Welcome to Smashwords, Patrick C. Greene.
You currently utilize Smashwords to present the readers with “permanent freebies” – What are your future plans with Smashwords?
Yes. That is correct. One of my publishers, Sekhmet Press, offers a few of my older short stories for free. Although, my best-selling short story, Bill’s Becoming, is now also available via Smashwords (iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobos…) for $0.99. And I believe that trend may continue. My entire catalog is available via Amazon – short stories, anthologies from Hobbes End, Sekhmet Press and Rymfire Books, and my novel PROGENY from Hobbes End Publishing.
What is the first work of fiction you remember writing?
I wrote a story about a giant praying mantis for school when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. When it was time to introduce my monster, I spelled out ‘GIANT PRAYING MANTIS!’ in scary font. I had this affinity for weird bugs and lizards.
Your work, while definitely horror, seems to reach into other genres as well. Is that something you do consciously?
I believe a story of any genre should be first and foremost, a drama. People joke that The Walking Dead for example, consists of more scenes with the characters arguing than battling zombies. Even George Romero has leveled that criticism. But the strong characters and their efforts to remain the people they were before shit went bad is what keeps the series going. Romero’s films themselves were heavy on the drama.I became interested in martial arts and action films at a young age so I do tend to draw from that to build characters and create suspense. Maintaining a breathless pace seems to work well for many of the scenarios in which I write, but I love a good mood piece as well. And of course, you can’t deny the opportunities for scares in the sci-fi genre.
You have a story in the vampire short story collection Wrapped In Red as well as a vampire novel coming soon. What is your opinion of the current state of vampires?
A few years back when Interview With A Vampire was being adapted to film, there was already some dispute over beautiful, angsty vamps versus the more straight forward Nosferatu types. If we trace the lore all the way back to its origins in old Europe, we find a nasty, mindless, completely feral creature with little humanity. It was probably Stoker who brought a little romance to their game, so really, who are any of us to be critical of one type of vamp over another? There are nearly as many variations of them as there humankind.That said, we should probably try to settle on a general set of guidelines. I haven’t read or seen Twilight, but I doubt there’s a context in which that kind of vampire is scary. So bottom line: let’s keep them scary!
What are your favorite types of monsters and sub-genres of horror?
I’ve always had a soft spot for Japanese monsters. Nobody imagines a monster quite like the Japanese, from the Godzilla/Gamera films to their most twisted anime’. I’ve also gone through phases with all the Universal classics, and as you might imagine, I find the legendary monsters of cryptozoological lore to be endlessly fascinating. Ultimately, a monster that is or was human is the most interesting.
You’re an avowed fan of kung fu films and martial arts in general, often giving your characters fighting experience. Do you feel it’s possible to combine martial arts and horror and make it work?
The Resident Evil films have done okay with that kind of crossover I think. There are actually a good many examples, but I think it’s a thin line. If you’re protagonist is too powerful or heroic then your villain is not as scary, and scares are priority one. Chuck Norris was in a movie called Silent Rage that worked in starts and stops. It’s the same reason horror comedies generally fail; one or the other, folks. Let’s not try to get too cute.
As a screenwriter, how do you feel when you see great horror books adapted for the screen?
I’d rather see great films adapted as books! It’s asking a lot of people who are hamstrung by budget, by creative input from several conflicting contributors, and by everything from weather to location, to ask them to do justice to a book which is really limited only by imagination. They should all be viewed with that understanding. I say, if it draws attention to a great source material then it’s all good.
Your short Silver Surrogate is so surreal, at times it’s just this side of a nightmare. How hard was it to attain that level of oddness?
As any writer will tell you, most stories seem to just be filtering themselves through you. I felt the best way to maintain some kind of dream-like feel was to not set boundaries, in terms of “this” reality versus that of dreams, or free-form drawing, or what have you. So once the characters started doing things that didn’t necessarily make sense at first glance, I knew I couldn’t fight it. I had to let them play out their sick, irrational schemes and hope none of it spilled over into my mind or this–our, world.
Horror is a genre of ever changing trends. What do you see as the future of horror?
It seems we can always count on a handful of archetypes, all leading back to the unknown. Teens will always go camping, scientists will always play God, humans will always want more than they have at an unimaginable cost. As technology begins to take over our lives I think the future of horror will be based around -not the negative effects of that technology, a la Terminator, but the potential loss of it. Already, every horror film has to create a scenario in which cell phones don’t function or are broken or lost. The long-forgotten Y2K scare might have taught us a lesson about the over-reliance on tech, but instead it only served as a Boy Who Cried Wolf, and we are all the villagers, inured to the alarms that have proven false one too many times. Many of us are over-reliant to the point that I can see mass hysteria taking hold tomorrow if we lose internet service, or the ability to text and thus be forced to engage in terrifying person to person communication.
You’ve taken to posting horror haiku on your facebook and twitter accounts on a regular basis. What is the origin story of that?
The first one came about a few years back when a horror website, Dread Central I believe, ran a contest, the entry requirement of which was to submit a haiku based on the Hellraiser mythos. It came pretty easily, and I enjoyed how the form caused me to attempt to evoke a feeling or even tell a story in such strict structure. I like to believe that in a past life, I was a samurai who was renowned for my ability to tell amazing ghost stories that shivered the bones of even the most hardened battlefield veterans.
You’re a self-described aficionado of dark art. In this age of ebooks, what are your feelings on cover art for horror books?
I confess that I miss the painted covers of the past; even the bad ones. It seems to be easier to compose a cover these days and some, digital or otherwise, are very good, very evocative. My wife, chief of Sekhmet Press has gotten to be quite nimble in coming up with covers and advertising materials, so my hat’s off to her and anyone who can create an eye-catching piece. The cover for Progeny, by Jordan Benoit, is outstanding, and I’m darkly blessed to have his work calling attention to mine.Of course, these days we’re dealing with much smaller images when our potential reader is scanning amazon for their next read. They have to be brighter and perhaps more to the point. It may be true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but that cover still has to present some element of the book’s feel and/or plot to draw in the reader, so I believe it’s something worth fretting over, especially for newer or indie authors. Right behind editing services, a good cover artist is a worthwhile investment.