen to Ricky, and the reunited friends will suffer for what they’ve done.
A DARK AUTUMN is a novella I’m very proud of. I felt it was the first time I nailed what I was going for. I wrote it in less than two weeks and my editor changed nothing. He said it was perfect as far as tone and emotion. But it’s also a novella that took me to places I’d rather not go again, if I can help it.
Because of the subject matter, I feared I’d lose all of my female readers. But I didn’t. I even received more positive letters about this one than anything I’ve ever written. Some women even said it was “hot”. That was not my intention. I guess each person takes something different from it.
GR: I think novellas are really fun. They’ve sort of replaced short stories for me. I used to read short stories between novels, now I try to seek out novellas for that quick breath. What are your feelings toward them?
KR: I enjoy them, and I enjoy writing them as well. Probably more so now than ever before. Don D’Auria encouraged me to right more novellas. So long as they’re written well and don’t seem cramped, I think they can be perfect. I hope to write even more novellas over the next year or so.
GR: Between you, David Bernstein, and Hunter Shea, there’s this pressure on us newer writers to try and keep up. Do you feel any pressure to keep at your current pace?
KR: It’s hard to keep up with Dave and Hunter. Another very prolific author is Heather Graham. She puts out a new book every month sometimes. I used to obsess with the idea of keeping up, but I’ve already accepted that this year it’s just not going to happen. Maybe even the next few years. We have a baby now at home and I just won’t be able to produce words like I have the last two years. But I am already scheduled for two-to-three books a year for the next three years, so I’ve got plenty coming up.
At one time, my goal was to be like the pulp guys, putting out a book every couple months. I managed to do that in 2015, but it kind of hurt me, doing it like that. Not only did it wear me out, but some of the books were neglected because there were just so many out at once. I think a few months between each title is better than excessively putting a new novel out every two months or less.
GR: You’ve self-published a number of stories, too. Are these stories that have been passed on, or are you just compelled to get these ones out there?
KR: Well, that began as an experiment. I had this idea for a novel called PILLOWFACE. It featured characters from a low-budget horror movie I wrote/directed. My idea was to put it out with the distribution company’s help right around the release of the movie. We were going to work on it together. They changed their mind and I had this novel I’d been promoting for several months. So I didn’t know what to do. After a conversation with Blake Crouch and I decided to put it out myself.
Nobody bought it. I think I sold four eBooks in the first month of its release. Then Thunderstorm Books came along and signed me to a book deal. PILLOWFACE was one of the titles they wanted to do a limited edition hardcover of. When that deal was announced, PILLOWFACE saw a nice rise in sales.
LAST ONE ALIVE had a very similar story. It was supposed to be the novelization of a low-budget movie that I wrote the script for. The movie was never made and I had this book that I had planned to self-pub to help promote the movie. I put the book out there and to my surprise, it sold like fire. If every book I wrote sold like that one did, I could write full-time and never look back.
Since then, I’ve held onto some eBook rights of my titles that have been released in limited hardcover editions. Those have all done very well.
PRANK NIGHT had offers from a couple different publishers, but it would have been almost two years before it could be released and none of the publishers could have had it out around the Halloween season because of scheduling issues. Since the story took place on Halloween night, I opted not to sign it over and decided to put it out on my own and see what happened. It did really well for almost a year. It was something different for me in style, tone, and pacing, so it was a good book to experiment with a full-fledged self-publishing venture.
GR: Just this year, you dropped Jagger, Bigfoot Beach, and The Vampire of Plainfield. They’ve all been well received.
KR: THE LURKING SEASON was also released between those others. As I mentioned earlier, some books became overlooked when so many were released so close together. TLS was that book. It was the sequel to one of my bestselling books and it hardly made a ripple in the publishing ocean.
GR: I just finished The Vampire of Plainfield. I loved it. Such an interesting take on Ed Gein. Where the hell did that one come from?
KR: I wish I knew. I’ve had that idea for years. I was suffering a bout of insomnia a few years ago. One night while lying in bed and staring at the ceiling a scene popped in my head of somebody digging up a grave. Then my mind started wandering toward Ed Gein and how he robbed graves, then the concept popped in my head.
GR: The descriptive style of it reminded me a lot of an author we both admire-Ronald Malfi. I’m sensing his work is a big influence on you. Would that be accurate?
KR: For sure. Malfi is my best friend in the world and I’ve always tried to avoid emulating his style in any way, just because of that reason. But as I sat down to write VAMPIRE, I knew I had to approach it differently than my other books. I’d tried to write this thing many times since 2009 and it just wasn’t working. This time, I kept in mind what Malfi had done with THE NARROWS. How he’d written about an entire town through the eyes of only a few crucial I liked how Malfi handled those situations and tried to treat my story in a similar way. It really helped. I was finally able to finish the book after many years of failed attempts.
GR: Can you give me a few books that influenced you at different stages of your writing career. Maybe early you on, when you started, and now?
KR: Early on I was heavily influenced by King and Koontz, as were many of us. But two other authors really influenced my writing back then—Saul and Little. I read books by all of these all through my teenage years, plus picking up random paperbacks from TOR and Zebra well into my 20s.
Then a friend suggested I check out Jack Ketchum.
I had surgery and was going to be down for a long time, so I bought a stack of paperbacks to read, one of them was OFF SEASON. I couldn’t believe I was reading a book that was similar to the kind of stuff I secretly wrote. When I told my friend that, he said he knew I’d like Ketchum for that reason. Then he told me a list of others to check out that included Edward Lee.
