Monday 18 May 2020

Interview with Gary Raisor - By David Kempf

When did you first become interested in writing?

I was interested in my early 20’s, but when I sat down to do it I discovered I didn’t have all that much to say. Or maybe I just didn’t know how to say it.

So I sat writing aside. I moved to Chicago where I fell into a hard scrabble life for four or five years, working in a factory during the day, haunting strip clubs and skid row bars at night, drinking, hustling pool. Met more than a few interesting people on skid row. They all had a story. And they were more than willing to share it.

Then I met a girl, there’s always a girl. She cleaned my ass up. Fast forward about ten years, add in marriage and becoming a dad, just living life, you know, working a job, paying the mortgage. Then my dad died. He wasn’t that old. That sort of thing gets a man to thinking about mortality, so I decided to give it another shot, and this time I discovered I had things to say.

How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I’ve always since interested in fantasy and horror, even as a kid. My mom gave me a copy of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU when I was 10. It was the start of a love affair that continues to this day.

How did you make this a full time job?

Writing was never a full time job, not until about a seven or eight years ago. Until then I wrote during my lunch breaks at work, at home, sometimes into the wee hours of the night. Short stories in the beginning, lots and lots of them. NIGHT CRY, THE HORROR SHOW, CEMETERY DANCE, BORDERLANDS, RAZORED SADDLES, a lot of ‘best of’ anthologies.

Then I wrote a novel, LESS THAN HUMAN, which to my utter amazement was nominated for the Bram Stoker award. I’d seen copies of it at Walden Books, Barnes and Noble, Joseph-Beth, B Dalton. I was on my way, baby. Time to start lighting my bong with twenty dollar bills. Nope. That book didn’t lead to a full time writing career. So back to the day job.

What to do? I’d grown to loathe my job in I.T. I really wanted to be a writer, but my agent was insane and then she died. No agent, no prospects on the writing front. I was trying to figure a way to get back in the game. I love movies, always have. One day while I was hanging at a video store (remember those?) I thought I’d try my hand at writing a movie script. To my surprise, I discovered I could do it. Now I have one in development with Thunderknight Productions. I guess I’d call myself a full time writer now. Maybe even a producer too, ha. But I’d never use that word in polite company.

Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular

Wish fulfillment maybe. In fantasy, a place to act out grand adventures, to shed the grind of daily mundane life. Good overcoming evil, something that doesn’t always happen in the real world. In horror, who doesn’t like a good scare?

What are your favorite horror books?

The Island of Dr. Moreau, as I mentioned earlier.
Dracula by Bram Stoker.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.
The Drive-in by Joe Lansdale.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Silver Scream edited by David J. Schow
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
The Shining, again Stephen King
IT. Stephen King. What can I say, the guy wrote some damn fine books. Still hate the ending of this one.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.
Lestat by Anne Rice. Those early books of hers were awesome.
The Girl Next Door. Books don’t get better than this. But after reading that puppy, I decided once was enough for me.

What are some of your favorite horror movies?

The Thing. Both versions. Love James Arness as the flaming carrot. The Carpenter version, IMHO, might just be the finest horror movie ever made.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The ’78 version with Donald Sutherland is a masterpiece of paranoia.
Halloween by John Carpenter.
Cat People. Both versions.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Tobe Hooper original. You can keep the rest. Maybe number 2, but that’s as far as I go.
Dracula. Both the Louis Jourdan and the Gary Oldman versions appeal to me. A side note, the new BBC 3 part version was 2/3 of a good series about our favorite blood-sucker.
Creature from the Black Lagoon. Best rubber monster suit of all time.
Forbidden Planet. Sci-fi horror. Great score.
Tremors. Best buddy movie ever.
It Follows. Some definitely creepy shit.
Near Dark.
Ginger Snaps. You’ll never look at teenage girls the same.
The Howling. Cool werewolves.
Fright Night. The original with Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall. Grab an apple.
Pretty much anything from Hammer. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
Also anything with Vincent Price. Love those Edgar Allen Poe adaptations he did with Roger Corman. Masque of the Red Death, Fall of the House of Usher, Tomb of Ligeia.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

I guess I’d have to say coming up with a really different take on vampires in LESS THAN HUMAN. And it’s still selling 28 years later. 8 editions in those years including paperback, hardback, Kindle and Audible. There’s even a coffin edition.

A reviewer recently said it reads as fresh as anything written today. Man, as a writer, you gotta love that.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Due to the overwhelming number of self-publishers on Amazon, I’d say don’t quit the day job.

What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

I hate it. I came up when your writing was judged by the gatekeepers, the agents, the editors at publishing houses. You had to be good, in most cases, to get the green light. Of course there was still crap that got through. But now the floodgates are open. Anyone can lay claim to being a writer. They say everyone has a book in them. I’d say no they don’t. I’d say a few self-published books are good, but most are crap with a good looking cover.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on a prequel to LESS THAN HUMAN.
And I’m helping produce a screenplay I wrote, STRAIGHT TO HELL.
Also trying to stay alive during this Coronavirus pandemic while helping out friends and family who’re having a hard time fending for themselves. 

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 

I hate writing about myself. I’m not being coy, I mean it. It’s my least favorite subject. Instead, if you don’t mind, I’ll just share a recent GOODREADS review of LESS THAN HUMAN from Lisa Lee. I think it sums up what I tried to accomplish with the book.

LESS THAN HUMAN by Gary Raisor is unlike any other vampire novel. The story is built on mystery, intrigue, a unique twist on old legends, blood, and playing pool.

Raisor weaves in a diverse lot of vivid, colorful characters with engaging backgrounds and personalities. The story is complex, a mix of ancient lore and modern concepts, realism and supernatural, humanity and inhumanity. Raisor uses a slow reveal technique to uncover the horrifying truth behind the events taking place. The climax and conclusion brilliantly defied expectation, and I found the epilogue particularly well-played.

Less Than Human has some graphic scenes and disturbing content. Gary Raisor pushes the boundaries of vampire horror fiction into extreme horror with this one. This is not a romantic vampire novel nor even a classically brutal one. This one contains scenes of mental and physical torture, and Raisor is relentless in his presentation of the horrors therein. For serious horror fans only.

Less Than Human - Amazon Kindle
Sinister Purposed - Amazon Kindle