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Interview: August Fahren

Recently, TheGOREScore.com had an opportunity to pick the brain of author August Fahren.  Below are the results – read on, if you dare!

AUTHOR BIO: August V. Fahren is the author of highly entertaining and weird (i.e. Bizarro) fantasy and horror stories. Often these quirky and strangely compelling tales are described by their contrasting elements such as sweet and demented or hilarious and horrifying. August is a personality collector of the highest caliber, an avid traveler, and is hopelessly addicted to movies.

AUGUST’S WEBSITE: http://www.wantweirdbooks.com/

AUGUST ON FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/august.v.fahren

AUGUST ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/AugustVFahren

THEGORESCORE.com: Please give us the best choose-your-own adventure introduction/overview of yourself.

AUGUST: Did you just see that? Did you? Oh God! What is that? What? No, stop filming. [Outside something explodes and from the window you can see a giant monster is ripping into a building.]

Do you:

  1. Try to get a better look at the monster from the rooftop?
  2. Keep filming to get everyone’s reactions?
  3. Head for the street and try to make your way through the chaos to your girlfriend’s apartment?

 Sorry, I just watched Cloverfield. Good movie.  I enjoy laughing, long walks on the beach, and cuddling by the fire…Okay, okay, I’ll stop.

THEGORESCORE.com: What exciting projects are you currently working on?

Image courtesy of a random Google Image search. (via DeviantArt user xdragonladyx)

Image courtesy of a random Google Image search. (via DeviantArt user xdragonladyx)

AUGUST: I’m currently working on the final draft of a book about a vegan zombie and a roller derby team. They join forces to investigate a paranormal adoption agency. Sort of like a punk rock Scooby-Doo for adults.

THEGORESCORE.com: What was it that first got you interested in writing?

AUGUST: Honestly I don’t remember. Maybe it was running out of pages in my coloring books? Maybe it was my desire to create my own Commodore Amiga video game? Or perhaps it was 80’s fantasy movies, horror movies, and B-movies in general that sparked my interest? Whatever the reason it wasn’t until I entered a writing competition my school was holding that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was in the sixth grade. After I won the best author and best co-author categories I realized this is something that I might be able to do someday.

THEGORESCORE.com: Here it is, the $100 question: why are zombies so damn popular?

AUGUST: Zombies are a malleable metaphor. They can fill just about any role you need them to fill. The thought of your loved ones coming back from the grave touches us on a primal level. Even more so when you know the zombies are interested in eating you alive. That’s scary stuff!

As for why zombies are as popular as they are at the moment, I have a few theories. See, I lived in Pittsburgh for a sizable chunk of my adult life, and despite it being ground zero for zombies, they weren’t always as popular as they are now. Back then, having an interest in zombies got you lumped into the “gore horror” group. Even so, it was more likely that you heard about the slasher films, not zombies. A lot of that probably had to do with Tom Savini being involved with both types of film.

Personally, I believe the popularity of the modern zombie took hold because it covered several types of media around the same time. Resident Evil came out in the 1996, which was a time Japan had just gone through several years of economic and political chaos. Overworked and faced with plummeting birthrates, it is easy to see how the idea of the living dead could occur to the game makers. Then 28 Days Later came out in 2002 and infused the sub-genre with new life. The next year “The Zombie Survival Guide” came out, followed in 2004 by Shaun of the Dead, which showed the masses zombies could be funny. This continual challenge to our idea of what zombies could be collectively ignited our creativity. In 2006 zombies took another jump into the collective consciousness with one of the first large-scale zombie walks at the Monroeville Mall just outside of Pittsburgh, which zombie diehard fans know as the location of the original Dawn of the Dead. Suddenly the zombie was an activity to be shared communally. Around this same time technology was improving our ability to share information quickly. This helped to snowball what was a relatively small group of hardcore fans into what we see today.

