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Jan. 16th, 2016

Greg Chapman Talks the End of the World

I first discovered author Greg Chapman when I read his Halloween novella THE LAST NIGHT OF OCTOBER a few years back. I instantly knew he was a writer of great talent and vision. His newest book, THE ESCHATOLOGIST, deals with the end of the world. Greg was nice enough to stop by my blog to talk about it. Below is his guest blog.

When I decided my next book was going to be post-apocalyptic horror, one thing my black heart was set on was that my-end-of-the-world was not going to involve zombies.

>Insert gasp of shock<

It’s not that I don’t like zombie apocalypses in fiction, it’s more the fact that so many authors have already touched upon end-of-the-world zombie scenarios and I wanted to do something more, well, human.

To me, the end of the world is going to come about because of us. War, or bioterrorism, or earthquakes or disease are what’s more likely to claim us in the future. Ultimately I didn’t want to explore the cause of my apocalypse in The Eschatologist; instead I wanted to explore how humanity would act if such an event did occur.

Certainly, Richard Matheson’s I am Legend centres on a global outbreak of vampirism and the author uses it masterfully to explore themes of alienation and fear, but in The Eschatologist I wanted to turn faith into the threat, to see what would happen if it were used as a weapon.

I think it’s obvious that if the world does come crashing down, society as a whole is going to shatter right along with it. People will revert back to their basic instincts while others will look to their beliefs.

This is what drives my story in The Eschatologist – that clash between those who believe and those who don’t. There might not be any zombies in this tale, but there are numerous, human monsters, but one in particular is driven by belief – and his name is Amos.

Amos, the primary antagonist in The Eschatologist, is my way of exploring how faith in “God’s will” might turn people into monsters should an apocalypse occur. Throughout the tale you’ll wonder whether this so-called prophet’s wonders are real. For the Brewer family who cross his path, the apocalypse isn’t as “simple” as avoiding flesh-eating zombies. It’s a slow, steady dismantling of the human psyche; the snuffing out of any hope of survival. Something I feel is far more harrowing than a slow (or fast) horde of the undead.


I want to thank Greg for stopping by and I encourage you all to check out his work here at his Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Greg-Chapman/e/B004Q7PCRE/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Dec. 30th, 2015

My 2015

As a new year approaches, it is only natural for people to look back on the year about to depart and ruminate on what has transpired in one’s life over those twelve months. Since this blog is dedicated to my writerly pursuits, I thought I’d take a moment to share what I was up to in 2015.

As far as publishing, I had three books out from three different publishers at the end of the year. Bam bam bam, in rapid succession!

October saw the release of HALLOWEEN HOUSE OF HORRORS from Great Old Ones Publishing. This was a collection of 19 Halloween themed short stories, and I was beyond ecstatic about this one. I’m a total geek when it comes to all things Halloween, and this marked my third Halloween-themed book. All the tales in this one revolved around Halloween, but I think they showed a nice range of subject matter and tone. Some of them weren’t even horror, and one was a children’s story.

In November, Sinister Grin Press put out my zombie novella FORT. This is a semi-sequel to my novella ASYLUM, taking place in the same fictional universe and featuring cameos from a couple of ASYLUM characters via flashback. I had a lot of fun writing this tale, and I was really happy to see it out in the world.

And finally, December was the release of FLOWERS IN A DUMPSTER, my collection with Crystal Lake Publishing. This was probably my most successful launch of any book I’ve ever had out, and I owe it all to Joe Mynhardt and the Crystal Lake crew. They went above and beyond all reasonable measure helping me pimp the book. Secured some amazing pre-release blurbs, including from Mr. Ramsey Campbell. Got me interviews on podcasts and blogs. Created an events page that was well populated and we ran some cool giveaways. The book sold well, ranking as high as number 2 on the Amazon digital short story collections list, right behind the new Stephen King, and the reviews have been lovely.

I’ve also published a few other things here and there throughout the year, mostly nonfiction articles. Two of them appeared in Apex Magazine. An Article called “A Whole New World” about being an openly gay writer in the horror field, and another called “How Horror Made Me More Empathetic”, written to combat an online article that suggested fans of horror are less empathetic. I also had an article entitled “The Forgotten Art of Short Story” appear in Crystal Lake Publishing’s book WRITERS ON WRITING VOL. II. I was pleased to be in some great company there and to have the chance to talk about my passion, short story writing.

I also got to do some fun things this year related to my writing.

In early spring James Newman and I hosted an event at Joe’s Place in downtown Greenville, a writer’s workshop. James is a cool guy that I enjoy spending time with, and I was glad he wanted to do this with me. The event wasn’t a great success as far as attendance, but we had fun and had at least one eager young man who asked a lot of questions.

In the summer I was able to attend my first ever World Horror Convention in Atlanta. I was only able to go for one day, but I packed a lot in there and had a fabulous time. I got to hang out with cool people like James Newman, Donn Gash, John Boden, Kelly Laymon, Aaron Dries, attend some interesting panels and a fascinating interview with legend William F. Nolan. I got autographs from Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Strand, John Skipp, Jack Ketchem. And I was even allowed to speak on one of the panels, the one about zombie fiction. It was a real kick all the way around.

I held another event at Joe’s Place in October, a horror trivia contest with a prize of several books, DVDs, and a gift certificate to the store. Attendance was slightly better, though most of the attendees were friends, and I think everyone involved had a good time.

As for actual writing, I feel I had a fairly productive year. I spent the first quarter of the year finishing up my novel THE CULT OF OCASTA, which is a sequel to THE QUARRY. It isn’t exactly epic in length, but it does weigh in as my longest novel to date. I realized partway through that this would be my last story set at Limestone College, it just seemed an appropriate place to end that saga.

Once that was done, I began work on a novel called 432 ABERCORN, a story set in one of my favorite places on earth, Savannah Georgia. However, when I attended WHC and met Aaron Dries, we started talking about a possible collaboration and got so excited about it that I decided to put ABERCORN on hold and work on the project with Aaron.

The title of our piece is WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE, and originally we thought it was going to be a novella but it grew into an actual novel. It was a wonderful experience working with Aaron, he’s an immensely talented writer. I feel I learned a lot from him and grew as a writer. I hope this isn’t the last time we work together.

Here at the tail end of the year I have started a new novella called BOOK HAVEN, an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while and once actually started several years ago, but now just feels like the right time for me to get it down on paper. I hope to finish that up in the early part of next year.

In additional to all that, I’ve also been following my truest love, the short story. I’ve penned several short stories of various lengths throughout the year. I’ll never abandon the short story, and hope to have many new collections in the years to come.

And there you have it, my 2015. On a personal note, it was another wonderful year with my soul mate and best friend Craig. The year we finally set a date for our wedding, and have continued to build a warm and loving home together.

And that’s it. All in all, 2015 was very good to me, and I go into 2016 with excitement. How was your year?

Dec. 13th, 2015


I will start this blog with a disclaimer - this is not a complaint.

We writers struggle to get our work out there, to find publishers that believe in it and put in the time and effort to produce the books, so it would be totally inappropriate to complain about having too many books out at one time. That's the kind of problem a writer wants to have.

And it's the kind of problem I found I did have as this year wound down. I actually went the first nine months of 2015 without releasing a single book, then in the last three months I released three, one a month. October saw Great Old Ones Publishing releasing the Halloween collection HALLOWEEN HOUSE OF HORRORS; in November Sinister Grin Press put out the zombie novella FORT, and in December the collection FLOWERS IN A DUMPSTER was launched by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Again, the kind of problem a writer wants to have. I was incredibly proud of each of these books and so thrilled to have found homes for them and to be offering them to the public. It has actually been quite thrilling.

The only issue was promotion. In the small press, the author has to do a lot of self-promotion. Not that we don't get help from the publishers, Crystal Lake in particular went above and beyond in helping with that, but the truth is most small press publishers don't have huge promotion or advertising budgets so the author really has to shoulder some of the weight him or herself.

And I don't mind that, I really don't. It can actually be fun coming up with ideas to try to spread the word. Only when you have multiple books out in a relatively short period of time, it can become worrisome. There's always the danger of becoming obnoxious on social media, seeming as if all you do is toot your own horn and peddle your wares. This can become tiresome to people and actually turn them off.

So it's a fine line and you don't want to cross that line from informative into off-putting. Having three books out at once definitely puts me in danger of being in the off-putting category, and I fear I did cross that line from time to time.

However, I have a few tactics I try to keep me from becoming obnoxious with self-promotion. For one, I am a huge cheerleader for other writers I admire. When I discover a book or author I like, I want to tell everyone. Even I would get sick of me if all I talked about was myself, but I strive to give equal opportunity to talking of other things.

I also try to come up with interesting promotions, contests and giveaways and things like that. Things that get people to participate in conversation so it's a two-way street and not just me talking at people but actually engaging them.

Another thing I do is seek out other authors to do blog swaps with. That way each of us can reach people who maybe haven't heard about our work yet instead of reaching the same people over and over.

Self-promotion isn't a skill that comes naturally to me, it's definitely a challenge, but I'm not one to shy away from a challenge.

You can find these books and all my others on my Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Mark-Allan-Gunnells/e/B005C18L7Q/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1381885926&sr=8-1

Dec. 6th, 2015

No Room For the Weak--by Simon Bestwick

I met Simon Bestwick on Facebook. A funny guy who was very supportive of my work. When he told me he was arranging a blog tour to promote his new book HELL'S DITCH, I told him he was cordially invited to make a stop here. He provided me with a short story, "No Room for the Weak", which is set in the world of the novel. I was blown away by its power, the tale packs major punch for a piece of flash fiction. Whets my appetite and I know I'll be reading the novel now. So without further ado, here you go, kiddies. Enjoy

by Simon Bestwick.

Half Noakes’ face had melted when he was five years old. That had been fifteen years ago, when the bombs had fallen. Luckily the eye hadn’t been damaged; his vision was clear as he climbed the wall, except for the rain.

The city wall was made of rubble, caged in wire mesh; he hooked his fingers into the gaps into the mesh, dug his toes into them, pulled himself up. Above him was night and wind and lashing rain and the beam of a searchlight, sweeping.

Noakes rolled onto the top of the wall, a knife between his teeth. Clear. He unwound the rope around his waist, tied it fast and let it drop.

Mary shinned up first – a thin pale woman, muscle and bone; a narrow face and black cropped hair. Darrow came up next: grey-haired, in his fifties, he was an old man by the standards of this world. But he was still strong and quick – in body and in mind.

Darrow had found Noakes after the bombs, when he was screaming in pain for his seared face and grief for his dead parents. Darrow had raised him, cared for him, taught him to survive. If Noakes loved anyone, it was Darrow. All else was indifference and hate.

“Pull her up,” Darrow said. “Quickly.”

Noakes and Mary hauled on the rope. Noakes’ lips peeled back from yellow, uneven teeth; one slip, and the bitch would fall. But would she die? He couldn’t be certain. And Darrow wouldn’t like it. A tough man, but he was soft on this.

Noakes bit down on the knife between his teeth. Soft, in this world, killed you.

Darrow had tied the rope around Alannah’s waist. She was mumbling to herself, as always. Darrow shushed her, stroked her hair. Noakes sheathed his knife, spat over the wall. Weak.

“Let’s go,” Darrow said.


They crept through the broken streets, keeping low and to the shadows; the buildings were broken, irregular stubs, like Noakes’ teeth. The roadways’ tarmac was cracked and fissured; weeds sprouted. Rain lashed down. In the distance, light gleamed through the buildings, shone on the wet black road: the searchlight on a Reaper landcruiser, patrolling the streets after curfew.

Noakes and Mary held submachine guns – Sterlings, old but reliable. Darrow’s was older still, a Thompson gun from the Second World War, but he was lethal with it. Alannah had nothing. There was no point.

Darrow held up a hand. “Here.”

Between two houses was a narrow, cobbled alleyway; a section of wall had fallen across the top but it but held, creating a tunnel.

Mary shone a clockwork torch on the floor to light their way. Rats skittered as they went in; Alannah whimpered and moaned. “Shut up,” Noakes hissed.

“Leave her,” Mary said.

“We should ditch her,” said Noakes. “Keep telling you.”

Mary glowered. “That’s enough.”

“She’s a fucking liability.”

Darrow wheeled. “She fought for us, long and well,” he said. “And when the Reapers tortured her, she kept her mouth shut. We owe her this much.”

“No we don’t. That’s how you get killed.”

Alannah mumbled; it echoed in the tunnel: Mary put an arm around her, spoke to her gently.

“I made a promise,” Darrow said.

Noakes sneered. “To Helen.”

“Yes. To Helen.”

“Helen’s dead.” Noakes nodded at Alannah. “She’s as good as. And she’ll get the rest of us killed too. We lost enough people at the Refuge. You can’t be weak, Darrow. You can’t. No room for it.”

“That’s enough.” Darrow sounded tired. Noakes couldn’t see his face properly, but the expression on it looked like pity. He turned away, angry.

“Come on,” said Darrow.

Past the heaps of fallen bricks at the far end of the tunnel was another street; across the way was a vacant lot where a building had stood. Beyond that, an old church. The top third of its spire had snapped off to leave a jagged stump.

“That’s the place,” Mary said. “Ashton said he’d meet us there.”

Ashton had gone ahead, to find them a place to hide; according to the message he’d sent back, he’d found them one. It would be good to be safe, even only sort-of safe, for a while. To stop running. But until then, death was everywhere for them. Noakes’ fingers were wet on the Sterling – sweat, despite the November cold, mingling with the rain. He wiped them on his coat. “Then let’s go,” he said.

“Wait,” Darrow said, and motioned them back into the alley.

A moment later Noakes heard what he’d heard; the hissing and clanking of the landcruiser. A moment after that, a searchlight beam flashed up the street, brightening as the ‘cruiser came closer.

“Shit,” he said.

“Here.” Mary slipped behind a heap of fallen bricks, motioned the others to another, larger pile. Noakes crouched behind it with Darrow, beside Alannah. He could smell the stink of her from here; since she’d been rescued, she couldn’t even keep herself clean. Weak. He clenched his teeth in disgust; as if sensing it, she moaned.

“Quiet,” Noakes snarled.

“Leave her,” said Darrow again. He murmured to her and she quieted a little. Noakes gripped his knife; he’d do it if he had to.

The light dimmed and brightened as it swept to and fro. The ‘cruiser engine was louder. Alannah was panting, whimpering in fright. Fear the Reaper. Wasn’t that a song? Noakes almost giggled.

The landcruiser was passing; the light flared down the alleyway. Alannah let out a muffled cry.

“Shut up!” hissed Noakes.

“What was that?” one of the Reapers in the ‘cruiser called. Movement. Were they getting down to investigate.

Darrow had a hand over Alannah’s mouth, but she was still making noise.

“You hear something?” said the Reaper.

Another noise from Alannah. Noakes drew the knife. “Quiet!”

“Noakes,” Darrow hissed.

But Noakes knew now what he had to do. Save Darrow from himself. In this one thing, the older man was weak, and that couldn’t be allowed. He raised the knife and moved: one quick thrust between the ribs and that’d be it – quick, silent, no pain –

Darrow pushed Alannah aside, caught Noakes’ knife wrist with one hand; with the other, Noakes thought at first, Darrow punched him in the chest. It was only when the weakness started seeping through him and he couldn’t breathe that he realised what he’d done. He looked at Darrow’s face, the one face he loved if he loved any, and thought that he’d been right before: that was pity he saw on it.


“Well?” said the second Reaper in the landcruiser.

“Nah,” said the first. “Nothing. Let’s go.”

When the ‘cruiser had rolled on and the darkness returned, Darrow withdrew the knife and let Noakes’ body slump backwards onto the cobbles. Rain fell on the scarred face, and in the open eyes.

Darrow cleaned the knife, looked down at the body.

“It had to be done,” Mary said. “He’d been losing it for ages.”

Darrow nodded, but didn’t speak. Mary touched his arm. “Come on,” she said. “Ashton’s waiting.”

Shelter. Sanctuary. When they had that, perhaps, they’d find others to join them. A new beginning.

They took Noakes’ gun and knife, and anything else they could use. Darrow covered the dead man’s eyes with a handful of alley muck; then they shepherded Alannah out of the alley and into the shadows of the vacant lot, towards the church.

Bringing up the rear, Darrow looked back once towards the alley, remembering the scarred, weeping boy he’d taken in.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered. “You deserved better.” Then he followed the others into the dark.

Simon Bestwick is the author of Tide Of Souls, The Faceless and Black Mountain. His short fiction has appeared in Black Static and Best Horror Of The Year, and been collected in A Hazy Shade Of Winter, Pictures Of The Dark, Let’s Drink To The Dead and The Condemned. This short story is set in the world of his new novel, Hell’s Ditch, which is available now. Order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Hells-Ditch-Black-Simon-Bestwick-ebook/dp/B018SIFQT0/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449403389&sr=1-4&keywords=simon+bestwick

Nov. 24th, 2015

The Joy of Working Together

I love writing...everything about it. The entire process is a joy to me. Not that I don't have rough days or frustrations, but overall nothing brings me more pleasure.

Typically writing is a solitary pursuit, just me and the page (or the screen as it were in this modern world). Although I never quite feel alone, I have all my characters to keep me company. Not in a schizophrenic way, but when I'm lost in a story the characters have life and are real to me. It's just me and them, sometimes me directing them but often the other way around.

And yet sometimes writing isn't just me and the screen, just me and the characters. Sometimes I am invited to play make-believe with a friend.

What am I talking about? Collaboration, of course. Sometimes two writers can get together to work on a story and create something wholly unique, something that truly neither of them could have produced on their own, a true melding of their talents to create something that is not one or the other but a product of both.

I love to collaborate with other authors. I go into it with no ego, just a desire to have fun. I love to work with authors who have different strengths than I do, so that we can learn from each other and I know personally that I've walked away with every collaboration a better writer for the time I've spent with the others. It's fun to brainstorm together, to see what exciting new directions we both discover during the writing.

Most recently I've been collaborating with the great Aaron Dries (if you haven't tried his stuff, you really must, go here immediately http://www.amazon.com/Aaron-Dries/e/B008GXNU64/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1448403510&sr=8-1). We met earlier this year at the World Horror Convention, hit it off, and he asked if I'd like to work on something together. I said yes immediately but figured it may or may not happen as schedules permitted. Yet shortly after that he ran an idea by me, I gave him my thoughts, and next thing you know, we were in the thick of it.

We came up with a zombie story that I think isn't your average zombie story. Something with a bit more heart and emotional weight. We developed a working relationship unlike any of the other collaborations I've ever done, with me doing a first draft of most chapters then Aaron going back over them to add, delete, embellish, then back to me for my thoughts and any changes I wanted to make. May sound strange, but I found it a rather exciting way to work and I enjoyed it very much.

I recently sent Aaron the final chapter, and he is doing his pass now. We'll do some polishing after that before sending it in for consideration to a publisher that is waiting on it, but the bulk of the work is done.

And I'm a bit sad, maybe sadder than I usually am at the end of a longer work because I'm going to miss the camaraderie, the education, and the fun of working with Aaron. But as always when I collaborate, I'm walking away a better writer for the experience.

I have a couple of solo project all set to go, but I'm always on the lookout for my next collaborative partner.

Oct. 17th, 2015


Last year around this time, Philip Perron contacted me to ask if I might be interested in submitting something to his relatively new publishing company Great Old Ones Publishing. I’ve known Philip for a while, he has helped me promote some of my earlier books with Evil Jester Press, so I was excited by the prospect of working with him in this capacity. And when he said he was open to a short story collection, I jumped at the chance.

Short stories are my passion. At the time I had released 3 collections, and I was eager to do more. I immediately started thinking about what stories I might put together for Great Old Ones, making a list. However, since it was October I was also busy writing Halloween shorts, the way I do every year at this time.

And then it hit me…because it was such a tradition that I write Halloween tales in October, I had a ton of them. I had previously published a short Halloween-themed collection called DARK TREATS that contained just 5 stories. This might be the perfect opportunity to do a more expansive Halloween collection, I thought.

I ran the idea by Philip and he was enthusiastic, so I immediately started gathering my Halloween tales throughout the years. I delved back as far as 1998 for a story I wrote in college, and I knew I would want to include the tales I was writing that year, 2014.

Most of the stories were horror, but I had a few non-horror stories that were more dramatic types of tales, and even one children’s story. The only thing Philip said he didn’t want was outright humor, which did exclude a couple. There were also a few that I thought just weren’t good enough to be included. All told, I ended up with 19 stories I wanted to include.

But as I put them together in the order I wanted them to appear, I got to thinking that maybe I could do a little bit more. What if I loosely connected the pieces with a wrap-around story? I was envisioning a group of people in costume gathering for a Halloween party and a movie marathon, but then the power goes out and they decide instead to sit around and tell each other scary stories to pass the time. And the stories they tell would be the stories of the collection. When I got that idea, I instantly knew how I wanted to end the wrap-around story.

So I finished up the three stories I was writing at the time, added them into the line-up, then commenced on the wrap-around piece. I had so much fun with it, and felt very proud of the manuscript. I thought it really captured my love of the holiday, and even within the narrow theme showcased an eclectic group of stories.

Luckily, Philip agreed and came up with a really cool and Halloweeny cover, and set HALLOWEEN HOUSE OF HORRORS loose on the world this year, almost exactly a year after I first approached him with the idea.

My hope for the collection is for people to settle down on a October night and read the tales, and really get into the spirit of the season. Which is about chills and thrills and fun.

And I hope people have fun with HALLOWEEN HOUSE OF HORRORS.

The collection is available in print and ebook here: http://www.amazon.com/Halloween-House-Horrors-Mark-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B016C4GBS2/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445081748&sr=1-1

Sep. 20th, 2015

How I Define Success

I don't often dispense with the "writerly advice" because...well, I'm just me. I've published a good number books in the small press, but I don't pretend to be an expert or think I'm more successful than I am. And yet that brings me to this bit of advice I feel moved to give.

I was recently musing on the concept of "success." All us writers harbor dreams of making a living at writing, quitting the day job and being full-time authors. There's nothing wrong with that dream, and we should go after it with all our gusto. However, I know some writers for whom that is their sole definition of "success." If they aren't making their primarily living at it, they feel like a failure. I think that's a sad way of looking at it and a total fallacy.

If you are doing what you love, you already have a modicum of success because many people in this life don't. They have it drilled into their minds at an early age that maybe their passion is pointless or worthless and they simply give it up. So if you are still pursuing your passion, you're already on a winning path.

And the fact is that the majority of writers working today do not make a living at it. Does that mean the majority of writers are unsuccessful losers? I don't think so. For me, while I continue to pursue the dream of being a career writer, I am quite happy with my current set-up. A day joy that pays the bills and I don't hate and which allows me time to write. You never want to be stuck in a job that makes you miserable, so my advice is while you chase that dream, find a day job you actually like, and continue writing what you love. That to me is successful.

Now I know some writers who've said that by already considering myself "successful" in my current circumstances that I'm not as serious about writing as they are, or I'm not "on their level." Well, I don't even think in terms of levels, writing isn't a competition, but I'm damn serious about my writing. I just define success differently.

Sep. 6th, 2015

A Collection of Collections

I love novels and novellas, essays and poetry...but my true love--my utmost passion--is short fiction. When I sit down to write, what brings me the most joy is crafting a short story. Not that other literary forms are inherently lesser, it's just a personal preference. It's what inspires me.

Which is why, when I was a younger writer who had yet to sell any of my work, what I dreamed of more than anything else was my own short story collection. Actually, my dream was to have a string of collections.

Easier said than done. I wasn't naive, I knew that the short form was a bit out of fashion, markets were dwindling and many publishers wouldn't even consider collections by any author that wasn't a big name. And even those were harder sells.

But that didn't stop me from dreaming.

In 2009, I published my first book, A LAYMON KIND OF NIGHT. It was a chapbook released by Sideshow Press in a series by four different authors. The other three were novellas, my chapbook collected three short stories. Not exactly a full collection, but I really enjoyed the fact that my first book contained short stories.

After that I started publishing novellas, and I sold a couple of novels. But my goal was still to get some collections out. By this point I had written literally hundreds of shorts.

Sideshow finally gave me my shot, and TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT became my first full-fledged collection. It was first released as a limited hardcover then later as a paperback, and though I was ecstatic about the books that preceded it, I don't think before or since I've ever experienced the kind of joy I felt when I held that collection in my hands for the first time.

More novels and novellsa followed, but I wanted more collections and decided to take the bull by the horns and start approaching publishers. Pitching has never been something I'm entirely comfortable with, but fortune favors the brave. This resulted in three subsequent collections. A short Halloween themed collection called DARK TREATS with Sideshow; a digital collection called GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC with Bad Moon Books; and most recently WELCOME TO THE GRAVEYARD with Evil Jester Press.

I'm proud of all these collections, feeling that they each represent me as an author and showcase what I can do in the short form. Still, I'm not satisfied and had so many stories I wanted to get out there. And recently, I've had a streak of luck.

Great Old Ones Publishing approached me about doing a book with them and I pitched the idea of another Halloween collection (I write multiple Halloween tales every October, so I have plenty of them), and they'll be releasing HALLOWEEN HOUSE OF HORRORS next month. I also pitched a collection to Sinister Grin, and sometime next year they should be putting out COMPANIONS IN RUIN. Crystal Lake Publishing had an open submission period in which I pitched a collection, they asked to see three of my strongest stories, and now FLOWERS IN A DUMPSTER is due out early next year. And most recently I received a contract for a collection that I'm not as yet able to discuss publicly.

Four collections due out. It makes my head spin, and I couldn't be more delighted. I'll always continue to write novels and novellas, but short fiction will always be at the top of my list. I'm so glad to have found so many wonderful publishers that are open to collections and really nurture and encourage the short story writer.

And hopefully there will be many more collections to follow in the years to come.

Aug. 25th, 2015

Frank Pharaoh Interview

I first encountered Frank Pharaoh (pseudonym for 19-year-old Vicente Garcia) on a horror message board. He seemed like a nice young man with a lot of interests similar to my own. We hit it off and struck up an online friendship. When my Halloween collection, DARK TREATS, was released, Frank reviewed it and was very kind. In particular he had a lot of praise for my short “Treats.” He asked if he could adapt the film for a student project, and I was more than happy to say yes. Recently the film, directed by himself and starring Jordan Toy, was completed. It was a real kick seeing my concept filmed that way, and I’m happy to have Frank sit down with me for this interview.

MAG: I want to start off by asking you some questions about DARK TREATS. You took the concept of my short story and told your own story, almost as if it were a different story set in the same universe as my short. Can you tell us a little about why you went in that direction, and how difficult was it to come up with an original story within an already established framework?

FP: To be honest, your story tells the tale better. For those unaware, your story has a young boy stalked by one of the creatures; my short film has a teenage girl stalked by one. In both versions, there are two “treats”, which, as we learn at the end of both, are really eggs. In both versions, the eggs are initially thrown away, and in both versions the protagonist fights back. So while my version is still your story in spirit, I had to make changes to suit our budget. We didn’t have a child actor, and child actors can’t work late at night anyways. We also had no adult actors—so I very quickly made it “teenage girl home alone for the night”, since Jordan Toy was the film’s only certainty. Her brother in the film is her brother in real life; he had more lines and another scene, but I cut about 95% of his stuff since he rapidly proved that he couldn’t act. (No offense, David.)

As far as coming up with an original story—it wasn’t hard at all! When you really look at it, there’s a ton of plot for a ten-minute short. The whole thing moves so fast that people actually miss important plot points. Since there’s almost no dialogue explaining what’s happening, people always seem to be about a minute behind. (I chose to be almost dialogue free since we had no microphones on set.) A lot of the plot points/scenes Jordan and I made up on set; we were literally designing and creating scenes as we filmed them. There was no official script, just a loose outline I’d written. All the dialogue was ad-libbed, and I’d make up Jordan’s blocking on the spot. While that seems lazy, it was actually a lot of fun to just be freely creative like that. We had so much fun making this!

Probably the only “hard” part we had to deal with was the continuity. Though we only had one location, we shot the film out of order over five days. (One of those days was completely cut from the film, and the other day was just for the opening credits.) It was three solid nights of shooting at Jordan’s house though, usually from 8pm-3am. Because we were shooting out of order and making it up as we along, Jordan was constantly reminding me “remember, I was over there last night. So now I get over here tonight, but what was I doing in between?” To which I’d have to sit and think “Okay, the creature ran over there, and you passed out over there, and we need you over here by this door…” Honestly, the “missing reels” cover up both budget (there’s a missing reel every time the creature moves since it looked so fake) and continuity (the missing reels often skip forward in time, getting Jordan to a new place). The “911 call” scene was actually shot on Halloween night, so that’s cool though. I had to shoot at least one of the film’s scenes on Halloween, since the story takes place on Halloween!

MAG: What can you tell us about Jordan Toy, the actress who plays the lead in the film? She certain gives a spirited performance.

FP: She’s amazing! She’s my best friend, and we’ve always bonded over horror movies. We actually weren’t even really friends in high school—every year she and I would go to Monsterpalooza, a Burbank, CA-based horror convention and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood—but other than that, we never hung out or talked. We both had a common friend, but other than those two horror events, we didn’t see each other. I never had a class with her or anything. When you saw us at those events you’d think we were the greatest friends, but we both ran in different cliques socially. Then we graduated and all our friends scattered all over California and the rest of the U.S., and we both found ourselves stuck in our hometown and going to the same community college—so we became best friends by mutual benefit. That sounds completely horrible, but she’s like a sister to me now—and horror has always been the glue keeping us together.

Her performance in the short is probably what I’m most proud of, yet very little of it was because of my direction. She’d never acted before, but she’s just a natural. Because of our love of horror movies, we spoke a language that was very important to my direction—I’d tell her “for this scene, do you remember that one scene from the Halloween remake? Do that.” Or “you know how 70’s horror actresses always have that look on their face? Do that.” She’d take my suggestions and just run with them. Most of the time I’d just be looking at the playback and thinking “wow, I didn’t tell her to do any of that—but it’s all great.” Her little movements, expressions, everything—I have no clue where it came from, but I think everyone who’s seen the short has praised her.

She’s terribly shy about it too—she was so hesitant to record the screams during editing. (All of the screaming was recorded separately in my garage since we filmed in her house/backyard late at night, and I didn’t want her neighbors calling the cops on us.) Even before we started shooting, her acting was both of our main concerns: “Can we pull this off? Are you comfortable with this? Do you think it’ll be good enough?” But she was gangbusters. I’m so proud of her!

MAG: I hear that one of your biggest problems was the creature special effects. Talk to us a little about that, and the creative solutions you came up with.

FP: The creature itself was an animatronic dragon I bought from Toys-R-Us. It was originally fifty bucks—toy prices are ridiculous now—but someone had misplaced it under a twenty buck price tag, and apparently the store has some strange policy wherein the price under the toy is the price you pay, even if it’s wrong. So I got the prop for twenty bucks! I’m not complaining, but I wonder how many people purposefully misplace items to get them cheaper…
Anyways—we cut off some of the dragon’s features (for copyright purposes, hah!) and then covered it in dyed-green latex. We then shaped it a bit, adding some detail. Oh wait—we actually ran out of latex and ended up only covering its head, feet, tail, and some parts of the body. Latex is expensive! This already created problems, since we now could never have a full body shot of the creature. (I solved this issue by shooting the creature’s full shadow. It was really just Jordan’s brother David moving the creature with his hand, but I sped it up in editing to make it look quicker.) The next problem became the animatronics itself—the added weight of the latex made it so that the creature could no longer move properly. It just kind of shook in place. So while shooting the first real scene of the creature attacking Jordan, I said “forget it—we’re just gonna pull a page from Grindhouse and place a ‘missing reel’ insert here. We just can’t film this with this prop and this budget.” So instead of full creature shots, the final short has creature POV shots, creature tail shots, creature shadow shots, and creature close-ups. That toy dragon ended up being the damn shark animatronic from Jaws.

MAG: The shooting required a lot of night shooting. How was that?

FP: So many directors hate shooting at night, but I love it. Lighting is a concern—and I know for a fact that many shots in “Treats” are underlit due to my own inexperience—but at the same time, I think you have a lot more control at night. You don’t have the sun constantly in the way of shots, and you can light scenes according to how you want. Day scenes require reflectors and you can only shoot for a certain amount of time before the sun moves and it’s obvious you’re shooting at a different time. But night shoots can shoot all night, and no one would ever know that a story taking place at 10pm was actually shot at 3am. And, especially for a creature-feature, you can hide things in the dark—our creature in the daylight would look like the latex-covered toy it really is. We had to simulate rain too, and in the dark, spraying a couple hoses on Jordan suddenly looks a lot more realistic than it really is.

MAG: Who are some of the filmmakers working today you’d like to work with?

FP: Without a doubt, Colin Trevorrow. He directed this summer’s Jurassic World after only making one short film and one feature, the quirky sci-fi indie Safety Not Guaranteed. Steven Spielberg saw Safety and loved it so much he hired him for Jurassic, and now Kathleen Kennedy (the main producer for the Star Wars franchise) has taken notice of both Safety’s story-telling and Jurassic’s success and hired him for Star Wars Episode 9. He “made it” as a director the way I want to: he made a great, small, low-budget film and had the work speak for itself. Hollywood came to him, not the other way around—he lives in Montana. This speaks volumes to me; it gives me hope for my own future. I’m immensely jealous of him (he’s working on my two favorite franchises!), but have a lot of respect for his talent and work ethic. I met him at the Hollywood midnight premiere of Jurassic World too; he introduced the film, and I got to shake hands and take a picture with him afterwards, right there on Sunset surrounded by tons of fans and cameras at 2am. He was nothing but gracious and kind to the fans, talking to everyone he could. Even his bodyguard was nice! Basically, I wanna be him when I grow up.

MAG: I hear you are going to be subbing TREATS to some film festivals. Tell us a little about that.

FP: What’s funny is that submitting the short to festivals is gonna end up costing more money than making the movie even did. I haven’t decided which festivals to submit too, but I’m already a bit worried at how much it’ll cost. Some festivals will cost more to submit to than making the film cost!
I’m gonna go back and re-edit the entire short in HD though, and there will a couple new lines of dialogue to clear some plot issues up. There might be some new music too, but it’ll be the same film.

MAG: You’re a man with your finger in a lot of pies. I know you’ve experimented with publishing. Is that something you want to pursue more in the future? Perhaps run your own small press sometime?

FP: Definitely, to both questions. Ideally one day I’ll make enough as a director to be able to fund my own small press. My production company is called Creature House Productions; one day I’d love Creature House Publications to be up and running! I’d love to edit anthologies too in the future. I think a main concern in horror fiction right now is a lack of new editors—it’s just the same handful of editors editing every damn anthology that comes out. Some new blood needs to come in.

MAG: I also hear that you will be doing your own podcast. Care to tell us how that came about and what we should expect from it?

FP: I’d been toying with the idea since early this year, since you could do it with no money. Then Project iRadio (a podcast syndicate) announced that they were looking for new podcasts, and I submitted three ideas for approval. They were very interested in two of the three, so we’ve been working on the duo for the past couple months. Jordan Toy is my co-host for both of them—one of them, It Came From Generation Y! compares pulp horror movies to modern horror movies, and will have interviews with filmmakers, writers, people behind the scenes. The hook is its two millennials dissecting genre movies from before they were born! For example, one episode compares The Land That Time Forgot, a campy Doug McClure vehicle from the 70’s, with Jurassic World.

The other, the purposefully mis-spelled The Hauntening, (a bad pun derived from The Conjuring) is gonna be a monthly podcast wherein Jordan and I investigate a different horror location each month. (Someplace haunted, someplace with connections to the genre, someplace with ties to UFO sightings, etc.) Like a horror documentary, but in audio form. Truthfully, both these projects have proven…more time-consuming that I would’ve ever thought, haha! For the former we have to watch two movies before we even record; the latter takes a lot of time and money and research. Gas prices are so crazy in California right now that we’re trying to find places as close as possible to us. We’re building an episode backlog right now so that when we eventually debut both pods, we can stick to a consistent schedule. If Project iRadio doesn’t mind waiting even longer, I’d prefer to debut both of them in early 2016.

MAG: With all your work in film, publishing, writing, what would you say your greatest passion is? What would you focus on if you could only do one thing?

FP: Film for sure, because it enables me to be able to do everything I love. I love writing, so I can write my film. I love photography/cinematography, so I can shoot my film. I love being the leader, so I can direct my film. I love music, so I can score my film. I love advertising, so I promote my film and design it’s poster. Some people, like Tarantino, even publish their scripts, so I could still be involved in publishing too if I wanted too. (Haha.)
Right now the only thing challenging my love of film would be my love of education and teaching. I’m 19, still just barely starting on my career—but if I failed trying to be a director, I’ve long said that I’d be a second-grade teacher. My mom is an elementary school principal, and I actually volunteer at her school and teach a Film Club every Wednesday. It’s so cool—at elementary ages, most kids have never been exposed to the art of film. In my club they’ve made their own film trailers, short films, silent films, learned about acting, film speeds, etc. They really wanna make a claymation short, and I keep trying to explain to them how much work that would be.

People keep telling me to blend the two and become a drama teacher, but I hated high school. Ideally, I’d go off and become a director, make ten films and a good nest egg, and then retire as a teacher.

MAG: What projects can we expect from you in the future? What are you working on now?

FP: I can’t say anything about it yet, but it’s gonna be another adaption. A short horror film based on a story I read recently that clicked visually with me right away like “Treats” did. If all works out with the author, I think it’s gonna be very cool, very modern horror. The author is very respected. I do want to try to focus on adaptions right now, simply because they have built-in fans and promotion—people who read the original work will want to watch the adaption, and the author can help promote the work more than I ever could. I think for someone just starting out like I am, adaptions are as good a place as any to begin.

