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  • The Demon By Sean M. Thompson Part 1

    PROLOGUE
    July 22, 2016

    She paced the room, trying to gather her thoughts while it was still possible. The quality of the light spoke of broken people soon to be lost forever. Every sound was excruciating, from the ticking of the clock on the wall, to the faint splashing sounds of the cars on the street outside.
    She needed to do this while she was still in control. While her grasp was tight, effective, true.
    A car horn startled her, made her scan the room, frantic, desperate to find the space remained as ordinary as seconds before. Never had she been so cognizant of the passage of time, of the effects of perception.
    A cursory look confirmed the kitchen, the bathroom, the furniture, everything in the apartment was normal. Haphazardly strewn like clothes after a night of heavy-drinking, sure, but not in completely different places as she’d found it so many times before.
    This was important.
    This was very important.
    Her sense of reality of late had grown thin as early spring ice, and she needed the room she sat within to stay, to remain as it was, as it always had been; before this whole mess had started: before the very world around her began to constrict tight as a boa, cold -blooded, ravenous.
    She sat at the desk, opened a tab in her web browser, went to Facebook, and started to type a new post. Outside, rain beat a steady rhythm on her window, and set her confession to a tune.

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    She shut her eyes tight, leaned back in the leather chair. Gritted her teeth. Pushed the breath out of her lungs like focusing her energy, like meditation: a gathering of all her sanity into one last stand.
    One final push.
    To reach out.
    To stop this thing.
    She wasn’t strong enough to do it on her own, anymore.
    She was about to click the trackpad to post the status, and stopped.
    In that moment she knew all that she had been, all her hopes, and dreams, loves, and hates, everything that formed her, made her unique, all of it, all of the memories, and the photographs stored in her mind, every aspect…
    It was all lost forever.
    Where she had once seen a full status, many words, now there were only five.
    She posted the status, grabbed her coat, and left the apartment.
    Out into the storm.
    On the bright screen in the empty apartment, the five words shined through the darkness.

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    CHAPTER ONE
    July 27th, 2016

    Cort sat on his leather couch, the humm of the air conditioner mingling with Alice Cooper screaming about being eighteen, and liking it, loving it. He had his phone open to Twitter, as he so often did after work in the evenings. A half eaten chicken parm with ziti sat on the coffee table in front of him, beside an empty can of cheap light beer.
    Thirty-one years of age, single, and a relative loner save for a handful of friends, Cort thought his lot in life was, more or less, acceptable. His apartment was in a nice part of Boston, close to the waterfront, which he could afford mostly due to a mutual friend of the family who owned an apartment complex in this location, and cut him a discount.
    Not that he couldn’t have afforded it without the discount, but it made life a little easier, and provided him with a monetary cushion having a few hundred hacked off the rent every month.
    He didn’t have any pets, and for the time being, he didn’t have much of a desire to rectify his lack of cuddly creatures hovering by his legs. Maybe, someday, he told himself, he’d get a dog, or a cat, or both, but as it stood currently the half-listened to television was good enough.
    Cort was scrolling through his Twitter feed of friends, celebrities, and strangers posting out their thoughts about the upcoming election, food they’d just eaten, or memes of cats, when he came upon one of his friends, Scott, or rather @ScottiBGood, and a tweet which alarmed him.

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    There were a few comments under the tweet, one of which was from a mutual friend named Abie, saying she hadn’t seen Katie, and stating she’d read a weird status from her a few days before her disappearance.
    Cort opened up his Facebook app, and searched for Katie’s profile. He went back a few days, reading through posts, hoping for a clue as to either Katie’s whereabouts, or what Abie meant about Katie posting strange things.
    Right away, it was obvious what Abie was talking about. There were posts about “the things in the basement,” posts about “the people in the walls” and about “furniture rearranging itself.” And some of the posts were even less cohesive: hard to pin down in the way a piece of abstract art is hard to interpret, which is a good thing when it comes to paintings, and a bad thing when it comes to reflections of the human psyche.

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    Going through one particularly odd status about a burning sensation (which Cort assumed had to do with some sort of rash) he noticed a guy had commented with a hashtag #TheDemon. Cort Googled “The Demon,” and couldn’t find anything substantial. There was an IMDB listing of a really low budget looking film from 2013, an amazon listing for a book, but the third link seemed to explain what the guy on Facebook was referencing. It was a short Wikipedia entry, and anything read off a Wiki link had to be taken with a grain of salt, but Cort dove in anyway.
    Reading through the article, what he gathered was “The Demon” was some sort of new computer virus. However, there really wasn’t anything of note described, such as how to avoid getting the virus, or what the effects were on your computer, or phone, or tablet. The main thing the entry emphasized was a red flash on the screen:

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    “Weird,” he said.
    Below this was a curious entry to the page, at the bottom, which appeared to be added only a week prior by what he assumed was another person. This short paragraph mentioned possible “changes in behavior,” and “hallucinations.”
    It had to be bullshit though, and it was just a Wiki entry, so Cort shrugged it off.
    Cort was about to check twitter for #TheDemon when there was a knock at the door.
    “Who is it?” he called out.
    “Scott. Let me in, dude.”
    Cort, annoyed at someone visiting without an invitation, begrudgingly let his friend inside. After all, Scott was someone he’d known since college, and one of the few friends who would actually visit Cort, so why alienate him?
    “I just read one of your tweets about Katie. Any luck yet?” Cort asked.
    “No. None. It’s like she just fucking vanished.”
    “Yeah. What was up with some of that bizarre crap she wrote? Some of it was pretty damn spooky.”
    “Definitely. And that’s what she didn’t delete,” Scott said.
    “She deleted some stuff she posted?”
    “Oh yeah, man. The stuff still up is tame compared to some of the ones I read she deleted.”
    Cort didn’t know whether he should be excited he was getting involved in a mystery, or freaked out someone he considered a casual acquaintance was missing, and may or may not have had a psychotic break. Far off, he heard the horn of a boat coming into Boston Harbor. He’d gotten used to the sound, the way anyone in a city takes for granted certain noises, such as cars outside, or, more accurately, car horns.
    “You want a beer?” Cort asked, already getting up to grab one for himself.
    “Yeah, but just one. I told Katie’s mom I’d ask around at a few places for her tonight.”
    “I’ll come with if it’s close by,” Cort said.
    Cort had been on the fence on whether he wanted to go all in with the search, but it appeared that in a split second he’d decided his docket was empty enough he could get involved in the disappearance of a friend of a friend.
    “Yeah, one’s a few blocks down. Other is near MIT, so I was just going to Uber there.”
    “Is it Stacy?”
    “Hey, don’t get any idea Casanova.”
    They sat in silence for a few, Scott drinking his beer, looking like he wanted to say something, but wasn’t quite sure how to start.
    “You look like a bug crawled up your ass. Spit it out, what do you want to say?”
    “I was just thinking about something Katie told me about two weeks ago.”
    Cort waited, but Scott wasn’t going on. He got frustrated, and moved his hand in a circular motion, the index finger in a wheel in front of him as if to say go on.
    “She told me she got that Demon computer virus.”

