I honestly can’t recall how I met Claus, it may’ve been on a Dark Tower website or on Facebook, but it was our mutual love of The Dark Tower that initially brought us together. When Claus mentioned that he needed proofreaders for his work, I volunteered. From the first story I read, I was hooked, and I’ve had the pleasure to continue to proofread for him. You can read my review of Tempus Investigationshere, and my review of Dreams and Awakeningshere. And now, without further ado, a few minutes with Claus Holm.
House of Tortured Souls:How old were you when you started to write? Claus Holm:I’ve been telling stories ever since I was a little kid, but because I had a very hard time writing (I suffered from extremely bad motor skills, and my handwriting was and is atrocious!), I started out by narrating them out loud and recording them on tape. I’ve still got a couple of those lying around somewhere. Mostly they were fanfiction-type stories – one of them was a sequel to Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. I wrote my first “real” story on paper when I was fifteen years old. It was five typed pages, single-spaced on an electric typewriter, and was called “The Mystery of Loch Ness”. It’s been lost (thank God!), but it concerned a private investigator uncovering a smuggling ring using a submarine to bring goods in and out of Loch Ness. Terrible thing, and best forgotten…
HoTS:Where did you learn to write? Did you take classes? CH:No, not really, although when I was seventeen I attended a kind of creative boarding school where I did a lot of theater and had a single writing class. I remember it as being three weeks of us writing poems, and I learned absolutely nothing from it. Most of my “education” (if you can call it that) comes from two books. On Writing by Stephen King (the best book about writing, in my opinion) and How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card. All in all, I’ve learned mostly from reading a lot and writing a lot.
HoTS:When and why did you fall in love with writing? CH:I fell in love with writing and storytelling very early, as I said. Denmark has a lot of wonderful books for kids that I enjoyed throughout my childhood. I particularly loved a Danish writer called Knud Holten, who wrote a series of books about the 12 year old boy Alex Morningstar, who has all sorts of amazing adventures. They were the books that made me want to write my own books. But what really set me off was reading a book of short horror stories, and finding out that you could do something that wasn’t a long novel and still tell a good story.
HoTS:How do you compose your work? Do you write in longhand? Type it up? Or dictate to a recorder and then translate? CH:I write on my laptop, and I start at chapter one. I rarely write down any kind of notes in longhand because my handwriting looks so terrible, and I usually don’t need it. I have experimented with writing various parts of a story and putting them together, but that doesn’t work for me. I have to do it chronologically.
HoTS:Do you have a favorite monster or horror character? CH:That’s a tough question because there are so many horror characters I love. I’ve always been terrified of the “body snatcher” type of monster that takes over your friends and family and turn them against you. One moment they are to be trusted, the next… BAM! They turn against you. That’s probably my biggest overall fear – not being able to trust the people I know all of a sudden. But the monster that scared me the most in my entire life was the creature from Dean Koontz’s book Phantoms. It’s this kind of big protoplasm blob that can split itself into smaller blobs – that can change shape into anything it wants. Humans, dogs, birds, bugs, whatever. And the creature can dissolve you with acid if you touch it. I had nightmares about that thing for weeks after reading the book. It was the first book of Koontz I ever read, and his best, I think.
An honorable mention should also go to Bob from Twin Peaks. He was one scary dude!
HoTS:Do you do comic cons or art shows? CH:Denmark is a very substandard country when it comes to comic cons (We had our FIRST comic con this fall!). But I’ve done the national book fair in Denmark (Bogforum) twice.
HoTS:Do you have a Patreon or PayPal account in case people want to donate? CH:I don’t have a Patreon account, but I do have PayPal, email@example.com, and I do accept donations.
HoTS:Are you working on anything right now? CH:Currently, I’m writing two things. One is a collection of short stories, which I refer to as Tucson Time Travellers. It started out as a book with only time travelling stories, but I’m probably going to add some other stories as well. That should be out next year, hopefully.
I’m also writing Tempus Investigations – Season Two, the sequel to my book that came out this year. That one will be ready when it’s ready, I don’t have a date yet.
HoTS:What are some of your pastimes outside of writing? CH:I’m a movie buff, and I love to watch them. I read a lot, and I’m very much into tabletop roleplaying games. I used to be quite active in community theater, but it’s been a long time since I was on stage.
HoTS:You’ve said that the primary influence on your writing is your dreams. I can’t help but notice Jim Corrigan, the protagonist in your latest work, Tempus Investigations, can’t or doesn’t sleep much. Does this speak to the general fear of many writers that they will lose inspiration at some point? CH:That’s a very good question. I hadn’t actually considered that – to me, Jim doesn’t sleep because he doesn’t have the need for it. His body works differently than the rest of us. But when you lose your sleep, you lose your dreams, and that changes a person. If you don’t dream, your mind has a hard time processing what happens to you, and you will often get irritable and annoyed. In the new book, I’ve actually written that Jim has started sleeping more, because he’s less annoyed, so it’s a sort of a process that turns the other way. When his life becomes better, he can rest a little more.
