In this podcast Keith Rosson talks about his Fever House book deal with Random House, Smoke City, Portland, and much more.
About Keith Rosson
Keith Rosson is an author of books such as The Mercy of the Tide, Smoke City, Road Seven, and forthcoming from Random House, Fever House.
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They’re Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella
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Michael David Wilson 0:07
Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with masters of horror, about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. And today's guest is Keith Rosson. He is the author of many books including road seven, Smoke city, the mercy of the tide, and forthcoming from Random House fever house. He is a fascinating individual and this is the second have a two part conversation. But as with any of these, you can listen to it in any order. Now in today's episode, we kick off talking about that fantastic deal that Keith secured with Random House. To talk a little bit about having an agent we talk about Janklow agency which his agent is a part of. We talk about the real life story of Jonah, Vox executioner. We talk about Portland, we talked about many other things as well. So if you want to hear that, then well, you're listening to the right episode on you. But before any of that, a little bit of an advert break.
Bob Pastorella 1:54
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Michael David Wilson 3:08
Okay, with that said, here it is it is part two of the conversation with Keith Rosson on This Is Horror. So we've got to talk about the deal with Random House. So you've got fever house coming up. How did that deal come about? What does it look like?
Keith Rosson 3:33
Yeah, so I don't know, how many how much of the specifics that I can talk about, I can certainly talk about the process. I, probably two or three years ago, I think after my initial agent was unable to sell road seven, and was kind of reticent about the idea of of trying to put out a story collection. And so I think we you know, we just had that like, not seeing my future projects like eye to eye and so I was just like, alright, well, I'm gonna let's call this you know, and so I was agentless for quite a while. And I wrote before fever house, I wrote a sequel to a mercy of the tide called all the wound down world. And I started shopping around a little bit. And my current agent had reached out initially after reading the mercy of the tide back when I was still agent and but he was just like, I love the book. This is so great. So I just kind of kept him in, you know, we kept in touch and he was on my radar. And so I sent him all the way around on world and he was like, I don't think he even got back to me before he pulled the book like I recognized It was a sequel on a on a indie press novel wasn't gonna get a lot of traction, you know. And so I was like, I'm gonna pull this and really focus on a story collection and on a new book. And so Trisha put out folk songs for trauma surgeons with Meerkat press, and I'm tremendously proud of it. Like I love it. It's kind of a it's the book I've wanted to put out, maybe even more than a novel as I've always wanted to have a short story collection out, and I just love the hell out of it. And so finally, you know, while COVID was going on, and everything was right in this book, while the kids were at their, you know, the park with their mom, or when they were sort of going back to school, or taking naps, I just like chip away at this book, writing it in the kids room when they were at school or downstairs when they were napping or whatever. And finally, I just started shopping around. And Chad Luvable over at Janklow. And Nesbit grabbed it up. And I had a couple other offers, which was a first for me, and ultimately went with him. And he did this really cool thing where he sent it out to a couple agents, or I'm sorry, a couple editors on a Thursday. And then he's like, so these are the, you know, first couple of people. And then I really want to send it out to more people on a Monday. But by Friday, Caitlin McKenna at Random House had already reached out to him and said that, like she was really thinking about the book and loved it. So she'd read it that night, you know. And she had her team rated over that weekend. And I think on Monday, she called him to set up a call with me. And then Tuesday, we had a conversation and Wednesday, we had a deal. So it was six days from him sending it out to me having to deal with Random House. Yeah, can
Michael David Wilson 7:01
we also take our hats off to Caitlin for reading like an absolute machine? No.
Keith Rosson 7:11
The amount of like work that editors right now have to do like it's crazy. Yeah. Like everybody in publishing is pretty beleaguered right now, I think and like, so they're just doing awesome. You know, like, editors get a lot of shit about how they respond to queries and stuff. And like it's like, unenviable position to be in, you know. So yeah, yeah, I feel really lucky man.
Michael David Wilson 7:41
Yeah, it's like, if at any moment you were like, oh, did I didn't I go with the right agent? I mean, to be able to send it out one day, somehow, the Random House editor reads it in less than 24 hours and six days after the initial kind of send out. You've got a deal. It's like, Yeah, I think Chad so right.
Keith Rosson 8:05
Yeah, pretty good. Oh,
Michael David Wilson 8:09
Keith Rosson 8:10
Crazy. It's crazy. Yeah.
Bob Pastorella 8:12
That's a testament to the work too.
Keith Rosson 8:15
Yeah, I Yeah. I appreciate that. I think again, it's so much of the shit is like, things lining up, you know what I mean? And getting the right agent who's able to, like, get it to the right editor at the right time. All that shit served in my favor, you know?
Michael David Wilson 8:35
Yeah. Yeah. And in terms of Janklow as an agency, I mean, what kinda right as the think they're suitable for who should the people be that are querying them? And who are they absolutely not for,
Keith Rosson 8:52
you know, that's the thing, like, they have a client list that you can see on their website. And like, every, you know, every, each one of their agents have, like, what they're specifically looking for. And it's either on the Janklow website or on their, like manuscript wish list, or some of them even have their own websites. But like, they, it's a huge client list, like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of clients. So it's more of like, I don't know, specifically if like, you know, like a paranormal rom com sort of thing. Like, if there's going to be three agents there. But like, there's, I'm sure like, somebody will be interested in looking at, you know, it's just, it's just a question of like finding the right person. Yeah. And doing the legwork. I think that's a lot of like our job as writers is to kind of find somebody right for the work and not just fire shit out willy nilly. So if somebody is just reading, like romance It's like horror is not a suitable thing to send to them, and then you can't get pissed when they turn it down. You know what I mean? Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 10:08
Yeah. So for anyone that wants to check out that client list, it's Janklow and nesbit.com. And that's a n k l. O W. And if you can't spell NASA, then good luck. It's over for you find a different literary agency. Given he won spelling, you know, this is there's got to be some sort of mystery involved. You're. Yeah, yeah. But yeah, they
Keith Rosson 10:40
have tons of tons of varied clients, you know, putting out really challenging fiction right now? I think so.
Michael David Wilson 10:48
Right. Yeah. And that's what we want. And I think we're just living in a phenomenal time in terms of the fiction and the wide variety that is being put out. I mean, yeah. I mean, we often say that this is a golden age of horror, but I think it's a golden age of diverse literature. Yeah.
Keith Rosson 11:12
Yeah, I really do think that we, you know, it's by no means it's far from perfect, but like, really, like a lot of unique worldviews and experiences are being published now. That like 10 years ago, wouldn't have even been the case, you know?
Michael David Wilson 11:33
Yeah. Yeah. Not perfect, but heading in the right direction.
Keith Rosson 11:39
Michael David Wilson 11:41
I understand to that with this deal. It's a two book deal.
Keith Rosson 11:46
Yeah. Yeah. And so we, like I said, I'm, like, 57,000 words into a new novel that separate. But then there also is some discussion about doing a sequel to a fever house. So I'm really not sure. Like, we'll kind of see how it goes. And I have, I think the way it is, is I'm going to add a bit more to to fever house, my editor, Caitlin kind of wants me to supplement the third act a little bit, which is cool, because I'm going to be putting out a big ass horror novel. Like, 100,000 words plus, probably. And so I have like until December, to kind of wrap that up. And then I think we spend the next like, 15 months getting random houses publicity machine going a little bit for it. So it should come out in like spring 2024. At this point.
Michael David Wilson 12:56
Yeah. Well, we might have to have you back on the show, then. Yes. I mean, it feels like fever house is gonna be your most horror title.
Keith Rosson 13:09
Right. Yeah, it certainly it certainly is the most brazen brazenly horror one that I've done, for sure.
Michael David Wilson 13:17
Yeah. What can you tell our listeners about it?
Keith Rosson 13:22
It is, I mean, we could read the Publishers Weekly, you know, thing, but it's ultimately about two leg breakers for a small time drug dealer who find a severed hand and a freezer, at a client's house that they're going to shake down for money. And the hand turns out to be the severed hand of a lesser devil that causes like, like blood lust, and madness and violence to whoever like, hangs out in its proximity for any amount of time. And so it kind of spirals into I'll just say mayhem, like Total Mayhem. And there is a kind of a guy who accrues objects for that drug dealer, a kind of finder, this this guy named Nick coffin. And he lives with his mother who is a ex like rock star, who is been essentially house bound since the death of her husband a decade before and so they get wrapped up in the kind of hunt for this hand. And so there's like criminals and a government agency and Nick and Catherine all trying to either get away from or find this severed hand. And then it turns out there's other remnants of this devil that are powerful as well like an eye and a record Putting up the devil speaking so again super intricately plotted a lot of moving parts to it total pain in the ass. Hopefully pretty exciting to read.
Bob Pastorella 15:12
Shit I got my credit card out now. And yeah, right. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 15:16
As he was saying that I was thinking man, how do you kind of pitch that to someone and I'm thinking it's breaking bad as a supernatural horror directed via Takashi Miike. A and David Lynch's came up with
Keith Rosson 15:32
they did like the comps. The author comps they did were Justin Cronin who did. Yeah. Yeah. And then Don Winslow, because it's it's kind of a crime novel at the same time. Yeah. So yeah, and I could totally see those. Yeah,
Michael David Wilson 15:48
yeah, I, I free me K in because I just do it. This is fucking batshit crazy enough. Yeah.
Keith Rosson 15:56
Wild dude. It's so wild. And that's the crazy thing about all this amazing, incredible attention about this book when the focal point of it is a cut off hand. Yeah. It's not like, you know, like you think of like, objects like that, like, in Pulp Fiction. It's like, the suitcase or whatever. You know, I'm big. Not necessarily like horrific. This is a chopped off hand. Like it's so weird.
Michael David Wilson 16:27
Yeah. Wow, I can't wait for it to come out. But
Keith Rosson 16:32
yeah, I'm excited to man. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 16:35
2020 full sight. Yeah, yeah, buddy. I mean, it always is, we've like a massive traditional publisher. I mean, as a lot of kind of lead times. And as you say, you know, we have to have patience, because you're gonna get some edits back in a few months. So there's a lot more work to be done.
Keith Rosson 17:00
Yeah. And she wants more like, you know, I'm gonna be adding X amount of words to it. Yeah, to make it this kind of like, big behemoth of a book. Which is cool. And really, like, thrilling, and also a little daunting, you know? Because I'm confident I can do it, but I'm not confident that it's going to be seamless. Yeah. Wow. Like, it's gonna be a bit of a challenge. You know?
Michael David Wilson 17:24
I mean, that's why you've got the editor. So you're in good hands for that one. Hopefully. Yeah. Sanford as well.
Keith Rosson 17:32
Yeah. Right. Yeah.
Bob Pastorella 17:34
I think it's amazing that, you know, a big a big publishers, like embracing the weird like that. It's, it's like they almost have this kind of indie aesthetic to it. Yeah. Because maybe
Keith Rosson 17:49
it's a risk. But I mean, you know,
Bob Pastorella 17:51
it's a payoff.