Zombies changed again, splitting off into three main groups. The first group is the more traditional fans that like slow moving zombies and overwhelming dread. The next group is composed of people who enjoy the innovation that came with the modern zombie. They are driven by thinking of new ways to approach the concept. And the last group is the apocalypse junkies who fantasize about testing their survival skills and being able to shoot whomever they don’t like. After all, zombies aren’t people anymore. With a shaky economy it is easy to imagine the collapse of society where you live by your own laws and all your problems can be solved with a bullet. It certainly has an allure to it and in a sense the enduring popularity of the zombie can almost be thought of as the new Westerns.

2006 Zombie Walk in Pittsburgh, PA

2006 Zombie Walk in Pittsburgh, PA

THEGORESCORE.com: What are some well-done novels/anthologies/short stories/articles written by other authors that you’ve enjoyed recently?

AUGUST: I really enjoy anything Thomas Ligotti writes. I also enjoy almost anything Carlton Mellick III writes. “All-Monster Action” by Cody Goodfellow was great. “A Town Called Suckhole” by David W. Barbee is a wonderful book set in a post-apocalyptic Dixie. It’s a little bit like a Southern fried version of Idiocracy. I’ve also read a lot of Brian Keene, Eric S. Brown, and David Dunwoody lately. Not to mention several graphic novels and a few of the classics I’ve missed along the way.

THEGORESCORE.com: If you could write a tale about any object or character, fictional or real-life, and not have to worry about pesky things like copyright infringement, the truth, cold hard facts, or pretty much anything else that might get you sued, who/what would you write about, and why?

AUGUST: I’d probably write about teaming up with Dr. Herbert West and an undead Ray Bradbury. We would run a fantasy camp (i.e. a holodeck game show) for authors to see if they would be able to survive their own creations. That way you have both an entertaining immersion into their worlds and a place to watch authors getting their comeuppance.

THEGORESCORE.com: What are some of the most challenging struggles you think writers face these days?

AUGUST: With such a large upheaval going on in the publishing industry I think it puts writers in a bit of a bind if they are interested in traditional publishing. Doing more for advances that are a fraction of what they were in the old days seems to be the norm. Not to mention with so few big houses publishing newer writers those writers may be tempted to turn out mediocre books with mass appeal.

 As far as independent and small press writers are concerned I think the biggest challenge they face is getting discovered in such a crowded marketplace. As things continue to shakeout and settle down I think there is also a worry that the new technology will lead to widespread pirating. Other concerns have to do with the marketing techniques and tricks employed to sell more mediocre or sub par work. With some authors in this new era it is almost like they think of the book as just another product and care little for quality.

THEGORESCORE.com: Looking back on your writing career, what is the one thing you wish someone would have told you when you first began?

AUGUST: Grow a thick skin. With all the rejections, the skyrocketing and plummeting sales, the uncertainty, the wonderful reviews, and the appreciative readers it is enough to make you feel like you’re mentally ill. And perhaps you are for wanting to work in such a difficult industry where financial success for most amounts to a middle-class wage. But at the end of the day being able to make readers a little happier is all worth it.

THEGORESCORE.com: Do you have an all-time favorite book?  Movie?  Music album or band?  What makes this/them so special to you?

Hellbilly_DeluxeAUGUST: All-time favorite book would be…nope, can’t pick just one. All-time favorite album has to be Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe. A bit of a strange pick for me since I don’t typically enjoy a lot of heavy metal, but there is just something about the pairing of metal and horror themes that I love.

THEGORESCORE.com: Do you attend conventions or book signings/appearances?  Do you think these events hold value for authors to participate in, and why/why not?

AUGUST: I don’t attend conventions. At some point in the future that will probably change. Book signings are a thing of the past. I think these events bring value up to a point. However, some authors are abrasive, socially inept, and hold unpopular opinions. Everyone doesn’t have to be a social butterfly. You don’t have to be best friends with your favorite author to enjoy their work. What’s that quote? You should never meet your heroes.

