(In conversation with Chris Kelso)
1. You wrote a straight edge story for IYR, but do you subscribe to any of these subcultural doctrines in reality? Will you be celebrating the upcoming National Edge Day?
I wrote a story about a Straight Edge person. To do so, I had to understand them. Kind of circular, in that the character model was the reason I wrote the story… to show him that, though we might have locked horns about our own belief structures when we first met, that I had so much love and respect for him and for what he does/is… that I would wear those pleather Docs for a day and write him something beautiful.
The actual idea came from Big Jim (he gets mentioned later.) Big Jim and I went to college together at Temple University, and he followed me out here to Portland not long later. He’s dyslexic, and though a *brilliant stand-up comic, claims, ‘I’m not a writer.’ Thus, I get all his story ideas handed to me. The Jimbo Stories always sell.
The character model is a former SHARP-skin.Some Skins I know are full straight-edge. I myself have no shame in admitting that I no longer drink alcohol, and that what I do take to alter my consciousness either grows naturally or is prescribed by a shrink.
2. What compelled you to offer “I will refuse” to IYR? Why did it seem like the logical home for that particular piece?
-The Bizarro connections, many and various as they are, both through the character model and (somewhat) the experimental nature of the work.
-A lot of Bizarros say that my work is ‘just not Bizarro enough’ and they have a point. But the crossovers are huge. Zero sarcasm here: I want to be Cody Goodfellow when I grow up. He straddles the cross-genre line deftly, and the Bizarro stuff he writes is true Bizarro.
-The fact that I couldn’t home this sumbitch anywhere… and when I looked at what you all were doing, I couldn’t think of anywhere else it should be homed.
I have Geordie blood, so my ears go up when I hear the letters UK anyway… my work seems to strike a chord on that side of the big pond.
3. How would you define your own writing? There are a lot of varieties evident in your work – has speculative fiction influenced you as much as the subgenres of hard-core music? Coming from Portland the all-engulfing aura of the Bizarro movement must have provided at least a peripheral inspiration?
I write horror. And speculative fiction. And hard SF and soft SF and Noir and and and… Short answer: I don’t know. I leave that to others. Reviewers like Jason Rolfe have said that I have the capability to redefine genres (he was referencing “The Theatre & Its Double”, a novella in Joseph Pulver’s A SEASON IN CARCOSA anthology.) That may or may not be remotely true.
But I consider every story its own genre, and try to write within it. One of the lads at INTERZONE… might have been Andy Cox, but I can’t remember… said in a peripheral conversation: “I really like what Ed Morris *does*,” talking about a few different works. I still don’t know what I *do* (grins). But like Stan Lee said, if they keep reading it I will keep writing it.
4. You clearly advocate our loud abrasive behaviour and the company we keep. With the knowledge that you are one of the original contributors to IYR, does your bosom swell with pride?
Indeed, and my girthed loins steam with hubris as the population bows and trembles. (quits chuckling) In all seriousness, yes. IYR needed to happen, and its momentum is its own evidence. Proud to be a part of it.
5. (insert generic question here) Tell IYR a bit about your own writing and any new exciting projects on the horizon?
Well, that falls under question six, but…
I just finished a wildly experimental SF/H series I started when I was eleven, A CROOKED MAN, which Mercury Retrograde Press will be releasing in a month or so. Los Angeles author/editor Lin Rhys is running an excerpt from A CROOKED MAN 5: ALPHABET OF LIGHTNING in her new themed collection ROOM WITH A VIEWhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgNvSn8dyFI
Book 5 features a late-1940’s private detective whom the readers seem to love…based entirely and unapologetically on Dashiell Hammett disciple Richard A. Lupoff. Lupoff is ‘Tuckerized’ within other parts of the work as well, and is himself reading Book 5 with the intro in mind..
We have quite a few luminaries involved with introductions and blurbs about the work. I can’t talk about all of them, but I can tell you that my friend Harry Turtledove is reading Book 4 right now enthusiastically. That Barry N. Malzberg called the work remarkable, and stone-force, and fit to stand on the same shelf in the same canon of post-WWII post-apocalyptic SF as EARTH ABIDES.
I can tell you that Lou Antonelli called my Crooked Man one of the creepiest SF villains he’s ever run across. That Paul Di Filippo said, of this series, “Nothing like it on the *planet.*” And much more.Joseph Pulver is editing this series. Nick Gucker is drawing the covers and maps.
6. What’s the deal with the Twilight Zone special and your imminent manga novel?
Robert M. Price, the great Lovecraft scholar and author and editor, is about to release an anthology called THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS from Dark Quest Books.http://darkquestbooks.com/store/ Originally intended to coincide with the release of Guillermo del Toro’s movie version of the Lovecraft novel (sigh), this project was back-burnered when the movie idea fell through. I just got the galley proofs a few days ago. It was quite moving.
Certain aspects of ‘what I do’ are ones for which I would jump on a grenade to defend. One of those is the Lovecraft Circle in its modern form, my dear friends and battle-buddies who took me under their great big dark wing and exhorted me into the kind of writer I wasn’t sure I could be.
The first time Joe Pulver informed me of a Lovecraftian anthology looking for specific works, it was Price’s THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. The other writers, or Bob, suggested the various own adaptations of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS.
I had a suggestion of my own. I banged out ‘Tekeli-Li!’ in roughly three days and ran it past Bob. Bob’s response was noteworthy to me: “You’re pulling your punches. Adapt the whole story, not just bits.” (That was his only edit. )
My suggestion came from several places:
I’d watched Jason Brock’s documentary about Charles Beaumont, the great and hugely underrated Twilight Zone writer, who wrote THE INTRUDER (which became Roger Corman’s first movie) and so many other wonderful tales, like “The Howling Man” (personal favorite episode) and “Miniature” (one of Stephen King’s personal favorite episodes.)
