Lets be honest, we all enjoy talking about ourselves and our experiences, don't we. And as a writer, any opportunity for shameless self-promotion and the chance to share more of our thoughts and feelings is one you just can't pass up. So when Rich Stiles, main author and contributor for THE DEVILS EYES.COM, asked if he could interview me for the website, how could I say no? It was very flattering, to say the least, and some pretty interesting issues came up through the questions. Rich was kind enough to allow me to re-publish the full interview here.
I'd like to stress that Rich's description of what I do as , 'awesome writing skills', is entirely of his own accord. Yes, I bought him a shiny new Halloween Box Set, and slipped a few bucks his way, but I assure you no bribery took place. Honest!
The interview really brought back some very fond memories for me, and I think its something everyone should do. I recall when I was a teenager, reading that Jim Morrison of THE DOORS was an avid practitioner of the 'self-interview', as a means to gain a deeper understanding of ones self, and after taking part in this little venture, I have to agree. I think I'll be asking a few fellow bloggers, authors and artists if I can interview them in the near future. It'll be very interesting to learn how their love of the genre came about and their thoughts on the current Horror scene.
Anyway, until I interview some far more interesting individuals than myself, you'll just have to make do with your old Hotel Manager's inane ramblings.
Here's the interview between myself and Rich. Hope you enjoy reading it even half as much as I enjoyed partaking in it....
Kyle, it's almost been a year that we have known each other; (back during the H.B days), and that's when I got my first glimpse of your awesome writing skills. You don't just review films, you break them down to such a degree that anyone could make a decision on the spot as to whether watch a film, or not. What was it that gave you your love of the genre and reviewing?
I think I was born with a predisposition for horror. The first memory I have of being exposed to it was when I got my hands on a set of Top Trumps Horror Cards, that depicted in lurid detail a whole host of monsters, killers and scenes of gore. I was really young, but I remember I'd stare at them for hours on end, to the point that I can vividly recall them actually moving, and taking on a life of their own. It was much like reading a novel and falling into the world it presents. I remember being sick with fear but completely entranced by them. I was always the kid with a Dracula figure in his back pocket, and when I got my hands on Star Wars toys, I would burn them and add red paint for gore effects to make zombies, mutants and other such creations. My old folks never seemed to notice I was a bit 'off', so I managed to avoid the nuthouse with relative ease.
The reviewing thing started last year, in 2010. Id worked in Theater, (writing and directing), before and always enjoyed the creative process of turning thoughts and ideas into something more, but I was lacking in confidence to a pretty debilitating degree. My dream had always been to write a Horror novel, but I was nowhere near prepared mentally to take on the challenge. Reviewing came naturally as a way to express my love for the genre, without causing any fuss or failing myself in any soul destroying way. I assumed no one would read my work, and I could quietly write away and get my thoughts on paper for my own amusement, later in life. The positive response to my writing has really helped me gain the courage to tackle my long planned novel's, though. I'm now taking tentative steps in that direction, but have found that sharing my love for the genre with other good souls is every bit as rewarding as my fictional writing in theater was. More so, in fact. I'll be working hard on my novel's but I'll continue to review Horror as long as my somewhat addled brain allows me.There's no finer fans than Horror fans, and sharing with them is an absolute joy.
What is the first horror film you remember seeing and on that note, what was the first film you reviewed?
I was witness to Horror movies beforehand, but my first truly traumatising Horror film was THE OMEN, which I remember watching with an older cousin when I was way too young to be seeing it. It scared the hell out of me, but something in that fear really igniting my imagination, and that feeling has never left. I've strived ever since to maintain that sense of wonder and fear when I experience Horror. My childhood was spent sneaking downstairs at night to watch the Hammer classics, and I would scour the video stores for hours on end, studying the covers of all those brilliantly sleazy video-nasties back in the 80's. I was probably one chromosome away from being a potential serial killer when I was a kid, but I turned out sort of OK...I think. I love animals and I always take garden critters who invade my house back outside, so they can enjoy the rain and the freedom. Like most Horror fans, I'm harmless as can be...
My first review was for a recent Hammer movie called WAKE WOOD. Its not the most remarkable film in the world, but when I decided I was going to do this work, I figured there was some sense of synergy to reviewing a film that was made by the studio who shaped my childhood's Gothic sensibilities so thoroughly. The review was a little haphazard, but it was a hell of a lot of fun doing it. It was the first thing I'd written in years after an intensive period of inactivity and self doubt, and it was a great feeling to find that I could still express my feelings reasonably well. I have Horror to thank for my growing some balls. Thanks Horror, I owe you one!
You too are now a proud poppa, do you have plans on how to introduce this love of horror to the little one?
I think horror is prevalent in every aspect of cinema to an extent. Its hard to watch THE WIZARD OF OZ and not be freaked out by those fucking flying monkeys, even as an adult. Imagine the effect such a thing has on a child. Cinema is a minefield in itself. What terrifies one child may delight another, so its really going to be a mixture of instinct and perception that guides me, as to how and when my daughter is brought into the fold.
It's a very tricky thing to pull off. I want her to love Horror and experience all the inspiration and joy it gave me in my youth, and continues to give me; yet at the same time I don't want to cause her any trauma. She won't be seeing THE OMEN at five years old, put it that way. I think I'll begin by exposing her to the Universal Classics. They're relatively tame now, and have a certain charm and innocence to them that I believe will still fuel the imagination. I want her to understand that Horror can be a comfort as much as a thing of dread, and I hope her imagination is sparked by the choices I make. After all, what child could resist 'Frankenstein's monster' reaching for the beams of sunlight in the James Whale classic? No child. That's who! By age eleven or twelve, there is very little I wouldn't allow her to view, besides the really extreme stuff out there, like INSIDE or MARTYRS. There's are certain realms of Horror that really do require a developed intellect to understand and absorb without taking any real damage on-board.
Thing is though, if she wants to see those films, she will. I'm savvy enough as a parent to know that whatever I forbid her from seeing will only become even more mysterious and desirable, and she'll find her own way to them. She's my daughter, after all! Other than hiding the really nasty stuff, my film collection will be proudly displayed in the front room, as it is now, and if she isn't stealing my DVD's at bedtime and watching these movies in the dark of her bedroom, I'll be a little disappointed! I believe if you raise your kid right, they'll understand that most Horror is simply great fun, and should be experienced as such. The things i really want to protect her from are the real horrors out there. Organised religions, racial and sexual intolerance, the mainstream media. Those are the REAL threat to her spiritual well being.
A few of our readers might not know this but you live in the U.K.,whats the horror scene like over there (conventions)?
Its nowhere near as big as it is in the states. There's a huge fan-base for Horror though, most definitely, but the conventions are sadly, few and far between. We don't seem to celebrate the Authors, effects artists and stars/directors as much here. Like anywhere though, the culture is there if you dig deep enough for it, and take the time to find it. The Horror community seems to exist as a sort of underground scene, in Britain. You'll rarely find anyone in a Burlesque club who doesn't love the genre, and there's very few people who haven't at least heard of Richard Laymon, but we seem to hide in the shadows more than our family in the states. I live just outside the city of Glasgow, and there are the occasional Horror marathons at select cinema's, and a couple of comic conventions each year that often have some famous faces from the Horror genre in the line-up, but I'd really like to see it grow into the shameless party it seems to be in America. Almost everyone i know likes or even loves the genre, but only a small number are actively rabid fans, which is a damn shame, in my opinion. For me, our main claim to fame is that we published the late-great Laymon when the states wouldn't, and for that, I stand tall. So there!
Here Halloween is a huge event, is Halloween as big over there?
It used to be. When I was a kid it was a massive event. It was the most magical day of the year, with no exceptions, at least on my calendar. Times have changed though, sadly. The media's constant fear-mongoring has led to most parents believing that every adult who lives on your street is a murderer, or a paedophile. We live in a climate of fear, and the people it truly effects are the children. Thankfully, its not altogether dead. you can still hear the sound of children's laughter as they approach your door, yet now they're accompanied by their parents, who are probably packing heat in case you lunge for their kid. I understand it, and sadly I'll follow suite, as I'm as much a product of the times as anyone.