He was with me in a bookstore one day and grabbed Richard Laymon’s THE CELLAR off the shelf and put it in my hand. He told me I’d like Laymon because we have similar tastes and both use the word “rump” when describing a female’s backside. He was right. Reading Laymon put me on the path that led me to here.
Recently, I’ve been very influenced by a lot of old paperbacks I’ve been picking up at used bookstores. King’s MISERY heavily influenced my writing with my new book DESOLATION. And I’ve read a lot of pulpy crime fiction this year that has played into my writing lately.
Newer stuff? GOBLINS by David Bernstein was a great read. TORTURES OF THE DAMNED by Hunter Shea. LITTLE GIRLS by Ronald Malfi. THE NIGHTMARE GIRL by Jonathan Janz. So many good ones.
GR: I met you and your wife at Horror Hound in Cincinnati this past March. You were both super cool. You guys were expecting baby # 3. Boy or girl? How has that third addition been? Any change in dynamics or writing schedule?
KR: Yeah, that was a good time. It was great to finally meet you after knowing you online for a little while.
Our third child, second boy, has been a blessing. A lot of adjusting, but a blessing all the way. My writing schedule has completely changed. Now I write when I can. My wife will handle things so I can take the computer into the bedroom and write on the bed, and I’ve also gotten back into doing longhand while lying in bed at night. I might actually write my next novel longhand. I’ve already written quite a few chapters with my pencil.
GR: Desolation is your next piece with Samhain. Can you tell us a bit about that one?
KR: It might be the darkest thing I’ve ever written. Probably because there are no supernatural elements that exist in the story. The only demons in this one are human.
Grant, a husband and father, tricks his crumbling family into going to their cabin in the mountains for Christmas, in hopes of rekindling things he’d ruined with his alcoholism. A demon from his past shows up, invades the vacation home, and forces Grant to take responsibility for his actions while also unleashing what he views to be “similar punishment”. This book was hard to write. Many scenes left me feeling drained and depressed when I was finished. I don’t look forward to traveling down a similar road anytime soon.
GR: Will it be your last for Samhain?
KR: Hmmm…hard to tell. As of this interview, I don’t have anything slated with Samhain. After the ruckus back in early November cleared, I expected to hear from them, but I haven’t. Maybe they’ll reach out, maybe not. I have enjoyed my time with Samhain, though. I have nothing but kind things to say about the company. When our baby was born, the Samhain staff sent a card to congratulate us. That meant a lot to my wife and me.
I guess we’ll have to see how things play out in the future for all of us.
GR: What’s the rest of 2016 hold for the Rufty Universe?
KR: DESOLATION releases on January 5th.
I have a sequel to one of my reader-favorite novels coming out this year. It’s a surprise that I haven’t announced yet.
SOMETHING VIOLENT releases in September through DarkFuse.
JAGGER will release in Germany, and I have a short story in an anthology in Germany that’s being edited by a very popular Extreme Horror writer. I can’t wait to announce it.
Plus, I might have something through Thunderstorm Books.
I also have deadlines to meet that I can’t talk about yet.
GR: Thanks for taking the time, man. I think I’ll see you at a con or two this year. Good luck with everything and have a great holiday.
KR: Thank you, Glenn. I really appreciate it. I hope we bump into each other many times this year. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and brought in the new year with smiles and laughs.
Can’t wait to read your next book.
You guys and gals can follow the rest of Rufty’s Publicity Tour by clicking on the banner below:
Hook of a Book Media and Publicity—Erin Al-Mehairi
ISBN: 978-1-619233-09-6 Trade Paperback (List: $15.95)
There’s no escaping your past. Especially when it wants revenge.
Grant Marlowe hoped taking his family to their mountain cabin for Christmas would reunite them after his alcoholic past had torn them apart, but it only puts them into a life and death struggle. On Christmas Eve, a stranger from Grant’s past invades the vacation home and takes his wife and children hostage. His agenda is simple—make Grant suffer the same torment that Grant’s drunken antics have caused him. Now Grant must confront his demons head on and fight for his family’s lives. Because this man has nothing left to lose. The only thing keeping him alive is misery—Grant’s misery.
Biography, Kristopher Rufty
Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets. He’s written various books, including The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, The Lurking Season, The Skin Show, Pillowface, Proud Parents, and more, plus a slew of horror screenplays. He has also written and directed the independent horror films Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he’s sent to his desk without supper often.
Praise for Kristopher Rufty
“Kristopher Rufty is the demented reincarnation of Richard Laymon!” –Jeff Strand
“A Dark Autumn is a wild gender role reversal of ‘I Spit On Your Grave,’ with gonzo nods to Norman Bates and ‘Friday The 13th’ thrown in for good measure. Kristopher Rufty delivers the goods yet again.” –Bryan Smith, author of Kayla Undead and The Late Night Horror Show
“A creepy, gripping tale of horror. And it’s got one of the best death scenes I’ve read in a long time!” –Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller
“A powerhouse debut novel. Rufty’s prose will suck you in and hold you prisoner!” –Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Snow
“An occult thriller with a new twist. Rufty juggles captivating characters, breakneck suspense, and insidious horror in a macabre story that will leave you feeling possessed by the end of it. Next time you think about taking that old Ouija board out…forget it!” –Edward Lee, author of Lucifer’s Lottery and City Infernal
Barnes & Noble
We have a lot of books to giveaway from Krist! We have two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface in one link. In the second link we have a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach. Winners are chosen random via rafflecopter and are given choice of prize of order pulled. Any questions on raffle, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Link for audio book giveaway:
Link for print/e-book giveaway: