TIH 541: R. A. Busby on Early Life Lessons, First Stories, and Horror Fiction

TIH 541 R. A. Busby on Early Life Lessons, First Stories, and Horror Fiction

In this podcast, R. A. Busby talks about early life lessons, first stories, horror fiction, and much more.

About R. A. Busby

R. A. Busby is the 2021 Shirley Jackson Award-winning author of the creepy hit “Not the Man I Married” (Black Petals Issue #93) and the author of Corporate Body, out now via Cemetery Gates Media.

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House of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson

From the author of The Girl in the Video comes a darkly comic thriller with an edge-of-your-seat climax.

Denny just wants to be the world’s best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank. Then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half-sister who demands he uncovers the cause of her father’s death.

Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions?

House of Bad Memories is Funny Games meets This Is England with a Rosemary’s Baby under-taste.

Hail Santa by John McNee

The ultimate Christmas story. Out now.

Michael David Wilson 0:29

Welcome to This is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson. And every episode I chat with the world's best write as about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now today, myself and Bob Pastorella are chatting to R A Busby, the author of corporate body. And as with a lot of these conversations, it is a two parter. As this is the first part we get into a lot of early life lessons. We talk about some of R. A. Busby's first stories that she wrote, and we go on a hell of an adventure, including a really interesting and quite disturbing. Well, ghost story is one way of putting it all let you be the judge. It is something cool, right? But before we get to the conversation with R. A. Busby a little bit of an advert break,

John McNee 1:44

the town of St. Nicholas in northern Canada, a community in decline until it's purchased by a Chinese American corporation intent on turning it into a luxury ski resort. There was neither the residents or their new benefactors realize this and Nicholas already has an owner, something strange and inhuman which has long held the town in its Thrall and won't give it up without a fight. The children call it Santa Claus. Blood bone books proudly presents hail Santa's by John McNeil. This Christmas season reject God worship Santa's

Bob Pastorella 2:14

house of bad memories. The debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery gates media. Dini just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter. But things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank, then Frank winds up dead and tinny is held hostage by his junky half sister, who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death will then need to feed his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions. Clay McLeod Chapman says house of bad memories hit so hard you will spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Preorder house of bad memories by Michael David Wilson and paperback at cemetery gates media.com or an ebook via Amazon

Michael David Wilson 2:58

Okay Well with that said here it is it is R A Busby on This Is Horror R. A. Busby Welcome to This Is Horror.

R. A. Busby 3:13

Thank you it's a pleasure to be on with you and with Bob and and be talking about a subject that I love with two really really well informed folks so it's so thank you for having me. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 3:25

we're really excited to do this and I mean already offer we've seen that there's so much that we can talk about because we've taken about half an hour before we've actually hit record but we we decided to as we got together to record a podcast which you probably do the recording it helps. But as with a lot of these conversations, I want to know what some early life lessons where that you had growing up.

R. A. Busby 3:57

it's sort of like where do you where do you begin exactly?

I don't are you talking about just in personal experience or worth reading or horror or all of the above? Or

Michael David Wilson 4:14

I like to run the whole gamut so we can even start with a personal experience and jump into something writing your horror specific Oh,

R. A. Busby 4:24

boy. Um, I'd say in terms of pushing me to horror as a genre I some of my earliest memories of like, the things I read that were horrifying were I read a lot of fairy tales, especially Hans Christian Andersen, which is really messed up man. And and, of course, you know, the Grimm Brothers and pretty much anything else that I could get my hands on pole. Macbeth, pretty I really loved the genre pretty much from from the out.

Michael David Wilson 5:01

Yeah. And in terms of those stories, I mean, I'm wondering, how did you discover your first Dark Fairy Tale? I'm wondering, was it a case of somebody reading it to you? Was it an adventure in the library? What happened there?

R. A. Busby 5:17

I'd say it was a, it was my mom giving me a book, because it was the one thing that was reliable for me to like, stop talking. And like, leave her alone. And, you know, give her some time. And so she was more than happy to have me, you know, pretty much anything. And so I remember really vividly being being a kid. And reading pretty much, pretty much anything that I could get my hands on. I was, I found myself both scared and responsive to books like, you know, Madeline Langos, Wrinkle in Time, or, or every single oz book ever made. Because some of those some of those moments are pretty are pretty scary. But I think I liked them. Because I think even as a child, I understood that they're telling a they're telling a kind of raw truth. And one that one that I think that children understand, even though they might not understand all the permutations of it, it's like, Yeah, finally, somebody's coming. As somebody who's admitting the truth, which is that no, the world isn't all smiles and sunshine, and the forest does have monsters in it. So watch it.

Michael David Wilson 6:38

Do you think that reading some of these tales, made you realize that there were more dangers in the world than perhaps you'd been told? And do you think, in, in a sense that horror can help us grow up quicker,

R. A. Busby 6:57

I don't know about whether it helps us grow up quicker, but it might help us grow up a little wiser. I was just thinking about how when I was a, when I was a little kid, we I grew up in the in the southwest desert. And whenever I would, and it was, it was the, the era of parenting where you pretty much let your kids just wander wherever. And so when we had the desert backing up to our home, and so there's basically nothing but a lot of desert in between my parents house and the mountains. And so my mom would just basically say, watch out for snakes as being the big advice. And I think in many ways, the fairy tales were like, yeah, here's why you should watch out for snakes. Because if you go into the forest, you're gonna encounter the cannibal, which if you if you step on that loaf of bread, you'll be sucked down into hell, or, you know, any? Or, you know, be or if you hear if you see a woman in white, if you see a woman in white calling your name by the river, run the other way, because that's just not a good thing. So I yeah, I think a lot of those were, were were sort of helped form the texture of, of my world is growing as a kid growing up, haven't you all?

