Modern Mythmakers Synopsis:
This collection of original interviews, appropriate for libraries and fans alike, provides first-hand accounts from many of the entertainment industry’s most influential writers, filmmakers, and entertainers. Interviewees include horror film icons Elvira and Herschell Gordon Lewis; world-renowned science fiction and fantasy authors, among them Ray Bradbury, Laurell K. Hamilton, and John Saul; and many others. The 26 alphabetized interviews are accompanied by a brief introduction, several quotes from the interviewee’s industry peers, and the interviewee’s
complete bibliography or filmography. Also included are a foreword by The Amazing Kreskin and an afterword by two-time Bram Stoker Award winner Charlee Jacob.
I am so excited to bring to you a guest post by Michael McCarty. Michael shares a love for horror and those fabulous authors that helped to pave the way to horror today.
When I found out he has interviewed some of the greats I couldn’t help but beg him to stop by and share a few stories, especially in this fabulous month of
October. He graciously accepted even with a new book
coming out this month, Bloodless.
And if you enjoy this Michael also has two for the price of one at Amazon! Liquid Diet and Midnight Snack, 2 vampire satires! Perfect for that late night,
October read! 😉
And now we have Michael McCarty speaking about his experiences with some of the big horror greats!
Let Me Introduce You To The MODERN MYTHMAKERS and
MASTERS OF IMAGINATION
By Michael McCarty
I am constantly asked, “Why would you want to interview horror science fiction writers?”
When newspaper reporters ask me this question, I feel as though I have been consigned to the literary ghetto: horror, science fiction, fantasy. Those are the bad places. Why would you want to go there?
I have no simple answer, no sound bite I can give. My answer is that this is who I am. When I was a kid, I thought science fiction writers actually lived on other planets and sent their stories to Earth via rocket ships.
Starting in grade school and continuing through college I worked for various papers. I interviewed various people: a police officer, a military recruiter, a DJ, local merchants, a movie critic yada yada yada.
It wasn’t until college that I even met a real writer. This first professional writer I met was David Morrell, the author of First Blood and literary father of Rambo, whom I met at a party at the University of Iowa. I told him how I loved his book, and I wanted to be a writer, too. He smiled, gave me some great advice that I still keep close to my heart: “This is a tough profession. Not for the faint of heart. Keep up the good fight.” Then he asked me when was the last time I had written anything and I told him “Fifteen minutes before coming to this party.” I told him I write every day, and I still do.
A year later I would see Morrell at a writers’ conference in my hometown. He was teaching a class on writing horror. There were only a few students in attendance. Across the hall was a class on writing poetry; the poetry class was full. Morrell looked across the hall at the poetry class and said, “People don’t make money from writing poetry these days,” and began his class. I wouldn’t interview him for an article until fifteen years later.
The next writer I met was Kurt Vonnegut. He did a lecture at the college I was attending. Vonnegut was one of my favorite writers in college. He is still one of my favorite writers. During his lecture he took questions from the audience. I raised my hand and asked him a question about his novel Bluebeard. He liked my question and gave it a long and thoughtful answer. After the lecture, I sneaked backstage and had Vonnegut sign my copy of Galapagos. He was signing books and he recognized me as the person who asked the Bluebeard question. After he signed his book, he asked me to step over to the table so that we could talk a little more as he signed books. I told him that I wanted to be a writer, too. He asked me what I was studying in college. I told him I was studying English and Journalism, and I had just gotten a B+ in a Kurt Vonnegut class. I added that I had read articles he had written, while he was a student in college. He smiled and said, “That is a pity.”
- Each interview is like putting thousands of ideas into a few words.
- Each interview is like walking on a tightrope without a net, with a strong wind blowing, trying to keep your balance.
- Each interview is crawling into the writer’s or filmmaker’s inner brain to see what makes his creative mind tick.
- Each interview is a luncheon featuring food with a good friend.
- Each interview is like a favorite song that you could listen to forever.
Here are some of the stories behind the stories with the interviewees that appeared in such books as Modern Mythmakers and Masters of Imagination:
Ray is a master storyteller and the short story is where he reigns. For over half a century, no author has been more respected for or prolific with the short story. I remember the first story I read by him. I was in tenth grade and Mr. Cervantes, the English teacher, assigned us to read “The Smile,” a dark tale about a future society where a boy waits in line to spit on a painting of the Mona Lisa. My life was forever changed. Years later, I found out that Ray Bradbury was coming to the Quad Cities. So I prepared some questions just in case he would grant me an interview. After he gave a lecture at Augustana College, I approached Mr. Bradbury and asked if I could interview him. He said no, because that was the closest he’d ever been to the Mississippi River and he wanted to go take a look. However, he did give me his number and said I could do an interview over the phone. That was my first interview with Ray. I interviewed him again for Modern
Mythmakers. I feel like the luckiest man on Earth to have interviewed Ray Bradbury twice (for Masters of Imagination). I was very sadden to hear that he had passed away.
