Hi kids! We have a spate of interviews coming soon, some fun conversations with writers you might not know, or should know better, and I thought I’d kick it all off by asking myself the ten questions I asked everyone else.
So here we go:
Where should a reader that is new to your work start?
Probably the ‘before Crazytown’ chapbook. That would at least give a person an idea of what I do. I don’t have a lot of stuff available under this byline.
Is there a piece that you are particularly proud of?
‘the association’, from Caravans Awry, is probably my favorite of the things that are available. It manages to subvert a pile of cliches, trades on some of my inside knowledge of the Chicago area, and features a rare sympathetic character. I’m also very fond of ‘Looking for Ghosts’, from Test Patterns, which has historical Tucson locations and a literally mindblowing premise.
Whose work do you read, yourself?
My reading trickled down to almost nothing when I was reading for anthologies but it has picked back up again. I do reviews when I can, and am reading books by John Claude Smith and J. R. Hamantaschen, and several volumes from Word Horde, for those purposes.
For fun, I like speculative fiction best. I just re-read the works of Cordwainer Smith and James (Alice Sheldon) Tiptree, Jr., and am embarking on a read of Alistair Reynolds’ works, having obtained a few new ones.
I’m just getting started with a new John Langan and a new Farah Rose Smith, for in-genre works.
What kind of beer goes with your pizza? And what’s on the pizza?
I actually don’t care for beer with my pizza – diet Coke is my choice. If I have my druthers, I like a plain old sausage and cheese pizza, Chicago-style medium crust (this doesn’t mean deep dish – that’s Sunday-dinner pie). Sliced mushrooms and red onions sometimes. Party Cut! Triangular pieces are not my first choice.
I do like my beer though. Local beers are my favorites. Craft brewer Iron John’s makes a mocha chile stout that’s to die for. I drink Sam Adams’ Boston Lager as a default. One at a time – I’m diabetic. So taste is paramount!
Do you consider your work weird, or horror? Or do you leave that to the marketing department?
My work is pretty solidly spec fic. I like to travel in the borderlands where horror and science fiction meet, and I’m not much for fantasy. Clarkean science, yes. But I work out how the science works for myself – I just don’t tell the reader. I love to shine the lens of hard science on the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ – working in that milieu is comfortably like playing cover tunes for me. That’s the stuff that got me writing again, twenty years or so ago. Well, that and an interactive novel called IDENTITY CRISIS, which was on my website for a few years.
So… given just those two alternatives, ‘weird’ works. I don’t care much for most of the standard horror characters or tropes. Cosmic horror for me. And Tuckerizing. I lampoon almost everyone I know at one time or another.
You’ve been convicted of crimes against the empire. What would be your last meal? Include something big to hide the explosives in.
A big honkin vat of my famous chili and a huge cheeseburger to pour the chili over. Twice-fried fries and an endless Coke.
Are you involved in any arts besides writing? Any odd hobbies we should know about?
I’m a bass player turned multi-instrumentalist. I played in bar bands for many years and could handle the bass or guitar chair in most professional bands. I also draw and paint on occasion, and collect alien figurines and science fiction paperbacks.
Last year, I took up gardening. My approach is holistic – I don’t plant in rows or anything like that. I till the soil and scatter the seed, and we see what happens. The sun here is obnoxious and you have to plant early or everything will die by midsummer.
Cats or dogs?
I used to be a dog-person but my ex taught me to love cats too. Felines are better for apartment living. I have four of the little bastards. Three of them are related and can’t stand each other.
There may be a lesson there.
I do have a dog, or he has me — he just doesn’t live here. Charlie dog, who lives next door, is convinced that he owns me and tries to cover me with little-pooch slobber as long as I’m in his vicinity.
Animals and I get along fine. I’m also a big fan of rabbits, but they live such short lives that I don’t think I could get any moe.
Tell us about a work-in-progress.
I’m working from time to time on a ‘Russian novel’, a big, sprawling epic with some family history thrown in and a ton of Slavic folklore explored. It’s my comfort writing – I work on it when everything else is making me crazier.
One of the main characters started as a Tuckerization of writer SL Edwards and blossomed into one of my best inventions – the tireless, slightly misguided entrepreneur Emerson Samhain. Emerson’s origin story will appear in Planet X Publications’ Test Patterns: Weird Westerns as ‘In The Name”, and he also appears in the unpublished novelette ‘The Fleecing of the Golden Hound’, which has cameos from characters in the other two stories.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
I do this all for you.
Thanks for reading. We now take you back to your regularly-scheduled commercial.