The Nightmare Engine Podcast

Navigating the Labyrinth of Spooks and Sounds with Ronald Malfi

February 17, 2022 David Viergutz Season 1 Episode 7
Navigating the Labyrinth of Spooks and Sounds with Ronald Malfi
The Nightmare Engine Podcast
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The Nightmare Engine Podcast
Navigating the Labyrinth of Spooks and Sounds with Ronald Malfi
Feb 17, 2022 Season 1 Episode 7
David Viergutz

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๐ŸŽ™๏ธAbout the Episode
Welcome to another unforgettable episode of the Nightmare Engine Podcast! Our latest dialogue spiraled around the intriguing personality of Ronald Malfi - a horror author and musician who has been setting the stage on fire in the mid-Atlantic region with his rock band, Veer. Ronald's journey, which propelled him from a fresh college graduate to a successful author, makes for an inspiring share that any aspiring writer or musician dare not miss!

Crafting the perfect horror narrative isn't a macabre dance in the park, and Ronald gives us a peek into his mind as he discusses his writing process. He shares his unique knack for capturing the tone and emotion of his stories, offers an intimate look at his favorite books, and reveals what truly terrifies him. As we move deeper into his world, Ronald unveils the broad spectrum of sub-genres within horror, and how he expertly crafts his chilling tales from the kernel of an idea to a spine-tingling final draft.

Just when you thought you had heard it all, Ronald whisks us away on a journey through his novella, The Morning House and Maybe, a gripping tale of survival and loss. His insights into the horror genre are a revelation, and his future projects promise to push the boundaries of terror even further. So, buckle up and join us on this roller-coaster ride into the chilling depths of horror and music with Ronald Malfee - it's an encounter you won't forget!

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

๐Ÿ”—Connect with Jay
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and let us know in your review

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and let us know in your review who you want to see next on the podcast. Thanks!

You can also Tweet me @ViergutzDavid and tell me what horror author you want to hear from next, or what topics you want me to cover. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How did you like the show? Text us and let us know.

โญ๏ธEnjoy the podcast? Do your good deed for the day and leave a 5-star review here ;)

๐ŸŽ™๏ธAbout the Episode
Welcome to another unforgettable episode of the Nightmare Engine Podcast! Our latest dialogue spiraled around the intriguing personality of Ronald Malfi - a horror author and musician who has been setting the stage on fire in the mid-Atlantic region with his rock band, Veer. Ronald's journey, which propelled him from a fresh college graduate to a successful author, makes for an inspiring share that any aspiring writer or musician dare not miss!

Crafting the perfect horror narrative isn't a macabre dance in the park, and Ronald gives us a peek into his mind as he discusses his writing process. He shares his unique knack for capturing the tone and emotion of his stories, offers an intimate look at his favorite books, and reveals what truly terrifies him. As we move deeper into his world, Ronald unveils the broad spectrum of sub-genres within horror, and how he expertly crafts his chilling tales from the kernel of an idea to a spine-tingling final draft.

Just when you thought you had heard it all, Ronald whisks us away on a journey through his novella, The Morning House and Maybe, a gripping tale of survival and loss. His insights into the horror genre are a revelation, and his future projects promise to push the boundaries of terror even further. So, buckle up and join us on this roller-coaster ride into the chilling depths of horror and music with Ronald Malfee - it's an encounter you won't forget!

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

๐Ÿ”—Connect with Jay
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and let us know in your review

๐Ÿ”—Connect with David
๐ŸŒŽ Website | ๐ŸŽฅ Youtube | ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸซFacebook | ๐Ÿ“ธ Instagram |๐Ÿค Twitter | ๐Ÿ•ฐ๏ธTikTok

โญ๏ธ Leave a Review

If you enjoy listening to the podcast, please do leave a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts and let us know in your review who you want to see next on the podcast. Thanks!

You can also Tweet me @ViergutzDavid and tell me what horror author you want to hear from next, or what topics you want me to cover. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Nightmare Engine Podcast with your hosts, horror authors David Virgoots and Jay Bauer, where they discuss all things horror, books, movies, stories. Nothing is off limits, nothing is safe, and neither are you.

David Viergutz:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to episode number eight of the Nightmare Engine Podcast. We are back after a two month hiatus. It is April 5th, tuesday, not that that matters, but hey, you can watch season any order, it will still be awesome. So today we have a really special guest. We've got Ronald on the line. But before we get to that, let's introduce ourselves. Jay, let's talk a little bit about you, man, I hear you over there. How are you doing?

Jay Bower:

I'm doing good, David. Thanks for asking, fella.

David Viergutz:

Yeah, because you know I don't talk to you ever on a daily basis.

Jay Bower:

No, we don't. Ever it's weeks before we talk to each other. It's crazy.

David Viergutz:

Jay, what are you working on, man?

Jay Bower:

Currently I'm working on a follow up to my three book Dead Blood series, Working on another three books to go with it and possibly a short story collection to go in between before I release those.

David Viergutz:

That's cool. So is that something you're curating or is that something you're going to write for?

Ronald Malfi:

yourself.