H.P. Lovecraft and Charles Beaumont had very, very similar childhoods. Particularly in one way: Both of their mothers (Lovecraft’s and Beaumont’s) used to dress them up like girls when they were little.
Beaumont’s did it as punishment, Sarah Lovecraft did it just because she was… Sarah Lovecraft. I explored that in another story more, but… when I found that out about Beaumont, something semi-related began to click.
I had no idea how to adapt AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS, and was getting ready to chuck the idea. And chuck it I did. I adapted it as a rough-draft screenplay for an hour-long early-Sixties Twilight Zone special written by Chuck Beaumont himself. Unbelievably difficult. But when it got going, that pedal went all the way to the floor.
The screenplay is loose, and annotated, and there are a lot of interludes with Beaumont’s own life in Woodland Hills. But we forget, after a while, which is the teleplay and which is the life that spawned it, in a way that no one would expect. I was honored to give Beaumont his due respect… and his son Chris, and Rod Serling, and quite a few authors and scientists from that era.
William F. Nolan showed up with Jason Brock at one of my writing workshops one night, while this was being written. “You got him just right,” Nolan told me,”The way Chuck would always run his fingers through his hair when he had a headache. You nailed it.” That touched my heart.
(clears throat) Part 2. ‘The deal with the upcoming Manga novel.’
Here is the first one in the series:http://www.wildsidebooks.com/Fathers-and-Sons-Blackguard-Book-One-by-Edward-R-Morris-trade-pb_p_6382.html
From about 2001-2004, I had the unspeakable privilege of working at Panorama as a bouncer. The privilege was in the people. I could tell stories about Panorama for much longer than this interview allows.
The security team was a motley bunch of Witches, recovering addicts, street punks, EMTs, former military, and just about every other kind of thing you could imagine, and it came together into something that was Science Fiction.
We all knew it,too. What I didn’t know was that Shawn Gibbs, who managed Security and most of the club most of the time, was a former Science Fiction editor. He and Finn Robins, his second in command (hacker, polymath, more Punk than punk itself… and ‘Grendel’s character model in the BLACKGUARD stories,) are both nuts about the kind of SF and Horror I like.
Finn wanted to weave some of the many Pano stories together as cartoons. Meanwhile, me and my old friend and idea generator, local comic “Big Jim” Willig, would go back to my apartment after work and bang out similar ideas, unbeknownst, on this old 1982 ‘laptop’ I ended up giving to Finn to play with.
The cartoon, frankly, took a shit. It was no one’s fault. But the stories kept taking off, and Jim…to say nothing of Finn and Shawn… just got more and more fired-up about the project. So I kept on weaving.
Very long story very short, I call Shawn ‘sensei’ and there’s a reason. He taught me everything I know about editing fiction and nonfiction, which has saved my ass as much as that Security license time and again. I learned to write the toughest piece of SF that has taken since 2002 to get off the ground. As I really started writing those books, they began to write me, too.
BLACKGUARD 1: FATHERS & SONS begins in a post-Secession America where the secessionist states have been allowed back in as ‘Republics’ (which means they get no Federal funding,etc.) The stories of a polymath genius whose hero-cop Dad commits suicide (Portland), and the telepathic son of a Yakuza oyabun (Edo, Tokyo) are told from their boyhoods. Ghost saves Kano’s life and brings him to the States.
The two become mortal enemies after Kano decides to follow in his Dad’s footsteps and become a yakuza. Ghost, on the other hand, becomes lead of a Security team at a Singapore-sized dance club called the Paisley Jones.
What follows is a long, bloody game of chess between bouncers and Asian gang kids from various syndicates, all moving under Kano’s thumb to get the club shut down.
But the chess players in this instance aren’t human. An alien split into two personalities is using the club to play chess with hi/rself. Now add legal brain-wetware, plasma shotguns, high explosives, two other Xeno species and a very, very curious police force. Light Fuse & Get Away. Book 2: THE ART OF WAR doesn’t have a link up yet, but soon, soon…
7. IYR is a UK-based magazine but we’ve amassed a strong US contingent – is it more terrifying living in America or the UK? How political do you like to get when writing?
Two different kinds of terrifying. I haven’t been to the UK yet so I can’t speak with much authority, but… Yeah, two different kinds of clinically insane systems.
I like to get political when I write… sometimes. There is the very strong reflex within me to bellow:”Oi,FUCK politics, just tell the story and quit wanking!!” Often, my politics are to forget politics exist when it comes to a choice between that or getting in a flame war with some idiot somewhere. Or worse.
But there are issues that need to be addressed. People need to know how they are being manipulated; not by one faction or the other, per se, but by the global corpocracy to believe that factions mean anything. We have all become Jack Abramoff’s “useful idiots.” The most utterly political thing I often do is tell shrill people on all sides of the aisle to shut the fuck up for five minutes and behave like human beings.
But within the work, I use politics in general more by illustration than beating people over the head. In the case of “I Will Refuse”, I went less for preachments that weren’t internal monologue.
To the outer world, my Vegan zombie (live or dead) says, with a smile, “This is what I am. You don’t like it, fuck you. I’m going to keep being exactly what I am and doing exactly what I do, because I know who I am. You don’t. Sorry.” Here’s a little slice of the way my character model and great friend David Agranoff does that:http://www.davidagranoff.blogspot.com/