Michael David Wilson 8:22

Well, well, hang on, hang on a minute, because we're not done with this. And we're not done with the desert. You can't pass the baton to us so easily. I want to know, I mean, when you were exploring the desert, did you encounter any snakes? Did you encounter any danger when you're off there? Kind of, you know, exploring the wild on your own as a kid? Oh,

R. A. Busby 8:51

absolutely. And if you're a kid, it's all dangerous because this was well before the era of cellphones. And so I would usually just follow the Royals, because it was a pretty solid landmark. Like if you follow the arroyo up, you can follow the arroyo back. But yeah, I, I pretty much I pretty much saw. I did in fact, watch out for snakes. And only later did I encounter one when when I was more of an adult. But you know, he loved monsters, lizards of all kinds. And, you know, your usual and your usual wildlife, but the big danger obviously is dehydration. So that's why you definitely don't want to get lost out there.

Michael David Wilson 9:41

Yeah, yeah. And I'm imagining to you know, living in the desert, you had to take certain precautions in terms of like protecting your skin and also as you say, like, bringing a lot of water with you so that Yeah,

R. A. Busby 9:56

neither of which I did. Oh, yeah. No, but I did watch out for the snakes. So, yeah,

Michael David Wilson 10:05

yeah. And and to give us a sense, I mean, what age are we talking when you're going out and exploring?

R. A. Busby 10:12

I will probably six, seven. And, you know, way, way early I mean, old enough to be old enough to be watchful not to follow the arroyo instead of wandering off, you know, sort of going off book so we're, but you know, not exactly. I don't know, not exactly survivorman out there. So, yeah,

Michael David Wilson 10:37

yeah. Did you combine your love of walking in the desert and reading? Did you bring a book, you know, and you'd say, oh, somewhere.

R. A. Busby 10:46

There's actually a picture of me when I was when I was camping with my parents. And I'm sitting there in, in a mountain stream reading and I and the thing is, I remember exactly what I was reading to it was so CS Lewis is the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. So yeah, I pretty much had a book wherever I went, so it wouldn't surprise me at all. Yeah, no sunscreen, but you know, definitely see us, Louis. So yeah,

Michael David Wilson 11:12

well, I mean, if the sun gets really brutal, then you can just put like the Chronicles of Narnia, over your head for a bit.

R. A. Busby 11:21

Aslan, protect me from sunburn. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 11:25

yeah. And, I mean, you touched on this previously. And I know that you've spoken about it in other interviews too. But this idea that, you know, horror is the genre, where you can be honest, it is a vehicle for truth. And so I mean, it. This is a fascinating area to explore. So I'm wondering, rather broadly, what do you think it is about horror that allows us to tell the truth and to be honest, in a way that is harder with other genres?

R. A. Busby 12:01

I think because we can let our monsters be monsters. And I think because we can let the darkness be the darkness. And we can let the darkness both be with within us and without us. And we can have monsters that look like people and people that look like monsters. And that's a truth that most of us in real life, I think, have to figure out you know, if you're, if you have you know, swiped on Tinder, and you've said, Yeah, let's go on a date with this person. Are they a monster? Do they look like one? I don't know. And just interactions with, with people in the everyday. It's it's difficult to tell, but in a horror movie. One of the things I love about both horror fiction and horror film is that your instincts are right. You shouldn't you know, you shouldn't pick up that phone. You should you know, yes. You have been impregnated by the devil, if you're in Rosemary's Baby, or your kid is possessed by Satan, if it's the exorcist. And there's a there's a an overwhelming sense, I think, in a lot of horror fiction, that your fears are not a sign of weakness, they are a source of strength, and you should pay attention to them. And I think that that's a message that especially for, not for everybody, certainly but but for women to gets gets pushed down as being Oh, you're you're overreacting or you're being emotional. And your fear is here to tell you, or are you? So I think that that's a validation that horror fiction can provide all of us.

Michael David Wilson 13:35

Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, you're absolutely right, that unfortunately, most things that we do in everyday life, particularly when there are unknown variables, like you know, going on a Tinder date could go very wrong. So we have to really trust that kind of intuition and hope, hope that it leads us to the right place, but yeah, sometimes it doesn't. That's, yeah, there's no good way of putting that really.

R. A. Busby 14:12

No. But I was gonna say I love that scene in psycho where Marion Crane realizes that, that this nice young man that she sat down to have, you know, sort of an impromptu an impromptu casual dinner with is, has some deep problems, and she's really trying to thread the social needle very carefully, keeping herself safe keeping, keeping the situation from turning dangerous. And the delicacy of that of that moment, I think strikes a chord in almost anybody who has been, you know, in a similar situation.

