Ginger Nuts of Horror
Bill Kieffer is from the east coast of the states, in a small tourist town that swells up in the summer and then is a creepy shut-in community for the rest of the year. He's writer of comics books Billy Joe VanHelsing: Redneck Vampire Hunter and Great Morons of History: The Dan Quayle Story. He has also dabbled in interviews, short stories, and porn. Recent short stories appear in Roar 7, Wolf Watchers III, and a science fiction horror anthology the publisher keeps renaming.
Kieffer is also a Furry known online as Greyflank, the Typing Horse. Make of that what you will; he certainly will.
His book, The Goat: Building the Perfect Victim, is now available from Red Ferret Press, a dark urban fantasy flirting with the label of horror erotica. BDSM without all those annoying rules. The Goat recently earned the title of Pitch Perfect Pick at the Underground Book Review (https://www.undergroundbookreviews.org/book/the-goat/).
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m married, no kids. The other night, when I was just walking around at night, checking things out, a cop stopped me. Wanted ID, I had none… because I was just walking. He asked me my name and numbers. Asked me if I’d ever been in trouble before. “I’m not in trouble now.” Asked me if I had any scars. Told him that I was circumcised.
TMI is my middle name.
Cop told me to move along. “You’re the one that stopped me.” He drove away and I went home and wrote a scene where that encounter went really south.
I’ve been writing for years and published in comics, porn, short stories, and interviews. I also interned for a short time with Troma. My biggest claim of fame was working with Revolutionary Comics and getting sued by New Kids on the Block.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to read. I’m a bookcrosser and I read about a book a week. Less, if I’m writing heavily. I read all sorts of books, because that exposure to variety helps you as a writer, I believe. I write book reviews, too.
I used to have other, more interesting hobbies, but then I discovered the Internet.
Lately, I’ve also been day dreaming about being thrown into the back of a patrol car and sexually assaulted while percussion jazz hammers softly in the background.
Other than horror, what other things have been a major influence on your writing?
Comic books and Star Trek. I can be quite literal minded as a child. Reading comics used to bother me, because here’s a hero throwing one punch in a frame and he’s spitting out three sentences at the same time. But I was attracted to the idea of comics and men in spandex fighting with each other, so I had to work out the idea of representation and recreating the story in my head as I followed along. Very early on, I realized on some level that part of (or ever much of) the storytelling really happens in the reader’s head. I like to think that I’ve learned to invite a reader into my story, to make it their own.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Dark Fiction is preferable, at least for The Goat, my novella. I had tried the term Horror Erotica, but it doesn’t describe the sexual acts in detail. There’s a huge element of abuse in The Goat, and I didn’t want to sensationalize the abuse and come across as if I was promoting it. And since every sex scene in the book has abuse… well, now it’s just dark urban fantasy with an R rating.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Richard Matheson was a fairly recent re-discovery. My wife and I read the Shrinking Man together (I read the hard cover and she read it on her Kindle) last year and Matheson was all we could talk about for weeks. I love big writers like Stephen King and Dean Koontz, but I also love Linda K. Hamilton, Phil Guesz, and Sue Grafton.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
John Dies at the End was the last, great horror book I read. The Repair Man Jack series, is probably my favourite series in horror… well, then there’s the Anita Blake novels… and I would be a bad horror fan if I admitted to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I think I’m going to have to say The Stand was my favorite horror book.
Film is easy. On the one end, Poultry-Geist from Troma. On the other end, Cabin In the Woods.
How would you describe your writing style?
I think I got the creepy thing down pat. I try to leave hooks for the reader that they can hang their hats on, if they want to stay awhile. I try not to explain too much to the reader.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
For an introverted individual, I’m quite the attention whore. I love seeing reviews of my work because I’m sure my name will be mentioned in it at least twice. So, in a way they’ve all stuck with me but none rocked me more than Brian Kaufman’s Rabbit Hole Review. ”The Goat is an impressive fable—clever and subversive. Kieffer’s prose is playful, poetic and brutal in turns. Highly recommended. (Five stars out of five)” Until that moment, I had thought my story was incomplete.
But honestly, I feel lucky to able to take something away from each review. That might change, of course. I am bound to eventually get a bad review that will make me sick or make me feel like an imposter. Even then, I’m sure I’ll still enjoy seeing my name in print.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Ideas are so exciting… and sitting my ass in one place and typing away is so hard… especially when I’ve done that all day at the day job. I’ve been learning how to mono-focus, so I can type with my blinders on.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
No. The Goat: Building the Perfect Victim was inspired by my boyfriend. If I can publish that with my wife’s support, I can do anything. That’s doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that I won’t sensationalize. The narrator of The Goat is an abuser and a bully, and I hope I portrayed his power trips and excitement honestly without eroticism placing rose coloured sex googles over the reader’s eyes.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
Richard from Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. Not that I don’t like him; I like him very much, but he is such a problem. I don’t care how he dies, I just want Anita to bring him back as a zombie. He’ll be a much calmer mate dead.
There really hasn’t been a good zombie sex scene in that series. I’m just saying…
What do you think makes a good story?
