Book 56 in the Short Sharp Shocks! range of books is Michael Reyes and his The Rubble King. The book is released on the 27th November but is now available for pre-sales (cover by Adrian Baldwin). Recently Dean and Michael sat down and talked about the book.
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Hello Michael, welcome to DEMAIN, could you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer.
MICHAEL REYES: Hi! I was born and bred in pre-gentrified Brooklyn. I grew up in a dingy, railroad apartment raised by women (mother+ grandmother) HRA, and books. The living situation was morbid and eerie. A cousin committed suicide in the apartment below me in 1986, and I have a toddler memory of hearing the shotgun blast. She was a schizophrenic and married to a first cousin of Paul Castellano, who had been killed a year earlier in a hit. I guess she became super paranoid and freaked out after the murder, and that eventually led her to take her own life. Death was around at a pretty young age for me. Books were an escape, windows to different and better worlds. My grandmother fostered my addiction to reading. I knew I wanted to be a writer from around the age of 6 years old. I read and wrote obsessively until I was 14. Then I got off track until after joining the army, taking some college classes, and traveling around Europe (I was stationed in Germany, the Eurail made it super easy). I was then deployed to the Ministry of Oil during the first year of the Iraq War, and that changed my perspective on everything. I came back to New York and was all in; 100 percent dedicated to writing. I got involved in local theatre than began to write prose again.
DP: Have to say Michael that’s certainly a story in itself – it must have had a very deep impact on both your life and your work…can you tell us perhaps a bit more about your background and whether that also had some influence upon you as a writer.
MR: I have Puerto Rican, Irish and some Afro-Caribbean blood, but I’ve never really been accepted by any of those nationalities. It’s given me a deep sense of individuality and a weird sense of humour. I was raised underclass. It colours my writing. I once knew a mediocre playwright who graduated from Harvard. Doors were flung open for this person, grants were awarded. Not happening if that mediocre playwright was from City College of New York or UT Rio Grande Valley. Diversity in publishing/ the arts should also apply to class inclusivity.
DP: Yes, we’re having that argument right now in the UK! What was your first introduction to the horror genre?
MR: I have an early memory (4 or 5 years old) of thumbing through a Time Life book named Wizards and Witches. It was part of ‘The Enchanted World’ series. The creepy, macabre illustrations really stuck in my head at that time and they’ve never left. When I got a little older, I started hanging out more with my dad’s side of the family. I had cousins and uncles who put me on to all kinds of cool ass horror stuff. Fangoria, The Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Friday the 13th, but most importantly the The Exorcist and The Evil Dead. I saw those movies while very young and they changed my life and got me addicted to the genre.
DP: I still pinch myself that I was interviewed by Barbie Wilde for Fangoria. We actually did the interview in the dingy basement of a drinking establishment in Soho, London. It was a brilliant afternoon and to appear in those hallowed pages…okay, your Short Sharp Shocks!
MR: The Last Rubble King is a pulp horror morality tale set in the Bronx during the night of the Great Blackout in 1977. It’s the jump off story in a horror collection about that night, so I wrote it all fast and brutal. The Warriors, both film and book, plus old EC horror comics influenced The Last Rubble King.
DP: We totally got those references and The Warriors is a firm favourite here. Did you have to do much research when writing The Last Rubble King?
MR: I live in the Bronx, and there’s still a chapter of the Savage Nomads around Mount Eden. They were a 60s/70s era fighting gang, and they’re mentioned in The Last Rubble King. Parts of the Bronx are funny like that, lost in time. These guys still dress, act and talk the same. Two characters in the story are kind of modelled after these Old Schoolers around Walton Avenue.
DP: It’s been a little while since I was in New York but I met an old college friend and we had a day on the booze visiting some of the quieter districts and I totally get the idea that some areas / people were lost in time – if I remember correctly The Sopranos had recently ended and there were a few characters on the streets who obviously modelled themselves on Tony, Michael et al. Um, okay, did you find your Short Sharp Shocks! particularly difficult to write?
MR: Yeah. It’s a dark story. It’s really about saving souls, not lives.
DP: Indeed…what would you say is your biggest success to date in terms of creativity?
MR: Clock’s Watch III: Alpdruck! It’s the newest dark urban fantasy collection chronicling Coney Island’s supernatural protector. I went off the deep end with this one. It’s out early 2021.
DP: That sounds great – we’ll have to check that out. What books / authors do you read and do they influence you?
MR: The Books of Blood, Clive Barker. The Talisman, King and Straub. Labyrinths, Borges. I Am Legend, Matheson. The Haunting of Hill House, Jackson. Mythago Wood, Holdstock. The October Country, Bradbury. Our Lady of Darkness, Leiber. Plus, 70s-80s era Nuyorican poets, Amiri Baraka and the great poetry of Ed Dorn. All early age influences. The indie horror scene is alive and well. I read almost all of its contemporary authors.
DP: Some great titles! I definitely want to check out Labyrinths asap! I haven’t read enough Borges that’s the truth. Is there a horror book / film you’re particularly looking forward to?
MR: I’m looking forward to Clive Barker’s newest novel and novella. Also, Ari Aster’s next movie. It’s a four-hour long nightmare comedy. Should be fun!
DP: Should be! I too can’t wait to read new Clive Barker – he’s been such a massive influence on me and writers of my / our generation. There have been numerous reports of late (especially when there’s so much horror happening in the world right now) that the genre is dead, would you agree?
MR: Nope. The indie horror scene is awesome, great movies are being made, and superb original content is streaming on the small screen! Excellent time to be a creator and fan.
DP: Dead right! Finally then Michael, can you tell us something your readers might be surprised to find out about you?
MR: I’m not on any medication.
Ha ha! Like it – really enjoyed that chat Michael, the best of luck with The Last Rubble King!
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