TIH 531: Tim Waggoner on Early Life Lessons, Becoming a Writer, and First Stories

TIH 531 Tim Waggoner on Early Life Lessons, Becoming a Writer, and First Stories

In this podcast, Tim Waggoner talks about early life lessons, becoming a writer, first stories, and much more.

About Tim Waggoner

Tim Waggoner’s first novel came out in 2001, and since then he’s published over fifty novels and seven collections of short stories. He writes original dark fantasy and horror, as well as media tie-ins. He’s written tie-in fiction based on Supernatural, Grimm, The X-Files, Alien, Doctor Who, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Transformers, among others, and he’s written novelizations for films such as Halloween Kills, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. His articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Writer, The Writer’s Chronicle. He’s the author of the acclaimed horror-writing guide Writing in the Dark, which won the Bram Stoker Award in 2021. He won another Bram Stoker Award in 2021 in the category of short nonfiction for his article “Speaking of Horror,” and in 2017 he received the Bram Stoker Award in Long Fiction for his novella The Winter Box. In addition, he’s been a multiple finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Scribe Award, and a one-time finalist for the Splatterpunk Award. His fiction has received numerous Honorable Mentions in volumes of Best Horror of the Year, and he’s had several stories selected for inclusion in volumes of Year’s Best Hardcore Horror. His work has been translated into Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Hungarian, and Turkish. In addition to writing, he’s also a full-time tenured professor who teaches creative writing and composition at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio.

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Michael David Wilson 0:28

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson. And every episode I count with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now today alongside Bob Pastorella, my co host, we are chatting with Tim Wagner, the author of a great deal of books, including his latest nonfiction on writing book, let me tell you a story. Now this is the first in a series of planned conversations with Tim. So in this conversation, we jump into his early life lessons and how he got his start in writing. But in future episodes, we're going to dive deep into some of his books. But before we get into the conversation, a quick advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 2:37

Okay with that said, here it is it is Tim Wagner. On dare says hora. Tim, welcome to This Is Horror.

Tim Waggoner 2:50

Thanks so much for having me, is

Michael David Wilson 2:53

a pleasure. And I wanted to know to begin with what were some of the early life lessons that you learned growing up, and they don't necessarily have to pertain to writing it can be anything that you learned during your formative years?

Tim Waggoner 3:13

That's a really good question. One of the relates to horror, but one of the most formative ones for me was, my dad would before I could read, he would read me like nonfiction dinosaur books we get out of the library. And I before before I really even recognize letters, I memorize the shape of the different dinosaurs names. So I would know that this shape is a terrain assorted name. And I was fascinated by the the idea that these things once existed right where I was. And now they were like, just skeletons in the museum. It was almost like learning about monsters and ghosts all at the same time. And so that part was cool. The idea that that sort of like, like, there was an unseen world, but it was also real. It was really, really cool. And then around that same time, my parents let me watch Frankenstein versus the Wolfman. And I knew I don't remember if I saw the other two movies, but you know, back 59 So we're talking like, you know, it'd be 68 or something. And so there were just a lot of monster stuff everywhere in the media. So I was just really aware of these two monsters. But I was fascinated by the idea they lived in the same universe and can meet each other, because you just didn't see a whole lot of that, especially in monster movies. And so that that was just fascinating to me. And the idea that they could cross over. So those are like my horror ones, probably the most impactful one just in my life in general. But also for my horror writing is when I was nine years old. I have like a few months stretch that was, you know, my encountering death. I had an uncle great uncle who was like a second father to me. He just suddenly died in his 40s You He had heart issues, but it was so unexpected that he would die. And then not too long after that I almost drowned in a lake. And so I had this weird sort of, you know, existential kind of nine, you know, what's life all about time is like, you know, robbing us from robbing us of everything. There's some old movie, I can't remember the name of it. But the dream in it is a person who sees like a great big giant clock. And the hands are like axes. And the set of numbers is people's heads that are through there. And he's desperately trying to keep the, you know, the access from lopping off anybody's head. And I'm like, there you go. That's exactly what time feels like. And it took a couple years, but for me to come out of it, but I was like, really changed. My wife will sometimes go look be like, you know, here's where you used to smile. And then oh, look, this is afterwards, you don't smile the same anymore as a kid. Around the same time, I saw movie two that I thought it was Earth versus a spider, but I just rewatched it on TV. And I couldn't find the scene exactly. But I'm going to pretend it was that movie. And so it there was a scene where like the creature, the spider, I guess, they don't show it because it's probably too expensive. But you hear like a bunch of raking wood and whatever, because it's destroying this little tiny, tiny village. Like in I don't know where Texas or something. And so you see the aftermath, where it's like busted windows, you know, busted buildings. And then the camera pans to this kid who he looked like I did, he was blond, and he had glasses, and one of his lenses was cracked. And he was crying. And I realized that these monsters that I love so much, they made me they made people feel the same way I felt when my uncle died. And I understood then what that part of it, the seriousness and the respect you have to give and let unless you're doing like just fun stuff or like, you know, horror comedy or whatever. That yeah, I mean, it's it is a pretty awful thing that happens. And so all of that really had a huge impact on me in terms of just like the trajectory of my life. And then also, just in my realization of that monsters are more than just like fun cartoon things, at least if you're going to take them seriously enough when you're right about.

Michael David Wilson 7:26

Yeah, that is a lot to have baked into a nine year old mind as well.

Tim Waggoner 7:32

Yeah, sure was.

Michael David Wilson 7:35

I mean, I'm wondering, we've nearly drowning in the lake. What exactly happened? What are the specifics here?

Tim Waggoner 7:44

Yeah, my family was on vacation at a park, I guess called Rocky fort. And it was 50 years ago. So this summer, around the same time, my wife and I went back as my first time going back in 50 years. So she's got pictures of me flipping off the lake because she didn't kill me 50 years ago, dammit, yeah. I told her this is a horror movie. That's when the watery hand comes. Yeah, drags me down. But back in the sea. So it would have been another hole, it would have been 73, who would have been 1973. And parents didn't know at least right I grew up, they would turn you loose. They just let you do whatever. And you know, they would just assume you'd be back eventually. But the only thing they told me when I you know, they let me wander away. I was older my brother and sister so they stay but they let me water was just don't go near the lake because I couldn't swim. And so I was walking around, I just ran into this kidney and like, you know, armful of cans, like soda cans. And I didn't know what he was doing. And he explained to me there was this thing called recycling, which was not a, you know, something kids knew about back then not most people didn't do it. And he's like, Yeah, you know, you can get like five cents a can if you turn these things in, you want to help me find someone I'm like, sure, I got nothing else to do. And so he wanted to go down by eventually down by the lake. And I didn't want to admit to him that I couldn't swim. And I was supposed to be there and I'm like, it'll be fine. And so we wander onto the dock and I go out into this little little what they call like a slip or whatever, you know, it's like if this is the main dock, there's a little dividers that the boats could look come up to. And I'm like looking into the water trying to find fish. And he pushes me in. I don't know I never found out why I think maybe I may I was bending over just made too tempting of a target or something. But he didn't know I couldn't swim. And he tried to get me each time I came up and I was just my head was too wet. And the I was gonna go down for the third time and back then we believed if you went down for the third time you were dead, which is a myth, but I thought it was real so I thought I was dying and that's when he snagged my hand and he pulled me out and I would have been okay adult was coming by that point. You know the water will was a super deep just over my head enough, but it was, you know, pretty awful. And as we're walking away here I am soaked. I'm like, my parents are gonna kill me. And because he can't hide that very easily. He goes, Wow, I've never been a hero before, I just wanted to beat the hell out of him, because he's the one that pushed me in. But I'm also like, it's my own damn fault. I knew I wasn't supposed to be there. And I don't remember his name. If I did, I'd hunt him down on social media just to just to get after him. See how he's doing. But to my wife, he's probably like some kind of world class lifeguard or something now, like, Coast Guard rescue, and he saved all these people. Which we awesome. Because to help contribute to that, right. But yeah, that's all there was to it. But it really, you know, impressed itself on my memory. I've got so many stories that deal with water, and deal with lakes. And I try not to go back to any kind of drowning imagery, but I'll still do that every once in a while. So it's, it had a huge impact on just themes that I wrote about.

Michael David Wilson 11:04

Yeah, I hope that if anyone tunes into this, this coastal life podcast that he's a guest on today, and he's like, God, and then we got this is his a holy life lesson. But from the other perspective,

Tim Waggoner 11:20

right? I'll be like every some jackass kid that didn't. He didn't tell me he couldn't swim. Yeah. So yeah.

Michael David Wilson 11:29

Can you swim now?

Tim Waggoner 11:31

Not really. So I told my I told myself a little bit. Both my daughters had 20 lessons. since they were babies, they swim like fish. That's the revenge, my revenge on the lake. It's never gonna get my daughters. And my wife was on a swim team and was scouted for the Olympics when she was a kid. So I've got three women that can if something happens, but in general, I don't think the way I used to. So that part's good. So maybe that counts is swimming. But I just don't feel like I know how to swim. Well. She tried to teach me and Holly went so far.

Michael David Wilson 12:04

Yeah. And I presume that it is a coincidence that your wife was, you know, on a swim team that then could have gone into the Olympics, rather than you know, you were so scarred. You were like, look, when I find my life partner. They got a Vienna Olympic swimmer.

Tim Waggoner 12:25

See? Yeah, no, it was just a coincidence. But yeah, it was just when I told her the story. She's like, I'm gonna teach you how to swim. And just did not work out. I'm not the most physically gifted human when it comes to stuff like that, so but you know, I got good enough that I could swim, like the length of a pool and stuff. So I don't know about treading water for hours and hours, like in open water, that movie where they're just just trying desperately to not die. I don't know if I could do that. But she could. She probably could.

Michael David Wilson 12:58

Yeah. Yeah. Wow. So that's something about, you know, just being so close to death so young, in your life. And I mean, even becoming aware of mortality at that age can be quite, you know, painful. But for it to appear literally. It's like, No, I could have died there. And then, and, I mean, you are watching all these monster movies. So you're already pretty versed in horror and in the fantastical way you at that point, also creating your own stories where you write English. Are you drawing? Did this experience inspire you to write stories? You know, you said you wrote a lot revolving around water, you know, in your life, generally. But what was it kind of an immediate thing? I mean, I'm assuming not so immediate, that after you were like, right, get some pen and paper I got one for you

Tim Waggoner 14:07

know, I was drew most of the time. The first thing that I wrote that I thought were drew that I thought was a book as I took an old son ographers bad and I turned it this way. So it'd be like a book. And I had never seen King Kong Vs. Godzilla and you seen pictures of it and Famous Monsters magazine. So I drew my own version of it. And then a few years later, I tried to sit down and actually write it. Inside we'll be looking at the pictures and there's this one of the famous stills has got Godzilla and King Kong on either side of a building and it's one of the ones that I don't even know what the architectural style is called, but it's kind of shaped almost like a drawing of a Christmas tree with the way there's layers lupa like this, and I'd heard the word Geisha so I said, this is this is my bed. Not doing research as a kid. I'm like, I'll call it the geisha house. That's probably close. Right It could be any mitigation was. It's like King Kong and Godzilla destroying the geisha house. Yeah, So those are like the first kind of things I did, then it was just a lot of drawing. And then, you know, 1973 75 came around, I saw jaws in the theater. And since I was already like messed up about water, this messed me up even worse. I was a people today watching and they can't imagine what it was like to see that and see Star Wars and close encounters, you know, Raiders, all in the theater, you know, with the rest of the culture. It was just so transformative. We never seen anything like that. But Jaws was terrifying. I was just, I was with my dad. And we finally got up into the end and there's a part where the the jaws, you know, jumps up onto the boat as the boat sinking and he does this as Quint slides down. And when I saw this shark, I could see that the teeth were rubber because they would bend this way a few of them. The jaw was going sideways like this. And I was like, that's the thing. I've been scared up for the last two hours. And I've been so stressed that I burst out in hysterical laughter and fell onto the floor. And I ruined that movie for every theater. I'm sure they probably hated me. But yeah, then I was like fast. You know obsessed with sharks. I read everything about him. I drew pictures all the time. And sharks I did that for made like little cardboard cutouts on all straws in a tape recorded the movie jaw, just like my own version. And I did it as a puppet show for my family. I was like behind the chair. And I did jaws and everything and the shark come up and you know, just processing all that as much as I possibly could. But I'm sure it dovetailed into, you know that the experience of almost drowning. But lots of people were traumatized back then and afraid to take a shower, even just because the idea of water touching your skin was just horrible after seeing that. So luckily, all the rest of the movies were terrible. And I got over two, but I saw each one of them in the theater, and they got just progressively worse. So

Michael David Wilson 16:58

all right. Yeah, and it's interested in what you say about obviously that last moment, and because it was obvious to you, okay, this is a fake shark that it just kind of took away all your fear. But then that goes back to this idea, particularly with horror movie making, it's like, you know, do we or don't we show the monster? And if we do, how much do we show and I feel, you know, a number of decades ago, like in the 70s and 80s and 90s, then it's a lot more risky to show the monster because of the special effects and like it might just not kind of work. It might take you out a bit. But I mean, even now if I guess because our idea as to what is and isn't scary is so subjective. So what a Monster Maker for want of a better word might consider to be fear inducing for me, are you that that could be laughable? So I mean, what what are your thoughts on the argument and wherever to or whether or not to show the monster I know that there's obviously no hard or fast rule there. But there will be times when it is a good idea times when it's better to shy away times, or it's better to get a glimpse. I'm wondering to how you think that dichotomy differs when you're writing for the page as opposed to the screen? A lot of questions there baked in, though, do we don't we hear the monster dichotomy?

Tim Waggoner 18:45

You know, I think that a lot of it is just like our primitive like monkey brain that we still have. Because once you show the monster, you know where it's at. That was the thing that was so terrifying about jaws. And once they were on the water, especially, you know, they were in its element, and you had no clue. It could be so close by but you wouldn't know. Unless it's been, you know, broke the surface or whatever. Which, you know, I think makes it like such a wonderful like, like almost cosmic war metaphor, you just do not know it's on the other side of this super thin kind of veil. That's there. And then once it shows up, you're like, oh, there it is. Now you can shoot at it. Now you can do this. And even if it eats you, you know, it's gone from the unknown to the known. And it's like, as soon as you see it, you start mapping it. And in one of the things that I've noticed over the years is whenever there's a really impactful horror image, like you know, Reagan in The Exorcist, when she's all possessed or whatever, or the shark in Jaws, they work as fast as they can the culture to parody it to turn it into something cute or funny. Eventually, it's a plush toy, like Cthulhu is a plush toy and been for such a long time. And it's like they're trying very quickly to map it and then shrink it down and make it something that's not threat. thing anymore. And so I think it's part of what happens when it's shown. You know, it's, it's not threatening, not the same way. You know, it's the difference between Alien and Aliens, you know, and aliens. They're, it's, they're not scary they're a threat to and that's fine. They're great for an action movie, but it's not the same as something lurking in the darkness. You know, I did the novelization for Halloween kills and the, the thing that you know that I've kept thinking I tried my best to do it, you know, the way they had it, but I'm like, you know, they've made Michael kind of into Freddy and Michael's a stalker, he's a creeper, you know, that's the thing he does that, that sets him apart from any other slicers. So I tried to like, you know, play that up in certain places, but, but even those guys like Freddy and then Jason, what Freddie because of his scarring, but you don't see them because they have masks, you know, they're still hidden. You know, if you take off, you know, Jason's hockey mask. And if you didn't, even though he may be disfigured underneath, and you take off Michael's mask, then they're just dudes with names, you know, they have to have that sort of grim reaper kind of image about them to really set off that sort of mythic response that people have that archetype response. So, you know, in fiction, you know, you can show the monster because you can just show it through somebody's perceptions. You know, I tell people all the time students all the time that if you have a monster in the middle of the field, it's just something in the middle of a field. But if you have somebody perceiving it, that's when it's a monster, because it's through their perceptions. You know, Ripley sees the alien in the first movie as a monster. But the Marines in the second movie, they just see it as a target. They're laughing about all the, you know, the bugs that they've they've killed on other planets, not realizing that this is a very different kind of an alien, but it's, they don't see it as a monster. So you can write it that way. So what what would somebody really perceive? Think about like a deer that runs in front of your car, or maybe you see something you think might be a fox or a cat, but it was so fast, you're not sure. You know, we would see like just bits and pieces. So we might see like a plush of yellow eyes and some fur. But other than that, we don't know, we might see just the T, that's what impressed on us. And so you can write about it. With just things like that, while you still it is kind of shown. But because it's through the perceptions of somebody, it also can be still hidden in a lot of ways. And unless you want to go ahead and show it, you know, right at the end. Other types of monsters like you know, the zombie apocalypse. What's not shown is why, why is this happened? How could it possibly happen? How could these damn things keep going even after a few hours? If they're really a reanimated corpses? Why aren't the maggots destroying them? Or whatever? You know, it's just like this horrible this cannot possibly be happening. And there's never an answer. Or the answer is so ridiculous. You know, it doesn't even answer it. No matter what you do. It's like, they say, That's what Hitchcock wanted at the very end of the speech was Simon Oakland is like, and here's what's wrong with with the Norman Bates character is it at all is so hollow, because it can't possibly explain him? You know, especially what we see right after that. And so I think you can I think preserving however you do it, that sense of the unknown. I think that works really well. And I think if you could do a really cool twist like that, at the end of the movie, one that seems to grow naturally, you know, out of the story, I think that can work well, instead of just some stupid bizarre thing.

