Jack Maddox learned how to write from watching old Tales From the Crypt episodes. His short stories have appeared in Dark Moon Digest 10, Splatterlands, and The Last Diner. He lives in the Pacific Northwest, where he's hard at work on the next tale of the Dog. He doesn't sleep much
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I started writing when I was ten, but only picked up the craft seriously three years ago. My work is a crazy collage of all my interests: martial arts, monsters, noir films, insects, sideshow freaks, and the dark parts of cities.
Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
I like Horror, because it encompasses so many different kinds of stories, from out-and-out slashers to the ain’t-that-damn-odd school, urban fantasy and Southern Gothic. It has room for China Mieville’s monstrous city of New Crobuzon, Clive Barker’s demonic lovers, and the moving finger from Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
The old-school fright masters. Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, and Ray Bradbury (back when he wrote about killer babies and terrible things in glass jars). Neil Gaiman taught me how fun language can be. Elmore Leonard then taught me to keep it simple.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 is probably the most ferocious horror novel of the past five years, and you definitely won’t see Christmas the same after reading it… Blood Oranges by Caitlin R. Kiernan should have been fun, but it was rather like sitting in a moldy tent with an old junkie who won’t stop talking.
How would you describe your writing style?
Dark Fantasy and Crime get into a fistfight at a carnival. My characters see some horrible things, but then they do something about it, by God.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
I was once called “terrifying.” That made my day.
What’s your favourite food?
If it’s Greek, I’m there. The gyro is proof that the gods want us to be happy.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
The rasping, soulful voice of Tom Waits. And Pink. She’s the mood ring of music.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned about writing?
Don’t let fear break you down. You have to outrun that little voice telling you the work’s no good, no one will want to read it, etc.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
I’m not a fan of editing. I like working with the words fresh in my head and flying out of the keyboard…not going back later and seeing how many times I use “and” in a sentence.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve learned to be unafraid in terms of content. When starting out as a writer I was terrified by profanity, sex, extreme violence…now I realize they’re tools that can be used properly to give your words a sharper edge.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
I wrote to Neil Gaiman when I was a teenager, bemoaning my future in writing. He wrote back and told me “you have a lot of living, learning, and writing to do before you’re allowed to quit.”
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
The Dog, my protagonist. He’s the old-school pulp hero, hardworking and hard-lucked, but with a little more smarts and a sweet jacket. Plus, he’s held every job I ever wanted: Cabbie, magician, bareknuckles boxer, private eye, and superhero.
How about your least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
The High Vitruvian, leader of the Church of Death’s Masquerade. He’s my hate letter to cult leaders and religious extremists, the worst example of someone using faith as a weapon.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
Is it too much to ask for all three?
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I recently published “Amputations in the Key of D,” a short story about surgical addiction. I wrote it several years ago, and it was the first story of mine that felt whole and complete and original.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Necrophagus is the first book about the Dog, freelance urban mercenary and horror’s most hard-headed hero, and the dark, deadly city of Dirge. I’m working on a follow-up, The Dog: World of Hurt. I’m also writing a shorter book called Drones. Think of it as if Guillermo Del Toro’s Mimic met It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and they stop for a meal in the butcher’s shop from Delicatessen.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?
“When are you going to write something nice?” Unpleasant things await the person who asks me this.
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