Keith Rosson 17:53
I hope so. I mean, you know, they have like, Kelly link is actually we have, you know, Caitlin McKenna edits, Kelly Lynx books. And David Mitchell, like with Cloud Atlas, you know, yeah, they have some, some weird stuff, but also like, yeah, their horror shelf is not deep, you know. And so it's an honor and a thrill to be like, kind of entrusted with these, you know, on par with these other writers to be like, Okay, so, this will be Keith will be our little envoy here for horror right now. You know, like, that's crazy.
Michael David Wilson 18:32
Yeah, yeah. And we've all got to go out and buy it. Because the thing is, I mean, in this industry, the same way the movie business you kind of vote with your wallet and buy this and people see there's an appetite, then they gotta make more they're gonna commission more like this, and it's just gonna be better for horror and for dark fiction and for weird, trippy surrealism,
Keith Rosson 18:57
right, totally. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I'm excited. I have done every, every single book cover. Yeah, I've done myself and honestly, it's like, I'm so excited to have somebody else do it. And to see what they come up with you. No. I seriously doubt that I'll be like it. No, thank you. I think it's gonna be a vast relief and also really fun to be like, alright, I don't have to do this. And I bet it will look really awesome.
Michael David Wilson 19:26
Yeah, yeah. Now how about this book that you 57,000 words deep into were you able at this point to say anything about it?
Keith Rosson 19:38
I think so. I mean, there's no Yeah, I don't think there's any caveat about that. I don't even like again like this may be a shelf to book for all I know, you know, this might be like all the way down world or I got plenty of other ones. I got a couple crime books that suck. You know, um, But this is a 1970s vampire vengeance story about a guy and a kid going to hunt this vampire who is destroyed their families and the guy has gotten bit along the way. So as he's like turning, he's there trying to like hunt this vampire down as he's suffering the effects of vampirism himself. And it's like a backdrop of like, the Vietnam War, like Rust Belt. Shit and of the 70s political stuff of the 70s Portland of the 70s Yeah, so like, kind of like True Grit, I guess. But with vampires.
Michael David Wilson 20:48
I know that Bob is got his credit card out already.
Bob Pastorella 20:54
Please finish this.
Keith Rosson 20:55
Yeah. All right, man. I'm sorry. Vampires are so big right now. Sara, great vampire books out right now. There are like Andy Davidson's in the Valley of the Sun and Richard Lang's rovers. Oh my god, I love that. Oh,
Bob Pastorella 21:13
yeah. That really good. Oh,
Keith Rosson 21:15
damn good. Yeah, there's great vampire fiction out right now.
Bob Pastorella 21:20
Yeah, it's, it's funny, because, you know, about probably about a year and a half ago, I kind of predicted that vampire should be coming back. That was right. And I kind of did this based upon what movies um, we're seeing coming up. And, you know, that are in development that have come out. And it's, it's not like they're, like, shoved in your face. But right now, I mean, you can pretty much go to any streamer. And you can find an old vampire movie. And then vampire movie. Yeah. Not shoving in your face. But it's, it's out there. Right. I have a book that I've just finished. That's that's vampires. And my work in progress is its vampire. So it's kind of like, I'm kind of writing vampires. And for a while I didn't want to do with them. You know? Great. Yeah, it's
Keith Rosson 22:12
a it's a fun thing to kind of take like, what of the mythology you want? And then kind of throw the rest away? You know? Because like, if, yeah, if I had to do all the trappings of it, it would be like too unwieldy and kind of boring to write, but like, like, kinda like, action packed like, you know, gritty, pre cell phone, pre internet, vampire thing. Like, that. sounds super fun, you know? Oh, yeah. So, but again, I don't know, I like I might send it to my agent. And he'd just be like, oh, man, let's work on a sequel. This blows, you know, so I don't know. We'll see.
Bob Pastorella 22:53
Well, I hope it works out. Because, yeah, totally. The idea behind it is so exciting. And yeah, really? It's something I want to read. For sure.
Keith Rosson 23:03
Right on. Awesome. I'll send you a copy when it's done. I'd appreciate it. Yeah, absolutely. Totally, man.
Michael David Wilson 23:11
Yeah. And I mean, it'll be interesting to see how things pan out as well. Because I mean, even if that one didn't turn out to be the best fit for Random House, you might find that you have this model as the number of offers do where you put some books out traditional, some indie and just kind of, you know, depending on on the aesthetic and the appetite that could could depend on where they ultimately end. Because I mean, I presume that you know, the DoD you have isn't an exclusive one where you can now only publish with Random House. Mm hmm.
Keith Rosson 23:50
Yeah, I there, there are tons of caveats to to a big five contract. And so I am not sure if you can do stuff in between one and two. I know there's like, yeah, all that shit is laid out. And they're like, pretty particular about it. But then you look at like, Stephen Graham Jones, that guy has like three books coming out a year, you know, on a variety of different presses. So yeah, I don't know.
Michael David Wilson 24:30
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that there will always be a wave and if it's like, okay, well, we've commissioned you for your next two books. So there might be a way where it's like, right, well, after, after the second then you can briefly kind of put out this as an indie and then we'll give you another two book.