Michael David Wilson 23:34

All right. Yeah. Yeah. It's so interesting, what you said at the beginning of that answer about how when we have like this kind of figure of terror, the mainstream culture as quickly as possible, tries to parody it and tries to make it not as threatening anymore. And of course, that's something I've been aware of, but it's not something I've ever heard anybody explicitly say in those terms, and I mean, if I think about things here in Japan, one of the scariest figures that Sadako from the ring, but you know, these days like dressing up as Sadko for kind of like parties I mean, not not every like Japanese party, it's not like oh, it's his birthday, and he's wearing his sadock or costume again. But you know, like you'd see baseball games like somebody cosplaying saticon taking the shot or like throw in you you've seen so like and so sometimes that girl will like turn up on some saw a variety show request show so that trying to make Yeah, this character who is feared be be known and not be fair. Yeah, I mean, of course, there's a deeper commentary with Sadiq Khan, generally. I mean, if you want to let the ring film Sadko is actually the victim. And you know that the only reason that she becomes the way that she is, is because of people ridiculing her in the first place. So, you know, be careful Japanese culture, you're making a turnout for these baseball games, but it could come back on you. But yeah, it's interesting how that happens, and how pretty much like months after the first scream coming out, then everyone's kind of wearing the scrim mask. And yeah, it's something I've never heard put in those terms before but completely true.

Tim Waggoner 25:45

I just thought that somebody should make a movie about something like that happening in the the actual villain or monster is upset that it tries to, like, you know, take out the toy people or the people making the cartoon movie of it or something. So anybody out there that makes films wants to do that? Go for it? Because I'd love to see it.

Michael David Wilson 26:03

Yeah, yeah.

Bob Pastorella 26:05

I think I think a lot, you know, has to be said for how well the film is like, we're talking about jobs, for example. And so you know, when you when you finally see the shark, that yeah, the first time I saw it, I saw in a theater as well. And I didn't I didn't have the same reaction that you did. Tim, I was scared shitless because I was so caught up in everything. And so I think that you know, when you have, you know, someone, a filmmaker storyteller who can take you out of that moment, and put you into the characters heads. A lot can be forgiven. Especially when you compare like, you know, the wonky shark to say something that's even worse, like, Barker's raw head Rex. Which, I mean, I don't even think the monsters mouth moved. Yeah, it's so bad. It's good. Yeah. You know, but I mean, in cod, which probably is probably just like, Oh, God, you know, but, yeah. That that movies right for remaking it the right way. So that's true. And, but, but yeah, that would be great, too. If Rohit got mad if they made like dolls about him and stuff like that, and you can kill the doll makers. That would be cool, too.

Michael David Wilson 27:28

Yeah. So it's difficult to know, how do you follow up from raw head wraps? It doesn't happen often. But every 100 episodes. We have a segue, but I, I You mentioned Michael Myers, of course, no surprise, given the you wrote the novelization of Halloween kills. But, you know, Bob and I have spoken before about like the kind of debate as to whether Michael Myers is human, wherever he is supernatural, wherever he is something in between. I want to know your take on that. And I want to know if you think whoever Michael Myers is human or supernatural, or some kind of bizarre amalgamation differs, depending on the Halloween film?

Tim Waggoner 28:24

That's a good question. I think the way that he's portrayed, you know, is different in each film, and Rob Zombie in his remake is he's the first one he's like, oh, yeah, he's just a regular guy, you know, and it's just, he's a serial killer. And then he does the second one. And suddenly, it's like a David Lynch movie, all kinds of stuffs happening. And I'm like, you know, good job making us out there. But I think, you know, for me, I think he's like Schrodinger cat, you know, he's both. I mean, that was the impression. You know, I saw the first film on a theater, little tiny theater. And back then I was terrified of slicers. And I went with my sister's boyfriend, who was a friend of mine, too. And he was laughing, he was laughing because everybody was screaming, and suddenly, I realized, wait a minute, this is a good time. And I was never afraid to slashers again after that. But yeah, I remember at the time that the fact that he was kind of a weird liminal being was what was so scary about it. In a lot of ways, that's kind of what happens with the thing too. There's that, you know, Schrodinger cat kind of aspect to it, you know, as well. And I think that works really, really well in horror. So the the people that, you know, like people all the time that said, they only like realistic or so they just want humans being, you know, bad to other humans, because it's scary because it could really happen. And I'm like, Yeah, but it's kind of boring because it could really happen. I want this stuff that can happen. But you get that with Michael Myers, too, because of the way he reacts to things in the, you know, constantly with Loomis giving these override speeches that are just so awesome. You know about how we had the blackest eyes, the devil's eyes. I that Michael exists in that movie as an image and so much because of Donald Pleasance performance in the script of his dialogue. So I like it best when Michael is just doing that, who the hell knows what he is kind of a place in the script, I got to do did have touches of that. tried to play it up just a little. And they had me take that down, just delay, turn that down again. But then let me keep all the things in the script that were there. They did tone him down for the movie, but my absolute favorite scene in the script was at the toward the end when the crowd is like Trump, you know, beating Michael on the street. And in the script, the reason why they can do that is they pulled his mask off. And so when I wrote it, I was like, they took his face, they took his, uh, he took his power. And that's the way it seemed like in the script, and so that you can beating him and beating him and look like he was gonna die. But they knocked him far enough close to where the mask lay, that when he put it back on, it's like he was Popeye eating the spinach, you know, he was recharged. And he just killed everybody. And I'm like, This is so cool. Because it could be psychological. But it could be mystical. And they just cut that out. I mean, the scene still happens, but not like that. And I am like, that is pure cinematic gold. Why did you cut that? So for me, that's like the quintessential, if you're gonna have Michael be out there and doing a lot of like ultra violence. I think that's the way to still preserve him as that kind of liminal being. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 31:37

Yeah. And that's such a perfect way to do it. Hopefully, one day, they will specifically remake the Tim Wagner preferred edition.

Tim Waggoner 31:48

Probably not. But who knows?

Michael David Wilson 31:50

Yeah, I wonder what what their logic was for making that cat? I don't know if they gave any notes. So

Tim Waggoner 31:58

no, no, I have no idea why it could just be time. It could be they felt, because it did in the script feel like that was the climax. But then the story goes on for a little while. And so maybe they thought that it took away from you know, that very end where you know that he and Jamie are kind of on the phone, and she's like, I'm coming to get you. We just don't know that she really isn't. And it's going to be four years later, but because originally she was supposed to they were going to have the confrontation, you know, this next part of that night, before so much time went by, and they decided to do something else. But I think that may be why is just they wanted to try to preserve what they saw as a climax, as opposed to this, you know, super climax that they have earlier.

Michael David Wilson 32:42

Yeah, yeah. And I mean, thinking about the rhythm of writing and the rhythm of story when it comes to writing your own fiction, so not attached to any of our properties. If you have like a scene that you think, Okay, this might, in a way, not exactly trump the climax, but this is going to be a talking point. I mean, how does that or doesn't that affect kind of the writing and the rhythm of the entire story? If you deliver such a set piece in the middle? Do you then have to go back to the plan or the idea for the ending so that you then help do it again, I'm wondering what what is your strategy for that?

Tim Waggoner 33:31

That's a good question. years ago for leisure, wrote a book called Pandora drive. And one of the things I wanted to do was an experiment with a false climax, where I did something like that on purpose. And everybody because it was a paper book, not an ebook. Everybody would know. There was still this much left. But so then, uh, yeah, I just said, Okay, now it's time to turn the weirdness up to 100 at that point, but I'd already had the idea of what was going to happen next. It's just that I made an extra weird once I got there and realized kind of what I had done. And I don't know if it worked or not, it was an experiment. People seem to like the book, okay, for the most part. So I don't know if anybody noticed, sometimes you do that stuff. And you have no clue if anybody notices and even on a subconscious level they do. Something else I might do. If I was aware that was happening, I might just interrupt it. You know, we're looks like this is what's going to happen. And then maybe the person that looks like is going to save everybody suddenly shot and then fall through. And then you have a chance to go ahead. That's you know, a good thing because it's nice when people don't know where your story's going or should feel, you know, unsafe and even narratively speaking, and having something like a twist at the end so what you should have twists in the middle. That really like my favorite is The Crying Game. Because when no Internet back then but all the film critics kept their mouths shut. They swore each other to secrecy so that they would preserve it. For the audience, and so when I went to see it in theaters, I was like, Oh, yes, this is so good. It changed the entire story in so many cool ways. So I tried to do if I'm going to do stuff like that I tried to have twists along the way, and not so much of the end.

Michael David Wilson 35:14

Yeah. And it's interesting how the Internet and not just the internet, but the prevalence of social media and places like Goodreads has changed the dynamic, and has changed the feedback. And I imagine, you know, that can be for better and for worse, because as you were saying, Before, when you did this kind of fake ending, as it were in the middle of the book, it's difficult for you to know how people actually reacted to that, because you weren't getting the immediate feedback. But probably, if you were to do it, now, you would see it on social media, or you would see it on Goodreads, if you were so bold as to venture over to there and see what people are writing. So I mean, how do you feel about that shift? And, I mean, do you seek out read of feedback online, that you go looking for the reviews and see what people are saying, is that a bad idea? And you'd rather just, you know, they have their opinion, you don't need to read it? What's your approach to that? Yeah, I

Tim Waggoner 36:31

tried to read all the ones I can find, although with good reads that they start to like, get up to a lot, eventually, I've kind of gotten enough of what everybody's saying, I can see the kind of gist of what the reaction is, and I kind of stop at that point. But even the bad ones, I mean, I I write for people to read, and I need to know whether if I tried something, what was the effect of it? I've some of the books that I've done that have had, like, you know, it's a short series of maybe two or three books or whatever. But I've changed what I was going to do in future books based on points people have made, where it's like, Oh, he didn't address this in the first book. And I was like, well, holy shit, I guess that's a really good point, I'm gonna make that a giant plot point in Book Three. So that can be really useful. You know, like, I'm lucky, if I had a lot of money or views were really, really mixed, it might be hard, or if I got a lot of bad ones, they tend to be fairly decent. So the bad ones aren't even if they're like, you know, this was three stars, four stars, but it had this still, you know, overall a good review. So it might be harder for me, but in general, it's the bad ones kind of mostly, you know, sort of, sort of roll off of me for the most part. I do think about it that I consider everything. The you know, I've got a book coming out in a couple of days. The next writing in the dark one on Net Galley. The first review I got was one star in the woman just said they shouldn't label this a horror book. It's not a horror book. And I'm like, it's full of horror stories that I critique it Yeah, it's a how to write book but it's does that horror stories in it, it's okay to slot it under order to, but I'm not going to look and write that person and say anything about it. So stuff like gets frustrated when you get on Amazon. And it's like, you know, this book was late one star like, okay, fine, whatever. So yeah, I read them. I learned from them. They don't. So far, they don't bother me. I haven't had any like weird email. I had one person write me once in all lowercase letters that just said, you write badly. And I just looked at it. I almost wrote back. No, I write goodly and lowercase letters. But I decided, you know, probably not a good idea to initiate more. More stuff. And then I had somebody after Pandora drive, had it. He said he had an argument with his wife that horror writers, you know, they really have to research the stuff they write about. And so he wanted me to settle and I said, like, do those things. You know, I need to be, you know, like dead or in jail if I tried that stuff. It's imagination. And the guy never wrote me back. So those are about the only two that I ever had. I did have a woman who found somewhere in Florida Pandora drive, I think she was retired. And God knows why she decided to read it. I don't know if she finished it. But she wrote this very long letter to the police in my town. Because she was worried that you know, and she kept saying, you know, you know, I'm sorry if I'm, you know, wrong about this man. But the fact that he's teaching young people, and he might be this monster is really disturbing to me. And I found out years later that they actually spoke to the dean at my college. And like, no, it's just me writes that stuff. And they save the letter. They gave it to the dean and the dean gave it to me when he retired. And so I read this thing, and I was like, so it was kind of cool, but I felt so sorry for this woman. She was so worried. If anybody wants to find it, I put it on my blog years ago. So you can read it. But that was a weird kind of sort of review. where, you know, one of the things I've learned over the years is people, they really want horror writers to be weird. They like the idea that they're brushing up against some kind of darkness. Some kind of extreme, you know, like emotional state or mental state. That danger, they want us to have that almost like we're, you know, wild animals in a zoo or something like Reliance or whatever. And I think there'd be so disappointed to realize we're just regular everyday people. You know, maybe our imaginations are different, but we're not going around like actually plotting things against people or, you know, it's not like one episode of the TV series. I think it was Freddy's Nightmares where they showed the trial of Freddie. And whenever they showed stuff, from his point of view was flames everywhere. Everybody's screaming. It's like all he saw all the time. And I'm like, It's not not like that.

Michael David Wilson 40:50

Yeah, that's interesting, the letter that was sent to the police, because it's, it's almost a massive compliment is like, I wrote so well that you think that I'm capable of this. It's like, No, this is too authentic. This is too convincing. It's not possible that a writer could exist that would just imagine behind. I mean, the talent that would be required, I better write to the police. Like, I don't know what to tell you.

Tim Waggoner 41:23

It's one of those scripts where, you know, they're there about HG Wells or whoever. And they can't actually just imagine stuff, they have to have an adventure, and it just is they then they write about it. As nonfiction. It's thinly disguised and it becomes the time machine or the Island of Dr. Moreau. And it's like, no, we can make stuff up. We really can. Just because other people don't necessarily do that, or know what it's like, it doesn't mean that these things are real somehow.

Michael David Wilson 41:51

Yeah. I guess like if they're making a kind of auto biographical, I should say a biographical because if it's auto, then it's the person making it. We're making a biographical film, a biography. Look, it's early here, then it would be a little bit boring. If it's just you know that the person is at their desk. Oh, yeah. That's a good idea. Not so dramatic. But yeah, like you say, that is more the reality. But it's interesting, because I mean, on This Is Horror, we've spoken before about the importance of not confusing the art with the artist, and vice versa. But you are right, that even to me, that seems so obvious. It does seem with people who are not into horror at all, and particularly with people who dislike horror. They can't conceive that it's like no, actually, horror people, for want of better phrasing, are some of the kindest, nicest people that I've met, but they they can't conceive of that. It's like, what why would you write about all those horrible, nasty things? Why would you do it? That's not nice. What are you doing? Tim? What are you doing? What's wrong with you? They don't get it at all. And I don't even know if there's a way that one can address that. If somebody is so resolute, that nice. People don't write about nasty things, then, then what can you even do to change their mind?

