I’m very pleased to introduce Will Millar, whose INFERNAL MACHINES we will be publishing in August. You can see Will’s profile here or read about INFERNAL MACHINES here (and you can even sign up to be notified when the book is released).
Tell readers a bit about Infernal Machines
Oddly enough, I started out writing a story about a mall that eats people and ended up with something entirely different. The process from starting a book to its completion I think is different for every person, for every individual project they do. Infernal Machines is actually the 2nd book I’ve written, and when I set out to do it, I had a very simple idea about kids vs. “evil”, in whatever form it chooses to manifest itself. I currently live in Phoenix, but my oldest son lives in Western Washington, where this story takes place. On the outset of working on this book, it was originally set in a small Arizona town, but something about the whole story felt off. When I was visiting my son a couple of years ago, I got to reconnecting with my old stomping grounds, and then on the day I was leaving, while I was waiting at Seatac airport, in fact, I got an idea for changing the story setting from AZ to WA. From that point on, it was like getting hit by a lightning bolt. I got rid of the mall angle and worked on creating an entire sea-side tourist trap, and instead of this evil real estate developer I’d been building up, I came up with a set of more ambiguous characters in the forms of Markheim and Arthur Cardiff. One of my favorite literary characters in the world is Treasure Island’s Long John Silver. I loved the fact that you could never quite tell if he was actually a decent guy until almost the very end of the story, and I really wanted to do something like that with this story, as well.
Your novel is set in the 1980′s, and, appropriately, it feels like a book that belongs in the booming horror era of the ’80′s. What do you think about the health of traditional horror right now?
I think there’s some really great stuff going on out there – but a lot of it’s happening away from the mainstream, which is nothing new for a genre that’s always been a bit countercultural. Take the new e-publishing phenomena. It’s allowing a whole crop of writers to get their stuff out in a way that was impossible 10 years ago. Guys like David Moody, Rebecca Hamilton, Dave Wellington, Jason Pargin (AKA David Wong) and many others have put out amazing works of fiction that have reached millions of people without going through a publishing house. It kind of reminds me of how in the early 70’s you had Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper create horror movies that have gone on to become legendary, while basically shooting in their backyards on a shoe string budget.
You alone on an island–name your book, CD, movie, meal, and adult beverage.
Damn – I only get one book? If I only get one it would have to be Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, although that’s really a tough one to call. The CD would be something by Clutch, either Blast Tyrant or one of their live albums. My one movie would be Vertigo. The food/beverage thing is pretty easy, I already just about live on a diet of flank steak and Boddington’s Ale, I honestly don’t know I’d even notice if that’s all I got to eat from now on.
According to your bio, you raised some hell in your youth. Do you see Paulie or Stoner (characters in IM) as a reflection of who you were back then, and, assuming the statute of limitations has run out, what kind of hell did you raise?
(Laughs) I definitely see writing this story as a kind of way of saying to my kids “When I was your age…”, only taken to a ridiculous level. Commack, NY, the town I grew up in, is in a lot of ways similar to Chapel Harbor, minus the serial killer/supernatural stuff. It was heavily wooded; there were hundreds of acres of woods literally right behind my back yards that belonged to the Long Island Lighting Co., and all of these dirt bike trails, sumps, and even a couple of abandoned cemeteries that must have been a hundred years old. As for the hell-raising bit–yeah, I did my fair share. I was kind of a misfit, and a lot of the stuff described in the book; building a gun that shoots potatoes and homemade bombs and stuff, well let’s just say that I had a pretty substantial working knowledge going into the book and just leave it there.
What makes the horror genre unique is the prevalence of horror on film (we don’t see that as much in, say, fantasy). What affect, if any, do you think horror films have had on your work
Huge – I’d have to say you could make a fair argument for a 50/50 split between films and books, influence-wise. I think one horror film in particular has been the greatest influence on not only my work, but my psyche as well, and that would be Tobe Hooper’s 1979 made for TV version of Salem’s Lot. I saw it when I was probably 5 or 6 years old, and the fucking thing warped my tender child-brain. I remember doing things like taping crucifixes made out of straw to my bedroom window, and I had this 4’ long stuffed animal snake that I used to wrap around my neck before I went to sleep as some kind of vampire fang-shield. It’s a miracle I didn’t strangle myself. Anyway, once I saw that I was done for. I knew pretty much from then on I was going to try to scare the crap out of people when I grew up, and hopefully with Infernal Machines, I’ll succeed.