Welcome to Part Two of Confessions of a Reviewers’ interview with Adam Howe.
In tonight’s section, Adam starts by answering some specific questions on his last book Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, continues to talk about his writing and life in general and tackles The Ten Confessions.
One thing is very clear from the interviews that Confessions does and that is the fact that for some reason, all the authors that take part give it their all and tell it straight from the heart. That is also true in this section from Adam tonight.
It’s only Monday but go grab something nice like a pizza and a beer, sit back and relax, but mostly……enjoy!
CoaR - Moving on to Die Dog or Eat The Hatchet, where the hell did the ideas for these stories come from?
AH - The only one I know for sure where it came from is Gator Bait, which was inspired by the true crimes of Joe Ball, a Texas tavern owner who kept a gator pit behind his place, and was found to have fed wives and waitresses to the beast. I always knew I wanted to write about it, but as I’ve said, I’m at the mercy of my muse, and it took a little time for the bitch to play ball.
CoaR - These are all set in the deep south yet you are a Londoner. I have to say you pull the accents and language and settings off to perfection. But why the deep south and not South London?
AH - I’m glad the accent works for you. I’m sure it isn’t 100% accurate, but for the purpose of my stories, it doesn’t have to be. I’m clearly not aiming for realism with a story like Damn Dirty Apes; readers will have to look elsewhere for a gritty skunk ape yarn. Some people have a problem with Brits writing in an American voice. For me – unless the accent is hideously bad – it’s no different than a British rock singer using a transatlantic twang.
Why don’t I set my stories in my own backyard? First and foremost, I’m trying to escape my own reality. The American South, as I see it, has a mythic quality that suits the hyper-real worlds I create. ‘An Arkansan Skunk Ape in London’ sounds patently absurd. I also like the rhythms of the Southern accent.
CoaR - You got into a little bit of trouble with the whole Skunk Ape thing. What did that controversy feel like? Have you kissed and made up with Mr Lambert Pogue?
AH - I need to be careful what I say here. The last thing I want is to reignite hostilities with Mr. Pogue and The Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape. As was widely reported at the time, what began as a polite request to the General Secretary of the S.P.N.A.S.A. for his endorsement of my story Damn Dirty Apes, quickly became a nightmare.
Mr. Pogue vehemently objected to my portrayal of legendary cryptozoologist, Gerard Hauser, and my depiction of skunk apes in general. The S.P.N.A.S.A. issued a fatwa against me. My publisher, Comet Press, was besieged by furious hominologists. Things got very hairy for a while; dare I say it, hairier than a skunk ape. Fortunately, I was able to placate Mr. Pogue with a grovelling apology, not to mention a modest donation to the S.P.N.A.S.A. That seems to have been the end of the matter. I would strongly advise other writers from writing skunk ape fiction.
CoaR - Humour plays a big part in these stories. Is the humour element important to you to try and fit in or does it just flow that way?
AH - By nature, I’m a sardonic sonofabitch, so it just seems to flow. When I returned to writing prose after screenwriting, to start with I was writing more ‘traditional’ horror/crime stories, laced with black humour. I recognized that the humour was probably the most unique component of these stories, which were, for the most part, pale Stephen King imitations. Discovering Joe Lansdale’s work, and his balance of horror and humour, dark and light, was a real eye-opener for me. That was something I felt I could do myself.
My first attempt was a short story called Badger, which later grew into the novella Of Badgers & Porn Dwarfs from the Black Cat Mojo collection. Before that story, I’d enjoyed some success as a writer – I was being published in the small press – but that’s the one where things seemed to click into place. Fortunately, people other than me found it funny. Things could have gone horribly, horribly wrong if they hadn’t.
CoaR - In Gaitor Bait, you hit a perfect smoky, noir atmosphere, very reminiscent of old Bogart films. Is this an era that you are interested in or again just how it flowed?
AH - I love film noir, and crime fiction of the period, but I’m no expert. I’ve just got a good ear, and the story – once I’d found my way into it – flowed naturally.
There’s a romance to the era that lends itself to dark fiction, and it’s definitely one I’ll return to. As a writer, I like working the tropes – I’ll leave the ‘ideas’ to better brains than mine – with Gator Bait, I quite deliberately used Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice as my story template.
CoaR - Horror, noir or humour? What’s your favourite to write or will you always combine them all?
AH - I’ll continue to combine all three, bouncing between the balls-out comedies like Damn Dirty Apes, and the darker stuff, like Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet. It’s been interesting to note which of the stories readers respond to. Humour is the most fun to write. I know it’s bad form to laugh at your own jokes, but I had a blast writing Damn Dirty Apes.
CoaR - What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?
AH - Finding my way into a story. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a ‘Don’t get it right, get it written’ writer. I have a terrible tendency to procrastinate and time-waste.
CoaR - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
AH - Watch too many movies, read too many books, and further my PhD in online pornography. (Those are tears of pride my mother is crying; her son, the doctor!)
CoaR - What’s coming in the future from Adam Howe?
AH - Up next is the sequel to Damn Dirty Apes, Tijuana Donkey Showdown. If you think boxer turned bouncer turned monster hunter Reggie Levine had it rough last time out, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Reggie and I seem to have developed a God-Job relationship. Hopefully I can have that one out by the end of the year.