    Stacy Danver’s place was only a few blocks from Cort’s. He’d had been trying to get Stacy in the sack for many years, and had only recently stopped his attempts.
    “Hey, Stacy,” Cort said.
    Stacy just stared at him, then turned her gaze to Scott.
    “I haven’t talked to Katie in over a month,” Stacy said.
    Scott thanked her, Cort gave her a wave which was summarily ignored, and they walked down the street to a bench, while Scott used his phone to arrange for an Uber to drive them to Abie’s house.
    “Do you know a lot about computer virus’?” Scott asked.
    “I know very little about them.”
    This was actually an understatement. Despite having grown up around computers, Cort barely knew the ins and outs of the machines, or really about a lot of technology in general. If he ever ran into issues with technology, he’d either call his dad, ask a friend, or browse the web if he still could for an answer.
    “My dad might know a little, he works in a government office.”
    Thinking of his dad, Cort checked his text messages, and saw the one from the day before which read:

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    “Do you think that’s even possible? A computer virus making you go nuts?”
    “I think it’s kind of nuts to assume that’s even possible,” Cort said.
    “But, think about it. We’ve got this huge influx of information coming at us all day nowadays with these fuckin’ things,” Scott said, shaking his cell phone over his head.
    “But I think people just have shitty attention spans from that, Scott. People don’t go nuts like Katie because of it. Maybe she just had a history of mental illness, have you ever thought about that?”
    A blue sedan parked by the curb, and Scott got up, made his way to the car. After confirming this was in fact Emmanuel, the right driver, they got in and the man, smiling, told them to buckle up.
    Some alert or another set Cort’s phone to vibrating in his pocket, but he ignored it. He was content to stare out the window at the city as they drove, and lose himself in his thoughts for a while.
    Cort had always liked Boston, despite having only lived in his apartment for a little over three years. He found the city to be clean, and enjoyed that it didn’t quite reek as much like piss as some of the bigger ones did. Sure, the rent was absolutely outrageous, and a lot of the people could be aggressive and standoffish, but it was a place which felt as natural to him as breathing.
    His job was fairly mind-numbing, but it paid the bills, and he was getting by, despite living alone, or perhaps because of it. And really, nowadays, did anyone like their job?
    Dusk crept over the brightly lit office buildings across the Charles river, and the view was postcard perfect. Even with all the craziness with Katie going missing, Cort was enjoying his week, despite it being only Wednesday.
    He’d always enjoyed the summer, probably run off from when he was a kid. Summer meant freedom: meant fun in the sun, bikinis, and doing stupid shit you hoped wouldn’t lead to lasting injury or a short, stern talking to by the cops. Summer meant food that would likely give you a spare tire, and perhaps a drunken hook up with someone who never called you back even after you’d left several messages.
    Cort had grown up in the suburbs roughly twenty minutes outside of Boston. His father was of Mexican descent, and his mother was Irish. His mom always liked to joke that it was a role reversal of sorts, as she’d know a lot of latin women who got hitched to Irish men. Of course, come to that, his mother didn’t always exercise the most tact when it came to discussing… well, anything, really.
    He was glad his parents still got along, despite the divorce. Thankfully, they’d stuck out the marriage until Cort had graduated from college. Well, thankfully for him. The holidays were difficult, but he understood, and still loved and got along with both of his parents the way they still loved and got along with each other.
    “We’re here,” Scott said.
    Cort pulled himself out of the past, back to the present.
    “Let’s go see if Abie’s home,” Scott said, and they exited the sedan, waved back at Emmanuel as he waved, and drove off.

    “Come on in guys.”
    Abie’s place was small, but it was cozy. She made them tea, and offered them Girl Scout cookies, which Cort declined due to a diet he was more or less failing to adhere to already. Scott grabbed a handful of cookies, and Abie deposited the box back in the kitchen, then grabbed a stack of papers, and handed them over to Scott.
    “What are these?” Scott asked.
    “I screen-grabbed messages on Facebook and Twitter Katie deleted.”
    “Jesus… these are fucking horrendous,” Scott said.
    Scott handed Cort a page of Facebook posts.

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    “Holy Christ,” Cort said.
    He read further.

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    “I can’t read more of this shit right now,” Cort said, thrusting the papers back to Abie.
    “Oh, it’s really wretched stuff. Katie loved animals. I’m telling you, that’s not Katie,” Abie said.
    “Did she have any mental illness in her family?” Scott asked.
    “No. Both of her parents are still around, in their eighties. Both sharp as tacks, neither one had any obvious mental stuff. I mean, her dad gets anxious sometimes, but not enough he ever got treatment. I’m telling you, I’ve been friends with Katie since middle school. She’s as stable as they get.”
    They sat in silence, neither of them willing to speak first. Finally, Cort broke the silence.
    “Do you think she actually did this stuff?”
    “I honestly don’t know,” Abie said, and ran her hand through her auburn hair, a nervous gesture.
    “Shouldn’t we call the cops?” Cort asked.
    “Already did, and they can’t find her. Also, you know, they got more to worry about than a fully grown woman who might just be in a motel on drugs for all they know.”
    “Did she do drugs?” Scott asked.
    “No. She’d have a drink every once and awhile, smoked pot a few times in college, but that was it,” Katie said.
    “So do you think there was any sort of trigger that set her off? Anything really stressful she’s been going through?” Cort said.
    “No. She loved her job, she was single but had been seeing a new guy, and they seemed to really be hitting it off. “
    Abie stood, made her way to the window, as if the sight of human beings was too much for her at the moment. She stood with her back to them, and stared out at the street.
    “I just keep thinking how she told me she got that computer virus.”
    She turned back to face them, slowly.
    “That’s ludicrous, right? There’s no possible way something you see on the internet can make you go insane, right?”
    Cort got up his nerve, and grabbed another paper, this one with a list of tweets. He scanned down to the last one on the page, and felt like the temperature in the room drop twenty degrees.

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    To be continued every month on the 13th! The rest of the parts are over at THE CONQUEROR WEIRD! GO THERE!


  • Random-Ass Interview: Gwendolyn Kiste

    Gwendolyn

    Gummy bears or Swedish fish?

    Gummy bears, for sure. When I was around four years old, I couldn’t quite fathom how Swedish fish candies and those paper fortune telling fish could both exist simultaneously as separate entities, so to this day, I always expect a Swedish fish to start curling up in my palm like an evil red sentient thing. *shivers*

    Fortunately, my Gummy bears have formed a substantial army that is prepared at any time to go to battle against the Swedish fish, on land or by sea, so the world is safe… for now.

    Do you like living in Pennsylvania?

    Can anyone truly like living in a state founded by uptight Quakers? To this day, the government holds our booze hostage. It’s sad too, because we live in Pennsylvania and if anyone needs booze, it’s definitely Pennsylvanians.

    Booze melancholy aside, I do like Pittsburgh, even if the weird crisscrossed roads were designed by an angry sober Quaker who wanted to punish drivers everywhere because he couldn’t buy beer on Sundays. And I also like my house and little stretch of land, which I always bill in my bio as “an abandoned horse farm,” both because that’s true and because that description makes it sound weirder and creepier than it probably is.

    Has anyone ever told you “go fly a kite, Kiste!”

