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Horror movies, reviews and more at buried.com
Horror movies, reviews and more at buried.com
Horror movies, reviews and more at buried.com
Horror movies, reviews and more at buried.com
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Steve Vance
Horror Interview by The Gravedigger

Publishing History:

  1. PLANET OF THE GAWFS, 1978, Leisure Books;
  2. THE REALITY WEAVERS, 1979, Laura Books;
  3. ALL THE SHATTERED WORLDS, 1979, Manor Books (republished in an electronic format in 1999);
  4. THE HYBRID, 1981, Leisure Books;
  5. THE HYDE EFFECT, 1986, Leisure Books, reissued 2000; THE ABYSS, 1989, Leisure Books, reissued 2000;
  6. SPOOK, 1990, Soho Press (hardcover), and 1991, Berkley (softcover);
  7. SHAPES, 1990, Leisure Books (sequel to THE HYDE EFFECT), reissued 2000;
  8. THE ASGARD RUN, 1991, Leisure Books, reissued 2000.
  9. POUND FOR POUND, 1999, Royal Fireworks Press.
  10. WALPURGIS NIGHT, 2001, Silk Labet Press.
  11. IDENTITY, 2001, Five Star Books.
  12. THE TIME FOUNT PROJECT, purchased 1999.
Short fiction has appeared in a number of periodicals, including, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Cicada, Cricket, The Pedestal Magazine, Unearth, Chillers, Tesseract Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Brutarian, The Mind's Eye, Pulp, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Nonfiction has appeared in both Fight Game and Boxing World, with current appearances in FilmFax (including on-line reviews at www.Filmfax.com).

Q: Tell us about yourself

STEVE: I was born in Brunswick, Georgia (southeastern coastal city) on July 13, 1952 and lived there until 1960, when we moved to Dalton, Georgia (northwestern foothills city -- "the Carpet Capital of the World"). After college, I worked for four years in a wholesale hardware store before quitting in late '76 to give writing a try. So far, I haven't had to go back into "real" work... so far... . I missed out on the doings in Vietnam by virtue of a nice, high draft number. If you want to experience real horror and helplessness in the modern world, try thumbing through a newspaper to discover if you're going to be shipped out to fight some other nation's civil war in a jungle halfway around the globe. I've never been through another situation in which my fate rested in the hands of blind chance that way, unless you count the completely arbitrary fashion in which most editors accept or reject submissions, of course.

Q: What is the most appealing thing about horror fiction for you?

STEVE: First would be the freedom that horror fiction allows for the writer to literally go in any direction at any time. Certainly, in order to hold a reader's attention and create a story rather than a grab-bag of jumbled sensations, there are conventions that should be kept within view while writing, but more than any other type of fiction, horror can stray from those same conventions while searching for new ideas. Even science fiction and fantasy are more restrictive than horror, in my perspective. It seems to me that it is the only genre in which a successful story can be told without having any of the characters living "happily ever after" (though I wouldn't advise ending too many efforts in such a downbeat fashion). Second, horror is perhaps the most basic emotion. There are entire rainbows of sensations which can be found under "happiness' and "contentment", and what may appear to be a situation of ultimate satisfaction to a writer can unintentionally bore a reader (I love to watch a good boxing match, while many people who are dearest to me would find such an activity truly "horrible"); but almost anyone can identify completely with a character caught in the pit of terror. Of course, there are uncountable ways of being horrified, but each of them is likely to resonate within the reader to some extent. We all know that split second of realization when we're poised at the top of the first incline on the roller coaster.

Q: Some writers say that what they write doesn't have much to do with themselves-others say that their writing is very much influenced by their own experiences. How is this with you?

STEVE: This is a tougher question than it might seem. Naturally, I haven't experienced anything close to what occurs in the average horror novel (nor would I want to), but I can't deny that the sensations that I've felt while reading those novels -- or watching the films made from them -- have influenced my own writing. I do try to imagine myself as some part of the character who is undergoing these events, but I'm equally intent on portraying them as individuals. That's a weak answer, I realize, but it's about the best I can offer.

Q: Talk about THE HYDE EFFECT and its sequel, SHAPES. I liked how you had the one captured werewolf create dozens of others…what prompted you to write a werewolf book(s)

STEVE: This is just between us, right? Actually, THE HYDE EFFECT came about in an extremely easy fashion as I watched a late night broadcast of Michael Crichton's THE TERMINAL MAN one evening in 1978; while I wasn't too impressed by the movie itself (no offense to anyone -- it was chopped to ribbons by the CBS censors, after all), I was intrigued by the concept of having a visceral, out of control, and very primitive destructive force placed within the sterile confines of a modern hospital (I hadn't seen many "hospital horrors" at that time), as Segal's computerized killer was during the early parts of the film. I've always enjoyed werewolf fiction (normal one instant/a savage beast the next), so it was easy to envision a Wolf Man character plunked down in a high-tech hospital. Since I didn't like the idea of having the creature preying on sick and injured patients, I changed the setting to a sealed scientific installation populated by doctors, bureaucrats, and lots and lots of media representatives about the be a part of the story of their lives. The result flowed out of the typewriter, and I sold it to the first market I tried, the late and lamented Tesseract Science Fiction Magazine, edited by Nancy K. Zinserling, Kevin MacAnn, and Robert Garcia, where it appeared in the Fall, '78 edition (this may have been the final issue of the publication -- I've killed more magazines that the infamous pine beetle). I was very pleased with the story, and when I was looking for an idea for a full-length horror novel a few years later, this seemed like a natural selection. I added a few more characters and the early portion which recounts the events that transpired before the werewolf was located and brought to the installation. HYDE (a reference to Stevenson's "Hyde", the inner bestial part of us all, of course) has probably garnered more reader reaction than anything else I've written. SHAPES came about because the Leisure folks wanted an extension of the story, and I really couldn't think of anything new to do with an uncontrolled lycanthrope. It was no great leap from one tormented metamorphosing killer to a society of happy and fully in-charge shapeshifters, especially since Cummings (the HYDE werewolf) had been diagnosed as being literally infected with the condition. SHAPES originally was nearly twice its eventual, published length, but the editors out-wrestled me to reduce it to a more manageable four hundred + pages and eliminate some of the more explicit violence and gore (which would hardly cause a modern reader to blink). In SHAPES, I also tried to give the much-abused werewolf line some of the polish that vampires have long enjoyed. I'm not much of a vampire fan (too effete for me), and it seems to me that fully self-determinate werewolves possess a myriad of advantages over the bloodsuckers, not the least being the fact that they don't have to bed down in coffins every daybreak.