I’m also part of Necro Press’ upcoming anthology Chopping Block Party, in which a stellar line-up of writers, and me, have been assigned a house number and briefed to write something – in the words of Doctor Terrible – ‘truly diabolical.’ My objective is to write something so fucked-up that the editor refuses to publish it. Considering that Necro Press publishes Edward Lee, it’s unlikely I’ll achieve this aim. We can but try. The story has a working title of Rectal Foreign Bodies. It’s about the noble gentleman’s pursuit of gerbilling.
And I’m currently collaborating with ‘The Other Adam’ on a crime/horror project we’re pitching as Michael Mann’s Public Enemies meets John Carpenter’s The Thing. Who is ‘The Other Adam’? Imagine the literary equivalent of the George Michael/Elton John duet, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me: “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Adam Cesare!” (Cesare’s the gayer one.)
CoaR - Just once more in case you missed it!
THE TEN CONFESSIONS
1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?
Adam Cesare, hence the collaboration. As the saying goes, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?
In the digital age, and with the rise of self-publishing, there’s a biblical flood of shit out there. Fortunately, I’m able to avoid most of it; as a reviewer, I guess you don’t have that luxury.
Among the pros and semi-pros, sure, there’s stuff I don’t care for, but I won’t name names. I’ve received one or two catty reviews from my peers in the indie scene, and I think it’s bad form – literally just one or two, and from writers I don’t take very seriously, so it’s cool. We indie scribes need to support each other. That extends to the wider indie genre community, too. I’ve observed some bitchy behaviour from certain sites, and it’s massively disappointing. It seems to be a uniquely British problem, almost solely within the horror scene. I haven’t seen any of the same shit among my American writer friends. And it just doesn’t happen in the crime fiction community.
3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books been based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?
Apart from when I was sexually molested by a skunk ape, nothing springs to mind. As I’ve said, my most autobiographical work was the short story that won the Stephen King competition, Jumper. But I’m not that guy anymore!
4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?
Blatantly? I don’t think so. But I’m certainly not above paying ‘homage’ to other materials, mostly movies, which is the gentleman’s form of plagiarism.
My work is drawn from a wellspring of pop culture: Books, movies, the web.
I’m quite open about it.
As I’ve already said, Gator Bait was a direct homage to The Postman Always Rings Twice, mashed with Tobe Hooper’s killer croc flick, Eaten Alive.
My story Of Badgers & Porn Dwarfs, from the Black Cat Mojo collection, was inspired by an internet hoax claiming that the corpse of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s porn dwarf lookalike had been discovered, partially devoured, in a badger sett… Well, I knew I had to write about that before someone else beat me to it. And in Frank, The Snake, & The Snake – again from Black Cat Mojo – the climactic scene between mob schnook Frank and the Burmese python was inspired by the scene from Boogie Nights in which Dirk Diggler and his crew attempt to jack a Speedo’d Alfred Molina’s stash while a Chinaman tosses firecrackers in the background. That was the crazy heightened tone I was aspiring to with that scene.
I tend to look at other works for mood. Between the internet, and so many online movie junkies, I don’t think you can expect to get away with outright plagiarizing anything anymore… You’re gonna tell me I ripped something off now, aren’t you?
CoaR – Still searching. I’m currently waiting on lawyers that represent Dougal from the Magic Roundabout coming back to me.
5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?
Nope. As I’ve said, I won’t slag off my peers in the indie community. And the ‘name’ writers, who perhaps deserve a kicking? Like they give a shit what I think. Why waste my time?
6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?
During my drinking days, I did a lot of things I’m not proud of; treated family and friends poorly.
7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?
Quitting drinking – which I couldn’t have done without the support of the same family and friends I treated like shit while I was drinking. If I was still on the sauce, we wouldn’t be having this conversation; I probably wouldn’t be alive.
8 What’s your biggest fault?
Idleness. My dog spends most days dividing his time between snoozing on the couch and licking his nuts; compared to me, he’s a go-getter.
9 What is your biggest fear?
Given I’ve got a child on the way, that I’ll fail in my responsibilities as a father.
10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?
That throughout our interview, I have lied frequently, at times brazenly, and quite without shame.
Well that, unfortunately, is the end of the interview. You should, by now, know nearly all you need to know about Adam Howe.
If you want to know more then come back tomorrow night when I will be posting Matthew Cash’s review of Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet and will provide you with all the links to buy it and all the links you need in case you want to get in touch with Adam or just follow what he’s doing.
I want to say a personal thanks to Adam for giving up his precious time to take part in this interview and for being so open and honest about every single aspect of his life. I know he has been doing a lot of these recently and must be bored to tears with questions, but certainly didn’t show it.
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!
Adam Howe writes the twisted fiction your mother warned you about. A British writer of fiction and screenplays, he lives in Greater London with his partner and their hellhound, Gino. Writing as Garrett Addams, his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of the On Writing contest, and published in the paperback/Kindle editions of SK’s book; he was also granted an audience with The King, where they mostly discussed slow vs. fast zombies. His fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Thuglit, The Horror Library, Mythic Delirium, Plan B Magazine, and One Buck Horror. He is the author of two collections, Black Cat Mojo and Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, plus the eBook single, Gator Bait. Future works include Tijuana Donkey Showdown, One Tough Bastard, and a crime/horror collaboration with Adam Tribesmen Cesare.
And for more about Adam, visit his site, or find him on social media: