We welcome American author Scott J. Moses to DEMAIN with Short Sharp Shocks! 75 – Non-Practicing Cultist. The book is published on the 2nd of July with a cover by Adrian Baldwin. It is currently available for pre-sales. For info – we decided with this title to keep the American spelling on the cover and throughout for the ebook. Before publication Dean and Scott sat down and talked.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Scott to DEMAIN. It’s great to have you hear. Can you tell us all a bit about yourself…
SCOTT J. MOSES: Thanks, Dean. Well, I’m a Baltimorean writer of dark speculative fiction, primarily short fiction at the moment because I can’t seem to let it alone long enough to tackle something longer haha As to why I became a writer, the answer may be a bit cliché, but I’d always written short stories between classes purely for fun, and it wasn’t until I was around 25 that I decided to make a serious go of it.
DP: Ah, I know Baltimore well, well I did twenty odd years ago. I’ll have to get out there again soon as I still have friends in the area. What exactly is your Short Sharp Shocks! about?
SJM: Non-Practicing Cultist follows a former Vietnam veteran back from the war who’s taken it upon himself to dismantle the murderous cult he was forced to join as a young orphan. If Judeo-Christian adjacent cults, noir, swamps, and hallucinations are your thing, it might be for you.
DP: Oh, it definitely is and I had a great deal of fun reading it – so thanks for that. Did you have to do much research when writing it?
SJM: My writing usually has a historical bend to it, so for this story in particular I researched the draft in the ‘60s and ‘70s and that of the Tunnel Rats in the Vietnam war. Men who would volunteer to clear ominous enemy tunnels with nothing more than a flashlight, handgun, and the shirt on their back.
DP: At times I’ll be honest I found myself right in those tunnels. I’m not particularly claustrophobic but a few years back I found myself on one of those adventure / team building type of things and one of the ‘attractions’ was this maze of tunnels. I was all gun-ho, went down in the small lift underground, got on my hands and knees and immediately froze. My body wouldn’t move. I managed to crawl back out as I hadn’t gone very far at all and did the ‘walk of shame’ back to the top – never again. Anyway, anyway – creatively what is your biggest success to date?
SJM: I guess I’m especially proud of my debut collection, Hunger Pangs, which seems to have been well-received, though if we’re talking professionally or regarding my career, I’d say it was my first professional sale to Cemetery Gates Media late last year for their ‘Paranormal Contacts Anthology’. I’m honored to have been included in that TOC with so many friends and writers I greatly respect.
DP: Well done you. Scott, what books/authors do you read and do they influence you?
SJM: The authors I find myself returning to again and again are Brian Evenson, Claire North, John Langan, Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, and Han Kang, but there are many others.
DP: Some great names there! It’s been a terrible 18months or so for much of the world – would you say the horror genre is affected by world events and have you ever put world events in your work?
SJM: I think it was Nina Simone who said “How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?” By default, an artist and the times they live in will seep into their work. If you’re writing honestly, it’s inevitable.
DP: I’m with you on that. I’ve written something recently which totally isn’t about covid but when I read it back I realised it was – very odd as that was not my intention at all. “The horror genre is dead.” – Agree/Disagree?
SJM: You know, I keep hearing this as well, and would say everything to the contrary. The indie scene is alive and well, that’s for sure. Authors like Hailey Piper, Laurel Hightower, Tyler Jones, and Joanna Koch for example are utterly killing it in the best way, and I’m excited to be in what some have called another golden age of horror. The people who say horror is dead are merely ignorant, in the most respectable form of the word, or just aren’t looking in the right spaces. The indie scene is booming with talent.
DP: We know Hailey and Joanna very well at DEMAIN and I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying. Creatively is there anything you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet?
SJM: Actually, yes, and I’m glad you asked, Dean. I’ve always wanted to try on an editor’s hat for a change, and will be editing my first anthology What One Wouldn’t Do, which is due out in the Fall of this year. The theme is “The Lengths One Might Go To for (fill in the blank here)” and a theme I’m incredibly passionate about. Subs opened/closed in May and I’m excited to read them and everyone’s takes on the theme. Updates can be found on my website: www.scottjmoses.com.
DP: Good luck with that. SO, the lockdown – how did you handle it?
SJM: It was rough, to say the least, and though I’m a natural introvert, damned if I don’t miss doing things with actual human beings. It did allow for me to ramp up the production of my debut collection, and that’s sort of all I did to keep the isolation beast away. That, and I was fortunate to still have to go into the office as an essential worker, so I was able to get out of the house a fair amount still. It’s a wonder how much the daily commute did for my mental health, though driving through Baltimore was eerie as hell, like a ghost town, really.
DP: Yeah, I found the period very creative but it’s definitely affected my mental health so as soon as the restrictions are lifted completely my aim is to get out and about again. Even if it’s just a bus or train somewhere. Okay, last question Scott – can you tell me something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
SJM: Despite being a horror lover most of my life, I’ve barely seen any movies in the genre. For example, I’m 30 years old and just saw Alien, Aliens, and The Thing for the first time a few weeks ago. Before you ask me to return my horror card though, know I’m working through a list to get caught up.
DP: That’s very cool – I envy you. Make sure of course that you check out Hellraiser and Hellraiser II – two of my personal favourites!
Scott it was great to speak to you. All the best with your SSS!
If you would like to connect with Scott J. Moses direct:
Dean M. Drinkel