Wednesday, September 18, 2019

20Q7A: An interview with Michael Kelly

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 Michael Kelly.


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

My third collection of short fiction, ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER SEE, has just been released. In many ways, it's not all that different than my previous two collections in the sense that these are odd stories that share that liminal space between horror and weird fiction. What is different, perhaps, is that this collection is less speculative, less outre, than my previous work. I'm telling the same stories in a more realist fashion.

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

I play guitar. I have a couple of acoustics, a couple of electrics, and a bass. I don't write songs or play original material. I cover rock and metal and folk and blues. I find playing music a great cathartic, soul-cleansing endeavor. Mind, I'm not very good. I just enjoy strumming and plucking the strings and making some noise.

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?

No, I don't. Strange, yes, considering my passion for music and guitar. But I need dead silence when I write. I need to concentrate. Whenever I've tried to write to music I just find myself getting caught up in the music, carried away. Then I reach for the guitar and pretty soon two hours are gone and the writing day is shot. I need as little distraction as possible.

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

I just recently saw THE BLACKCOAT'S DAUGHTER and thought it was excellent. Oz Perkins is a really interesting filmmaker. I quite enjoyed I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE, and he's got another film out soon, GRETEL & HANSEL. Quite intrigued to see what he does with Paul Tremblay's book A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS.

Twilight Zone or Outer Limits?

Oh, wow, tough choice. Twilight Zone by a hair, I'd say. But I think Night Gallery topped them both for exceptional psychological horror.

What happens when you die?

You cease to exist, except as memory. But, for some time, the hair in your ears continue to grow, weed-like. Then you're put in the ground to rot, or incinerated to dust. I believe the ear hair lives on.

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

Ear hair!! Actually, so many gross things: toe nails; penises; the epiglottis; teeth. But I'm sticking with ear hair. Disgusting!!


Michael Kelly is the former Series Editor for the Year's Best Weird Fiction. He’s a Shirley Jackson Award-winner, and a World Fantasy Award nominee. His fiction has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Black Static, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21 & 24, Postscripts, Weird Fiction Review, and has been previously collected in Scratching the Surface, Undertow & Other Laments, and All the Things We Never See. He is Editor-in-Chief of Undertow Publications.