Spotlight on Horror: An Interview with Brent Kelley

1082117_10201500314381916_481096962_nAnd for my next trick, an interview with fellow Omnium Gatherum author Brent Michael Kelley. Things get a little crazy here. Enjoy!

Dean Harrison: To get things started, tell me about yourself. Dazzle me. What is the first thing people should know about Brent Michael Kelley?

Brent Michael Kelley: The first thing people should know is I’m the deadliest man in the world with a push mower. Without a push mower? I’m pretty safe. You put a push mower in my hand, though, you know there’s about to be some carnage. Once I pull that starter cord, everything goes dark.

DH:  Tell me about your debut novel, Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater.

BMK: Chuggie’s the embodiment of Drought on a world called Mag Mell. He’s also permanently intoxicated. When he stumbles on the remote city of Stagwater, he finds himself caught between forces vying for control of the city.

DH:  How long did it take you to write it, and what was the most challenging part of the process for you?

BMK: It took a very long time to write that one. I think I tinkered with it for five or six years before I had a completed draft. Back when I started it I didn’t know what it was. Was it going to be a novel? A short story? A graphic novel? At one point, I debated writing it as a long story-poem. If I’d gone that route, I don’t think I’d be finished yet.

DH:  I’m going to dump a load on ya here. Hope it doesn’t smell too bad:

How long have you been writing? What got you into writing? What steps did you take on the road to publication? Are they treating you well at Omnium Gatherum?

BMK: A few years ago, I was working a job I didn’t enjoy. Every day for lunch, I’d go down to the park and sit at a picnic table for an hour. To take my mind off my job, I started writing this story-poem about gnomes… a “Gnoem.” It just grew and grew until one day it was finished. I submitted to some folks, and it got accepted for a children’s anthology. I decided I was on the right track, so I signed up for a writing workshop with Jeremy Shipp. I met some new literary pals in the workshop, made good connections. Of course, Chuggie pre-dates the Gnoem by a while. If the Gnoem hadn’t been published, though, it’s possible no one would ever have heard of Chuggie. As far as Omnium Gatherum goes, Chief Editor Kate Jonez has been great to me. She treats me like a princess, bro.

DH:  And here’s another one. Brace yourself:

What do you find to be the most challenging part of crafting a story? Describe your process. Do you outline? Write at night? Type while standing on your head?

BMK: For me, the easy part is coming up with a bazillion little notes for clever or twisted things that ought to happen in the story. The hard part is taking those notes and trying to figure out how they fit into the big puzzle, if at all. I do outline. I’m always amused when the story breaks free of the outline on its own, and the original outline goes in the trash. I’ll go a ways without one, but a new one has to be created before the end. I used to like to write late into the evenings, but now there’s a baby in the house so writing got switched from late night to early morning. When I’m in full writing mode, I’ll try to get up about 4am.

DH:  Who are your influences?

BMK: Stephen King’s Dark Tower is a huge influence. Piers Anthony. Robert E. Howard’s Conan stuff. Michael Moorcock’s Elric. Frank Herbert’s Dune. Christopher Moore. I’m also a fan of Warhammer 40k books.

DH:  Tell me about your shorter work. Where can readers find it?

BMK: I have two short horror stories published at the moment. “Ride” is a story about motorbikes, a collection, and brotherhood. It was published in DETRITUS, a collection-themed anthology from Omnium Gatherum. The other is called “A Friend In Paga.” It appears in an anthology called FORTUNE: LOST AND FOUND. That one is about getting a good night’s sleep. People say it’s quite twisted, which is good. That’s what I was going for. They’re both available from Amazon.com, and everyone who reads this interview should buy several copies. I have a third short story due to be published in an anthology soon, but it’s… not family friendly.

DH:  What’s your favorite whiskey?

BMK: Honestly, I don’t drink enough whiskey to have a favorite. If you wanna talk brandy, however, I can tell you I prefer E&J VSOP. Pour that on some ice and sip you some heaven!

DH:  I hear you like to paint. What’s up with that? Who are your influences?

BMK: I haven’t had the studio open for a while, but I’m hoping to change that soon. I love painting strange landscapes and monsters, you know? I love bright colors, especially this kind of poison-green I get when I mix Viridian with Hansa yellow. Just like the Dutch Masters, I start with a dark panel and work my way to light. Yes, me and Vermeer are two peas in a pod! Sometimes, a horrific clown on a 4’x4’ panel can be just what the doctor ordered. I’ve been doing some stylized birds, too. Owls, mostly, but some others. Folks seem to like those. People can see some art I’ve done over at http://www.catbat.com/bmk/art/.  Animals, landscapes, abstractions… Something for EVERYONE! Except that one guy. He knows why.

As far as influences, we’re talking about folks like Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy, HR Giger, Alex Grey, Chet Zar, Yang Xueguo, Zdzislaw Beksinski, and Wayne Barlowe. You might not see a lot of their influence in my painting, but they inspire a lot of what happens in my written work. And maybe when I pick up the brush again, you’ll start seeing more of their influence in my paint.

DH:  If this were your last day on earth, what would you do?

BMK: I’d tell everyone in the world that I love them and I’d give everyone a puppy and I… I… I… am lying. I’d totally go on a flamethrower rampage.

DH:  What do you have in the works now?

BMK: Chuggie’s second adventure, Chuggie and the Bleeding Gateways, was just released in June, so I’m working hard to promote that. I’m especially stoked about it because I’m donating half of my first-year royalties to the American Cancer Society. Right after Bleeding Gateways was released, I went on a three week trip to South Africa. You better believe I got a ton of great notes for Chuggie #3! Yessir, Chuggie and the Prisoner Gods should be ready for readers in 2014.

DH:  What advice would you have for young, aspiring writers?

BMK: Write furiously. Get your stuff critiqued. Edit. Read furiously. Get a voice recorder, and go on a long drive in the country. Drink brandy (not while you’re on the drive, though).

DH:  What is the meaning of life?

BMK: I’m so glad you asked. This guy in this forum I belong to was asking people’s advice about this problem he’s having. See, he lives in an apartment, and his landlord has told him he either gets his cat declawed, or the cat goes. So I chimed in with a little advice we can all learn from. I said, “Instead of cutting off the claws, why not cut off the whole cat? Checkmate, landlord!” And that’s what it’s all about: one-upping the rotten sons of – Hey, I just realized we both made it through this whole interview without breaking into the deep, colorful profanity we both so enjoy! This is a lot of willpower happening right here. What say we celebrate with a crash course in fine American whiskeys, brandies, and girly-mags?

DH: I appreciate you taking the time to stop by, Brent.

BMK: Thanks for the interview, Dean. I feel like we all learned a lot. Especially me.

~

Brent Michael Kelley lives in the countryside north of Tomahawk, Wisconsin, with his wife Keri, their son Jordy, and a small zoo of strange creatures. When he isn’t writing, he likes to paint, make wine, and sit around the campfire. He certainly doesn’t get up to anything strange, and if you ever hear he’s been building an army of demon-possessed robots, you may rest assured it isn’t true. Brent keeps his readers up to date on his perfectly normal activities at www.brentmichaelkelley.com and on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Chuggie.bmk). He assures everyone that many more Chuggie adventures are on the way.

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