Author Andy Marino discusses how witnessing the cycle of addiction was woven into his horror novel, The Seven Visitations Of Sydney Burgess.

Andy Marino was born in upstate New York, spent half his life in New York City, and now lives in the Hudson Valley. He works as a freelance writer.

Andy Marino

Photo by Stan Horaczek

In this post, Andy discusses how witnessing the cycle of addiction was woven into his horror novel, The Seven Visitations Of Sydney Burgess, why was important to him to write with brutal honesty, and more!

Name: Andy Marino
Literary agent: Cameron McClure
Book title: The Seven Visitations Of Sydney Burgess
Publisher: Redhook/Orbit
Release date: September 28, 2021
Genre/category: Horror
Previous titles: The Plot to Kill Hitler trilogy (for middle-grade readers)
Elevator pitch for the book: Sydney Burgess got clean to make a better life for her son. In the aftermath of a violent home invasion, with the intruder lying dead at her hand, her old urges resurface to take on a terrifying new form.

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What prompted you to write this book?

Witnessing a loved one trapped in the cycle of addiction and relapse sparked some intense ruminations on the existential horror of it all. It was important to me to write with brutal honesty and compassion about the nature of addiction, to defy the notion that it might signify a weakness in character. I wove that concept into my love for body horror and weird fiction, and hung the whole thing from the bones of a thriller.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

About four years from the time I wrote the first line of the first draft to publication day. The core idea didn’t change, but the structure evolved and clicked into place over several drafts and lots of feedback. I tend to initially build stories through a steady accumulation of mood and atmosphere, so hammering out the plot involves more flailing around.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I learned from my editor’s insightful work on the final draft that digging deeper into my characters’ formative experiences helped amplify the mounting horror of the story. Overcoming the urge to strip things to the bone to keep readers turning pages—learning to lay back and relax, even in the context of a propulsive narrative—was a valuable lesson and one that I’ll continue to draw from.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I learned from the copyeditor that the plural of LEGO is LEGO.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

One: the feeling that they’ve just discovered a fresh, intriguing take on possession that keeps them up late turning pages. Two: a multifaceted and naturalistic perspective on the nature of addiction. Three: scared.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Treat writing more like a job than a precious creative process. It’s something you wake up and do every day until a novel accumulates. (At least, that’s the approach that works for me.)

Creative Writing 101 combines teaching the key elements of storytelling with developing the protagonist. Once you understand who this character is and how to make sure you’ve included the key story elements, you are well on your way to writing that book you have been squelching.

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