Keith Rosson 24:51
Deal. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Michael David Wilson 24:56
Yeah. And if the money is right, anyway, Yeah, she was sweet and just been like, oh, you can't put this out for another number of years. But hey, here's a very sizable check. And it's like, oh,
Keith Rosson 25:09
yeah, I'm like, you know, like, Random House was red doesn't. They don't do like in the publishers weekly announcement, like the size of the deals and stuff, you know. And so I totally understand that. But yeah, it's like, it was life changing money. Yeah. And I feel like really fortunate to be in this spot. As somebody who, you know, has lived in poverty his entire life, like, it's very cool. Yeah, I feel tremendously fortunate to be able to do that, like as a disabled person. And as somebody who gets to do it creatively, you know?
Michael David Wilson 25:53
Yeah. Yeah. Well enjoy the hell out of it. And hopefully, yeah, the first of many kinds of deals of its kind, but you know, celebrate this for what it is.
Keith Rosson 26:07
Yeah, totally. Yeah, it was very cool.
Michael David Wilson 26:12
Well, I want to know about the real life story of Jonah voms. Executioner and how to smoke so yes.
Keith Rosson 26:22
Okay. So the original version of Smoke city was just about Mike Vale, who was the there's two main characters in Smoke city, and one of them is Mike Vale, who is this kind of ex famous art star who is, you know, fallen into the grips of alcoholism and desperation and was writing about him, and it wasn't really going anywhere. And then I was reading a biography about Joan of Arc, and there is a little paragraph long anecdote about, and I'm gonna massacre the guy's name. I don't even know how to say it, but the executioner who lit her pyre, his name was Jeffrey the raw, I think. And he could be seen going into the taverns after letting her pyre just shit faced and weeping, saying that he knew he had dammed himself to hell, because he had killed a saint. And he claimed that he had seen her soul leaving her body through the smoke in the shape of a dove. And I read that and I was just like, Oh my God. And that started the entire rest of the book, like 90% of the book fell into place after reading that anecdote. This idea of reincarnation, the second character, Marvin Dietz, how he is this a remorseful reincarnation of Geoffrey Thrawn, every year either when he is 57 years old, or before he dies a horrific death, remembers all of his past lives, remembers that he killed Joan. notions of redemption, you know, like run throughout the book. And so that like really just set the book running. And I was able to, like, reach out to a historian that worked at Portland State University, who was able to actually bring me scans of documents of like, work orders, essentially, because when, as an executioner, you were kind of work for hire. And so it was a bill of sale for this execution that Jeffrey Thora had presented to this Lord, for like a horse and a pair of gloves and rope, all these things that you have to burn after killing somebody because they're unholy and unclean. And it was like 10 years after John's death, so he was still working as an executioner. You gotta pay the bills, you know what I mean? And but it was just fascinating that it was like, This guy was a real guy had presumably these real fears of like, oh my God, I've doubted myself at the same time. Like shit. I gotta work man. Yeah, and there was not a lot of options for you after you'd been an executioner like, you couldn't go into real estate or whatever, you know. So yeah, it was fascinating. The whole like aspect of executioner's and how they were very well paid. And also like, societal pariahs. They had to like, when they went to the marketplace to like buy groceries, they were given their own spoons to ladle vegetables because they couldn't touch the vegetables. They had to wear like things on their on their sleeves and on the back of their jackets, to show what they did so that people could stay away from them. If they drank and bars. The cups were usually smashed afterwards because they were unclean, like, but they also So like, you know, we're landowners a lot of time. So it's this weird thing of like, wealth and also like, just total distancing from society.
Bob Pastorella 30:13
And it's like they were paying them to stay away.
Keith Rosson 30:15
Yeah. Right. And to do that,
Bob Pastorella 30:18
you kill people that we want you to kill. Right and pay handsomely. Just to stay the fuck away?
Keith Rosson 30:25
Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah. Um, so it was really fascinating. And I love that aspect of like, George Singleton, who is such a funny satirist, who's like, a Southern writer that has a million story collections out, just talks about learning just enough to bullshit your way through a story, you know. And, like, I love that aspect of research of like, just, like throwing yourself into it. And laying enough bread crumbs out there, just to convince people, you know that you know, what the hell you're talking about? Yeah, yeah, it was so fun researching that stuff for Smoke city.
Michael David Wilson 31:06
Yeah. And I mean, that's a real life story of someone being haunted, you know, haunted by their past actions, I mean, to have wrote that image, you know, throughout your life, and, and, you know, it makes it so much more tragic that then 10 years later, he's still at it, because he has to be there is no choice in the matter. It's utterly horrifying.
Keith Rosson 31:37
Yeah, you can't really do a career change, you know? Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 31:42
Well, you've mentioned Portland a number of times. So I'm wondering, I mean, how involved in the kind of Portland art scene I you at the moment? And I mean, what's that looking like? Wave obviously, the ongoing things as a result of the pandemic?
Keith Rosson 32:02
You know, I don't, I'm not I'm not particularly involved in the Portland Art or writing scene, I think. Things are a little. I'm struggling a bit just with COVID. And everything. I also think it's on its way up a bit. I, you know, I have a community of writers who are, you know, I have fellowship with and everything, but it's not really necessarily geographic. Do I do have like a, you know, a writing group here in town, who I miss him terribly. And we've talked about, you know, getting back together again. But I think just Portland like, I feel like, I'll always be writing about it in some way, just because it's like, either Portland or Newport, the little coastal town that is kind of a veiled Riptide in the mercy of the tide, it's either the coast or Portland I'll be writing about just because those are like, what I know so well, you know, and it's like, I could not bullshit my way through writing about New Orleans, you know? Yeah. Or Miami? Like I just, I couldn't do it. I don't know it well enough. But Portland, I can do you know? So I think in that regard, I don't think right well, you know, is a great little anecdotal thing to toss out necessarily, because it you know, it kind of dismantles the notion of creativity a bit. Or the idea of research, you know, and falling in love with that aspect of writing. But also, like, I'd have to go a place extensively to be able to write about it, and I'm just not in that position right now. So Portland calls to me. The coast of Oregon, Washington, California calls to me. Yeah, that's what I write about ultimately.
