In this podcast, Michael David Wilson launches his debut novel, House of Bad Memories, and Laurel Hightower launches her new book, Silent Key.
About Michael David Wilson
Michael David Wilson is the founder of the popular UK horror website, podcast, and publisher, This Is Horror. He is the author of The Girl in the Video, They’re Watching (with Bob Pastorella), and House of Bad Memories. His work has appeared in various publications including The NoSleep Podcast, Dim Shores, Dark Moon Digest, and Hawk & Cleaver’s The Other Stories. Michael lives in Gifu, Japan. You can connect with Michael on Twitter @thisishorror. For more information visit www.michaeldavidwilson.co.uk.
About Laurel Hightower
Laurel Hightower grew up in Kentucky. She is the author of various books including Silent Key, Crossroads, and Whispers in the Dark.
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- House of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson
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Everyone has a story about Posthaste Manor. None of them end well, but that doesn’t stop the hopeful from hoping and the desperate from trying. This Halloween, authors Jolie Toomajan and Carson Winter present POSTHASTE MANOR, the history and eulogy of one very haunted house, as recounted by the artists, poets, beloved family pets and mass murderers who have been touched by it. Raise a glass in celebration, just don’t linger for too long.
Cosmovorous by R.C. Hausen
The debut from R.C. Hausen, available now.
Michael David Wilson (00:00:30): Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers, and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and today I've almost lost my voice. So we are going to get pretty quickly into the episode so you don't have to endure this, but luckily my voice was in good order for the episode you're about to hear, which I launched my debut novel, house of Bad Memories, and Laurel Hightower launched her new book, silent Key since a great episode. We're going to jump into it shortly, but beforehand, A quick advert break. Break
RC Hausen (00:01:19): Cosmos, the debut cosmic horror novel from RC Hausen as Alda has lived on the fringes of society for as long as she can remember until a Halloween night gone wrong, unlocks a cache of nightmarish memories, visions of a bizarre desert town, images of a mysterious woman, the pain of an ultimate betrayal, and the shame of a bargain made in blood. Now she must travel back and learn the true nature of the ravenous cosmos. Cosmos available everywhere books are sold.
Bob Pastorella (00:01:51): Everyone has a story about post-haste manner, none of them in well, but that doesn't stomp the hope from hoping and are desperate from trying. This Halloween authors, Jolie, tma, John and Carson Winter present post-haste manner, the history and eulogy of one very haunted house as recounted by the artist poets, beloved family, pets, and mass murderers who have been touched by it. Raise a glass in celebration. Just don't linger for too long. Post-haste Manner Out October 18th from Tenus Press.
Michael David Wilson (00:02:24): Okay, with that said, here it is. It is the House Bad Memories Launch event on This is Horror. Welcome to This Is Horror. This is a live podcast. I am Michael David Wilson. I'm joined as always by my co-host, Bob Pastor. And we have Laurel Auer here because we are launching House of Bad Memories and Silent Key. Laurel, how are you doing?
Laurel Hightower (00:03:03): I am great. I'm really glad to be here. I'm starting to sweat though now that you said it's live for some reason that automatically triggers this like, oh God, what am I going to screw up immediately? So maybe I'll just go ahead and get that out of the way. Maybe I'll say something inappropriate or burn something down accidentally.
Michael David Wilson (00:03:22): I mean that there seems to be fire in the background, but unfortunately it looks like it's electronic, so it would take some considerable effort to burn stuff down. But I have confidence in you or
Laurel Hightower (00:03:38): They're like training wheels. They're like training wheels for fire because I can't be trusted with actual fire anymore.
Michael David Wilson (00:03:45): Yeah. The other option is that if anyone's got a remote, we can go funny games, we can rewind and then I didn't say that we were live.
Laurel Hightower (00:03:58): There we go. Then I would never know and then I could, I mean, honestly, I'd still screw something up. I'd be less concerned about it. I would assume you could edit it out later.
Michael David Wilson (00:04:08): I would certainly hope so, but we'll have to find out. Well, we can't find out can we? Because there's no remote unless you've got it, Bob.
Laurel Hightower (00:04:19): No, there's no
Michael David Wilson (00:04:20): Remote. If anyone would have a funny game remote, it would in fact be Bob. Pastor.
Laurel Hightower (00:04:26): How are you, Bob?
Bob Pastorella (00:04:28): I'm good. I'm good. I'm alive and in person, so, oh God, you
Laurel Hightower (00:04:32): Again? I'm sweating even more
Michael David Wilson (00:04:33): Why you do. Oh
Bob Pastorella (00:04:34): My God, no, I didn't mean to make you sweat. Sorry. No, it's, that sounded way bad. I'll go ahead and say, okay, I've done
Michael David Wilson (00:04:44): Fucked up. It only sounded bad at the point where you said it sounded bad. It was fine up
Bob Pastorella (00:04:50): Until soon as I said, I was
Michael David Wilson (00:04:52): Like, well, up until that moment, Bob, but I mean the last time that we had a lung full, this is horror podcast conversation with you, Laurel was in fact in August, 2021, so over two years ago. So I want to know what have been the biggest changes for you both personally and professionally in that time?
Laurel Hightower (00:05:20): Oh man, I guess, see 2021. So professionally, I've put out, I guess three books since then because Below came out in March of 2022 that came out through a ghoulish imprint with Max and Lori Booth, who I believe quite well. Yeah, so that's been a fun ride doing that. And then, yeah, I put out my first collection in March of this year through Red Lego's Press, death Nail, and then, yeah, my first book came out with Tree on Tuesday. So professionally there's just been a whole lot of work. And then personally, God, I wish I could remember. I mean, I feel like it's like when you have a kid, you're just like, I don't know. I remember the birthday parties I've taken him to. I remember that kind of stuff. But I think it's been pretty much status quo. I can't think of a whole lot other than just getting to do a whole lot of travel, which has been a lot of fun. So yeah, that's kind of the big thing.
Michael David Wilson (00:06:28): Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, talking about the release of Silent Key and talking about things that have been years in the making, I understand that this first started in 2017, so this has been a long time coming. What is the origin story with Silent Key and how did this first come about?
Laurel Hightower (00:06:59): So I had finished, I'm trying to remember, it might've actually been before 2017, but in any case, definitely by 2017 I had finished Whispers in the Dark, which was my first novel, and I had kicked it out to my agent and I didn't want to just sit there and wait for him to email me, which is good. It took a really long time. So I started writing Silent Key and it kind of just stemmed from my husband, just, he's an expert in many strange things, and one of them is vacuum tubes, the little glass tubes that you use for sound equipment. And so he knows a lot about them and he buys and sells them, and he told me that it's a ham radio. Ham radio is used those, and there's a ham radio term called a Silent Key, which refers to an operator who's passed away. So he told me that and he's like, that'd be a cool idea for a story. And I was like, indeed it would. So I wrote a book for a really long time and I didn't even dedicate it to him, which is just,
Michael David Wilson (00:08:04): Yeah. Oh, well, maybe next time for people watching live, this is one of the first times that we have used Streamy Yard. Brad Proctor. Hello to you, Sarah. I noticed if I press this button we can all see has said What's up everyone? Congratulations on the release, Michael. Thank you very much, Brad. I will be on his show. Paper cuts Live very soon. Indeed. I believe that it's next week. Yeah, Friday, October the 20th at 7:00 PM Eastern. So if you want to hear even more from me, then you can check out that too, if you're like, I've got even have some bad memories questions. But you were on Brad's show earlier this week, in fact,
Laurel Hightower (00:09:04): Yeah, Monday, Monday I did a joint release with Bo Johnson, who has very kindly forgiven me for completely fucking up his giveaway. I answered the question I wasn't supposed to. I need very direct instructions when anyone tells me to do anything, so just be aware. Sorry about that. Anything that you would think that a normal person would understand, go ahead and assume that I don't.
Michael David Wilson (00:09:30): So
Laurel Hightower (00:09:31): Thanks both for being not.
Michael David Wilson (00:09:33): Yeah. So let's jump back to Silent Key. I got distracted when I pressed the button and Brad's comment for one second turned up on the screen, and then I thought, I've really got to acknowledge that. But yeah, despite your husband's pivotal help in the title of Silent Key for one, the book wasn't dedicated to him, what on earth does he have to do to get a book dedicated to him? That might be a specific, he might be tuning in, this might be the question. No, well, no, he's not.
Laurel Hightower (00:10:17): Don't worry. He's not.
(00:10:21): It's possible I could find out at some point he'll reveal that he's been listening to all my podcasts all this time, and I've heard you talk and smack and it's time to have it out. No, actually, I am sneaky. My son was born a few months before my very first book came out, and so I have dedicated every book to him, and I'm going to keep going with that because it's really easy. I use to see him dedication every time. I don't have to worry about whether I'm going to get this person or that person. That sort of struggle is for the acknowledgements, which I swear with every book get longer and longer and longer. So it's always going to be the tiny.
Michael David Wilson (00:10:59): Yeah. Well, that seems fair enough. And when we first set about doing this event, really the reason that we paired House of Bad Memories and Silent Key together, it was no other reason than the fact that we both had books coming out at the same time. And I thought, well, why not, quite frankly. But actually in Reading Silent Key, there's a lot of thematic parallels now in terms of the writing and the story, very different. But I mean, we've both got the deaf of somebody close to the protagonist. We've both got Hidden Secrets from the past, and they're both very dealing with navigating parenthood in less than ideal circumstances. So there are a number of parallels between these two titles.
Laurel Hightower (00:12:04): That's true. Yeah, I hadn't really thought about that, but you're right, and particularly, especially with House of Bad Memories though, the way that everything spins out as far as those secrets go, I feel like they're so far reaching, they're so far reaching, which is fun.
Michael David Wilson (00:12:19): Yeah, yeah. Well, thank you very much. And your protagonist, cam Ambrose, former detective, but sometimes people call her detective and she likes that she is such a kind of badass and no nonsense character. When did she come to you in the process of putting this one together?
Laurel Hightower (00:12:48): I feel like she might've been second. I feel like Demi came first. Demi is her, for anyone who hasn't read it, he is the main character's sort of adopted Russian brother. He's a gangster. She met him on an undercover operation and they just sort of started hanging out together and they're like family. And he's one of my favourite characters that I've ever written because he's completely, he's an absolute jackass, and I just love that about him. I realised that some of my very favourite people in the world are just massive jackasses, and I just admire that about them. So I got to kind of put that in the story. But yeah, I feel like Demi maybe came first and I liked the idea of their pairing. I liked the idea of this sort of not exactly straight edge person in Cam, but this more sort of somewhat normal one who's just kind of collects people. I almost feel like I've lived with these characters so long that I have no idea. I don't have a clear idea of their origination because I just feel like they've been with me for so long. If I would finish books faster, that probably wouldn't be the case.
