M.F. Today I would love to welcome Alan Spencer, author of the brilliantly named, 'Zombies and Power Tools! Lets talk about the most important thing: your books. Give us a brief description of the novel you want to talk about today.
A.S. As of now, I'm working on putting out a book on my own. It'll be called "Cider Mill Vampires." Just imagine a friendly cider mill in Kansas hijacked by vampires who use the apple presses to press people of blood. This one's very brutal, sexual, and there's humor in it as well. There's something for everyone!
M.F. Is writing something you've recently got into, or have you been writing for ages?
I do remember dabbling with writing as a kid, writing in Steno notebooks. I remember one story involving a fast food joint and a manager who was a serial killer. I think I wrote it in the fourth grade. It's probably a good thing it didn't see the light of day, or else I would've been sent to the principal's office. It was harmless fun for me, though others may not see it that way.
M.F. What do you make of the changes in the industry, with so many people going "indie"?
A.S. I can't blame a writer for seriously considering putting their own work out there. I've had a few close calls with bigger publishers, and I end up feeling jerked around. I'd wait 6-8 months to hear back from sending only three chapters, then be asked to send the entire manuscript, and wait about a year, and finally hear back, and they say no. That's a year and a half of my life gone. Sure, it's the business when you're a small fry. I understand that. But lately, it feels the industry is at a halt. Books aren't selling the way they used to sell, so publishers aren't taking on as many newer writers as they might've in the past. Kindle is becoming a competitor for readers' attention, though results vary from author to author what kind of turnaround they get.
My opinion is if you put out something independent, it's up to the author to create the best product they can. Don't use self-publishing as an excuse for half-assed editing and covers that look like a child created them. Self-publishing could use a dose of quality control, so it's up to the author to set themselves a part from the crop of other independents. As I'm working on "Cider Mill Vampires," I have to put myself in the readers' shoes and ask myself "Would I buy that?"
M.F. Great answer, Alan. I totally agree with you. So who is your greatest influence when it comes to writing?
A.S. From a genre standpoint, I really enjoy Joe R. Lansdale, Edward Lee, Tom Piccirilli, Jack Ketchum, T.M. Wright, and Gord Rollo. They're all great suspense and horror writers. But I also really enjoy Joyce Carol Oates. She's a mix of dark fiction and literary. I feel her writing bleeds into mine, and I'm bettered for it.
M.F. When you write, is there anyone you're writing for?
A.S. I started writing books because of my love for everything horror, especially books and movies. I emulate what I enjoy, so I write for the people who'll read it.
M.F. Lol. That makes sense! What sort of books do you read yourself?
A.S. I mentioned the authors I really enjoy above, but I don't limit myself to horror fiction. You'd be surprised how much darkness there is in literary fiction. I enjoy anything that's psychological, that pits their characters in situations they don't normally confront in life. I think the perfect book is a mix of literary fiction and horror.
M.F. Brilliant. Now for some more abstract questions! If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
A.S. I've really enjoyed the Hap and Leonard books by Joe R. Lansdale, so I'd be Hap. I could be solving a mystery or getting caught in a gunfight or picking up women. Hap's a fun bad ass. I guess I'd like to be a fun bad ass too.
M.F. If aliens landed in front of you and offered you anything you wanted, what would it be?
A.S. I'd want them to create some device that allows people to get over themselves. What I mean is for people to be polite, patient, and consider each other as important as the next person. Perhaps that's the lame answer. Here's a different answer. I'd ask the aliens to give me every horror movie ever made in the history of horror movies. And a cool place to watch them all in, like a little home movie theatre that would put Charlie Sheen's to shame. I'd add a great concession stand with popcorn and a soda fountain, and I've invite all kind of people to see movies like "Pieces" and "Killer Clowns from Outer Space." That'd be great fun.
M.F. That sounds like fun! Tell us something quirky/interesting that people probably don't know about you.
A.S. I'm an operations manager at a doggy day care. I was a zombie extra in "Zombie Bloodbath 3." I really enjoy reading in the bath tub. Every Wednesday night is horror movie night. Have I said enough weird things yet? That's probably enough for now.