Micah Ackerman is a Horror and Science Fiction writer from Connecticut. He has worked in the medical field for the past 10 years giving him unique insight into the interior workings of the human animal. His first full length novel "Wormwood" was released in the Spring of 2014. The book is about a full scale nuclear war and how one man strives to save his small town. Micah also just released his second novel "The Third Gender" which has been dubbed visionary and groundbreaking. Micah loves to chat with his fans so if you have any questions or comments please visit him at his website MicahAckerman.com
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in small town Connecticut and I’ve always been a small town guy. I worked in my father’s General Store until I was in my twenties. Then I switched over to the medical field. From there I worked as a phlebotomist… So if I’m describing blood in one of my books, chances are it’s accurate because I’ve seen a heck of a lot of it.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m a fisherman in the Spring and Summer and I’m also a huge movie buff. My Mom let me watch the original “Night of the Living Dead” when I was like eight. She use to play in the Cemetery where it was filmed. I guess that was her way of letting me see where she grew up…
What’s your favourite food?
My favourite food is Sushi… I like it because I believe the texture of raw fish most closely resembles human flesh.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Depeche Mode, Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Coheed and Cambria. I like music that is darkly epic and really moody. I would think that kind of describes me…. Over dramatic and darkly moody.
Tell us a dirty little secret?
I love watching Spongebob. Most people wouldn’t think it, because I write horror and post apocalyptic fiction. I also blog about the supernatural, but I really like Spongebob. I have three kids and I first got strungout when they made me watch it all the time, but now they have out grown the show and I still watch it … even when I’m alone.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop partying and chasing women and get writing. I also think that if I had started writing at a younger age I could have had about twenty books out by now. I wasted so much time. I was in a band throughout my twenties and we usually got free drinks at the clubs we played at. I lost a lot of brain cells in those days.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I’m in a situation like that now. I took time off from my job and wrote two books, now I don’t want to go back to work, but my writing isn’t providing health insurance. I imagine that I will go back to having a day job, at least until the writing thing takes off. I always thought the nine to five grind was awful… You work your whole life and when you’re done the best part of it’s gone. The problem is, in this day and age, it turns out that if you don’t pay your bills they come after you
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I’d love to say that I am a huge fan of the classics, that I have the right pedigree to be and author because I loved Dickens or Hemingway. The truth is that I’m a huge Stephen King and Clive Barker fan. I don’t really have the patience for the classics, although I do love Lovecraft and Poe. It’s just a lot easier for me to relate to Stephen King.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
The last great book I read was actually a series… It was The Strain series by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro. I know that a lot of people think that it’s Del Toro ripping off himself, but I really thought it was top notch. The last book that I thought was really disappointing would be a book called Abducted, by Susan Clancy. I expected it to be great, who wouldn’t like an alien abduction book…but it was all minutia and small paragraph stories. Max Brooks did that really well with World War Z, but Abducted was just boring.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
My all-time favourite horror Novel is “It” by Stephen King. That book will always stick with me, there’s something about the connection between the kids in that book and how I was as a kid. It also has a really scary clown which is a great benefit to any book. As far as films go; My all-time favourite is the original 1978 “Dawn of the Dead.” I think that movie has the best all-around feeling of impending doom that I have seen. It’s part of the reason that I love Post-Apocalyptic stuff. The idea of what would happen when all of the things we take for granted break down and everyone has to find what’s in them that makes them survive.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would it be?
The idea that victims have to act stupid and make horrible decisions. In life sometimes you can make all the right moves and still get your head chopped off. This idea of “don’t go in there, the killer is in there” is silly. If everyone in the theatre is screaming “you idiot, how did you not know that move was suicide” than the character should know that too. When I write I try and give my characters some credit. If they’re going to get hacked up, they’re going to do it smartly.
Which fictional character would be you perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
My perfect neighbour would be Danny Torrence from “The Shining” and “Dr. Sleep” because he seems like the kind of guy who would lend you the snow blower on a winter day. It would also be cool because we could have whole conversations without leaving the home. My nightmare neighbour would be “The Governor” from both the “Walking Dead” comic and TV series. He just seems like a real dick and he likes to keep strange ornamental items, like zombie heads in glass jars. I’d hate to think of what kind of eye-sore his lawn ornament would be.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
I would kill off Abraham Lincoln, in Abraham Lincoln vampire slayer. I would do it by sneaking up behind him in a crowded theatre. I figure if you’re gonna kill somebody why not go down in history as the guy who killed the best president ever.
And if you had free range what fictional character would you like to write for?
I would like to write for Vasily Fet from The Strain series. I always thought he was a great character. Big loveable guy, he was an exterminator before the Strain and an exterminator afterward. He was also an immigrant and just seems like a great character who appears to be kind of a blockhead, but is really deeper and knows more than he lets on.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I think that the genre is in good hands. I think some of the up and coming writers are some of the best and most talented I’ve read. Horror could be doing better in the mainstream though and that’s something we all have to work on. It’s one thing to be dark and eccentric, it’s another thing to be a recluse and I think some horror writers prefer the underground to a wider audience. I think that all of the zombie and vampire success should be embraced by the horror crowd instead of pushed off into their own genres. I’m not saying that “Twilight” should necessarily be considered horror, but there are worse things. It might actually help the genre as a whole to accept those types of things, and encourage something “like” that with a darker tone.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing horror fiction right now?
