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Interview with C.R. Langille
Horror and Dark Fantasy Writer | Owner of Timber Ghost Press
Thank you for your continued support. I’ve been working diligently to add new worthwhile content to your inboxes. One of the new additions to The Storyletter is “interviews”. All interviews will be written and a part of the Community section. I’m so excited about our awesome lineup of guests to be highlighted in the coming months. Please enjoy our very first interview with C.R. Langille!
Welcome, Cody, or better known to readers as C.R. Langille. This means a lot to me and The Storyletter audience. Please give us a brief introduction to who you are and what you do.
Hi, and thanks so much for this opportunity. Yep, I'm Cody Langille, although I go by C.R. Langille for my writing (It's just my first and middle initial, super creative, I know). I'm a retired Air Force vet, father of two wonderful daughters, and have been married to my spouse for over 20 years. I've been writing for over 25 years now, mainly horror and dark fantasy, but I've been known to dip my toes into traditional fantasy and sci-fi from time to time.
Where did you grow up and did it influence you as a writer?
I grew up in Orem, Utah. My mom and I stayed with my grandparents for most of that, so I spent most of my younger years living with them. What was awesome was at the time, they owned a decent chunk of land, and there weren't tons of houses around them like there are now. That meant I was able to explore and dink around a lot. I was an only child until I was 15, which meant I had to entertain myself for the most part. I think that had a lot to do with how creativity was able to grow and thrive.
When I finished fifth grade, my mom got a job in Cache Valley in Utah, and we moved to Hyde Park. I spent the rest of my formative years up there. It was there that I got into reading and playing table-top RPGs, which is what really got me into wanting to be a writer.
Were your parents/guardians supportive of your creative pursuits? Did you always want to be a writer, or did you possess other passions?
Oh, for sure! My mom was super supportive of me and did what she could to foster that passion. I remember reading The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore in 6th grade, and that was the spark that lit the flame. Before that moment, I wasn't a huge fan of reading, but there was something about the way he wrote that changed everything. After that, I devoured all the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books I could. From there, I branched out, eventually stepping into the realm of horror with Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Bentley Little, and H.P. Lovecraft. I knew I always wanted to be a writer, but I was also fairly realistic in my expectations. I grew up in a law enforcement family, so I also had aspirations to be a police officer. Oddly enough, I saw the military as a stepping-stone to that goal and joined the Utah Air National Guard at the age of 17 (with my parents' permission), graduated high school early, and went to basic training that summer. After completing all my initial training, I returned to my squadron, and it wasn't too long after that the 9/11 attacks occurred, and my squadron was activated to support those efforts. I found I enjoyed what I was doing and decided to stick with the military while also writing on the side. Fast forward to now, and I'm retired from the military, running a small press, and writing while also taking care of my kids. It's a nice life. :)
Most of our readers don’t know this, but we worked together and were in a writer’s group for a short period. From that time, I learned you went to school for creative writing. Could you explain that journey in more detail and how it helped you in achieving your goals?
I got my undergraduate degree in English, and I remember being a little surprised at what that actually meant. I had this idea in my head that it would focus a lot on grammar and how to write better, when in fact it was more of a study about literature from different cultures and time periods. That's fine. I learned a lot, and I do think it helped me become a better writer in the end, but I wanted more. However, I had this internal struggle. I was a little over halfway through my military career, and I was trying to set myself up for success after retirement.
I had this idea that I would maybe teach high school English and Creative Writing, so I thought I should maybe get a graduate degree in teaching. However, at the same time, I found out about Seton Hill University while reading a book put together by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) on writing horror. There was an essay written by Dr. Michael Arnzen talking about the value of getting an MFA, and he talked about the unique program at Seton Hill. They offered an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction with tracks in different genres, including horror. It wasn't like any of the other programs I had researched up to that point. Seton Hill was geared towards writing as a profession, and the classes were all about writing craft, studying the genre, and how to do all that other stuff that comes with publishing like querying agents, making a platform, etc.
I spoke with my wife, and she urged me to follow my passion and ditch the education degree in lieu of this other one. I eventually listened to her, and I am so happy I did. I learned a lot of things at Seton Hill, and it helped make me into the writer I am today. Not only that, I made a ton of lifelong networking connections and friends.
Is there a time in your life when you wanted to give up on your dreams? If so, what enabled you to overcome it?
Geez, who hasn't had those thoughts before? But yeah, especially for writers and other creatives where it can be tough to get acceptances, it can be hard at times. I've gone through periods where I've only had one story acceptance for the year and a whole trough-full of rejections. Those start to pile up. But I'm a firm believer that a well-written and engaging story still has to land in front of the right person on the right day to get accepted. Just remember, rejections are very rarely personal in nature. I try to focus on the positive when I start getting down like that, such as amazing fan interactions, good reviews, etc.
What is the Horror Writers Association? How are you involved in that?
The HWA is an international organization full of horror writers and professionals who are dedicated to promoting horror and the interests of horror writers. It's basically the horror version of the RWA (Romance) or the SFWA (Sci-fi/Fantasy).
I first came across them at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City in 2012 and joined shortly thereafter. I wanted to join a local chapter but found there wasn't one. So I reached out to the HWA and figured out how to start one and formed the Utah Chapter of the HWA. Other than a brief break in the middle, I've been running the chapter since 2012.
