Featured Author: Nathan Pettigrew
Story: Dog Killer
State of Horror: Louisiana Volume II
Nathan Pettigrew was born and raised near New Orleans, and lives in the Tampa Bay area with his wife and two rabbits. His story “Dog Killer” was named among the Top 5 Winners and Finalists of the Writer’s Digest eighth annual Popular Fiction awards for the Crime category. Publications featuring other stories include the award-winning pages of Thuglit, and DarkMedia Original Fiction and Poetry, where Nathan’s story “Roland The Conqueror” was one of their “most popular pieces of original horror fiction to date” when it appeared in 2012.
Synopsis: “Dog Killer” from State of Horror: Louisiana Volume II
Roland comes back to Louisiana to visit his parents after being gone a decade. His father picks him up and it is clear the man is an alcoholic. What Roland doesn’t know or understand is the difficulties his father has been facing. Instead Roland chooses to focus on how things used to be. As the two begin to drive back to the house, Roland relives his childhood and the two argue about who should be driving. As his father relinquishes the driving duties to Roland a series of events occurs which will bring back Roland’s past and reveal everyone’s true nature.
Humidity had hijacked the air leaving no room to breathe, and no room to think, really, save for thoughts of suffocating and drowning both at once.
Time to Meet Nathan Pettigrew
Charon Coin Press: What inspired your story in State of Horror?
Nathan Pettigrew: Fear –specifically the fear of being a screw-up for the rest of my life and letting my father down. He’s successful, and he’s respected, while I got into a lot of trouble as a teenager and young adult. It took me a long time to grow up. “Dog Killer” isn’t about my father or anything in my personal life, but the fear of failing him is where the inspiration for this story was born.
CCP: Is there a reason this particular state appealed to you?
NP: I’m from Louisiana, so it’s a setting I know and don’t have to think about. It flows in and out of my stories organically, and I also feel that it’s rich in culture and has a lot to offer. Most stories I read that are set in the south deal with stereotypes, swamps and voodoo, or alligators, vampires and racists—but the south I know and grew up in is an untapped well as far as stories go. Even on TV –shows like Treme –it comes damn close to the real deal and I like it, but you can still tell if you’re from the area that it’s an outsider’s romanticized view of New Orleans.
CCP: What do you look for in a horror story as a reader?
NP: I treat horror the same as everything I read –it has to keep me turning the pages. Fiction doesn’t have to be any one thing or genre to me, just so long as it’s interesting. I’m also looking for a new world. To be taken somewhere I couldn’t have imagined is something I hope for in a story. Even settings that I think I’ve read about before—I like a story that can introduce me to a whole new side or outlook to those settings.
CCP: What is your favorite writing snack food?
NP: Jolly Ranchers, and Brach’s Naturally Flavored Lemon Drops. I like Slim Jims too when I’m transferring the chicken scratch from my notebook to a readable word doc.
CCP: What other works do you have out there?
NP: It’s the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans right now, so I’m proud to say that I have a good Mardi Gras story in a Crime and Horror anthology titled “Mardi Gras Murder” –that one’s available now in paperback and kindle at Amazon and edited by Sarah E. Glenn with Mystery and Horror LLC.
Or if you like my story and characters from “Dog Killer” in the State of Horror: Louisiana series, you can find more “Roland” adventures in Thuglit #3 –also available in paperback and kindle at Amazon, and then a free Roland story at DarkMedia online—just google “Roland The Conqueror” for that one. That story takes place before “Dog Killer,” and then “Wakey Wake” in Thuglit #3 takes place after, at the father’s wake.
CCP: What is one important thing the readers need to know about you?
NP: I guess they just need to know what they’re getting with me –I write Dark Fiction. Could be Crime, Horror or both. In fact, “Dog Killer” works as both Crime and Horror. I even have some Sci-Fi that I’m hoping to get out there—but I keep it dark. My mom sent one of my published stories to a friend who, instead of reading it, emailed it to everyone in his church. Disbelief, outrage, and even anger were the responses he received, and that right there has to be the highlight of my writing life thus far… Definitely the funniest.
CCP: Who are your favorite authors?
NP: Donald Ray Pollock, Lidia Yuknavitch, Joey Goebel and Junot Diaz for established. Chris Lewis Carter, Rebecca Jones-Howe and Fred Venturini for up and comers.
CCP: What drew you to State of Horror?
NP: It’s a fascinating and ambitious project. The state itself I spoke on already, but I have quite a few stories involving Louisiana and it seemed like the perfect fit for my story. It was that simple. I’m very excited to be a part it.
CCP: Do you have a favorite state or state you are waiting to open?
NP: I love Tennessee and Florida. I moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2011 –one of the best decisions I ever made. I lived in Louisiana from ’76 to ’96, Massachusetts from ’96 to 2011, and now Tampa Bay. I find Florida to be the most diverse state among the three where I’ve lived. It’s a melting pot for sure and always sunny. Endless stories could be set in Florida. There’s something for everyone here.
CCP: Music or no music when writing?
NP: I definitely listen to music when I write –it helps me tune out the world and focus on the images I see from whichever story I’m working on. It helps me tap into certain emotions that I need to explore as well. I can’t see myself writing without music. I listen to a lot. Siouxsie & The Banshees, the Dillinger Escape Plan, KMFDM, TV On The Radio, Ministry, Stateless and Norma Jean just to name a few among the many. A lot of bands from Louisiana too, since it’s relevant –Crowbar, Down, and Dax Riggs. Good stuff.
CCP: If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would you go and why?
NP: I would go to Scotland and Ireland. My wife wants to see Ireland, and my ancestors on the Pettigrew side came here from Scotland. We’re saving our money for it.
CCP: What was the hardest part about writing your story?
NP: The gore –I’m not a fan of it. But Roland does what he does. There have also been a few drafts. I don’t get it all on the first go. I do rewrites and I don’t limit myself to how many. It can take time.
CCP: Do you have any writing rituals?”
NP: I do, actually. I write in the dark. I have a mattress on the floor in what my wife and I call “the writing room,” and I lie down with the headset and music on, and when the words and images come to me, I click on a flashlight and try to capture it all in my notebook. I do this every night and treat it like a second job that I don’t make a lot of money from—which right now, it is.
Thanks go out to Nathan Pettigrew for his time spent sharing a little about himself and his story. Visit Nathan at http://Solarcide.com or follow him on Twitter @NathanBorn2010.