Jay Bower:

For myself. Yeah, Well, yeah, definitely for myself.

David Viergutz:

Yeah, you got enough short stories floating around there. You can probably think you're on anthology. Well cool, I'm working on book four of my primary series, the Other World Archives, so we're looking at Old Scratch, which is my possession tale. Can you get?

David Viergutz:

in close, but I got 10K left. I actually put it down when I like 10K, 10,000 words left. So it was. I was pretty close to finish, but another project, just it just yanked me by the ear and said go, do this. And so I finished that book real quick. But we were returned to old ways and so that's what we're doing today we're going back to what we know, we're going back to our podcast and bringing really cool guests on. So today I've got a really special guest. So Ronald, ronald, malfee, everybody, ronald, how are you doing brother?

Ronald Malfi:

I'm doing great. I appreciate you guys having me on. It's going to be here.

David Viergutz:

Yeah, man, I mean, when I reached out to you, I was not expecting that quick of a response. Sometimes it takes a couple of days, and I think I got a message back immediately like, yeah man, I'm down. So it's really cool.

Ronald Malfi:

You caught me on, like the one day that I'm free. You have to ask at the right time.

David Viergutz:

So you stay busy. What do you? No, me, no, no, I don't do it.

Ronald Malfi:

I sleep in a tent outside all day. Yeah, no, I do. I do quite a few. I do quite a few podcast shows. When I'm gearing up for a new book, I'm out, you know, between writing my kids who you could probably hear pounding through the floor as we're recording this and then I'm in a band, so that takes up a lot of time when I'm not writing, no, it's like a never ending cycle of med.

David Viergutz:

I was going to ask about that. I see the guitars in the background. I know this is audio only, but I definitely see those and I'm like that's not writing related. So tell us about that real quick. That's kind of interesting.

Ronald Malfi:

Yeah, no, I'm in the. I sing and play guitar in a rock band. I've been doing it, a band called Veer. We've been doing it since late 2016, early 2017.

Ronald Malfi:

I was playing music my whole life in bands for three years when I was younger, but I gave that up kind of about a year or two out of college and just kind of did like the normal thing you get a job, get married, have kids, do that and then the writing thing then focused on that and that my career shifted toward writing and I was doing that for like over a decade before.

Ronald Malfi:

I never thought I'd get back into playing music. But just like the stars aligned and my brother's local he's the drummer and the man, my two best friends are also in the band and it's kind of like a no brainer to just get back together and stop playing some music. And that took off kind of quickly and we've kind of I live in Maryland, so kind of in the whole mid-Atlantic region we've kind of become sort of the go-to local band to open for like national acts that come through Baltimore or DC or whatever. So we play with a bunch of really cool bands and that's been a lot of fun and for me, I'm just like an old fucking guy.

Ronald Malfi:

So do that stuff again, or at least I feel old, but to do that stuff again, it's kind of crazy. But I'm kind of black.

Jay Bower:

That's awesome, man. It's really cool to have an outlet like that, because I know so many creative people, especially authors, other than writing their stories. They always have something on the side that their creative energy is just so overflowing that it comes out in their books and it comes out in their stories. But they have these other passions and it's awesome to hear about that music. It's really cool.

Ronald Malfi:

Yeah, it always seems like when one creative endeavor becomes serious or becomes work, then I feel obligated to do that. But then I have to gear it to something else that's just for fun, and then inevitably that becomes some kind of work. There's always some level of responsibility. I can't just do anything like creatively half-assed Everything else in my life is half-assed but creative stuff. I'm always all in Priorities, man, so that's where I find myself with that.

David Viergutz:

Then you become beholden to your fans, so you're your own boss. And then the fans start demanding, and then you say I shall deliver. And so now you've created another job for yourself. So I guess that's.

Ronald Malfi:

So the story of my life is I just create jobs.

David Viergutz:

Yeah.

Ronald Malfi:

And ignore all the other responses around me.

David Viergutz:

She said you got kids from all over the day.

Ronald Malfi:

I do. I've got two daughters. One is going to be 12 this year and the other one will be eight this month. Nice Congrats.

David Viergutz:

Wow.

Ronald Malfi:

Sample.

David Viergutz:

I've got 17 and three.

Ronald Malfi:

Okay, well, that's a space area.

David Viergutz:

It was a cruel joke. It really is a blast. And there's something about it a connection to kids that you do the best you can to emulate in your books and make people care about your characters in the same way you care for your kids, and I think that's where it really comes from is the heart that you try to put into your books. So let's talk a little bit about the books, ronald. So we've been doing this forever and I mean that in the kindest way, I don't mean so why writing? When did that start?

Ronald Malfi:

I mean, you know, I think when I was younger I kind of I tried my hand at any creative endeavor. You know, music, like you talked about writing, drawing, you know any of that's, any, any kind of creative outlet I was always into. So what if I was, you know, listening to any kind of music? At that point I try to learn how to play it. You know, as a young kid, same with writing, you know, I started whenever I started to read a book, I, you know, write my own. You know I'd steal the story, basically write my own version of it and plagiarize it. And I was maybe about 10 or 11 years old. They bought an old typewriter from a yard sale and, just man, I would, I was writing, like every day, I would. I'd be hanging out with my friends in the summer. Like you know, we're on the weekends.

