If you haven’t heard of the On Fire anthology, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Kevin Holton.
How long have you been writing?
Oh, man, what counts as writing? I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was eight or nine. I joined an online community at fourteen and started putting things up for the web to see, winning little awards and contests along the way. I didn’t get actually published until nineteen. So… a couple years? Ten? Keep that in mind, kiddos—I just got my first novel picked up, ten years after I started writing.
What are the genre(s) of the stories you write and why?
Generally, horror and science-fiction. I just can’t get behind normal literary fiction. Books like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at least hold my interest because it’s about mental illness, but The Great Gatsby? The Catcher in the Rye? Maybe I’m a bad English major, but I couldn’t stand those books. If you’re going to moan about a lost love for two-hundred pages, at least tell me you’re a cyborg, or that she’s a demon, or something.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I might be weird for this, but I sometimes feel like writer’s block is your subconscious saying, Hey, buddy, the story doesn’t go this way. Usually, I’ll take a step back and realize a particular person is acting way out of character, or an event doesn’t make sense, then I revise and continue.
From “The One Who Burns” by Kevin Holton:
The way light fell across the decaying furniture made me uneasy. Or the fact that such a huge place now stood empty gave me the chills, since it clearly used to hold a lot of people at once. Either way, I backed up and unlocked the door, opening it for Celine. The locks were rusty, but nothing a little force couldn’t fix.
“Woah, look at this place.” Captivated, her voice took on the same distant, dreaming tone it always did, the already soft timber of her voice could’ve been mistaken for a cloud, and her looks matched. Sky-blue eyes and smooth, curving features that hid her cheekbones despite her relatively active lifestyle gave her an appearance years younger than most would’ve guessed. You’d think wandering around dark, abandoned places in search of ghosts might give her a haunted look, with gaunt cheeks and sunken eyes, but if anything, our adventures in the night made her shine.
“Yeah, it’s got one of those crazy staircases.” I pointed, and she followed my finger as we traced it up. There was a spiral part on both sides, leading up to the third floor. Overhead, a balcony allowed people to look down at the rest of the room.
She took out two high-powered flashlights and clicked them on, handing me one. The art on the walls showed people farming. In the center, on the floor, was a tile mosaic of the sun.
“Think they got it backwards,” I laughed. “Sun’s supposed to be overhead, you know?”
Celine shrugged. “The Cavanaughs were supposedly one of the founders of this town. Helped build the area up from nothing to a huge farming community, then into millwork and smithing and other production.”
“Supposedly?” I probed, mostly for our viewers’ benefit.
Taking the cue, she said, “There’s no record of them in the town’s founding charters, but other people clearly knew them. Some scattered letters suggest the last in the Cavanaugh line was Alexia, who took over all her family’s businesses when they all succumbed to disease. But, she was a woman in charge, who’d claimed her power through her family’s untimely death. The Salem Witch Trials were going on around that time…so you can probably guess what happened.”
“Stake through the heart?” I was never one for history. Ivy’s Path was only twenty miles from Salem, but I didn’t know jack shit about the trials.
“No, that’s vampires. She was burned at the stake. Alive. But legend says she didn’t scream, or shout, or plead for mercy. Alexia looked out at her accusers and said, ‘My family saved you all! We scorched away the forests to make way for fields. We provided kindling for your hearths to cook your meals and warm your bones. We lit the flames in your forges. We have created and destroyed, in equal measure, to provide for you, and yet, this is how you repay the last of our line? Burning me for being a witch? Carry on, then! I am fire. I will always burn.’ Then she smiled as the fire consumed her.”
Kevin Holton‘s short fiction and poetry have been published with The Literary Hatchet, HellBound Books, Thunderdome Press, Radiant Crown Publishing, Mighty Quill Books, and many others. A short film he co-wrote, Human Report, is under production, and his novels The Nightmare King and At the Hands of Madness are being published by Siren’s Call Publications and Severed Press, respectively. When not writing, he’s an actor, athlete, and professor who can probably be found drinking coffee or talking about comic books.
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