CA: What genre(s) do you write?
SM: Horror / Supernatural / Dark Philosophy
CA: Why do you write the stories that you write?
SM: In short…
Because: as soon as we delve into the very topic of horror and see it manifesting in our everyday lives certain truths are quickly realized. Horror is ever present and can be found anywhere you look, even in beauty. It’s a fragile balance indeed, but wherever you find one, you can always find the other. For example, a rose may lavish you with its sweet sight and smell, but then prick your finger with its thorns, resulting in blood and pain. Greedy hands may seek its mystique and selfishly pluck it from the earth. With its last breath it struggles so we can momentarily admire its beauty, before we discard it to the ground. Indeed where there is beauty lies a greed that grows. In fact, horror is most realized in the purity of beauty and fear of its loss. So where are some places we can find horror? How about in the police blotters and the coroner reports from gruesome murder sites? Or perhaps looming in the killing fields in the middle of a raging war? Maybe right at home watching the news as they tally the death toll of another natural disaster or major hurricane. Let’s not forget about the latest suicide bombings. Now these are the tangible earthly fears that are present in our everyday lives which linger in the back of our minds and haunt our being. No scary monsters, vampires, demons or ghouls need apply; these characters are already portrayed right here in reality. Horror is wallowing in the prison cells and on death row. It’s breathing in the veins of a strung out heroin addict. It’s nestling in our schoolyards and abducting our children. It commiserates in bitter divorce and love long lost. It overflows in the tears of poverty, starvation and illness. It manifests in the forms of terminal disease and aging. It hides in our nightmares and secret dark fantasies. It courses through the body and its fragile mortality. It seethes in the decaying mind and its brittle sanity. It lingers in the soul and its questioned continuum. We live in a world which has fallen into a departure of faith and hope, one where death is certain yet life is not. We seem to take a morbid comfort in our own fascination with death and suffering, where people we don’t know and only hear about on the news, become these far away fictional characters on a statistical stage. So does it empower us somehow to have a sense of control over forces that are threatening our global population? Or are we just simply overwhelming ourselves with the nuclear pyre which is burning down our culture? Perhaps a little bit of both I suspect.
CA: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
SM: Probably before I knew how badly it paid! At age 8, I wrote these little what people would call chapbooks today but with pictures and words, called The Great American Horror, and was about these horrible banshees that scared even me at the time, who went around and ate people…Hey, not much changed actually over time, huh? I guess I’ve always had quite a vivid imagination and always felt it was my strongest calling.
CA: Who or what was your inspiration for writing?
SM: Jack London as a child, Stephen King as a pre-teen, Dean Koontz and David Morrell as a teen, Clive Barker as a young adult, then came the evolution of Edgar Allan Poe, & H.P. Lovecraft by age 30, to Thomas Ligotti currently, as far as literary craftsmen.
CA: What’s your work schedule like when you're writing?
SM: Don’t write when I’m at work.
CA: Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?
CA: What was your biggest challenge in writing your book(s)?
SM: Finishing them.
CA: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
SM: Think about what to write next. I also play bass and have this little horror mag thing that I’m kind of doing on the side. www.freewebs.com/snmhorrormag
CA: How many books have you written?
SM: 3 with 2 published. Maybe a distant 4th novel.
CA: Which is your favorite?
SM: As far as a complete theme novel, The Banished, because it constantly keeps your attention with fast paced action and death and everyone loves a good mutant story. The trick is not just arbitrarily making the dead come to life or creating some evil mutants who kill, it’s making mutants become more human as the story progresses and getting the reader to take their side by understanding the innate instinct and desperation to survive and understanding life from another perspective that doesn’t just create a world of good guys verses bad guys, but rather survivors of another day and victims of fate. I think The Banished would make a great screenplay and has this universal theme to it that people can relate to in a struggle to survive kind of way. Plus did I mention that it has these really cool mutants in it that eat people?
The Dark Art of Wonder, however, is my choice in terms of cerebral assaults and most difficult concepts to execute, entangling much deeper affairs and literary weavings from a much darker, more suggestive viewpoint that relies not on splattering, rather mattering. Of course, Rituals of Terror was my first and will always hold a dark place in my soul and you always remember your first. But there is so much evolution in the writing of The Dark Art of Wonder that overall I would day its my darkest of scribes.
CA: Do you base characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
SM: What about real imaginary people, do they count, or are they just in my head? Do you want to know about the ones that tell me to kill? Really, I can? (Ahem.) I actually write about people who’ve made a memorable impact in my life after they are no longer in my life. No, I swear I didn’t hide the body; the acid dissolved the last of it!
No, what I mean is not usually current friends, but people that were ‘characters’ who were in my life at some point, the stand-outs in my life that have left some horrific impact on me in their absence or loss after I killed them. See, I do show sympathy in missing them now! Will that reduce my sentence any? Oh wait, maybe a little too much information here? Next question, please.
CA: Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers out there?
SM: Yes, quit now, give up! Help prevent suicide and insomnia! Either that or you better be very dedicated to your craft while earning less than a McDonalds salary on royalties when you are starting out! Be prepared for lots of rejection and handling it diplomatically so as not to burn bridges. There are more authors now publishing than at any point in our history. And after much blood, disdain and rejection, if you get that far -- then submit to SNM Mag!
CA: How can a reader contact you or purchase your books?
SM: http://www.stevenmarshallhorror.com/ or myspace.com/stevenmarshallhorror
CA: Is there anything you would like to add?
SM: Maybe a little about the magazine, since it is my main focus now. Now is it time for the shameless plug? Huh, huh? I just launched a free new online horror magazine in May called SNM Horror Magazine, which features 8 new short stories from new authors every month, plus interviews and book reviews from…Crystal. Hey, you have the same name of the girl that works with me! We’ve got over 2,000 visits in 60 days running and are listed on page 1 of Google and Yahoo under free magazines and are up on all the major horror directories. We also have this cool haunted hangman on there with a high score set by…Crystal. Hey, you have the same name as the girl who set the high score! We’ve developed quite a big following in a short time and are getting many new authors exposure by featuring their stories, interviews and book reviews to the world. Hey, instead of talking about it, why not just check it out yourself -- it’s totally FREE!
CA: Steve too funny, I AM the same girl lol! Thanks for such a great interview, and everyone should check out the horror mag…even if you’re not into horror, maybe after reading some of the short stories you might just change your mind.