Michael David Wilson 14:52

I think that psycho is very authentic, and I think that you know, a problem with quite a number of particularly films and TV shows, is that a character will find out like, Oh, I'm with a sociopath, but then they will completely. I see it as they overreact. It's like, No, you should be, you should be panicking. Definitely, this is not a good thing. But they will make it so visible and obvious. And they'll be like, right, I gotta go. And it's, I always get frustrated at the television set, when that's going on. It's like, no, the moment you realize, because often, they've had some sort of relationship or correspondence for for a relatively long time. So it's like, just keep cold act, normally, they haven't done anything to you in the last two weeks, you can get through this, if you just play it as if you didn't have that knowledge. You've just got to keep calm and get out of the situation. But, you know, in 90% of these films, and these TV shows, they don't they make it so obvious. And then there's trouble.

R. A. Busby 16:07

I really think there's a fascinating and interesting tension that happens in it or movies or in. And I think that Stephen King did this really well and misery early in this early in the game where he's realizing that, that Annie is not is a little bit more than just as number one fan. And he's, you know, he's got more to worry about than just his legs. And he's trying to balance that delicate interaction where let's all keep on the masks, lets everybody, you know, play through this, and, you know, put on the nice face and, you know, panic on the inside. And, you know, pretty soon obviously, the masks come off. Of course, it's the as big, it's a Stephen King novel. But that, but that balance that that keeping things moving, so that everybody seems happy, is just really super tense, as seen. So

Michael David Wilson 17:10

yeah, yeah. And I guess, like, you know, I jump to more extreme examples, like there being a sociopathic serial killer, which I suppose is an oxymoron. There's not like a serial killer, that's not a sociopath. But, you know, we can have more micro examples of this, like, you might get into a relationship with someone, and you just realize that they're not a good person, but it is going to be less hassle for your life long term, if you if you kind of ease out of the relationship rather than break it off you quickly just because of the nature of that person. So there's all sorts of times so we have to get out of a dangerous or a difficult situation. And I mean, being a human is unfair, because you should be able to say, I just want to get out of this now, and I'm done. But so often, you can't do it like that. It's not that simple. And

R. A. Busby 18:17

to get back to one of your earlier points or earlier questions that I think in many ways, horror fiction says, Okay, this is the worst that can happen. You want to you want to dark, here it is. And here's how either things can go terribly wrong. But for the most part, I find it overall a hopeful genre, because because a lot of times, the main character finds that way out, they find a way to thread the needle, they find a way to, to take advantage of an unexpected situation. And so, oddly enough, I think, in many ways, it's helpful roadmap for for horror readers. Yeah, this is the worst that can happen. And here's how you get that. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 19:02

Yeah. And I find that there's always a kind of dichotomy in ending a story too. It's like, right, how much hope? Do we leave the reader wherever it's like, are we going full Eric La Rocca? No, this is darkness. This is life. Or do we go Dean Koontz and there is, you know, ultimately, a happy resolution. And yeah, from each story, you've got that dichotomy and I think often we fall somewhere in the middle of the classical rocker cocoon scale that everyone should be familiar with, and I hope will now be popularized as a measuring scale.

R. A. Busby 19:52

Vaca coons where do you fall? Yeah, yeah, hold the oral Stein you know, yeah. That's a great, that's a I liked that scale quite a lot. That's really good. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 20:05


R. A. Busby 20:08

I was gonna say where do you fall on the on the Lavaca to codes? Zone either either you or Bob or both? Well, I

Michael David Wilson 20:16

think I think that I often fall near the rocker end of the scale. However, you know, it is something that I'm becoming conscious of that I don't want to have. I don't want to always fall on the same places of scale, because I don't want it to get to a point where people know how this is going to end. So, I mean, if I look at the free books that I've done so far, The Girl in the Video, They're Watching and House of bad memories, they all fall in a slightly different place on the scale. And I mean, that was one of one of those books where I felt I need to give a little bit more hope, because I want there to be a message of positivity at the end, but you know, I never go full Dean Koontz. I probably go close sometimes to go in full law rocker. So yeah, goodness, where would I fit? Who? Who is the the analogy? Maybe I fall near the catch your mom hat classic. Okay,

R. A. Busby 21:26

well, that's and catch him, obviously has some really tough stuff. So

Michael David Wilson 21:31

yeah. But where do you fall? Well, I

Bob Pastorella 21:35

mean, using They're Watching as an example. That's definitely the Lavaca. But I mean, I think we I think we both kind of insisted that it was going to end that way in a brutal, brutal sense. Because it's, it's, it's a really cool reveal. Let's just say that. And so but with mojo rising, it's more of an ambiguous, you know, because we have somebody who has done he is he is he is satisfied the quest that he was on. Those Those, those quests do not end up with super happy endings, but he has a way to make them or allow the survivors to have some kind of ending. But if no one what you know about the drug that he's affected on, and what he does with the remaining drug at the end, gives you a really ambiguous ending. Which, which I like, you know, it's like, Hey, this is this is where, you know, we're gonna we're gonna part ways on the story. And, you know, and I've often thought about how you would if I wrote a sequel, you know, what's going to happen? And I was like, Well, you know, to me, the, in the total inevitable thing is that the main character for modularizing would not be in a sequel, but he would be mentioned later, is that crazy guy out the marsh? You know, so but yeah, you know, but that that could kind of give you an idea of, you know, what happened, but I likey ambiguous and he said that one kind of fell right there in the middle because things good things happen and bad things could possibly happen. But, like the one I'm working on now is full blown Eric maraca I mean looks like the last page of my miniscule notes I've written is basically no one lives so I mean, it's in all all you know, all caps about this tall on a page this big and it's just basically no one lives and debts debts about as bleak as I can get it, how we're gonna get there and what happens and why no one lives is is the story and I think that's those those that ending will hopefully be earned. And that's, you know, to me, that's the most important thing did I earn the ending or do the characters aren't ending? Something has been beaten into my head since you know reading, you know, shoot reading Dean Koontz is out of print book about how to write you know, so yeah, you want to

R. A. Busby 24:24

vote a book on how to write that's interesting. Yeah, he

Bob Pastorella 24:28

did. I think it's tear it's sadly out of print. I think you might be able to find some online for like pretty high prices, but it was a good book. He wrote it in like the I want to say early 80s And I kinda wish I had it, but I checked it out from the library and I don't steal so well. Then maybe they still have it. I might need to go check. Mm hmm. Got a task.

R. A. Busby 25:00

Well, you know, it's it's, I think that issue of earning the ending and it is a crucial one, I'm glad to know, by the way that somebody else writes themselves notes in on their manuscript in big huge letters like this has got to happen or start here, or you have to mention this sounds interesting hear about some of some other folks process too. So do you. I'm sorry, go ahead.

Michael David Wilson 25:26

Well, I was gonna say, what about you? All right, where do you see yourself in terms of on the scale? Still a rocker roller rocker to depend on if we're talking American or British English? And I mean, are you conscious of how bleak or hopeful you're going to make an ending during the writing process? Or is that not a concern?

R. A. Busby 25:53

I'd say I have, I almost always have the ending of nine before I start, because if I don't, I get off track. And it's sort of the it's sort of the equivalent of, you know, packing to go to Birmingham, England and ending up in Birmingham, Alabama, it's, those are two different places. Yeah. And, and so I've at least got to have that sketchy that sketchy idea in mind. But in terms of where, on the coastal Urraca scale, I'd say, I really, I wobble, I see a wobble. And some of that has to do with that with with what Bob was saying about the earned ending. Is that where our does the situation admit of, of somebody getting out of this? And if not, then Darn it, commit to that, you know, everybody ties here, you know, ending to to yourself. So it's part of the partly the situation, partly the characters, but I at least once in those works that I've written where it doesn't end? Well. I at least want somebody to feel like, yeah, that's what should have happened. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 27:10

I think, too late. Sometimes, I'll add some light, or I'll add some hope. Because not only do I think the readers need it, but I need it. And I'm just gonna be a mess if I don't have that glimmer of hope. And, you know, sometimes, I mean, I tried to create the world that I would want to live in. Now, some people haven't read my fiction or me like, What the hell well do you want to live in? But, you know, I'm talking more broadly about a world where there is hope, rather than just being consumed by absolute darkness, you know?

R. A. Busby 27:54

Well, I'm, you know, in many ways, I think we live in both of those worlds where it where it is kind of consumed by absolute darkness. And there is hope I'm not I'm just sort of mindful of that the ending of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which for me is one of the most horrifying horror novels that wasn't intended to be a horror novel that I've ever read. And it's it's bleak with a capital capital be. At the end, there is a tiny, tiny glimmer of hope and you realize in the larger context of that, that work, it's it's a spark that's probably going going to give out past the ending of the novel, but at least for the time being, it does exist and that in some ways, that's in some ways, that's enough. At least it was for me. Yeah. If you haven't read it, it's a heck of an hour.

Michael David Wilson 28:47

Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Bob Pastorella 28:50

I think on Earth evenings, do I think tone matters. I have a horror comedy. That's down on some, you know, submission. And it's and so yeah, it's that people do get hurt people do die. But it had to end You know, I had to add to our net ending as well. And if I would have killed the main character or his his significant other, then I feel like that that would have been like way too much. Because their their chemistry was is too strong. And it would be it would have been too devastating. For first story with that tone, so I think yeah, you have to earn your ending, but you also have to watch your tone. You don't want to have like this funny, you know, kind of, you know, going to have a laugh as if it's a movie script. You're going to have a laugh every five minutes and if the angle pool man shit, that that took a turn there.

R. A. Busby 30:00

I was thinking about the last For a comedy that I read, which was Max Booth's Maggots Screaming, I heard it on audio and the audio narrator is chest amazing and great. And I was but I was wondering how is the main character and his dad? How are they going to get out of this? How are they going to get out of this situation? And I And spoiler alert, I'm not gonna I'm not gonna spoil like a lot. But I liked the fact that the ending was not what I thought and it was earned. And it wasn't a case of Oh, presto change O, we've got the magic solution that we can wave a magic wand and look, you're, you're out of the you're out of the woods. Isn't that great? I really liked the commitment. And it was at the same time, it was sort of a heartwarming ending. And in an odd way, so yeah. I think with horror comedy, that's a delicate, fragile flower.

Bob Pastorella 30:57

Yeah, I mean, it's all about tone in you know, and how many and how many, and I'm not even that good at horror comedy. It's just I had these, these characters I couldn't get out of my head. And, you know, and so I basically have these, this, this young couple, who are faced with something monstrous. Who anyway, these two are like, night and day, and it was so easy to write them. Because for whatever reason, they're madly in love with one another. And it's probably because they're so opposite. You know, and, and so it was just a lot of fun. And there's no way I could just have like a total downer Indian on that. It just would just, I couldn't do it. It was It would ruin the last line. So you know, I couldn't do it.

