Q&A: Author Richard Chizmar

I chatted with Richard Chizmar about being brought up in Edgewood and his crazy new project with Stephen King.

Q: Talk about your childhood. Where you grew up, etc.

Grew up in Edgewood, Maryland. Youngest of five kids. My childhood looked a lot like the old television series, The Wonder Years. A lot of tackle football and whiffle ball in the neighborhood, little league and baseball cards, fishing and kick-the-can. Grew up in a very tight-knit neighborhood, and I’m fortunate to still be friends with most of the kids I grew up with.

Q: Who is YOUR favorite author?

All-time favorite author is Stephen King. I absolutely wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today – writing and publishing – if it weren’t for the books and stories of Stephen King. Not far behind are Robert McCammon, Ed Gorman, and Joe Lansdale. I’ve learned so much from these guys.

Q: What is the hardest part of writing?

Believing that I have something important to say, something that readers will connect with. I tend to write very personal stories – stories about people, places, and moments in time that are meaningful to me – so sometimes I worry that readers will wonder what the hell I’m talking about.

Q: What is your favorite book of yours and why?

The latest one, a collection called A Long December. Thirty-five stories reflecting over twenty years of writing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

Q: Unfortunately William Peter Blatty passed away recently. What was it like working with him?

Pretty amazing. Bill was very old school – a lot of class and dignity and a million great stories from his time. It was the same working with other legends, guys like Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and Robert Bloch. We’ve published all of them at one time or another. It still feels like a dream.

Q: So I hear you know Johnathon Schaech…how did you meet?

John and I grew up two blocks away from each other and went to the same schools. He’s a few years younger than me, but we still ran in the same circles, experienced the same type of childhood. I hadn’t seen John for a number of years after graduation – he was in L.A. acting and I was at College Park writing – but we ran into each other one day in Bel Air and reconnected. Shortly after, we wrote a short film together based on one of my stories (“Heroes”) and John directed it out in Los Angeles. That project blossomed into a production company called Chesapeake Films, and we’ve gone on to co-write and produce a number of films and television projects.

Q: How awesome is he? I’ve interviewed him a few times now, and he’s so genuine, and passionate about Baltimore.

John’s great. Like myself, he’s very much a product of his Edgewood roots. A big dreamer with an even bigger heart and someone not afraid to work hard to achieve those dreams. He’s like a brother to me.

Q: What are your hopes for the Orioles this upcoming season?

One word: playoffs. Get to the dance and anything can happen!

Q: Talk a little bit about your new project with Stephen King.

It’s a brand new novella called Gwendy’s Button Box, and it’s set in Stephen King’s legendary town of Castle Rock, Maine. I’ve known Steve for over two decades now, been fortunate enough to have published a lot of his stories and books, but this is the first time we’ve ever collaborated on a work of fiction. Gwendy’s Button Box is the coming-of-age story of a young girl growing up in the mid-70’s and the mysterious gift presented to her by an even more mysterious stranger. The book is due out in May in hardcover and will also be available from Simon & Schuster in an audio version.

Q: Any other projects coming up?

John and I were just talking today about some possible upcoming film projects, but nothing I can talk about quite yet. I also have another five or six short stories coming out in books in 2017, and another collection due in early 2018. It’s a busy time.

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