Michael David Wilson (00:13:55): But I imagine with this book that you must have written several stories in between, just purely because of the amount of books that you've had out recently and thinking about Below and Crossroads. And I know you've got another forthcoming one from Ghoulish, and as we said, this started in 2017, so my understanding is you must have either parked it for a bit or had several projects on the go at once.
Laurel Hightower (00:14:28): I parked it, I actually finished the first draught of this years ago. It was like 200,000 words, which is outrageous and really had a lot of stuff that needed cut from it. So I would do some revisions on it, and then I would set it aside, but I didn't really start working on the types of projects below in Crossroads until Whispers in the Dark had already come out. And then I just, I don't know. I feel like I got a better idea of what horror could be, and I realised it, and I loved writing this book actually. I love reading it. It's the only one of my books that I've ever written that I enjoy going back to read everything else. Once I publish it, I'm like, I'm not touching you again, just in case I run into a typo. So you're off in the world now. We're not going to ever speak again. But this one I still do, but it was with Crossroads that I kind of realised like, oh, there are other ways to tell a story here. There are shorter ways to tell a story. There's more direct ways, and I feel like Whispers in the Dark was very much a learning experience, and with Silent Key, I was still learning. And so yeah, it, it's gone through kind a number of iterations and just been parked from time to time.
Michael David Wilson (00:15:50): I wonder, what is it that makes you enjoy returning to this one, but you don't want to even look at a sentence from the other ones and kind related, is this your most personal book? It kind of feels like it might be
Laurel Hightower (00:16:11): In some ways. It is. Yeah. I would probably say that overall, my most personal book is probably Crossroads, but Silent Key just has the thing that I love about novels and the thing that I almost forgot about what I loved about them is the chance that you get to immerse yourself with the characters. And I really got a chance to really just get to know these characters very well. The male lead, Eric Morgan was very different, and when I was initially putting this together, he was sort of a put together cool older guy who knew what he was doing, and then he was like, no, I'm actually a socially anxious fuck up. I can't be that guy. So I've just had more of an opportunity to just be with them, and I am a sucker for romance, so I love being able to have that romance aspect of Eric's relationship with Cam in this and confession. I've also written several other manuscripts within this series, I guess, and that I think is part of it is even if I'm the only one that's read them, I've continued their story. And so I don't know, they're just kind of close to me in that way. So yeah, I mean as far as personal, as far as a connection to it, as far as how close I feel to it, yeah, I think you're right. I think Silent Key probably is the one for now. We'll see.
Michael David Wilson (00:17:34): You just said that you've written several others within this series, so yeah, box nodding. What can you tell us about those, and do you think it's likely that we're going to see them in the world? Will we see some iteration of them? Just tell me all you can about the silent key world for want of better terminology.
Laurel Hightower (00:18:02): Well, so it was sort of the same thing I got done with Silent Key and I was like, well, I'm still not just going to sit here. And I didn't plan to write a series, but then I was coming up with the next story I wanted to work on, and I was like, actually, they kind of fit into this pretty well. So I wrote a second one in it, which is, I'm sure it's a title that I wouldn't keep, but it's just called The Flyer's Last Words, and it's about plane crashes, and it's about the national Transportation and Safety Board investigation kind of things, and how that definitely can play into some of the supernatural aspects that I enjoy wedging into everything that I write. So yeah, I wrote that one. I continued their story, introduced some new characters, and just really had a blast with that.
(00:18:53): And then I just kept going after that. I wrote a third one. All of these are going to require a massive amount of editing and probably rewrite from the ground up up, because a lot of the backstory changed in writing Silent Key, your friend and mine, Ryan Lewis gave just some absolutely magnificent notes on the manuscripts, and he really, in a way that no one else was able to, he was able to sort of lay out for me, okay, this is where it's dragging. This is what you need to cut. This is how you simplify. So I rewrote Silent Key from the ground up, and that also meant I changed some of the backstory. So yeah, the second one is the plane crash one. The third one has to do with some stuff with Eric's family and then with some grave robbing and various things like that. Yeah, and then I'm about halfway through. I haven't written on it in a while, but I'm halfway through the fourth one, which is extremely dimmi centric, which is enjoyable for me because I love Demi. I like getting to put him front and centre, so I dunno whether they'll ever make it anywhere. I guess it just kind of depends on how silent key goes on, what kind of reception it gets, whether it seems like it's something that anybody wants to explore any further.
Michael David Wilson (00:20:12): Well, fingers crossed, I think the world will be a better place for more silent key and Dimmy in the world, but
Laurel Hightower (00:20:23): Well, thank
Michael David Wilson (00:20:24): You. Yeah, Ryan Lewis, who you mentioned, he's so instrumental as not just a film manager, but as a kind of critic and first reader, because his notes are always, they're so precise, but they also, they're never kind of over prescriptive. He'll tell you a bit that he thinks needs improving, but he won't necessarily say how to do it, which makes things so much easier because I mean, we have Neil Gaiman's kind of famous advice is if somebody tells you something wrong, they're almost certainly right. If they tell you how to fix it, they're almost certainly rung. So Ryan just, he doesn't even bother with the second part, which is great. But I mean, yeah, he made some notes on House of Bad Memories that certainly just improved the story, but it is actually difficult to talk specifically about them without giving some things away. But I mean, literally the last scene, the kind of conclusion, it was set in a different location originally, and because of something that Ryan said, I thought, right, I can change the location, and it just made everything so much better, unfortunately. That's nice. That's all I can really say on that particular note.
Laurel Hightower (00:22:04): All right. I'm going to ask you off air then, because I'm interested. I'm very interested to know what he said about it, what he, because I don't know. Well, and of course I guess it always seems that way when you're not the one who wrote it, but the entire manuscript of House of Bad Memories, it just flows so perfectly and every single part seems like it would have to at always at every point have been that because it, I mean, it's completely fucked up. You're never expecting any of it. You're like, what? But it's like, especially when you get to the inclusion, you're like, Jesus Christ, okay. No, that was the ride. That was how the rollercoaster was always going to go. So that's very interesting to me. I'll be interested to know what notes Ryan May have.
Michael David Wilson (00:22:46): Yeah, well, we can do that off air, and perhaps we can even do a kind of like Rob Olson used to do this with Booked podcast for Spoiler Talk, so we can have a kind of separate video where it's like, right, if you have read the book or for some reason you enjoy books being like spoiled, that's your kink. Then oh boy, oh boy, this is the video for you. But I mean, another note that Ryan made, which again, I have to be really subtle talking about, so I'm not sure how great a listening experience this is, but there was something that my foreshadowing had been too subtle, so I just had to turn it up slightly more so that it didn't come out of nowhere. Now, a lot of people have said, and I really love it, that plot points feel like they come out of nowhere, but if you go back and reread, then there's little breadcrumbs. So I just had to throw a few more breadcrumbs into the trail to make it work. And again, that's the Ryan Lewis effect, and
Laurel Hightower (00:24:06): It is, he's got the Ryan Lewis touch. But yes, everything in house of Bed memories is very earned. None of it's like, oh, this twist that has no basis of anything. You're not expecting any of it, but that's why it's like when you get to the end of it, you're like, oh, yeah, that had to happen that way, but holy shit.
Michael David Wilson (00:24:26): Yeah. Do you find that you send all of your stories to Ryan Lewis now?
Laurel Hightower (00:24:35): No, I don't. I feel like he would probably block my email address if I did up doing that to him, but mostly I send him things that either we've had media interest on or that I am trying to get a gauge for whether it would be worth attempting an adaptation on. Yeah, so I mean, he's read the latest that I have for Max. He's read that, and then, yeah, I'll send him some of my short stories and things like that. But yeah, I'm trying to think now. I feel like I don't even write that much, but I don't think that's true. It feels like I write a hell of a, but I'm also very southern and I'm like, I don't want to bother anybody. So I dunno.
Bob Pastorella (00:25:28): The thing that I like about his feedback, of course, me and Michael have been going back and forth with him on a script and it cuts to the bone. I mean, it's is precise and it really kind of sets you on where to go without explaining how you do it. You have to do it yourself, and once you figure out what you need to do, to me, it makes the writing stronger. But his feedback is direct and to the point, and it's like, if something ain't working, he's going to tell you this doesn't work at all. And I like that. And it doesn't beat around a bush. And most of the editors I've worked with don't beat around a bush, but I have worked with some that they could not explain what they were trying to say.
Laurel Hightower (00:26:23): Yeah, yeah. And I don't know, I feel his, I don't know. It's one of those skills that not everybody has. Sometimes someone can be a really great writer, but I have no idea how to communicate that to someone else if they're attempting to be read or give notes or anything like that. And I feel like Ryan just has that really excellent capability of being able to pass that on silent key. It was just, the biggest problem with it was that it was always too long. And so I would go through it from time to time and I would cut out things and I'd get it as short as I could, and then I would feel like, well, there's nothing else I can cut.
(00:27:05): And when Ryan read it, what he did for me was he kind of helped me walk backward through it. He read a scene that he was like, okay, this is what should be your exact 50% mark, and it's not, he's like, so what you need to use is, this is your guidepost. This should be 50%. And then he told me to, and I always write scene plans. I usually write one when I outline to get sort of a general idea of how I want to proceed. And then when I'm done and I'm working on edits, I do a scene plan to make sure that there is actually action and purpose that everything is forwarding the plot. And if I do my scene plan, I'm like, yeah, I don't see any point in this. Then I know I have to cut that one. And he told me after the fact, he wanted me to make a list of all of my essentially plot points.
(00:27:52): And he's like, and what you need to do is go back and unthread whatever you can, whatever you don't have to have. And when I made my list of plot points, it was like 27. I was like, that's too many. Yeah, that's a lot of plot points. So I dunno, just he has that. It just makes me think of taking algebra in school. You can have somebody who's brilliant and is the most brilliant mathematician, but if they don't know how to pass that on and they don't know how to explain it to you, it's not very worthwhile from a teaching perspective. So yeah,
Bob Pastorella (00:28:23): I think a lot of this stuff comes from, I wrote a book about that kind of stuff called Story Engineering. I can't remember who wrote it. Is that Larry Brooks? Yeah, I think so. I think that might be who wrote it. And a lot of it comes from just basic, if you're writing a story, it's sustained as writing a movie. And so you have certain points that are just natural that are going to be not formulaic, but you need to have certain things happen. It's like how he reverse engineered the story from the 50% mark. I do that. I don't tend to plot spoiler alert on the one I'm working on now. I actually plotted, so I'm growing as a writer. Yay.
Laurel Hightower (00:29:10): How do you feel about it though? Do you like it? What's your, because I also know plenty of writers who've tried the plotting and they're like, wow, that sucked all of the fun out of everything we just did so
Bob Pastorella (00:29:22): Well. That would been the problem before I would go into too detail with the plot, and the next thing you know, it's like, well, I write the book. I already wrote it. I got 30 pages of notes here, buddy publish this. But I kept it very undetailed. That was the key. When I went into it, I was like, I'm keep each sentence in this thing as short as possible just to get the essence down. And I think I mainly wanted to write it that way because there's some things that have to happen, and the way it's structured, it takes the course of over four days expanding. So it's four parts, multiple chapters within each part, and I have to basically, we're going through a whole 24 hour period, and so what hours do I want to do in there? I don't want to have 24 chapters, so I've got to figure out how to make time fly, how to make it expand, how to make it collapse, how to make it tighter.
(00:30:26): And so I wanted to make sure that I've got these scenes where I want, but that reading, that story, engineering has got me trained. I hope to know that, hey, this has to happen and I need to have it happen now because it's going to create a gap or a lag. The story's going to drag until I get the 50% mark. And so I have to know what those points are and whether I'm plotting or not, whether I'm actually writing an outline. I have to know where those points are, and between that and using the Old South Park method, which is not even their method, I just call it that, because the thing, it's cool, but to use or therefore instead of, and then between your plot points, that creates a dynamic instead of just having things happen and happen and it's happening and this happened, but if you have, and therefore between your plot points, then you're creating a dynamic that is storytelling your greatest stories. Kind of follow that format.
Laurel Hightower (00:31:46): I'm stealing this, I'm sorry, I'm putting a little note in my phone about the story engineering. I will never remember that, but I want to pick that up. That sounds really useful.
Bob Pastorella (00:31:58): I mean, in books like that, you have to really take what you need out of it. There's probably some stuff in there that you might find that doesn't jive with the way that you work, the way that you write. But I got into a little bit of a slump I wanted to get out of it, started reading, writing books again, and I kind of looked over that one because I read some of the reread Matt Bell's book refused to Be Done, which that helped me get an idea of how I wanted to do an outline because I just never, like I said, I've done 'em before. And the last two, mojo Rising, which is no outline, all I had was songs. I just took door songs and said, okay, these are 10 of my favourite door songs. I'm going to write a book based upon these songs. And then with their watching, Michael wrote the outline. We kind of wrote it. He won't work without one. So I was kind of forced, but with the Small Hours, which is out on submission, there was no outline. It kind of was, but I don't want to spoil anything. So it riffs off a what if from an extremely popular story that's in public domain. So it's just a what if based
Laurel Hightower (00:33:35): On It's Winnie the Poh, isn't it?
Bob Pastorella (00:33:36): No,
Laurel Hightower (00:33:37): It's got to be Winnie the Pooh. No,
Bob Pastorella (00:33:38): No, no. It's not Pooh either.
Laurel Hightower (00:33:41): Oh, okay.
Bob Pastorella (00:33:42): No,
Michael David Wilson (00:33:44): Yeah. By all accounts, the Winnie the Pooh Blood and Honey film did not go well. I've I've not watched it. I have not watched it. No, but
Bob Pastorella (00:33:56): I'm not going to watch
Michael David Wilson (00:33:57): It. It doesn't really hold much interest for me, to be honest. But I mean,
Laurel Hightower (00:34:04): I listened to a podcast breaking It Down, and I feel like I've seen, I've heard what I need to hear. Someone else did that for me. I
Michael David Wilson (00:34:10): Mean, from the reviews that I've heard, it may have arguably been more entertaining to have listened to people breaking it down than to have actually watched the film. I hope that the writer or actors in this film don't somehow stumble upon this podcast.
Laurel Hightower (00:34:30): That has happened to me when I've guessed on Final Guys before we were ripping up this movie that was on Tubi, and one of the supporting actresses was like, they're listening. I'm like, oh God, I should never speak again. But it was Titanic. 6, 6, 6.
Michael David Wilson (00:34:47): You doing it again. You're like, just in case.
Laurel Hightower (00:34:52): Just in case you showed up again, girl, look, you did fine. I'm just saying as a movie, it was bad. You deserve better supporting Actress Girl.
Michael David Wilson (00:35:01): Yeah, well, I mean, I was going to say, anyway, we know that there's no book or no film that is for everyone, and every single book that I've written, somebody has crashed it and absolutely hated it, and that will continue indefinitely. Also, like a leader have been people who have absolutely loved it, and I think that's fine, and not only is it fine, I think that's the way that it should be with art. It will be bizarre if everyone universally loved or hated a particular book or film, but to get back to plotting or pantsing, I mean, as Bob points out, I do pretty much plot everything, but I speak into Josh Malman about this, but I feel that a lot of us are what I would call a kind of hybrid, where we're doing something halfway between plotting and pantsing. So I mean, I will plot it from start to finish, but then I give myself kind of creative licence to add things in and to just see where the story goes within the writing.
(00:36:21): Now, in the book that I'm working on at the moment, called Together Forever, I started writing that originally as my most commercial of books from the plan. Then when I started writing it, it's like, yeah, but you are also the one writing it so your brain doesn't work in a commercial way. So it's like a psychosexual thriller. If Adrian Lynch wrote a book, let's say, but the plot, it was too safe almost, and the moment where I added the Calisthenic Sex cult was the moment where I knew that this is not commercial anymore. This is what my brain decided would be a good idea for the main character who is an editor of a fitness magazine, a men's fitness magazine. I thought it would be interesting if he had the leader of a calisthenic sex sculpt up for an interview, and it descended into, yeah, it descended. Maybe that's the end of the sentence, but
Laurel Hightower (00:37:41): I'm just in here thinking about every gym I've been a member of, and I'm like, yeah, that track actually
Bob Pastorella (00:37:48): Brings a whole new meaning to side straddle hop.
Michael David Wilson (00:37:50): Oh God. Oh God.
Laurel Hightower (00:37:54): Did you just come up with that on the fly? Well done. Nice.
Michael David Wilson (00:37:58): Yeah. But now I've got kind of the opposite problem. But if I think about it, this is how most of my stories work anyway. I come up with a type plan. Then within the writing, it just turns into something completely else, and then after that first draught, or sometimes halfway through the first draught, I have to then go back and distil it more into the story's essence. So it's like the question at the moment is, how can this still be salvageable? But we can keep the spirit of the Calisthenic sex cult. Yeah, there's an unknown writer's role that once you mention a calisthenic sex cult, you can't take it out of the book.
Laurel Hightower (00:38:46): No, you can't. And it's one of those things, it's use it or lose it. You bring in the Calisthenic sex cult, you got to make the most of it.
Michael David Wilson (00:38:55): Yeah,
Laurel Hightower (00:38:57): I'm excited about this.
Michael David Wilson (00:39:00): Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, I'm sure as writers, we've all got a calisthenic sex cult story, but we'll have to leave that Who among us.
Laurel Hightower (00:39:09): Yeah, who among us does not.
Michael David Wilson (00:39:12): Yeah. I mean, for many people listening, it's like, goodness, which one shall I tell? Running through your mind feverishly,
Laurel Hightower (00:39:25): I've got categories of it. Well, so I'm curious then, when you were riding House of Bad Memories, was it something that started out feeling more commercial that was, and then it became the layers of what the fuckery that it is today? I mean, how did that go forward? Or was it always like, yeah, this is going to be off the rails?
Michael David Wilson (00:39:50): Okay, so there's two kind of parts to that question. Okay. Firstly, apart from the book that I'm talking about, there is probably at least two releases into the future. So it is somewhat ridiculous that I'm now going back together forever, possibly trying to promote a book. That book I guess, won't be out for three years, but
Laurel Hightower (00:40:14): There's a long lead time in this profession.
Michael David Wilson (00:40:16): But that is the only time really, that I have initially set out to write something, even vaguely commercial. As you can tell, it didn't work out for me. I haven't even finished a book, and it's like, it's not commercial anymore. The only reason I started doing something like vaguely commercial was I was looking at querying different literary agents, and the next book that I had after House of Bad Memories was Daddy's Boy and Daddy's Boy. I mean, even the title gives you an idea. It's kind of like the Greasy Strangler meets a Joe Lansdale heist novel if set in Guy Richie's, incompetent Britain, let's say. So
Laurel Hightower (00:41:12): Can you please start doing my comps for me? Because yours are like, when I saw the comps for House of Bed Memories, I was like, with Elements of Rosemary's Baby, the Fuck? Then again, I was like, no, accurate, all of that. Completely on point. Completely on point. So in future, I'll send you some bourbon. If I can just give you my, give me my comps.
Michael David Wilson (00:41:33): Yeah. I mean, maybe I should branch out with a comp service. I've got editorial services, I've got story overview. But if there's a demand for the comp service, then maybe
Laurel Hightower (00:41:47): Comps, and if you can do synopsis that cover blurbs, you'll be
Michael David Wilson (00:41:51): Rolling in any, I tend to find that I'm quite good at writing a synopsis for a story that the trouble is writing the story itself. I can make it sound really good. Now, I've got to actually make sure that the book itself is good, but fingers crossed at the moment, people are reacting to House of Bad Memories favourably. So I'm appreciative of that. But to go back to the original question, so I mean House of Bad Memories, it was very much a book that was written in two halves. So initially it was going to be a standalone novella, and I had a publisher lined up for it. Now, for various reasons, it didn't work out. I've no problem with that publisher. I actually think that they're pretty good because it'd be quite easy to find out who it was with. So I want to make clear that they didn't do anything wrong.
(00:42:58): It was just a kind of conflict of just what I wanted from the book and what they couldn't do. So it was as simple as that. But when I got the rights back to it, it was like, well, what do I want to do with this? Now, this does a little bit tie into commerciality. So Ryan Lewis, who may be a recurring character in this podcast, he had read the initial novella. He really enjoyed it, but he wasn't sure how could he sell it? How could he pitch it for the screen? Because it was quite understated, not so much anymore. Very British, very single location at the time, which for people who have read it, that to me, it seems very obvious where one book ends and the second half starts. But I mean, yeah, he said that he didn't think it will be an easy sale for the screen.