R. A. Busby 31:45

Well, you got to have that last line. I was I respect the last night because that's the that's the end of the communication that you're having with the reader and so, so Absolutely, it sounds really cool. It sounds really awesome.

Bob Pastorella 31:57

I hope I hope that we can see it soon. No, I think that's usually the case.

R. A. Busby 32:05

My one of my least favorite one of my least favorite parts of being a writer is after you've sent your baby out into the world. And then you hear just silence for so long. So congrats. So I wish you I wish you the best of luck. Oh, thank

Bob Pastorella 32:21

you. Thank you Yeah,

R. A. Busby 32:23

my glory is there anything in the works for you? Coming up and

Michael David Wilson 32:27

oh, there's there's always things in the works. Yeah, I'm, I have quite a strict writing routine. So I'm always creating things so I mean, the the novel that I'm working on at the moment I've referenced in a few podcast conversations as code daddy's boy, I don't know if you've heard me mention it before, but essentially pitching it as a Joe R Lansdale heist novel meets the greasy strangler, but set in Guy Ritchie's broken Britain. So there's quite a lot of things going on there. That is definitely the most comedic book that I've read. Well, the most comedic novel that I've written thus far. Like at the moment, I'm redrafting it because I mean, I have this tendency, and I to really kind of go for some lung almost Tarantino esque conversations. And I feel that perhaps I overdid it and I made the the comedy I really embrace the greasy strangler, kind of ascetic but I think for some people, it might be a bit too absurd. So I'm going through it, I'm paring things down. And I'm just trying to make that story a little bit tighter. But I'm kind of, I guess, the there's a kind of crossroads where it's like, do I want to lean into the comedy more? Or do I want to make it slightly darker? And, and in a bizarre way? The answer is yes to both. So that's kind of what I'm doing at the moment, but I'm just tightening up that story. And, you know, a number of beta readers, including Bob, in fact, have read an early version of it. So I've got that feedback. I'm implementing some of that. Then when I've tightened it up, I'll send it to Ryan, who's my film manager, but also just, you know, film manager is kind of underselling what he does. Like he will look at each story and tell me what he sees as, as it's strong, and it's weak points. And then when it's got the Ryan treatment, I can look at it right how do I want to go about publishing this? Do I want to send it to some presses do I want to look at going the indie route? What is the vision? So that's one of the projects. I've also wrote a screenplay for my short story. What would Wesley do? I've adapted that into a feature length film. So actually, Ryan is looking at that at the moment. But then, after I've gone through as a screenplay, I actually want to adapt that into a novella. It's a story that started off as a short story. Now I've written the screenplay version, but the screenplay unlocked so many ways that I could expand the story that I now want to write it as a novella, or short novel depending on how, how it comes out. So yeah, there's that there's another novel that I'm, I'm like 70,000 words into called together forever. It's a psychosexual thriller, in the kind of Adrian Lynch, Adrian laners, Adrian Lynch them visit David Lynch, Adrian Lynn amalgamation. Yeah. That initially started off as quite a commercial idea, and then has morphed into something utterly bizarre and weird, which I shouldn't have even been surprised that because that's just how I do things. So yeah, that the days free projects, and then seemingly, every week, my brain will bring me a new idea. And I just have to decide, like, you know, are we going to work on that soon, and we go into pockets. So there's those sorts, there's also enough short stories that I could potentially put out a collection. So if people enjoy my work, and they're excited to see more Michael David Wilson fiction, and don't you worry, I've got us covered for quite a few years yet.

R. A. Busby 37:04

I think it was saying in the recent, in the past, in the podcast with, with Joe Sullivan, about the issue of like anthologies versus short story collections and the saleability of those and and it seems like that, it seems like I'm seeing more more people put out collections, which, which is a wonderful way to get that sort of, sort of potpourri of what an author can can do and different different different areas for them to to explore. And I so I put one out, I think that'd be really wonderful for folks to be able to read and see.

Michael David Wilson 37:46

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I tend to find that a lot of readers love short story collections, but for whatever reason, they're commercially less viable. They tend to not sell as well. And so

R. A. Busby 38:02

weird, because, you know, in many ways, it's, you kind of figured that you're getting you're almost like a sampler of, of what an author can do. I mean, I think that that's how a lot of people got introduced to Stephen King, especially when they were younger is not just do like dumping mammoth novels, because those were probably scary. But I remember, you know, being Oh, I'm gonna say in junior high, and people were like, have you read that Stephen King story about the guy that eats himself? And it's like, yeah, yeah. So that's funny that they don't that they're not as commercially viable. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 38:39

yeah, I've, of course, a generalization where there are exceptions, but that seems to be the trend. But you know, for me, I'll put out a short story collection of my work, because that's what I want to do. That's what I want to see in the world. I mean, that might be a clue, though. You know, cuz I'm writing things like that is boy, because I'm writing things like how some bad memories of chapter 22 I'm not always doing things because I'm thinking wow, this will be an extra mush your success this is a cocoon so Patterson style book No, it's not it's weird. It's awkward. It's quirky it's little bit like me and I want to see it in the world. Goddamnit so you know, that's