Yet it goes deeper than that. It almost seems like most of society want to brush the holiday under the carpet. Back when I was a kid there were only four or five channels on television, yet every Halloween the airwaves were alive with ghoulish goodies. John Carpenters, 'Halloween', was shown each and every year, without fail, and after hours of Trick or Treating, you'd head home to watch a multitude of macabre movies. Now though, with hundreds of channels at your disposal, your hard pressed to find anything that celebrates the season at all. Its strange. Just this year I asked my old folks what they were doing for Halloween, to which they replied, 'Nothing, its just Halloween'. And I'm thinking, 'Well, in a few months its just fucking Christmas, so why is that any more important?' We're not Christians. Know what I mean? The holiday's true spirit is only kept alive by the Horror fan's out there. And as wonderful as my parents are, Horror fan's they are not. They think along the same lines that most people seem to think in this day and age, that the Horror fan's holiday holds no merit. Well, I'm cancelling Christmas this year, because in my mind, it's only a mythical characters birthday. How d'you like them apples?
What is alive and well on and around Halloween, is adult parties. Dressing up, getting trashed and sleeping with the 'Creature from the Black Lagoon', is far more popular than the original traditions of the season. Maybe I'm an old fart, but that's not what Halloween means to me. For me, its all about tradition.
Awhile back you landed some of your writing in Scream Magazine. How did it feel to be published in a magazine, compared to online?
It was a nice feeling, in the sense that I became aware people were paying attention to my work, and appreciating it to some degree. That particular magazine has asked me to keep writing for them, which I'll be doing in a limited capacity for the foreseeable future. There's a certain feeling of validation that comes with being published, but its really only a footnote to what we do. Theres something in the physicality of writing for a magazine that's very satisfying ,but, as cheesy as it sounds, its the sharing of your experience with like-minded people that gives its own, far greater reward. If more people start reading my work through outside publications, then I'm all for it. After all, you want to reach the largest audience you possibly can. Spread the gospel, as it were.
What I really enjoy is when an Author, Director, or production company contacts me, and asks me to review their work. There's a sense of mutual respect in the Horror community, at least for the most part, and its always nice to bring a little more visibility to the those who deserve it. The downside is, of course, when the work is lacking, and you really do feel like an asshole for writing a less-than-glowing review. That's the name of the game though. They artists know it just as well as any reviewer worth his/her salt does. The trick is honesty, as obvious as that sounds.
Finally, whats your future plans for writing and reviewing in the horror genre?
At the moment, I'm working towards taking The Horror Hotel away from the blog-o-sphere and into a full blown online magazine with a variety of journalists, reviewers and illustrators. The aim is to work full time on the site, and gain income through sponsorship as the site grows in size and popularity. It's a huge hill to climb and often seems like an unreachable summit I'm aiming for, but I'll give it a shot. There are FAR too many talented writers out there who aren't getting given a chance at following their dream, and unfortunately, there's a real sense of elitism among some of the larger Horror websites, which I hope to avoid at all costs. I already know a number of committed writers and artists who do it for love, first and foremost, and those are the people I hope to work with. I'm looking into doing more freelance work in the meantime to keep the fires lit, and will continue to work on the Hotel till I drop.
On the novel-writing side, I have a few things going on that are far from completion but finally shaping up. I have two novels on the go, one dealing with an elite group of cannibals, high up the the echelons of power, called THE CLUB; and another, more darkly humorous work titled AMAZING GRACE, which deals with religious fanaticism. I also have a short story collection in development. You should be seeing all these thing around 2045 or so, so stay tuned!
Thank you for taking the time to do this. I hope it helps our readers to get to know you better and shows them a bit more about the genius "behind the curtain".
Dunno about the 'genius' part, man, but its been a pleasure. It's always fun to talk about yourself, after all. Its even more fun when people are actually listening! A rarity in life.