Veterans in Horror: Interview with Richard Schiver
Richard is the author of eight novels, three novellas, and a collection of short stories. His most recent work is a paranormal ghost story titled Cursed. He is a member in good standing of the Horror Writers Association, and the Maryland Writers Association. Married with four children and eight grandchildren he and his wife provide a secure home for a yellow lab named Max, who spends his days napping.
Tell us a bit about your military service. Years? Branch? Specialty?
I served in the U.S Army from 1976 to 1981 as an armor crewman manning the M-60 Main Battle Tank. Started out as a driver and worked my way up to Tank Commander at my last duty station.
What role, if any, did reading and writing play during your military service?
Reading was a lifesaver, have you ever heard the expression, “hurry up and wait?” That was life in the military. They’d say the convoy was rolling at dawn, yet you’d still be waiting to move out at nine. Serving during peace time with three deployments to West Germany, I had plenty of time to read.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’d always toyed with the idea writing, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I actually started. I think I was waiting until I had something to say.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
My entire life I’ve been fascinated with the darker side of literature. I read Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when I was seven. Dipped my toe into Lovecraft when I was ten. Grew up on Creepy and Weird Tales comic books and Saturday night creature feature. To create something that forces the reader to occasionally glace over their shoulder while they’re reading your work is so cool. When they tell you they couldn’t put the book down, but were afraid to continue, is when you know you’ve hit the right chord for that reader.
What role, if any, does your military experience play in your writing?
It keeps me grounded in reality when it comes to using weapons in my writing. Coming from a family of hunters I’ve been around guns my entire life. While in the military I fired most everything from the 1911 pistol to the 105mm main gun on a tank. You also understand the physical limitations of yourself and those around you.
What is your favorite depiction of military service in all of literature? Why?
There are two actually. “Helmet for my Pillow” by Robert Leckie who served with the U.S Marines in the Pacific during WWII. The other is “We Were Soldiers, Once and Young,” by Hal Moore and Joseph Galloway. Both delve into the horrors of war, and how the men who experience these horrors form a bond much stronger than that of family. A brotherhood few really understand.
How do you feel military veterans and the broader military experience has thus far been represented in the horror genre?
I’ve seen both good and bad, most of the bad from people who haven’t served and lack an understanding of the rigors of the disciplines one undergoes. Such as trigger control, situational awareness, things of that nature.
Who are some military veteran horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
Weston Ochse, W. J. Lundy, David A Simpson, Dev Jarrett, Justin Coates, there are a bunch of others whose name escapes me right now.