R. A. Busby 39:22

the the best writers are the ones that are writing from the hope that it will be commercially viable because you want not necessarily because you want your you know, you you want to be you know, wiping your tears with your $100 Bill collection, but but rather because you want people to read your stuff that you love, and you want it to be out there and you want people to enjoy it. And if and yeah, if that comes with money, fantastic, awesome. Who's gonna turn that down? But the best founders are, I think are writing because they've got some because I've got a reason because the voices in their head talk to them and won't shut up. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 40:02

yeah, and all the things that become commercially viable that really explode that there was never a formula, there was never a prediction that it would become commercially viable. I mean, if you look at Fight Club, and when that came out, it just tapped into something for a lot of people, but no body would have said to write that book and to write it in that style, like, so. I mean, some people will say, Oh, it will never, it will never be me and kind of down on themselves. And I kind of feel like Yeah, well, with that attitude, you're probably right. It won't be. But I like to take a more Josh Malerman approach. And it's like, Well, why not me? How can be someone? Why not? Could be? Well,

R. A. Busby 40:49

and you know, I think about someone like, I think about somebody like John Kennedy Toole that wrote this, wrote this bizarre, quirky book of Confederacy of Dunces set New Orleans. And he passed away as a young man and his his mom, actually, of if I remember the story, correctly, bugged the crud out of a publisher and said, read my son's book, which went over about as well as you might think that finally somebody did, and said, Oh, my God, this is amazing. And so even, you know, hopefully, we can all, you know, be like Josh Malerman. You know, before we before we pass on, and enjoy the fact that people are liking our fiction, but I but I agree with, with what you said that giving up is not. You just don't want to see people give up, you just want to see him continue. Because sometimes they're tough. They're tough. The game is just showing up.

Michael David Wilson 41:49

Yeah, yeah. And remembering that it is a long game, I think, you know, I've had this discussion with a few writers before and somebody might release a book. And then in the first few months, their sales wasn't what they expected them to be, or they hoped that they would be. And now Now, you know, that they're really down, or they feel that the book was a failure. And it's like, no, this is such a long game. And no book has an expiration date. So, I mean, it could become big at any point. And I mean, I know, I just mentioned Josh Malerman. But I think, you know, it's quite a good example in, in the sense that like, Yes, but But box was pretty successful to begin with. But when it got the Netflix deal, and when it became a movie on Netflix, like it jump to the next level. So this kind of thing can happen at any time. And I mean, that there were a kind of better and more extreme examples. I mean, I like to go back to Edgar Allan Poe, who, in his lifetime, unfortunately, he was not a successor. Oh, like he was not really known. But now, I mean, it's difficult to think of many writers, particularly in horror that are more famous and more known than Pro I mean, the the easy, obvious examples. It seems to be pro it seems to be Lovecraft, and it seems to be Shirley Jackson, obviously, for a modern equivalent. It's got to be Stephen King. Yeah. Well, you know, it's,

R. A. Busby 43:38

it's, you read a biography, OPPO or you, you read pretty much any commentary on him and you're like, Oh, God, you just wish that you just wish the guy could come back just for 10 minutes, and see what his influence has, has created. Like, look, keep writing, I know that life stinks for you and your hand and mouth and you're, you're just patching together things just trying to get through the next. The next rent check, I get it. But here's what's gonna happen. You know, it's like a great Doctor Who episode with where they bring Van Gogh to the modern day and he sees the Van Gogh exhibit and the curator of the exhibit just just talking with just reverence really about about the impact of his work and you you wish that you wish that all those creators have, you know, certainly post certainly Lovecraft Melville. I mean, I could I could keep going. I would see what they what they had given birth to.

Michael David Wilson 44:48

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, a real tragedy is that a lot of not just writers, but artists, musicians, creators have also as they seem to be self rated, perhaps even more so posthumously, you know, it's very frequent that we'll see a celebrity die, particularly if they're like a musician. And then the next few weeks, like their album or their songs that they're at the top of the charts. And I just feel, you know, this signifies the importance of celebrating and supporting and buying the art of creators while they are with us. And, you know, telling telling them how much they mean to you. I mean, when we had Chuck Palahniuk on the show, the other day, Bob specifically told him how much his work had meant to him. And you know, that's important, we need to tell writers because it can be a bit of a lonely place sometimes, and don't assume that a writer knows of their importance or how much they're affecting people, because quite often they don't. I

R. A. Busby 46:05

think that's 100%. Right. And, you know, even if you feel I, the way that I would look at it is that even if you feel like you're sucking up or that you're or that they've heard this a million times, so that you're you know, whatever, I'd still rather say to somebody, you know, you your work made my life better your work made the world better that I live in. So that they know that even if they've heard it a million times will Okay, fine. I'll be number 1,000,001. Because it matters it. You know, every everybody's said, you know, your your work touched me. I've been blown away. I'm sure that's the same for both you and Bob as well. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 46:48

it's a very surreal experience for both, you know, my writing and for the podcast when people tell me that it has affected them in some way. And I mean, I often say, with the podcast, it's great when we help people to become better writers or to unlock something within their creativity. But the most gratifying feedback for me is when you know, we've spoken about mental health, and we've spoken about depression and suicidal ideation and topics like that really heavy stuff. And then you have somebody say that they listened to the episode. And it just, it just helped them work through something or it helped them feel less alone. And when when I hear that, I think, well, this is why we do it. And this is the stuff that matters. It's like, you know, if I helped you to write a good story, then that's great. But if I helped you find some light in the darkness is the kind of magic really. I mean, we were speaking before about you were reading from a very young age. And my understanding, too, is that you will write in stories from the age of six or seven years old. So I wonder, can you remember some of the first stories that you wrote?

