T. J. May - Born: July 4th 1975 - I grew up in Marlborough, CT and currently live outside of Boston, MA. Had dreams of becoming a baseball star that were dashed in a car accident just before college. While trying to become a sports writer I interviewed Barry Bonds and decided it wasn't for me. The next best thing I did was make up stories. So here I am.
After college I turned down jobs at ESPN and DC Comics to pursue a career writing my own material. I worked for a few publications in the comic industry (which I'll get to later) and started Stand-Up Multi- Media with my brother.
At SUMM.net we publish two on-line comic books, a Sci-Fi comedy Zennon3, and a cartoony commentary on our culture called Deviant Society. I co-created Deviant Society and write both titles for the web.
In October of 2001 I married my beautiful wife Brooke.
2) Tell us about your horror graphic novel (what it's about, how it came about, et cetera).
Our first printed publication will be out in late fall/ early winter of 2002. We are going the graphic novel route as publishers, and our first book is tentatively titled The Beatin'. It is based on a short story I wrote for the 2001 Writer's Digest Competition and won nothing :-)
The story centers around Danny, an 11 year-old whose a little small, often bullied, and unloved by his father. Danny goes through some horrible experiences at the hands of his father, kids at school and other adults around him. His mother and the well-meaning sheriff are unable to put an end to the suffering, so Danny's vivid imagination does.
I don't want to give to many secrets away, but the story deals with real world monsters, other-world monsters and a boy who was able to bring them together for better or for worse.
3) What is the most appealing thing about horror fiction for you and why YOU write.
I try to conquer my fears, and I had a major fear of horror films in my youth. I was the kid leaving the room when the movies came on at Halloween parties; at best I'd cover my eyes. I couldn't separate reality from Hollywood magic. Needless to say it earned me a "girlish" reputation. Forgive me for the politically incorrectness, but I'm sure your readers will understand :-)
Ironically when I was in sixth grade I wrote a short story that was very gory and scary. The basic elements of that story are present in The Beatin'. As life happened to me I was able to use the platform to address some very adult issues that need to be commented on. In essence this novel is some 15 years in the making.
4) You've also written articles for various magazines, et cetera. Talk a bit about that.
My cousin was an editor at DC Comics, and he had a friend editing ToyFare magazine over at Wizard. It happened to be Scott Beatty at the time and Tom Palmer, Jr. was his assistant. I worked for them doing various articles and the Big Shots found in the price guide section for about a year.
Then Buddy Scalera (whom currently co-writes DeadPool and released his first indy comic Necrotic) asked me to do some work for WizardWorld.com. He assigned me several interviews for the WizardSchool page, and that got me connected with some mainstream editors.
I took my experience over to Kirk Lindo and Brainstorm comics were I virtually wrote the first 14 issues of Vamperotica Magazine. That was a good time for me though the pay was small. I met a lot of great underground filmmakers, actresses, comic book creators and strippers :-)
The most interesting experience was visiting the set of Brimstone Productions: Rage of the Werewolf in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. I went there for a story, and ended up being a part of it. I played an NYC cop in the film.
5) 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?
Writing is a form of expression, and a part of you has to be in everything you write. That said, it may be a very small something or buried under a lot of imagination. In The Beatin', the terrible things that happen to Danny never happened to me (thank god), but some of the lesser stuff like being bullied did. I very much identify with his inability to fit in. I see a lot of his personality in me. However, I was less introverted. I often had a lot to say, and I did not always do so at the right time :-)
6)Why do you enjoy writing horror?
It's a wonderful place to escape. In the realm of horror you experience every emotion, in every story. You have to give readers tidbits of happiness or a good joke to throw them off, or get them through to the next scary scene.
I also find a challenge in horror. It's been campy for a lot years, and not taken seriously in the cinema or literature. Most people only know 80s slasher films, 90s teen-screams or Stephen King novels. Don't get me wrong, I love them all, but where is the Grapes of Wrath of horror? Is Edgar Allan Poe the only respectable author of scary tales? I don't think so. Bringing a legitimacy to the genre is something new writers of horror should strive for.
7)What is the weirdest true-life thing that happened to you that if you wrote it down would read like fiction?
My brother was a junior at The Hartford Art School and wanted to experiment with latex to make realistic Halloween costumes. He and his buddies were going to be gorillas from Planet of the Apes, and I figured I'd be the Joker.
I met him at the sculpture studio to plaster cast my face; something I had never experienced. The room was large, and a divider had been put up. On our side there was simply a large table while a commotion of people were on the other side; apparently a sculpting class was working on a nude model. I thought little of it as I hopped up on the table.
My brother applied the plaster which was hot and very uncomfortable. There were only three things I needed to do 1) breathe through a straw 2) stay still 3) keep my eyes shut. I opened my eyes.
The burning was incredible. My brother, having not expected me to be such an idiot, hadn't thought out the scenario. He ran off looking for the nearest eye rinse while I sat on the table contemplating life without sight.
Jason returned, grabbed my hand and he began to lead me to the eye rinse which is behind the sculptors. I could feel us weaving in and out of the sculptors, and I prayed to not knock anybody's work over. We got to the rinse and I began the process of cleaning my eyes out while Jason runs off to get more plaster.
After my eyes stopped burning, but my vision was blurry. I wandered out into the sculpting studio calling for my brother and staring straight ahead. As I blinked away the remainder of the water the world around me had come into sharper focus. It was then that I realized I was staring at this gorgeous, naked brunette. She angrily stared back; as did the rest of the sculptors. I must have been staring a bit too long. I felt like an ignorant pig and shuffled out of the room as red as a tomato.
8)Who is YOUR favorite horror author?
I like King a lot, Poe was awesome, Lovecraft was a master, but I think Clive Barker rocks the house. He really brought an artistic elegance to the genre. He is the best example of bringing critical legitimacy to horror literature today. His short stories in particular are incredible. I highly recommend the Books of Blood. Especially stories like Midnight Meat Train, The Yackering and Jack and Rawhead Rex (which was made into a terrible film--but it's a great read).
9)Anything you want to add (website info, et cetera)?
Your fans can catch up with me at SUMM.net and read the comics there. The whole site is put together by myself, two fantastic artists and an obsessed fan out in Oregon.
The penciller of Zennon3 (Chris Gugliotti) will be doing so on The Beatin', and has a fully painted Warrior Nun Areala book coming out in April from Antarctic Press. My brother Jason May creates all the artwork for Deviant Society, and developed the concept of Zennon3 (which he also colors and letters). He's the glue that holds the website together.
We are in the early stages of producing The Beatin'. The script is in and being edited. As we speak, the artists are coming up with the physical likeness of my characters. We hope to begin penciling the book in April, and start coloring it by May. We expect the book to be around 70-pages of story, full color and mostly painted; with some computer graphics thrown in for good measure.
I'd like to keep you guys posted, so perhaps we could do this again in June. I can update you then, and give some insight into the independent publishing process.
Overall we are hoping for a banner year at Stand-Up Multi-Media (SUMM.net) and we appreciate Buried.com taking an interest in our work.