I’m also finishing up two feature-length scripts, both of which will be done by year’s end. The goal for them is to get an agent and shop them around to studios. One is a straight-up, gory horror flick called Petrichor, and the other is an action/comedy called “3”. Petrichor is like if the Final Destination movies and Jaws and Richard Laymon had a child; “3” has a talking dog, an evil corporation, clones, and genies. (Side story: someone broke into the backyard and stabbed my puppy while nobody was home; while she was recovering I’d hold her in my arms and think to myself ‘If only you could talk, and tell me who did this to you…’ Hence, the origin of my talking dog movie.) Though I predominantly consider myself a horror writer/director, “3” has been ridiculously fun to write so far. It’s a big, explosive, hilarious summer blockbuster waiting to happen.

What I’m most proud of though is a finished script I have called “Teenage Monstrosity”—it’s a short film script that’s completely original, completely my own. I’m dying to make it, but the budget would require at least $1500…which is nothing for a film, but far too expensive for me to self-fund right now! It’s insanely dark, but I think it’s a very smart script with a great revenge-type ending. And the main character is a mermaid! One day I’ll get the money and make it.

MAG: I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with me. You’re a dynamic young man, and what you’ve accomplished at such a young age is very impressive.

Aug. 14th, 2015

Interview with the Man Himself--Joe Lansdale

I first discovered Joe R. Lansdale when I was in college. I started with the first two Drive-In novels then his collection Electric Gumbo. From then on, I collected all his older titles I could find and was always on the lookout for anything new. I consider the man to be one of our greatest living storytellers, and one of my favorite things about his work is the eclectic nature of it. He is a genre unto himself. Horror, mystery, crime, western, bizarro, YA —he does it all, and he does it all well.

Now that I’m done gushing, I have to say I was beyond ecstatic when Mr. Lansdale agreed to let me interview him for my little blog. It is quite an honor, and without further ado, we’ll get to what everyone came here for…

MAG: First of all, let me thank you for taking the time to talk with me. One thing I want to attempt with this interview is to ask you about some works that I don’t see you asked about much in other interviews. So in that spirit, I’m going to start out by asking you about an odd, obscure work—Duck Footed. This is a short story released as a chapbook from Subterranean Press about ten years ago. One thing that strikes me about the piece is that it has a lot to say about religion, specifically the way people twist religion into something nasty and harmful, and yet the outrageous and almost silly nature of the story results in it not feeling overly preachy, which in essence makes the message even more effective. Was that your intention going in, or was it you just having fun with no thought toward message?

JRL: You nailed it completely. I'm not fond of religion in general, though not personally against anyone choosing to be religious. Just don't try and force it on me. The sort of religious knot heads who use it to justify everything in the world from racism to sexism, to homophobia, to just plain meanness. Religion as of recent on the Islamic side has been used by the ISIS to justify rape in the name of god. I for one understand they are extremist, but religion in general seems to me a justification for most anything. But yeah, in this case, and that hasn't always been the case, I used a light-hearted story to speak about something than can be a lot less light-hearted. Religious extremism.

I wrote that story for a friend of mine, Ardath Mayhar, and unfortunately near forgotten author of some fine novels and short stories. She lived just outside of Nacogdoches, and we were friends for nearly forty years. She died a few years back. Great lady and a neglected author. THE WORLD ENDS AT HICKORY HOLLOW might be one to check out, and there are a couple of collections of short stories. Start there if you're interested. Unfortunately, most of her books are publish on demand, and not enough people know about her to demand her. She sold a lot in the eighties and nineties, especially. (Ardath Mayhar's work can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Ardath-Mayhar/e/B001HPJ4EU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1439590642&sr=8-1)

MAG: I'll have to look her up. One of my favorite novels you’ve written is Sunset and Sawdust. One of the most effective parts of that story for me was your characterization of Sunset. She comes across as a very realistic portrayal of a strong woman. Not a Xena-type warrior, but a woman with foibles and weaknesses, fear and uncertainty, but also a streak of steel that always has her striving to do the right thing. In fact, many of your women characters have this steel. Does this come from women you’ve known in your own life?

JRL: It does. My mother, in many ways, seemed like a kind pushover, but people were mistaking kindness and generosity and a positive spirit for weakness. At the core, she and my father, were two of the strongest willed, toughest people I have ever known. My mother was actually made to have been born in more recent times. She was ahead of her time on many ideas and issues, and only the time in which she was born held her back from being able to bring her full creativity to bloom. She was a painter of some skill, and had tremendous ideas about design, and so on. So, she was one. Also, a lot of women I have known in my life have been that way. Ardath Mayhar once again comes to mind. My daughter is an amazing woman. Strong and resilient and brave. (Lansdale's daughter Kasey is a talented country singer, check out her website here: http://kaseylansdale.com/ You can also visit her YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/kaseylansdale And )

MAG: Staying with Sunset and Sawdust for a moment, did you meet any resistance writing what is basically a period crime novel with a female protagonist?

JRL: I don't remember any. I was able to do pretty much what I wanted. Well, exactly what I wanted. On female leads in novels, and film, you do hear now and then that if a novel fails it's because of a female protagonist, but if it succeeds, it's because of a female protagonist. None of it makes any sense. It succeeds or it doesn't, and sometimes works that deserve to succeed fail, and works that are awful succeed.

MAG: You’ve also created a gay protagonist with Leonard Pine in your Hap and Leonard series. As a gay man myself, I’ve always been impressed by how realistic Leonard comes across. You’ve said (and I’m paraphrasing) that when it comes to characterization, giving a man a limp isn’t characterization, but how he feels about the limp and how it affects his life is. In that vein, making a character gay isn’t characterization but how he feels about it and how it affects his life is. Some writers tell you a character is gay at the onset and that’s it, it has no real impact on their lives. Conversely, others make it so that it’s the character’s only focus and personality trait. With Leonard, his sexuality is a real part of who he is, but it doesn’t define him either. It’s a balance that makes him feel very authentic. Have you received much feedback from the gay community on the character?

JRL: I have received nothing but positive feed back from the gay community on Leonard. I love that guy. Gay people like straight people come in all stripes. Hap and Leonard are my two favorite characters of all time. I like that one is straight and one is gay, and they differ politically, and in many other ways, but their brotherhood trumps all else.

MAG: Speaking of Hap and Leonard, I know you recently spent some time on the set of the TV series Sundance is making from the first novel, Savage Season. This isn’t your first adaption, but since you’ve lived with Hap and Leonard longer than any other characters you’ve created, what was it like to see them finally coming to life for the screen and did you feel more protective toward those characters than others from earlier adaptions?