(00:44:13): So I thought, will I wonder if I can expand this into a longer story? The answer being yes, and then if I can make it more sellable for the screen, possibly because of some sections, chapter 22, I'm looking at you, the answer to that was no. Now you have made it even harder to sell, but at the point that I had expanded it, I was already completely sold on that idea. So I mean, yeah, this is what I mean, where sometimes I will think how it could be more commercial, and so there might be a plan where it's a little bit commercial, but then when the So-called Gold turns up, yes, I'm referring to chapter 22 as gold. Then it's like, I like that idea so much that I'm like, no, there's no way that isn't going in. So it's almost like I write something somewhat commercial and then I make sure that it's not commercial at all. Maybe I just enjoy pain. I dunno.
Laurel Hightower (00:45:27): You use that as a prompt. You start with the prompt, and then you give it the Michael David Wilson treatment. That makes sense, right?
Michael David Wilson (00:45:34): Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I think as well, I want things to be original and unexpected and things that people haven't seen in a story before. So it's like if I'm coming up with, let's say a torture method or a fight scene or something like that, I don't want to go for something that everyone has seen before. The feedback would be that I accomplished that. There was no one who said, oh, that torture. See, not again. It's
Laurel Hightower (00:46:07): Been
Michael David Wilson (00:46:07): Done Bloody hell, it's done that trope. No, it'd be funny to me, at least with my sense of humour, if that became a trope, I don't think it will. I don't think Ramsey Campbell is right in that
Laurel Hightower (00:46:23): In little section at Barnes and Noble
Michael David Wilson (00:46:25): Or Ellen DLow is commissioning anthology based on that highly specific method, shall we say,
Laurel Hightower (00:46:34): God, what would the title be?
Michael David Wilson (00:46:37): Do it like the Swedes? I don't know.
Laurel Hightower (00:46:44): That'd be good, because it gives away nothing. You're like, what are they talking about? Massage?
Michael David Wilson (00:46:48): Or you could just call it Drink Up.
Laurel Hightower (00:46:52): Oh yeah, there's the one, there's Bomb. Your face is just, no, I disapprove of everything going on here.
Michael David Wilson (00:47:03): Let me bring Bob into this. I don't know if Bob even remembers this, and I haven't said this on a House of Bad Memories interview yet, but it feels apropos that we do this at the launch. But that particular scene also for people who haven't read it, which is possibly the majority, I like that we're creating Mystique and hopefully it nearly everyone who read that, the beta readers, they were like, oh, this is gross. Why did you do this? I can't remember specifically what Bob said, but it essentially equated to, I think you can go further. So Bob is the, it was like, okay, okay, you're calling my bluff now.
Laurel Hightower (00:47:58): That's how you know, have your people.
Michael David Wilson (00:48:01): I took it further based on maybe even some one, one-upmanship from Bob being like, you can do better than that. You can go further. So I mean, what we have with that chapter is we have the spirit of Jack Ketchum in the Girl Next Door where he says, I won't describe what happens next. And then that's the end of the chapter. So that's my little homage to Jack Getchu. However, unlike Jack Getchu, after saying that, I then tell you all the things I won't describe, so I tell you I won't, and then promptly describe it.
Bob Pastorella (00:48:40): Yeah,
Laurel Hightower (00:48:42): Here you go. Here's your
Michael David Wilson (00:48:43): Information. Yeah, that's the fake out.
Bob Pastorella (00:48:45): But going away from being commercial to being something that I think it's going to be memorable and something people are going to, to me, I think it's just a better book going through with the book I have out sub right now, there was a point to where it could have been a YA book, but you throw in sexy, naked lesbian vampires and suddenly it's not a YA book anymore. You have to make those decisions, and there's no way I'm cutting that scene out. To me it's just that it's professional integrity. It's like I might tone it down if somebody gave me a good contract for a ya, but bikini clad sexy vampires, but But it doesn't work. It ain't going to work. But I mean, those things happen. They're like strokes of genius. It's like, this is what this needs, and it's like the last thing you should possibly ever do. But to me it's like this is one of the best scenes in the whole book. And so when you make those decisions, and I'm going to go like, Michael, I'm going extreme on here. Then it's like, well, fuck commercialism. You got to make yourself happy. You got to live up to your own expectations. And I don't think it would be a Michael David Wilson story unless it had some type of extremeness to it like that. There's some stuff in the book that I just read, daddy's Boy, while Funnier. It's pretty fucking extreme. I don't see that one being commercial. It could be, could
Laurel Hightower (00:50:57): Change what commercialism is if we
Bob Pastorella (00:51:00): Change exaction of commercial. No, but if you look at what I read, this blew me away, and I read this probably 30 years ago. They had a list of things that you needed to have to have an international bestselling book, and we're talking mainstream. And so one of the things that somebody listed out the 10 things that they found in common with every international thriller, mainstream type book, mystery, romance, whatever, and two things stuck out to mind, extreme violence and gratuitous sex. And I'm like, okay, that almost makes no sense that these books that are national international bestsellers have extreme violence in them and gratuitous sex. Yet this is the thing that the genre books get nailed upon crucified on for being too extreme and having grit to sex. So I'm like, it seems quite hypocritical at that point, and it made me realise that I really didn't want to be a bestselling writer because the books that I was reading, I tend to stray away from the general and go to more extreme, thank God for small press. I wouldn't have nothing to read, but that's where you're going to find the best stuff to me. But it just blew my mind that that was things that they found in common, and it took me a while to realise that it's the tone. It's the tone that makes it to where you can put those things to where they're acceptable in mainstream books. It's the tone of it.
Laurel Hightower (00:53:03): There's also maybe a sense of safety, I guess, for people who don't really read horror. I feel like with horror, anything can happen, and there are some people that there thresholds are different, and they need that safety of knowing, okay, there might be violence, there might be some murders, there might be some gratuitous sex, but there's not going to be X, y, z level of imagery that they're going to have trouble with or something. I know that some of it is just, we're kind of the redheaded stepchild genre to an extent. I went to my very first non genre event. It was like a book fair in a smaller outlying city near me, and I had never done that before, and I kind of forgot the whole sneer that you get from people, and they're like, oh, what do you write? It's like, this is horror. And they're like, you're like, okay, I didn't chase you down. That's weird. But it's also, I think that it's because people have that, some of them have an almost inherent fear of interacting with something like that in a way that's going to disturb them. But I mean, back to what you said. Yeah, thank God for small press. The rest of us want to read it.
Bob Pastorella (00:54:22): Yeah, I don't think I could. I went to a book fair with Max and Laurie. It was one of the first ones I went to years ago, and we got a little bit of that because it was a book fair. It wasn't horror or anything like that, but I know Max is kind of lamented on this. A lot of these, you go to comics and things like that, and if people up, there's like, oh, look, they got actual books. It's like that Bill Hicks skit. What's you reading for? And it's like, it's like, well, yeah, it's a book fair. I mean, why would you not have books here? It looks like we got ourselves a reader, and that's just like, what the hell, man? It's like, but that stigma, you write hard, don't read it, don't like it, don't read it. It's pretty simple.
Laurel Hightower (00:55:23): Yeah, I'm not chasing anybody down with it. But
Michael David Wilson (00:55:29): If we go back to, I guess what originally started this thread at a conversation when we were talking about the dichotomy as to whether to write in a commercial way. I mean, I don't know how it is for both of you, but in the rare instances where I've even attempted to make something more commercial, it just feels inauthentic. And then also added to that, it feels more like work in a way in which I never got into creative writing for. I think we want to remember the reasons that we originally did this, and probably it was just for the joy of writing. And that's why I kind of try to think about this idea that if you can find joy in writing, then no matter what happens, you've already won. So find happiness in the pursuit of doing not in how much it sells, not in how much money it makes, not in how many awards you get, but can you just find the pleasure in writing?
(00:56:51): If you do, every story will be a success because the writing is the success. And yeah, that's why, I mean, I just have to write something that's authentic, and it might not be very commercial, but it will certainly be a better story if I'm writing it from an authentic and an honest place. And so that is the only way that I can do it in a way that will bring me joy. Of course, you do think about the marketing and the selling, but that comes after that is not to be thought about in the creative process. You can think about how you can sell it. That's how those comp titles and the synopsis come into play. But that is work after that should be separate to the writing. So if you are authentic, then you will be writing the best possible story that you can. And if you think about all the kind of big successes, they typically came out of nowhere. It wasn't because they were kind of copying an existing model. So you might as well do something that's authentic. You might as well do something that brings you joy you've already won. If you're doing it for the money, then just do something else. If it's primarily for the money,
Laurel Hightower (00:58:24): Yeah, I mean definitely always be paid for what you do. But yeah, there's a difference there in, am I writing this specifically so that I can appeal to a large audience that maybe I don't even particularly understand? Because Bob, you were talking about when somebody does that research and sort of breaks down like, oh, these are the common elements of these successful books. It's like, I don't really even enjoy those kinds of books though. To me, they're so formulaic. And then it just sort of comes back to the original tenet of you write something because you want to read it, because what you want to read isn't out there. So you write the thing that you want to read. And if you're writing something that you don't even want to read, let alone write, yeah, it's completely stripped the fun out of it. And I think we probably have all had those instances where maybe we were writing for a call, writing for something spec, and then, I mean, I guess I shouldn't speak for everyone, but for me it's like sometimes I'm like, oh, my brain just kind shuts down when I'm trying to tell it what to write, as opposed to letting it kind of spin out of where it wants to go.
Bob Pastorella (00:59:39): And there's something to say too for being authentic. You can find commercial success and still be authentic. Joe Lansdale wouldn't have a career at the level he is without being authentic. And there's two other writers I can think of right off the bat. Paul Tram Lane and Stephen Graham Jones. Neither one of them have compromised anything in their voice
Laurel Hightower (01:00:06): At all. Violet Castro, violet cast Castro is who immediately comes to mind because all of her work is very, it's very violet, it's all very violet, and it's very middle fingers up, machete's out. This is what I'm writing, and it's completely authentic and it's appealing to people. And I guess in a sort of tongue in cheek way, that's sort of what I mean with changing commerciality. It's like, how do people even know what they want if all they see is the same bullshit? If the only thing that's on the shelf is James Patterson for the 433rd time, they don't know what's possible. I know. I didn't know what was possible with horror until I really sort of delved into indie horror, and then I was like, oh, there is a lot to this.
