Too Spoopy

Too Spoopy


  • Too Late: Notes on The End of Humanity

    One of my favorite stories. All credit where it is due, the concept was taken from the Clive Barker novel “Mister B. Gone.” I’ve always liked breaking the fourth wall, and the concept of audience participation in all forms of media, but I especially love it in prose form.

    There’s a nod to the Stephen King novel “The Dark Half,” in it, when there’s a bunch of sparrows on top of the house at the end. I’ve always liked tons of birds or bats flying around, seems terribly evocative for a horror story.

    I enjoy meta fiction. This would be classified as such, i.e. a horror writer ends up in a horror story. Again, that’s a King thing.

    I guess films like “The Exorcist” obviously influenced me, as well as stuff like “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “The Omen.” I’m blanking on anything else recently. I’l update this if I remember any.

    What I tried to do with a lot of the stories in “Too Late,” was to have a monologue of sorts. I picture the character starting out alone in a setting: a prison, an old house, a table in an apartment, setting isn’t as important as the character. I wanted to have people telling you about things that went wrong in their life that they can’t change.
    I know it’s not en vogue lately to have pretty standard horror stories that work as character studies, but I don’t really give a shit about trends. These were stories I wrote over the course of a ten year period. I wrote many more, but I never seemed to like all of them all that much. And i think it’s because my favorite stories are the type that I grew up with. Granted, my newer work is a lot more experimental and tries to differentiate itself a bit more. But the types of stories in “Too Late,” are my foundation, and I hope that years down the line people will still give the chapbook a read, and realize that I started writing simple horror stories.

    I look forward to seeing where the future takes me with my fiction, and I hope that you’ll join me. Thanks.

  • Too Late: Notes on Dust

    I’m a huge fan of westerns, despite my lack of familiarity with the genre. Haven’t read a ton of them, though. I’m a Dark Tower dork, and The Gunslinger is probably my favorite thing Stephen King has ever written, so there’s a heavy dose of that in there.

    In terms of films, stuff like The Proposition, and The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford, The Quick and The Dead, and Unforgiven come to mind. Just the aesthetic, the color scheme, it’s evocative.


    Comics: The Dark Tower comic.

    Show influences are stuff like Tales From The Crypt, can’t think of any specific episodes though.

    Hank Williams III had a healthy influences on me with this story too. Particularly this song.

    Westerns, man.I like them… the way you can have these morality plays with gunfights and settlers all at the same time. It was a natural thing to incorporate some kind of supernatural element in there.

  • Too Late: Notes on Jumpin’ Jack

    This one, jeez. Sometimes you write stuff, and don’t really remember what prompts it. With this one, I’d written a story set in Whispering Pines (the haunted woods in my fictional universe, in central Massachusetts) already for the Reddit board No Sleep. I’d written one about aliens which had done well, and this one later, which barely anyone read.

    To begin with, it’s an old black guy. I wanted to write as an old black guy. So I did. That’s probably the King influence again. I’ve always had an affinity for stories about old guys recounting sketchy things from their younger days.

    Recently, I reread Ligotti’s “The Frolic,” and while the only similarity is a child killer, I feel that “Jumpin’ Jack” shares a similar tone, and feel, though it’s less cosmic horror, and more folk horror.

    There is an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, “The Tale of Watcher’s Woods.” Had an impact on me as a child, and helped get the mythology of Whispering Pines going. Probably some Blair Witch in there, too.

    The Tale of Watcher’s Woods

    Watcher's Woods

  • Too Late: Notes on Stranded in the Storm

    There’s this one road that leads from Sudbury (where I grew up) into Lincoln, and much like the road in the story, it is serpentine, and hazardous. One time I got a flat around there, and had to change the tire off to the side of the road. It’s right across the street from a few trails leading up a hill, so it’s quite woodsy. This was the genesis of the idea, I’d driven on this road and skidded out a bit, and it had scared the shit out of me. So, just add a supernatural creature, a snow storm, and there you go.

    I was inspired by the film Ginger Snaps, as I enjoy writing about menstruation as it relates to the werewolf mythology.


    A lot of the language, of predator chasing prey, was recently inspired by the works of Laird Barron, but in honesty, I wrote the story back around 2010 or 2011, before I’d read any of Barron’s work. So, most likely, I can trace it to Stephen King, and stories like “One For the Road.”

