These interviews are related to our GHOST AND GHOULS AND OTHER CREEPY THINGS campaign. For those just joining us, we are crowdfunding three projects on Kickstarter and also taking some time to introduce you to our participating authors, some of whom are new to eSpec. The campaign has launched! Check it out to see how we’re doing, and what awesome rewards are left to be had!

eSpec Books interviews Steven Van Patten, contributor to Even in the Grave, edited by James Chambers and Carol Gyzander.

eSB: Even in the Grave is a collection of ghost stories, without spoilers, can you tell us a bit about your story and how you came up with the idea?

SVP: My story, “Blind Spot” is about a man traumatized by a childhood incident, only to end up even more damaged.

eSB: What was the greatest challenge you had coming up with an idea that would stand out among the other submissions?

SVP: Honestly, it wasn’t that much of a challenge. The pandemic, along with my work writing Black History episodes for the Extra History has put me in a mood. Not saying I need an intervention or something, but lately coming up with dark stuff isn’t that hard.

eSB: Is your story a part of a greater universe stemming from other stories you have written, or does it stand alone? Whichever your answer, can you tell us about what makes that universe unique?

SVP: It’s a one-off, a total stand alone. It’s unique in that along with it being a horror story, there is a deep sadness running throughout.

eSB: Do you foresee writing more stories with this character or in this world? Whichever your answer, why?

SVP: I don’t think so, but I can’t say for sure. I’m a creative. Who knows what’s going to hit me or inspire me down the road.

eSB: Okay, first off the top of your head, who is your favorite ghost and why?

SVP: Alma/Eva from Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.

eSB: Do you believe in ghosts, and why? Is there an experience in your life you can share with us that strengthened that belief?

SVP: People say I claimed to see ghosts when I was a child. I don’t remember the incidents, but I have had other experiences that have led me to believe in lingering energies.

eSB: Have you ever incorporated aspects of your own experiences in your fiction? Tell us about it.

SVP: Strangely, I never told anyone what my grandparents said about me claiming to see their friend. You guys are the first ones to be told this outside of family. I have yet to use the story.

eSB: What haunts you as an author?

SVP: Creative writing can be a lonely process. That’s what haunts me. Loneliness.

eSB: What drew you to appreciate the horror genre? What inspired you to write in it?

SVP: I was a bullied outcast as a kid, so horror, science fiction, and anything fantastical were my escapes. In many of these stories, heroes faced ridiculous odds and triumphed. I aspired to be those heroes, at first, but because I was often shunned by schoolmates (mostly because of my innate work ethic as well as my awkwardness), I also identified with certain monsters.

eSB: Other than horror, what genres do you write in? Tell us something about your other works and what makes those genres different from writing horror.

SVP: Well, one of the things I do is I write for a YouTube channel ‘Extra Credit’. They have various wings and initially asked me to tackle mythology… you know… because I’m the spooky guy. Months later, George Floyd was murdered and the organization realized that they were sorely lacking in anything that tackled the African-American perspective. They asked me to tackle Black History and dealing with my own traumas, I took to the assignment gladly. Medgar Evers, The Negro Leagues, The Tulsa Riot. The history of the Cotton Gin and how it helped set the stage for the Civil War. What’s the difference? Well, in writing these stories, I am confronted by real monsters like institutional racism, and real boogeymen like J. Edgar Hoover. Some days, these stories are harder to work on because of the real suffering connected to them. I write horror because I want to. I’m doing the Black History work because I need to. 

eSB: What is your least favorite aspect of being an author, and why?

SVP: I messed up. I should have become famous for something else and THEN become an author. My work, which feeds my soul, is not always feeding the wallet.

eSB: Could you tell us about one of your most amusing experiences promoting your books?

SVP: I get asked some pretty funny questions as I move through various events and convention spaces. Some examples:

1) Why do you hate Christmas? (To be fair, this is probably because I have written a few Christmas horror shorts and even performed them in public, as demonstrated here.)

2) What is wrong with you? (I usually ask the person to be more specific.)

3) Are you really a vampire? (Yes! There, I finally said it!)

And of course:

4) You write horror? But you’re Black!

Wait… is that last one funny? I guess it depends.

eSB: What is one thing you would share that would surprise your readers?

SVP: I’m a fan of Humphrey Bogart. Or maybe his writers. That guy had some slick retorts back in the day.

eSB: What are some of your other works readers can look for?

SVP: There is Brookwater’s Curse, my vampire series. There is also Killer Genius: She Kills Because She Cares and the sequel, Killer Genius: Attack of The Gym Rats, which revolves around a socially conscious Black woman serial killer. Marc Abbott and I raised some hell with Hell at The Way Station and brought in fantasy/ sword and sorcery guru Kirk Johnson for the sequel, Hell At Brooklyn Tea. Kirk came up with a great tagline for those two. “It’s ‘Three The Hard Way’ meets ‘The Dresden Files’.” Also, I am in a number of other horror anthologies.

eSB: As a horror author, where do you find support for your writing?

SVP: My fellow members of the NY chapter of the Horror Writer’s Association have been tremendous. They always make me feel included and cared about. And Mom, even though some of the material disturbs her, is a constant cheerleader.

eSB: What advice would you give aspiring horror writers?

SVP: Spend as much time reading as you do writing. I think that will keep you from falling into doing the same thing everyone else is doing.

eSB: What projects of your own do you have coming up?

SVP: I have sequels for all of my series slowly pulling themselves out of the primordial ooze that is my imagination.

eSB: How can readers find out more about you?

SVP: Well, my number is 917… kidding.

Holler at me on social media. That is probably the best way.

VanPattenSteven Van Patten is the author of the celebrated Brookwater’s Curse vampire trilogy, and the Killer Genius serial killer series. He’s also co-author of Hell at The Way Station, which won Best Anthology and Best in Science Fiction at the 2019 African American Literary Awards. Numerous short stories have been published in over a dozen anthologies and he’s a contributing writer and consultant for the YouTube channel Extra History as well as the Viral Vignettes series.

He’s a member of the New York Chapter of The Horror Writer’s Association, The Director’s Guild of America, and professional arts fraternity Gamma Xi Phi Incorporated. He’s also the publisher of Growth: The Basics of Our Gardens, a how to guide for anyone interested in growing medicinal marijuana. A fourth of the Brookwater’s Curse series and a final Killer Genius installment are in the works now that Hell at Brooklyn Tea dropped in early 2021. His website is When he is not writing scary or salacious tales, Steven can be found stage managing a plethora of TV shows and events across the tri-state area.

Find out more about Steven Van Patten:

Website   *  GoodReads  *  Amazon  *  BookBub

Follow Steven Van Patten on social media:

Twitter Facebook  *  Instagram  

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