Ronald Malfi:

I'm like up, gotta go, gotta go home. We gotta do my, gotta do my few hours of writing. It's like 11 years old and yeah, they made fun of me about it and then I would write stuff and I'd make them read it and then they hated me. No, 11 year old wants to read stuff over like summer break, but yeah, so I was always doing it, you know, and it's just Everything else creatively with, just kind of always hung around and the periphery is like a passion a month, you know, just like something fun or a different outlet. But writing was something different, like I just really just felt drawn to it and just just kept doing it.

Jay Bower:

I love that the typewriter man. My grandma had one, and every time I'd be my brother and I would go there for the weekend. I would just beat on that thing, you know, and punch out some stories. But just that sound and the physical change in that paper when you add those letters to it, it was so cool. It's something we don't experience with keyboards. But fixing those problems versus fixing a problem in your writing now is totally different. But it's just that I can relate to that. That's what you were talking about.

Ronald Malfi:

It's really oh yeah, I mean like, so I'll be 45 this month, so I, you know, I mean typewriter support, what we had when that was little. And then I don't even think I had a computer in my home until like after I graduated college, like when I moved in with my wife. She brought one. Yeah, that's a computer, look at that, and but. But I also, like I remember being when I was younger, because we didn't have have a computer. I like my friend had one down who lived on the street. I'd go to her house like early on the Saturday. His whole family would still be asleep. I go in the basement, I just write for hours until they started waking up. Like what are you doing? I'm writing stories. I don't have a computer. This is cool. No Good memories. Kids are spoiled. They get everything at their disposal now. But I had all like hunt down some way to write and print.

Jay Bower:

So I'm actually I'm the oldest one of all of us here again, I'm 47. So I told I'm right with you on that. You know it's. I remember when I got married, freakin go in the school point in college, we bought this giant computer, you know, and I had Memory. We had to get those little, these fat disks to use that were supposed to be for extra memory, which there's like nothing these days, you know. But I totally understand that man.

David Viergutz:

We had to go to my in-laws for their computer for a while before we got ours and hey, listen, I grew up in the age of technology too, you know, 15 years later, but but still. When I went to school and my writing stories not much different, I remember I would write similar stories to the ones I was reading at the time, had to be very careful because I would start picking up on the things that I liked and I tried to emulate that. And I remember, and this is how I'd have to write it paragraph by paragraph and I'd pass it around the room. But when the teacher wasn't looking and this is probably about fourth grade, and I used to get in trouble for this Paragraph at a time and they tell me, can give me more, can be more, can be more. And then between classes which was unheard of because there was no, there's about eight minutes between classes I would sprint to the library and go type it up. But I got smart. I used to use a floppy disk. I would bring my floppy drive Over there and I'd type it up and I'd bring it back with me, a piece at a time.

David Viergutz:

So I totally remember the age too of of when those loud, big, clunky computers, and you know you had to really make the time count. I think that's what's important here Is that each of us had our own way of really making the time count. We showed a lot of dedication. I mean it takes a lot to sit there when everybody else is playing outside and you, you want to sit at that desk and you want to write something. I mean that says a lot. So how many, how many books you got out, man?

Ronald Malfi:

It's a good question. I don't know, novel number, number 17. I think for 17 is coming out. Wow, yeah, I think so, something like that and did bring that we're in the late teens and did you start with horror?

Ronald Malfi:

I did. I was reading Stephen King very early and every time I'd read one of his books and I'd type up a story that was basically a ripoff of whatever I read. I changed the character name. I was just trying to like I didn't realize it at the time, but I was just having fun at the time but it's really I really studied like the structure and dialogue and what made something work on the page, what made something scary or what made it seem like you know, if a sequence is moving quickly, how is the writing different from when it's just a passive scene, you know? So I guess I learned a lot by copying all that sort of stuff. But I did, I read, I was like reading Stephen King. I think it was like 11 years old myself when I read it, so it was like the age of the kids in that book and I'm pretty sure I. So I know I hunted it down and wanted to read it because one of the kids in school said oh, there's this sex scene in it with all these kids and you got to read this and I'm like shit, that sounds cool. So I get this book and I didn't realize this. The scene's not until like the end of like this 1000 page book.

Ronald Malfi:

But I would, I just fell in love with it and I would, I would read it nonstop. I must have read it like four times. And I remember, just being a kid, my dad told me, like you know, shit my light off and go to bed and it's too late. And then I he'd leave, and then I dragged my chair to the window and like read the book by, like the lamp light coming from the street, just you know, I just loved it and you know so I just kept going from there. I don't forget what your question was, but I think, like I said, I think that I think that what they did, you know, jump ahead a few years and now I'm at, I think, like 17 books or something you know, and then some novellas and short stories probably started, just like the two of you guys did.

