Mike Thorn is new to the Demain family. 27th September sees the release of his Short Sharp Shocks! Dreams Of Lake Drukka & Exhumation. Just before publication Mike and Dean sat down to chat.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello Mike, great to meet you. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how (or why) you became a writer?
MIKE THORN: I’ve loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember. For whatever reason, my imagination has always leaned into the dark and weird. I’ve loved genre for as long as I’ve loved books—I started reading J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and R. L. Stine at a young age, and then picked up Stephen King around twelve or thirteen, and I haven’t looked back since. Hubert Selby Jr. was also a major discovery… I started reading his work in my teens.
DP: Hubert Selby Jr.! There’s a name I haven’t heard in a little while. Great author and I’ve always had a soft spot for Last Exit To Brooklyn – so thanks for reminding me...what are your two stories Dreams of Lake Drukka & Exhumation about?
MT: It was only in retrospect that I could see the connections between these two stories. When I revisited them for this publication, it struck me that they work well as companion pieces. Both plots depict unfulfilled pacts with supernatural undercurrents, both include journeys to uncover unresolved familial trauma, and both pivot around the revelation of repressed memories. I wanted to explore the relationship between setting and atmosphere in these pieces, and to depict horror within internal and physical 'sites of trauma.'
DP: And your protagonists?
MT: Like many of my protagonists, these characters are grappling with painful memories / experiences that have held them back, consciously or unconsciously. One story focuses on a character who is the agent of her own revelations, whereas the other story sees someone whose agency is quickly and brutally taken away.
DP: Let’s talk about research, did you have to do much this time around?
MT: I’m not typically a research-intensive fiction writer. In my critical work, I tend to engage in a lot of research, but I write stories from a very unconscious and personal place. I almost always graft settings onto places I’ve seen, so that I’m able to spatially orient myself and the reader.
DP: What books / authors do you read and do they influence you?
MT: As a writer, I think reading is absolutely crucial: I soak up a bit of something from every book, article or story I read, whether I like it or not. I try hard to have a ‘balanced’ reading diet. Of course I love genre fiction, but I make an effort to read across genres. I’m currently reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Alexandra West’s The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle: Final Girls and a New Hollywood Formula. Some favorite contemporary writers, off the top of my head: Kathe Koja, Stephen King, Niall Howell, S. P. Miskowski, Joshua Whitehead, Robert Dunbar, Gwendolyn Kiste, Eden Robinson, Calvin Demmer, John Claude Smith, Farah Rose Smith and Daniel Braum. I recently read Erin Vance’s debut novel, Advice for Taxidermists and Amateur Beekeepers, which is terrific.
DP: I’ve seen Kiste’s name a few times recently, I’ll have to check her out. Are there any genre books or films you’re looking forward to?
MT: I’m excited to see Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Doctor Sleep. It’s a very weird novel, and I’ll be interested to see how it translates to the screen. Rob Zombie is probably my favorite living horror filmmaker, so I’m anxious to see his latest, Three from Hell.
DP: Well, there you go, I didn’t know that about you – I love Rob as well (music and film)! As I’ve said quite a few times before, the uncut version I saw in Cannes of House Of 1000 Corpses was A+ film-making. A real piece of art – sadly the version which was released in cinemas was a pale imitation (but still good in it’s own way) and we talk just a few days since Sid Haig’s passing. RIP Sid. Okay, so what is Mike Thorn scared of?
MT: I’m terrified of climate change and ecological catastrophe. I’m afraid of human capacities for cruelty and greed. I’m afraid of institutions and people with too much power. I tend to write a lot about power and cruelty. It’s probably a cathartic exercise on some level.
DP: And finally, creatively is there anything you haven’t done yet?
MT: Right now, I’d just like to make it to the finish-line with my current novel-in-progress.
Thank you for your time Mike. Good luck with your Short Sharp Shocks!
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