Guest writer MICHAEL McCARTY tells why he interviewed several UK authors for his book, Modern Mythmakers
Some people are baffled how a nerdy Midwestern could interview several giants of the genre of the UK speculative fiction scene for my book, Modern Mythmakers. But before I address that, I should say a little about the book.
Modern Mythmakers is a collection of 35 interviews (in the trade paperback, and 40 in the ebook) from horror and science fiction’s most influential writers and filmmakers, including Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Richard Matheson, John Carpenter, John Saul, Joe McKinney, the Night of the Living Dead crew (including John Russo, Kyra Schon and Russ Streiner), Elvira, Whitley Strieber, Christopher Moore, and many more. Published by Crystal Lake Publishing.
In the book I interviewed such UK luminaries as Ramsey Campbell, Graham Masterton, Ingrid Pitt as well as Kim Newman for the ebook. I also interviewed Neil Gaiman and Darce Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker.
I still haven’t addressed the theme of this article yet. I promise I will get back to that. But first some boring biographical background stuff.
I was always heavily influenced by the arts of England. Music particularly at a very early age. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Bauhaus, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Dire Straits, Jethro Tull, ELO, Joe Cocker, Squeeze… the list could go on and on.
I watched a lot of British TV, too: Dr Who, The Goodies, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Red Dwarf, Absolutely Fabulous, Coupling (oops, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the last one in public).
And as a Journalism and English major in college, I read all the UK classic authors: Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, Keats, Shelley, Stoker, blah-blah-blah.
Still, I eluded the theme of this article yet again.
After I graduated college and started writing professional, I freelanced nonfiction and fiction to several magazines, newspapers and websites in the US. I decided to try my luck across the pond, as they say, in England.
My friend (and Best Man in my wedding) and often collaborator, Mark McLaughlin, was no stranger in the UK. He was a Finalist for the British Fantasy Awards and was published in several English publications. He gave me some leads and I tried them, and started to get published there, too.
The first place that published my writing in the UK was The Zone edited by Tony Lee. Tony is a great guy and I wrote for this publication for years. I was also published in the late great Nasty Piece of Work (their last issue).
It wasn’t too surprising that when Mark McLaughlin and I started to shop our horror novel Monster Behind the Wheel around, an English publisher, Sarob Press, decided to publish it. I said “decided to publish it” because the book didn’t go to press. The book received a contract, was edited, and received several pre-orders of the limited edition. About a month before publication, the publisher went out of business, so Monster Behind the Wheel ended up getting published in America, and is still available from Medallion Press.
My hopes were dashed at becoming a novelist in England. Then Mark and I wrote a chapbook called All Things Dark & Hideous by Rainfall Books. I think there are a still copies floating around out there if you look.
I still haven’t addressed the theme of this article yet. But will do so now:
Back in my freelance days, I wrote for several magazines, websites and magazines including Cemetery Dance, Fangoria, Starlog, Filmfax, blah-blah-blah. I ended up being a staff writer for Science Fiction Weekly, the official website of the Sci Fi channel (now called SyFy Channel).
The first interview I did for Science Fiction Weekly was of Neil Gaiman. The last interview I did in the last issue was of Kim Newman. Between the interviews I did for Science Fiction Weekly, The Zone and other publications, I had plenty of material to draw from for Modern Mythmakers.
The first interview I’d like to talk about is Ingrid Pitt. She has portrayed the sexiest vampires that have ever graced the silver screen. In The Vampire Lovers she sinks her fangs in her victim’s lovely breasts and Countess Dracula she bathes completely nude in the blood of virgins to retain her youth. This is the best that hot-blooded exotic horror gets. I had been an Ingrid Pitt fan for a very long time, since I was a teenager when I first saw her on Acri Creature Feature. They showed The Wicker Man (the original, not the lame Nicolas Cage remake) at midnight. I fell in love with the Hammer vampire vixen. The most beautiful and buxom bloodsucker to ever hit the silver screen. Ingrid and I had been corresponding for a number of years before I did the interview with her. I always enjoyed her witty comments and humor. I finally interviewed Ingrid for the debut issue of City Slab and it was as entertaining and enchanting as the late, great actress was.
The story behind the Graham Masterton interview is interesting. I ended up writing blurbs for several Leisure horror books that Don D’Auria was editing. Don mentioned that Leisure was going to reprint The House That Jack Built. I asked the editor if I could write a blurb of the book and he said of course. This is the blurb I wrote:
“A classsic shock-fest. Graham Masterton’s The House That Jack Built is high voltage horror. You don’t get a story this electrifying unless you bite into a plugged-in toaster with your braces.”
I corresponded with Graham when that book came out. He thanked me and I asked him if I could do an interview with him. I was planning on meeting with Graham at the thirteenth annual World Horror Convention in Kansas City. He was scheduled to be on my panel about Giants Of The Genre with me, Mark McLaughlin, Charlee Jacob and Forry Ackerman. Unfortunately, his wife Wiescka’s illness caused the couple to cancel the con.
I have co-written several interviews with my friend Mark McLaughlin. Mark is a real big fan of Ramsey Campbell and suggested we should do an interview with him. A light bulb went off in my head, “Do an interview with Ramsey Campbell. Yeah that’s a good idea.” Not only was it a great idea, it was a great interview, one of my favorites in the book.
I was a big fan of Neil Gaiman for years with The Sandman series. The first time I met Neil was at the World Horror Convention in Denver. There was some presentation and I was sitting at this far table, near the back of the room, half listening to it, half editing my manuscript, which was Monster Behind the Wheel at the time. The room was semi-dark, and I heard someone set a briefcase down at the table and sit down. It was Neil Gaiman. I looked up and said, “Hi Neil!” We got to chatting a bit and I hit him up to do an interview. Later that evening, he read the entire manuscript he had just written, Coraline, which was so amazing. If you ever get the chance to hear Neil read any of his work, it is an incredible experience. Later that year, when I met him again in Chicago and the Twin Cities, I swore to him, I wasn’t stalking.
I can’t thank Neil Gaiman enough. His interview led me to become a staff writer for Science Fiction Weekly. His advice helped me get my first book Giants of the Genre published by Wildside Press. Thank you, thank you and thank you, Neil.
Before I leave, I’d also like to talk about three interviews that didn’t get published in Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror and Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers.
The first one was with Brian Lumley, and the reason I didn’t include it in the book was that it appeared in an early edition of the book: Modern Mythmakers: Interviews with Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy Writers and Filmmakers published by McFarland & Company. Although this edition is out of print, there are still some copies popping up from time to time.
The second interview was that of editor Stephen Jones. I harbor no ill feelings that his book had beaten More Giants of The Genre for the Bram Stoker Award. I was more flattered that he mentioned me in his Bram Stoker Award acceptance speech. The reason I didn’t include Stephen Jones was this, I wanted the focus of the book to be on writers and filmmakers, not editors.
And lastly the interview which I really regret not putting in the book, was with the late, great Terry Pratchett. I had his interview in my book Esoteria-Land which is now out of print, too. I recently did a blog, where I reprinted the interview.
Thank you for listening to my rambling, God bless and God speed.