Wednesday, June 19, 2019

20Q7A: An interview with Danger Slater

20 Questions, 7 Answers is an interview series for writers of genre fiction. Each author receives the same batch of 20 questions, but they may only answer 7.

This week's guest is Danger Slater.

-----

What's your latest book, and how does it differ from your previous work?

DS: It's called Impossible James and differs from the other works in that the story and characters are different. Haha. It's about birth and death and infinite regression, and relationships, and obsession, and horrifying body modification, and corporate culture/greed, and it's about fathers and sons, and nature versus nurture. I think I get better with each new book, so let's just say it's the best thing I've ever written.

If you could invent a new sport, what would it be like?

DS: In high school my friends and I would play a game we called Power Thunderball which I don't think there were many rules to except it involved nets and hitting each other with balls a la dodgeball. I think we borrowed the name/idea from that Upright Citizens Brigade show they used to have on Comedy Central.

What's the best movie, new or old, that you've seen for the first time in the past 3 months?

DS: The Beach Bum by Harmony Korine and starring Matthew McConaughey blew me away. It's so...singular in its point of view, and so unwavering in its tone, aesthetic, and delivery. It made me happy and sad in equal parts and really helped show a lot of the world from a new perspective. I thought it was an amazing film. Plus it features the Snoop Dogg/Jimmy Buffet duet you didn't know you needed.

If you could be reincarnated as a sentient but inanimate object, what would you like to be?

DS: Scarlett Johansson's chapstick.

What is your writing environment like? (Are you out in public or in seclusion? Is there noise? Is there coffee? Do you type on a laptop or write longhand on lined notebook paper?)

DS: It varies. I'll write in bed some days, or in the living room at the coffee table. Other days I'll pack up all my stuff and go to the library and write there. And yes, there's coffee involved. Lots of coffee.

What happens when you die?

DS: Your body goes to a morgue where scientists are allow to take parts of it for their Frankenstein monsters. That is what being an organ donor means, right?

What's your secret?

DS: I let my cat write my last book for me. He's just a dumb cat. He didn't know I stole it. Sucker.

-----

Danger Slater is the Wonderland Award winning author of I Will Rot Without You, Puppet Skin, He Digs a Hole, and Impossible James. He is the world's most flammable author.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

20Q7A: An interview with Brian Evenson

20 Questions, 7 Answers is an interview series for writers of genre fiction. Each author receives the same batch of 20 questions, but they may only answer 7.

This week's guest is Brian Evenson.

-----

What's your latest book, and how does it differ from your previous work?

BE: My latest book is called Song for the Unraveling of the World and it's a collection of short stories. Like the book before, A Collapse of Horses, it straddles the line between literature and genre, but I think it embraces genre even more strongly—horror and science fiction in particular: especially those places where horror and science fiction meet.

If it was socially acceptable to wear anything as clothing, how would you dress?

BE: I think, as any sensible person would, that I would wear strips of bacon, artfully arranged and sufficiently cooked that in case I got hungry I could eat some of my outfit. Or maybe normal clothes with a thick belt made of perfectly cooked pork belly.

If you could invent a new sport, what would it be like?

BE: There's a Neo Rauch painting called "Hunt" which involves men in long green coats wearing dark green tyrolean hats and holding hockey sticks while they float though the air, with ice blocks, one frozen comrade, and a half-frozen giant worm below them. If I could figure out a way to cross that with digital artist Pierre Schmidt's "Schuld und Sühne" in which a series of athletes missing part of their legs and preparing to bowl their heads while a giant psychedically distorted head rises above them, then I'd really have something worth playing.

What was your greatest Halloween costume?

BE: My wife once made me a pumpkin costume to take our son trick or treating in, with black triangles for the eyes as well as gigantic googly eyes on top of them. As it turned out, the black triangles looked basically like a bra and the googly eyes made it look vaguely like a peekaboo bra. This was evident to every door we went to. It was my most humiliating Halloween costume but in retrospect may also have been my greatest.

Are you most afraid of ghosts, aliens, or clowns, and why?

BE: Ghosts. Because ghosts are the only one of those three things that are real.

Twilight Zone or Outer Limits?

BE: Twilight Zone, but just barely.

What's the most disgusting thing about the human body?

BE: As Frank Zappa says, the mind. Actually, he calls it the ugliest part, but close enough.

-----

Brian Evenson is the author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection Song for the Unraveling of the World (Coffee House Press 2019). He has also recently published A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press 2016) and the novella The Warren (Tor.com 2016)--the latter was a finalist for a Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the ALA-RUSA award for Best Horror Novel of 2009. His novel The Open Curtain (Coffee House Press) was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. Other books include The Wavering Knife (which won the IHG Award for best story collection), Dark Propertyand Altmann's Tongue. He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes, an NEA Fellowship and a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has been translated into Czech, French, Italian, German, Greek, Hungarian, Japanese, Persian, Russian, Spanish, Slovenian, Swedish, and Turkish. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the Critical Studies Program at CalArts.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

20Q7A: An interview with Glenn Rolfe

20 Questions, 7 Answers is an interview series for writers of genre fiction. Each author receives the same batch of 20 questions, but they may only answer 7.

This week's guest is Glenn Rolfe.

-----

What's your latest book, and how does it differ from your previous work? 

GR: My latest writing endeavor is my venture into the world of Patreon. I’m pushing myself to write more short stories. If you join the page, you’ll see the fruits of those labors. I only have two tiers. A $2 and a $5 tier. You get my monthly short story from what I’m calling the Get Rolfed Short Story Series. Patrons get a mobi of each story at the beginning of the month. So far, I’ve done three - “Orson’s Gas n’ Go” (which is my ode to Tobe Hooper), “What’s My Age Again?” (I don’t want to give anything away about that one), and this month’s selection was a story about a creepy little doll named “Molly”. When I do short stories, it’s all over the place. I have heartfelt pieces, I have guts and gore, I have atmospheric spine-tinglers, weird Twilight Zone-ish pieces, and I’m even trying to step into other genres. A little sci-fi, a little mystery.

I’ve really been getting into designing covers, as well. And with these monthly eBooks, I get to work on that by creating one for each of the stories.

Other than the short stories, I’m posting videos about books and movies, updates on my writing projects, behind the scenes stuff like deleted scenes and first-look chapters of works-in-progress. The upper tier gets all that, plus signed paperback copies of my works going forward. If anyone is interested, like I said, $2 a month gets you quite a bit of bang for your bucks.

Do you have any creative endeavors other than writing fiction (art, music, knitting)?

GR: I’ve been in punk bands forever. I was always the singer, guitarist, main songwriter. Now, I just fiddle around with my acoustic guitar. Every so often, I toss something up on my YouTube page. It was really after I got too busy with my kiddos and working full-time that I had to give up on playing out. I still needed a creative outlet. That’s when I decided to give writing a shot. So far, it’s been amazing.

Who or what is your favorite movie monster, and why?

GR: I’m still very much a werewolf guy. There’s that constant struggle within. We all have the primal urges and instincts inside us. Those base emotions and reactions that go back to being cavemen. And it’s an interesting balancing act to marry that with the intelligence and reason most of us have developed as a species. No matter how evolved we’ve become, that primal beast is always there, just beneath. It certainly keeps us on our toes. I just watched The Ted Bundy Tapes, the new movie on Netflix. Serial killers are certainly an example of what can happen if the monster inside wins.

What's the best movie, new or old that you've seen for the first time in the past 3 months? 

GR: I saw the Avengers: End Game. That was a pretty emotional ride. I can’t say I left the theater feeling good. I think we all sort of wanted that happy big-movie ending, but what we got was something much closer to real life. It was certainly heart-wrenching.

I also caught The Changeling for the first time ever on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. There’s just something great about going back to the 70s and watching the way people used to react to things pre-tech days. It certainly adds to the spooky factor. And that opening scene, man, that was a heavy shot to start with. I really like ghost stories and hauntings, so this one was great to finally see. I love 70s and 80s horror flicks better than most of today’s stuff, for sure.

If you could survive on one food for the rest of your life with no health repercussions, what would it be?

GR: Probably spaghetti. I mean, I love pizza and hamburgers, but I don’t think I could ever get sick of spaghetti.

What is your writing environment like? (Are you out in public or in seclusion? Is there noise? Is there coffee? Do you type on a laptop or write longhand on lined notebook paper?) 

GR: My preferred writing spot would be at the desk in my bedroom, late at night. Everyone is asleep. All the lights are off. It’s easier for me to disappear into my work. It also adds to the creepy factor when I’m in the middle of a hair-raising scene. I’ve certainly been jumped by my cat or one of my kids while writing those scenes.

I’ve got my headphones on, pumping in scene appropriate music. Love songs for romantic moments, scary scores for death scenes, maybe a little Danzig. Or if I’m writing in a specific year, I’ll pumped songs or albums from that era. I’ve also gone ahead and created playlists or soundtracks for particular stories that I’ll write to.

I like to have a candle burning for mood light (my favorite being a hazelnut crème). I do all my writing on my home computer or my laptop.

I only recently started outlining a few of my stories. For that, I start with all the brainstorming and free writing in a notebook. When I think I’ve got the story, I’ll type it up and continue revising.

What happens when you die? 

GR: I hope someone cries for me like I did for some of our heroes at the end of the new Avengers movie. Honestly, I hope something. I’d love to see my dad and brother again. If I could write the script, we’d be at the beach - beers, burgers, fries, sun and sea. Maybe Elvis and Joe Strummer are doing 45-minute sets on the pier. That would be my paradise.

If it’s we just blackout and that’s it, I guess I won’t notice, right? But I really hope it’s more.

-----

Glenn Rolfe is an author from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is a Splatterpunk Award nominee and the author of The Window, Becoming, Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Abram's Bridge, Boom Town, Things We Fear, and the collections, Slush, and Land of Bones.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

20Q7A: An interview with Ania Ahlborn

20 Questions, 7 Answers is an interview series for writers of genre fiction. Each author receives the same batch of 20 questions, but they may only answer 7.

This week's guest is Ania Ahlborn.

-----

If You See Her available here
Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what? Is it different than what you listen to when you're not writing?

AA: It depends on the day, but most of the time I do; typically soundtracks, because I find them less distracting. My current favorite is the soundtrack to The Witch. It’s just absolutely eerie. Is this different from what I listen to when I’m not writing? Well, let’s see…I listened to a bunch of Spongebob Squarepants Christmas songs this afternoon, and it’s May.

What was your greatest Halloween costume?

AA: I used to go all-out for Halloween, not so much in recent years. One year, my husband and I were Lydia Deetz and Beetlejuice, which was a lot of fun. There was another year where I spent weeks constructing my costume. It was kind of an Alice in Wonderlandesque dark queen thing, where I had constructed this massive collar that sat on my shoulders in an explosion of (fake) black peacock feathers. It was pretty epic.

Are you most afraid of ghosts, aliens, or clowns, and why?

AA: Aliens. I’ve never fully understood coulrophobia, and while I do think the philosophy behind the existence of ghosts is pretty unnerving, aliens take the cake. I mean, think about it. Our universe is practically infinite. What are the odds that we’re the only ones in it? Zero to none. We have a photo of a black hole now. A black hole! What’s in there? (You’re going to say nothing, but my brain doesn’t work that way.) What’s beyond it? (Don’t make me say it again.) What if there are alternate dimensions? What if that movie, Fire in the Sky, is accurate? Remember that movie? God, that movie gave me the creeps.

Brother available here
Have you traveled outside your home country, and if so, where? Where would you like to go that you haven't been yet?

AA: Yes! I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled the world quite a bit. I was born in Poland and went back to visit with my parents when I was in junior high. Beyond that, I’ve been to Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, Belgium, England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Czechia. There are so many more places I’d love to visit. Scandinavia. Greece. Croatia. Romania (Transylvania, of course). The Philippines. French Polynesia. The list goes on and on…

What is your writing environment like? (Are you out in public or in seclusion? Is there noise? Is there coffee? Do you type on a laptop or write longhand on lined notebook paper?)

AA: I used to be a desk person. Then I turned into a couch person. And now that I’m a mom, I’m a how-much-time-before-nap-time-is-over person. I have a little corner in a room of our house that we’ve dubbed ‘the sitting room’, where I sit in an Ikea rocking chair with my feet up on an ottoman and my laptop on my lap. A latte (not a coffee, but an actual latte that comes from my espresso machine, which I love as much as Gollum loved his ring) is never out of reach. Or an iced coffee…and, of course, that damn baby monitor.

What's the most disgusting thing about the human body?

AA: Oh my god...you’re asking someone who went through the experience of birthing a human being and then having to live through the after-effects. If you’re a woman and haven’t had a baby, or if you’re a dude, you have no idea the level of disgusting the human body can achieve. I mean, it’s brutal.

And after that awesome lead-in, let’s just go with poop.

What's your secret?

AA: This is the part where I’m supposed to say, “if I told you, I’d have to kill you!” with a I’m-hilarious chortle, right? Comedy!

My secret is that I have no secret. I don’t know what I’m doing 99% of the time for 99% of the things. My second secret is that I’m super boring and quite introverted and, you know, just leave me to watch Netflix on my couch, okay? My third secret is that I have no secrets. Seriously, I overshare way too easily. Does it show?

-----

Born in Ciechanow Poland, Ania has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and sometimes morbid sides of life. Her earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from the large wooded cemetery. She'd spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so that everyone had their equal share.

Ania's first novel, SEED, was self-published. It clawed its way up the Amazon charts to the number one horror spot, earning her a multi-book deal and a key to the kingdom of the macabre. Seven years later, her work has been lauded by the likes of Publishers Weekly, New York Daily News, and the New York Times.

She hopes to one day be invited to dinner at Stephen King's place, where she will immediately be crushed beneath the weight of her imposter syndrome.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

20Q7A: An interview with Alex Smith

20 Questions, 7 Answers is an interview series for writers of genre fiction. Each author receives the same batch of 20 questions, but they may only answer 7.

This week's guest is Alex Smith.

-----

What's your latest book, and how does it differ from your previous work?

AS: My book is called ARKDUST. It's my only book! It's a collection of short stories that have appeared in zine format as well as on my old tumblr blog where I wrote and posted superhero stories. I decided to collect the best of those, tidy them up a bit, and booki-fy em. I also included two new stories. The stories are weird, wild science fiction stories with cyberpunk and superhero elements told from an Afrofuturist perspective. They feature Black and POC queer characters in lead roles doing heroic, dumb, weird, noisy things.

Do you have any creative endeavors other than writing fiction (art, music, knitting)?

AS: Yeah, I have often referred to myself as a jack of all trades, master of one (1), which the one being writing (I am gonna assume - I think I'm pretty dam good at it!) I sing for a band called Solarized (solarized.bandcamp.com) and play keys in a post-punk,noise-pop band called Rainbow Crimes (rainbowcrimes.bandcamp.com). I also DJ, curate music/art/literary events, draw, act (I have an IMDb page!) and dabble in fashion. Right now, a big passion of mine is collage art; as a zine and flyer maker I've sort of fallen into collage as a medium of expression and I've been doing it more and more, even getting commissions and displaying my art on walls in public. I kinda wish I could stick to one discipline, perhaps I'd have "made it" by now if I had hyper-concentrated. But I enjoy so many different artistic mediums so I've grown to accept the parts of me that are always discovering new ways of expression.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what? Is it different than what you listen to when you're not writing?

