Saturday, 21 July 2012

20 Questions with August V. Fahren

August V. Fahren is an experienced martial artist, tabletop role-player, video game aficionado, collectible card game super-hero and horror movie buff.

August V. Fahren - The Chuck Norris of Bizarro?

In 2008, bored with the hum-drum of the corporate world, he discovered solace and direction in the form of Carlton Mellick III's 'Satan Burger' and found his calling in the Bizarro-new-weird-slipstream world with his first book 'Vegan Zombie and the Storks'.

1. Fairies, Mannequins, Zombies. Why and how did the weird and wonderful come to be the cornerstone of your work? Well to put it bluntly I became bored with fiction. I always wanted to write, but I just never knew what to put down on the page. When I was younger I enjoyed reading. I remember the first time I cracked open a King book, or a Choose Your Own Adventure book, or even Interstellar Pig. It was joy, pure joy, and I set out to recapture that experience. The weird didn't come until later. It was a happy accident when I discovered that there was a whole genre out dealing with the weird and I decided then and there I was going to be a part of it. I read everything I could get my hands on and got busy writing.

2. Do you mostly write in the morning, daytime or the witching hour? Since I work the graveyard shift I tend to write in the evening and from sun up to sun down on my days off.

3. Name one writer who has been a major influence on your work and why? It’s difficult to narrow it down to just one, but if I had to go with the most recent it is Carlton Mellick III. If it weren't for discovering his book Satan Burger I’d probably still be sitting around my old apartment in Pittsburgh. It showed me that there was a market out there for weird fiction.

4. One book you think everyone should read. I think everyone should read. The Grapes of Wrath. For years I had put off reading it since it was a required reading selection in high school, but it really gives you an idea of what can be done with characters.

5. Do you think genre fiction has finally got the recognition it deserves? Genre fiction will be okay as long as it doesn't take itself too seriously and tells a great story.

6. Zombies – slow or fast and are there room for both? Zombie purists usually don’t consider fast zombies as zombies at all. Of course I’m referencing the 28 Days Later zombies. Personally I think it is a moot point. They can both work. It just depends on what you’re looking for as the horror element in your story. Whether you’re looking for the fear of being overwhelmed with the quick or the impending doom of the shambling horde it makes no difference. What I do think is important is the cannibalistic element of zombies. Cannibalism touches on a very primal fear. My favorite version of the zombie is the I Am Legend zombie-vampire hybrids. Giving them a weakness to sunlight was an excellent twist.

7. Blunt instrument, firearm or blade? Ideally you would want to have a shotgun and a machete for the zombie apocalypse. They are both easy to come by and require the least amount of skill to use.

8. If you could save just one luxury, what would it be? I’d probably save the ability to watch movies.

Mad Mannequins from Hell - Killer Clowns from Outer Space Meets Evil Dead II

9. What do you think is most likely to cause an outbreak of evil automatons? You asked that like it isn't already well on its way. Every year we have outbreaks around Christmas when people cause harm to each other in a mad rush for deeply discounted items at a number of chain stores. Whenever people put things above the welfare of others the evil automatons get a little bit more of our soul. Generally speaking unchecked capitalism is the antithesis to the soul. If you can tell people what they want and get them to believe they must all be the same capitalism thrives. Probably the best example I can think of off the top of my head is when you turn on the radio and hear the same top forty songs across the dial. It creates the illusion of freedom and individuality, but in reality you are only allowed to have one of the identities they have carefully fabricated for you.

So, to answer the question I think the most likely cause is our continued acceptance of other people to telling us what to think, feel, and buy.

10. What is your number one piece of advice for surviving a zombie (or mannequin) apocalypse? One thing almost all of the stories have in common is zombies, or mannequins for that matter, cannot swim. So, I’d suggest stocking up on canned goods and finding a large boat.

11. If you were a character in one of your books, what would be your opening line? I suppose that all depends if I’m in a book I’ve already written. Otherwise I’d say it was just another Saturday. The strange thing is I’ll put a conversation I’ve had with someone, that’s basically verbatim, into one of my books and I’ll get back criticisms of unrealistic prose.

I suppose if we are talking slow zombies here I’d probably say something along the lines of: “Hey, let’s see if we can get him to do the Thriller dance.”

12. How much has music played a part in your work? Music played a huge role in Thursday Thistle as it was integrated into the text. Some people really enjoyed that aspect of the story. Most didn’t. With Mad Mannequins from Hell music played a smaller role. I listened to several horror soundtracks while working on the book. For me music is useful when I’m writing, but is more of a distraction when editing.

Thursday Thistle - Dark, twisted fairy tale steam-punk with zombie bears and robot laser shooting mermaids.

13. If you had to live in a clich├ęd alternate reality would you choose medieval fantasy or futuristic sci-fi? I could never go without indoor plumbing so I’m going to have to go with the futuristic sci-fi setting.

14. If you had a super power, what would it be? I already have a few lame superpowers…I’m immune to poison ivy. I can stop myself from hiccupping whenever I get them, and I have some sort of barometer sensitivity (whenever I get a craving for pudding it’s going to storm). As far as true superpowers go I’d have to pick one of the ones found in a Thomas Ligotti story. I forget the name of the tale, but it had to do with a chemist that injected a woman with a serum, which changed her into his waking dream. As such he had the ability change things around the way you would be able to change things in a dream.

15. Star wars, Star Trek or Sci-Fi curious? Star Wars. Although I prefer Blade Runner or The Matrix as far as sci-fi settings go.

16. Has Gary Gygax (creator of Dungeons & Dragons), and the phenomenon he spawned, influenced you in any way? Gary Gygax is a huge influence. I was a Dungeons & Dragons nerd for a few years running games as the dungeon master. Later I tried Vampire: The Masquerade for a short time. I retired from D&D gaming with as a player campaign that recreated The Dark Tower series. I played a duel classed Thrower-Soulknife to get as close to a gunslinger as I could manage for that one.

Anyway, I feel the game did wonders in allowing my imagination to open up and teaching me to tell a compelling story. You knew in real time if your story was flat or too detailed. The players would not shy away from telling you that something sucked to your face. Usually when something wasn't working you had to act on it in real time and even rewrite large sections of the adventure in your head. In a way it prepared me for the editing process. Sometimes your players never went for a plot hook and made an entire section of your world go unused. Maybe you spent three hours working out that section, but you dealt with it and the game continued. Same thing when large chunks get edited out of your book for whatever reason. You just deal with it and move on.

17. Do you see the influx in zombies in entertainment as good thing and do you think we are headed the right way for the genre? I lived in Pittsburgh for a long time so I’ve got zombies in the blood. I think regular zombies have about three more years left in the mainstream. However, that’s not to say they will go away or even become less popular. That core diehard fans will always be there. What it is going to come down to if zombies are going to keep going is competent writing, strong characters, and a fresh twist on the zombies that keep popping up.

18. Dead Island, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty Zombies or ‘They just haven’t made one quite right yet’? When it comes to videogame zombies I think it is more of an issue of keeping things from becoming redundant than it is coming up with the perfect zombie. However, I do like the idea of the bile/acid spewing zombies. Exploding zombies are cool as are the zombies that give off some sort of attractant.

I still remember playing the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil II. Great games. The survival aspect and the atmosphere are what I really enjoyed about those games. At the moment I think there are too many run and gun games and as such the industry has limited itself.

19. Do you have a guilty pleasure you are willing to share? An interest completely unrelated to the genre? This past year I’ve found myself watching the complete collection of the cartoon Daria and old episodes of Adult Swim. I know I’m a guy so I’m not supposed to dig a show like Daria, but I love it more than I can even understand.

20. What’s next for August V. Fahren? For my next project I’ve narrowed it down to either a dark carnival book or a Tesla inspired romantic-horror story. It’ll be interesting.

August's latest book Mad Mannequins from Hell is available for download now.

Find out more and follow August at Want Weird Books.

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