Q&A With Wil Forbis

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Q&A With Wil Forbis 

Another Q&A to start off the New Year is with author Will Forbis.  Will has a debut horror novel What Waits In The Shadows. I was hooked from the beginning and was so grateful Netgalley let me read it! 


Q: Wil for those who haven’t read What Waits In The Shadows, would you like to tell the readers of the blog a little bit about the book and where the idea for the story came from?


A: Sure. The story kicks off with a young girl, Lisa, who sees her father killed by a seemingly inhuman creature. When we meet up with her twenty years later, she’s convinced her father was murdered but a very human criminal who was captured and is coming up for parole. But as terrible things start to happen to people around her, Lisa begins to question her sense of reality, much to the unease of her fiancé and friends.


The story has been percolating in my head for over twenty years. It was kicked off when I was dating a woman who had a neighbor she found to be generally creepy. She called him “Mr. Yuck,” and that was enough to get some creative juices flowing.


Q: How long did it take for you to write What Waits In The Shadows?


A: Oh boy. Well, as mentioned, it’s been floating around for two decades. Originally, I wrote it as a five-page screenplay synopsis. Then, about 15 years ago, I wrote it out in novel form, but it was pretty rough. Several years ago, I pulled it out and did serious rewrites. I’d already written a lot of non-fiction, short stories, and a couple of novels, but this was the story where I dug deep into the art and science of fiction writing. Simultaneously, I started working on several other horror novels, as well as placing short stories in anthologies.


So, the short answer would be “many years”, though there were huge gaps in the process. Fortunately, the other books have come quicker.


Q: If you are currently writing your next horror book, will it be a sequel to What Waits In the Shadows, or will it be a standalone novel with a totally different story?


A: Yes, I’ve got several other novels in various stages of completion. Coming next is a work titled Anonymous about college students mocking someone online and, well, things get messy. Currently, I’m finishing up a draft on a Hitchcockian tale about identical twins caught up in various murders.

I have put some thought into a follow up for What Waits in the Shadows. There’s a world of ideas that can be explored there.


Q: What do you enjoy most about writing in the horror genre? Who are your favorite horror authors?


A: Well, I like gore, death, murder… all the fun stuff. Plus, I like the twists and turns of the suspense genre. I grew up watching a lot of Hitchcock films and those winding plots got wired into my DNA.


As for horror authors, I feel I’ve read wide but not deep, meaning I’ve read many authors but haven’t read everything by one author. Stephen King, of course, comes to mind. Dean Koontz is reliable. I’m hit or miss on Richard Laymon but he deserves a mention. I love Jack Ketchum. J.A. Konrath has an underrated little horror book called Trapped that I think is a masterpiece. Russell C. Connor is great. Riley Sager is a good creator of “soft horror.” I just discovered Ian Rob Wright’s work and like it a lot. As far as indie writers, I like Stephen Barnard, Brian Moreland, Ambrose Ibsen, Suzi Wieland, Justin Boote, and Jon Cohn. I loved Sean McDonough’s slasher Beverly Kills.


Q: If you were to write in another genre that wasn’t horror, which genres would you explore and why?


A: Oh, reverse harem romance with werewolves. But seriously, probably something horror adjacent—thrillers, suspense, crime. I haven’t read much Harlan Coben, but I like the Netflix adaptations of his work. So, I’d write something like that.


Q: Whether Hollywood has the rights to What Waits In The Shadows or not, who would be your dream cast to play the characters you created?


A: With What Waits in the Shadows and most of my recent work, the acting choices could be open-ended. I could see any number of actors for Lisa. Sydney Sweeny, Jenna Ortega, one of the Fanning sisters, Zendaya, Millie Bobby Brown would all work. Feel free to pass this along if you run into any of them at a cocktail party.


I’ve also always liked Emmy Rossum who was in the show Shameless.


Robert Englund would be fun as the detective assigned to Lisa’s father’s murder.


Q: What advice would you give to those on writing great horror?


A: I mentioned that Konrath book Trapped and what I liked about it was how it piled tension atop more tension. It’s related to a great bit of advice I once read which said that for every bit of dialogue, one character should fundamentally be saying yes while another says no. Whether its people knife-fighting on a rooftop or arguing about what sushi restaurant to go to, you want people at odds. If they can sleep with each other’s spouses, or lock each other in basements, it is all the better.