Once upon a time, a young Ambrose Ibsen discovered a collection of ghost stories on his father’s bookshelf. He was never the same again.
Apart from horror fiction, he enjoys good coffee, brewed strong.
Please help me welcome Ambrose Ibsen to Roadie Notes…….
1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
I was probably about 7 years old. I tried my hand at writing short horror stories and filled a couple of spiral-bound notebooks with stories that were little more than pastiches of Alvin Schwartz’ Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I also wrote a longer story about a haunted hotel that my grandfather paid me five dollars for. That was a proud day.
2. How many books have you written?
As of right now, I’ve written 18 full-length novels under this name, as well as a few novellas and a 4-part serial. Under other names I’ve probably written around 10 novels, plus a lot of novellas and shorts.
3. Anything you won’t write about?
Honestly, there are no sacred cows for me when it comes to writing. I’ll approach any subject so long as it serves the narrative. If there’s a story there, I’m game. The exception is what I would call a “boring” topic. For instance, I doubt I’ll ever write a book detailing the ins and outs of the US tax code.
4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…
As of this writing I’m 29 years old. I’ve been happily married for 8 years and have 4 children—two boys and two girls—the oldest of which is 6 years old. Things around the house tend to be rather hectic!
Up until August of 2015, I did have a day job. For nearly ten years I’d worked as a night-shift secretary at a local hospital. I sat at the nursing station of a medical-surgical ward and answered phones, processed physician orders and—when time allowed—read books or worked on writing my own. By August of 2015 however, my sales had grown to the point where I could comfortably jettison the job, and I’ve been fortunate to live out my dream of being a full-time novelist ever since. It’s still early days, but so far, I haven’t got any regrets!
5. What’s your favorite book you have written?
My favorite book that I’ve written? That’s a tough one. I’d probably select one of my newer novels, Asylum. It incorporates a lot of my favorite supernatural themes and marks the first time in my career I wrote a story that spans three complete novels. It felt like a real milestone to me when I completed it.
6. Who or what inspired you to write?
I don’t know that I can attribute inspiration to any one person. As a child, I always wanted to express myself and leave a mark on the world around me. Writing was the only thing I had any sort of innate talent for, and so I pursued it ardently. There have been writers along the way that have inspired me to keep it up, though. R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books in the early 90’s were like a drug for me, and it was after discovering those that I decided I wanted to be a writer. Over the years I discovered the prose of master stylists such as Lovecraft and Oscar Wilde, and wanted to emulate them. Lastly, in many ways—not the least of which is discipline—the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima has been a big inspiration to me. My parents and wife have also encouraged my writing.
7. What do you like to do for fun?
I love to read, of course. I read widely, and do my best to squeeze in reading time where I can, though admittedly I’m bad at it and read less than I ought to. I also love film. I watch a lot of movies in my spare time. I’m very interested in specialty coffees and teas, and spend a lot of time tinkering with different doodads and brewing methods. Now and then I play video games, though I’m very picky on that front and have to severely restrict my consumption. Nothing derails my writing schedule like marathoning a video game for days on end.
8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?
I do have a kind of tradition between projects—something I’ve only adopted recently. After completing a novel, I make a point of reading 2 whole books by different authors, and watching at least two films. This helps me stave off burnout. Reading and being exposed to new ideas through media is a really important thing when you’re a storyteller. The storytelling process sees one draw from a well of ideas, however if you keep on drawing water and never replace it, it’ll eventually run dry. This is why a short rest period—a “creative rest period”—is so important to me.
9. Where do you write? Quiet or music?
I write in my home office, at my desk. I have a large iMac computer, and I listen to music that suits the scene I’m working on through headphones. Sometimes, when I want to write elsewhere, I’ll pack up my portable word processor (an AlphaSmart Neo) and go to a coffee shop. I find it hard to write in complete silence, truth be told.
10. Anything you would change about your writing?
Lots of things, to be honest. While I think my most recent work is loads better than my stuff from five or ten years ago, I’m always picking up new techniques and trying to up my game. I really want to get better at writing realistic, relatable characters—that’s a big one.
11. What is your dream? Famous writer?
My dream is to earn a living as a writer for the rest of my life. To build a comfortable life, provide for my family and just keep on doing what I love till I drop dead. I’d love to be a famous writer—a James Patterson or Stephen King. I mean, who wouldn’t? But even if I never approach that level of success, remaining a perennial mid-lister would be a joy. Hell, as long as I can afford the good coffee beans without having to think about it, I’ll be happy.
12. Where do you live?
I live in Ohio. Born and raised! A lot of people consider Ohio—especially the northwest section where I’m from—to be boring. And they’re half-right. But I wouldn’t leave it for the world.
No pets currently, but I’m a cat person. I hope to adopt a few kittens down the line. Maybe a dog, too. I’m rather fond of pugs.
14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I think Dorothy Parker put it best when she said: “I hate writing, I love having written.” While I certainly don’t hate the writing process, for me the most exhilarating part of a project is when I reach the end and take in the whole shape of a story for the first time. Perhaps it sounds conceited, but seeing my story as a finished project—a thing that began as a series of nebulous ideas and notes scratched onto sticky notes—is awe-inspiring for me. Translating my ideas into a tangible book that others can read is the best part, hands down.
15. What is coming next for you?
Right now, I’m putting the finishing touches on my latest novel. It’s called Night Society, and it should be dropping in early October, just in time for Halloween. Aside from that, I’m just trying to soak up the season while it’s here. The Fall/Halloween season is my absolute favorite time of year. There’s just something about it. It’s nostalgic. I’ll miss it when it’s gone.
You can connect with Ambrose Ibsen here:
Some of Ambrose Ibsen’s books: