Folks, please welcome Brian Niskala to the blog today. We chat about horror writers, financial growth, cycling, and a porpoise scare – plus much more. Indeed, Brian is quite the entertaining interview! There’s an audiobook copy of his suspenseful horror novel Rhinehoth up for grabs, so scroll to the bottom to check out the giveaway!
What makes you cringe?
Wow, what a question to lead off with. People who Mix capital and lower case letters when they hand write something. The use of the word “mine’s” as “That is mine’s” or at least I think they intend to use an apostrophe. People who think they drive a car/truck well and pass on the right. Okay I could go on and on…
Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?
Works of Shakespeare, I studied them in High School English and hated it. But now I see the root and invention of so many words came from him that I would like time to read all his works. I’ve actually read the Bible 3 times and actually have become rather opinioned on the whole thing. As a result, I like to read the bible every so often as a refresher. Not that I consider myself religious, but more spiritual as I have become older and wiser. I have in fact also read the translated Koran and Torah, but more so as a book, rather than a study. The Koran and Torah I would like to revisit and take my time to understand them as I do the Bible.
No phobias that I can think of, I’m paranoid about some things, but no so much as to be a conspiracy junkie. Well now that I think of it, I could say I have a phobia about sharks. I mean I will swim in the ocean, or rather wade in it. But if I can’t see my feet, I’m too deep. I had a scare when I was a young teen. I was swimming in a bay off my uncle’s boat and something rubbed up against me. When I say I turned white and froze, I turned pale white and almost sank because I stopped moving my arms and legs. It ended up being a porpoise, similar to a dolphin. But when its fin broke the top of the water, I freaked! Not to mention I had recently watched Jaws and to this day I will not go deep enough in the ocean to swim. I have a lake by my house with a cool looking beach. I even freak out a little swimming over to this floating dock we have about 40 feet from the beach. If a piece of lake weed hits me or a fish, I nearly jump right out of the water!
In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?
I write both fiction and non-fiction so I find myself being a research bee. I like to read and re-read a lot of books. I find myself reading Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, often. Then into my research, I try to craft characters around Campbell’s research of what works over the millenniums. I draw a lot from biblical reference, more so for the familiarity that people will associate with and as those stories have been so well crafted over time.
If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?
Besides writing, I am an avid investor. I have a book out on investing and I’ve always been interested in the stock and bond markets. I actually spend more time researching stocks and financials than writing. Writing fiction actually gives my mind a break from writing my non-fiction works. So in short, I would have probably chosen to be a stock broker or hedge fund manager at this point of my life.
In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?
I have a Twitter account listed under the name Rhinehoth, fitting enough. I have about 19,000+ followers which that number seems to grow daily. I use Twitter to help promote my books as well as other author’s works that I enjoy. I have not started an official blog as of yet, but think that is my next social engagement. Self-promotion is paramount to being successful in just about anything, especially in book marketing and sales in general.
As a kid I was high energy! To say the least I had trouble sitting still, so writing was initially the furthest from my mind. I wanted to be a ship captain from an early age. However I did write this adventure story that got some national recognition when I was in 5th grade, I went to a couple of writing workshops as a result but wasn’t taken too serious as I was so young. My short lived ship captain and writing dream was put on hold for another passion. I had a friend who was interested in cycling and as a result I became a very avid cyclist. My love for cycling grew and soon I found myself pursuing a position on the US and Olympic cycling teams. So needless to say, my athletics took over as my primary focus. I began writing seriously after a long term bout with unemployment after the 2008 economic hiccup. It was either sit on the couch and “drink” (I haven’t and don’t drink alcohol) or keep active, productive and write. I had an opportunity to start-over and reinvent myself. I thought of what I dreamed of as a kid, being a captain of a ship was possible, if I bought the ship and captained it myself at my age. I remembered the excitement of getting national recognition for my story when I was younger and that is when my mind became flooded with countless book ideas. From there I knew what I wanted to do, write.
If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?
Edgar Allan Poe would be my first pick. He was the only one that truly wrote anything that kept my attention span in High School English. He would order blackbird pie of course…
Alexandre Dumas as he is my favorite author. The Count of Monte Cristo is my all-time favorite read. Said to be an expert cook himself, I would think where ever we ate he would order the house special to learn from and test his taste buds.
Agatha Christie I like her writing a lot, it gives you a glimpse into early 20th century with people’s thought patterns of her day. Her mystery/detective novels would keep me reading for hours. She would order the most exotic thing on the menu.
Jane Austen I love. Her novels are great reads and give you a real good representation of her time period. It truly is remarkable how our language has changed over a few centuries. The fact she died at 41 is a tragedy considering if she had lived another decade or more we probably would have a few more master pieces from her. She would probably order gruel and soft boiled eggs and boiled potatoes… 😉
H.G. Wells had a significant impact on my vision of the future. The fact he wrote about complex futures in a time period where the technology was still rather primitive is amazing! Somehow I always pictured him eating steak, baked potato and beer.
If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Horror literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Hell House by Richard Matheson
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The Shining by Stephen King
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
I would choose these 6, a nice number representing monsters, ghosts, demonic possession, and one who was driven mad. Classic mixed with some modern tales. My class would be based around how one’s inner thoughts can create a hell on earth.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I am a father of 4. Half of them are grown but still live home and the other half in school. They keep me pretty busy. But I am a voracious reader and audiobook listener as I travel often for business. I am well past the 1,000 mark of books read/listened to! But my true passion, above and beyond anything else is finance. Believe it or not, most of my daily thought pattern is how to invest my money to create more wealth.
Places to Stalk Brian E. Niskala
Book Blurb for Rhinehoth
Rhinehoth – Centuries ago, a great castle was built in the mountains of Germany’s Black Forest. Its ancient guardians still thrive in its walls, forever protecting its dark secrets, holding captive an enemy that threatens their very existence. Foretold is a story of an ancient warrior that is to return to the castle to free the captive Vampire Prince.
Simon Roberts was a petty thief who fled England to escape Scotland Yard after a series of unsuccessful jewelry store heists. He was recruited to do a job in Germany where he was to simply drive the getaway car while providing a look out. He thought this was going to be an easy job and a way to break into the German crime scene. But things go terribly wrong, and he ended up being the only survivor of the botched heist. Simon is quickly sentenced to a prison called Rhinehoth. This is where Germany sent the worst of the worst, surely not a place for a petty thief such as himself.
Rhinehoth is a great German castle that was converted in the late 1930s to a Stalag for war criminals of World War II. The converted prison’s modern day inhabitants are relentlessly tortured, starved, and sleep deprived. This contributes to the prisoners’ delusional visions that help hide the truth and keeps Rhinehoth’s secrets. Their captors are the army of Werewolves who have survived the centuries off the very flesh and blood of Germany’s worst forgotten criminals.
Simon, imprisoned, becomes plagued with visions from his subconscious ancient past with confusion of his modern day consciousness. He discovers through his visions that he is the ancient warrior Guthrie, who has come to free the Vampire Prince and all the captives, while saving the world from a dark plan of biblical proportions that has been orchestrated over the centuries!
Brian is offering up an Audible.com audiobook copy of Rhinehoth! Hooray! To enter the drawing, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) What makes you cringe? 3) Leave a way for me to contact you if you win. This giveaway ends August 25th, midnight my time.