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IMMORTAL WORDS: Michael West


Interview with Michael West, in regards to titles for Ambrotos Press, the forthcoming Dark Quest Books Horror Imprint.

 

How did you get into writing horror?

I don't think I ever really made a conscious decision. I’ve always been a storyteller, and I’ve loved Horror as long as I can remember.  I used to trick babysitters into letting me stay up late to watch Night Gallery episodes and Hammer films.  I’d collect toys based on the classic Universal monsters.  In the eighties, when a new horror film opened, I was always first in line.  Even when I wrote scripts for Educational Television, I found ways to sneak in horror themes.  I pitched a program called Teen Terrors—a look at the stress, fears, and anxieties that all teenagers must face—and filmed host segments in graveyards and the torture chambers of local haunted houses. It was only natural that, when I finally put pen to paper to write prose, the result would be horrific.

What would you say is the overall tone of your horror fiction? Is it more like the hack-and-slash variety, or the psychological mind-rending?

I aim for the psychologically disturbing or just plain creepy, but I’m not afraid to hack and slash. My work tends to be very atmospheric, visual as well as visceral. Perhaps it is my film and television background, but the story plays out as a movie in my head, and I want the reader to feel like they’re experiencing that same film as much as possible.

Do you approach horror short fiction any different than your novels?

They’re entirely different skill sets. In a short story, you have to develop a character and then get your point across very quickly. In a novel, you have more time to explore a situation and find out just what makes your characters tick.   In both cases, however, I have to have an ending in mind. Now, that ending may change a half dozen times by the time I get there, but I have to have that goal to work toward.

What scared you most as a child and do you ever incorporate similar frights in your fiction today?

As a child, it was the dark, the unknown, and the thought of being eaten alive by monsters both real and imagined.   Now, as an adult, the major fear I have is that something horrible will happen to someone I love. As an author, I draw from those early, childish fears and ground them in reality by merging them with my adult fear. And I think that’s what readers empathize with. As much as you might fear getting trapped in the dark, facing the unknown, or being devoured, how much more frightening would it be to picture your wife or child in that same situation?

What would readers say is your best book, and why?

The Wide Game (http://www.bymichaelwest.com/the-wide-game-2011). Readers really develop a connection to those characters; they feel like they know them, which makes what happens in the novel all the more terrifying. I don't care what genre you're working in, if the reader isn't emotionally invested in the people in your story, they're not going to read it. In my opinion, that's why a lot of movies made from horror novels fail. The filmmakers concentrate on the "Big Bad" alien, demon, what-have-you, and the characters get short shrift. When you really care about the people in a story, you get lost in the narrative and you feel things on a very visceral level. That's the type of connection I strive for in my own writing.

Please tell us a little bit about your forthcoming title for Ambrotos Press?

Vampires Don’t Sparkle! is for all those horror fans who have lamented that “Twilight ruined vampires

Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

Readers can find out more about me and my various projects via my website, by Michael West.com (http://www.bymichaelwest.com) , or by “liking” me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Michael-West/140201419360946) and following me on Twitter (www.twitter.com/bymichaelwest). 


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