What first attracted you to horror writing?
I’ve loved horror as far back as I can remember. When I was about six our local television station was going to have a late night showing of King Kong and had advertised it for weeks. If the snippets shown during the day were any indication of how awesome this movie would be then I was determined to see it. The night of the movie I snuck into the family room, while my folks were in the kitchen making coffee, and hid under the TV tray. Granted, it wasn’t the best hiding place (and reaching up to steal cookies from my mother’s plate wasn’t the most covert thing I’ve done). Rather than punish me, and send me to bed, my folks let me watch the movie with them. It scared the hell out of me. For weeks afterwards I couldn’t look at my bedroom window at night for fear Kong would be staring back at me. But I was hooked and from that moment on I was a Monster Kid.
Rather than view me as some weird little kid (which I was), my folks indulged my horrormania. My room was filled with Aurora models, a huge collection of the Castle Film 8mm mini-versions of classic monster movies, every issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland I could get my hands on, and books. Back then I read only classic horror and science fiction: Wells, Verne, Poe, Stoker. As long as it got me reading, and excited my imagination, my folks willingly put up with it.
One Christmas, when I was about ten, my mother thought I might be tired of reading only classic horror and bought me a novel she thought might interest me. It was Graham Masterton’s The Manitou. Talk about warping a young, impressionable mind – a deformed Indian spirit incubating on a young woman’s back, a male nurse turned inside out and an elevator full of mangled policemen. That introduction to horror fiction inspired me, and I’ve been writing ever since.
If by notable you mean the best work I’ve written, then that would be Rotter World, my first zombie novel which is scheduled for publication by Permuted Press in early 2012. The central theme of the novel is trust, and how three groups of people who inherently dislike each other must learn to survive the zombie apocalypse in order to salvage a vaccine that could save mankind from complete destruction. There are also enough encounters with the gut-munching living dead to make any zombie fan giddy with gore.
If by notable you mean my favourite, then I have to opt for the short story ‘Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly’ from Living Dead Press’ Christmas Is Dead anthology. In it an alcoholic mall Santa battles zombie reindeer in the mall’s Christmas display. Think Army of Darkness meets Miracle on 34th Street. It even has a classic Bruce Campbell one-liner.
What are you working on now?
My current project is a novel about something monstrous stalking the New Mexican desert around Los Alamos. It’s my homage to the giant monster movies of the 1950’s that I grew up with as a Monster Kid and that inspired my love for the genre.
I’m also putting the final touches on a short story for an upcoming horror anthology that deals with a Victorian-era adventuress battling steampunk zombies aboard an airship. Although still in the research stage, my next novel is set in the closing days of World War II and focuses on a small band of U.S. Army soldiers attempting to stop members of Hitler’s SS occult unit from opening the gates of Hell.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
Brian Keene. He’s a fantastic writer who is always reinventing himself. He’s also a hell of a nice guy, and along with J.F. Gonzalez has provided a lot of moral support and encouragement. Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the best shows on television. I love the way he can inject humour into the most suspenseful situation and still make it work. I’ve tried to emulate that style in my own The Vampire Hunters trilogy.
Do you prefer all out gore or psychological thrills?
I try to include both in my work, although I am much better at writing gore than psychological horror. However, I am working on improving my skills in the latter.
Why should people read your work?
I don’t pull punches. When the action starts, I crank up the intensity and the gore. My novels are action packed and exciting. My goal is to keep the reader up way past his/her bedtime because they can’t put down my book.
Recommend a book.
For zombie literature Max Brooks’ World War Z. It’s by far the best zombie novel I’ve read. The way he relates the entire story of the rotter apocalypse as if it was told in a collection of oral histories is compelling. I put my own writing aside for a week to read his novel.
For vampire literature, Guillermo del Toro’s and Chuck Hogan’s vampire trilogy (so far The Strain and The Fall are the only two books in the series that have been published). The tension and elements of horror in their work is palpable. Plus their vampires are old school, purely evil creatures that view mankind as nothing more than blood cattle.