R. A. Busby 48:18

Oh, this is going to be embarrassing, but yeah, I can. The one that I remember is probably one of the earliest I had to have been six or seven because I only went to that school like in certain specific grades. And I remember being on like, the outside do the basketball court writing on that old school paper with the lines on it that was supposed to teach you cursive handwriting. The cheaply made stuff that has like big wood chunks in it pretty much. And writing what amounts to fanfic, they didn't that word didn't exist at the time. But that's basically what it was about how, you know, going going to the land of us with my pets, and it was really cool. And that was that's really one of the earliest things I can can recall. But it in a way it was really wonderful because it's like, well, I can I can take control of the story. I can wait what happens in it and I can I can go to this place, even if just imaginatively and I think that in many ways that was a really transformative moment. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 49:28

I think a lot of readers and write as we're affected by an love the magical quality of ours and the oz world, but it's something that I think, you know, we reference in these conversations, but we've never kind of dug deep into it. And I'm wondering, what is it about AWS that is so magical, and I mean, I think to there it is It spans so many genres, there's so much in there, there's almost a little bit of everything for any fan of any genre.

R. A. Busby 50:11

I'd say for me anyway, that we really have a hero's journey and certainly the first the first US book where she's, you know, transported from this, you know, piece of crap farm in Kansas and, and, and has to go on a quest and a lot of times you don't get hero quests or hero stories, following that classic, you know, Camellia narrative for anything except for, for guys for your, you know, your Odysseus, your Percy Jackson, your, you know, your your Luke Skywalker. And I think that I connected with that as a main character who takes action, who's, who's the one that's deciding, and she's not always sure of herself. I think another one that also resonated with me as well, for a lot of reasons was, was Meg Murray in A Wrinkle in Time, because she was allowed to do that as well. But she was also allowed to be angry. And you almost never get children's main character protagonists that are female, for like way young adult, who are allowed to be angry. I think that's changing. And I'm glad to see that but, but that was a real anomaly. And so I think that that was, I think that that was helpful to me to see that you could be that, that yeah, you could go on this quest. Yes, you could be you didn't have to be a perfect person. And that part of the journey was learning how to not give up these parts of yourself, but learn how to, to deal with them how to, in the case of Dorothy relish going home, but you know, a wiser person who appreciates what she's got there, or in the case of Meg understand that her anger is also a source of strength as well. So that's what the appeal was for me. I don't know about about other folks. Do

Michael David Wilson 52:14

you think, too, that in society, we kind of accepting that women can be angry, and that not necessarily be a negative thing? More so than we were? Let's say, like, 3040 years ago?

R. A. Busby 52:36

I think to some degree, yeah, I think you've got, I think you've got characters like Lisbeth Salander, for example, in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as being a an example of someone who, who, for a lot of reasons is find it difficult to be integrated into society on any terms besides her own. And she doesn't give them up. And I think that that. I think that, uh, that and along with, uh, with other with other main characters as well, I think that we're getting better at allowing people to be humans, you know, all kinds of folks. And I appreciate that as both a writer and a reader. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 53:21

I, I feel that it is a situation wherein in some facets, it seems that we are allowing and accepting a greater diversity. But then, in other facets, it seems to be that that is kind of not happening all in it. It's almost like we're living in this bizarre, paradoxical society where we're, well, we're we're on some level we're progressing and then on another level when we're potentially regressing?

R. A. Busby 53:59

Well, at least from at least, the hope that I hold anyway, with regards to that is that once folks see that the genie can come out of the bottle with whatever social, whatever social change or social reform and concede that in fact, it does not cause the downfall of society and people just keep on peopling just like they were. And things kind of just go on. I think that that does a lot just in and of itself to if not make people's prejudices go away, because it's probably never going to happen at least. They get less apocalyptic, less paranoid, less conspiratorial, and much more human. And I think that that's a goal that that's worth that's worth fighting for.

Michael David Wilson 54:47

I wonder, is there anything that you've read recently, that has made you change your mind or has shifted the way in which you view something In the world? Well,

R. A. Busby 55:02

oh, gosh, that's a really super broad question. Because everything I read shifts my view of things that happen in the world. I mean, that's one of the reasons I read this, because I'm only going to be this person at this time born in this particular place with the consciousness and experiences that I have. But fiction allows me to step into other people's minds and see it through their eyes. And I think that act of I guess, mimesis in some way, or just the sort of weird psychic connection that comes from reading somebody else's thoughts on paper, that makes us a bigger, larger person to see the world from more than just this limited little perspective. I mean, I know that that's certainly one of the reasons that that I read. How about yourself? Have you read something that's really changed your your outlook, or

Michael David Wilson 55:58

I totally agree with what you're saying in terms of like the motivations and one of the reasons to read like, and I feel, again, that with every story, I'm becoming more educated, I'm getting a kind of different experience. And I'm, I guess, then that allows me to become more empathetic to a certain point, because I'm getting to learn more about other humans and the human experience. Now, I did anticipate, as you were answering that, you might reverse the question, because you've done that a few times. So I know, oh, this is coming. And so I was thinking, I mean, we've mentioned him numerous times, but I just feel that every time I read something by Eric La Rocca, I'm learning more. Well, I'm learning more, that could be almost the end of the, the sentence there. But, you know, I really, he has a way of just showing things completely through the eyes of his characters. And through the kind of I was gonna say, the LGBT experience, I mean, that that is a broad category, in and of itself. So, you know, there's going to be in different stories, a different facet of that experience, but I, I just real, he writes so authentically, and so compassionately that I'm able to see kind of different things and to understand things in perhaps a way that I didn't before. And I think we, we can apply, you know, pretty much everything goes just said also to Haley Piper. Oh, yeah, yeah. And that those were, in fact, there are some parallels, you have queen of TIF and corporate body that we might jump into, you know, a little bit later in the second hour. But yeah, I feel Bo for those writers. They are special. And they they are not only writing things from different perspectives, but they are creating wholly original fiction and, and seemingly creating new sub genres with every story is with every story. So I think those are two writers that everyone should be reading. And you're not only going to have a wholly enjoyable experience of the writer, but I think you're going to become more educated and possibly more compassionate, just in the act of reading them.