Tim Waggoner 43:39

Yeah, I had a student once that came up to me, and she said, when she found out what I wrote, she said, I just can't believe it. You seem like such a pleasant person, you know, and I did do the the ethical, like, kind of slightly evil smile. And I said, What do you think keeps me pleasant. And so that's the best way that I've learned to, you know, describe it to people, we get so much out that we don't that stuff doesn't build up in us the same way as it does and other people. And you know, if you can look at your own shadow self, it loses a lot of its power over you. You know, it's not something to be afraid of, especially when you realize we all have them. I think a lot of fear and shame and stuff can be about all kinds of things about being human, really could cause people lots of problems. I mean, you can understand you have a shadow self and kind of map it and come to terms with it without ever do anything. So I think that's the like the end of the babba Duke because what that is, is that idea. She's you know, she's made peace with that thing, which is, I think her feelings about being a mother, the fact that she's got it's mixed. I learned that from a friend of mine if my first child was getting ready to be born, she gave me and she already had kids. She gave me advice. She said there's a moment when you are literally going to want to kill your child. So I'm not joking. She said it's okay to feel that way, nobody tells you it's normal. Just don't do it. And I was like, not me, not this little thing, you know. And six months later, I'm like, Oh, just please be quiet. And of course, you know, nothing ever happened. But nobody talks about that, especially with women, because you know, you're a mother, you're supposed to love every minute of it, and you're not supposed to have these negative emotions. So just knowing that those things are there and knowing that they're normal. Even if they're awful, it takes away a lot of their power. You know, it really isn't a lot of ways, I guess, even like, spoke against it kind of earlier, like turning it into a plushie. You know, it's lets you do, you know, not cut it down to size, but you're able to look at it, so it doesn't have so much power over you, I guess. Yeah, yeah. And my wife, she's not a horror fan, but she loves going to our conventions, because of the people. So it's not just for people that say, We're the nice lever. Now it's our spouses and our friends that don't care a lick about or, but just love the community.

Michael David Wilson 46:05

Yeah. Does your wife read any of your books? Does she watch any of the movies with you? Because I mean, my my girlfriend, she doesn't like horror, Eva, but like, I might be able to convince her to watch like some kind of dark thrillers or things that they bought her on horror, that horror tangential. It's like, we're not ever going to be able to sit down for a lovely watching martyrs date or Cannibal Holocaust. But perhaps there's something kind of dark thriller tangential, like, well, we can watch a few episodes of Black Mirror, for example. And we can watch like, kind of dark crime thrillers, but that is about the limit. So I'm wondering what it's like with your wife

Tim Waggoner 46:55

is she she will watch like any kind of creature feature, you know, or kaiju movies. You know, if it's something like animal attacks, movies, those are all fine. She doesn't like humans being you know, cruel to other humans, especially if there's torture. She is super super sensitive to other people. And even though she knows it's fake, it's that's too hard for and she also, cuz she's super sensitive, and also super creative. She has like super vivid dreams. So anything that has weird surreal imagery, it's a no, because it'll show up in her dreams. We were watching like, streaming, like, go find a cryptid show kind of thing. And one of the episodes is like, here's doll Island, where they put all these mysterious dolls. And she's like, Nope, nothing happens. There is just dolls hanging out, you know, it's not an eviction. But, you know, she's like, No, I can't handle those images. So I just never know what it's gonna be. But in general, we've kind of, you know, we've found the sort of things we can watch together. The hardest thing and the fun, most fun thing is he's used to be an EMT. So anytime like, like when a crocodile suddenly bite somebody and they still keep walking around. She's like, that person is gonna be dead in about 10 minutes. And I'm like, No, honey, they live in Action Adventure World, those people are tougher than we are. On the rocking, get shot, and he just like tenses and stops the blood flow. It's

Michael David Wilson 48:19

yeah, no, I'm noticing some parallels here. Because my girlfriend is a nurse. So there has been times where it's like that, that wouldn't happen like that. It's like that person's already dead. And it's like, well, I guess in this film, they ain't. The world works differently. And I can move on. But I know, you know, medical personnel or scientists like sometimes they can be taken out of a story or a movie and it ruins it ruins it for them. Luckily, for me, I just suspend my, my disbelief is primarily a writer and an English teacher. Right? I don't care too much if. Yeah, I mean, and also like, particularly when we're dealing with the fantastical, anyway, it's like, well, I don't even think that ghosts exist. So there you go. So we can suspend that disbelief if you know, the way that this person has been cut and the blood that has been lost, actually, they would have passed out, you know, two minutes earlier than they did that. That is not important to me. You really

Tim Waggoner 49:29

just say adrenaline, you know, it's a horror movie. So they're extra scared, so there's extra adrenaline. Yeah, she doesn't by that. The other thing I say it's, it's a subtle clue that the nature of reality, you know, is is kind of like fragile and it's kind of falling apart. She's like, No, it's not it's just a mistake. And I'm like, Alright, fine.

Michael David Wilson 49:48

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, I mean, that's it. You could just argue that every film is actually a weird fiction story to a point it's like know that the universe and science This just operates a little bit differently and maybe they're like, Shut The Fuck yeah.

Tim Waggoner 50:09

I think they purposely try to make the those kinds of things. We know that it's fake, you know, so it's going, it's like, okay, nobody's really been hurt, we can just enjoy the ride. You know, if somebody like my, my ex wife twice a different times, she just fell in broken elbow and had to have like, you know, pins in and all this, she just like just kind of tripped over on theater tripped on the stair. And it's like, imagine that adventure character doing that, I got to write a Choose Your Own Adventure book with Winchester brothers with supernatural. And so that was one of the wrong paths I did is that I had deemed slip on ice and break his leg. And it take him to the hospital, so they couldn't chase the bad guy. And there were two editors for the book. And one of them she's like, that's not a really good supernatural kind of thing. And the other editor is like, no, it's funny. It's, and it's, you know, false kind of path or whatever. Anyway, let's leave it in. And that wasn't my favorite things to write. Because, you know, in real world, the world, you know, somebody jumps off like the second storey building there. That's it shattered your legs. And, you know, they're not going to keep on going.

Michael David Wilson 51:16

Yeah, yeah, it's funny, you know, you mentioning that, that if we do something too realistic, then it might be criticized as well. Or some people might be like, No, that wouldn't happen. Like, imagine if you know that they're getting ready for the heist, and then somebody like, picks up a box slightly wrong. And they're like, I've done my back into you. Go ahead. I'm not, I'm not gonna be able to make the highs today.

Tim Waggoner 51:45

Yeah, they would even have to pick up a box differently. They could just like, twist wrong or something. So yeah, no, but nobody wants reality to get in the way of their fantasy. So you know, even movies that are their dramas and supposed to be highly realistic. They're not or they wouldn't be so interesting. You know, like you said earlier, just be like somebody's just typing. It would be people yelling at each other, whatever, maybe sometimes are talking but they would not have the dramatic beats and the intensity and whatever, the rise and fall the narrative. So none of its real. We don't want it to be.

Michael David Wilson 52:14

Yeah, yeah. Although I must say, I don't know if you've heard of this, but Josh Malerman is making a kind of writing documentary about him writing his latest novel. And if anyone can pull it off, literally a man sitting at a desk and writing the novel is going to be him. So I'm very excited for that. And Josh is just the kind of wild character anyway. So yeah. Yeah, I think he'll be able to do it. I think if I was doing it, it will be completely boring.

Tim Waggoner 52:53

Absolutely the same.

Michael David Wilson 52:55

What you learn right today? Why? Why have you put this out?

Tim Waggoner 53:00

It's like live streams of just people writing. earlier days of the Internet, some writers could have tried it. But who wants to look at somebody just doing this, like cussing and looking off into space and drinking more coffee or smoking a cigarette? And? Yeah, it's just not that interesting.

Michael David Wilson 53:17

Yeah. Oh, so like, you know, I feel that would put me off, I wouldn't be able to write effectively anyway, because I'd be aware of the camera. So you're doing some weird shit to try and entertains. And now it's like, I'm just a live stream entertaining people rather than actually writing your book. So I think that at work.

Tim Waggoner 53:43

Somebody should make a movie of that. That'd be a good movie to somebody out there. Right. That movie?

Michael David Wilson 53:46

Yeah, we're just coming up with movie ideas today. Yeah. But I mean, we've spoke a lot about movies that you watch growing up, and indeed movies that you've watched throughout your life. But I want to know about your first experiences reading and so my understanding is that you grew up surrounded by books, your dad always had a lot of books that were lying around. So what were the first stories that you will reading and relate it to that? What was the first story that really captured your imagination, either in terms of just falling in love with books and falling in love with horror or wanting to pursue that kind of career?