JRL: I really did feel protective, but when you sell a property to film, you only have so much say. I was allowed a lot. I love the director Jim Mickle like a nephew and the main script writer, and actor, Nick Damici like a brother. I say what I think, which may not always be what they want to hear, but then again, neither has to listen. They have been very good with me, however, and I did become an executive producer, and not in title only.

MAG: I want to ask you a couple of questions about Lost Echoes. I think it’s a great book that is compelling and exciting, and it is plot-wise perhaps your most commercial. The concept of the man who gets psychic glimpses of the past through sounds is quite unique and in the hands of a less adept writer could have come across as a gimmick, but you sold it a hundred percent. It is so unique in fact that I’m just curious where that idea came from?

JRL: My very good friend, and I love him like a brother, Terrill Lee Lankford, was doing a signing in Houston, and he ended up through a snafu with an extra hotel room. I was visiting and he offered me the spare room. I took it. I didn't realize that the window was open behind the curtain, and all night I heard cars on the highway, voices, and I thought: What if what I'm hearing are people's thoughts. And then I thought, no. What if I'm hearing the sounds of the past, the rattling in those trucks of living human beings bumping up against the sides of their cars, and that the sound this makes reveals the past. Hidden events in sound. If you hear a door close, and at some point in time someone had been violently thrown against that door, maybe you get the whole event in your head, if you have a special kind of a ability. And my character had that ability due to a childhood health problem. I called it audiochronology. The past captured in sound. It would be as if the past entered into objects, remained there until something caused an audio event, which in turn was then detected and visualized by the person with the ability to do that. Anyway, thanks to my brother Lee for giving me that room to stay in, and thanks to me for being stupid and not realizing the window was open. I had a very miserable night, but a very profitable result. I wrote the novel quickly, started it as soon as I got home. It has it's fans, but for some reason, it's been mostly ignored.

MAG: That really is a shame, because people are missing out on a truly gripping story. That novel also has a lot about martial arts in it, and how it can be used as a healing instrument. I know you are experienced in martial arts, and your love for it shines through in Lost Echoes. Do you still practice, and how much of a role does martial arts play in your life today?

JRL: I still practice and I still teach. I do have some injuries, which keeps me from doing certain things, martial arts and exercise wise, but on the whole they are minor. I teach one private class a week, do the occasional seminar and teach at our annual camp here in Nacogdoches. Camp Lansdale it's called. I have been doing martial arts in some form for 53 years, and created the system of Shen Chuan over twenty years ago. Me and the system have been recognized by the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame as well as the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

MAG: The first collection I read by you was Electric Gumbo, which contains a lot of your most popular short fiction, but it also has a few nonfiction pieces about your love of B-movies and the drive-in theater. I responded strongly to these as someone who grew up after the drive-in era who always had a romantic notion of the experience and regretted never getting to attend a movie at a drive-in. “Hell Through a Windshield” really fed that. A few years after reading the piece, I discovered that a small town in the next state, but within reasonable driving distance, still had an operational drive-in and I’ve been several times and enjoyed the experience as much as I thought I would. All this rambling is leading to the question, when is the last time you were able to attend a drive-in? If recently, do you still enjoy the experience?

JRL: You know, it's been years. In the 70s. We had one down from out house, and my wife and I went there frequently. It was cheap. We also took our kids when they were little. I didn't want to bring kids to an inside show, as they would annoy everyone, and I know I hate that. But you could take them to the drive in. Mostly they slept or our oldest played in the back of the car. It was fun. Neither kid remembers the drive in, but our daughter Kasey recently went to one up North. She saw Ant Man. She enjoyed the experience.

MAG: You wrote a Batman novel called Captured by the Engines. Though it is a Caped Crusader story, the plot that incorporates Native American mythology and cars was both clever and very Lansdale with is combination of disparate elements. How free were you to develop your own unique plot, and did Warner Books have any concern that the plot was too outrageous?

JRL: I don't remember any concern or interference. I had fun, and no one complained.

MAG: You have a very close-knit family, and you’ve worked with your wife and kids on various projects. I just wondered, do you seek their advice or thoughts when you have a work in progress?

JRL: No. I don't ask for advice when I'm writing. I'll figure it out. It works best for me that way. Collaborations, of course, are different. I find them harder, as you're trying to please two people, not just yourself. I have fun doing it in other ways, but it's not the same. I always think one person can do better than two. I don't subscribe to two heads are better than one. In film it's different to some degree, but still, there's usually way too many cooks in the soup in film. Still, now and then, especially with family, it's fun to do.

MAG: I recently finished Paradise Sky, which I think ranks as one of your best. I know you’ve said you have been wanting to write this novel for many years. If you had written it when you initially had the inspiration, do you think it would have been a different book from the one you ultimately delivered?

JRL: I think it would have been very similar, but I think it wouldn't have had the depth I was able to bring to it, so I think the delay worked.

MAG: A selfish question here, do you think you’ll do any books in the future about the Nat Loving character?

JRL: I don't know. My books sort of arrive on their own, like relatives you like but didn't know were coming. Some become long term house guests. Others just drop by and say hi. Nat has been with me longer than any character I've created, even though he just recently showed up in two short stories, BLACK HAT JACK, and then PARADISE SKY. He could turn up in the yard at any time.

MAG: Some authors once they find success in the novel tend to stop writing short stories. This is not the case with you, which pleases me to no end since I’m a huge lover of the short form. Do you find short stories and novels present different challenges for the writer, and what keeps bringing you back to the short form?

JRL: I adore short stories. Novels as well, but short stories are my favorite. I like that I can be so diverse and move between this idea and another, and you can experiment more with them. I slow down on them sometimes, but usually I write a lot of them. In the 90s I think I wrote less than before, or after. But it comes and goes in waves. I seem to be pulling back on them slightly now, but only slightly. I've written 9 this year already, as well as a novel, and half of another novel. I have so many ideas, and not enough time. The ones I wrote were mostly short, and most were about Hap when he was younger. Some include Leonard. Those came quickly, and I have two more started. I wrote a horror story as well, and Kasey and I are about to start a horror tale. My son and I are writing a screenplay.

MAG: Well, I just want to say that this has been a real pleasure and a thrill. Not only are you a talented author, you’re also a true gentleman. I look forward to more stories from you in the future.

JRL: Thank you so much.

Joe Lansdale has a website that is updated frequently and features a free short story every week: http://www.joerlansdale.com/
His work is also available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble:

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