    No, but seriously, I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to say that, so thank you.

    What excites you about horror fiction?

    I love the possibility. With speculative fiction in general, you can explore anything—on this world or in the universe at large. Plus, my personal life is big on the existential dread, so horror is a good outlet for that.

    What annoys you about horror fiction?

    Stories that rely on overused tropes. I’m all for incorporating the old standbys, but try something new with them. I imagine if you could dig deep into the primordial collective unconsciousness of storytelling and conjure up a physical representation of a vampire or werewolf, the first thing it would tell you is, “Help me. I’m bored.” Killing hapless villagers is great, but it only gets you so far.

    Fortunately, what I’ve seen lately in horror fiction is a complete overhaul of these tropes as well as the development of entirely new creatures, so this criticism is probably more directed at horror cinema, in particular studio projects. Silly Hollywood.

    Do you have a preferred time of day, or day of the week you like to write?

    As long as it’s not super early in the morning, I’m good to go. And by super early, I mean before noon.

    How often do you personally shop a story before you give up?

    It depends on the story. If I really believe in it and I’ve gotten positive feedback from my beta readers, I’m like Don Quixote, sending out that story and fighting windmills all over the publishing industry. The piece could get a dozen rejections, but I’ll keep going.

    There have been other stories, though, that I’ve quit after one or two submissions, if the editor provides feedback that confirms what I thought might not be working is indeed not working. Malfunctioning stories can happen; I do my best to learn from the experience and move on.

    Are you offended in the new Muppets show Kermit and Miss piggy get divorced, and Kermit starts dating a younger pig?

    Personally, I have little opinion on the new Muppets, but my husband has a background as a puppet designer, and he’s so generally offended by the new show that I feel like I should say “yes, I am offended,” just to show solidarity.

    If you woke up, and you had extra eyes on the back of your head, what do you think you’d do that day?

    Visit a doctor.

    Boxers or briefs?

    Commando.

    Boxes of briefs?

    Set them on fire.

    Boxers in briefs?

    Briefs atop boxers atop briefs atop boxers. Like dirty nesting dolls.

    You ever had stitches?

    Yes, in my foot and in my gums. Basically, there have been times when stitches have been the only thing holding my body together.

    What story you’ve written scares you the most?

    Probably “Audrey at Night.” The concept—about a woman trying to appease the vengeful spirit of the friend she betrayed—always gave me the creeps. Then last year, Dan Foytik adapted it for The Wicked Library. Thanks to his awesome narration and all the fantastic music and sound effects, I think he totally dialed that creep factor up to eleven.

    For me, there’s nothing better than collaborating with talented people and watching something you already love become even better. The original illustration by Jeanette Andromeda completely put it over the top for me. A great experience all the way around, and certainly one of my scarier stories.

    Who would win in a fight, Joe Pulver, or his mustache?

    I ALWAYS put my money on mustaches. It has to do with my religious beliefs.

    If you could be a Muppet, which one would you want to be?

    I’m going to go expanded Jim Henson universe on this, and say any of the castle goblins in Labyrinth. Oh, if only we could all magic-dance with David Bowie!

    Favorite food?

    Gas station pizza. The greasier, the better.

    Favorite dude?

    It’s a total copout, but I have to go with my husband. He coddles me when I need it but also knows when to call me out on my bullshit. It’s a perfect balance, especially for a moody artist like me who needs coddling and tough love in approximately equal measure.

    What you got coming’ out?

    Stories! All my work will be short fiction for the foreseeable future, though hopefully there will be a novel joining the mix at some point soon. I’m always updating my blog and published fiction page, so check me out at gwendolynkiste.com as well as on Twitter (@gwendolynkiste).


  • Random-Ass Interview: Mike Griffin

    bluegriffin


    Are you in fact a Griffin, the magical beast or lore?

    I’m not a creature of myth, but I do possess a lion’s courage and fearsome power, plus the vision of an eagle. Also wings.

    Has anyone ever called you Micheal Michael motorcycle?

    Every Christmas and birthday card I’ve received from my brother Colin, for at least the past 20 years, has been addressed to Michael Pichael Motorcycle, or sometimes he writes MPM and we both know what it means. I think when we were really young, he started calling me Michael Pichael, because little kids think it’s really funny to change a word by one letter. He repeated that over and over, trying to drive me insane. Michael Pichael, Michael Pichael, Michael Pichael, Michael Pichael, until I’d hurl a Coke bottle at his cute little angelic head. Somehow later that nickname crossed with the more familiar Michael Michael Motorcycle rhyme, I guess.

    Do you like Cheez Its?

    I’ve always believed you can tell a lot about someone by the choices they make, especially about really important things. Cheez Its or Cheese Nips? I’m willing to fistfight over this. Cheez Its are so much better.

    Caffeine?

    I think about caffeine a lot. I’ve formulated a caffeine strategy. In college I overused the stuff, the way college kids are inclined to find something they like and overdo it until they almost poison themselves. Like, you know, four Super Big Gulps per day. One time right after college, I entered a Three-Day Novel contest and drank two cases of Coke during that spree. I still depend heavily on caffeine but I’ve become wary of it. I think the stimulant effect is desirable, but for me, it comes with an edginess or anxiety which is counterproductive to my writing. I find I’m often better being a little undercaffeinated. Give me enough coffee to wake up, then some sugar, and no more coffee the rest of the day. This is completely the opposite of how I always did it before, but it seems to work better.

    Nicotene?

    Nah, I don’t even mess with the stuff. I’m mystified why people want to get themselves hooked on a drug with such nasty downsides. Of course, that’s what we all think about OTHER people’s drugs. We’re defensive and protective about our own.

    Valvoline?

    I don’t know, man. In the olden days, people had to put oil in their cars. Now with synthetic oil, it’s like you drive around for the entire life of the car with the oil that was in the engine when you bought it. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

    Do you think of yourself as a weird fiction writer?

    I don’t exactly think of myself as a weird fiction writer, but I realize other people think of me that way, and I’m not arguing against it. After a while it’s hard not to think people expect a certain something from you. You can defy it, go along with it, or something in between, but no matter what, you’re aware of the preconception so it affects you somewhat. I also recognize these categories can be a useful shorthand, like if you meet another writer and they ask what you do, and you don’t have time to go into all your influences and what your work is like. You can just say “Weird fiction, quiet horror” and they get it well enough.

    How’s Oregon?

    Oregon’s pretty great, really. I’ve lived here almost my entire life. It’s funny, growing up in a place and feeling like it’s distinctly minor league, too small, too quiet, too far removed from everything cool in the world… then to grow up and find it’s maybe the coolest place in the country. I’d like to believe part of this blossoming of Portland’s worldwide reputation is related to my own coming of age. When I was a dorky little kid, Portland halfway sucked. Now that I’m grown up, I’ve made Portland cool. This seems like a pretty good working theory to me.

    You ever written a story that was just bad, and tried to fix it, but just gave up?