Bob Pastorella (01:00:54): Yeah, she comes to mind, another writer, Gabino Igl, he hasn't compromised anything. They haven't, matter of fact, that's probably what got them to the level that they're at is because they have a no compromise level to their writing that they're not going to, you're take it or someone else will. And to me, I feel like that's the key to their success is having that voice. But the bad thing is that for writers coming up, they're going to be like, well, we want you to kind of sound more like X. And it's like, nah, I'm not going to, you might be tempted to do that, but I mean, you can't even emulate someone's style. To me, I feel like it's impossible. You can mimic it at a superficial level, but to me, I feel like that in commercial, especially in hard, they're going to be more writers trying to, or more publishers trying to find a unique type of voice. And that's where your strength's going to be.
Laurel Hightower (01:02:10): Yeah. Yeah.
Michael David Wilson (01:02:12): All right. Well, we've got some readings that we're going to do. So as it is the hour mark or will be in 10 seconds, I believe that this is an excellent time to jump into some of the readings. So I've got a reading that I'm going to perform with Laurel, and I believe Laurel, you also have a reading. So would you like to go first or would you like the double team first? Which is better, Bob, shut up Bob. His eyes at that point, just shut up.
Laurel Hightower (01:02:54): We'll let Bob pick because I don't know that I can't even make that decision. Right. Which one first, Bob, it has no bearing on. We are not going to accept it as any sort of opinion on anything. Just throw one out
Michael David Wilson (01:03:06): Ladies first.
Laurel Hightower (01:03:07): That works. There's a good way to, all right. So I kind of cut and adapted a short story that is included in my collection. Every woman knows this. This story is Starman. The third time I saw my starman, he took my mother away. I was 12 an awkward age, and I spent most of my time crying or trying not to school home. It didn't matter. I was thin skinned with no social skills and received ample evidence on a daily basis that I wasn't getting anything right. All I wanted to do when I finally escaped to my upstairs room was lay on my bed and listen to music, Tori Amos, Cheryl Crow, Lanis Morissette, and the Crow soundtrack music to help me sink into sadness while I contemplated whether the future held anything better for me or if I was staring down the barrel of decades of the same.
(01:03:53): I didn't even play my music that loud, but my piece was always short-lived. Things got out of hand that night. They often did. Always my fault. I didn't have the right answers, the ones I should have known, and everything I said fanned the flames of my mother's smouldering temper. By then, I was taller than her by an inch or so, and my depressive eating meant I probably outweighed her or came close still like Howard and her presence, her fury and unknown beast with unknowable limits. I remember wishing, maybe even praying for her to go away and leave me alone. Just stop screaming, stop spraying my face with spittle and backing me into a corner the way we always ended up. I remembered that later that I had prayed. He stood before either of us knew he was there between one breath and the next. He was looming shadow at my shoulder.
(01:04:40): I looked down and saw his boot aligned with my own barefoot, felt his cold at my back and my memory returned. This time, I didn't flinch from him. I remember the way he'd faced the changing of hatred that didn't inhabited my mother from time to time, and how that empty black glass of his helmet had tamed her, taken the fight right out of her, sent her back down the stairs to inhabit her own troubled mind, leaving me out of it. I was tired and sick with crying, and I wanted it over. I didn't know what over meant. I stepped aside giving him full access to my mother and waited for the storm to calm. The side of him had the same silencing effect. As the last time mom's face, her mouth hung open and the yelling stopped. She stood and panted in the middle of my bedroom, staring up at a face of onyx, nothing.
(01:05:25): And my own breathing calmed. She would leave again and I'd be okay. But the storm man didn't stop there. He stepped closer, looked down into my mother's face, and the pace of her breathing increased. Her expression didn't change, and her eyes stayed focused where they had been, where he'd been standing several seconds before. It was like she was frozen in place, and it struck me how vulnerable she was like that. The starman loomed closer, still leaning in the smooth glass of his face shield, almost touching my mother. I thought he might be studying her, wondering what made her tick and her springs come loose. Then he reached out and in one fluid movement, he grasped her wrist and twisted her to the floor. She hit with barely a sound, just a muted half of air. As the breath was forced from her lungs, he must have been holding her up by that twisted wrist, supporting her body weight on that fragile joint.
(01:06:14): It would've hurt like hell, but she never uttered another sound. The starman dragged her across my carpeted bedroom floor, the fabric of his jumpsuit, making a low shushing sound. As he moved my mother's eyes, remained fixed on the empty ceiling. Her legs dragging boneless behind her. It took me too long to react, to move away from my vantage point against the wall. The place where I'd cowered away from her, but now I didn't know where she was going, where the Starman was taking her. Muted Thuds came from the narrow staircase that led to the main part of the house, and the last thing I saw was my mother's hair trailing down the steps, curling Auburn shot through with lighter threads in need of a trim. It's linked down the last stare before the 90 degree turn took her out of sight. I should have followed them maybe to stop what happened or even just to know to see it for myself.
(01:07:04): Instead, I sat on the top step and waited for someone older than me to come and tell me what my new truth was. I didn't expect her to be gone, not forever, but that was what happened. Dad asked me questions over and over. What happened? Where were you? Where were you? I responded finally and that shut him up. I didn't understand why back then. Too naive to know what his constant absences and whispered phone calls signified. I wasn't concerned with that. My parents' marriage was inherently uninteresting. I wanted to know why he'd never been there for anything else, why he'd let me get pushed to the point where I'd offer a prayer to a dark God. I didn't understand one who was always listening. Even if I couldn't see him, I couldn't ask those questions and Dad would've been able to answer anyway over the next weeks and months, the only question we had left centred around whether mom was ever coming back.
(01:07:54): Dad thought she would. He told me so every night before I went to bed, the dry skin of his face crinkling in an attempted consolation. He was afraid of being alone with me, of having full responsibility for an adolescent, but I didn't mind it just being us. He left me alone for the most part, and life got quiet. I knew by then it would be permanent, that wherever the Starman took her, it wasn't the kind of journey that was ever. Round trip. I watched out my window on Moonless nights staring at the endless stars above. I didn't want her back. I was looking for him until his memory slipped away from me again. After that, I just watched the night sky and didn't understand why, only that it gave me a sense of obsidian peace. That's where I'll end that one.
Michael David Wilson (01:08:36): Holy shit. That's great.
Laurel Hightower (01:08:39): Thank you.
Michael David Wilson (01:08:42): That was something.
Laurel Hightower (01:08:48): Thanks. That's been a fun one. That one's gotten, there's quite a bit more to it, but people seem to respond to it well, so that's been fun.
Michael David Wilson (01:08:56): Yeah, I mean it packed so much emotion and kind of trauma into it, and it feels like completely appropriate for the two books that we're talking about today. You took us on a journey. Journey. I'm almost speechless, which is Bob Knows does not happen often at all. Oh my goodness.
Laurel Hightower (01:09:30): All right, so we're going to do, let me exit the full screen here so I can get to my, I've run through this a couple times.
Michael David Wilson (01:09:39): Are we just jumping from one reading to the next?
Laurel Hightower (01:09:43): Oh, well, I didn't know. Do
Michael David Wilson (01:09:46): People need a moment? I mean, when did you first conceive of the Star Man?
Laurel Hightower (01:10:02): I actually think it was something that I pitched to Ryan shortly after we started working together. He was asking me what I was working on, what I thought I would work on next, and I sent him three different pitches, and I don't think that this was even the one that he
(01:10:20): Thought I should work on next, and I didn't. But it was something that was originally sort of a different concept. And then I just find that a lot of times I love this sort of stark horror element, like an injury or a monster or something from the shadows, something that scares you. And then I find that the most effective way I can make use of it is to just pull it into the human world, because none of us are ever interacting with horror in a vacuum. No one who walks into a room and comes across a shadow that shouldn't be there or an apparition or anything is doing so without their own experience, without everything that's going through their head on a daily basis. So I find that I have an easier time getting into a story if I can pull that into it.
Michael David Wilson (01:11:13): And how long is the full version? I'm totally invested in this. I want the full version.
Laurel Hightower (01:11:26): It might be, I think it's maybe four or 5,000 words. It's not super long. It's too long for reading, and so that's not the beginning of it either. There's some lead up stuff, but I kind of just wanted to select the middle piece that would give the imagery and give some of the action to it that I wanted.
Michael David Wilson (01:11:46): Yeah, it is truly spectacular Writing and writing.
Laurel Hightower (01:11:52): Oh, thank you.
Michael David Wilson (01:11:53): Yeah, just like as I say so emotionally effective, and it makes me think of elements of my childhood and complicated feelings and trauma. And it is funny as horror fans, it's like, wow, you're making me think of trauma. This is brilliant. This is kind of genre where we can say this. But yeah, not only do I want to read the piece in full, but I feel like I want to dissect it. This feels like a piece where it's going to benefit from multiple rereads and really analysing it and we can, because you said it is out. It's in your collection.
Laurel Hightower (01:12:46): Yep. Yep. It's in the collection. Everyone knows this.
Michael David Wilson (01:12:51): Well, let's jump into the other reading then, which is a little different. So me and Laura are going to read a story called Things We Say, which I originally wrote for Dark Moon Digest, and then it was also aired on the No Sleep Podcast. Oh, nice.
Laurel Hightower (01:13:18): Yeah.
Michael David Wilson (01:13:19): Thank you. And then later I wrote an audio drama, so Dialogue Only, which was on a podcast called Miss Creation. So Laurel and I are going to perform the audio drama version and we'll see how that goes. So if you are ready, I will be playing the character Jack, and you'll be Bayer. Although many people seem to pronounce it be, but it was intended as Bayer.
Laurel Hightower (01:14:01): Oh, good to know. Okay. Bayer
Michael David Wilson (01:14:02): All, but I don't think you need to refer to yourself.
Laurel Hightower (01:14:07): No, but it's good to know,
Michael David Wilson (01:14:08): Unless you're some actors, they add in their own lines. You're like, hello, I'm,
Laurel Hightower (01:14:16): I'm Adlib,
Michael David Wilson (01:14:18): I'm mayor, and I'm here to say something to you, Jack. That's not what it says in the script.
Laurel Hightower (01:14:24): No, I'll try really hard not to do that.
Michael David Wilson (01:14:27): Okay, so let's, let's begin. Can a San Taco knife cut through human bone?
(01:14:47): Over 16 million results and not a single answer. How fascinating.