Ronald Malfi:

You know, you write, try to sell your first short stories, you know, and then try something longer or something longer, I think. Probably by the time I was so, when I graduated college, I had about six novel manuscripts now. So that's really where I started. You know, I was focused kind of early on with that and I just wanted to put off getting a real job as long as possible. So I made it a mission to shop and try to sell my first book at a college, and I wound up doing that about. So it came out.

Ronald Malfi:

My first book came out a year after college, but it was a really lousy small press and I thought, you know at the time, like, oh, I sold this book, my first book. Now I can just I can put suede patches on my sports coats and smoke a pipe and, just, you know, drink whiskey and listen to jazz music. It was just fantastic. And the reality was, yeah, it was a wake up call and that's oh, this is what being a writer means. I have to get a job and my publisher is going to rob me.

David Viergutz:

I need to go teach now, yeah.

Jay Bower:

Yeah.

David Viergutz:

Yeah, I was going to go ahead. No, go ahead. I got stupid jokes. Okay, yeah, this is not a stupid joke.

Jay Bower:

So with that many books, you know I get asked that a question all the time from leaders are like which one's your favorite? Right, it's like choosing which one's my favorite kid. Now, to be fair, I only have one, so I have one child, so that's you know, no problem there. But with that many it's kind of a two part, like which one do you kind of feel is your best, represents you as your bet? You know your favorite, but which one do your readers kind of gravitate more toward?

Ronald Malfi:

Yeah, you know, if there's so many answers for that question, there are books. I think that I've written that. Well, there's certain books kind of embody in general, like if you want just read one of my books and kind of get a sense of what I'm doing, you know, there's books like that, like like my book Bone White that came out a few years ago. It seems to be a fan favorite too. More recently, my book Come With Me, I think, is really kind of me. I personally, I feel kind of like I was, I felt like I was at the top of my own personal game writing that book. So those are books that are. You know that I would say, hey, if you want to know what I'm about, read those. You know I've got, you know I've got books that people like and maybe I'm like, maybe I'm like you. I mean, I do have books that I like better than others, you know, and sometimes the fans, some of the fan favorites, are the ones I don't like as much, you know. But that's just how it is.

Ronald Malfi:

But I'll say that probably the most interesting thing is the books that I personally like the best are the ones that when I'm done writing them, they are the closest to what I originally envisioned in my head that I was able to get, because a lot of times you guys probably know this too you come up with this idea.

Ronald Malfi:

It's not just an idea, but it's a tone and an emotion and a color that goes all with this story. And the second you put that first word down on paper. You've already fucked it up. You're never going to, you're never going to totally 100% take what's in your head and get it on the paper perfectly. So for me, the stories of mine that I was able to at least come close enough where I can go wow, that's, that's pretty good that I came that close those are the. Those are the favorites, you know, for me like my book I wrote called Little Girls is one of them. December Park book called Floating Staircase Probably those are my three that really, really came as close as I was ever able to do to what I originally thought of when I first wrote the concert.

Jay Bower:

Okay, and so you know, as I just recently finished listening to the audiobook of Come With Me and I'm going to just I loved it. It was a really, really good book. It was amazing the emotion that you put into it. You know I kept as I was listening to it. You know I've been listening to it for a long time, you know I've been this this year, I've been married to 25 years, right, and that feeling of of him missing his wife, you know, of just like that complete loss of this woman that he loved dearly, you know that really hit home for me. That was really powerful and really strong and it brought me right into that book and it was like I got through the first. I was probably about 25% into it, like I just kind of paused it and I was like, okay, all right, so this is where we're going with this. I loved it, man, it was so good. Oh, thank you.

Ronald Malfi:

I appreciate it. Yeah, you know I'm, some writers are big on plot and structure and outlining and all that stuff. I'm the opposite, you know. I think for me to get invested in the story that I'm going to write, it's got to have a human element to it. I've got to, I've got to have the. I got to relate to the characters.

Ronald Malfi:

I got to kind of understand where they're coming from and kind of be even even the bad ones kind of be in love with them a little bit, to kind of see where, where their stories go, and I'll have a rough idea really, of what you know, I know what the story is. I want to, I want to say, and maybe a real rough idea of plot, not plot with the Capitol P clunky, but just kind of where the story is going to go and I just kind of let the characters do their things, because I think it just makes for a more natural story for me, you know, and that's what I like to write, and that's kind of the stuff I prefer to read everything, but that's like kind of my favorite stuff to read about.

David Viergutz:

And where? Where do you get your ideas?

Ronald Malfi:

Where do you get yours? I know that's a loaded question, isn't it, I think? Frankly, I think everybody has got ideas. The real question, when people ask where do you get your ideas, what they're really asking is where do you find the time to do this?

Ronald Malfi:

Yeah because that's really what it comes in. Or the discipline to sit your butt in the chair for hours at a day and and write it. You know, ideas are everywhere. I mean usually for me it's. I'm always got a million things kind of going on in my head, but something that I've got to do with what I've read, but something somewhere at some point will make a couple of those ideas collide. Where I've got, you know, come with me, is a, is a, is a is a good example. It's a little bit of a morbid example from a personal aspect, but you know, I had just read.