Tim Waggoner 54:37

You know, the very first one I remember was a kid science fiction book called The spaceship under the apple tree. And this little kid just finds an alien kid. The spaceship is broken or whatever. I read that over and over and then I read the sequel, but my parents let me get whatever I wanted. So I could get like scary comics. And once I got a little older, I could Get the ones that had, like, you know, on the cover, they would have like, you know, people's arms being ripped off and blood shooting everywhere. And I'm like, why they held it. But you know, so I could just graze on all of these things. But one of the books that I loved the most was, I think I was five in a neighbor kid showed me a book by Nelson Bridwell, who did Clifford the Big Red Dog, but it was called How to Train Your monster. And it was like, if you're gonna have a monster as a pet, here's the guide. And they had a chapter for Frankenstein monsters and one for vampires. And I thought this was great. So I trained him a bunch of baseball cards for it because I didn't give a damn about baseball. I just had them because other kids had them. And so then there was a sequel called Monster holidays, like how to celebrate the holidays with your monsters. So I still like had to get other ones because I lost them over the years. But, you know, eBay, eBay provides. And so I still got a vs right over there, along with some of my other, you know, books that were really impactful on me. But I really thought that idea was was a lot of fun. The idea that a person could, like, you know, choose to have a monster for a pic, because that was back before, you know, that was nine things happen. But you know, then it was I had a couple of anthologies that I don't know where I got them. I had one called Alfred Hitchcock's monster museum that had a reprints of a lot of really good stories in there. From people like Theodore Sturgeon and Jerome Bixby. The one that was most impactful for me though, was Ray Bradbury's Homecoming was in there. And the fact that that's, it was like such a blend of beauty and darkness that made something else that there's no word for. And it didn't hurt that the the little kid in there was called Tim, or whatever to me, because, like, that's my name. And then you'll get to the end, and you realize, oh, his affliction is that he's human, and everybody else is not, and he will die. And they won't. And so that's kind of when you get to that as a kid, and you're like, Whoa. And then I had another one called Monster deals that had a bunch of different stories in it. Some humorous, tamaak, Leone story Wendigos child was in. And that was a really impactful story for me. And then later on, I started reading like nonfiction books on cryptids, and UFOs. And stuff, like a lot of people do when they're in at any age, but certainly when they're younger, they're often fascinated. And then I stumbled across the Mothman Prophecies, not realizing what I was going to get into. And that book is just, it tries to, it's all about high strangeness. And none of this stuff makes sense. And it was so creepy to me that all this random stuff was happening, you couldn't predict or control it, I was reading this thing. And late into the night, I finally got to the end, it ends with a quote from Charles Ford, that says, if there is a universal mind must be saying. And I was sat there in my bed, just like my mind blown from how long and just this idea, you know that and I had never read any Lovecraft. So I didn't know about as a Toth or whatever, you know, the gods are either malevolent or insane or whatever. But it's just this idea that there is no, there is nothing, you know, there's no sense there's no sanity, there's no anything was super impactful for me. And you know, in horror can represent that really well. You know, even if it's in person on person, or it's usually a distortion of some sort. You know, I usually I tell people that, you know, somebody goes in and like a few people go in to rob a bank. everybody's scared there, and they could get killed, but it's not horror. But if you have one of those people in the bank act, like he sees Pete, the people, you know, the customers, the patrons, or whatever, as demons, and he's afraid they have to kill them. Suddenly, it's a distortion, and you've got horror, at that point. So I really think that yeah, that, you know, the more than I read things that were like distortions, and especially if distortions that didn't have answers, they were just there. Yeah, I think that's really challenging for a young mind. So it had a lot of impact on me. And Parzen wearables are safe, because you can learn the rules on how to deal with them. Yeah, but you know, you're in the David Lynch movie. There are no rules. You're just you're just screwed. Unless you're just lucky. And then you're probably insane anyway, because everybody seems to be

Michael David Wilson 59:33

Yeah. If you're in a David Lynch movie, if you think they're a rose, you can guarantee that they're going to be inverted anyways. So, yeah,

Tim Waggoner 59:43

yeah, of course. They'll shift at any moment. Yeah, yeah, there was a rule that was good five minutes ago, but guess what? Yeah. What's not?

Michael David Wilson 59:51

has said yeah. And I mean, say it sounds like you were reading about you know, disquiet. Doing things within the world such as UFOs, and cryptids, and things like that. Now, my understanding is you're an atheist, unless you've had like, a moment where you suddenly met God, like, I don't know, a week ago or something. I'm pretty sure you're an atheist last week. So, I mean, have you always been an atheist? Or was there a moment? And I mean, what about your beliefs about, you know, other things such as, like UFOs, and aliens and these disquieting things? Because I don't necessarily see them as like a contradiction. It's like, he is like, there is no God. We didn't say, there is no, like life on other planets, which, you know, I mean, we look that there is life on other planets, it's just that like, you know, they don't resemble at the moment in terms of what we've discovered the kind of intellectual forms that we have on this planet, but that the cosmos is so vast that it feels it feels possible, even if we haven't found it yet.

Tim Waggoner 1:01:12

You know, I grew up in my mom and dad didn't go to church, but I would spend weekends with my great aunt and great uncle and my great grandmother. And my great grandmother would go in my maternal grandmother would go and they went to a friend's Church, which is a very kind of laid back, not very rule oriented, more like, just community, people that would get together was kind of where they started. And it's still had a, you know, pastor and whatever. But, you know, I would go sometimes, and they take me to Sunday school. You know, one time one of the Sunday school teachers is like, I'm stopping by the library. Do you want me to get you any books, I'm like, there's this book I've been looking for forever called, I Am Legend, Richard Matheson. That's the one I want. And she didn't find it. For me. I don't think she kind of wondered what was going on. She was the pastor's wife, but she still got it for me. But it was a different time, you know, that church would have Halloween parties, and people would dress up. And for the first hour, you didn't know who anybody was then you unmasked. And I remember one year, the pastor came with a great big, almost like Mardi Gras head of Satan is who he was, you know, when they took it off. Everybody thought it was good fun. You know, I can't imagine people, you know, in American churches doing something like that today. And just people not just being apoplectic about it. So it was kind of like, you know, if something was there in the culture, you know, and there would be like movies, I always like movies that showed like the the the afterlife or heaven as a bureaucracy of some sort, you know, where people were trying to work through things, and, oh, something's wrong, and the angels have got to go fix it. But that's like, just a fantasy version of it. You know, I had a friend who was a at the time, they didn't say Evangelical, they said, born again, Christian. And we would sometimes debate stuff. And that it's I've just found myself just, you know, sort of just moving away from orthodox beliefs. And plus, you know, nobody could explain why people tend to follow the religion they were raised in, as opposed to everybody flocking to this one on the other side of the world, because it's true, and it's calling people. You know, just common sense eventually seemed to say that, you know, there, there's no, there's no way to get an answer outside. And so what I realized is if there is any answers, if there are spirits, and there's a spiritual dimension, that means we're each connected to it. So answers are on us. And maybe we already know them. And maybe we don't need to know them specifically on a conscious level while we're here. I don't know if that's true. I just thought about it. And I realized, Oh, good. That means there's no way to know in this life. So either you'll find out after you're dead, maybe, or you'll just be dead never know. Because there is nothing. Either way, there's nothing to worry about right now. And I still philosophically believe that, you know, you shouldn't have to have a reward to be a good person. Yeah, I think that it really sucks the idea that you have to get a prize in order to be good to other humans, or, you know, somebody's going to toss you into hell, therefore, you must be good. Like, that's not free choice. That's bribery. Punishment. So it doesn't seem to fit. So you know, yeah, the I didn't really, you know, I kind of what way from it, but there was a time when I gravitated toward it a bit. And so, I reached a state in high schools for like, two days, where I reached this euphoric state of almost like transcendence, and bliss. And I was like, you know, this is it, you know, I've connected to God, whatever. And then at the end of those two days, I'm like, wait a minute, I'm doing this to myself. I am making myself feel this. This is a normal, and then it just stopped. And it Yeah, since then it really, it's just not something that bothers me too much I don't have I'm not like somebody who wants to say you believe in magic. And that's ridiculous. I don't care about that let people believe whatever they want to believe, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. But it's when they try to hurt other people, anybody does because of their beliefs, or think they're better than somebody because their beliefs are trying to force your beliefs on somebody. Any beliefs, it doesn't matter whether they're spiritual or not, it's just I guess, people feel like they've got some kind of the authority, if it's spiritual, they can persecute other humans for it. Even if it helps you it's like software, in a lot of ways, you know, that helps you grow as a person in build a good community and contribute to the world. Who cares if it's real or not? It's real enough for what people need and for what it does. So yeah, I guess it's kind of, you know, and eventually, one of the, I came up with a metaphor, I said, it's like, imagine that you're born into an orphanage just into this one house, and you're raised by older orphans, you're all orphans. There are no parents anywhere. And the orphans in each house, they have a letter that is supposedly, from your parents, and it says, you know, this is who they are, this is what we want you to do. This is how we want you to behave. And you're like, Okay, we're gonna, this is what mom and dad want. And then you start meeting kids from other houses, and they have their own letters. And their letters are like, wait a minute, they say to do different things. And they say to the same mom and dad, except they're not exactly the same Mom and Dad, and you realize there's nobody to tell you the truth. It's just, you know, kids passing down this, who knows where it came from? Who knows it? And there's no way to know. So if it speaks to you fine. But otherwise, there's no rational way to pick. What kind of religion is the one religion? Yeah. If you feel something deeply, then you do. But yeah, there's no there's no God meter that you can press a button and it says, Oh, this is the religion. So everybody follow this?