Linnea was born in my hometown of Davenport, Iowa. She used to watch Acri Creature Feature just like I did when I was growing up. She left the Quad Cities, moved to Hollywood and became a scream queen icon. You gotta love a lady for that. I remember the first film I saw that Linnea was in. I was going to college at the University of Iowa. I talked my friend Scott Madsen into cutting some classes and going to see a horror movie called Return of the Living Dead. Linnea played this red-headed punk named Trash. In a graveyard she delivered the infamous speech: “Do you ever wonder about all the different
ways of dying? And wonder, like, what would be the most horrible way to die? For me, the worst way of dying would be for a bunch of old men to get around me, and start biting and eating me alive. First they would tear off my clothes….” She then started stripping. I actually spilled my bucket of hot-buttered popcorn.
Over the years I would enjoy watching her in such films as Night of the Demons, Hollywood Chain saw Hookers and Innocent Blood without spilling any more of my popcorn. I remember seeing an early film of hers, Silent Night, Deadly Night (I have a warm spot in my heart, or elsewhere, for her “Best Impaled-on-Antlers”
performance in that film). I met Linnea while she was filming the movie Unaware in Galena, Illinois, and hit her up with a short story idea called “The Wizard of Ooze.” She gave me a lot of innovative input and later we bounced more thoughts back and forth over the phone and the Internet. The resulting story ended up in the Cemetery Dance anthology that featured short fiction by horror actors and actresses. You can read it in Midnight Premiere or my own short story collection, Little Creatures.
Linnea and I wrote our first novel together called Night of the Scream Queen which was published by Dark Moon Books:
Charles L. Grant
The first time I met Charles L. Grant was at the World Horror Convention in Denver when he received his Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.
It was a hectic time for me. I was trying to pin Neil Gaiman down for an interview with Science Fiction Weekly (which did happen about a year later) and convince Harlan Ellison to do an interview with me for Gallery (which didn’t happen at all — but he ended up getting interviewed in my book More Giants of the Genre). In between all of that, I talked with Charles about possibly doing an interview sometime down the road for Hellnotes. He was very polite and said that he’d like to do an interview. I took his telephone number, put it into one of my notebooks and forgot about it. Then about three years later, I was talking on the phone to my friend and collaborator, Cristopher DeRose, about possible interviewees and he mentioned that one of his favorite writers in speculative fiction was Charles L. Grant. At that point, I said something like, “Oh, no! I was supposed to do an interview with him three years ago.” So I called up Charles to do an interview.
He was still polite, even through I was over 1,095 days late. I was also sadden to hear of his passing too.
The first person I thought about interviewing for Masters of Imagination was Christopher Moore. I am such a huge fan of his work. My interview with Christopher in Modern Mythmakers was good, but I thought we could do an even better one, and I think we have. Also, when I did the interview this time, he wasn’t on the road doing signings and lectures for his book You Suck. This time around, Christopher agreed to do an exclusive interview for this book, which was very kind. (I also
have to thank Nancy Holder and William F. Nolan for doing the same thing.)
Laurell K. Hamilton
I’m a big fan of Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampire books. I love bloodsucker books in general, but the Anita Blake vampire series is unique—highly imaginative, sexy and scary. She throws everything into her bestsellers—mystery, fantasy, magic, horror and romance. Anita’s personal and professional relationships with a master vampire and an alpha werewolf heat up this serial.
I met Laurell at the World Horror Convention in Kansas City where she was the toastmistress of ceremonies. I really enjoyed her panel about vampires with another genre giant, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (creator of the famous St. Germain series) and John Wooley (author of a great vampire book called Awash in the Blood ).
She had long dark hair and wore dark sunglasses and a black and red flowered dress. She looked just as mysterious and magnetic as her Anita Blake character. Laurell was also considerate enough to give in to such requests as posing for a photo with me at the convention. I’ve done a couple of interviews with this best-selling author and I immensely enjoy talking with her. Laurell K. Hamilton holds nothing back during the Q&As. She gives it all to her legion of fans—you have to love that quality in an interviewee. (She is in both Masters of Imagination and Modern Mythmakers).
I remember the first film I saw by John Carpenter was Halloween. At that time, I was underage and couldn’t get into an R-rated movie. I kept seeing the spooky
commercials for the fright feature and wanted badly to see it. Then I read in the newspaper that on Halloween night a local theater was giving a dollar discount if you wore a costume to the show. I wore my dad’s coveralls, some boots and a Frankenstein mask. I was able to sneak in and save a buck, too. I sat in the dark theater and from the point where a six-year-old Michael Myers, wearing a clown mask, stalks his sister, until the creepy conclusion, I had the bejesus scared out of me. Twenty-five years later it still scares the beje sus out of me.
I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter; he is one of the most talented and ingenious filmmakers in the horror and science fiction genres. A screenwriter as well as a director, he is responsible for classics such as The Fog, Escape from New York, Starman, Christine (that book was a big influence on my own novel Monster Behind the Wheel ), They Live, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Body Bags, John Carpenter’s Vampires and Ghosts of Mars.
Information about Masters of Imagination and Modern Mythmakers:
Masters of Imagination on Amazon
Modern Mythmakers on Amazon
Although I didn’t mention any of their interviews in this blog, please check out Esoteria-Land on Amazon too.
Want more Michael!? I know you do!!!
And on a side note, Michael got married on Halloween! How apropos to celebrate his newly published book, Bloodless as well as celebrating a love of all things October and although us horror fans tend to shy away from it, the best of all, love! I won’t get sappy on you guys but I thought this picture was tooo cute of them!
Happy Anniversary Mike and Cindy!