I think a story that evokes emotion is a good story. A story that invites a reader in and lets them feel vulnerable or ready to accept empathy is a good story. That’s usually a combination of different things.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
I am so bad with names. I suspect that it’s because I resented high school teachers asking for the hidden meanings and themes in a story. Mostly, I just pick first names from my Facebook sidebar. I just try not to have similar sounding names or use the same name in different stories unless there’s a reason.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I understand hooks better and I think I know how to draw readers into dark spaces. I make the small sounds and then I get them to open the door to the basement of our collective mind. I make more sounds and then I get them on the stairs.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Headphones. Also, just this week, I had to get index cards to sort out an article that was all over the place. My muses were confusing linear with a moon shot and those little pieces of paper really helped me get the article straight.
And the Internet… beta readers and drop box are a good send.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
“Don’t self-reject.” Phil Guesz had read a rough draft of The Goat. I had finished the story years ago and posted it to an online group for Transformation fans and writers. I got some fine words from a lot of people, but I felt it was incomplete. When I ran into Phil again, he reminded me that a version of the Goat was in the group’s archive. He said I should leave it alone and just start submitting it.
I did and, in an amazing short time, I had a deal with Red Ferret Press.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Most of my recent published stories are Anthropomorphic works and about a third of my shorts are getting into print, and Twitter seems really effective for that.
Pushing books is very hard and Twitter has, so far, been a big part of my marketing.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
I want to say Glenn, the goat character from the cover, but honestly, Charger is very near and dear to my heart. He has a small role in the book. He’s similar to the Goat character and, like Glenn, he’s been saddled with a partner with somewhat demanding needs. His story will probably be next.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I want to say Frank, because he’s the abuser and he’s a bully, and I don’t want to reward that. Still, I’ve crawled into his skin and I know where that fear and self-hate comes from. He’s only human.
I think Frank’s wife is my least favourite character but she serves a function or two. I do her a bit of disservice by not fleshing out her character, I know, but I wanted to keep the focus on Glenn and Frank. I don’t even remember her name.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Well, the attention whore in me votes for fame. The married man with bills would like fortune.
I’ve read what I’ve written, so I understand that respect is out of the question.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
The stuff in my head. The things I haven’t shown you. The shuffling in the basement. Everything is so pure and perfect until it hits the light of day.
I am, believe it or not, most proud of the cover of The Goat. Viergatch, under a different name, once draw a picture for me that captured the essence of another boyfriend. I vowed that I would get them to do the cover of my next book or comic. That took a long while. Viergatch had two name changes and a move to Africa… but I found him eventually and he agreed to do my cover.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
There’s a lot of porn stories that I’d like to forget. Luckily, my real name was ever attached to them.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Brooklyn Blackie and the Unappetizing Menu is a long short story appearing in Inhuman Acts from Fur Planet. It’s Anthropomorphic critters treated with a science fiction mentality in a 40’s noir story that explores racism. And cannibalism.
I think it’s my best short story and the editor told me that it gave his intern nightmares.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
The Goat: Building the Perfect Victim started out as good-bye letter of sorts. The inspiration for Glenn had spent years building up a fantasy world on the Internet where he could finally be himself. And it was great for him… for a while. Eventually, he had to cut himself off cold turkey and spend that energy building his real life. I tried to imagine what life would be like for someone like him… and the story sort of wrote itself.
Apparently, I am very bad writing love stories.
My next book will either be a collection of Brooklyn Blackie stories entitled Cold Blood or a book set in the same settings as The Goat with Charger and Crane the young horse mages. This will be entitled “The Horses: Building The Perfect Team.”
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
The crazy old man or woman who warns everyone about everything and is ignored. I could use less of that.
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
Wilbur Post from Mr Ed would make a great neighbor. I’d be very friendly with a talking horse. I just hope Ed is bisexual.
Ned Flanders or Randall Flagg would be the worst. Hard to say…
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I think things are really starting to get interesting.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed was a great book with the most unique twist on zombies that I’ve ever seen.
Lion Warriors by Don Harrison. There’s a way to mix the vulgar and flowery prose, but… not this way. I gave up after 100 pages.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
Q: Did the inspiration for The Goat ever get to read the story?
A: Yes, he has and here’s the really amazing thing… he found the perfect man, the perfect situation, and the perfect place to live and it’s all on a farm in the United Kingdom! They are raising sheep instead of goats and the stuff he never got, he discovered that he never really needed it. He is the embodiment of the whole “It gets better” campaign.
I am so proud of him and happy for him.
He kinda wishes the story was about BDSM instead of abuse (yes, there’s a difference) and he hated the ending (but many do).
An impressive fable—clever and subversive. Kieffer's prose is playful, poetic and brutal in turns. Highly recommended. ~Rabbit Hole Reviews A romp through the least-understood of all remaining terra-incognitos; the darkest, deepest reaches of human nature. ~Phil Geusz
Built on a crumpling infrastructure of technology and magic, society makes a blessing of the many cursed with species dysphoria... animal souls trapped with human shells. They mold them into mages rather than monsters. Glenn is certain there's a goat inside of him but the Elder Council doesn't agree. In a shitty marriage that plays like a broken record of abandonment and reconciliation, Frank lives in broken world. He gets by, ignoring the darkness and denying his deepest fantasies. The violence isn't as buried as he thinks it is. And when he sees a pack of werewolves threatening a nerdy, defenseless man outside of a doughnut shop, Frank casts a few wards and rolls up his sleeve to wade into the fray. When Glenn is rescued by his former high school bully from the ani-mages that had turned on him, he had no idea what exactly lied in store for him with Frank. But he knew one thing, if Frank couldn't couldn't beat away his humanity, no one could.