Q: Tell us about your forthcoming book Whiskey Sour? When will it be available?
WHISKEY SOUR will be released in hardcover by Hyperion Books, June 2004. My editor says it's one of the most terrifying things she's ever read. It's a serial killer novel. In a nutshell:
A nutcase is leaving corpses in garbage cans around Chicago (hey-- at least he doesn't litter).
A Violent Crimes Lieutenant named Jacqueline Daniels is assigned to track him down. Naturally, the killer takes an interest in the female cop in charge of catching him, and nasty things ensue.
The bad guy calls himself The Gingerbread Man, because he believes no one will ever catch him. The way he murders his victims is completely revolting, and it's never been done before in a book. I don't want to ruin the surprise for potential readers, because it's a pretty big shock.
Q: How long have you been writing? What else do you have in print?
I've been writing for about fourteen years. WHISKEY SOUR is the first thing I ever sold.
I have a nasty little short story in the current Horror Garage Magazine (#7) called "Finicky Eater", which is pretty over-the-top gross.
I also recently sold a Jack Daniels story to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, for an upcoming issue.
Q: Who are your favorite authors, horror or otherwise?
My favorite author has to be F. Paul Wilson (The Keep, The Tomb, and the current Repairman Jack series). I also love Graham Masterton (The Manitou), Jack Ketchum (Off Season), Edward Lee (The Bighead), and James Herbert (The Rats.)
For mysteries, I love Robert Crais (Last Detective), Robert B. Parker (Spenser), Rob Kantner (Concrete Hero), and Robert Walker (Unnatural Instinct). Did I forget any Roberts?
There are a lot of great new horror authors on the up and up: Brian Hopkins, Brian Keene, Mark McLaughlin, Spencer Allen, Scott Nicholson, Wrath James White, M. Stephen Lukac...
Q: What or whom has influenced your writing the most?
When I was a kid, I used to read my mother's Ed McBain and John D. MacDonald mysteries. They got me hooked on writing.
I saw Dawn of the Dead when I was nine-years-old, and that got me interested in horror. I used to make horror videos when I was a teenager, raiding the local butcher shop for cow guts and using hand pumps for blood spurts.
So I guess I can blame Travis McGee and George Romero.
Q: Does it seem strange being interviewed by a guy you used to trade tapes with? (the quintessential humorous query)
Not really. By the way, don't you still owe me some Ruggero Deodato flicks?
Actually, I remember Buried.com when you only had five reviews on the site. You guys have gotten huge! I like the fact that you're branching out into fiction, both reviews and posting. More horror film fans need to broaden their reading horizons, because here's the big secret: The stuff in print is A LOT grosser than the stuff on video.
Film can't touch the gore, sex, and gross-out horror in many recent novels. Even hard-core horror movie fans get sick reading some of the new stuff.
Q: Talk about your horror film collection and what those movies have meant to you over the years?
My video and DVD collection just topped 4000 titles. If my house ever catches on fire, they're the first thing I save.
Er, I mean, after my wife and kids.
It's a great time to be a movie collector. There are so many hard-to-find films getting deluxe DVD treatment. The downside is this shitty practice of releasing films more than once. How many damn copies of Evil Dead do I have to buy? Why should I have to spend another 20 bucks just so I can have audio commentary by the Key Grip?
The only big problem with movie collecting is storage space-- every wall in my house is lined with shelves.
Q: What movies and (or) books gave you the creeps?
Mark of the Devil and Salo both scared me. I think I'm freaked out by torture. I found it hard to watch some of the Guinea Pig movies. Naturally, the Holy Trinity of Horror (Halloween, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) had an impact on me when I was younger.
As for books, "The Girl Next Door" by Jack Ketchum is one of the most distrubing things I've ever read. "The Bighead" by Ed Lee has to be the grossest. "Hogg" by Samuel Delaney makes "American Psycho" look like "Green Eggs and Ham." The best opening in horror fiction has to go to Graham Masterton for the first chapter of "Master of Lies." Blew my mind.
