Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

Sugarplum zombie motherfuckers cover

Sabitha: Tim Lieder is an expert in the weird and scary, as well as a good friend and great author. Today he’s here to talk about his collection of his Christmas themed horror stories, Sugarplum Zombie Motherfuckers. Tim, can you tell us a bit about this book?

Tim: There are three short stories in this book. The Xmas Video was a story about zombie porn that was directly inspired by Michael Hemmingson’s “Hardboiled Stiff” which I had published in Badass Horror. “Santa Claus Dies” was the kind of story I used to love when I first edited anthologies, the kind of hard-drinking loser stories that filled up Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre.

Sabitha: What made you decide to self publish Sugarplum Zombie Motherfuckers?

Tim: The reason why I chose to self-publish was because of “The Man in the Red Suit”. This story was originally inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman”, particularly the beginning when the narrator talks about his father telling him horrifying stories about a Sandman who steals children’s eyes. I had written one story in this vein and it amused me to write another one, only to make it about Santa Claus, whose mouth stunk of spoiled milk and sucked the life out of reindeer to make them fly. The second inspiration for “The Man in the Red Suit” was the Serbian genocide and the banality of evil. For some reason, I was having trouble selling it to the better horror magazines.

Sabitha: We have a lot of writers in our community. What’s your writing process?

Tim: I revise, give up, dig up an old story, try to revise that one. Sometimes I rip pages out of a public domain book of classic literature and steal phrases. If I’m getting confused about a story, I go back and revise it again to remember who is doing what. If I really hate an old story, I replace every “t” with a “g” and then run an autocorrect. Then I see what can come out of that. Basically, I am never going to give a word count because a productive day might involve getting rid of 1200 words as much as it would involve typing 320 words.

Sabitha: Do you have a “fan-cast” – do you have actors you’d cast as your main characters?

Tim: My favorite story in this collection is about a girl who grows up hearing horror stories about Santa Claus and when she’s an adult, joins a Serbian militia and helps to commit genocide. I’m not sure anyone would want to adapt it.

Sabitha: What book do you tell all your friends to read? 

Tim: There are a lot of books that I tell my friends to read, but I am China by Xiaolu Guo is a beautiful work about expatriates, world politics and the ways that privilege informs political stances. I also love everything I read by Junji Ito. He’s either the scariest or the funniest manga artist working today, depending on your mood.

Sabitha: Does the location the story takes place mean something to you or to the work?

Tim: “The Xmas Video” takes place in an apartment in the 1980s and the college is the University of Minnesota. “The Man in the Red Suit” takes place in 1990s Bosnia where militias were murdering Muslims while the rest of the world ignored the genocide. I’m obsessed with the ways that humanity can justify and ignore its atrocities. Whether Florida is trying to censor all African-American studies or Poland criminalizing suggestions that it was in any way complicit in the Holocaust, we love to forget just how evil we are. In the case of the Serbian (and Rwandan) genocides, America didn’t even have to forget. Americans were too busy paying attention to Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan to bother about mass graves. Even today, the main takeaway from Bosnia is that it’s just another reason to hate Tony Blair for his interventionist policies.

Sabitha: These stories sound like they draw on some of the richest traditions of horror, where the greatest threat isn’t the monster outside the walls, it’s the monster within our hearts. Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?

Tim: You can find me on Tumblr, Dreamwidth, and Facebook. If you want to read Sugarplum Zombie Motherfuckers, you can find the e-book here and audiobook here, or look wherever books are sold online.

Book Report Corner

by Zilla N.

The Things We Couldn’t Save by Nicole Bea is a book about me in high school. This is what it felt like to fall in love the first time, and then what it felt like to fall out of love again. This is what it felt like to have a best friend who was more precious to me than air but to know that time was pulling us apart, that we were going different directions and turning into different people, and that our friendship might not survive.

This is me, the good girl, trying to be cool by drinking – but puking in front of the people I was trying to impress. Trying to figure out who I was by making a lot of mistakes and only realizing afterwards that I wasn’t the kind of person who did *that*. If you, like me, tried in high school to be cooler than the dork you actually were (and still are!), this book might be about you too.

Nicole is a masterful writer. I’ve read it twice and I teared up both times. I want to give Clarke a hug. I want to give my teenage self – all our teenage selves – hugs too.

You can find it here.

