Alan Spencer is a horror author from Kansas City. His novels include The Body Cartel, Inside the Perimeter: Scavengers of the Dead, Ashes in Her Eyes: Uncut, Zombies and Power Tools, Cider Mill Vampires, This Town Eats Everything, B-Movie Reels and B-Movie Attack.
What first attracted you to horror writing?
Like a lot of my fellow horror writers, I really enjoyed horror movies as a kid. The cheesier, scarier, or more insane the better. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood why I enjoyed them so much. There’s something about putting people in survival situations that unlocks complex emotions in people. Horror forces people to reveal themselves in ways they normally wouldn’t. Horror shatters everyday life and turns the mundane into dust.
What is your most notable work?
That’s hard to answer. It depends on if you’re going by sales, critical response or fan response. I’ve been fortunate enough to have positive reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Famous Monsters of Filmland for my novels B-Movie Reels and B-Movie Attack. My most recent release, Psycho Therapy, has also had a positive response so far. The books I’ve published with Samhain Publishing are by far my most popular titles.
I’m sitting on several novels in progress right now. I just released a book of short stories called No Need to Breathe which also features a novella called Wear the Flesh. The anthology is a mix of horror, humour, and bizarre situations. For example, imagine a story where the state of North Dakota becomes a giant anus. What could possibly happen, right?
I’m about to write a new novella called Washing Machine Holocaust. I tend to ping between dead serious horror and stuff with a cheesy, b-movie feel. It’s all fun.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
I’ve always had a deep respect for Clive Barker, Joe R. Lansdale, and T.M. Wright. More recently, I’ve discovered a batch of newer authors who are really carrying the torch. Authors like Gary McMahon, Aaron Dries, David Bernstein, Greg F. Gifune and Joseph D’Lacey. They each bring something new to the table, and in the horror industry, we need more of that.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
I’m all about both. The challenge is balance. An author could write a story about radioactive vaginas, or whatever, and it’d suck if the characters were flat and it’s written at a seventh grade level. Gore can be as smart and engaging as psychological chills. It takes an author with a real flair for the subject in either regard to pull it off. I love both types of stories. I can’t pick a side. I tend to write both, but when there’s a chance for the blood to spill, I don’t hold back. But if you don’t have solid characterisation, the book always suffers.
The above question is a great warm-up to my answer. I try my very best to give the reader characters that are worth reading. When I plan a book, I ask a series of questions. What’s the concept? Who is this happening to? Then I ask myself, what character can really enhance the concept? With my novel B-Movie Reels, where cheap low budget horror movies come to life, I have a struggling film student face off with B-movie villains in a small town. I try to put my characters up against something that somehow applies to their life in one stretch or another.
I’ve also been a horror fan all my life. I buy horror movies and horror books constantly. I’m trying my best to represent the genre I love. I hope that shows through my work.
Recommend a book.
I really enjoyed Gary McMahon’s Concrete Grove Trilogy, featuring The Concrete Grove, Silence Voices and Beyond Here Lies Nothing. Second to that would be Kristopher Rufty’s The Lurkers, which is good old fashioned horror all gored up.
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