Laurel Hightower (01:14:56): Jack, are you going to be much longer
Michael David Wilson (01:15:01): Reviews of Santos, comparisons of other knives, some YouTube videos, but no definitive answer about
Laurel Hightower (01:15:12): Jack? If you're not coming, just let me know and I'll
Michael David Wilson (01:15:16): Yes, yes, I'm coming. Jesus Christ.
(01:15:23): Now this knife right here, this is the real deal. A three-in-one knife for slicing, dicing, and mincing.
Laurel Hightower (01:15:40): Jack, who are you talking to?
Michael David Wilson (01:15:43): No one darling. Just enough time to give it a quick test. Run. Open this fridge. Pork steaks too messy O jean's. Not quite right. Ah, an apple
Laurel Hightower (01:16:03): Jack. I swear to God, you better not be cutting up food again with that bloody knife. You've wasted enough money already.
Michael David Wilson (01:16:09): Absolutely not. Bayer just putting some things away.
(01:16:19): Guess you'll have to wait a little longer. My San Taku friend.
Laurel Hightower (01:16:28): Finally, you work too hard.
Michael David Wilson (01:16:32): I'm not so sure about that.
Laurel Hightower (01:16:34): You're a professional artist. Living the dream, living your dream.
Michael David Wilson (01:16:39): I don't feel like a professional artist. Barely feel like an unprofessional artist. More like a fraud.
Laurel Hightower (01:16:47): No, darling, don't say that. You know that's not true. Now stop standing around and get in bed.
Michael David Wilson (01:16:56): If it wasn't for your teaching job, I wouldn't get to do any of this mid thirties and I'm living off my wife's income.
Laurel Hightower (01:17:08): You're too hard on yourself. Last month you made more than me. New commissions every week were displayed in international exhibitions. If that's not success, then what on earth is it?
Michael David Wilson (01:17:19): A fluke bear? It's a fluke. At least a cicadas are happy.
Laurel Hightower (01:17:28): That's one word for 'em. Should we shut the
Michael David Wilson (01:17:31): No, they keep me grounded. I don't think I'll ever have a midlife crisis because every day contains a mini crisis. A moment where I utterly despise myself and everything I've become.
Laurel Hightower (01:17:51): I know darling. I know. But if you had a choice, you
Michael David Wilson (01:17:57): Wouldn't be an artist. I know. I know. Bear, do you ever want to kill yourself?
Laurel Hightower (01:18:09): I mean, not really, but sometimes I want to stop living.
Michael David Wilson (01:18:15): I hear you.
Laurel Hightower (01:18:18): I read about this one guy who killed his girlfriend and kept it from her family and friends for months.
Michael David Wilson (01:18:23): For real?
Laurel Hightower (01:18:25): Oh yeah. He just used her social media accounts and smartphone to post updates, answered text messages, that kind of thing. See, I wonder which of us could get away with it for longest? Like if I killed you or you killed me.
Michael David Wilson (01:18:41): It's an interesting question. Living here in Portugal, while our parents are in England, most of our friends too, I reckon we could both conceal it for a while. Honestly, I think you could keep it from my parents for several months at least until my birthday. And even then you could come up with some excuse they'd buy as to why I couldn't Skype.
Laurel Hightower (01:19:07): That's true. And your text messages are briefer than mine. I think it'd be easier for me to fake being you than it would you being me. Besides your parents would ask way less questions. Mine would demand more going increasingly suspicious if you refuse to Skype. And then there's my sisters. I send them messages most days.
Michael David Wilson (01:19:27): Please. I reckon I could handle a few text messages, especially with your sisters, A couple of memes, some jokes here and there. Got it covered. And I think of something to tell your boss too. Some reason as to why you could no longer work a breakdown perhaps. I think they go for it and eventually fire you with few questions. I guess a boss that doesn't give too much of a shit has its advantages
Laurel Hightower (01:20:00): For you in this unique predicament. Sure.
Michael David Wilson (01:20:04): Plus, I'd keep everyone updated, keep my social media presence heavy too. Played a supportive and troubled husband. People would respect my space and sympathise with the difficult time I was having. Oh, he's ever so good. Stick him by her throughout all it is. I can't imagine what they're going through. That's what people would say. Of course it will be easier to keep it from your work and colleagues than it would your family, but if you killed me, well, you'd have the opposite problem. I might not call my parents often, but work is a different matter. You'd have to keep my online presence up
Laurel Hightower (01:20:50): And you have so much work commissioned. There are things I don't even know about.
Michael David Wilson (01:20:54): And don't forget the podcast and the online artist workshop. I kept them both running when I had pneumonia. And remember the shoulder operation I had when we were living in Croydon, still managed to edit and release the podcast every week, even though I couldn't use my right arm.
Laurel Hightower (01:21:15): You are crazy. You'd continue to work if your legs were cut off.
Michael David Wilson (01:21:19): Well, obviously bay, you think people with no legs, they're useless now. Honestly, that's not very progressive of you.
Laurel Hightower (01:21:28): That's not what I meant. I meant you work hard against all odds. Damnit, you're awful. It was a compliment. I just phrased it badly.
Michael David Wilson (01:21:37): I know. I know.
Laurel Hightower (01:21:39): You're a dickhead.
Michael David Wilson (01:21:40): Dickhead. Anyway, guess it's settled. I could conceal your murder for longer.
Laurel Hightower (01:21:47): Not so fast, Mr. I just asked Rob to do the podcast solo. Get him to run the workshops too.
Michael David Wilson (01:21:53): Oh yeah. I'm sure he'd be delighted. Especially as he has nothing to do with the workshop. So logistically, I have no idea how that had even work. And besides, Rob doesn't even know how to edit podcasts. He can't even record a Skype call. You'd have to explain all of that while masquerading as me. Plus you'd have to come up with something convincing to explain my absence on social media and lack of commitment to professional endeavours. You'd need to stage something major,
Laurel Hightower (01:22:29): A full-on meltdown in suicide attempt, perhaps.
Michael David Wilson (01:22:33): No, that could do it. Bayer. Really? That's not bad at all. People wouldn't ask many questions and they'd accept the break from work would encourage it even they'd say, take as much time as you need. Come back when you are ready. Of course, the whole suicide attempt would make it harder to go without a Skype call to my parents. I like to think they'd at least want to talk face-to-face after that.
Laurel Hightower (01:23:04): Right. And they might visit too.
Michael David Wilson (01:23:07): Not a chance. They don't even have passports. Matter of fact, I don't reckon they'd show up if I was on the edge and told them I'd kill myself if they didn't visit. They'd kill my bluff. And if it resulted in my death, they'd just say it was meant to be God's will or something.
Laurel Hightower (01:23:27): I'm sorry,
Michael David Wilson (01:23:28): My brother though, he's a different story. He probably would book a flight. So if you wanted to kill me, you'd have to achieve some sense of balance. A reason strong enough to justify an end to my business endeavours, but not so extreme as to have him visit Portugal.
Laurel Hightower (01:23:49): Difficult. But I still think I could keep it going for longer than you. Mom and dad like to Skype me every few weeks. And I can't just say no, I'm not like you. You're stubborn and pretty blunt when it comes to your parents. Assertive.
Michael David Wilson (01:24:02): Assertive, huh? Almost think the word you're looking for is asshole. I do think I could make it work with your parents though.
Laurel Hightower (01:24:12): You love a good challenge.
Michael David Wilson (01:24:15): Oh, Bayer, you are so right. I do love a good challenge. And like you said, I'm stubborn. I'd just give them the impression you'd had a change in attitude. A colder, meaner bearer. I'd phase it in. Of course it wouldn't be a sudden switch. Oh no. That would arouse too much suspicion. But I've got a good feeling about this. I think I could pull it off. I really do. I mean, shit, there was a time when you didn't speak to them for over 12 months.
Laurel Hightower (01:24:50): Teenage angst. It wouldn't work. Now
Michael David Wilson (01:24:54): We'll have to agree to disagree. The cicadas, they're getting louder.
Laurel Hightower (01:25:02): Well, we'll never know. I mean, we can't both simultaneously kill each other and conceal the deaths. That would be impossible.
Michael David Wilson (01:25:11): Impossible.
Laurel Hightower (01:25:14): Do you think you could ever kill me? I
Michael David Wilson (01:25:17): Don't know. I mean, is it possible? Could I physically do it with the right tools? Probably. But mentally, could I? You're my wife Bayer. That's not a good answer. Is it should have just said no cicadas. They're here. Say Bayer, can a San Taku knife cut through human bone
Laurel Hightower (01:25:51): A San Taku knife? Wait, why are you asking me?
Michael David Wilson (01:25:57): It's just word darling things we say nothing more. That is the reading.
Laurel Hightower (01:26:08): I love that. I had no idea where it was going. I had no idea where it was going when I first read it.
Bob Pastorella (01:26:16): And y'all rehearse that or anything?
Michael David Wilson (01:26:18): No,
Laurel Hightower (01:26:19): No. I read through it a couple times after you sent it to me.
Bob Pastorella (01:26:23): That was good. That was really good. I enjoyed the hell out of that.
Laurel Hightower (01:26:26): Thank you. Thanks for letting me read it with you. That was fun.
Michael David Wilson (01:26:31): Yeah. Yeah. I mean the only drawback is of course with the audio adaptation, we got some sound effects, but I tried my best to make it work. Added some very marginal additional dialogue. Nothing like, hi, I'm Bear.
Laurel Hightower (01:26:53): We had Bob be the cicada.
Michael David Wilson (01:26:57): Can you imagine?
Bob Pastorella (01:26:59): I can't do that sound, that annoying cicada sound. Yeah, you got it. I can't do it. I can hear it, but yeah,
Laurel Hightower (01:27:11): Everyone can hear it. God, those things are loud.
Bob Pastorella (01:27:13): Yeah, it's usually maybe one of them. It's like you loud little bitch.
Laurel Hightower (01:27:21): Well that's awesome. I want to go back and listen to that on, you said it was on Miss Creations?
Michael David Wilson (01:27:26): Yeah, so the exact audio version that we just read is on Miss Creation, so I can put a link to that in the show notes. And then it is also on the No Sleep podcast, but that one may be behind the paywall, but I think it's a reasonably affordable paywall. So it depends how much people enjoyed it. But I will put a link right now to Miss Creations for everyone on YouTube and we'll have that in the show notes as well. So that is Miss Creations. It is episode two. And that was a really cool experience actually, because Miss Creations was a offshoot from Hawke and Cleaver's, the other stories podcast. So I mean the other stories, they're like straight readings, more akin to no Sleep podcast. But we've missed creations that yeah, there's not many episodes. There's only five of them, but they were all recorded in a studio in the Acast studio, in fact in London. And for that I actually went and I met the two actors that played Jack and Bayer. And so I sat in on the recording, fine, you don't hear me. I dunno, who's that? Cicada
Laurel Hightower (01:29:07): Cicada number two.
