In conversation with Ashley Holzmann

We have had the pleasure of chatting with Ashley Holzmann. He is the author of a horror anthology titled The Laws of Nature.

Blurb:

There is a dark side to human nature that neither can be wished away nor completely mitigated. Ashley Holzmann details just several of these “Laws of Nature” before taking his readers on a journey through the bizarre, the terrifying, and, ultimately, the disturbingly real truths that underlie much of modern American life.

The book is available on Amazon, as well as most digital platforms:

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Here is what Ashley has to say:

  • Tell us a little about yourself. What are your hobbies?

Man. That’s a long answer. I love a lot of things. Comics, history books, literature, playing soccer, grappling, film. It’s a long list. I enjoy drawing and I wish I had kept up with that more growing up. I’m not terrible, but I’m far from a master. I used to be totally addicted to TV and video games and Halo 2 and Golden Eye 64 consumed my life as much as Final Fantasy games used to. I like camping and backpacking. I still volunteer at Boy Scout troops when I can because I like helping kids find their way in life.

I enjoy traveling and the Army and growing up as an Air Force brat has given me the opportunity to really see the world. I work out almost every day and I really hate running. The day I leave the Army is the last day I ever go for a run. I had to learn Korean for work, so I have to study that pretty regularly. I’ve been slacking lately and I really want to get more involved in the language.

  • What inspired you to start writing?

I took an unusual path toward becoming an a published author. I’m used to draw comics for fun in middle school and high school, but that never went anywhere. I spent high school working toward college and I was one of those high achieving kids in high school. Varsity soccer team captain, Boy Scouts—that type of stuff. It took me two years with a detour to the University of Central Florida, but I was accepted to West Point and began that adventure in 2005.

It was at West Point that the universe aligned for me creatively. I did silly videos in my free time and started to write creative stuff. I did it in my free time, but didn’t take it that seriously. After all, I was training to be an Army officer.

While at the academy, I met Tony Formica, the man who is now my editor and one of my closest friends. He would help me edit my academic papers at the academy. He would destroy me, but also explain why he was doing it and I learned really well that way.

Then graduation came and I was on Active Duty. I went to Oklahoma and then off to South Korea and I put all of the creative stuff on pause. A few years go by and the story keeps rolling along until I found /r/nosleep on Reddit. I started posting there and it was a challenge. I’m a man who can’t give up on a challenge. If someone tells me something is impossible, I want to do the impossible. If I’m told I can’t do something, that fuels me. And if I post a story on a website that relies on the random user to upvote that story and prove my worth… well, I can’t resist the challenge.

As far as who and how it all exactly happened. I’m not sure if there was a person or something that specifically inspired me. I grew up being creative. Writing was a natural step for me.

  • What is your favorite genre and book?

I enjoy good writing more than the genre of the book. I’ll read anything if I think it’ll be interesting. I read a lot of books for professional development purposes. Stuff about the military, or my branch, books about history and leadership. I also read a lot of books about writing and anything I can that will help me to publish my stuff. I enjoy teaching myself things. I’ve read a few books recently about logo design and font/typeface.

When it comes to other stuff. I really like Poe, Twain, Hemingway, Vonnegut and Palahniuk. I don’t really know what my favorite book is. I enjoy a lot of books and I don’t have a lot of favorites. Maybe The Killer Angels.

  • Who is your favorite author?

I’m not a very consistent person with regards to this. I’m a fan of Poe and like his ability to be technical in his prose. But I don’t believe I was really influenced by him. And I believe that influences are an important subject to broach for any writer.

  • Which is the best part of writing a story?

Finishing the last edits. There are so many moments when I’m writing a story and I can feel the points I’m trying to make and I can see how imperfect the whole thing is. Switching sentences around and reading the first draft over and over again feels like I’m putting together a puzzle. I want it all to fit together. For each line to matter and be in its place. I don’t feel comfortable with a story until I know it’s been to my editor a few rounds. Once it finally comes back for the fourth time and I know its done. That’s when I can let myself feel the wave of relief over the story.

  • How much inspiration did you draw from your life or the lives of others around you?

I draw inspiration from everything. From life—memories; from my experiences and the people I’ve met on my adventures. Hemingway used to talk about living a life worth writing about. I really believe in that.

  • What inspired you to write a horror anthology?

Once I had a couple of stories on /r/nosleep I decided that I would write one a week. That I would use the concept of saturation to get people to notice me. It worked and I ended up posting a few months worth of stories. After awhile I had enough to put together along with about ten that I hadn’t let anyone read. I sent 30 stories to my editor, Tony, and what returned was about 20 stories that made the cut.

Once I finished the first book I realized I wanted to keep doing this. So I will.

  • Tell us a little about your book.

I completed the first draft in about four months. Then I did around five self-edits before sending it to my test readers and then to Tony a few times. I used a second editor for a final polish. The whole experience took me about a year. The cover doesn’t look like it, but it took me weeks to complete.

The stories are mostly psychological in nature and concentrate on modern American life. The things we think are normal, the aspects of our lives that we don’t really consider. Some stories are more personal than others. Some are just ideas I had. Some are based off of an emotion I’ve felt before.

  • If you had to pick one of your stories, which would be your favorite and why?

From this book? I have three stories that I really enjoyed writing. I wrote a variety of stories that ranged. But the stories that I really enjoy writing are less horror and more about the loss and empty feeling we sometimes have in our lives. I don’t know why it makes me feel depth in my life, but it does. So I write about those feelings. The story Plastic Glasses was written based off of the first sentence, which came to me while driving to work and listening to a Korean CD in my truck. The story Crying Numbers was a reason for me to write about all of the books my wife and I read when she was pregnant with our first son. My favorite story, if I had to pick one, would be the last story, called Cold Static. I don’t remember where the idea came from. It probably came to me in the shower. If I rewrite any of the short stories into a novel, it would be that story.

  • What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

That’s an interesting question. I don’t think the stories impact me in any direct way. I see them as puzzles. I once saw an interview with Jodie Foster about Taxi Driver. When everyone asked her about the violence she said she didn’t see the violence. She saw the pyrotechnics and the technical aspect of all of the practical effects.

  • How much do you relate to the characters or incidents in your story?

I try to concentrate more on empathy than on me being a representation of each of my characters. I let events become exaggerated and I let characters be more than they are. I want the reader to have the connection more than me.

  • Who among the characters you created do you like the most and why?

This is and will always be an issue with me. I don’t think I have a favorite. Maybe one day I will. I have favorite types of things in my life, but I just can’t pick one. I don’t have a favorite color. I have a favorite band and favorite movie, but even with those I have more or less a top ten list of stuff that shuffles.

  • What message would you like to share with your readers?

Thanks for reading and thanks for wanting to learn more about me. I’m on Facebook and stuff as As For Class. I’m always down to chat.

As far as advice or any other special type of message. If you have a dream, figure out how to make it happen and make it happen.

Readers can check out Ashley’s site and connect with him via the following social media:

https://twitter.com/AsForClass

asforclass.tumblr.com/
If any of you have come across his books or read them, please feel free to drop a comment or just generally let us know what you think of this interview.

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