What first attracted you to horror writing?
I think horror writing was attracted to me. Ever since I became literate – around the second grade – I’ve been writing dark and freaky stories. I was born that way. My earliest memories of life go back to kindergarten, when the Rankin/Bass classic Mad Monster Party was on TV and I was so impressed with Dracula I wanted to be him. So from kindergarten through to fifth grade I was convinced I was Bat Nick, the Bat of Steel, a super vampire. I ran around at recess flapping my jacket like I was flying, I bit girls on the arms enough to make them bleed, I would pretend to turn into a werewolf and scare babies. I broke a kid’s arm in the third grade because he didn’t believe me. I’d lie in my bed for hours late at night and fantasise that movie monsters and Wile E. Coyote were stepping out of the walls to meet with me and do my bidding, and I’d send them out to spy on girls.
I started writing short stories in the third grade after my teacher got us students into tall tale. We’d watch Disney shorts – about Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill – on a projector screen. We were instructed to write our own as a project. I wrote story after story – really freaky stories – and read them frequently to the class. I’ve been writing ever since. I self-published my first comic book series in the sixth grade, called Gooneyville, which got the attention of my entire grade school and Jack n’ Jill Magazine. I had my own radio show set up in my bedroom with five or six tape recorders and CB radios that got the attention of truckers, and I did elaborate scripts for audio books where I’d take my tape recorder to school and record teachers reading their lines as characters. My first writing resembling anything close to a novel came out of the sixth grade, The Star Wars Chronicle, pages and pages about how Darth Vader took over our school and we all get rescued by a white Darth Vader named Apparious Delon. Through junior high and high school, I wrote full length screenplays and novellas based on both my Gooneyville stuff and something I created in Drama class called The Three Introverts. Then, one day I started what was to become my first published mass market horror paperback Pray Serpent’s Prey in Maths class because I was bored. That was supposed to have been a Christian horror novel, something virtually unheard of in those days. That was a period where my parents immersed my life in Pentecostal churches, and – believe it or not – I found myself a preacher, out of high school, giving sermons and singing Jesus rock n’ roll to hundreds and hundreds of people. It was a church scandal (my girlfriend was sleeping with the pastor of a mental institution chapel) that got me out of church and I soon published Pray Serpent’s Prey under my then pseudonym Nicholas Randers – redone with violence and meaty creature-killing-teenage-Christians scenes and a church blowing up at the end. Soon came my Halloween IV novel (under my real name), and the rest is history.
Halloween IV and its special edition is what got my name out there, and because I did that I play a role in the Halloween/Michael Myers franchise where I get invited to related conventions and a lot of people see me as a celebrity because the franchise is so huge and everyone knows Michael Myers. Really, it was only a novelisation, but evidently a big one. The Everborn, however, is the real me. It took me twelve years to write, won some awards and Clive Barker’s admiration. It’s epic and best exhibits my writing/storytelling skills. It blends balls-out horror with an aliens-among-us theme, serial killers, genies, ghosts, and it’s slobbering over with self-reflection as is most of my work. I think, though, the work I’m known for the most these days is my collection Red Wet Dirt, comprised of three novellas and three short stories, with poetry and short works at the end, and a short version screenplay for Cutting Edges, a popcorn horror flick about a creature made of shaving cream I plan on directing likely late 2012 if the world doesn’t end by then. RWD covers a wide array of all too familiar genre themes, such as zombies and vampires, and goes off the deep end with girlfriends who eat human hearts for Christmas and demons who control traffic on freeways. It’s a compilation respected industry-wide, and the best representation of everything I can do with my imagination and skills as a writer. It’s also being turned into an utterly impressive horror comic/graphic novel series from A Shot in the Dark Comics and they’re doing every story in it including Cutting Edges over the next few years. The first issue, Looks Like A Rat To Me, is already out and is an absolute masterpiece done by an incredibly talented team of artists and designers.
What are you working on now?
These days, since I spend most of my time running Black Bed Sheet Books, I write an article here, a short story there and even find the time to write anthology introductions. I’m getting back to working on a full-length script for my shaving cream creature flick Cutting Edges. I also plan to begin work on my next great book, The Downwardens, at the end of the year. In the meantime, I’ve been re-releasing older stuff.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
I really admire Clive Barker. He’s brilliant at extending his imagination into so many forms —stage, film, literature, illustration—and does it so very well with uniqueness and style. Alice Cooper—his life, theatrics, music (especially songwriting), longevity, as an entrepreneur, as a Christian, and as a longstanding champion and icon of the genre. I admire the independent, self-driven underdog, and I admire anyone who has devoted enough of themselves to the horror world as to have positively influenced it as a whole and inspired others doing so.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological chills?