Michael David Wilson 1:07:03

Right, right. We're not not sure why. And, you know, they call it faith referred and science as like, some sort of LEAP there that people are taking. And, in fact, in in everything you said, you just actually answered a question, I think that we got from Robert Stoll via Patreon, who he wanted to know, knowing that you're an atheist, what your opinion of religious people and religion is, I think you've probably covered all that, you know, you're there.

Tim Waggoner 1:07:35

You know, my wife believes my wife considers herself a Christian, and she is the most non judgmental, loving person I have ever met. And I told her, you know, she restored my faith, just seeing how not literal faith. But just because so many people just don't do that. And she's absolutely unwavering, you know, and she was raised in the, you know, evangelical churches that were not kind to her. Just because she was different, in a lot of ways. And there are people Michael most is, you know, very open Christian, he is the kindest, sweetest, non judgmental person, he and my wife are a lot of light. And so, you know, if I go by how people treat other people, that's the most important thing to me. In what they do in terms of their community to create connection, it's more important to create connections than it is to break them or build walls. So if religion does that for people, then it's a it's a wonderful thing as far as I'm concerned. But it's really easy to twist when you think you know, your God gives you the authority to do bad things. Oh, yeah. Well, I consider bad.

Michael David Wilson 1:08:44

Yeah, yeah, I'd add Jonathan Jenkins to the list of non judgmental religious people. He's like, one of the kindest, sweetest people in the world. And yeah, I mean, they did it is scary. You alluded to when, like, occasionally, I'm sure we've all had these conversations where you talk to someone religious, they find out that you're atheist, and they're like, Well, what's stopping you murdering people? What's stopping you going out and doing bad things? Are you telling me that you're wired that that that's what you want to do? That's your nature. And this book, this set of rules is stopping you. It's like I I, I like to feel that you know, that there's people saying that it's that their needs here isn't that it's like if you're telling me that that's your nature, then I don't know. Maybe you need to talk to someone about that. That That doesn't sound good. You know?

Tim Waggoner 1:09:49

Yeah, yeah. And I you know, it's it's not their nature or else they nothing would stop them. Which maybe then explains why, why so many seem to take it as licensed to just do horrible things done There humans to try to control others. So I don't know, I don't know how much those people actually believe on any level, it's really hard to say. But it's nice to know that there are people that they do. And you know, plus I, I've never had any Jewish people I've never had any Muslims ever do knock on my door and tell me I'm going to hell never do that kind of thing. And it's pretty much live and let live and I, you know, I've been in like, colleges that in general were multicultural, taught at them all my life. And I think that's like the healthiest environment. But it's only the evangelical Christians that seem, at least in America to cause cause the most trouble. Mm hmm.

Bob Pastorella 1:10:44

It almost seems like it's a power play. It's, you know, I mean, a while back, I don't even think they call themselves this anymore. But you know, I remember encountering someone who told me he was a warrior for Christ. And I'm like, Jesus was a pacifist. How does that exactly work? What do you warring against? You know, and, and then, you know, it's like, and Who died and made you God? So because now you're, you're basically telling people how to live their lives. And I used to love to argue with those people. But I found that it's a lot better if you just check your head and walk away.

Tim Waggoner 1:11:22

Yeah, yeah, cuz you can't, it's since it's not logic based on logic, their logical arguments don't work. Friend of mine, and I mentioned once that there was probably sixth or seventh or eighth grade, something like that. ninth grade, you know, we had a not an argument discussion with them once and I said, you know, if Jesus really is the Son of God, it is no big deal. But he came up with all this stuff. And my friend said, what, who was from God, God knows all that. But imagine how just amazing it is. If he was just a regular old person, you know, divine inspiration, and he came up with all this stuff. That's a miracle. My friends like his, you know, he can just watch his eyes to this as he's trying to grasp the concept that uh, yeah, it's honestly there's if there's nothing special about God, doing stuff of God exists, because God is all powerful, the end. But if humans do stuff on their own, even if there wasn't God, that just let us do stuff on our own. That's really amazing. Because we don't have to, we choose to. And I think that's, that's a miracle.

Michael David Wilson 1:12:25

So now, one thing that I've never heard anyone quite articulate in those times is like, if Jesus was purely human and a regular guy, there's an argument that is more amazing than if he was divine.

Tim Waggoner 1:12:42

And the other argument I had with was about abortion. And I told him, I asked him what happens to aborted babies? And he says, well, either they go straight to heaven, or they're, they're reincarnated because they have to be tested. That's one of the things, you know, that says that you have to be tested. And I said, so. What's wrong with abortion? Then he goes, What do you mean, I go, Well, what a lot of if they go straight to heaven, does that mean a lot of babies that might have gone to hell when they were adults, get into heaven free? Because if they do, we should have a lot of abortions. We'd be saving a lot of souls that way, my friends. And I said, if they're reincarnated, nothing's hurt. If you believe it's a sin to commit an abortion, then that's what happens to the woman who has one. But that's, you know, her choice and she could ask for forgiveness, but babies aren't being heard. And he's just like, just shakes his head because he doesn't. He doesn't know what he didn't know what to say to me about that. Then I start going well, in that case, maybe atheists need to worry about it. Because that's the that one beings only chance at life and they don't have a soul. Maybe that's you know, I didn't think that but just carrying the thought out. My friend was like, I just need to we're on the phone. He's like, I gotta go. So I don't know but it just you don't you don't need God's permission to be good. You can be good on your own.

Michael David Wilson 1:14:03

Yeah, no, no, that's an interesting so too and I mean, luckily I don't believe that Well, I don't really believe in any any of that about heaven. But it's like if you did believe that all abortions resulted in that potential baby going to heaven. Then knowing like the absolute love that I feel for my child and how you'd kind of do anything for them. Wouldn't that mean that you'd want to you don't want to get pregnant or get your your wife girlfriend whoever pregnant as frequently as possible and then have like abortions and you're like, you're late saving so many people. That could be a really weird story. I there in that.

Tim Waggoner 1:14:54

Somebody out there, right. I'm not going to do it. So he couldn't Yeah, somebody's Welcome to I'm

Michael David Wilson 1:15:00

getting a lot of backlash. But that's something that something in that.