Michael David Wilson (01:29:09): But yeah, that was just a really fun experience for me to in person watch them deliver the lion and they could ask me if I had any directions or things like that. So yeah, recommended. If you get an opportunity to watch people perform your work life, definitely go for it.
Laurel Hightower (01:29:34): Well, I feel like that's one of those ones that is very illustrative of what you can do with the idea, the growing tension of possibility without naming anything specifically just it's thoughts and you don't exactly know where it's going. And the cicadas are kind of freaky and it's just sort of building, but without ever hitting anything on the nose. So it was really, really good tension building.
Michael David Wilson (01:30:06): Yeah, thank you. Thank you very much. And I've also put the link to the No Sleep podcast episode as well. I always very impressed with both adaptations. So two for two on that one. But in terms of adaptations, is there any news or anything you can say? I mean, you said that Ryan Lewis has read Silent Key. Is there any movement in terms of films? Obviously at the moment there's a distinct lack of movement for anything in Hollywood given we only just resolved the writer strike and there's still the actors strike as ongoing, but I'm wondering where you are with that or if that indeed is something you can even talk about.
Laurel Hightower (01:31:02): There's really nothing to talk about. We've had interest, we've had some folks request manuscripts on a few things, especially the day of the door. And so I know that some people have stuff in hand, but I haven't really heard anything. So I mean, you know how it works. It's a whole lot of hurry up and wait. So no, there's not really anything to report on it. But I did get to do something fun into last year, beginning of this year, shadows at the Door. I don't know if you listened to that podcast. It's Mark Nixon and David Alt, and it's a really, really good dramatisation podcast. And Mark asked me to write an audio script. So I did that for the first time. I really told him I thought he had the wrong person. I was like, there's got to be someone else you're trying to reach because I've never done that.
(01:31:56): But he was able to walk me through it really well, and that was a great experience and he was able to sort of redirect me. He wanted it to be set in Britain, and so he was able to help me with all of my really bad British slang throughout working on it. But it was really fun. And when you were talking about being in the studio with the people performing yours, that sounds like it would be really fun if they were not all the way across the ocean. I would've maybe requested to make the attempt, but David t might not have been happy and not be leaning over his shoulder the entire time.
Michael David Wilson (01:32:35): Right? Yeah. I mean it might be cool for us as writers, but I do imagine it puts additional pressure on the actors. I mean, I tried to lean not too close. I wasn't like handsy man, just people wonder who is Handsy Manuel? All of the episodes with Laurel, this is like a series, it's Canon. You've got to go back to the first time we ever spoke with Laurel on this is our podcast to get that reference.
Laurel Hightower (01:33:10): I wonder if that guy has any idea he's become Canon. Probably not.
Michael David Wilson (01:33:16): But I mean, speaking of David t, who to the best of my knowledge is not Ziman. Does not seem
Laurel Hightower (01:33:22): To be,
Michael David Wilson (01:33:24): Yeah, he has done, I mean, he could be a reform to Ziman, but there's absolutely no evidence of as much evidence that David t is handsy man as there is that cemetery. Gates Media get all of their money through blood money as Max Booth tried to suggest in the conversation that we had, which hasn't aired yet. So it's always fun to reference things that nobody but me has actually heard.
Laurel Hightower (01:33:53): It's the ultimate meta reference.
Michael David Wilson (01:33:56): But David t, he has done a number of things for the No Sleep podcast. In fact, he is in the episode that I link to with things we say, he's not on things we say, but he is on the halfway house, which is before things we say. So if you are an Ulta, there's another reason to get that episode
Laurel Hightower (01:34:22): And everyone should be an Ulta maniac. He's pretty damn awesome.
Michael David Wilson (01:34:27): Yeah. Is that the soundbite?
Laurel Hightower (01:34:30): Mark does some great work too. He was, I believe his first speaking role was as the death spider, which was just enthralling.
Michael David Wilson (01:34:40): Yeah, no, I've heard many good things about their podcasts, so she probably put that in the show notes as well. There's going to be extensive show notes for this one, but we've got a few questions from Patreon. So well, the first two we've got from Robert Stahl, he said that they're for Laurel. But I see no reason why we can't all give some thoughts on this so that the first is the topic is Best modern female horror author go, that is the question someone would argued. That's not a question, that's a statement.
Laurel Hightower (01:35:30): It's a prompt. It's a prompt. I like it. It is so hard to do that without being terrified. You're going to leave some folks out. So this is by no means exclusionary. It's not the final word in it, but I always have to say Haley Piper, because she's really excellent and she's inventive and she's just doing completely new things with the genre, and I just always enjoy everything I read of hers, Caitlin Mar. So she's doing some incredible things. Her novella, this is where we talk things out. She sent it to me to blurb, and I never do this. I usually just read and then I send a blur, but I was DMing her in the middle like, what the fuck is this? Why is it so good? I hate you and I love you at the same time you suck. But no, it's so, so good.
(01:36:22): It's really, really excellent. Laura Keating's agonis load stone that came out through to Ne Press is if you've seen, nah, I don't want to give it away, so I'm not going to say that. But it's different. It's dark, it's confusing, and she just, but in the best way, it's so eerie. It's so creepy. And she does the family dynamics just beautifully. And then I'll just, Rhonda Joseph Jackson, her collection Hill hath no sorrow, like a woman haunted, which is by the way, one of the best titles of all time. It's absolutely excellent. Yeah, and I can go on forever, so someone else is going to have to talk or I'm just going to never stop.
Michael David Wilson (01:37:16): Yeah, I mean, like you said, it's almost an impossible question where that you'll miss people out. But the two who immediately spring to mind, Anya Albo, who I know is probably one that would've sprung to mind for Bob as I think it was Bob who introduced me to Anya to begin with. I mean, if you were to make an easy comparison, you'd say the female Jack Kechum. But then that is unfair because it's like, no, this is the original fucking annual album who stands alone in her own. And then the other person who really comes to mind is Jamara Moore, just everything she does. I absolutely devour and love that if we're to take horror wider, which I often do, then I love AM Holmes' work now. A lot of that, I guess you would put in the more general literary category, but the end of Alice is a brutal, dark, fucking horrible story at times.
(01:38:27): And it's so well done. And really recently I've discovered, and I'm probably going to butcher her name, so apologies, but Mona Awa, I've been reading Bunny. It is so good. It is so well done. I'd also throw Alyssa Nutting who wrote Tamper into the mix, but we are barely even scratching the surface here. I'm just naming some of the female horror authors that I've enjoyed recently. But there are countless others. I mean, I know that Stephanie Parent did a fantastic job with the Briers and such an authentic unflinching piece on sex work, but also wrapped in a gothic horror story with the spirit of Shirley Jackson. So there's a lot of people doing great work. It's an impossible question, really.
Bob Pastorella (01:39:44): Yeah, I mean to add to the mix, and she's certainly not new, but it seems like that she comes out Sarah Langan.
Michael David Wilson (01:39:55): Oh yeah,
Bob Pastorella (01:39:57): Yeah. Her work before was really good, but I think she's hit next level, especially good neighbours, that book, man that knocked me for a loop, and I think she's got another one. She's tapped into this, I guess this community neighbourly dynamic that I don't know in a way kind of reminds me of Anne River Sids, especially the House next door, being that that's the only book I've read about her, and it's the only horror book she ever wrote. But dealing with your community and your neighbours, that's just, there's some creepy shit there, man. People are fucked up.
Michael David Wilson (01:40:49): And for some reason, you mentioning Sarah Langan then just brought Elizabeth Hand to Mind who wrote Wilding Hall, and I know that she's got a new book, A Haunting on The Hill, which is like, I mean, the first ever novel authorised to return to the world of Jackson's, the haunting of Hill House. So that's got to be on everyone's to read list, surely.
Laurel Hightower (01:41:20): Christine Morgan, Christine Morgan is just outrageously talented and she's so funny and she's so brutal, and she just holds her own with any author. Christine Morgan is just absolutely amazing
Bob Pastorella (01:41:37): To me. She's like the epitome of what you would think. She writes hard a way that you would think that should be written, and she is the sweetest person that you would ever meet, just so with a wickedly brutal sense of humour. But yeah, she's really, really talented. Another one, and I'm reading this book, I feel like I'm going to be reading it forever so long, but it's good. Mariana Enriquez, our Sheriff Knight.
Laurel Hightower (01:42:12): Oh, I've heard of that one.
Bob Pastorella (01:42:14): And I've read it or I'm reading it. It's long, but it's good. It's that long good that you want to savour it, and it deals with the occult and it deals with a man who's trying to save his son from people who are powerful in the occult. And it's set in 1970s Argentina, and it's just wild.
Laurel Hightower (01:42:50): That sounds awesome.
Michael David Wilson (01:42:51): Yeah. Alright, well, as we say, we've only just scratched the surface. That is not the definitive list of the best modern female horror offers. What that is is just some amazing offers that we enjoy and that happened to come to mind today. If you asked us tomorrow, which I guess you could ask me and Bob tomorrow we'll be here, then we probably have a different answer. But this is an interesting question. So the second question from Robert Sto, what is the craziest thing you have witnessed at a book convention?
Laurel Hightower (01:43:40): Oh God. Yeah. It was the bourbon and books panel and Imaginarium, I foolishly thought that that meant we were going to maybe drink some bourbon and talk about books or talk about bourbon and drink books. I didn't know, but it's actually has to do with pounding shots. And yeah, I ended up on that panel and had no idea what it was going to be, and no one would really tell you. It was just, you're like, so what exactly were you doing? And they're all like, you'll see. And I'm like, oh, this is starting to feel like I've gotten myself into something. So that was pretty rough. It was also that we were doing a round robin story where someone would say one line and take their shot and then the next person would take their shot and give a line and you go around Now when everyone's only giving, I think they only did it this way once.
(01:44:33): I think previously they had done it to where there was more of a break between, but this time it was just pounding shots. And the other wrinkle to it is if somebody tapped out and didn't want to take their shot, the next person had to donely take their shot, but the person who tapped out. And so if you have four people tap out in a row, you got some poor dude with five in front of him. And it's just funny. It's like I'm an adult at the time I was 40. I'm 41 now. So yeah, I was last year, so I was 40. And I'm like, I had this moment of peer pressure where I was like, I'm a Kentucky bitch, these people aren't going to, no, I'm not going to let these men do. Then I was like, actually, yes, yes I am, because I have no desire to be just passed out face down in a hotel conference room. So it got, yeah, there was an ambulance involved. It wasn't me. So everyone ended up okay, but I don't think they do that panel anymore.
