Max Booth III is the author of two novels: Toxicity (April 2014) and The Mind is a Razorblade (September 2014). He has also written two story collections: They Might Be Demons (June 2013) and True Stories Told By a Liar (now out of print). He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.
Since 2011 he has been the Assistant Editor of Dark Moon Digest and has edited numerous anthologies. He writes online for LitReactor, Zombie POP, and Revolt Daily. He has studied under Craig Clevenger and award winning editor, Jennifer Brozek.
Max was born in Northern Indiana. He has worked as a cashier, stockboy, copy editor, and hotel night auditor. He currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with his life partner and dachshund. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth for random drunken ramblings
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Hi! Thanks for having me!
I live in a small town outside San Antonio, TX, where I work as a hotel night auditor. I’m originally from Northern Indiana, but moved to Texas about three years ago. I co-own a micro-press called Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing with my girlfriend, Lori Michelle.
I’ve written online for Revolt Daily and Zombie POP.net, and I was recently hired as a columnist for LitReactor (look for my first column with them April 29th!). I’ve also edited numerous anthologies and have served as the assistant editor for Dark Moon Digest the last couple of years now.
Last year Dark Moon Books released my collection of flash fiction horror, They Might Be Demons, and just a few days ago Post Mortem Press published my debut novel, Toxicity, a dark comedy about horrible things happening to horrible people.
Of course, that means jack-shit to most of you. Everybody has a book now. Anybody can get published, right?
Well, I’m here to convince you I’m not just anybody. Writing is my life, and my life is something I will not waste.
So let’s continue, yeah?
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I prefer the term dark fiction, because it seems to encompass both horror and weird fiction, along with any other genre of a grotesque or noir nature. My favorite fiction is almost always something dark and twisted.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Man, as most of the people you interview, I’m sure the list could go on and on. But here’s my absolute favorites: Stephen King, Christopher Moore, Carl Hiaasen, Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Ketchum, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, Elmore Leonard, and…and…and…you get the picture. It’s hard to choose. I guess if I had to pick only one author, it’d be Christopher Moore. The dude’s hilarious and his books are almost always highly entertaining.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
The best horror novel I have ever read is, without question, John Dies at the End by David Wong. No other book has ever mastered the horror-comedy genre as well as JDatE. I’ve actually lost count of how many times I have re-read this book, but each time it gets better than the last. It’s one of those where you notice new things upon each new read. The book manages to be utterly horrifying while simultaneously making you laugh yourself stupid. It’s genre-aware and proud of it. I love it to death.
As for my favorite horror film, that’s a bit tougher to nail down. I used to say In the Mouth of Madness, but I recently watched it again, and it doesn’t seem to hold up as well as I remember. Maybe the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. That movie scared the shit out of me as a kid. I love dreams, and the idea behind that film is absolutely brilliant.
However, the recent remake can go straight to hell.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
I’m really tired of naïve city-slickers going out to the country only to be eaten by redneck cannibals. Horror fiction characters need to be more aware of other works of horror. These people should know better.
Which fictional character would be you perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
The perfect neighbor would be John from John Dies at the End, because we’d just hang out together all day drinking beer and playing video games. I’d hate to be neighbors with the crazy religious lady from Stephen King’s The Mist.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I think we are currently drowning in product, and while many may frown about this, I happen to love it. I love the fact that we have access to horror books we would have never known existed if we only relied on big name publishers. We have such a wider selection right now, any reader can find something written just for them. On the downside, with so much product, it’s definitely a lot harder to get paid a decent amount of money. It’s the same with any business. Why pay more when someone else will give up their writing for a lot less?
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
The last novel to blow my mind was Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It’s a thick beast of a book, and moves slow as hell, but it’s very surreal, very weird, and quite beautiful. It’s subtle and strange, and I highly recommend it.
The last book to disappoint me was probably Sixty-Five Stirrup Iron Road. It was collaborated on by a whole bunch of horror authors I really admire, but man, I just did not like it at all. It made the mistake too many amateur horror novels make: it sacrificed story for an abundance of gross-out gore/sex scenes. A lot of my friends love it, though, so maybe I’m just a horrible person.
How would you describe your writing style?
Weird and dark.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
I recently received a review for Toxicity that I am pretty sure is every writer’s dream review. It’s quite long, so it’ll be better just to link to the article, but it really made my day. The reviewer even goes as far as to compare the novel to the works of Philip K. Dick and the Coen Brothers.
Here’s the link for the whole review:
What’s your favourite food?
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
“Trailer Trash” by Modest Mouse
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Someone is always going to hate what you write, and often, that someone is you.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Managing my time and focusing on one project. My brain tends to branch off in different directions and I always want to working on multiple books at the same time. It’s chaotic.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve learned to stop worrying so much about each sentence during the first draft and just get it out on paper. I’ve come to really love the revision process, and you can’t edit a blank page, now can you?
