Mike Philbin, artist/writer
Chimericana Books, publisher
Today we are interviewing horror writer Mike Philbin, author of books like Szmonhfu, Animal Instincts, Jane's Game and of the autobiographical book, The Life and Death of Hertzan Chimera. Mike is also active as a publisher. He published the Chim+Him+Her books, and his interview book, Spidered Web got nominated for a non-fiction Bram Stoker Award.
Novel Spot interviewer Ilona Hegedus
IH: When did you start writing?
Mike: One shouldn't dwell on the past - the past is toxic. It is how we become the compliant calves heading down the gangplank to the slaughterhouse of creativity. My first petit-mort of prose anxiety was published in Dreams & Nightmares back in 1985 or so. But that's the past, so let's move on - like snails along a razor blade - to your next question.
IH: What are your main influences as an author?
Mike: Writers are like training shoes. They're all made in the same factory in India. Same glue. Same thread. Same patterns. Why do we spend more of our time reading one writer than another? Marketing, pure and simple. We are told what to read by those who (currently) have control of the mass media. It is a real (not imagined) conspiracy against creative freedom. As a creative writer I am influenced by the apathy of the world, my influences come at me from all angles like arrows.
©2007 Ilona Hegedes
IH: Why did you choose to write horror? What is it that attracts you to the genre?
Mike: Horror is a pathetic dinosaur ride with grimacing skulls and stupid shrieking sounds on it. I didn't choose to writer horror, horror chose me. Nightmares are the fuel for my dalliances, those nightmares have horrific elements. Attracted to the horror genre? I thought I was, then I went to Horrorfind 2002 and was sorely depressed by the compliancy-to-genre of most of the stuff (there were some excellent subversions of the genre but they were few and far between). What’s this year’s major theme? Zombies? Werewolves? Vampires? Creativity? You get the drift...
IH: How would you introduce the genre to somebody who is not familiar with it?
_Mike: Learn to bleat like a lamb to the slaughter (you're sensing a theme, right?)
IH: Chimaraworld 4 anthology will appear around Christmas 2006. What makes this book special and what bizarro fiction is about?
Mike: The modern motorcar (and the industry that surrounds it) is nothing but a cancer on the face of the Earth. Mark Zirbel, Christina Kinnan, Paul Murray Collrin, Jenny Ashford, Liam Davies, Courtney Burback, Mark Robyn, M.P. Johnson, Tyler Runde, J. M. Heluk, Kelly Stevens, Ken C Goldman, Ray Wallace, Gerard Brennan, Brad C. Hodson, M. Jones, Suzanne Burns, Jeff Drake, Cameron Pierce, Sean Rickards, David Mitchell Turnbull, Kek-W and Alex Severin bring us twenty-three tales of the revolting lives and ugly deaths of these beasts of the road. Long may they remain dead. This book is special because it flies in the face of the common idea that 'my car is my freedom'. In fact, your car is all about slavery. Bizarro? Well, the less said about that 'cheap marketing movement' the better.
IH: What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you start to write a story and where do you find the inspiration?
Mike: I am serenaded by a story from below a thorn-lined balcony. Of course the beast doing the serenading has razor blades for flesh and a mechanical grinding device for sexual organs but I'm lured down into the shadows none the less. It's a sick way to live, but I love it.
IH: What advice would you give to beginner authors who would like to write horror?
Mike: Don't. Writer from the heart. This way you will ensure that you've written something that may just reflect the writer. All readers need to make emotional (even physical) contact with the writer through their words. They say, "We just want stories, screw the writer." Stories are written by mediocre writers for an (imagined) audience. These are the worst sort of writers. Screw the audience, write like your life is over tomorrow. Put YOUR pain, YOUR love, YOUR anger, hatred, sorrow, passion on the page.
IH: Which one of your books are you the most proud of?
Mike: The next one - trite answer, I know. But... for me, as a writer, it's the thrill of discovery. I don't try to rest on my laurels and go, "Yeah, I'll never writer a book as good as ." My aim is to see how far I can push the envelope - hopefully one day the envelope will pop and I'll step through ... to God-knows where. I have a snorkel, just in case...
IH: Writers often talk about the difficulties involved in finding out something scary enough after all the horrors people see in news programs each day. What are your thoughts on this?
Mike: If these so-called writers of horror can't feel the fear, they certainly can't write it. Go into a bar in a rough part of town on a Friday night and start a fight with a big man, then you'll know fear...
IH: What are the topics you most like to deal with as an author?
Mike: The transformative power of the imagination - in an ideal Mike Philbin / Hertzan Chimera book, the world is a cognisant living organism of dictatorship that exerts its ruthless power upon the heroes and heroines - no matter how hard they try, heroism will be crushed. That’s the general rule.
IH: I have recently read that you decided to resurrect Hertzan Chimera. Who is he, and why did you decide to bring him back to the bookshelves?
Mike: The world needs heroes. True, when I 'killed him off' back in 2004, I felt like I'd gotten the mischievous monkey off my back. I felt liberated. I could for the first time (stripped of the mask) start writing books as Mike Philbin, start showing the world what it was like in the year 2006 to be a creative entity. But, you know what, I started to miss the old mucker. Writing as Hertzan Chimera was a very liberating exercise and soon the urge began again to write like a madman and throw caution to the wind. I am a subversive, to the core. No way could Hertzan Chimera remain in hibernation - his winter was over. Many folk in the writing community congratulated me when they'd heard of his resurrection, about as many as congratulated me when he was first killed off.
IH: What are you currently working on?
Mike: I currently have two new Hertzan Chimera 80,000 word novels out through Chimericana Books TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING and THE HOO-HOO ARE COMING. I am working on a new Hertzan Chimera novel called THIS TIME, THIS PLACE and I'm also working on a new Mike Philbin novel called THE STALKERS GUIDE TO... You know, I'm a real lazy marketer of my own shit. I write the books but never get the urge to send them out, court the agents/publishers, see them in print. I have a 70-character novel YôROPPA that's just sitting in a box. I have a novella-cum-novel THE PLANET OF THE OWLS just sitting in a box. I have a novella called VIEW FROM A STOLEN WINDOW just... you see the pattern.
Mike Philbin, artist/writer_http://www.mikephilbin.com
Chimericana Books, publisher_http://www.chimericanabooks.com