Slow cooking is best


Simulposted on GreyDogTales.

oxygenmantransGreetings, weird children of all ages. For the first part of our GIANT CROSSOVER EVENT, we bring you the words of Sam (S. L.) Edwards, a writer and professional Texan who has hijacked the weird horror wagon and is steadily urging it southward, toward the Lone Star State.

It must be confessed, here at the onset, the outset, the preface as it were, to borrow a phrase from Bruce Wolf, that I myself have been guilty of including Edwards stories in many of the anthologies I have edited, and will likely do so in the future. I also have in my possession a contract which says that I am responsible for an entire book of his tales, which Oxygen Man Books will release next year.

nuff said? Onward!

Where should a reader that is new to your work start?

Well, I suppose the easiest answer is “in the beginning.” I’ve put the stories in “Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts,” in what I hope is a thematically coherent manner, but I’ve also organized them by length. The first story “Maggie Was A Monster,” is something of a flash-fiction sucker punch. I’m afraid that many people will buy this collection expecting the humor of Borkchito and that’s…just not what “Whiskey” is. Start with “Maggie,” then continue on to “I’ve Been Here A Very Long Time.”

Is there a piece that you are particularly proud of?

I think that “Volver Al Monte,” was a piece where I really began to realize what exactly I was about. This is a piece where there really is no hero to speak of. General Alfonsín Santos seems sympathetic. He’s old. He’s trying to do what is obviously the right thing, but only in this particular moment. We learn that the General cut his teeth on an earlier, more brutal war. And that his ruthlessness continued well past the end of that conflict.

That’s when I started to think about how character-oriented I am as a writer. How I needed to strive even to make my monsters sympathetic. And from reader feedback, I think I did accomplish that to some degree. At least I hope I did.

Cabras,” gets an honorable mention, as well as “Golden Girl.” Golden Girl I really wrote as a fun piece, and I think readers had fun with it. There are other characters, who didn’t make it into “Whiskey” who I am proud of. I am proud of John Armitage, who will be debuting in the “Test Patterns: Weird Westerns” anthology, and I’m proud of the Bartred family, who can be found in the pages of “Occult Detective Quarterly.”

Whose work do you read, yourself?

Man when I get asked this question…let me tell you: nothing like an interview to get you to go out and promote the ever-loving **** out of your fellow writers. I’ll start with John Langan, whose latest collection “Sefira and Other Betrayals” was some of his best work yet. Nadia Bulkin, who changed the game for the sort of political writing that I also try to do. Gwendolyn Kiste, who managed to create a very haunting ghost story in “The Rust Maidens.” S.P. Miskowski, who’s Skillute Cycle and “I Wish I was Like You” still make me think, two years after going through them. Matthew M. Bartlett, Michael Wehunt, Jon Padgett, Jonathan Raab, Mer Whinery, Orrin Grey (how great is Orrin Grey?), Christopher Slatsky, Kurt Fawver, Jayaprakash Satyamurthy. Part of the benefit of being friends with poets Ashley Dioses and KA Opperman is that they’ll send you beautiful poems to read.

Then there’s writers who I know I have collections coming out soon. Betty Rocksteady’s “In Dreams We Rot,” and Scott R Jones “Shout, Kill, Revel Repeat” are both slated to be out this year. I’ve been a fan of theirs’ for a long time, and I am very eager to read what they’ve put out. I hope readers of this interview, and Whiskey, will go and look at these author’s works. The shrimp-master himself, Peter Rawlik had his debut collection drop as well.

I also just finished Max Booth III’s “Carnivorous Lunar Activities.” Outstanding, funny. Fast-paced and also outstanding.

Then of course, there’s my friends. Duane Pesice with his gonzo-fantasy horror. I’ll tell you I’m rereading my Robert Bloch (the first dead writer to come up so far) and I see a lot of connections between Pesice and Bloch. Same with my friend Russell Smeaton, who just kickstarted his own collection quite successfully. I’m currently Beta reading for Robert S. Wilson, who is coming up with some extraordinary work. John Paul Fitch remains one of my favorite writers, and one who started with me quite early on in the pages of Ravenwood Quarterly.

Then there’s folks like William Tea, Christopher Ropes, Brooke Warra. I need collections from them. Demand it. And if I don’t get to blurb those collections I will be personally slighted. Erica Ruppert does outstanding work too. As does Premee Mohammad. I just ran across Lena Ng in an issue of Gehenna and Hinnom and loved what I read.

Dead writers: Bloch. Gabriel García Marquez. Leo Tolstoy. H.P. Lovecraft. Poe. Poe everything all the time. Blackwood, Machen, Hope Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith. Vasilly Grossman. Lots of Grossman. Neil Gaiman.

What kind of beer goes with your pizza? And what’s on the pizza?

Hahaha. Well you know, I’m from a hot climate. And hot weather really pairs best with an IPA or a pilsner. I used to like wheat beers, but they’ve really started to taste like nothing to me. I love stouts, but a stout is an end-of-the-day beer. Mostly a meal of its own, particularly if it’s an imperial. Barleywines too, are whole meals.

So I’m going to throw you for a bit of a loop (broether): I’m going to go with a hazy ipa. They’re still gonna be too hoppy for you IPA haters, but are cloudy and juicy.

As with beer, I like most of anything on pizza. I am a very simple, easy man to please. BBQ chicken, Hawaiian, meat lovers, etc. But I suppose my ideal beer and pizza, today, would be:

Canadian Bacon. Pineapple. Jalapeños. Diced tomatoes. Hazy IPA. I’m also partial to mushrooms, but the pineapple mushroom combination just doesn’t seem to bode well.

However, and I cannot stress this enough, no black olives. I find a black olive on my pizza and I’m gonna riot.

Do you consider your work weird, or horror? Or do you leave that to the marketing department?

You know what? “Horror.” I remember getting the first blurbs from Whiskey back and one author, who I really admire, reached out to say “Wow. This is surprising. This is ‘literary.’” And I take that as a compliment, but I’m just not sure what it means. I think it’s one of those distinctions, like “graphic novel” and “comic” that was first made to make fiction seem more sophisticated. But horror is plenty of sophisticated. How could it not be? When dealing with human anguish, smallness, life-after-death, living memories, physical transformations? These are the hardest things that a human being could grapple with, subjects which have seen the dedication of philosophers and scientists alike for hundreds of years.

How could that not be sophisticated?

You’ve been convicted of crimes against the empire. What would be your last meal? Include something big to hide the explosives in.

The head of the emperor. He will know my vengeance.

Are you involved in any arts besides writing? Any odd hobbies we should know about?

No arts, and this is my hobby. I like to run, hike, exercise. Cook when I can afford it.

Cats or dogs?

I like the idea of a cat. They can be very affectionate pets, in tune with the emotions of their people. They are also quite cute. But sadly, I am very allergic. Which I do regret, because people do love them. And they do deserve love.

So, I am thoroughly a dog person. Particularly corgis. I like their fat little bodies and stumpy little legs.

Tell us about a work-in-progress.

John Armitage is a warlock sheriff. He currently serves as the sheriff of Freedomtown, a settlement founded by the children of runaway slaves. He’s being called upon to investigate a murder in Night Town, a vampire settlement built in the side of a cliff and hidden from the sun. Next, he’ll have to deal with the arrival of a team of scientists and a young samurai to Freedomtown.

Thanks for being so kind. Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

Readers: look at me. It is paramount that you take care of your mental health. I want you to know that no matter how hard things seem now, you’re going to get through it. You’re not as alone as you think you are and I think you’re great just the way you are. I hope you’re getting enough sleep. I hope you’re drinking plenty of water.

But I do want to tell you about my collection, “Whiskey.” I can’t say I made it alone. I had a great editor in CP Dunphey, an outstanding collaborator in Yves Tourigny. And the horror/weird community has come out of the woodwork to support me.

I hope you’ll give me a chance, just like they have.

Thank you.

Oh, and thank YOU, Mr. Edwards, and YOU, dear reader. Myself and Mr. Grant will be pleased to present interview #2 as soon as is humanly possible. Until then, we’ll have the usual kind of content we feature.

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