Ginger Nuts of Horror
Matthew Weber, owner of Pint Bottle Press, resides just north of Birmingham, Alabama, with his wife, young son and their canine companion. He is editor-in-chief of EXTREME HOW-TO, a home improvement magazine for handymen and DIY'ers, published by Latitude 3 Media Group, LLC. His first novel, THE BULL, was published by Pint Bottle Press in 2012. His next book, A DARK & WINDING ROAD, is a collection of short horror fiction now available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon. His short stories and articles have appeared in DARK ECLIPSE, WHEN RED SNOW MELTS (HNR Publishing), HAUNT JAUNTS, NEAR TO THE KNUCKLE, MICROHORROR, ADDICTED TO HORROR MOVIES,THE VOLUNTARY VOICE and more. When Weber isn't writing or remodeling, he plays bass guitar for the punk band SKEPTIC?
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I'm a magazine editor by day and a punk-rock playing horror writer by night. I've been a horror geek my entire life, the weird kid whose room was wallpapered with monster movie posters. I'm now happily married, have a son and a dog, and make my living as editor of the home-improvement magazine Extreme How-To.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I play bass in Skeptic?, the longest-running punk rock band in the state of Alabama.
What’s your favourite food?
A big slab of barbecued ribs sounds nice.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
By nature of playing in a punk band, I listen to a lot of aggressive music for inspiration—mostly old bands like Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Motörhead —but I also like to chill out with Frank Sinatra, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash.
Tell us a dirty little secret?
I was bullied a lot as a kid, but I also admit to bullying other kids in the past. I won't go into detail because it’s not something I’m proud of. I guess the guilt still haunts me because confronting tyranny of one sort or the other is a common theme in my writing.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Shoot for the stars and never slow down. When I was young I wanted to be the next Stephen King, but "life" got in the way, I went down a different path and didn't circle back to seriously writing fiction until my thirties. If I'd been honing my skills over the decades then I'm sure I'd be much further along in my writing career.
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?
Joining your wife for a prenatal doctor visit during the first trimester of pregnancy can be an excruciating experience, but it’s also more or less a sworn duty. We had some rocky experiences with pregnancy. Your stomach can really twist in knots when watching a nurse run a probe over your wife’s belly in search of a tiny heartbeat. You pray they find that little repeating blip on the monitor because that’s all you can do. Just hope and pray and be there for each other in case they don’t find it. There’s no way out of that situation unless you shirk your duty as a husband and father.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
George Orwell, Joe Lansdale, Charles Bukowski, Tim O'Brien, Mark Twain—to name just a few.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
As far as horror, Peter Straub's A Dark Matter was top-notch. The novel chronicled a relatively small, though horrifying event shared by a group of old college friends, but the story was written in an investigative manner with an epic scope that did a great job pulling me in.
I was a little disappointed by Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five because I was looking forward to a gritty war tale rather than a time-bending, alien-centric sci-fi story that shifts tonally all over the place.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
Genre sticklers may gripe about whether 1984 is a horror novel, but it horrifies the hell out of me, and I truly do fear that it foretells our future in a big-government surveillance state when privacy and individual liberties are sacrificed for the "greater good."
As far as horror movies, I love them new and old, but I always return to George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead. From the first chilling graveyard sequence to that gut-punch of an ending, the movie is scary and suspenseful and dishes out social commentary with pitch-black irony—a real masterpiece.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would it be?
The car won't start . . . Seriously?
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
It’d be a blast to drink with my neighbour Henry Chinaski (Charles Bukowski). But James Taggart from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged had better keep off my lawn, or I'll turn the garden hose on him.
If you could kill off any character from any other book, who would you choose and how would they die?
George Orwell’s Big Brother—public execution by soil compactor.
And if you had free range, what fictional character would you like to write for?
John Rambo would be a hoot.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
My love of the genre has never waned, but I remember the general public's seemed to have back in the early ‘90s, when horror movies all but dried up. These days one of the most successful TV shows follows a group of survivors through a zombie apocalypse, so things are looking pretty good.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing horror fiction right now?
It can be difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Every positive review means a lot. Every negative review means a lot prior to publication, when I can apply the critique to my story revisions. Once published, though, I try to mentally block bad reviews because it's basically a lot of crying over spilled milk. Luckily I haven’t had many bad reviews yet. [Weber knocks on wood.]
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Time management. My full-time job, which feeds my family, means I can only write part-time.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
There are certain family relationship issues that I would not touch because they hit too close to home, and I don’t want to alienate the people I care about.
What do you think makes a good story?
Well drawn characters and original ideas.
How important are names to you in your books?
In my writing, character names are often but not always significant in meaning, but the impression I get from the phonetic sound of the name is usually important to reflect the character. Some names are musical and sing off the tongue, while others sound harsh and ugly. I invented the surname Desharden for one particularly nasty schoolteacher because I thought the sound of it evoked broken glass.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Writers need lots of practice, and a desire to put a personal stamp on their writing rather than to simply emulate those that have come before.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
"Writing is rewriting."
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
"Oh, so you're an aspiring writer." (Up yours, lady.)
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
A year prior to releasing my book I began to compile a list of every horror magazine, website or blog I could find, and then hit them all up for book reviews. I had promotional barf bags screen-printed with the cover of my book along with a "stomach distress" warning on the opposite side, and sent them out as schwag to potential reviewers along with paperback copies. The barf bags have also proven popular with a couple of book giveaways that I've arranged at various websites. Additionally, I write horror movie articles that plug my book, I produced a YouTube book trailer, I’ve paid for a few online ads, and I'm currently answering these interview questions. I take a sawed-off shotgun approach to marketing, blasting all sorts of ideas in a scattered pattern and hoping I hit something. If I could print a book in Smell-o-vision, I would.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
Probably Sam Markwell from "Rules are Rules" because he has such a sinister sense of humor and a healthy disdain for authority.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
Burke Rydell from "Summon a Demon in Five Easy Steps" is the type of schoolyard bully who everybody loves to hate.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
It's hard to pick a favorite, but "Guard the Park"—the first story in my new book—seems to strike an emotional chord with readers, and that can be tough to achieve in genre writing. One reviewer even called the story a "tearjerker," and I suppose it must have been fairly effective to jerk some tears.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
Forget about? No. I love the story of my first novel The Bull, but I wrote it from the hip before really honing my writing style, so I'm sure the prose could use an overhaul.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
As a horror writer, I think A Dark & Winding Road provides a good introduction to my style and handle on the genre.
What are you working on right now?
More short stories. I have another novel idea in mind, but right now I'm on a roll with the short form so I'll keep it flowing until the ideas run thin.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
“May I option the rights to your story for a movie?”
“Yes, you may.”
Brace yourself for eleven twisted tales from the small towns of America's Deep South. From forest monsters and demons of vengeance to devious children with wicked intent, Matthew Weber serves up eleven tales of murder and mayhem to keep you shivering in suspense. This new selection of stories, all set in the Heart of Dixie, chronicles the hidden horrors of small town America. After-school fights lead to blood-covered bodies, everyday neighbors hide hideous secrets, and unspeakable horrors lurk around every corner. Fast-paced, fun and downright frightening, A Dark & Winding Road is an action-packed entry into the wild world of genre fiction