Q: What do you think the appeal is about werewolves?

STEVE: At its very basis, the werewolf is a form of total and uninhibited selfishness: I WANT THIS AND I WANT IT NOW AND ANYBODY WHO GETS IN MY WAY IS IN FOR A MAJOR-LEAGUE BUTT-WHUPPIN'! Who hasn't wanted to "Hulk-out" several times in each day (and The Hulk is just a bigger, greener, and more slow-reacting version of the traditional werewolf)? Sure, we don't really want to hurt and kill people, but society, as necessary as it is to human survival, also is a straitjacket. Sometimes you just want to rip the straps loose and do what you feel like, and if you can't be held accountable for those action because you're "cursed", so much the better. The vampire preys on people to continue his existence, while the (Frankenstein) Monster is what he is because he was made that way and then was mistreated by the very people who brought him into this world (vampire = babe at the breast; Monster = misunderstood and awkward adolescent). The werewolf, however, does it because he wants to. He's truly the most liberated of all of the traditional horror figures This is hardly an original concept with me, I must admit.

Q: You also write science fiction (PLANET OF THE GAWFS!) which genre to you enjoy working in the most-horror or sci-fi?

STEVE: For the reasons of freedom to explore that I outlined above, horror continues to beckon me more and more. I have a standard familiarity with real science, but I'm nowhere near as acquainted with the complexities of it as accomplished science fiction writers are, and I have a mild fear of perpetrating some laughable scientific gaffe that somehow makes it past the editors and into print. Of course, even in my horror fiction I tend to lean toward "scientific" rather than "supernatural" explanations (the shapeshifting "virus" of HYDE, the miraculous but still natural healing gas of THE ABYSS, etc.), so in my view I usually write horror liberally sprinkled with a common form of science fiction. Or maybe it's really adventure fiction mixed with horror and sci-fi sauces.

Q: What is the weirdest true-life thing that happened to you that if you wrote it down would read like fiction?

STEVE: Hmmmm. I haven't had as many eerie moments as I might have liked so far. In 1971, while trying to find the result of an important boxing match on an old radio, I distinctly heard a news report saying that war hero/minor movie star Audie Murphy had been found dead in his hotel room. No other news sources even mentioned this, but two weeks later (to the day), Murphy's real death in an airplane crash was announced (how many Audie Murphys could have been dying within days of one another back then?). Later in the decade, I experienced what probably ninety per cent of all people driving alone at night have gone through at one time or another. While cruising along a long, empty stretch of highway under a moonless sky, I saw the headlights of another car pull up quite closely behind me; I looked away from the mirror for a moment -- to change the radio, I guess --, and when I glanced back, the headlights -- and any sort of vehicle they may have been attached to -- were gone. I didn't see anywhere the car might have turned off at the time, and I certainly didn't feel tired enough to have dozed off, but there was no sign of the other auto after only a few seconds of time had elapsed. That came me a "Twilight Zone" shiver. (I later incorporated it into the short story "Detour".) That's about it, I'm afraid. Well, aside from the classic cigar-shaped UFO sighting I had... .

Q: Who is YOUR favorite horror author?

STEVE: Probably Matheson (senior). There are several really terrific writers who generally are classed as science fiction authors who have done great work in short story form, including Theodore Sturgeon, Philip Jose Farmer, and Fredric Brown. Charles Beaumont (whose own real life unfortunately took on horrific trappings before his death) produced some excellent, heart-freezing material, and has there ever been a more perfect or more simple horror story than "It's a Good Life", by Jerome Bixby? You have to include Shirley Jackson, if only for THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. It may be a cliche, but I tend to react more to the material than to the author.

Q: What are your current projects?

STEVE: My suspense novel IDENTITY is currently in release from Five Star Press, and my short story "Special Effects" will be in the March/April issue of Cicada (it's horror after a fashion). I don't know when my horror/adventure novel WALPURGIS NIGHT will appear from Silk Label Press, but it's bound and ready to go; WALPURGIS contains some very personal childhood horror memories (though pleasant ones for the most part), and I'm quite proud of it. I hope it shows up soon. Most of my previous novels are available POD from iUniverse.com, and a good friend of mine with a small publishing house, Kenny Waters, is looking into the possibility of reprinting THE ABYSS as a limited edition hardcover (he tells me it's a "cult classic", which came as a complete surprise). I'm working on several short stories and the beginnings of a 1933-set, old-fashioned horror novel called MAD SCIENCE, which I hope to interest Design Images Group in (the first chapter details King Kong's rampage through NYC). "Detour" and another short story called "The Band Who Played Emotions" are currently under consideration by the folks behind VH-1's original series "Strange Frequencies", though I don't know how serious that consideration really is.

Q: Anything you want to add?

STEVE: I don't have a website, as yet, so all I can really add is thanks for your interest and keep print alive -- buy books!

find information about Steve Vance at imdb.com find horror stuff by Steve Vance

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