If you know horror fiction, you've heard the name Max Booth III, and the proof is that you've just read this sentence. An editor for Dark Moon Books and co-founder/editor for Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Max does a lot behind the scenes to bring quality fiction to people who feel like reading now and then. Critic, editor, and satirist; Max is a force on the move in the literary world, with work that bends our perception of literature and genre. Referred to as the "Douglas Adams of horror fiction," Max was kind enough to hang out and talk about his latest book you're supposed to be reading, They Might Be Demons, and share his musings about writing and aliens.
To understand the myth behind the man, we'd like to start by asking about your genesis as a writer: what made you decide to publish your first story?
Well, I’ve been writing since I was seven years-old. It’s just something that I’ve always been fond of. There has never been any other person that I’ve wished to be. My first story was published was I was seventeen. I was one of those who were taken advantage of by Anthony (Tony) Giangregorio with his Open Casket Press company. Fortunately I’ve had better luck with who’s published me since then.
How did you get into the editing business? What was your first gig?
I used to belong to a now defunct writing website called StoriesVille.com. It was basically a website where aspiring published authors would post their stories and others would critique them. It got to a point where some of the new members would send me their stories ahead of time to go through and fix. So I guess that was my first experience with editing. My actual first gig, however, was with Dark Moon Digest. I answered a call for editors, passed the initial trial run, and was hired as a story editor. I’ve since been promoted to Assistant Editor of the magazine.
Tell us about the process behind They Might Be Demons; did you write it wherever, whenever…?
Originally, Dark Moon Books wanted to do a book series of authors penning short flash fiction collections. However, that idea fell apart, but the publisher—Stan Swanson—contacted me about doing a collection anyway, since I had previously pitched my idea for the book series, and he liked it. My idea was basically basing every story on the same day, in the same town, with most of the same characters. So I started working on it, but it wasn’t exactly a project I focused all my energy on, but more of a book that I would go to when I was feeling extra silly—add a chapter here, there, then leave it for a few weeks. Eventually, it became a finished product. If it’s even legal to call this thing a ‘product’.
The demons in your book seemed to enjoy their vacation on Earth. Did they have an after-party?
They would have, but the author had already hit “SEND” to the publisher.
Your work seems to balance moments of horror, humor, and humanity for an enjoyable reading experience; emotion and entertainment are wrapped up in a nice package. Is there a particular moment while writing There Might Be Demons that really stands out as a memorable experience? Is there a specific piece you're fond of?
I’m really a fan of the copyright page. I didn’t personally write it, but my publisher did, and I think he did a top notch job.
The demons in your book decide to grab a bite to eat; where would they go? Whatburger, Wendy's, Subway… or would they prefer finer cuisine? (Describe your demons a bit, what they might eat, etc.)
I imagine that some of the more ancient demons who are more behind on the times would visit Five Guys, Burgers and Fries based on the prospect of eating five guys. Plus, you know, their food is delicious.
Why do you think your work can be categorized as "bizarro" fiction? Did you consciously choose this as a genre? What the heck is bizarro, anyway?
I did not consciously choose it as bizarro fiction, no. I just set out to write something extremely goofy. This is the result. Bizarro fiction, to me, is humorous horror that even your dreams would find unbelievable and weird. The kind of stuff you doodled on the back of your math homework in 5th grade.
If an alien showed up at your front door, what would it want, and why would it want it? Would the alien share its name with you, or would it just want to hang out and eat a Big Mac?
It’d probably want to borrow five bucks. Aliens are always trying to borrow money from me. I’m sick of it.
Kurt Vonnegut seems to be a major influence on your writing; is there a particular work that stands out to you from Vonnegut? Are there other literary authors who you're particularly fond of? In other words, if you could play Texas Hold 'Em with any authors, living or dead, who would it be?
I’ll go with the obvious choice and pick Slaughterhouse-Five. It is hilarious and depressing and horrifying, and I am a sucker for time travel. As for other authors, I would love to have dinner with Christopher Moore.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would portray you? What kind of movie would it be?
Tim Roth would play me, and the movie would be called Four Rooms.
How have you changed as a writer since your first piece was published?
Well, I think I’ve gotten a few inches taller. I’ve gained weight. I started watching Doctor Who. I’ve also began insisting people tell me about themselves in the form of book blurbs.
Our blog spends a lot of time advertising and writing about zombie stuff; you happen to be involved with the horror sub-genre. One of your pieces in They Might Be Demons showcases an interesting discussion on zombies; what do you think are some of the problems with the genre, and where do you think might happen in the near future with zombie literature?
I’ve read and edited a lot of zombie fiction and the problem I always come across is the majority of them read exactly the same. There’s a man with a gun and he shoots the undead a bunch of times in the head, then he escapes or kills himself. It’s all just Dead Rising-fan fiction. There’s not enough focus on actual plot. As for the future of zombie fiction, I was beginning to think that it was slowing dying. However, with the recent release of World War Z: The Movie Based off the Title of an Unrelated Book, I think it’s going to come back full force. And I guess that’s a good thing, since I’m currently writing a zombie novel, which is something I promised myself of never doing.
As an editor, what's the biggest pet-peeve you have?
Which authors are you reading these days?
I just started King’s Joyland, but what’s the point in naming authors you’ve already heard of? From the small press line, I’ve been really enjoying Richard Thomas, Christian A. Larsen, Jay Wilburn, T. Fox Dunham and some guy named Vincenzo Bilof.
If you decided to live on the Mars colony and you were allowed to bring only one, special personal item, what would it be? Why? (This one might be a book)
I would take the expression, “That’s so Raven”, with me.
Let's get personal for a moment: can you tell us about a particularly memorable nightmare? Do you think it's shown up in your writing somewhere?
My therapist has recommended I do not share my dreams with anyone else.
Do you have any advice for wannabe writers like myself?
Be like Nike and Just Do It.
Thanks for the help, Max! Is there something else you want to tell your adoring fans before you go?
I am a sad and thirsty tomato in a garden of intentional neglect.
Max Booth III is the editor-in-chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, assistant editor of Dark Moon Digest and fiction editor of Kraken Press. He has edited various anthologies and authored the books True Stories Told by a Liar and They Might Be Demons, along with a few others being juggled around submission purgatory. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth and visit his website www.TalesFromTheBooth.com.
AMAZON PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/They-Might-Demons-Max-Booth/dp/0989409023/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369283052&sr=8-1&keywords=they+might+be+demons