Author Interview: Morgan K. Tanner's The Unbeliever & The Intruder - Book 39 in the Short Sharp Shocks! series
Book 39 in the Short Sharp Shocks! is Morgan K. Tanner’s The Unbeliever & The Intruder. Morgan is a man of many talents. With the book being published on the 31st October (and now available for pre-sales) Dean sat down with him to discuss it.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello Morgan. Who are you and why did you become a writer?
MORGAN K. TANNER: I'd love to say how writing has always been in my blood and I was destined to tell stories from an early age. But up until around 10 years ago I'd never written much, I wasn't even a massive reader, truth be told. But after devouring the complete works of HP Lovecraft, something tentacled and abhorrent arose inside me. Those stories were just so inspiring I felt a kind of calling to start writing. My early attempts at short stories were shameless Lovecraft rip-offs and not all that great. But I'd caught the bug, and the need to write was instilled in my psyche. I haven't looked back since. My stories since then aren't all that Lovecraftian really, but there's still that creeping dread and threat of insanity that worms its way into my mind when I'm writing.
DP: Yes and I think that’s definitely true of both your stories...can you tell us about them in particular?
MKT: The Unbeliever is the tale of a man who finds out a certain magical theme park holds a dark secret. The Intruder is about a new father whose lack of sleep brings torture to the table.
DP: And your protagonists?
MKT: Mike [in The Unbeliever] is a little bit of me. I've been lucky enough to visit Disneyworld three times in the last 8 years and although I had a great time there with the family, the sense of 'magic' and the other patrons revering it as some kind of almost holy place, did grate on me a little. It's pretty strange how these people act in there, with their matching family t-shirts and all. I wasn't full-on grumpy like Mike, of course. But the idea that this 'world' could harbour a dark side was something that always fascinated me. Mike finds out the hard way, though. I just hope this doesn't actually go on in reality. I just took the idea and played with it, adding a good amount of gore, obviously!
DP: And in The Intruder?
MKT: Toby is just a guy with a new baby who isn't getting enough sleep. So much so that his reality becomes a little blurred. He's only trying to do the best for his little girl, but something awakens in him that needs satisfying. I didn't base this character on me, though. Although the initial idea did come after sleepless nights with my own newborn. But all the sick stuff and gore came afterwards; I'm not that messed up. I don't think.
DP: I hope not! In writing the stories did you have to do much research?
MKT: The research for The Unbeliever was done without my conscious knowledge; ie. visiting the parks as semi-grumpy tourist. I did have a little read up to see whether the idea had been done before, I couldn't find another example, though. I also needed to remind myself what the characters looked like and which ones were there. Luckily I didn't force myself to watch hours of Disney films. The Intruder needed no research; it was all very fresh in my mind. Especially the torture scenes!
DP: So you found some of the scenes difficult to write?
MKT: I found the ending of The Intruder a bit of a struggle, as I hadn't got a clear vision of where the story was going when I started. But if you mean difficult to write because of the subject matter, then no. I never struggle to write horrific stuff. It's my favourite thing about writing, I want to make the reader squirm.
DP: And I would say you have been very successful in that! Creatively what would you say is your biggest success (to date)?
MKT: My debut novella, An Army of Skin. OK, it hasn't set me on a path to super stardom and isn't threatening to break Amazon with its sales numbers, but after grafting at it for around 18 months, to have a story I wrote available to the world gives me such a great feeling. The reviews have been very kind (so far) so I feel like I've been successful. Who needs sales anyway?
DP: Ah, the sales v reviews v reviews v sales debate! No room to get into that here but I know what you mean...so who influenced you as a writer?
MKT: The aforementioned Lovecraft, of course, and what horror writer couldn't mention Stephen King? I've read some amazing indie horror writers such as John F. Leonard, Steve Stred, M.R. Tapia, A.A. Medina, David Sodergren, and Calvin Demmer, to name just a handful. Away from horror I'm a massive fan of Chuck Palahniuk. I think influences are projected subconsciously, so I don't actively think about what's influencing me at the time of writing. But looking back at my work I can clearly see who I've been copying!
DP: I am a massive fan of Clive Barker and I still love when I’m compared to him – I think my writing has moved in a different direction since I first started – particularly the screenplays which are in the main right now historical / period drama – but saying that I’ve been thinking of a new short story for a book and it is very Barker-esque (which I’m happy to admit!). So – what does ‘horror’ mean to you?
MKT: I could go on and on about this one, but I'll keep it short. Horror is everywhere and takes many forms. One person's horrific is another's happy place. That in itself is frightening enough. But in fiction, be it books or films, I think horror is something that unnerves the reader / viewer. It doesn't have to be pant-soiling scary, but anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and creeped out equals well done horror to me.
DP: Great answer! And what are you afraid of then?
MKT: I have quite a strange phobia, one that I don't even think has a name. You know those creepy pictures of animal heads on human bodies? I don't know what it is, but they send the chills down me every time. I haven't explored that in any of my own stories, and that's because I'm scared, I promise.
DP: Oh my lord, I know what you mean! Okay, two quick ‘fun’ questions. Marvel or DC?
MKT: Erm, neither? I really can't get into superhero films, they just seem a little cliché to me. Good guys saving the world are just too upbeat! Give me full-on horror and gore with depressing endings any day. But I've seen that most people say Marvel when answering this question, so I'll say DC.
DP: Controversial perhaps, controversial ha ha. And finally then Morgan – please tell us something surprising about you?
MKT: Although I now reside in the West Midlands in the UK, I'm originally from a small village on the coast called Innsmouth. I'm not sure why I left, but I hope to return there some day. Somehow I feel like the place is calling me back, as crazy as that sounds.
DP: Ah, now I get it!
Thank you Morgan so much for your time. Best of luck with your Short Sharp Shocks!
If you would like to connect with Morgan direct:
Website Address: www.morganktanner.com