But I think that any writer has that deep, nagging fear that there are only so many ideas out there for you and at some point the well will run dry. If that happened, I’m not sure what I would do.
On a side note, I’ve actually in the last two years tried a new treatment that has reduced my amount of nightmares substantially – without killing my creativity! So that’s good news.
HoTS:That is great news. May I say, speaking of Tempus Investigations... You’ve presented it as a television series, with each story being a single long episode, but you offer it as a single book. Was this planned as a television series or did you start writing a traditional story format? CH:Tempus Investigations started life as a roleplaying game. My group all loved Joss Wheedon’s shows like Buffy and Angel, and we wanted to create a sort of a meta-gaming idea where we created this fictional TV show. We took all of our favorite things from the genre and dumped it into the story. So we had a Slayer, a wizard, a Highlander, a werewolf, a demon…it was crazy. Then, we started writing fan fiction about this fictional TV show, writing out episodes that we didn’t play. Those stories had a lot of good stuff in them, and I always thought it was pretty sad that they essentially had a readership of five (the members of our group.) So I began to re-do the concept, getting rid of all the stuff we had stolen from other shows, and making the story accessible to outside audiences. I suppose you could consider the original stuff a kind of TV pilot and the finished book the series itself.
But I really loved the format of the stand-alone episode stories, so that was always my plan. Originally, only the first chapter ("How Like a Fallen Angel") was supposed to have been published, to sort of “test the waters” and see if people liked it. It would have been a part of the book Between Above and Below. But when the book was done, I found it didn’t fit the concept of the book. I wanted that book to be three “straight” stories and one supernatural one, just like Stephen King’s Different Seasons. So I cut the story, and decided to finish the season and give it a chance on its own.
It was always my hope that it would bloom into a continuing story.
HoTS:I’ve been editing professionally since 1990, so I’ve read many stories from natural born Americans whose American characters were awkward at best and painful at worst. That said, I’m genuinely impressed with your grasp of American culture and language, the nuances of dialogue and description. To what do you credit this? CH:When I began taking English classes at the age of eleven, I took to it like a fish to water. If I believed in reincarnation, I would have speculated I had been an American in a past life. When I met my ex-wife, who was American, she told me she hardly believed I was Danish. I sounded American to her. And I credit living with her for nine years, speaking only American English for a lot of the way my dialogue “flows”. But I’ve always had a good ear for dialogue and I’ve always been an Anglophile, to the point where I sometimes feel more American than Danish.
HoTS:You say that you’ve spent a lot of time in the US and consider Tuscon, AZ, your spiritual home. Have you ever considered relocating here? CH:Oh, God. Many, many times! Ever since my ex-wife took me there for the first time, I’ve felt like the city was the perfect fit for me, and I would be very happy moving there. Unfortunately, there are some things that prevent me from doing it.
First of all, I don’t drive. I don’t have a license, and since I flunked the exam eight times, I don’t think I will ever learn. And getting around Tucson without a car is very hard.
Second, my family is here in Denmark. I’ve got a niece and nephew I love very much, and since I can’t have children, they’re the closest to kids I’ll ever have. I would find it very hard to be away from them.
I’ve got a girlfriend who lives here, who I also love very much and wouldn’t want to move away from, and she’s told me in no uncertain terms that she would never move.
In a perfect world, I would have a vacation house in Tucson and go there whenever I felt the need for some desert air.
HoTS:Super Bonus Question: In "The Body" from Different Seasons, part of the tale has Gordy Lachance (the narrator) recalling how he would tell his stories to his friends Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio. To me, this is one of King’s most powerful portraits of the artist as... Do you have a similar piece that taps into your childhood to show us a glimpse of Claus Holm? Or is this even something you’ve considered? CH:Super Trivia Fact: The character of Franklin in the story The Guardians (which is in Between Above and Below) is for all intents and purposes me. He talks like me, thinks like me and has some of the same experiences as I did. The scene where an entire school class gangs up on him to beat him up, just because that’s something you do when you’re in 10th grade actually happened to me when I was a boy. Obviously, there are some fiction elements in the story (I never met an angel. As far as I know…) but he’s probably the character closest to being a self-portrait.
This has actually had some readers who knew me as a boy tell me that the story was extremely hard for them to read, because they saw my face on the character in their mind. So I probably shouldn’t have told you that…
So there you have it – and straight from the author’s mouth. We’ve provided links to some sample chapters as well as to the Amazon pages to purchase Claus’ books below. I strongly encourage you to purchase the books if you like the sample chapters. You won’t be disappointed.
Jim Corrigan was killed back in 1933. Today, he's a private investigator on supernatural cases. Immortality is a bitch...but it does help.