I’m happy to say this blog has been going for over a year now, and what a year it has been! Feel free to peruse the archives if you missed out on past interviews. I’d like to say congratulations to the winner of the Amazon gift card contest, Ms. Valerie Ortiz, and a big thank you to everyone who entered.
Now, without further ado, I’m pleased to present…
Hi, Michael. Thanks for joining us.
Thank you for having me.
How long have you been writing, and when did you start taking it seriously?
I’ve always been a storyteller. Before I could write, I would draw pictures to illustrate the tales that were spinning around inside my head. At age seven, after watching Star Wars for the first time, I decided that I wanted to be a filmmaker. I would write screenplays and make movies in the back yard with my parents’ video camera. And, as the stories I wanted to tell outgrew my meager budgets, I eventually turned my attention to writing short stories and novels.
You edited the anthology “Vampires Don’t Sparkle” which features the work of some amazing authors. In addition to providing quality fiction, a portion of the proceeds from sales of this anthology go to cancer research institutions. That’s a great cause.
Thank you. It is a very personal cause for me. One year ago, I lost one of my closest friends, author Sara J. Larson, to cancer, and then my wife was diagnosed with the disease last fall. I hope that, with this anthology, we can help win the fight against this real-life horror.
Was this your first time editing an anthology? Is it something you will do again in the future?
Yes, to both questions. LOL I had never tackled anything like this before, but I did enjoy it and could see myself doing it again.
I recently finished reading “Cinema Of Shadows”. This is definitely a book I would recommend to others. There were a lot of different levels to the story, incidents in the main characters’ pasts that brought everything together nicely, in my opinion. I know it’s a typical question, and it doesn’t always have a clear-cut answer, but what inspired the idea behind “Cinema Of Shadows”?
I’m a huge movie buff, and I worked as a theater manager for a time. One of the cinemas I managed was haunted. If you walked in, and it was completely dark, you could see the glowing outline of a person sitting in one of the seats. Someone told me that it was the spirit of a man who had a heart attack and died right there in his chair.
Then, years later, I started going to classic films at an old movie palace in Franklin, Indiana. The Artcraft. It had fallen into disrepair, but now it is being restored to its former glory–the original Art Deco design, the neon, the huge marquee with the chasing bulbs. This is what theaters were like before the multiplexes, and now they are quite rare. Just amazing!
So the more I thought about it, the more I wondered…if the theater I managed was fairly new and already had a ghost, how many spirits might be trapped inside one of these cinemas that had been around for decades? And that’s when I realized that a crumbling movie palace would be a unique and amazing setting for a Horror story.
In what genres have you written? Your bibliography screams “horror author”, but some titles such as “Poseidon’s Children” appear to contain elements of sci-fi, or even fantasy. Do you consider yourself a “horror author”?
I write in several genres, but I consider myself to be, first and foremost, a Horror author. I’ve loved Horror as long as I can remember. I used to trick babysitters into letting me stay up late to watch Night Gallery episodes and Hammer films. I’d collect toys based on the classic Universal monsters. In the eighties, when a new Horror film opened, I was always first in line. Even when I wrote scripts for Educational Television, I found ways to sneak in Horror themes. I pitched a program called Teen Terrors—a look at the stress, fears, and anxieties that all teenagers must face—and filmed host segments in graveyards and the torture chambers of local haunted houses. It was only natural that, when I finally put pen to paper to write prose, the result would be horrific.
Are there any authors or books that have influenced you over the years?
Oh my, so many. Growing up in the eighties, I read everything Stephen King and Clive Barker put out. I’ve always loved the writings of Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, and Rod Serling. Now, I get inspiration from contemporary authors such as Brian Keene, J.F. Gonzales, and Tim Lebbon, but Gary A. Braunbeck is one of the authors I admire most. He brings this emotional reality to his fiction that is simply amazing. His work elevates the entire genre, and I was so thrilled that he was able to write the introduction to my short story collection, Skull Full of Kisses, so honored and humbled by what he had to say.
What are you currently reading?
Currently, I’m reading a short story anthology called He Is Legend, which is a tribute to the great Richard Matheson. So many great stories! I highly recommend it.
How do you come up with new ideas?
I get my inspiration from a variety of places. Sometimes I will see an article in the news that strikes me as odd and I start to ask myself that question: “What if…?” But a lot of my ideas come to me when I’m in the shower in the morning, in that weird, dream-like state between consciousness and unconsciousness.
“Cinema Of Shadows” left me wanting to read more of your work, so I picked up your short story “For the River Is Wide and the Gods Are Hungry” for 99 cents on Kindle. I loved this story. It tapped into my biggest personal fear: What lies beneath the surface of the water that makes up 75% of our Earth. “Poseidon’s Children” seems to share a similar theme, so I’m wondering… What inspires you to write about the water?
Just exactly what you mentioned: water makes up so much of this planet, yet it is vastly unexplored. There could be anything down there, and we won’t even know it exists until it comes up to bite us. Plus, I think the idea of being eaten is a primal fear everyone shares.
The titles I’ve mentioned so far are only a drop in the bucket. You have many more available. Do you have any personal favorites you’d like to recommend to my readers?
Well, I think my short story collection, Skull Full of Kisses, is a good place for readers to start if they are unfamiliar with my work. There is something in there for everyone: horror, sci-fi, dark fantasy, monsters, maniacs, ghosts…you name it. As far as my novels go, I don’t think you can go wrong with either The Wide Game or Poseidon’s Children. They are the first books in my series, and good places to start.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on the next book in my Legacy of the Gods series, Hades Disciples. It picks up a year after the events of the first novel, Poseidon’s Children.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t touched on yet?
I would just like to thank all my faithful readers for their support over the years, and I hope to have many more tales coming their way in the months and years to come.
Where can we find you on the web?
Faithful readers can keep up with me and my work on my website (http://www.bymichaelwest.com) or on Facebook and Twitter.
They can also visit my publisher’s website http://www.seventhstarpress.com