Michael David Wilson (01:45:35): So when does it end? Does it end when there's a complete story or does it end when there's one person left?
Bob Pastorella (01:45:45): When the ambulance shows up,
Laurel Hightower (01:45:47): It basically, yes, it ends when there's one person left, it ends when there's one person left. And the two last guys standing were just shot for shot. They stuck it out way longer than the rest of us. I was talking people out of taking their shots. I was like, listen, because I always end up being everyone's mother accidentally at things. And I'm like, honey, you don't have anything to prove of. You'll put that down, sweetie. Okay. So the rest of us survived. But yeah, those two guys were just slamming 'em till the very end. And then yeah, everyone's okay. Now though, all is welded in. Well,
Michael David Wilson (01:46:22): How many people started off,
Laurel Hightower (01:46:25): I want to say seven or eight. It wasn't like a huge number. It wasn't a huge number.
Michael David Wilson (01:46:31): Do you want to divulge at which point you tapped out of the seven or eight
Laurel Hightower (01:46:37): Number? I think after I took four shots, and I should have done it at least one before that. My initial thinking, I don't do shots. I have not done them in ages. I drink bourbon, but I drink bourbon on the rocks and I drink it at a reasonable speed. And I know that my limit of comfort if I'm drinking at home is four. And so I thought, okay, well I can do four. But I wasn't thinking like, oh, but this is shots and that's not the same thing. So I was okay, but I was definitely, I would not have wanted to be any more inebriated than that. So, sorry, Carl, you were the guy sitting next to me and I ended up accidentally giving you my drink too. Sorry man. He was a good sport about it.
Michael David Wilson (01:47:28): All right. How about you, Bob? Have you got any wild crazy convention stories that you're prepared to say on air?
Bob Pastorella (01:47:39): Yeah, I've mentioned it before, but for those that I've never heard it, the first time I went to Killer Killer Con is in August in Austin, and it's Breath James White, and it's basically where the splatter punk awards are and it's celebration of Spider punk extreme horror. It's a very open and welcome and family and very, very, very cool and great convention to go to. And so my very first one I went to, they have a gigantic banner that they post out when you walk in to the convention centre and it's a knife and it has blood on it. It says Killer Con. And this banner's like 12 feet. It's big and it's basically on our website. And so you see that when you sign in and when you walk in. So in this convention centre at this hotel, we had the whole bottom floor. There's a second floor and a third floor, and they have different events for different companies and things like that.
(01:48:56): And so right past that, there's a place where you can get a coffee and go into the panels and stuff like that. And they had a gigantic coffin filled with donuts. So I'm setting the scene here because I think it was the first night, or it may have been the second night, they still had that coffin out there with the donuts and still had that banner out there. And we had to share, I am pretty sure we were doing the gross out contest, which they do a gross out contest. You have to read a story, you get three minutes and then applause get you keep going.
(01:49:39): And I think while we were doing that, that's when we were told that there was going to be a funeral wake in the floor above and they were passing through the killer entrance and there wasn't really anything we could do or anyone could do probably to get that coffin out of there. But that was pretty wild, just the thought of it. I thought that was pretty funny. And then the next year, I think during the same thing, because it's the same event, they had had a mariachi band that was playing it, the girl, the Mexican 16 year old birthday, I can't think what the word is,
Laurel Hightower (01:50:31): Quin.
Bob Pastorella (01:50:32): Yes, yes. And so while the middle, the presentation you going, what the the hell man? So I was like, well, at least is better than the funeral, but yeah. Yeah. To me ghoulish, it wasn't outrageous, but Max and Lori got married and it was beautiful.
Laurel Hightower (01:50:59): Oh, that was beautiful. Yeah, that
Bob Pastorella (01:51:01): Was good. That was the highlight. There was nothing outrageous about that though. We knew it was going to happen and it was, I think Andrew was a little outrageous,
Laurel Hightower (01:51:15): But perfectly so best. Right? Yeah. Best wedding ceremony ever. Also, just to give you a quick shout out, Bob, I don't even know if you realise this. So I may have told you, I don't know. I have very little recollection of much that I said that weekend when I got up that morning to go to the airport, I felt like I'd been roofed. I hadn't had a drink in weeks at that point. I still don't know what it was. I dunno if it was vertigo or what, but I was way out of my mind. And several times during that weekend I would sort of come back to myself and realise I've been talking to someone for a long period of time and have no idea what the hell I was saying. And I think I did that to you at least twice and you were always really, really nice and really chill about it. So I appreciate you just you and Lucas Mangum poor guy. I think I did it to him a couple times too. So that's a real shout out to that convention though, is you can go into it essentially roofed and be perfectly safe and fine. So yay ghoulish.
Bob Pastorella (01:52:11): Well, I didn't realise that anything was going on.
Laurel Hightower (01:52:18): That's good. Even if you're just telling me that that's good.
Bob Pastorella (01:52:21): But I mean, I know our perception of how we see ourselves and react to ourselves is a lot different than what actually what people see. I know that I've had some perceptions of things that I've said or done or shoot just the way I fucking walk somewhere and I think back going, man, they probably thought I was pretty pissed off about something. I hope I didn't scare 'em. And you're thinking these thoughts later and then you try to get into a conversation with somebody and you're like, what? No, hold on. I was thinking about something, but were you on pain pills or something? Or
Laurel Hightower (01:53:01): No, I had not. I still don't know what, I don't know if it's an exhaustion thing or what. It was really, really, really weird. It was very disorienting, very disorienting. So it started to derail it to a point, I want to get to what Michael's was, but I hadn't had an opportunity to tell you that I appreciated that because I don't know, particularly as a woman, when you go to these events, I've never felt that way like at Ghoulish or Author Con or anything like that. But it honestly is a little bit of a vote of confidence. It's like I was not intentionally inebriated at all, but just sort of outside of my control. I felt this way and was very much out of my head and still was completely safe and fine all weekend. So I really do think that's testament to how good the community is. So anyways, sorry, I have a tendency to derail.
Michael David Wilson (01:53:53): No, I'm just so glad that you are okay now. And I think it is testament to how good the vast majority of the community is. And I feel like in this community, if there's any bullshit for want of a better word, there are so many people who will not only call it out, but we'll jump in and we'll see that it's dealt with. So
Bob Pastorella (01:54:22): If I'm at a con and any woman or anyone, if you feel uncomfortable about something, let me know. I'm not going to make a scene. I'm going to tell the people who need to be told and they're going to do what they're supposed to do. But I mean, if you feel like that there's someone who is messing around with you, we need to know it's important it for anything, anything at all, just let us know.
Michael David Wilson (01:55:00): It's a good message. And the only way to segue is for me to get into my craziest story, which I've mentioned this before. It's not a con, but it's a book event. And it was the launch of Joseph Delacey's Blood Fugue. So it was this is horror event. We had Joseph Delacey reading The Legend that is Pat Kagan reading, and Jonathan Green and the host was Jasper Bark. Jasper Bark is, I love Jasper Bark. And he writes comedic horror. He is a comedic person. And we did a thing at this as horror events where we wanted them to be memorable. We wanted to do something that would get people talking. And so further Blood Fugue event, somebody had made some blood fudge. And I am not encouraging that anyone does this, particularly at a blackwells bookstore that we haven't been back to since. But me, Jasper and Joseph decided it would be funny if we pretended that Jasper Bark had some sort of reaction to this fudge that turned him into a zombie.
(01:56:42): And he then attacked Joseph Delacey. So Pat Kagan, who is now 70, so I guess he was sixties at the time, time moves forward, did not know, should have very respected author. And the other author, Jonathan Green did not know. And so we eat the Fudge and then Jasper's the host halfway through he is like, sorry, I've got to take a break. He goes Backstage, what nobody knows is backstage. We've got a makeup person who's making Jasper look visibly more ill. And then there's a video of all this on YouTube, which I'm going to link to. And then when he comes in, he starts kind of convulsing and oh God, at that point, which we didn't anticipate this would happen, but people started getting their phones out to potentially ring an ambulance. So then we had to escalate things quite quickly for Jasper kind of just attacks and knocks Joseph Delacey to the floor. They have a fight, they knock like a blackwells display over, and then Jasper jumps into the audience, at which point the video you can see on YouTube ends. But we weren't invited back to Blackwells again. This was 2012. Oh, it was a different time back then.
(01:58:27): Yeah, that was the craziest thing that we did. That was the craziest stunt that we've done at this as horror event. That's only a few years into this as horror. There are things that I've done that I wouldn't do now, but it got people talking like maybe for some people this event is somewhat anticlimatic because we do often have an incident like for the girl in the video Max Booth hacking into the call again. But it's been a difficult year. It's post covid, it is 2023, you can't get away. You can't pretend someone's having an allergic reaction. Ambulances are called and then he attacks the author and jumps into the audience. Can't do that, but you could then you probably couldn't then, but we did it anyway. So there's your answer, Robert Star. I hope that was a good one for you. And on that note, honestly, we're more than out of time. So either of you have any final thoughts, anything you want to leave our listeners with before we sign off,
Laurel Hightower (01:59:49): Get a house of bad memories, read it, review it favourably upon all of your preferred platforms, but seriously it, it's an absolute ride of a book. It's completely batshit and you're going to love it.
Bob Pastorella (02:00:09): I'll add to that buy Laurel's book, silent Key. It's out now too, and y'all need to get it and read it and review it favourably.
Michael David Wilson (02:00:19): Yeah, that's the bad memories and silent key. So until next time, which for me and Bob is in 53 minutes with Alan Baxter, take care of yourselves, be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day. Thank you for listening to The House of Bad Memories Launch event. The next time we will be chatting with Joe Sullivan, a cemetery, gates Media. Hopefully my voice will be in good order. Hopefully it'll be in good order very soon because in two days I'm meant to have some really important conversations. We have Chuck Paul, Nick returning Matthew Holness returning AKA Garth Megi. So if you want to submit questions to them, patreon.com/this is horror. Let's have an advert break.
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Michael David Wilson (02:02:42): And that really has to be it for this episode cus this voice is not holding up even to record an outro. So I appreciate you. I appreciate you listening to this as horror. So until next time with Joe Sullivan, take care of yourselves, be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day.