    I think everyone comes out with clunkers every once and a while, they just don’t admit it. Not only do I gladly admit that this has happened to me, but some of my best work has grown out of the rotting, abandoned corpse of a story I’d tried and failed to write years before. I first began doing this as a kind of exercise in discipline, and trying to study what worked and didn’t work by examining the deficits in these busted half-stories. While I certainly have dozens of aborted stories to which I never returned, I’ve found that the ideas that have stuck in my head for years after I gave them up, the characters or settings or plots that seemed too compelling to forget, have formed the basis for some of my most interesting work.. It just took a second try, or third, or even more. Sometimes an idea just needs an extra layer, or a change to a character, or requires the story to start in a different place on the timeline. A given story seed can become something else, something quite different and much better.

    Do you like hats?

    I admire men who can wear a hat well, and I have heaps of scorn for men who wear hats badly. I hate few things as much as young guys who wear baseball caps everywhere they go. Sorry, dudes.

    Do you like bats?

    No, but I dig the part of the interview where we fall into a cool kind of Seuss rhythm and rhyme.

    Do you have any particular type of music you listen to when you write?

    Lots of ambient music, some electronica and film soundtracks and jazz. I almost completely avoid writing to music with lyrics because I find the words draw me out of the story and cause distraction. For most stories, I design an iTunes playlist to create a certain mood, either a feel I want to inhabit while I create, or something that suggests the world or the psyche of the story. Sometimes the playlists are several hours long, sometimes they’re short. Not long ago I finished writing a novel that took something lke five months of listening to nothign but Wardruna. I guess for the rest of my life when I hear Wardruna I will think of the settings and characters of that particular story.

    If Scooby Doo was a blood-thirsty murder dog, would we even know it? Like, what if his bumbling persona is just to cover up that he’s been killing indiscriminately for years?

    I got nothing, here.

    You ever had wrist trouble? I wear these tennis wrist wraps, they look silly but actually work well for days I have to write a lot.

    Remember back when everyone had carpal tunnel syndrome. It was like 1999 and everybody had an ergonomic keyboard and all that. I had really sore wrists then. Somehow I manage it now by being careful to face my keyboard squarely, and not at an angle. I think I screwed up my right wrist by sitting so I had to angle that wrist a bit in order to hit the keyboard.

    Are you a morning person?

    Nah, the opposite. After 23 years of the same day job, I’ve found that you can force yourself to get used to waking up fairly early, but I’ll always be wired to feel more comfortable at night, in the dark. I get more creative work done after the day is over, not before it begins. I’m sitting here typing this in the dark, knowing I have to wake up in six hours for work, but I’d rather do it now than go to sleep and wake up earlier to type these answers. I used to think morning people must be pretty stupid and untrustworthy but I’ve softened this view.

    Do you write at night or in the morning, or in the afternoon?

    Most of my writing happens during a day long “door’s shut, leave me the hell alone” binge every Sunday. So morning, afternoon, and evening. I might do 9-14 hours straight. Other than that, I grab 60 minutes whenever I can, either right after work, or late at night, several times per week. I definitely feel different, writing at night. I never write with the lights on, and most of the time when I’m writing, it’s in Scrivener in the “distraction free” full-screen mode, a black background and grey-green text. So the room is DARK, nothing to look at but the words. That’s when I really get submerged in the story and feel the rest of the world disappear.

    Got any pets?

    Yes, a cat. We love the cat but I have to shut her out of the room or else she keeps running into me and yowling for food nonstop. This happened three minutes before I typed these words.

    You got a record label, right?

    I do. In the mid-nineties I took a break from writing, or maybe had a breakdown and couldn’t do it any more, and spent my creative energy working on ambient electronic music. I started a record label called Hypnos and it actually did really well, became a big thing, kept me busy, and it’s been lots of fun. The world is changing, as far as how feel people about buying music. Most of the people I knew who owned indie labels around the same time gave up. Hypnos is still going strong. My wife does a great job running the mail order. I just need to dedicate more time to putting out new CDs on the label. Life is busy!

    I got this song I just wrote “Pissin’ out my ass.” It’s about the struggle of the poor in a classist society.
    No, it’s about diarrhea.
    Oh, right, a question…
    Do you watch college basketball?

    Not much, but I watch a fair amount of college football. In fact, I watch every Oregon Ducks football game without fail.

    Who do you think would win in a fight, Ross Lockhart or Justin Steele? Follow up, do you think if they fought tag team style they could beat up a paring if Peter Straub and Stephen King, but a somehow younger straub and king?

    As much as I think beating people up is pretty important, it makes me sad to think about these two swell guys fighting. Steely wins the tale of the tape, but Lockhart’s got grit. Ross is the kind of guy who’d slice the guts out of some fool who said the wrong word, Ross smiling the whole time, then immediately afterward, sit back with Elinor in his lap, savor a fancy brew and post a picture and some tasting notes to Twitter as if nothing outlandish had ever happened. Justin’s got another decade more seasoning at least before he attains that level of badassdom. Now, just because Steely doesn’t quite match Lockhart as a threat, I have to say these two would easily dro the hammer all over Straub and King even in their heyday-est of heydays.

    You like bananas?

    I eat a banana every morning. Bananas are fundamental.

    Got any plugs?

    Just one, but I think it’s a big one. My collection The Lure of Devouring Light is coming out in April. The book includes eleven stories, more than half the word count previously unpublished. It also has my novella Far From Streets, which many people seemed to want to read, but they missed out on the original out of print release. I feel very lucky to be involved with Word Horde, to work with Ross Lockhart, and also to joint an incredible roster of talented writers.

    Thanks for the interview, Sean!


  • Random-Ass Interview: Kristi Demeester

    kristi

    Kristi Demeester is a writer to keep your eye on.

    Cats or dogs?

    Dogs forever. Somehow I ended up with three, and I’m constantly covered in dog hair.

    Does this look infected?

    Maybe don’t stick your pecker in everything.

    Pumpkin pie or apple?

    Apple.

    Have you ever written a story you had to edit for so long you lost any sense of it?

    Not that I necessarily lost sense of it, but so long that I scrapped it because I couldn’t ever see it working.

    Can anyone pull off velour?

    Tom Hardy probably could. But he’s the only one I’d ever want to see in it.

    Tea or coffee?

    Coffee. Black like my soul. Tea should only be had over ice and sugared to the point of diabetes.

    Do you think there’s a paint color that could make your eyes bleed, and make you hallucinate?

    If there is one, I want some. For my enemies.

    If Hell is repetition, does that mean that by default life is often Hell?

    This question is too smart for me.

    On longer projects, how do you stay motivated?

    I set a goal for myself last year that I would write 1,000 words a day with a day off here and there. Eventually, it became habit. On days I don’t write, I feel itchy. So keeping that itch away keeps me motivated.

    Do you listen to music when you write?

    Music has to either be something I know so well that it fades into the backdrop or ambient. I listen to a lot of Lull when I write. Last summer, I listened to the It Follows soundtrack over and over while I finished my first novel.

    You find a hidden room in your house. What’s in it?

    Lots and lots of bottles of expensive whiskey.

    Have you ever broken a bone?

    I haven’t. I’ve also never been stung by a bee.

    Do you think a human femur makes a good bludgeoning tool?

    Anything with the appropriate heft makes a good bludgeoning tool.

    Thanks for taking part.

