Monday, October 14, 2013

20 Questions for Horror Authors: Max Booth III

Max Booth III is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. His story collection,They Might Be Demons, is now available through Dark Moon Books. Look for his debut novel, Toxicity, this Spring from Post Mortem Press. He lives in San Antonio, TX with his life partner and dachshund. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth and visit him at

1. What do you think makes a good story?

MB: Hi Cassie. Thank you for having me.

I think a good story is something that hooks you from the beginning, and stays with you long after finishing the last sentence. It challenges the way you think and inspires some kind of emotion.

You have to keep in mind that not all good stories will appear as “good” to every reader. We all have our own preferences. What I might like in a story could be the opposite of what someone else might like. It’s all very suggestive.

However, with that said, there are a few important factors that can help make every story “good”: it’s written well, there’s no spelling errors, the characters are realistic, and the story offers something new. Excessive typos and cardboard characters will ruin a story every time.

2. What do you think makes a character a compelling villain or hero?

MB: The most compelling villains and heroes are those who are influenced by motives that the reader can relate to. The best villains are those who don’t think of themselves as villains, but as heroes.

3. What did you learn from writing your book that you think would help other writers out there with their craft?

MB: The most important thing I learned writing my first book would be that there is a reason they call it a “first draft”. Your book is never quite done when you think it is. It will go through multiple edits and (sometimes) complete rewrites. A novel is not something you write in one go and then send off to the publishers. It is something you raise and nurture until it’s a functioning adult ready to take on the world.

4. Are there any horror books that have influenced your life? If so, what are they?

MB: Many, actually. John Dies at the End by David Wong gave me the confidence to add humor in my horror. Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door taught me not to look away. House of Leaves showed me that there was more ways than just one to write a book. Song of Kali by Dan Simmons is always a great reminder that research is very important.

5. What is the scariest book you ever read, and what was your reaction to it? 

MB: Probably Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. I had already read about the story of Sylvia Likens before reading the novel, and knew what to expect before even turning to the first page. Still, I in no way could have prepared myself for what followed. My reaction? Physical illness. Disgust. It made me sick to my stomach. But hell, can that man write.

6. Do you think that writing will be a long-term career goal for you?

MB: I’ve been writing for many years now and have only within the last few years started to get published. My debut novel comes out next spring with a second novel coming out in the fall. I believe my career is only just really beginning and I hope it lasts long after I am dead.

7. Who is your favorite author, and what have you taken away from their books?

MB: Christopher Moore, hands down. Read any of his works and you’ll be reminded that books are supposed to be fun.

8. While this may seem like a given to some people, others may be wondering, why write horror? 

MB: I am attracted to dark fiction; the truly screwed up. I find this kind of writing to be the most emotional of any other kind, and if done right, it is always quite the experience from beginning to end. I don’t always write horror, but I can say, regardless of genre, all of my stories tend to be dark in nature. I want to exercise my characters’ brains and willpower. I want to make them bleed and I want to give them a reason to feel significant.

9. What is it that attracts you to the macabre?

MB: Horror and the macabre are the best genres to explore the motives of those thrown into desperate situations. The reactions and actions of those individuals will forever fascinate me.

10. Halloween is just around the corner. Have you ever had any interesting/spooky/fun experiences during the best holiday of the year that you'd like to share with your readers?

MB: There was this one Halloween where I sat out on the porch and handed candy to children. It was pretty frightening. Seriously.

11. What is the one thing that scares you the most?

MB: Mental illness. I am currently reading various books about schizophrenia to research my current novel, and it is just terrifying. The idea that your brain could just stop functioning properly scares the crap out of me.

12. How were you introduced to the horror genre? 

MB: My brothers used to watch all those cheesy slasher flicks when I was a little kid, so naturally I would watch with them. I quickly grew a love for all things horror. Then once I became interested in books, I started getting the Goosebumps series at the library and I would just devour them one by one. This progressed into Stephen King, and so on.

13. What is your favorite horror movie? (If you're anything like me, you're bound to have more than one)

MB: Oh, man. There’s a lot to choose from. If I had to pick only one I would say John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness. One of the best psychological horror films I’ve ever seen.

14. Do you use childhood experiences and your own nightmares as inspiration? Have you ever used some of your own personal phobias in your writing? 

MB: I think any horror author incorporates their own phobias in their writing. It’s only natural. For example, the book I’m writing now is about schizophrenia. As I’ve already mentioned, I am terrified of mental illness. Brain disorders are absolutely terrifying. I am using my fear to write the best damn horror novel I can. If I am afraid, then odds are, I will successfully be able to make my readers afraid, as well.

15. Does your creative process, the one where you originally come up with the concept for a horror story, involve daydreaming, brainstorming, ripping stories from headlines, research into legends and myths, or just using plain old terrific fantasies that you've had?

MB: Stories are often the result of a single, random thought or daydream. Novels, on the other hand, are the result of a hundred tiny ideas merging together. I think any written piece involves some kind of brainstorming.

16. What is one thing that you'd like people to know about horror writers?

MB: That we hate it when you say “oh, like Stephen King” after you tell them you write horror.

17. What got you interested in writing, and how long have you been doing it?

MB: When I was six or seven years-old my dog died. I used writing as a way to make up stories of myself and my dog going on adventures together. So, I guess you can say that death influenced my writing origins.

18. What, for you, is the hardest part of writing? How do you overcome writer's block?

MB: The hardest part, for me, is balancing all the projects I have going on at once. Writer’s block is a myth people make up when they don’t feel like writing.

19. Tell us about your current novel. 

MB: The current novel that I wish to promote would be my debut novel, Toxicity. It is being published by Post Mortem Press and it comes out Spring 2014.

Toxicity is a black comedy crime novel about horrible things happening to horrible people. I like to call it my “Guy Ritchie book”, since the nature of my novel and his movies Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch could easily be categorized under the same class. Look for it this Spring.

I will be attending Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas next year to help promote it at the Post Mortem Press table and possibly the World Horror Convention in Portland, as well. Not sure about WHC yet.

20. Are you working on your next novel or short story at the moment? If so, what is it about?

MB: Right now I am researching and preparing to begin my third novel, tentatively titled The Catch-Lie People. It tells the story of a man with schizophrenia attempting to solve a murder. I am exhausting myself with as much research as possible. Schizophrenia is a delicate topic to handle and I really don’t want to screw it up.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me. It’s been a real pleasure.

You're welcome Max!

Max Booth III just had a novella released on Amazon titled "Black: A Novella". Check it out! 

Black: A Novella. A horrific zombie western tale of a gunfighter cursed with unwanted immortality. It's one thing to make a deal with the Devil; it's another when the deal is made for you. Featuring an interview with Joe McKinney, "Talking Zombies". Cover art by Matthew Revert.

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