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
“Fuck you. Pay me.” – Harlan Ellison
Who is your favourite character from Toxicity and why?
I’m really fond of the ex-baseball player convict, Maddox Kane. Here is a man who is trying to turn his life around and make amends with his family, but everywhere he turns, his old life of crime just won’t let him go. I enjoy writing about flawed human beings. People who don’t always do right, even when they’re trying desperately not to do wrong.
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I wasn’t completely happy with how Johnny Desperation’s family turned out. Johnny is one of the three main characters in Toxicity, and I was disappointed with the lack of “screen time” I gave to the rest of his whacked out family. Earlier drafts dedicated many more pages to them, but as editors went through it, they found their story wasn’t very relevant, and a lot of it was cut.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Besides Toxicity, I would pick a short story released in January 2014 called “Video Nasties”, which was published in the debut issue of Jamais Vu, a new horror magazine on the block. It was inspired by the true, horrifying story of the James Bulger murder back in the 90s, and it was a really hard thing to write about. But I made it through, and afterward, I was paid professional rates for its publication, and that’s always a great feeling.
For those who haven’t read any of you books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Well that would have to be Toxicity. It’s half crime novel, half over-the-top comedy, with a little dose of horror on the side. It’s gone through more drafts than I can recall, and it’s been a part of my life for a long time.
It is my love-letter to films like Snatch and Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels. It is the product of somebody who grew up watching the films of Quentin Tarantino and devouring the books of Elmore Leonard. You should grab it if you like dark comedies and crime novels. Fans of the absurd should look no further.
You should order it because this is my first novel, and I need you to have faith, I need you to give me a chance. I am confident that this book will make you a fan for life. Because if it doesn’t, then what the fuck am I even doing?
Toxicity is my baby. And it is time release it to the wild.
Can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My next novel will be released toward the end of the year by Kraken Press. It’s called The Mind is a Razorblade, and it’s sort of a supernatural version of The Bourne Identity. I’m also typing away on two other novels, Giving Up the Ghost (surreal, on-the-road adventure) and Strange Nights (dark comedy about a hotel night auditor). I’m also preparing some heavy research for a novel to work on after all of those tentatively titled The Greatest Game on Earth, which would be about a serial killer baseball player.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
Q: How rad is Tom Waits?
To which my answer would be: The raddest.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MAX FROM THE LINKS BELOW
Oh to be a fly on the wall ...
When Maddox Kane is released from prison after serving a ten year stretch, he has one thing on his mind: reconnecting with his daughter.
Problem: his ex-wife and her new junkie husband have other plans, and it's going to cost Maddox a small fortune to buy his share of custody. His daughter, on the other hand, has other priorities to attend to--such as coming up with enough cash to skip town before the cops find a certain body decomposing in the woods.
Darkly comedic and absurdly tragic, TOXICITY is a tale of horrible things happening to horrible people.
“Max Booth III is a star on the rise!”
—Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award winning author of FLESH EATERS
ADVANCED PRAISE FOR TOXICITY
“TOXICITY is about as over-the-top insane as anything you’ll read this year, but without ever sacrificing character or story. It’s a fast-paced, amusing, and wonderfully gross ride!”
—Jeff Strand, author of WOLF HUNT
"With TOXICITY Max Booth III has put together a rare story indeed. It's quirky, surreal, laugh-out-loud funny, well peppered with unexpected moments, and above all, jaw-clenching intense. Highly recommended!"
—Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Bram Stoker Award winning author of BLACK & ORANGE
"Misfits, mayhem and Zooey Deschanel. Max Booth III's foray into the underbelly of life is like being sucker-punched by Tarantino. He offers a world where Desperation is more than a state of despair, Jesus is a housefly determined to begin an apocalypse, and greed is a skewer that pierces the heart of the dammed."
—Craig Wallwork, author of THE SOUND OF LONELINESS
“TOXICITY seeps under your skin, infecting you with black comedy, shocking violence, and the stinking desperation of bad people rotting in the sun. And yet somehow, we still root for these dark souls—and that is the genius of Max Booth III.”
—Richard Thomas, author of STARING INTO THE ABYSS
“Quick-witted and outrageous, this book is truly not for everyone (i.e. those puritanical and/or sane). But if you get excited envisioning something that’s like ‘Pulp Fiction’ mixed with a dose of the supernatural and a wicked sense of humor, TOXICITY should top your reading list.”
—Eric J. Guignard, Bram Stoker Award nominated editor of AFTER DEATH…
“TOXICITY is a gritty, raw, unvarnished descent toward the kind of redemption only a modern noir can offer. Where this ends, though, are some eerily timely places, with some rather rough characters you can't help but become fascinated by. If the end of the world is coming, this is probably what'd it'd feel like.”
—John Palisano, author of NERVES
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