Michael David Wilson 34:01
Yeah, I think good writing advice is not write what you know, but rather know what you write.
Keith Rosson 34:09
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Be willing to invest the time and convincing people, you know, know enough to convince people?
Michael David Wilson 34:19
Yeah. Yeah, that's it. Well, yeah. You've mentioned before various kind of film deals and optioning different stories of yours. So I wonder, where are you out with that at the moment? What can you talk about in terms of perhaps film things that may be going on?
Keith Rosson 34:45
So my experience has been with previous things. A, I've had a mercy has been optioned and had a shopping agreement, which is where folks don't put up any money, but they're really you know, invested. No, and, and then the option has been like, reasonably small. And so now with fever house, having Chad as an agent and I, I have an agent over at Uta, the film this film agency. And it's vastly different. And there are like, producers and writers and stuff of films that you and I have watched. And I'm doing a thing called taking meetings, which is where we get on the phone or get on Zoom. And we have a nice conversation and they like, talk to me about how awesome my book is, which is super weird. Yeah, it's such a solid, solitary thing that you do. And then there are these people you know, who have done projects you admire, in a very mysterious industry being like, we love your stuff, can we turn it into a movie or a series, and it's very flattering. And then you talk to your film agent, about why this person is potentially a good move or why this person is. And it's all very multi layered, like book deals are done in like a day or two and movie deals take for ever to solidify. So we are in the very early stages of figuring out who would be best to approach this place or this place about getting a deal. So we're in the early preliminary stages, but it's very exciting. And looks like we may have some movement on that front very soon. Does that is that like vague enough?
Michael David Wilson 36:43
It's it's so good with me. I mean, you say, as much fuel as little as not only you want, but that your agent publishers will be happy that
Keith Rosson 36:54
I don't think they'd be pissed that I said all that like preliminary stages talking to folks. Super cool. I think there's going to be a deal an offer multiple offers soon. And then we go with one.
Michael David Wilson 37:09
Yeah. Yeah. And as you say, I mean, these things are long winded. And I mean, I feel and this came about from talking to Josh Malerman, about various film deals, but I think you've got to celebrate every level of success. So you know, even having a studio or a producer interested that is a little victory, so you can celebrate it. But what you shouldn't do is assume that you're at any stage further than where you are. So if I've got someone writing a script for my book, okay, great. I can celebrate that. But I can't say, oh, now it's definitely a film. Because yeah, even if they shoot it, there are times where it's like, okay, we can't put that out. You know, it only takes like, a world event being a little bit similar. And it's like, yeah, we can never fucking release that. Ever. And then you know, that that kind of things happened. Or they have to change the marketing or the titles. So it's a roller coaster to be involved in, like movie deals and to be involved in that industry. But like I say, you know, enjoy the successes and and hey, certainly enjoy getting on Zoom calls and producers big enough your book and telling you they love the it's like yeah,
Keith Rosson 38:37
it's thrilling. It's totally thrilling. Yeah, but that stuff, you're right that, like movies get shelved or halted all the time. Yeah. And it's so different than like, like just learning a little bit about it. It's like, I kind of am amazed at how flippant I was about talking shit about bad movies. Because it's like, movies are so hard. They take hundreds and hundreds of people at all these different levels to make. And it's so easy for somebody. You know, it's just so hard to make a good film, where it's like with a writer, it's like, essentially one person and then it goes up the chain, you know? Yeah, with a movie. There's hundreds of people involved. I can fuck it up. You know, a lot of times, not even the people that are in the movie. You know, it's like execs can like be like, change this or whatever, you know. Yeah. Yeah, that's just such a different fill. Like field than then writing is.
Michael David Wilson 39:39
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, you could write the screenplay, and then someone else changes it and then you get a review which is shifting go for it. And it's like, that's like god damn bet that I didn't write. Right. I wanted to do what you want it. I'm sorry. But yeah, I mean, with reviews in general, I think first of all, they're not for us as the right. They're not for us. They're for the viewer. They're for the reader. And also, I mean, taste is hugely subjective. So I think you can't take any review too seriously. You can't take the bad ones seriously. You can't take the good ones Seriously, just kind of get on with what you do, which is the writing and yeah, that doesn't mean don't read the reviews. I mean, some people say that I, I read the reviews, but it just means don't. Don't take it too personally. Don't. Don't let it destroy or inflate your ego. It is what it is. It is but somebody's opinion.
Keith Rosson 40:51
Yeah. And for God's sake, don't respond to the review. Whatever you do,
Michael David Wilson 40:55
yeah. Yeah, don't do that. Do not do that. I thought that was a given really, but actually, on the basis of a number of people's conduct, it probably isn't a given. So thank you for pointing that out. Just in case. People wondered. Yeah. Amen. Mention screenplays Do you have any desire to kind of go into that side of things? Is that something you've considered?
Keith Rosson 41:24
You know, one of one of the like, production companies that I was talking to, it was like, talking about if I had any original content or whatever. And it's such a weird, screenplays are so weird to me, like I cannot my brain does not work that way. It might if I could, like train myself to do it, like with practice. But it's such a like, different form. That I don't have it and it would be super hard to try to tackle. They that aspect of writing still seems kind of magical, like, weird little alchemists doing that shit, you know?