I’m not sure that it’s a huge problem, but a lot of the sub-categories of horror have been somewhat watered down. If you think about zombies, vampires and even werewolves those are all horror tropes, but they have been used without really twisting the narrative. I love those things, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re gonna write about zombies make it your own. Spin them around and put them on their undead heads. I love vampires, but my kid of vampires are the monstrous ones.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Both the positive and negative reviews have stayed with me. When I released my first novel “Wormwood” I knew that there were going to be some people who simply didn’t like it. One particular negative review though kind of urked me. The review said (paraphrasing) “The story is depressing from beginning to end…” I thought to myself, Yeah it’s freaking depressing, the book is about nuclear annihilation…
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
For me it’s simply trying to keep moving forward. I love writing, and it’s something that I can’t wait to do each day, but at the same time I tend to get bogged down. I want certain parts to be bigger and more powerful than they are. Sometimes I just have to step back and remember that every moment of the book doesn’t have to be filled with tension.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I would never write about Home Decorating. I think it’s boring, unless it’s a serial killer who paints the walls with blood or something. Other than stuff like that, I think there is no subject that is too taboo. I wouldn’t write about certain subjects in appositive light, for example I would never paint a child murderer or a racist in a good light. I would try to keep away from anything that glorifies that kind of stuff. I might make a character a racist, but I think he’d probably be a villain or someone who gets killed off relatively quickly.
What do you think makes a good story?
I like stories that make you care deeply for the characters. I think that’s why I love Stephen King. He is so good at building characters that you actually mourn for them if they get killed. You start to miss those characters after the book is finished. I want to write stories like that. I also think that twists and surprises in a story can be really good, but I think that sometimes they can go too far and be too clever for the books own good.
How important are names to you in your books?
I want the names in my books to sound like real people. I try to stay away from the tough guys named things like Max Power and other clichéd names. I think that you need a few Borachewvski’s and Vinny Barraco’s.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Believe it or not I think writers should be good liars… I mean that in the best of ways. I want to believe every word that you write like it’s the God’s honest truth. Even if you’re writing about Frankenstein from Saturn, I want to believe that it was possible that a mad scientist hopped on a spaceship and brought along twenty seven chopped up corpses to build this monster on Saturn. I like to write about realistic events, what could happen to you now. I think those are the scariest books. I think realism is the most important tool a writer should have next to the ability to spin a good yarn.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
A best-selling writer who I consider my personal mentor (although he writes non-fiction) told me that “you need to write life.” Even the most incredible stories come from real life events. I think it’s the whole truth is stranger than fiction thing.
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
I have seen it all in reviews, from amateurish to utter garbage. The most demeaning thing I read though was when one reviewer said, “The writing is really good quality, but it’s boring.” I want everyone to like my books, but I know that some people just aren’t going to click with my material… I just hope it’s not boring.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I have tried to become active in certain communities (where I already was semi-active) that I think would like my novels. I visit a lot of Horror, Sci-fi and even Prepper groups. It’s very hard to tell what exactly works and what doesn’t for me yet. It’s a very fine line between letting people know that you have a novel out and spamming.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
My favourite character is Nathan Wilder from my first novel “Wormwood” the reason is that he’s me. I had the story in my head for ten years and when I sat down to write it I imagined myself in that situation. What came out was a spitting image of myself.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
My least favourite character is “The Surgeon” from my second novel “The Third Gender.” He sells out his own species and the country for power. He orchestrates everything and soon it becomes too powerful for even him to handle. So he sells out everyone, encourages others to sell out and in the end is too week to stop what he created.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
So far I’m the most proud of “Wormwood” simply because when I told everyone I was going to write a book a lot of people laughed at me. I wrote the book not only because I love to write, but also because I wanted to prove to myself (and everyone else) that I could do it. I wanted to have something that would stand the test of time and hopefully be enjoyed after I’m gone. I love my other books and stories too, but I’m the most proud of my first.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
I have a short story or two that aren’t my favourite. I also wrote almost an entire novel about a virus. That book will never see the light of day. There were so many things wrong with it, but writing it taught me a lot… Basically what not to do.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
I think “Wormwood” best represents my work, because it has all the elements I love in a good story. It has a clear arc, a well-defined villain and unlikely hero and even a love story. I think it’s a story that gives you a deep dark look into my soul. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not… lol.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on both the sequel to “Wormwood” and the sequel to “The Third Gender.” I usually don’t write two books at once, but it’s been a good experience because it lets me flip back and forth. If I get writers block on one, I switch to the other.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
My question would be: “I have this ten million dollars and I simply can’t spend it… would you like to take it off my hands?”
My answer would be: “What’s the catch?”
A startling birth defect sweeps the nation causing babies to be born without reproductive organs. As these children grow and begin to enter adulthood a secret emerges -- they are human parasites. During puberty the teens of the Third Gender acquire the ability to feed, but what they consume is far more vital than flesh or blood. The Third Gender are able to thrive by absorbing memories, knowledge and experience from their victims. They leave these poor casualties as empty and useless as flesh without soul, empty shells that are doomed to death.The teens become more dangerous than anyone can possibly imagine and soon strive to take over the world.
The story is told in vivid detail from the perspective of Hope Kerman one of the first children to be born of The Third Gender and Ben Ziegler a flawed FBI agent Determined to stop the Third's ascent to power. The novel is a thrilling take on the Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic genre with elements of Horror.
The Third Gender: Hope and Prey is the first book in an epic trilogy from Micah Ackerman