Whatever is done right. Both can be effective and entertaining and scary, or either can really suck. I don’t like gore so excessive that it takes away from the story and I don’t like gore for gore’s sake. Psychological chills can get boring. I’m a believer in the Hitchcock philosophy that less is more in films but gratuitous detail in literature is fun and often necessary. What excites me are creature stories, and people getting into graphic physical peril by them, whereas if you’re trying to depict axe murderer violence, it better have more substance to it than the other countless triple gagillion depictions of axe murderer violence I’ve seen.
Modesty tossed to the wind, and I’ll get it back later. People should read my work because I’m crazy insane and by the grace of God I’ve learnt since I was six years old – six years old – to vent it through imaginative storytelling using every method I could, but the written word has always been more convenient (it just takes some paper, and in my adult life lots of cigarettes and booze). I’ve been doing this a long long time and because practice makes perfect, you’d think I could write as well as Superman could fly. I believe I can. Sure, there’s stuff out there I’ve written for the world to see that is complete crap, although I’m glad it’s out there anyway. I’d rather it be out there in public scrutiny than in a file cabinet in Nebraska or decomposing slowly over a thousand years surrounded by soiled Pampers at a dump site. But my career is dominated by extreme exemplary work where I take my craft very seriously, and because my work reflects my life it is as unique as I am a human being. My work has been praised by the very best in the industry, and I say that because it’s something to be said and it tells me I’m doing my job.
I bet you haven’t read Red Wet Dirt or The Everborn or Diverse Tales, but I bet somehow you’ve heard of me. Maybe my Halloween IV novel or its special edition at least has me in your library. If you’re a devout horror reader and you have a book case – or some Kindle contraption – filled with a nice bunch of horror titles by what the industry, with all their advertising money, has pushed to you, and you desperately long for something fresh and exciting and all balls-out with no apologies look me up. You won’t have heard anything like it. You better expect that in buying my books it’d be well worth your hard-earned money – because it is. My work is not recycled, nor humdrum, nor complacent or stagnant, nor quite like anything you’ve ever read before. If you profess yourself as a devout reader of horror, I challenge you to read me. My original work has never had a negative review, and I’ve had hundreds of reviews. I am one of the most influential voices in independent horror literature in the entire world. Read me. Take that money from your paycheck you were saving for Stephen King’s new book and buy mine instead for a change, because I’m the next big thang. Not to mention, even Stephen King gave what I do two thumbs up. And Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, Wes Craven, Joe Dante, contemporaries like Brian Keene, and a rock star who threw himself in front of an Amtrak train after he was hired to kill Kurt Cobain. I have a legion of fans and in the midst of it all I’ve devoted myself to Black Bed Sheet Books to promote other authors rather than myself. If I get to where I’m going, when it comes to horror, and I keep on keepin’ on, well, at least in literature, I am the next big thing. And I will die achieving that status.
Modesty regained, I must say that my best stuff for you to buy and read and appreciate is kind of like an orgasm I can actually share with you.
Recommend a book.
After all that’s been said, check out Red Wet Dirt or The Everborn. They will blow you away. Diverse Tales is a short collection that will delight you. I mean, there’s this story about a guy who steals a newspaper rack that’s really thrilling, and I incorporated a story with an experience I had as a celebrity guest at the Halloween 25th anniversary convention. And please read the Shot in the Dark Comics comic line/graphic novels of my stuff that’s seeping out slowly into society. Those interpretations of my works are top notch and driven by remarkably talented teams of artists. When I direct the Cutting Edges movie, and if I do it right, that just may be my ticket into the mainstream and to glory.
I swear to freaking God, though, if you’re reading this and have vaguely heard of me, I will gladly back up my challenge to read me by letting you read me for free, at your request. E-mail me , my published business phone number for Black Bed Sheet Books is 916-774-6184, or visit my website. Contact me personally and I’ll send you a sample, or help support my cause by walking into any book store or online and ordering, especially at blackbedsheet.goshopper.net where there’s nothing but inspiration and horror, baby, and many other exceptional authors with books that may be right up your alley as well. The way I live my life, it’s not just all about me. There’s so much more.