Q: Any more plans for Jack Daniels in the future, other than hardening your liver?
Actually, Jack is scheduled to do two more books for Hyperion; RUSTY NAIL in 2005 and BLOODY MARY in 2006. Chicago, it turns out, is crawling with serial killers. I'm basing the psycho in RUSTY NAIL on Albert Fish, who is one of the creepiest murderers in the history of the US, but very few people know who he was. I guess he didn't have the same publicist as Gein, Bundy, and Dahmer.
Q: Hittin' any cons to promote your upcoming book?
Hell, yeah! Dark and Stormy, Horrorfind Weekend, Magna Cum Murder, Bouchercon, World Horror Con, and Love is Murder. In fact, I somehow got roped into being on the board of directors for Love is Murder (www.loveismurder.com), and I'm going to add some horror authors in with the mystery authors. Horror fans are the best fans in the world.
Q: Do you have a website where fans (or stalkers) can get more info on you and your work?
Every two months, I hold a hold a short story contest, and the winner gets a bunch of prizes.
Q: How hard was it for you to sell your book?
It took 14 years, a million written words, and over 400 rejections, before I made that sale. I was either too stubborn or too stupid to quit.
When I finally did sell WHISKEY SOUR, it was for a six-figure advance. So, in hindsight, quitting would have been pretty stupid.
The main reason I have writing contests is to help new authors. I know how hard it is to get a break. I promised myself years ago, if I ever attained any sort of success, I'd help other writers, because no one helped me at all.
So, I'm teaching writing at a community college, and I'm willing to offer writing and publishing advice to anyone who asks.
Q: I'm sure trading horror videos over the years was the most integral part of starting a successful writing career, right?
Without my bootleg Fulci dupes, I'd be a mere shell of my current self.
Speaking of which, am I ever gonna get those Deodato vids or what? I sent you those Amy Yip flicks four years ago.
Q: Who'd win a fight between Ed Lee and Jack Ketchum?
Ed Lee is actually one of the nicest guys I know (sorry Ed). And since he lost all that weight, I'd have to give it to Jack.
But Wrath James White would kick both their asses, plus mine. Wrath just did a book with Ed Lee call The Teratologist, and it is one vile, sick-o piece of work.
Wrath also whipped me good at the Gross Out Contest at this year's World Horror Con. I thought I was a pretty foul guy, but I couldn't touch him.
Q: What newer horror films have impressed you recently?
Nacho Cerdas "Aftermath" and Miike's "Audition" come immediately to mind. Have you seen "August Underground" yet? That's a real kick in the stones.
Lots of good stuff coming from the East: "Versus," "Junk," "Stacy," "Wild Zero," "The Eye," "The Isle," "Battle Royale," and anything by Takeshi Miike ("Happiness of Katykuris," "Visitor Q," "DOA 1-3," "Fudoh," "Full Metal Gokudo," "Ichi").
Germany is also having a revival. Andreas Schnass finally made some decent films ("Nikos the Impaler," "Demonium)", "Anatomy" rocked, Olaf Ittenbach had US releases of "Premutos" and "Legion of the Dead,"and there's a lot of underground stuff filtering in: "Das Komabrutale Duell," "Hunting Creatures,""Genration Dead,""Dmonen Brut."
"Ginger Snaps" was the greatest werewolf movie ever made, up until "Dog Soldiers" came out. Did that kick ass or what?
Q: Lastly, anything else you'd like to talk about? shameless self-promotion? Gripes about the publishing or horror community in general? Prostitutes you've known and loved?
I just put together a slick chapbook featuring some of my horror short stories. It's called THE SHED.
It's a signed edition, limited to 200 copies. I give it away free at writing conventions, or to anyone who asks.
If anyone wants a copy, send me an email, and I'll mail one out to you at my expense.
I may not be Stephen King, but how often does he give out free stuff?