    Thanks so much, Sean!

    Got any plugs?

    My chapbook “Split Tongues” is currently available from Dim Shores Press. My story “All The World When It Is Thin” is in the newest issue of The Dark Magazine. Find me online at www.kristidemeester.com.


  • Random-Ass Interview: Wayne June

    wayne

    Wayne June is an awesome audiobook narrator. Check him out at his Soundcloud, or his official website. Also, he was kind of enough to make this an extra special random-ass interivew. 😉


    Do you ever record in your pajamas?
    Since my studio is in my home, I often brag about being able to work in my bathrobe. I have yet to actually take advantage of the opportunity. And as horrifying as the visual may be, for some reason I feel compelled to confess that I don’t wear pajamas.

    Heads or tails?

    I haven’t really put much thought into it, but in an effort to devise an ad hoc probability distribution with which to consider a procedure of statistical inference, we must realize that if there is a finite number of exhaustive and mutually exclusive events Ak, k = 1, 2, …, K, with nk being the number of favorable outcomes in Ak then P(Ak) = nk / N, where N = n1 + n2 + … + nK.

    If, in remembering our childhood studies in thermodynamics, we further factor in entropy (the measure of the number of specific realizations or microstates that may realize a thermodynamic system in a defined state specified by macroscopic observables) we understand such as a measure of disorder; a lack of order or predictability; a gradual decline into disorder within a closed system (one in which there is no work being performed). I therefore find that leveraging expectation by entertaining a preference for one alternative over another tends to introduce a proclivity for disenchantment by virtue of the absurd assignation of teleological mediation to the collective normative void. As with all indicative propositions expressive of propositional knowledge, we are left with the same question Jürgen Habermas failed to answer in his 1979 essay: “What is Universal Pragmatics?”

    That said… six o’ one, half a dozen of the other.

    Tales or tails?

    Tails.

    Did you ever watch that cartoon, Tailspin?

    Nope.

    Do you like cartoons?

    I do. I like the stuff I grew up with on TV from the so-called “Golden Age” (the 1920s to 1960s). It was mainly produced for theatrical release to be shown before feature films. The older stuff can be really surreal, both in execution and content. I tend to lose interest with the later introduction of limited animation styles.

    Have you ever had a hard time performing a book?

    Some projects are harder than others, but, yeah; …each book presents its own set of challenges. Generally, the pre-read and any necessary research will make a production easier. You’ve got to get a handle on what the author wants to accomplish, what he’s actually “saying” with the story. You’ve got to make performance choices for characters, ensure faithfulness to the backstory, identify the subtext and make decisions while paying attention to the arc of the story. When you work alone you’re wearing a lot of hats: Producer, director, engineer, actor; each comes with its own responsibilities and skill sets. Getting it all together requires preparation, focus, consistency… but if you enjoy the process the hard work can be a lot of fun.

    That’s not news to you; you’ve done some audiobook stuff yourself, as well as your podcasting. How’s that going?

    Oh, wow, well, this is unexpected. The story readings are going okay. As you said before, wearing a lot of hats is tough when you do it all on your own. When it comes to the acting/engineering part I’ll admit I’ve still got a lot to learn. But I love the process, and have always enjoyed performing my stories for people.

    As for the pocasting, Miskatonic Musings is going great! My solo podcast I only update now maybe twice a year, but that’s okay, as it’s turned into more of a place to work on performing my stories. Sadly, without a separate editor, I fear I no longer have the time to do interviews. My desire for audio quality has become stronger in the last few years.

    How’s the writing going?

    It’s going is usually my set answer. I don’t know that people even realize I’m a fiction writer. On my end I feel like I’m incessantly babbling about it, but to someone who say, only reads these interviews and might listen to Miskatonic Musings, you’d probably just assume all I did was non-fiction stuff like interviews and reviews.
    I shop a story maybe once a month, and I plan to self publish my first fiction collection this summer of 2016. So, in that regard, it’s going good.

    Who are some of your current favorite authors?

    Top of the list is Jason Brant. I’m privileged to be producing some of his stuff on audio, great writer! In Weird Fiction, H.P. Lovecraft is my perpetual favorite. Gawd, there’s a whole “laundry list” of contributors to the genre: William Hope Hodgson, Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, Ambrose Bierce, Sheridan LeFanu, and Edgar Allan Poe, of course… Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury. I’ve recently discovered Thomas Ligotti, he’s a hoot.

    How much would I have to pay you for you to do my voice mail? Do a lot of people ask you that?

    I’ve done anything and everything related to the voice industry over the years, voice mail included. (When I was a volunteer recording for the blind and dyslexic I even voiced a microwave oven owner’s manual!) These days I use a premium pricing strategy which tends to be most effective in achieving my preferred profit structure.

    Speaking of homicidal turkeys, how did you like “Thankskilling”?

    Haha! Dude, that movie is so bad. Also, sorry to hear your email got hacked. (When I wrote this interview, it was around Thanksgiving. But due to email issues, I only found out a week ago Wayne actually never got this interview when I first sent it!)

    I’ve since seen “Santa’s Slay” and am torn which of the two films was worse. I do love the cartoonish elements of each, as I love cartoons.

    How goes the drumming?

    Well I’ve been officially off the road for a while now. I do a pick-up gig once in a while for giggles, but my drums primarily reside in the studio now, where I do informal projects for fun. I’ve got some junk on SoundCloud.

    So you have a home studio, huh? Cuz, I have this radio play about balls of dust that grow sentience, and start a dance group…

    Can’t wait to hear it! I don’t believe you’d find dust in my studio… Or sentience, either, for that matter. As for dancing, Lovecraft said it best: “Almost nobody dances sober, unless they happen to be insane.”

    Who do you think would win in a fight, Bram Stoker or Clive Barker?

    I think I’d have to give it to Clive; Bram’s idolization of Walt Whitman and admiration of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, (who harbored intense opposition to the opium trade) make me suspicious.

    Thanks for participating. Got anything to plug?

    Always. I’ve been working with the great team at Red Hook Studios on a Lovecraftian dungeon crawler video game they’ve created called “Darkest Dungeon”. It’s described as being about “the psychological stresses of leading a team of flawed heroes against unimaginable horrors, stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark.” HA! Way cool! I’ve got a new audiobook series by author Jason Brant. Book 1 is called “Ash: a Thriller”, and I’m currently producing Book 2 in the Asher Benson Series, “Madness”. You can find most of my audiobooks on Audible and Vibedeck:

    Wayne June on Audible | • Wayne June on VibeDeck

    And if you contact me anywhere online and butter me up I’ve been known to give a free download code for one of my audiobooks.

    If you do any of these, hook up with me here:

    Wayne June on FaceBook | • Wayne June on Twitter | • Wayne on SoundCloud
    Wayne June on Vimeo |• Wayne June on YouTube |• Wayne June on Instagram
    Wayne June on Google+ | • Wayne June on Pinterest | Wayne on LinkedIn |


  • Random-Ass Interview: Molly Tanzer

    Thetanz

    Molly Tanzer writes stuff and things. You can find her in places.

    Do you like techno music?

    I once owned a copy of that Orbital album with the samples from Star Trek:
    TNG?