Query Pre-Order Countdown: 0 day

an environmental activist / aspiring writer’s query letters get increasingly unhinged as the rejections pile up

City planner by day, tired climate activist by day off, aspiring writer Zilla Novikov’s query letters quickly devolve into a darkly funny exploration of her own psyche. As the rejections pile up, her novel blurbs and biographies grow increasingly unhinged, while Zilla discovers that the road to bestseller-dom is paved with neoliberal hellscapes.

The stunning cover of this satirical novella is finally revealed! Many thanks to the inimitable Rachel A. Rosen for this work of sheer art.

Want an e-book? Want a print book? Want a special edition palm-sized A6 paperback with an exclusive cover too risque for Amazon, delivered in a care package full of rejection-themed swag and other unexpected items? Get ’em all here.

Behind the Screens: Tuesday Author Interview

Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.

Zombies Wha Hae cover

Sabitha: Today we’ll talk to Iain C.M. Gray about his British zombie apocalypse novel, Zombies Wha Hae, and his short story collection, The Ruined Road. Iain, can you introduce us to your books?

Iain: I am the author of a collection of short stories, The Ruined Road, which is an eclectic mix of styles and genres, covering a variety of topics from anthropophagy to Mormons, prostitution to fratricide and all sorts in between. I have also written a zombie book, called Zombies Wha Hae.

Sabitha: Does the location the story takes place mean something to you or to the work?

Iain: Zombies Wha Hae is set in my original hometown of Greenock. The book follows the fate of a variety of random Greenockians who happen to find themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. There are scenes of drug addiction, alcoholism, and domestic and sectarian violence; just another Friday night in Greenock (forgive me my flippancy, please, I do know these are serious issues, and I hope I deal with them with sensitivity and some humour).

Sabitha: What inspires you to write?

Iain: I have always been happier when I am involved in doing something creative. I used to be a musician, busking on London underground. But I had let my creative side be shelved by real life, work, family etc. I was inspired to rededicate some time to creative pursuits after reading Lonely Boy, the autobiography of Steve Jones (guitarist, founder member and joint songwriter from The Sex Pistols). There is a paragraph in the book where he talks about what motivates him to create, and he came to the conclusion that purely by being in a creative process, he is a happier person. This was a light bulb moment for me, and I have been writing ever since.

Sabitha: We have a lot of writers in our community. What’s your writing process?

Iain: Even though I do say so myself, I am very well read, and I have always had a love of books, and the written word. So my style, and choice of material is varied. I won’t be tied down to any particular genre or style. My influences are too many to mention. I squeeze in my writing in-between work and family duties, so I write wherever and whenever I can.

Sabitha: How did you choose the title?

Iain: I wrote Zombies Wha Hae first. My original idea was to write it in the style of a Russian classic. So it was originally titled, If Tolstoy Did Scottish Zombies. I still like this. But half-way through, the madness of this idea gradually dawned on me, and I realised that 500K words was probably beyond me. I was inspired to name it after Robert Burns poem/song Scots Wha Hae while I was listening to Canadian Celtic Punks sing a rousing version of it. I am equally as fond of this title as I was with the Tolstoy one.

Sabitha: Thanks for sharing your story and your process. We’re looking forward to reading! Where can the Night Beats community find you and your book?

Iain: Here’s the UK link to Zombies Wha Hae on the UK Amazon Website, I am self-published, and Amazon is just by far the biggest market, forgive my blatant lack of ethics. If you are interested in my short story collection, here is the UK link for it. If you want to hear more about me or my influences, you can check out my website.

Query Pre-Order Countdown: 1 day

Query Title Page

When a beggar reveals himself as a wishgranter, the novelist is taken by surprise. Should she ask to receive something? Or something else? Or should she request permission to reveal her boundary-breaking resistance-art to the world? Working in five genres and eighteen sacred modes of persistence, Zilla Novikov submits her third wish. Perfect for your list; instantly familiar; a triumph of optimism. We’ve all queried, but until now, only the angels of Chelm heard us. Novikov’s derring-do opens the gates. Now the world will know.

–Tucker Lieberman, Most Famous Short Film of All Time

Query Pre-Order Countdown: 2 days

Query Title Page

If you’ve ever tried to publish anything, the impersonal form rejections and the unending grind of trying to get someone, anyone, to take a chance on you, will be familiar. If you’ve ever tried to make a genuine difference in your job, if you’ve ever felt small and hopeless in the face of late-stage capitalism, that aspect of the novel will feel familiar too. This book is a scathing satire with genuine passion and heart at its core. Come for the wit and the blackout poetry, stay for the actual inspiration to fight the good fight.

–Rachel A. Rosen, Cascade