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The Big Thrill Discusses LET ME TELL YOU A STORY With Tim Waggoner

Book CoverTim Waggoner continues what he started in the Bram Stoker Award-winning Writing in the Dark (2020) and Writing in the Dark: The Workbook (2022), both of which focus on the art of composing successful horror fiction. This latest guidebook takes a different approach, foregrounding Waggoner’s prolific, decades-long career as a professional author.

Partly autobiographical, partly tutorial and diagnostic, each chapter features one of Waggoner’s stories followed by reflection on the historical context of publication, insightful commentary, and exercises for writers who are just learning their craft and who have already made a name for themselves. As always, Waggoner’s experience, wit, and know-how shine through as he discusses and re-evaluates material from 1990 to 2018.

Tim Waggoner

Tim Waggoner recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his non-fiction book, LET ME TELL YOU A STORY.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

I’d written two how-to-write-horror books for Raw Dog Screaming Press—Writing in the Dark and Writing in the Dark: The Workbook. In both volumes, I presented one of my short stories, critiqued it, and discussed the techniques I used to write it, and what I’d do differently today. It occurred to me that I could base another book around that idea, creating a hybrid short story collection and how-to-write book—and LET ME TELL YOU A STORY was born.

A book is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

LET ME TELL YOU A STORY only took me a few months to write. The individual stories were already written, so all I had to do was write the analysis for each one, as well as writing exercises for readers based on that analysis. Because the stories were drawn from throughout my career, the book also ended up being a kind of career retrospective, and I found that aspect fascinating, and enlightening, to explore.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

Lawrence Block’s books on writing were a huge influence on my fiction writing as well as my nonfiction writing, and they’re never far from my mind when I’m discussing writing techniques.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers find the insights into the stories interesting—a glimpse into a horror writer’s mind—and I hope writers will find inspiration and techniques they can use in their own work.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

I’m currently writing The Desolation War, the third volume in my Maintenance Trilogy for Aethon Books. The best way to describe the series is Men in Black meet Hellraiser.


Tim Waggoner has published over 50 novels and seven collections of short stories. He’s a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, a one-time winner of the Scribe Award, and he’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Splatterpunk Award. He’s the author of the acclaimed horror-writing guide Writing in the Dark, and he’s a full-time tenured professor who teaches creative writing and composition at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio. His papers are collected by the University of Pittsburgh’s Horror Studies Program.

To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.

Let Me Tell You a Story with Tim Waggoner

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