    I’m sure this story would drive Stephen Graham Jones nuts, because he expressed on this episode of Miskatonic Musings how much he hates supernatural werewolves.

    Bigfoot’s Love Slave

    I like them, though. I like the idea that maybe it’s like they turn into a hell beast or something, some sort of possession that makes very little biological sense.

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that one story from John Langan in “The Wide Carnivorous Sky,” “The Revel.” I think it’s one of the best werewolf stories ever written. But, yet again, I read the story after I had written “Stranded in the Storm.”

    The funny thing about ruminating on where your ideas come from, is they come from so many places sometimes, and you write one of these, and then you’re driving and you go “oh, damn, I was inspired by (insert story name) too! i should have added that!”

    One of the fun things about most of the stories in “Too Late” is I can see myself expanding any one of them into a longer work, jumping off from where the story ends. And this story especially, and a certain character at the end, might get her own novel someday. Who knows?

  • Up to date on Too Late

    I’ve been a busy beaver these past months. I released “Too Late,” at the beginning of October, and since… well, let me attempt to go in chronological order.

    I attended Rock and Shock this year for the first time as a vendor, selling my chap book alongside Matthew M. Bartlett and Tom Breen, both excellent writers, and more importantly, swell dudes. I can’t think of a better crew to have with me for the first time boothing. Had a lot of fun, sold most of the books I brought, and learned important lessons, like, for one, bring stands for your books. Thanks to Scott Goudsward for loaning the table some.



    Then I went on Spooklights, Jonathan Raab’s show, at some point. Which, coincidentally, Bartlett cohosts.

  • Too Late: Notes on Fickle Mortality

    Fickle Mortality is the first story in the chapbook Too Late, and tells the story of an unnamed killer on death row for murdering people to use their skulls to decorate for artistic, and other nefarious purposes.

    If I remember correctly, I wrote this story in 2011, and I don’t think I even tried to shop it (a reoccurring theme) and instead threw it up on this blog. In terms of the atmosphere, I was heavily influenced by old King stories, and a few Barker ones, which of course took place in prison settings.

    Strictly looking at the prose, jeez, I guess there wasn’t one thing in particular. I’m heavily inspired by film, and it seemed to be a wonderfully cinematic approach. The story is written in the first person, and is, in essence, a monologue. Since I recently discussed it on The Rants Macabre episode, Killer Pilots ,I must have drawn from the pilot for Tales From the Crypt, consciously or not.

    How could I talk about a story where a woman paints skulls without mentioning it’s obviously aesthetically drawing from the Day of the Dead ceremony, and while I don’t picture the skulls the narrator paints as similarly designed, the comparison is obvious.


    Not to get into spoiler territory, but the image I had in my head for something near the end of the story seems to have been influenced by this album cover (although it’s not nearly as cool).


    That’s all I can think of for now. I’ll edit something new in if I think of it.

    As always, if you want to purchase Too Late, it’s available through Amazon, and Createspace, and follow the links below.

    Too Late on Amazon

    Too Late on Createspace

  • It’s Just Another Day: The Release of My First Book

    Here’s the fucking awesome cover Mark Richards drew, and that Scott R. Jones helped me design.


    I always wondered how I’d feel when I finally had a book out.
    I know from experience that a lot of milestones are really just normal days. You don’t feel any damn different. When I finished my first book, even after a slogging march of two years, I felt the same.

    Man, talk about a drag, right? Here you are expecting me to say it’s the most magical day of any writer’s life. It really isn’t. It’s just another day.

    No, the excitement is to come. Not the first plunge, but knowing that at the end of the swim there might be an island. And on that island, well, who knows? That’s the fun part.

    You can’t predict how you’ll feel, any more than you can predict how things will shake out. Still, you’ll never know until you try.

    Below are the links to my first collection, a chapbook called “Too Late.” I hope you like it.

    Too Late on Kindle

    Too Late in the flesh

  • The Demon By Sean M. Thompson Part 1

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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:

    wiki chapter 1 (5)

    “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:


    “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.


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


    “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.


    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


    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?


    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 as well as on Twitter (@gwendolynkiste).

  • Random-Ass Interview: Mike Griffin


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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!