Ronald Malfi:

Well, I was trying to think of what my next book was going to be and I just read Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark Golden State Killer. It's about just kind of these arm you know, these armchair sleuths in there you know who track killers and stuff from their computer at night, you know just as a hobby. And she was really onto something and that's what that book was great and it kind of planted a seed about my eyes. That's kind of a cool character. And then a little while later a friend of mine was actually killed in a mass shooting at a. She was a reporter at a local newspaper here in Annapolis. The catalog is at shooting and was big news at the time. It was 2018.

Ronald Malfi:

And you know, so that thinking about her and kind of what happened with that event, I kept seeing her face kind of come to the forefront of my mind and I had this other thing from this I'll be gone in the dark, you know, chasing of a serial killer concept back there and they just kind of one day, just kind of connected. I'm like you know, that's that's the character that I could put into this story that I've been thinking about, based, you know, a little bit of my friend, but also, just, you know, aspects of a fictional character that adopt real traits from people. You know, and what I didn't realize as I was writing it was how, like the third it would be it was basically a Greek like a eight month grieving process writing that book. But you know, that's that's probably that's the more morbid version where the ideas come from. You know, ideas are usually I've got one or two or three things that once they all, they're like Adams flapping around, you know, once they all collide and smash together, like oh, that that could be something.

Ronald Malfi:

See that. So where those come from? I don't know.

David Viergutz:

They find less of a loaded question here we we have a A hot a habit of asking our guests, especially because we all we look for horror authors, dark fiction authors what scares? You honest dancers, only man.

Ronald Malfi:

Well, in real life, you know anything happening. My kids and my family, I mean that's. That's the go-to, my big fan of spiders and snakes. Given a rational fire, I'll say you know what, always younger. It was a little irrational. I'm also. I'm a bit of a hypochondriac, so if I like, if I cut my finger, I'm pretty sure I got cancer I go. I go through like six month wheels of what I'm dying got to go in, like my doctor's like look, it's a tone to hang out.

Ronald Malfi:

Just get out of the office. You're not gonna, but someday I'll, I'll be right and they'll be like I will die, you know it's.

Ronald Malfi:

It's funny because I so that that's in the, that's in the real side of things. Books themselves Don't scare me. I, you know, and I I've been to. You know, like, probably like you guys, you know, you see all these online book groups or whatever, or Facebook groups, or you know all these readers, I'm looking for some really scary and I'm always I read this stuff kind of with the smirk because I'm like you're a grown-ass, freaking person, something's. What are you gonna read that's going to literally scare you. Like, what are you gonna read that's gonna scare you?

Ronald Malfi:

So I think a lot of times, what, what people say when they see what they say, that is not so much that it's something it's gonna scare them, but it's more of a collective gathering of of Mood in a book that builds to a certain point where there is a level of discomfort that you get from reading it. That's why I'm I'm big on emotion Atmosphere. You know a lot of reviewers have said that my books all have this kind of creeping sense of dread. I think that is really what you can achieve in a novel and make it successful and and unsettled someone, and that's what people think of when they say scary, I think it's what I think of.

Ronald Malfi:

I mean that's the closest I get. I mean I'm never, I'm not gonna read a book. Oh well, that's a big jump scare that just came out of nowhere. I'm gonna put this book down now and go cry. No, but I certainly have read books that are just you know, an hour into it in the middle of the night, and it's just. This is just disturbing as hell and man. You know it. Just. It gives you that, you know that, you know Sense of dread, you know. So that's what I, that's what I like and that's what I look for, and I think at least that's what I think of when someone says what scares me as far as what I like to read.

Jay Bower:

Yeah, I like, I like when you said unsettling. I think that's exactly it, you know, and because I see those posts too, I, you know, I see People looking for what's the creepy, you know, and we all have different levels of what unsettles us. You know what bothers us. So what, what bother you might not be the same. That bothers me, you know. David might be way different, you know, but I see that and I think you hit it nail on the head when you said you know the unsettling because of it's. It's that feeling that you get from a book, whether it's splatter gold you know splatterpunk or if it's like more Food-based, you know atmospheric based, or if it's something anywhere in between. It's that feeling you get from it that Maybe you got to put it down for now, just because it's unsettling a little bit. I think that definitely is it. Yeah, and even with.

Ronald Malfi:

You know, like I said, I read Everything you know, not, not, not just not just limited to horror, not just limited to the genre that I write in as far as I read everything.

Ronald Malfi:

But you know, it's like, and even even like you mentioned, like splatterpunk and stuff like that. There's good splatterpunk and there's shit splatterpunk, just like in in any genre, and I think it's the stuff that makes it good is the author who Recognizes it's in how they present the material to you, as opposed to just, you know, hitting you with a fire hose of gore and that to me. You know, maybe, maybe you read a book and the only unsettling, freaking thing in that whole book is not Chopping up bodies and sawing off heads and cutting up bones. All right, anybody could write that. But what about the dude who's like I don't know, I'm fucking, I'm gonna hold you down, take a toenail clipper and cook that little piece of skin that holds your lip to your gum, right up there? That's fucked up. So you know. So it's all kind of in the presentation of the work as opposed to and I think some, some of them, some more amateur authors don't recognize that there is a difference there.