    If you made a suit of armor, would it be Molly Tanzer panzer?

    Y…yes? Maybe?

    You seem to be drawn to writing about certain time periods, as many
    authors are. What were/ are some of your favorite time periods to
    write about?
    (I like writing about the near future, as I can make stuff up, and no
    one can say I’m wrong!)

    Well the 17th and 18th centuries are obviously huge for me… my Master’s
    degree is in 18th century English literature and culture, basically, so yeah, I mean, it’s easy for me to just go there and feel comfortable. Plus I love using especially the 18th century as a lens through which to focus on our
    time.

    Favorite cheese?

    Chao is really good, and the new Follow Your Heart blocks and slices are
    great. Uh, I’m vegan! Anyway, I home culture and cure my own cashew
    cheese so that’s actually my favorite but that’s a tough one to recommend.

    Who would win in a food fight, Kelly Link or Neil Gaiman?

    Rufio?

    Favorite animal?

    My cat?

    Favorite manimal?

    M… my husband?

    Do you like animal from The Muppets?

    He’s the red one?

    Do you wish you could just walk away from anyone who asked you
    “where do you get your ideas from?”

    Someone just asked me this on a cruise I took with my mom, but no, I
    didn’t want to walk away because I would have fallen into a river.

    Do you like tea?

    Yes! English breakfast tea is my favorite. Milk first.

    Do you climb trees?

    No. As a kid I fell out of a tree and scraped half my face off, or at least
    that’s how it felt, and I’ve never wanted to since.

    Now, climbing mountains or ruins? All the time!

    Have you ever drank tea in a tree?

    No…

    Have you ever worn a suit?

    Yes, naturally! I had an Ayn Rand thing in high school and I had this totally
    Dagny Taggart blue suit I wore to speech and debate tournaments and felt
    so slick.

    Who would win in a shoot-out: Clint Eastwood from The Good, the
    Bad, and the Ugly or Clint Eastwood from Unforgiven?

    The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

    I liked your story from Cassilda’s Song, the new Joe Pulver edited collection of King in Yellow stories. Have you ever
    visited New York, and was “Grave-Worms” an easy story to write, or
    did it take you a while?

    Thank you; Yes; Kinda; Yes

    Do you believe there are other realities from this one? And in that
    reality, do you think you are in fact interviewing me about my book?
    Follow up: did you like my book in that alternate reality, and keep in
    mind I’m the one who can edit your answers when I post this. 😉

    I loved it!

    Got any special plans for the holidays? You know, like Festivus and
    stuff?

    My mom is coming up!

    Any pluggy-plugs?

    Yes, please buy everything I’ve written but most especially my debut novel,
    the weird western Vermilion, my historical crime novel The Pleasure
    Merchant, every anthology I’m in, and keep an eye out next year for my
    debut anthology Swords v Cthulhu as well as the standalone reprint of my
    novella Rumbullion: An Apostrophe.

    Vermillion

    Pleasure Merchant

    Thanks for taking part in el interview. Muy bueno.

    It was fun! Thank you!


  • Random-Ass Interview: Matthew Bartlett

    mattyb

    Why does massachusetts have so many Dunkin donuts?

    There’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street where they put in a separate Dunkin’ Donuts in the corner. When I got up this morning, I found they’d put one in my living room. It’s convenient, but I’m afraid I might be responsible for payroll.

    Do you believe in witches?

    I know some witches. I’m just glad you didn’t ask whether I believe in witchcraft.

    Pears or peaches?

    Peaches in pairs.

    Who would win in a fight, Edgar Allen poe or hp lovecraft?

    This is a tough one. Google informs me that Lovecraft was two inches taller than Poe. Lovecraft grew to 200 pounds after he got married; Poe was 140. Poe had a fondness for drink, while I suspect Lovecraft wasn’t one to overdo it. Lovecraft was sickly, though, right? Poe reportedly had a gorgeous singing voice, and Lovecraft predicted the advent of toaster ovens. What were we talking about again?

    If cats could talk, what do you think they’d say?

    Terrible things. Terrible things. And they’d ask for food a lot.

    What do you think you’ll get up to when you’re older?

    If by some miracle I’m not still working, when I’m not moping about my lost youth, I will run errands full time. I’ll be the guy talking the cashier’s ear off. I hope I’ll catch up on reading and writing, too.

    Favorite TV show?

    Curb Your Enthusiasm. I liked Lost a lot until the wrap-up.

    Cashews or almonds?

    Cashews all day.

    If you could go back in time, what time and place would you like to visit?

    London 1888.

    Rain or shine?

    Shine.

    If you could be any kind of monster what kind would you be?

    Probably a werewolf. I would be pretty sanguine about the whole thing, I think. That condition is tailor-made for people who are good at compartmentalizing.

    Favorite swear?

    I like when Brits use the C-word.

    Favorite hair?

    Beard.

    Favorite Care Bear?

    Zeppo.

    If vampires had guns, would they still wear capes?

    Let me answer that question with a question.
    Why do some cinematic Frankenstein monsters have a flat-topped head?

    I assume to make them look more monstrous, and less human.

    If werewolves had top hats hats, you think they’d look dapper?

    I think they’d look just precious, particularly Lon Chaney, Jr., who already looked quite dapper as the Wolf Man even without a hat.

    Can ghosts die?

    You’ll find out in March of 2033.

    Thanks for participating. Have a spooky Halloween.

    You too. BEHIND YOU!


  • Random-Ass Interview: John Langan

    squatch

    What’s it like to be the spokesman for horror bears everywhere?

    It doesn’t pay as much as you’d think.

    Favorite monster movie?

    It has to be the original Godzilla, right? Except, what about the original King Kong? And then there’s THEM, and even The Relic had its moments. So, maybe Gorgo. Or Hellboy.

    Favorite swear?

    Lately, it’s been motherfucker.
    (John bleeped this out with %^&* but I chose to make the executive decision to leave it un-&*^%-ed.)

    What do you think of the genre which is apparently all genres known as “slipstream”?

    I think objects in the mirror are not where you think they are.

    Do you have an evil twin, and if so, where does he live?

    He isn’t–oh, who am I kidding. Of course he is. He rides the roads in a ’68 Plymouth Fury. There’s a duffel bag full of cash on the passenger’s seat. There’s a samurai sword lying unsheathed on the back seat.

    Favorite secret agent?

    James Bond?

    Who do you think would win in a fight, Neil Gaiman or Neil Gaiman’s hair?

    The milk.

    Would you ever write a straight crime story/ Sean didn’t do a great deal of research, have you ever written a straight crime story?

    I haven’t yet, but yes, I would.

    How much coffee do you drink a day?

    Two cups of regular in the morning, then decaf if I have any more later in the day.

    Cats or dogs?

    Dogs. (Cats.)

    Rats or hogs?

    Rats.

    Moats or bogs?

    Bogs.

    Stones or logs?

    Stones.

    Where’s The Fisherman?

    I hope to have some news about that in the very near future.

    Have you ever gone fishing?

    If serving as my younger son’s tackle carrier and fish-spotter counts as fishing, then hundreds of times.