Michael David Wilson 42:01
Yeah, yeah. It's a different beast to get into. Yeah. And I know that Bob, kind of wants to talk about this at some point publicly, and we haven't yet but we Imbaba working on his screenplay at the moment. And it was awesome is a learning curve is an adjustment.
Keith Rosson 42:23
Yeah. Yeah. It's such a weird form.
Bob Pastorella 42:28
You know? Yeah. You can't smell things in the screenplay. Right? And just trying to format
Keith Rosson 42:33
it the right way is
Michael David Wilson 42:34
so weird. But Bob is Vova is making a personal day get me by saying you can't smell things. Because only this morning, he made a reference to it and got the notes back from me saying, you can't smell things, Bob.
Bob Pastorella 42:53
Yeah, and it's, it's so hard to remember that because you spend, you know, I've been writing since I was 12. And probably the first you know, I'm 54. So I gotta say, probably the first 20 years of that sucked. And I've gotten better published, you know, and it's like, so you kind of get this point where it's like, well, I know how to write and you tackle this thing? And you're like, yeah, do I know how to fuck it? Right?
Keith Rosson 43:21
Absolutely. It's an entirely different like muscle, you know? Right.
Michael David Wilson 43:27
Yeah. Yeah. Well, you said before that you kind of feel like right now we're living in a mad and a world scenario. Do you think that that is still the case? And if so, what do you think are the steps for us to get out of this and for things to get better?
Keith Rosson 43:52
I don't think that we're in a end of world scenario. I think life is going to life will certainly continue. It may look strikingly different than what we're used to. It may get up ended. But I think like we have a grand ability to adapt to things for better or worse, you know. And, yeah, I don't know when I said that or what it was referencing, but like yeah, I could not really like even not having, you know, birth these children or whatever. But just like I can't have that kind of fatalism in my mind as far as like having hope for these dorks that I'm living with, you know what I mean, like these little kids. I don't think we're wheeling towards an absolute Apoc lips, I think there's potential for vast ruination and a strikingly different world. And I also think it will probably come piecemeal, to the point where we kind of acclimate to it, you know. So I think my kids when they're, you know, 30 will look like, they're gonna go through some very quick changes timewise compared to the changes that I went through, but I still think that there'll be a world with a lot of beauty in it. And a lot of potential minute, so, I don't know. I hope that vaguely answers your question.
Michael David Wilson 45:43
Yeah. And much like a lot of my research that came from an obscure interview that you did in Volume One, Brooklyn, okay. 2021 Promoting folk songs for trauma surgeons and Okay. Could be the I took a marginally out of context, but it's not I got, ya know, I'm trying to see, okay, well, you
Keith Rosson 46:15
I bet I was asleep to sleep deprived MF er, when I was writing that too. If it was at that time, yeah.
Michael David Wilson 46:25
Yeah. The question was, there's no shortage of apocalyptic imagery in a new collection. Is there an end of the world scenario that alarmed you the most? And you said, I'm not trying to be a nihilistic fatalist, smarty pants, or whatever. But I feel like we're living the end of world scenario right now.
Keith Rosson 46:48
Oh, wow. That must have been was. I wonder if Trump was still president, then?
Michael David Wilson 46:53
I believe he was from the context of what follows, but
Keith Rosson 46:58
yeah, yeah. So um, yeah, I don't know, man. I don't know. I know what,
Michael David Wilson 47:05
I'm glad you're in a happy place now. Optimism so that Yeah. All
Keith Rosson 47:11
right. I don't know. I may have a different answer tomorrow. But yeah, that's where I'm at right now. Like, strikingly different, and you know, 20 years, but um, and of the world know, you'd have to do a lot to like, end the world.
Michael David Wilson 47:29
Yeah. Yeah. Well, from end of world fatalism to something a little different. What is something you should be kinder to yourself about?
Keith Rosson 47:42
I think as a parent, um, I think I really struggle with being a good patient dad. And I think 95% of the time, I do a pretty good job. And I just remember, like, the trauma of my own childhood or whatever, and I'm like, Oh, good. I'm scarred them for life. And it's like, that's not the fucking truth. You know. And to just kind of like, an overarching picture, like I am a great parent, even when I am short with my kids sometimes, you know, and keeping that in mind and not like running it up the flagpole of my own childhood, you know, to just give myself a break in that way.
Michael David Wilson 48:39
Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, that's a very important thing to remember. And I mean, everybody who's a parent, particularly first time parent, I mean, they're a little bit afraid. They're a little bit insecure. They don't know exactly what they're doing. But they have to give the illusion the pretense that they do, but we're all I mean, this really does actually tie into what you said, right? At the start of this conversation, we're all trying our best we're all doing what we genuinely think, is the right thing to do. And if we do something can with retrospect, we think, okay, I shouldn't have done that, or I don't want to do that again, then you just course correct. You just do the best you can, but there's no point beating yourself up for the past, you can only focus on on the present, and then the future. So, you know, just keep doing what you do. And then, as I said before, I mean, the fact that you foster parents is heroic in and of itself. And, you know, it's it's pretty apparent from our interactions that you know, you're a good person and you're trying to be a better person with every day and so any of us can have
Keith Rosson 50:00
Do Yeah, absolutely agreed. Yeah. All right.
Michael David Wilson 50:04
Well, who is some of the writers that intimidate you?
Keith Rosson 50:12
Jeez, intimidate me. I don't know. Nathan Ballingrud.