You run a small press called Timber Ghost Press here in Utah. Could you explain how the company came about and what your future aspirations are?
Before Timber Ghost Press, I was full-time in the Utah Air National Guard. I retired in 2019 and had played around with the idea of starting up a press for awhile. My main motivations at the time were twofold. First, the Utah Chapter of the HWA helped put out an anthology every year to help highlight horror authors. To be clear, the anthologies weren't sponsored by the HWA or the Utah Chapter. Rather, we had an active hand in making it happen. You didn't have to be a member to get into the anthologies. However, as the years went on, we started to have anthologies coming out from different presses, and it was becoming difficult to manage inventory. When we would go to a convention or something, I was reaching out to 3-4 different publishing companies to get more inventory. I figured if I ran a press, I could publish the anthologies from that point on, and then it would be easier to manage.
My second motivation for starting Timber Ghost Press was because I have worked with a number of indie publishers in my day. Some were great, others not so much. I wanted to create a press that would produce quality books while also taking care of the authors. I wanted to create a press that would do all the things I had envisioned it was supposed to do. I want people to think of Timber Ghost Press and say yeah, they do right by their authors.
Does Timber Ghost Press only publish horror? If so, do you think you may add other genres, or is one genre enough work as it is?
Timber Ghost publishes creepy, weird, and disturbing fiction. We mainly publish horror, but we are starting to branch out to dark fantasy as well. Basically, if it is creepy and disturbing, then we want to take a look at it.
How does one become an author with Timber Ghost Press? Do you have open submission calls, or do you seek out writers that you like?
I do hold open calls for submissions from time to time. To become an author you have to submit a sample of your book during that window. If I like what I read, I'll ask for the full manuscript. If I still dig it, I'll offer you a contract and you join the Timber Ghost family. I just had an open call that ran from Jul 1-15 and I'll be looking for books to fill out my 2023 publication schedule from those submissions.
What does a day in the life of C.R. Langille look like? Do you have a routine and do you stick to it?
I have a loose routine that I try to stick to from Mon-Thu. It involves getting the kids taken care of and fed before school. Then while they are at school, I'll get to work. That work will range from reading submissions, freelance editing/ghostwriting, taking care of Timber Ghost marketing and awareness, getting books ready for publication, and writing my own books. The other thing that I will do is work out at least three times a week to try and keep my body moving and healthy.
Do you prefer writing short fiction or long form such as novels? What is your typical word count goal for a story?
I prefer writing short fiction. I find it is easier for me to do everything I want to do in a short space. That being said, I don't mind writing novel-length works. Longer stories let you slow down a little and start adding in all those cool little things that a short story doesn't. I think my perfect length is between 5-7k words, which kind of sucks because a lot of open calls for short stories prefer them a little shorter. It is what it is, though.
You use Atticus when prepping for e-pub/printing. How has your experience been with Atticus, and do you think it will become the new industry standard?
Atticus has a long way to go before it can become the standard. It's great if you don't mind using their preformatted themes. However, the moment you want to step outside of that it gets a little tricky. There are a lot of things I wish Atticus could do or do better, but it is still fairly new, and I am hopeful that they will continue to change and evolve as time goes on.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I suspect that I will be doing much the same. I hope that Timber Ghost continues to grow. Who knows, maybe it will be big enough to hire a few employees? I also hope that I can find an agent to represent me and my writing. That would be huge!
If your works were to be adapted, which production company, or streaming service, would you prefer?
Yes, lol. As long as the production company and crew had the same passion and excitement that I did while writing whatever it was they decided to pick up, I'd be happy with just about any company.
Since you play table-top role playing games, are you a fan of Dungeons & Dragons? What do you think about the trailer for the new movie? Are there any other games you like playing?
I've been playing D&D since 6th grade. I love TTRPGs and would play them every day if I could. I love the creativity of it and the immersive storytelling/worldbuilding. I'm quite excited about the new movie and hope it does the game justice. Watching the trailer, it seems like they are taking a better stab at it than the last D&D movie which was arguably not great. As for other games, I've played a ton of different systems. I enjoy playing Call of Cthulhu because I can get really dark with it, and it is a brutal system. Character death happens frequently in that game.
Do you have any advice for early or independent writers looking to query agents or submit their work to contests/anthologies?
Make sure your story is tight before you send it anywhere. A poorly edited piece will give the person considering your work an easy way to reject it. Also, follow the submission guidelines. Often they are straightforward and simple, but not following them is another excuse for the agent/editor to reject your story. These folks will get a lot of submissions so anything that makes your submission stand out in a negative light is not good.
What have you learned about yourself over the course of your career?
I've learned that you never stop learning or improving your craft. If you think your writing is the bee's knees and you've hit the pinnacle of your skills, you're wrong. You can always learn more and improve.
What is a project that you’ve recently completed?
I have a short story in Dead Stars and Stone Arches which is a cosmic horror tale. I also have a cosmic horror novella I'm shopping around to different publishers/agents.
What do you have planned in the near future?
I am about 2/3 the way through a draft of a horror novel that is basically Alone meets Cabin in the Woods. It's about a group of wilderness survival experts who think they are on a reality television show competing for a cash prize. What they don't know is that they've been duped and are actually being hunted down by an ancient creature that awakens every so often to feed.
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