THEGORESCORE.com: This is a topic of great debate: do you listen to music when you write?  If so, what types/genres/artists do you find yourself gravitating to?

AUGUST: Sometime I listen to music when I write. I’ll even create a soundtrack to write to while I’m working if the mood strikes me. Other times music is too distracting. Most of the time it is a moot point since I write the first draft in my head while pacing all over the house. Lately I’ve been listening to Clint Mansell. You can do anything listening to Lux Aeterna and suddenly it is the most amazing thing you have ever done.

THEGORESCORE.com: What do you think is one of the biggest mistakes that writers might make when they are first starting out?

AUGUST: I think one of the biggest mistakes writers make when they are just starting out is they don’t think beyond getting the book finished. Marketing, audience, branding, editing, and a million other things need to be taken into consideration when writing a book. Just because you’ve written it doesn’t mean it is going to fly off the shelves. Today you have to be prepared to wear all the hats to make your book successful. Another mistake beginning writers make is when they romanticize the craft and wait until inspiration strikes. It’s a job and a skill set. To get better you have to put in the time.

A third mistake I see a lot of writers make is letting things like fear and doubt control them. Often you will see the use of an impressive vocabulary, a fear of clichés, and a slavish devotion to writing dogma. A robust vocabulary can take the reader out of the story. Awkward phrasing calls attention to itself. Refusal to break from dogma can destroy your writing. Your job as a writer is to convey your story as clearly and directly as your ability allows. That’s it. Finally a mistake I see writers of all levels making is responding negatively to their critics and reviewers. People are entitled to their opinions. You can’t make everybody happy and to try and do so is a sure route to failure.

THEGORESCORE.com: Is there anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t already discussed?  The world is your stage – nothing is too much here!

AUGUST: Nope. I think we covered it!

Because we are big fans of interactivity here on the site, we gave August the opportunity to “flip the switch” and interview TheGOREScore.com creator Tony Schaab with a few questions of August’s choosing:

AUGUST: Runners, shambling, or other? What flavor of zombie do you most enjoy reading/watching? Why?

TONY: I’m an equal-opportunity zombie lover.  That may have come out wrong… but my point is, I have an appreciation for the different types of zombies that have been created over the years.  While I respect the opinion of those that call themselves “purists” and have an odd amount of animosity for anything that isn’t a shambling zombie, their main argument that non-shambling zombies aren’t the “original” type of zombie, to which I would simply remind everyone that the term “zombie” actually originated in the Haitian voodoo culture, so technically anything other than a voodoo zombie – including the Romero shamblers we’ve come to know and love – technically are “knock-offs.” 🙂

AUGUST: How long do you think the mass media and popular culture will embrace the zombie?

TONY: I think that we are in a spot where there will always be some amount of love and respect for the undead and their tales.  Just as Dracula and the vampires have been around in written tales and the entertainment realm since the 1800s, so too have zombies existed as a form of entertainment for quite some time.  As with any monster or horror trope, the popularity of the undead will inevitably wax and wane, but hopefully the recent “zombie renaissance” will keep our necrotic friends in the spotlight for at least a little while longer!

AUGUST: What are your favorite horror books and/or movies?

fahrenheit-451TONY: First and foremost, I’m not sure I ever would have had an interest in writing if I had never read H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine; that work spoke to me on many levels.  Like many horror fans of today, I grew up reading a lot of Stephen King and Ray Bradbury – I especially enjoyed how Bradbury often blurred the lines between science fiction and horror in many of his works, Fahrenheit 451 being a personal favorite.  I’m somewhat the same with my movies, as Alien films and more recently Event Horizon are excellent examples of sci-fi/horror genre blending.  Although I’m sure I watched movies that featured zombies prior to, it was my first viewing of Night of the Living Dead as a teenager that helped me fall in love with the walking dead.  See, that came out wrong, too… I’m just going to have to start censoring my appreciation for our genre a little more, I guess!

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