David Viergutz:

Yeah, I mean, I definitely love like the saw movies because the plot is just so intricate and then you throw the shock value in and it just it makes it Something more than just a shock value, makes you care more and makes you want to know what's gonna happen next and you know, around the next corners of me, something else terrible. They're gonna make you watch because you're looking for the clues and you're looking for everything else that happens. You know, I, I definitely agree that. I, I think I think horrors, the genre that makes people feel emotions they don't want to feel, I think that's that's it. You, you were making them feel the reader feel something that they know they're gonna feel discomfort from.

David Viergutz:

You know, people seek out, you know mysteries and fantasy and all these other for the other emotions, but horror is just the most basic we go to. We go to fear the one that people don't want. You know people don't want to be afraid. They think they want to be afraid. I think they want is a scary story, but I, I don't think anybody's like yeah, I'm just actively seeking out fear every single day in my life and that's where I want to live, because it's just a powerful emotion.

David Viergutz:

I think that's that may be a struggle too in the horror realm, why people will read like one or two horror books and then they'll pick up something different, a little more lighthearted. So they can come out of that for a little bit, you know, and I think we as the authors do the best we can to drag them back through the mud again. I think that's the fun part about is that you, you bring them up. It's like that roller coaster. You know it's a horrible analogy, but you know it's the best depiction I think of where the reader goes through a story. They go up and then you drag them right back down again. Yeah, and it's, and it's not always it's, it's.

Ronald Malfi:

You know I can read 10, you know, gritty horror novels in a row and not think anything about it. Then I pick up like a nonfiction book on like the Columbine shootings. I'm like I can't, I can't. I got this down, you know and, and I think you know it's and that that if you're, I think, if you're doing certain, if that's what your goal is and and you go for it and you're successful, that's great. You know it's tough. You know I like, I love horror and I love and the stuff I write always has some kind of emotional core to it. But you know I'll admit that I'm a bit of a sentimentalist. You know I grew up with Steven Spielberg films in the 80s, so you know my my stuff generally has some kind of redemptive Quality to it which I think makes it a little more palatable, subconsciously, to even people who are hardcore horror. But you know the flip side is like I wrote years ago.

Ronald Malfi:

I wrote a novella called the Morning House and Maybe about a hundred hundred twenty pages. But it's about a guy who whose family he was driving him, his wife and his baby in their car in the beginning of the story and they're killed and he's the only survivor and he just. We meet him on the like chapter two. He's it's like a year or so later and he's just a vagabond. He's been wandering the country and just had never gone back to living a life because he's never gotten over that experience and the whole, the whole story centers around him. For the whole story and the whole, the whole story centers around him finding this abandoned house on on a like the eastern shore of Maryland, and he buys it and fixes it up. And as he fixes it up he realizes his old house is underneath it. So if he could just pull up the floor and get the walls the right way and rearrange the rooms, it starts to take on, it starts to look like his old home and the more he does that, the more he could hear his wife and child in the house somewhere. So he's kind of bringing them back as he rebuilds this house.

Ronald Malfi:

And initially that was gonna be a novel. I got so far in and I liked it. It was good and but I'm like I can't live with this, this fucking grief on the page. It was so morbid for me that I'm like up, we're gonna shorten it. This is a novella, I but you know nothing gory or anything about it. It was just so, morose. You know that I'm like, okay, that was, that was a. That was a tough one to write and I love that.

Jay Bower:

You know a strong emotional core, strong tie to those characters. I Absolutely love that and I think there's certainly space in horror for that. You know, we, there's a broad spectrum of Subgenres within the genre itself that you know. You say horror, I, your first thing is kind of scare, fear, you know. But there's just so many different levels and I love, you know, some of those dark pieces that you know, like that story you were talking about, it's just they. They can beat on you first, then like a gory slasher Story, you know, oh, absolutely.

Ronald Malfi:

Yeah, I mean, if you're, you know, visceral, you know what you see with your eyes gets only so far what you, what you're feeling, your heart kind of goes a little deeper. And I think you know, I, you know not to keep going back to like Stephen King, but I think that you know my personally. I think the reason that he is the success that he is, the Empire that he built for himself, really Isn't because he's such a scary writer. I think it's because his characters are so damn human and relatable that that's what people really rush for. You know, and I think you know, I think that's just that's a steady that holds through to. Anything that I read, that's good. I generally don't read a book and go that was a great book, but characters were paper thin. You know that doesn't happen.

David Viergutz:

Let's talk. Let's talk a little bit, just a little bit of craft. I think everyone's always curious. They think we writers are, I don't know, closeted folk who sit in our rooms and, you know, have no hobbies or families, and we just kind of Get, you know, wallowing our own thoughts and in the basement somewhere and just type all our woes into the page. But you know, you, you play in a band, you got kids, you got hobbies, you may be doing this on it, you know, for a long time. You know what is your craft process like? Because I, I know everybody, everybody seems to be a little bit different, little bit different pace. There's some, there's some commonalities, but I think everybody readers are really curious, like how do you do it? Not just like how do you do it, like it, what? You know, what does your process look like when you're, when you're starting to start from blank page? What does it look like?