AS: For the longest time I listened to Godspeed You Black Emperor! to write to, which I found out recently isn't that unique a thing! Much of ARKDUST was written to the Chromatics album Kill for Love because of its cinematic qualities and retrofuturist feel. Lately I find I need more soundscapes than actual songs, like I'll listen to selected stuff from William Basinski or Abul Mogard or Space Afrika. And film soundtracks that are sparse and cinematic like Annihilation, The Signal, Moonlight, Tron: Legacy and both Blade Runners. I have integrated all of these things into my everyday listening habits as well, so I'll just be bopping along up and down the streets or at home chilling playing this kinda stuff right alongside Moor Mother, Cardi B, Public Enemy, Soul Glo, etc. Also a healthy dose of synthwave bands like Midnight, Le Cassette, Timecop1983, Kristine or afrofuturist beatmakers like John Morrison, HPrizm, DJ.Fresh, Actress, Fhloston Paradigm, Joker. It all makes me feel like I'm in an 80's cyberpunk movie as I move through the Philadelphia streets.

Are you most afraid of ghosts, aliens, or clowns, and why?

AS: Probably ghosts because of their unpredictability. It seems like poltergeists are almost always angry when they come back (or never leave?) and they're just disembodied energy that wasn't "solved" or whatever when it was on our plane of existence. Chill out ghosts! Ya'll scary as fuck!

What are your 3 favorite comic books (standalone novels or ongoing series) of all time?

AS: This is a really tough question, there are a quite a few comics I love and all for different reasons. Hmm... I'm gonna say, the Grant Morrison run on Doom Patrol, including his Flex Mentallo mini-series (since Flex debuted in Doom Patrol, making it a spin off), which was/is essential to my own growth as a writer. I'm going to say Keith Giffen's Legion of Super-Heroes story known as the 5 Year Gap, which also had a profound impact on me, the concepts introduced in this book concepts introduced in this book continue to blow me away, even to this day. It also introduced me to the Legion of Super-Heroes, my favorite team of supers. This last one will be really hard to pick because no matter what I say, I'm going to wake up in the middle of the night and think, "shit, I shoulda said this one!" So I'm gonna talk about one specific comic book: Uncanny X-Men #255. I read it as a kid and was mortified. It featured cyborgs killing the mutants, and kind of shocked me into the reality that every time superheroes go into battle, they do so with real stakes at hand. There's a summary of it here, which doesn't do it justice to the terror I felt as a young'un reading this for the first time.

If you could share a beverage with any fictional character, who would it be, and what would you drink?

AS: Hmm, probably a really nice handpoured or french pressed decaf from the 3rd or 4th best coffee shop in any of the major cities and it would be with Bouncing Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes. I would spend the entire time staring into his beautiful doey eyes. He reminds me of my partner Shane!

What's your secret?

AS: Fight bad guys, kiss some beards, cartoons tell you everything, do karate, meditate, drink the sickest coffee, smash your head on the punk rock, all cops are bad, black lives matter, and silence = death.

-----

Alex Smith lives in the seams in the cloth of existence where he desperately stitches together universes with one hand and with the other, armed with an espresso tamp, makes valiant attempts to keep his lights on. 

A member of the sci-fi artist/activist collective Metropolarity, founder of the queer sci-fi reading series Laser Life, and curator of the retro-futurist electro mash-up art-jam Chrome City, Alex's stories and writings embolden the weird, strange, and revolutionary dichotomy of being Black and queer in a world that marginalizes both. 

Selected by Rosarium Publishing for Stories for Chip an anthology dedicated to the writing of Samuel Delany, and for Black Quantum Futurism's Space-Time Collapse: From the Congo to the Carolinas, it's Smith’s flash fiction collection Gang Stalk Oprah, self-published sci-fi zine A R K D U S T and super-hero space opera comic book BELIEVERS that will kidnap you, convert you, shoot you in the leg and then set you free.