R. A. Busby 58:57

I agree and seconding what you what you said about the the issue of compassion, I agree with both with both Eric Lavaca and with Haley Piper, I get that sense of a layered sense of compassion, of of compassion for others of seeing oneself in relation to others through through how they see you through how you see them and the the sort of the delicate nuances of relationships and identity and and often the difficult the difficulties that that that brings with it and I and at the at their core I think that that's the that sense of compassion of makes it makes their work really really strong really effective. And and yeah and yeah, touching.

Bob Pastorella 59:51

It's they they encapsulate fear, and they they present it and execute it on the page fearless Lee and that To me, we look throughout, you know, history. Throughout, especially to horror, we will see that our greatest or greatest writers have attacked their stories fearlessly. I mean, you know, Clive Barker, for example. It was basically it for for Clive, it was no holds barred, you know, he, he attacked his stories, vigorously, feverishly fearlessly. He told you the stories that he wanted to tell. And so we have, you know, and people always say, who's gonna be the next Clive Barker? Who's going to be next thing? No, there's not going to be a next Clive Barker. There's only one Clive. Okay. But like, we talked about writers like Eric Urraca, and Haley Piper, they're going to be the next thing. So it's, it's, it's not their day or their own thing. They are attacking their stories fearlessly. And they're writing about fears that we, that we all have in common. And they're doing it like you said compassionately, with empathy, and creatively in creating whole new fucking sub genres. And you know, and, and it's just, it's incredible. And if you're not, if you're not reading those authors, and feeling influenced and inspired, then I mean, you don't need to check your pulse because that's where it's at.

Michael David Wilson 1:01:34

Thank you so much for listening to ra buzz beyond This Is Horror. Join us again next time for the second and final part of the conversation. But if you would like to get that ahead of the crowd, if you would like to get every episode ahead of the crowd, then become a patron patreon.com forward slash, This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every podcast, but you can submit questions to the interviewee. And we have a whole range of amazing guests coming up soon. We'll be talking to Gemma more clay McLeod Chapman, and Steven J. Gold's to name but three people. You can also get exclusive podcasts, including story unboxed a horror podcast on the craft of writing, and the Q and A's sessions with myself and Bob Pastorella. If you're a video patron at the $10 level, then you get to see a lot of these podcasts in video form before we've even put the audio out in any way. So go to patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. Have a little look at what we offer. And if it seems like a good fit for you, I'd love you to join us. Okay, before I wrap up, a quick advert break

Bob Pastorella 1:03:07

house of bad memories the debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery gates media. Dini just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter. But things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather Frank, then Frank winds up dead and Denise held hostage by his junky half sister, who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death with the need to feed his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions. Clay McLeod Chapman says house of bad memories hit so hard, you'll spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Preorder house of bad memories by Michael David Wilson and paperback at cemetery gates media.com or an ebook via Amazon.

John McNee 1:03:51

The town of St. Nicholas in northern Canada, a community in decline until it's purchased by a Chinese American corporation intent on turning it into a luxury ski resort. There was neither the residents or their new benefactors realized this and Nicholas already has an owner something strange and inhuman which has long held the town in its Thrall and was given up without a fight. The children call it Santa Claus. Blood bone books proudly presents hail Santa's by John Macnee this Christmas season reject God worship Santa

Michael David Wilson 1:04:21

now for the past few weeks I've been talking about the This Is Horror Tik Tok and it is the fastest growing social media platform that This Is Horror is on. We are putting out a new clip or a new video related to This Is Horror Podcast every single day. And so if you want to follow us on Tik Tok, just find us at This Is Horror Podcast. A lot of people have this misconception that tick tock is just about dancing to strange videos or it's for teenagers and it can be, but it can also be so much more than that. And I think that this is a unique opportunity for us to really use this to showcase our writing to help other writers. And I want to help you. So not only do I want you to follow me, but let me know that you have and let me know what are your videos that you've put on tick tock that you want me to signal boost. So that's it for the Tick Tock tock. Remember, too, that I recently released my debut novel house of bad memories. So I'd love you to check that out. It's available in paperback ebook and even an audiobook narrated by Aubrey Parsons. If you want the audiobook and you don't have to finance your means to get it you can probably request it in your library if you can't if there doesn't seem to be a way drop me a line Michael at this is horror.co.uk I'll give you an audio book for free. And I mean that sincerely. I want as many people to be able to read this I don't want money to be a barrier to you getting to enjoy house have bad memories. So hit me up Michael at this is horror.co.uk I'd be happy to get you a copy. Okay, I'll see you in the next episode for part two with R. A. Busby. But until then, take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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