Ronald Malfi:

Yeah, you know it's it. So it's different with every book and it's been, and it's gotten tougher, not easier, the more books in that I get. You know, back when I was younger, I would, I could you know my process was I had a story idea. I wanted to get it out as quick as I could. I would Sit down and write 15 to 20, sometimes 25 pages a night. I could have a book done and you know, from rough draft to then re-editing yourself in like two months, and you know, and once that was done, I, you know, stuck in the box and started working on the next one, or I'm gonna let further in my career that went out to the, the agent and then I worked, you know, I sat right down, worked on the next one. I did that like every day, you know, back in, like I mean my novel snow I think it was published in 2009 or 10 With leisure books. I wrote that in two weeks. I just I was like on fire now Because I am older and I have kids and I'm winding down.

Ronald Malfi:

I'm a middle-aged dude, right. So you know, my process now is I still write a lot when I write, but I don't write every day. I'm. I'm generally under a three-book contract that spans three years. I'm in the middle of one right now, so that gives each book, and usually the first book is already kind of written. When I go into those book deals I'll sign me to three with the first one done. So I generally go in with about a year lead time to work on the next book and then, a year after a year after that one, work on the next one, I take the year and I sit on my ass for about eight months and then I go shit, how many words do I need to write a day to hit this deadline?

Ronald Malfi:

And that's how I just did the last book that way. It was just I procrastinated too much, I got a little lazy and I'm like, and I fortunately I kind of knew where I was going with that one. I thought I did, but you know very different process, but I still got it done in Like a couple of months and like the last book I did did I think the manuscript count was almost 500 pages. So in like two or three months it doesn't need to write it. You know that's a lot of late nights with coffee and classes of scotch and, you know, watching a movie with my wife and she goes to bed and I'm just down there typing for the night until, like, the sun comes up.

Jay Bower:

So you work best at night, then you're yeah.

Ronald Malfi:

Oh yeah, I am. I've tried to work earlier, but it whatever, I work right. If it's anything before like dusk, it's shit. I had to redo it anyway, so I might as well at least you know your process. Yeah well, I mean, you know what? I never realized that. Maybe that's my process. That's the thing and and.

David Viergutz:

Forgive me if you answer this, but do you have a day job?

Ronald Malfi:

Do I used to? I don't know and how long.

David Viergutz:

So what did you do before, while you were kind of waiting for things to take off?

Ronald Malfi:

I did. I've worked for like a recruiting company, like doing, like like telephone, like headhunting, recruiting. I work. I had a government job, federal government, and it's, you know, friendship, like that, and it was fine. But I got, you know, this is, this is what I wanted to do. So this is kind of where I, you know, switch gears and once I saw the opportunity to do that and the books were kind of taking care of themselves and there was some momentum there, several movie options came through which kind of made it financially feasible. It was cool. You know, I made the jump. How?

Ronald Malfi:

long you've been doing that, then that was full time not to not too long, a few years, probably 2013, 14, yeah and do you have anything indie or is it all tried?

David Viergutz:

I'm sorry you have anything indie, or is it all tried?

Ronald Malfi:

I can't.

David Viergutz:

No, you're fine. Can you hear me now? I heard indie, and then you already have anything is are you all traditional or is it. Do you have anything in the?

Ronald Malfi:

oh yeah, no, no. I well, I started off doing indie, small-press stuff and and some of my like limited editions are still with like a publisher, like cemetery dance I'm talking with earthling right now for something but most of the last let's say, three, four, five, six, six books have been Traditional. Actually, prior to that, I mean, I was doing traditional publishing like I've never self-published. You know to differentiate, my first book was a small press. The next few books were small press and I went to kind of like a mid-tier Mass market publisher called medallion press, which was awesome. I did five books with them and I loved them. They were great and it just seemed to fit what I wanted to do. They can only lasted so long and it seemed like it seems like every publisher I went to had a problem. It's not one, maybe even the problem, I don't know and then I did.

Ronald Malfi:

That was with leisure books. I did. I did one book with them. I was, I was contracted for three, did one book for them and then they imploded pretty, pretty dramatically. And my last six books have been with Kensington books and I'm with Titan now. They're all under, like the Penguin Random House umbrella.

Jay Bower:

Nice. So you, you know, you and I were in school about the same time. So what did you study in college? What was your degree in?

Ronald Malfi:

I was an English major and, you know, for no other reason other than I figured I could get away with being an English major, reading a lot of books, writing papers, like if it was anything else I wouldn't know what the hell I'm talking about. I wasn't gonna be a fucking bio engineer or whatever. So, fair, let me be in English. So I did. I went to Towson University and I basically like first day of class or like now Attendance is mandatory and you won't get better than a C if you don't come to class, and I just so much that works great. And I got Just grabbed a shit. I was thinking, like my senior year, I'm sitting like six English class, like all my electors were English classes at that point. So, like me and my buddy, we're like huge into like just hopping in a car like road trip and across the country. We hit party graph at first time. We went like any place you want it, you ever wanted to go, is what we went up doing. Or you know, my senior year college. So I went up.