    If you had to defeat a monster made of cheese, which kind of cheese would you hope he was made out of?

    Fresh cheese. If he’d been sitting out for a while, he’d get that hard, crusty way cheese gets when you forget about it on the kitchen table overnight, and it would be harder to slice him with your samurai sword.

    Have you ever broken your glasses?

    So many times…

    On the rocks or neat?

    Seriously? Neat.

    Name a story you’ve read recently which you really enjoyed.

    Ray Russell’s “Sardonicus.”

    Do you have coyotes around where you live? They’re a pain around Massachusetts: we have a whole lot of them.

    We do. We don’t have many, but they’re around. We also have a bear.

    Why is my cat so clingy?

    What have you done?

    Favorite story of the sea?

    Moby Dick. Or The End of the Tether. Or Typhoon. Or Lord Jim.

    Is Michael Cisco a real person, or is he an amalgamation of several people, like Shakespeare or Tom Clancy?

    He is a projection of something that sits beyond the rim of space, on a throne made of the bones of dead planets.

    Pistol or revolver?

    Sword.

    Math or science?

    Well, you need math for science, don’t you? So, neither.

    Do you know someone nice named Eddy?

    Eddy Eder, who’s a fabulous artist.

    Night writing or day writing?

    Night writing, then all day writing at the end.

    Anything coming down the road?

    A new collection, Sefira and Other Betrayals, from Hippocampus early next year. Stories in Chris Golden’s Seize the Night and Ellen Datlow’s The Monstrous.

    Thanks for taking part in the interview.

    Thanks for asking me to.


  • Random-Ass Interview: Philip Gelatt

    stabgelatt

    Phillip Gellat is the screenwriter of Europa Report, and wrote a film adaptation of Laird Barron’s short story 30. I’m sure you’ll be hearing his name a lot in the coming months.

    What’s been the hardest thing for you to write so far?

    The hardest thing was a screenplay I was hired to write. An adaptation, though not of a short story or of a comic or a novel. I’ll leave it at that. The experience was – it was like having a bunch of nails fucked into my eye holes, while I slowly inserted rusty wire hooks under my fingernails so that a team of maniacs could manipulate my typing without my seeing.

    What’s the most challenging part of adapting a short story into a screenplay?

    The dread is the most challenging part. Dreading that.

    Shaken or stirred?

    Are you trying to get me to talk about Bond? I’d love to talk about Bond. Because listen to me here and now: George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton might not have been the best Bonds but they are in two of the best Bond films ever. Living Daylights does globe-trotting so god damned well. Bond and the Mujahadeen! It’s amazing.

    And On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is such a special movie. A Bond movie that ends with emotional devastation! It’s incredible.

    And also stirred, please.

    Do you like oatmeal?

    Yep. I eat it every morning. I’ve developed various ways of making it. I used to put a ton of powdered ginger in it. Now I put peanut butter. I like to think of it like my morning witch’s brew. Strength for the coming day.

    How do you like your coffee?

    Dark roasted and black. Two cups a day.

    Favorite short story?

    Oh sweet Jesus. Favorite of all time?! This interview is sadistic. The first short story I remember loving is The Lagoon by Joseph Conrad. Though, in all honesty, I remember very little about the story itself, just the feeling of having loved it.

    Lovecraft’s short stories are probably the ones I’ve re-read the most. Though I’ve also spent a lot of time with Barker’s Books of Blood.

    I can say that over the last two years I’ve been reading a lot of short fiction most of it in the weird and horror vein. I recently found myself floored by Robert Aickman’s work.

    Ever fired a gun? I haven’t, unless you count one of those tiny little rifles they let Boy Scouts shoot at camp. That’s more like a pellet gun though, I think…

    Yep. I have. I grew up in Wisconsin farm country and there were guns around. So I got to fire them. I have one particularly crazy story of getting taken to a weird little one room shack somewhere over the hills that bound my home town explicitly to fire guns. The shack was, at the time, covered in right wing propaganda (Limbaugh photos, anti-Clinton slogans, this was the mid-90s) and guns. Lots of guns.

    I spent the afternoon firing said guns with a bunch of hunter types, all of whom were there to both shoot and get drunk.

    One of them told me that the only way to ensure a hand gun is accurate is to dry fire it constantly. Like I should buy one and just walk around the house pretending to shoot things with an empty gun. Then he told me about how he’d accidentally shot a hole in his fridge that way.

    It’s a very strange memory.

    How did you get into writing comic scripts? Was it hard for you to get your foot in the door with that?

    Compared to the time other people have breaking into that world, I had a relatively easy time. The artist on my first comic was also working on The Venture Brothers. When you say that to publishers, they perk up a bit and listen.

    Have you ever actually got your foot caught in a door?

    I haven’t! But I have knocked my two front teeth out on a bathtub.

    What would you do if you came home, and there was a severed foot stuck in between the front door to your place?

    Ask it politely to leave.

    Who do you think would win in a fight, Robert E. Howard, or Howard the Duck?

    I… I… I’d love to say “The duck” and justify it in some epic fashion. But I’d have to say the Robert would win. Then again, I don’t actually know that much about Howard the Duck… except that he’s trapped in a world he never made.

    If trees scream, does that mean grass would too when you mowed it?

    One cannot assume such, no. They’d be entirely different species. Perhaps the grass suffers silently. Perhaps it weeps. Or perhaps it just bides its time, cataloguing every blade we trim, and waiting for its moment.

    What’s your favorite part about living in Providence? You do live in Providence right? I hope I didn’t just pull that out of my ass…

    I do live in Providence. I’ve been here for about 5 years. Providence is a weird city. It’d be a weird city even if it didn’t have the Lovecraft connection going for it.

    My favorite part is my house. We moved from Brooklyn so having a house felt really special. I have my office in the attic. When we moved in we found old chiropractic back braces under the eaves. It made the whole thing special.

    What kind of comics have you read which inspired you? What kind of films have inspired you to write films?

    I am and will forever be an Alan Moore apologist. From Hell is my favorite comic of all time and it is something I am always coming back to as a high watermark of storytelling. When I was a teen, I was all about Dark Horse’s “Legends” line. So the Mignola, Chadwick, Miller, Allred, Byrne stuff. Then in college I was all about the Vertigo books of the ‘90s and ‘00s (Preacher, TransMet, The Invisibles, Sandman). Lately I haven’t been reading many comics, sadly.

    As for film, I’m not exactly spouting a radical theory when I say that American film of the 1970s was something special. I find myself constantly inspired by that era. It was radical and philosophical and poetic and felt hand-crafted. Each of those movies, even the bad ones, is special in some way.

    Clowns, why?

    Because if there is a god, he hates us all. And if there isn’t, then it’s just us and our luck versus the clowns down here and isn’t that an upsetting thought.

    Go anything to pluggy-plug? Do it now!

    Well, I started shooting that adaptation of a Laird Barron short story last week, so everyone should keep their eyes peeled for that! Feel free to follow me on twitter (@pmjeepers) or instagram (philipgelatt) where I’ll be posting pictures and things from behind the scenes.


  • Random-Ass Interview: Scott R. Jones

    scottcoordinates

    Scott R. Jones wrote a bunch of goodness, so Google him, but also check out When the Stars are Right, and Tales of the Resonator, which he edited.