Tim Waggoner 1:15:06

Yeah. I mean, well, it's just a, it's just came from my friend that, you know, when he told me that because it's like, you know if people are going like you said if they're getting automatic passes to heaven, I'm not trying to make it make a joke when I say that I'm just trying to think of it as real. Which I don't I don't think it is. Yeah, yeah, there's a scene in the movie version of Godspell, you know, the musical, which is kind of a rock musical about the Gospels, where Victor Garber plays, I think they call them plays called Steven, but he's supposed to be Jesus, where he's like, you know, he kind of separates, like, he asks people, you know, that, did you do this, this and that to strangers? And he said, Well, if you did, it was to me, and you go to the kingdom of heaven. And then the other ones are like, but what about us? And he said, Well, you didn't do this, that and the other thing. So you stay here. And then he walks up, and then he turns back and goes, and I'm like, there you go. What's if there was a God? That's what I like to imagine. It's like, okay, I've taught you something, you understand it? Now? Let's go. Because otherwise, I don't understand something that would create people, only to go ahead and like turtle souls, and just to say, okay, either you're being destroyed, because you didn't do a good job of whatever in the brief 60 or 70 or 80 years that you had, or you're just going to be damned for eternity. Just because you did this or whatever. So I don't see. I'm a creator. I wouldn't make stuff just to destroy it that way. Monsters?

Michael David Wilson 1:16:40

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this is inadvertently turned into for the last 10 minutes that this is theology podcast, but I guess it's because we'll find it so interesting. And we seem to be fairly aligned on this too. But I, I've always found like the kind of Christian concept of God and hell, troubling because I feel like, well, if you're an all loving God, and you're all powerful, then you're not going to allow you people to go to hell. Because if you do allow them to go to hell, that wouldn't be all loving. And if you're all powerful, then you can stop that. So if you're, you, if you can't stop it, then you're not all powerful. And if you can stop it, but you don't, then you're not all loving. Now, all the Christians have turned up from this as all right, but

Tim Waggoner 1:17:38

my friend, I said, If God decides where everybody is born, does that mean he decides someone grew up not being Christian, so they go to hell? And if it's random, does that mean he just randomly lets chance happen so that some of these people are gonna go to hell? And once again, my friends, like, I gotta go? things up. So

Michael David Wilson 1:17:58

yeah, he's got such a busy life, he seems to have to get quite heated. Just,

Bob Pastorella 1:18:08

this reminds me of, I mean, George Carlin talked about this, you know, it's like you talking about God and religion and all that. And it's like, you know, you can't do this, you can't do that. You're gonna, you know, God says, You're gonna burn in hell. But he loves you. And it's like, Man, I just, you know, I guess I kind of lean to the agnostic. Not you know, Chris, I do have a lot of faith, faith. It's gotten me through a lot of things. And so when, you know, when I hear people talk about, you know, hey, do you believe in God to you? Why don't you go to church anymore? And things like that? And I said, I believe in God, and just don't think he's an asshole like you do. I've ever heard. Yeah. Because, because if He is all powerful, and he's all loving and things like that, then I know that I am the one who will decide where I go. Right? He won't. It's up to me, you know, so I choose to leave the good life, you know, and we have to recognize we're human, we're gonna make mistakes, and we have to learn how to forgive ourselves. And then to me, that's, that's where I'm at in life, you know? And, but yes, like he get this imagery in your head at fire and brimstone. But he loves you.

Michael David Wilson 1:19:30

Yeah. I

Tim Waggoner 1:19:32

think a lot of the fire Brimstone comes from just like, a really low self esteem and a lot of people's parts. They just, they just feel like they aren't enough all by themselves. And whatever it is, it doesn't have to be religion, but something that makes them feel strong and makes them feel important. It could be anything. I think it's why a lot of bad things can happen like you know, you get a bunch of people joining the Nazi Party probably didn't care about anything other than feeling part of something big something that made them You know, feel good about themselves, probably denied to themselves, a whole lot of bad things were happening, at least we some of them. So I think that some people can't do that, you know, with religion if they're not careful. I always think that it's more about you and your growth. And, you know, love is a verb, get out there and love things, that means do things. You know, tell people, if there is a God, God pre answered all prayers, because he put everything down here, including each other, that we can use to make things better to work together. We don't need to ask him for anything else. Got all this stuff? What we're supposed to do is use it. You know, if you you know, if you wasn't God, and you prayed to God, God's answer would be we'll get off your ass and do something. You know, go go take care of each other. That's what you're supposed to do. So like, I guess, you know, I believe all the principles, I just don't care whether there's like an actual deity or not, it doesn't matter. What matters is the doing of the things and the helping of people in the loving of people. I think the rest of it will get there is any rest of it'll sort itself out.

Michael David Wilson 1:21:06

Yeah. Amen to that. Yeah, yeah. Well, we are coming to the end of the time that we have together for this episode. We're going to be recording a whole series of podcasts with Tim. So if we haven't got to your Patreon question, but it will be every one apart from Robert style. Don't worry, that is going to happen later. If you've got more questions, then continue to submit them because, yeah, Tim has written so many books. So there's gonna be multiple episodes like this. But I mean, as you said before, you have a book that is out in a few days. So it will be out when this goes live. For the general public. There might be a day for for the patrons. It's called. Let me tell you a story.

Tim Waggoner 1:22:04

I got it right here.

Michael David Wilson 1:22:11

Yeah. So it is the third of your writing in the dark books. So you know, quite impressive considering you decided to just write one right and get into that went now. The third, I think, the next episode that we do together, we'll probably just jump in to the entire writing in the dark series. And, you know, after that, we'll, we'll jump into you your fictions. It's not a linear path. But you know, linear paths can be boring. As we've said, We don't want to make it formulaic. But do you have any final thoughts or things that you want to leave our listeners with until the next time?

Tim Waggoner 1:22:59

That's a that's a really good question. Why do you guys like horror so much? Think about that. It's always a great thing to contemplate. What is horde do for you? What Why is it such a positive force? And how do you articulate that people so you can look to people so you can be a good ambassador for work? There's a lot there for all of us. And you know, the even the people that say they don't like it come this month. Suddenly, it's like other marathoning horror movies and other things. So you know, there's, there's something for everybody horror is a big tent. Nothing else go watch a Scooby Doo cartoon or something.

Michael David Wilson 1:23:37

All right. Thank you very much for joining us.

Tim Waggoner 1:23:40

Thanks so much for having me. You had a great time.

Michael David Wilson 1:23:45

Thank you so much for listening to Tim Wagner on This Is Horror. Join us again next time when we will be presenting the house of bad memories launch event. We myself. LAUREL Hightower also launch in silent key, and Bob Pastorella. Now if you want that episode, and every other episode ahead of the crowd, support us on patreon@patreon.com forward slash, this is hora. You can also submit questions for each and every guest including Chuck Palahniuk, who we'll be chatting with next week. And Matthew wholeness aka golf Moran Gi, who we will also be chatting with next week. We got a slew of other awesome guests coming up, including the likes of Rachel Harrison, and the returning Jason bargain. So a lot of value if you're a Patreon so head to patreon.com forward slash, This Is Horror. Have a little look at what we offer. And if it's a good fit for you, I would love you to join us and if you do become a patron you can also become a member of the writers forum on Discord. So drop in with a hello and you know, let me know that you've signed up let me know. Why is you're working on what are you reading at the moment? Okay before I wrap up an advert break,

R.C. Hausen 1:25:22

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Michael David Wilson 1:26:27

now as a lot of you know, I just released house a bad memories in paperback and ebook via cemetery gates media. And we've also as of about yesterday, in fact, got the audiobook version. Now that is published by This Is Horror, your favorite podcast, and it is fantastically narrated by Aubrey Parsons. You can pick it up most places where you can get audiobooks. Apart from somewhat annoyingly audible, don't worry, it is coming to Audible soon, it's just that the approval process does take a little bit longer than everywhere else. But if you get your audiobooks from somewhere else like Google Play, or if you get it from Apple books, or scribed or if like me as well as an Audible account, you also have an audio books.com account. By the way, that's a bit of a tip if you are in the UK or somewhere else there are sometimes places where you can't get an audio book on Audible UK but you can sign up for audiobooks.com and you know they got loads of good things on there that I know if that's a little loophole I found maybe it's meant to be less for the American audience but hey, they accepted my credit card and you know Happy Days happy days because audio books.com which is starting to sound like some sort of advertisement for is also somewhere warehouse the bad memories is available right now. So if you do pick it up in any of those places, I'd love for you to leave review and let me know how you get on. But you know, however you consume however you read or listen to house a bad memories do let me know what did you link to wear? What are your favorite bands? Or your least favorite bits? You know, write up on Goodreads and Amazon and all those other places because I want to know how people are finding it. Anyway, until next time for the aforementioned house of bad memories launch event with myself in horror. Oh Hightower and Bob Pastorella. Take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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