Michael David Wilson 50:19
Keith Rosson 50:20
Dude is fucking crazy. So good. Wounds is maybe one of my favorite books that have ever been that I've that I've read, you know? Let's see, I'm trying to think of other folks. Todd Goldberg is an awesome crime writer. Just does it effortlessly. Paul Tremblay does that thing where he's so perfectly ambiguous that you don't know if the shit is real or not. Like yeah, a head full of ghosts like you don't you still don't know if the if the kid was possessed. Cabin at the end of the world. You don't know if there's an apocalypse going on. That is masterful, and it takes so much like restraint. To Do you know, yeah. Kelly Lenk. She's incredible. I read like probably like 35 books a year. It used to be a lot more and now that's where I'm at. And so yeah, I kind of am at that point where it's, it's not like, if you don't catch me in the first five pages, I'm out. You know? Yeah. Yeah. And right now I'm a lot more out than I am in these days. I just read True Grit. Charles, Portis came out in 1968. It's fucking flawless. So good.
Michael David Wilson 51:57
Bob Pastorella 51:58
grabbed me in the first five pages not
Keith Rosson 52:00
doing a best opening paragraph, right. Oh, my God. Yeah. So I don't know. There's like, there's lots more like if I had my little, you know, list of like books. I every time I read a book, I just write it down. But yeah, those are those are the folks off the top of my head.
Michael David Wilson 52:18
Yeah, yeah. I totally subscribe to you kind of get hooked in the first five pages. Yeah, philosophy. Because I mean, life is too short. And there are just so many good books and good films for me to settle with what's mediocre. So Right. I mean, yeah, we've a book, I want to be hooked. Or I'm out. And you know, some people, they'll say like, oh, well, you have to give it 100 pages. And then it gets really good. And it's like, well, sorry, I want to read the book. That's good. From Page why I want that first sentence that grabs me say, I mean, same similar with films, though. I mean, I'll give films a little bit more time one because like, there are films that I think they almost deserve a couple of viewings for you to really understand them, and the opener can then make more sense after you've seen the end. And of course, if I'm watching a movie with another person, then I won't turn it off when I'm not interested. Or that could get tedious. It's like fucking Ali's done it again. 20 minutes and he's the arbiter of taste. Never finished your movie. We watch about 2020 minutes of 10 movies every night.
Bob Pastorella 53:50
And again, I stop watch out. Five minutes.
Michael David Wilson 53:53
Yeah. Be uninvited to Movie Night. why that's the case.
Bob Pastorella 53:57
Michael David Wilson 54:00
Yeah, yeah. Well, what is it that frightens you?
Keith Rosson 54:09
Oh, God, um, let's see. I don't know I do get scared of dying sometimes. For sure. That's like that weird 4am Like, oh, shit moments, but it's not really the I mean, it's the totality of dying, but also the like, wondering if it's gonna be like, a kind of piecemeal drawn out affair in hospice, and like, you know, not being like aware of the people around me and that kind of like, inching away or if it's gonna be sudden, and like, you just see the car coming at you, you know? So I think about that that ship kind of unnerves me, you know, and it's like, I don't find a lot of like, graciousness, and like, oh, million billions of people. We've done it before you, you know. So yeah, that still wigs me out for sure.
Michael David Wilson 55:06
Yeah. Well you pass no beliefs in terms of what does or doesn't happen after
Keith Rosson 55:13
I don't believe anything happens. Yes. Like I kind of write this kind of supernatural, otherworldly stuff almost like petitioning that maybe there's some kernel to it, but I think I mean, I think it's all just like, organisms. Yeah. And with like, hopefully some kind of like morality intact, you know?
Michael David Wilson 55:39
Yeah. Yeah. I'm, I'm with you there. It's like, I don't, I don't believe that there's anything Haftar or the, you know, the, the arrogance. And the Ego means that I'd kind of liked there to be, but I mean, paradoxically, I find the idea of, of never existing, terrifying. But also, I find perhaps even more baffling the idea of just like existing forever. It's like, it never ends. That is a nightmare. Self. So, you know, I might have these things at 4am. And then just income for fuck sake, go back to sleep.
Keith Rosson 56:17
Right? Yeah, totally. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 56:22
Well, what advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Keith Rosson 56:29
Oh, my god. Um, I would. I don't know. I don't know if I'd have a lot of advice. I would say quitting smoking is going to be super fucking hard. I would say things get better emotionally speaking, I was very, very intense, 18 year old, emotionally. And just reminding myself that, like, in the long run, that shit will smooth out. And to just embrace like, art and music and writing and to just keep running with it, you know? while also being a little bit more financially responsible. Yeah. How's that for like a nerdy answer? There you go. Careful with your credit cards, dude.
Michael David Wilson 57:23
Yeah. I mean, it's a reasonable answer, but also like your 18 year old self is gonna be like, Yeah, Yeah, fuck you, old man. Just go out and have an absolutely mad night spending an excessive money just to spite this random for is something that approached you as an 18 year old? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that I mean, that's the problem with this question, too. It's like, you can give the most profound advice, but your 18 year old self probably isn't gonna listen anyway. Yeah, you
Keith Rosson 58:05
know, I kind of like, I felt like at 18 I was at the absolute mercy of the world, like, in so many ways, but also, like, I just fucking knew it all, you know. So it's this weird dichotomy of like, just almost feeling like I was better than than 90% of the people I met, but also, like just being leveled by the most minut interactions, you know? Yeah.
Michael David Wilson 58:38
Before we wrap up, is there an area or anything that we haven't covered that you'd like to talk about?
