First, live your life. Second, write about it. If the second is pathetic,
the first may be the cause.
Coffin Bell: Introduce yourself.
Andy Betz: Hello, my name is Andy Betz. I am a collector of occupations (the current subtotal is 96) and I claim to be a high school physics teacher (during the day), an evening tutor in chemistry and calculus, and a up-and-coming writer in the wee hours of the morn (sleep is highly overrated).
CB: What got you started writing?
AB: I was working behind the counter of a shooting range with poor sales when I met a head-hunter for bodice ripping novels who offered me $300 to write 300 pages of aerobic adult activities in three weeks. He welched on the payment. I was left with what would become my first novel. Carpe Diem at its best.
CB: What is the most rewarding aspect of writing?
AB: Watching someone VOLUNTARILY pick up a short story or a poem of mine and read it to the end. If their reaction matches my expectations, I have my reward.
CB: Do you have a designated space for writing? Tell us about it.
AB: I have no designated space other than the back of envelopes and scratch paper. I am hoping everyday for a “Gettysburg Address”. I will settle for a best seller.
CB: Are you a planner or a pantser? Tell us a bit about your writing practices.
AB: Everything I do is by the seat of my pants. I was a firefighter and thrive on the FUBAR filled life. That was then and it is still now. Long live entropy!
CB: What advice to new and emerging writers could you give?
AB: First, live your life. Second, write about it. If the second is pathetic, the first may be the cause. This isn’t for everyone, but it worked for me.
CB: Who are your influences?
AB: In writing, my influences include the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the notes of Abraham Lincoln; the scientific works of Archimedes/Faraday/Curie/Newton; the sci-fi novels of Asimov/Heinlein/Herbert, the works of Ellis Peters, Ayn Rand, Richard Congdon, Eric Hoffer, and ANYTHING by George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Conan Doyle, Tom Clancy, and Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide is nearly perfect). In writing for TV, it is all about “The Twilight Zone”. Rod Serling resonates with me on every level.
CB: Physical books or e-readers?
AB: It may be 2018 outside, but I live in 1974. Physical books are superior in every way to e-readers. They are tangible. They have a smell. They age as the reader ages. You see them every day. My library is my friend. I am happy with this relationship. People who wish to find my electronic presence do not subscribe to this point of view. I understand.
CB: If you could give a PSA to journal editors, what would it be?
AB: This may sound silly, but keep your standards high. Make a writer give their best. I had 25 publications in this school year (everything I do revolves around a school year). I also have 1900 reject letters in that same time. My best work is yet to come. Wait for it. I will make you thrilled when you receive it.
CB: Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Tell us about your fears.
AB: I was a fire-fighter and taught fire-fighters for years. Physical fears have no place in my life. All I fear is making “Plato’s Apology” moot. I fear having an unexamined life not worth living. ‘Nuff said.
CB: What draws you to dark fiction?
AB: It all started with Lovecraft (no foreshadowing here from previous question) and become well-honed during fire-fighting and crime scene cleanup employments. The plot twists, the eerie descriptions, the inclusion of odors, surface tensions, viscosities, and delicate (just beyond human perception) audio all add to the aroma of horror. Read “Charles Dexter Ward” and the doctor’s descent into the labyrinth. Find me doing the same.
CB: How does the darkness in your piece enhance the work?
AB: Darkness, I learned during firefighting, hones the remaining senses to those who can keep their mind. Here, experience is your friend. However, the lack of which permits your mind to wander, to think of things one should never believe. Darkness makes the impossible, possible. I love leaving my characters awakening to their world under such conditions.
CB: Tell us about your book / publication / web site / promotion.
AB: My previous books have a readership of three (me, myself, and I). My next novel will have loftier ambitions. When finished, it will enroll the entirety of all I find interesting under the guise of a science fiction legal thriller. Other than that, find me in my short stories tucked in the corners and recesses of this and other fine journals. I find the talent contained within amazing and am proud to be included under this masthead.
Read Andy Betz’s work in issues of Coffin Bell:
“If Revenge Is What You Seek”
“For Anything to Think About”
“Cold Night, Hot Chili“