Ronald Malfi:

Nobody from the schools listening when I'm telling my dad, dog, I needed to pick I wrote a bunch of and I said I'll turn in my papers and and what and I mail shit in from the road. But I guess they must have knew I was full of shit. I was like, as I got older I'm like my dad was pain for that shit. Of course he was dead, yeah his name's on the chip.

Ronald Malfi:

Yeah right, you know what, but it just goes. These teachers probably were like whatever, so you know, so I did, so I had fun. But yeah, you got to kind of talk and write, no matter what you do, right, so maybe that'll do something. I figured I might just teach or be a teacher.

Ronald Malfi:

I know you turn in a lot of horror related work in that time, or Well, whatever, I Was writing a lot, of, a lot of that stuff when I was up at Towson and I did. I, even when I was living on campus, I took, like I did, a John Lennon Like bed in where, like for two weeks I didn't go to classes. Dudes would bring me, like you know, my books and shit. I needed I'd leave my room one today to get like all these chicken sandwiches from the cafeteria, bring them up to my room. But I wrote, I like, and it was like I'm like and I told my friend I'm doing like a two week not leaving my bed, I'm gonna write a bunch of stories.

Ronald Malfi:

So I would write all this crazy shit and then I would tape it to my wall above my bed. So, like the room was like tapered with it with all the stuff I was doing and, like my friends, I first thought it was cool. Like we have one of those little dry erase boards on the outside of the door, so it's like if you want to make an appointment with me, you put your name or your schedule on there and I'll check it out and I'll let you in. And that was fun, like for the first few days. But then it was like right, this is weird, you gotta take a shower.

David Viergutz:

Thank you, yeah right not to mention.

Ronald Malfi:

I'm not. I'm not a really I'm not a real sporty kind of guy, but my two roommates were on like the basketball and football team, so there and I'm like and I'm like this, like weird little dude like you know, taping horror stories to his wall, I'm a must-me-ling.

Jay Bower:

Yeah, it was. It was an awesome. I love it.

David Viergutz:

Well, ronald, that this, this has been an awesome pleasure we are. We were just coming out the the tail end of our recording session here, so now this is the opportunity for you, man. This, this podcast, was all about you, so tell people you know what, what can they look forward to? What do you have on the chopping block you want to draw the most attention to? You know? Tell people where to find you, and and and give them something cool to look at.

Ronald Malfi:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, look, you can find me. Pretty much we can find everybody. I'm on Facebook and Twitter. I've got a website you know on mouthycom that I don't think I've updated since I was like well, but I'm easy to find. So what do I got coming up? So I got a new novel coming out in July. It's called blackmouth. It is a Just probably the one of the one of the you talk about dread and creepy shit. I've got a character in this book that was like I kept reading the pages to my wife and I'm like, listen to this guy.

David Viergutz:

Listen.

Ronald Malfi:

So that's, that's blackmouth, that's out in July from Titan books, and then Titan put me on a pretty Rigorous schedule. So I've got a second book that comes out this year in October, called ghost written, which is also with Titan, and it's it's for Novellas that are Subtly connected and they all, each one, revolves around a different haunted book or manuscript or store concept of a story ideal. So I'm excited about those two things. And then just, and then on the music front, I mean, you know, after after a couple years of like a pandemic and everything shutting down, the band's kind of picking up. So we're trying to finish up our second album. You could check the band out at veered band net and, and, you know, stream us on Spotify or whatever, and we're gonna start playing shows in the Baltimore area. We've got a vodka coming out. They're putting our faces on a school.

Ronald Malfi:

Which is you talk about? I mean, it's one, it's cool. It's cool like when you sign a book deal and you get free books, but when you sign a vodka. So, that's pretty good. So yeah, the bands excited about that, yeah, so that's that. That's me in a nutshell, man.

David Viergutz:

That's awesome, man, thank you. Thank you for being here and and for sharing. I know we were kind of looking forward to this one a lot and and you definitely delivered and get your hands on a lot of Stuff and we'll see if we can, you know, bring some more eyes, because that's that's what we need in this genre for sure. It's just more people and say, hey, come, come, take, come, take a look at us, we're normal people, we're normal guys. So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you again for listening to the nightmare engine podcast. This has been episode number eight, with your host, david Virgoots, and mr Jay hey Bauer. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you again, ronald. You have a good night, sir.

Ronald Malfi:

Thank you guys.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening to the nightmare engine podcast with your hosts, horror authors David Virgoots and Jay Bauer, where nothing is off limits, nothing is safe, and neither are you.

Horror Authors Discuss Writing and Music
Writing and Favorite Books
Writing and Reading Horror
Writing Novellas and Crafting Horror
Author's Journey and Upcoming Projects
Nightmare Engine Podcast Episode 8