Keith Rosson 58:48
Um, I don't think so. Oh, man, I think that like, I really appreciate the opportunity. I feel like I'm in a fortunate spot. Writing is still really fun. It's cool to have these trusted people that are like that. Have my back, you know, and like, I can't wait to see what my future holds. And that's another thing. I did not feel that way at 18. And now, like, almost 46 I'm like, Oh, my God. Shit is getting fun,
Michael David Wilson 59:20
man. Yeah. Yeah. So that is cool. Yeah, I mean, that's the way to do it. I think we've got to keep the passion alive. We've almost got to keep that childlike excitement and joy alive. And if we don't have the passion and we don't have the excitement, then perhaps we need to switch things out. Perhaps we need to find something that will instill that. Yeah, and
Keith Rosson 59:49
I still get that like, I'm sitting down to write like, there's still 90% of time. There's still that like that moment of like, Oh, I'm not gonna be able to do This oh man, every single time, you know what I mean? And then within you know that first sentence, it disappears and it's like, oh, I'm back. I know how to do this. Let's do it. It's fun. You know? And it's like coming home again. It's so fun.
Michael David Wilson 1:00:15
Yeah, yeah. Well, where can our listeners connect with you?
Keith Rosson 1:00:23
It's at this point Twitter is about the one that I'm most often on. So I think it's just whatever Keith slash Rosson or something maybe we could post a link to it. Or just search me
Michael David Wilson 1:00:43
if you want if you want to retake is Keith underscore Rosson?
Keith Rosson 1:00:48
There we go. Yes, it's keith underscore Rosson. Thank you Michael.
Michael David Wilson 1:00:53
For now, now if we retake this like why are you saying thank you might go now we've got it. We've got to leave this in. It's like wow, my cars gonna be canceled. He fucking names planned Keef. Yeah, it'll Yeah. What is it again? KIf underscore Rosson.
Keith Rosson 1:01:19
Thank you underscore. That's what I was looking for. Um, yeah. So that's the platform that I'm that I'm most on and that I post most about, like writing and stuff. So that would be the way to go.
Michael David Wilson 1:01:35
Okay, well, thank you so much for spending the majority of your evening chatting with us. This has been thrilling conversation we have covered so much ground and we're so hyped to read fever house. I'm so excited for you, you know, after many years of this, that you've got a deal with Random House. So huge. Congratulations. And thank you again for taking the time.
Keith Rosson 1:02:03
Yeah, Michael, Bob. Thank you guys so much. I really appreciate it.
Michael David Wilson 1:02:07
Okay, do you have any final thoughts to leave our listeners with
Keith Rosson 1:02:14
support your local libraries.
Michael David Wilson 1:02:18
Thank you so much for listening to part two and a conversation with Keith Rosson. Join us next time when we will be previewing another one of our fantastic story on bots episodes. But if you want to get that ahead of the crowd, and you want to get every episode of story on bots in its entirety, then become our patreon patreon.com. Forward slash This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you get to become part of the writers forum. And you get to submit questions to all of our guests and got a lot of good people coming up, including Brandon Boone, an excellent composer and musician. He has done work with entities such as the No sleep podcast. We've also got Jason Parkin, also known as David Wong, author of books such as John dies at the end. So if that sounds good to you, head over to patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror and support us today. Okay, before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break.
Bob Pastorella 1:03:40
From the host of This Is Horror Podcast comes a dark thriller of obsession, paranoia and voyeurism. After relocating to a small coastal town, Brian discovers a hole that gazes into his neighbor's bedroom. Every night she dances and he peeps, same song, same time, same wild and mesmerizing dance. But soon Brian suspects he's not the only one watching. She's not the only one being watched. They're Watching is The Wicker Man meets Body Double with a splash of Suspiria They're Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella is available from this is horror.co.uk Amazon and wherever good books are sold. From tenebrous press comes one hand to hold one hand to carve a novella of weird body hard by M Shah, two halves of a human cadaver awaken in the morgue with no memory of their life as a single body and with very different notions of what they want now, their schism would lead each on a frightening path when forward to a new life. When back to the strange origins. You go award winning editor and Vandermeer calls one hand to hold one hand to card, a haunting story from an exceptional new voice. Preorder at WWW dot tenebrous press.com Now tenebrous press the home of new weird horror.
Michael David Wilson 1:04:53
And you know another way that you can support the podcast absolutely free of charge I'd love it if you could do it. If you leave us a review over on Apple podcasts, and you got some great reviews, we've got one from David G. That guy who says A must listen for literary horror fans. Got another from Lou and D G. Always fantastic. We got one from Thomas built, great podcast guys. And he says, Where are our episodes one to nine? Well, Thomas, you can find them on your favorite podcast app. And when you wrote this, you probably couldn't. Because what happens is when I'm putting the podcast together, I put an episode limit. And occasionally, we hit a milestone and we go over that limit. But right now, yeah, you can listen to episodes one to nine on your favorite podcast app, Spotify, Apple pod, Apple podcasts are the folks that Apple podcasts, overcast. And also, I mean, if you want, you can listen to it straight on the website. This is horror.co.uk. But I know people do that it's not what you want to do is get it on a podcast app, then you put your headphones in and go for a walk or do some washing up and you're doubling up on you're listening to these great episodes and cleaning your house or becoming healthier. What a combination. You know, I like to end with a final thought or a quote. And it's really simple. The majority of us trying our best, we're doing our best. So cut yourself some slack. Don't beat yourself up. Don't be so hard on yourself. And the same with other people. Even if people are a little bit shady to you, you know what's going on in their life. So really, he's kind of similar to the classic sign off to be good to yourself and to other people. So on that note, take care yourselves. Be good to one another. See I told you that was coming up. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.
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