    Does the R stand for “Rocker”?

    Perhaps at one point it did? I think it probably stands for “Raunch” now. That, or “Random”, because I feel both these days. Randomly raunchy? Yup. Oh wait, no, neither. It stands for “Really Tired All the Time Because Toddlers”.

    Dogs or cats?

    Man! The hardball questions right outta the gate! Lessee. I’m gonna go with neither. As mentioned, I’ve got two kids ages 4 and 2 and the idea of cleaning up the feces of a third thing, and one not directly related to me, or even my species, is just… just no. No. Also (and I don’t know if they have this in the US) here we are required by law and, I dunno, civic duty or something, to pick up the dog’s waste while out on walkies. With the little plastic bag on your hand, sure, but friends. Friends, that’s still warm canine dookie you’re wrapping your digits around, and I am not down with that. I guess if this writing thing begins to ever pay and we end up living on a ranch, I might think about having a dog. That way it can run around in the woods and poop where it likes, as the Elder Things (and Nature!) intended. Ditto for the cat.

    Favorite swear?

    Hoooo, I tend to wander all over the board for this one. But one phrase I’ve become recently enamored of is “Go die in a fire” or “Die in a fire”. My wife introduced it to me, and it’s just really special. Succinct, punchy. It’s got a nice element of horrible torture in it, and the possibility of surviving it (by having someone put out said fire) is introduced, kinda? But also removed. Hope is offered, between the lines, and then taken away. Which I like. It’s certainly not a general purpose insult, but we’re using it more and more.

    What’s the most annoying thing you encounter when people found out you’re a Canadian?

    Oh, we’re not allowed to be annoyed up here. I do nod my head and put on a thin-lipped smile when I get the “say, do you know Dave Whatsisface from Canada?”

    What do you think the role of genre is in fiction?

    Y’know, genre is a basic template. It’s a skeleton. Writers get to slap wads of flesh on the thing, and make it live and move and, hopefully, breathe. I think (and this is just my take, personally) that if your genre piece comes outta the other end of that process just looking like a fleshy skeleton, then you’ve done it wrong. Or wrongish. Because then all you’ve done is, like, a facial reconstruction? When it comes to the horror genre, or weird fiction specifically, I think it should be difficult to tell what the bones of the thing are.

    If you could be any kind of monster, what kind would you be?

    Oh, I think anything that could fold in and out of dimensions would be just super-keen! Go anywhere. Live in the walls. The FX budget would be a killer, though. So, I guess a Dimensional Shambler? You could call me “Shambles: The Intersectional Man”! I wouldn’t fight crime, though. So don’t ask me to.

    What’s the grossest Lovecraftian sex scene you’ve ever read? Have you ever written a really gross Lovecraftian sex scene?

    Well, I did help Justine Geoffrey put together and edit the climactic chapter in her first BLACKSTONE Erotica book, Red Monolith Frenzy, in which a small eastern European town’s worth of rabid sex-mutants, at the urging of their high priestess and under the influence of a dread worm-deity straight outta Robert E. Howard, merge into a vast pulsating column of flesh before disappearing into a vagina-portal. Not your momma’s orgy, lemme tell ya. The weird thing is, it turns out that kind of scene is actually hot? I mean, after a fashion. I think we’re going to see a lot of much weirder stuff in the coming years, as transhumanism becomes the norm. Come, Armageddon! Come!

    You told me you sculpt a bust of Cthulhu about once a year? Have you ever thought about doing one where Cthulhu has a sign that says “R’lyeh or bust!”?

    I HAVE NOW.
    But can I put it on a t-shirt for the Big C to wear, instead? I can? YAY! Thanks Sean!

    Would you ever go full Alan Moore and live in the middle of nowhere and grow a huge beard, and generally look like a crazy homeless man?

    I thought he lived in Highbury. There was that album he did up as a séance. Or Northampton? Anyway, smack dab in the middle of Old England. Is that Nowhere? Maybe? Anyway, no to the nowhere and yes to the beard, though I doubt it will ever get to epic proportions on my face because a) the wife wouldn’t allow it and b) I have, I dunno, a depletion in testosterone or something that makes it ridiculously hard to grow facial hair (what I have now took me literally months to build and it is scraggly as eff, son!) and maybe to the crazy homeless man thing, on all three counts. Crazy is as crazy does, for one thing, and I’ve always felt kinda homeless everywhere I’ve lived for another, and if I perform the rituals correctly, I may not be A MAN at all by the time I kick it, so… SUCK IT, MOORE! #THUGWIZBIZ4LIFE

    If using a stapler is stapling, why is putting a paper clip on something not called paper-clipping? Or is it?

    It is in Canada. But only because we’re so progressive and right-thinking.

    Follow up, if you have a a paper clip in your pocket, would it make sense to say you had a “full clip”?

    Ummm… is this question to do with the NRA, or the like? I’ve only ever fired a gun once, at a shooting range in Las Vegas. It was weird and uncomfortable, and not at all like playing Halo. Horrible way to end the honeymoon, too.

    You ever had a root canal?

    I seem to recall some kind of dental work in the deep past. But I was seriously drugged. Surgery is always disturbing.

    You ever had a route on a canal?

    Paper route? Mail route? I guess you could ask me again in a couple months, as I live around major waterways and tributaries and I’ve just started a day-job with Canada Post as a new-fangled “Delivery Agent”. I can now go postal and have an excuse!

    What do you think of root vegetables?

    I don’t think of them at all. They certainly don’t think of me, so.

    You ever gotten really lost before?

    Oh, sure! We have this coming-of-age thing in Canada where they just leave kids on the tundra, blindfolded, with a Trapper Nelson packed full of bannock, pemmican, and a beat-up Walkman with the greatest hits of The Guess Who on tape. Took me five months, but I returned to my village a man. I think it’s the same thing in Alaska, but I don’t know, maybe ask Laird Barron about the American version. Seriously, though, yes. Yes, I’ve spent one-too-many nights in the woods. Never again, it’s super-gross and distressing.

    Who do you think would win in a fight, Ramsey Campbell, or Clive Barker?

    You’re not asking for details for this, so I’ll just say Ramsey Campbell. I think he’s just more robust. And I’m not just saying that because Ramsey liked that story of mine that one time very recently.

    Favorite type of pie?

    Key Lime. No contest.

    Got any plugs to plug, then plug ‘em?!

    Oh yeah?! Why I oughta… I’ll plug you! (Oh wait, you mean promo stuff…) Well, I’m fairly proud of the work we’ve done at Martian Migraine Press with our 2015 anthology, RESONATOR: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond (available direct from MMP in both electronic and RealBook™ formats, or on order from most fine retailers) and of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t direct your readers to my own auto-ethnographical work of Cthulhu Mythos-based spirituality/self-help, When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality. I won’t stop with that biz until there are at least 23 Cthulhusattva’s walkin’ around out there. Kinda like the Hebrew’s 36 Tzadikim but y’know, with more eldritch chutzpah! We could all use a little more #KeepingItRlyeh in our lives, anyway. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Thanks, Sean!