Erik Henry Vick: Horror Author Interview (2018)

I had the good fortune to meet Erik on Twitter and he quickly became a favorite of mine with his wit and intellectual comments. After reading his book Demon King I was thoroughly intrigued and had to learn more about him, his wife Supergirl, their rottweiler named after the thunder god and their two crazy cats. Erik has done so many amazing things. Erik has a B.A. in Psychology, an M.S.C.S., and a Ph. D. in Artificial Intelligence.  He has worked as a criminal investigator for a state agency, a college professor, a C.T.O. for an international software company, and a video game developer. Whew I am tired just writing all of his accomplishments! So let us find out more about this talented man!

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Why horror/fantasy?

~My fiction has always had a dark streak. When I was young, I heard the adage: “Write what you read.” At the time, I was reading a lot of science fiction, with a smattering of horror, so I thought I should write science fiction—dark scifi, granted, but scifi. I wrote some cyberpunk and tried very hard not to recognize that as much as I love reading scifi, I’m wasn’t that great at writing scifi. Let me put it this way—my “scifi” was frequently compared to Dean Koontz or Stephen King 😊

 

When I returned to writing fiction after being disabled, I first had the idea while re-reading one of my favorite authors, Stephen King—specifically I was reading the Dark Tower series and thought it would be cool to write something with the same depth, with the same “Epic Quest” quality. I had been playing around with an idea in my head about a serial killer that was a wendigo, and the Blood of the Isir series was born. It was so easy to write dark fantasy, and even easier to write straight horror, I was sure I found the right genres. Having said that, I do have plans for a scifi horror novel at some point.

What and who are some of your favorite horror films, books, and authors?

~I love Stephen King, Dan Simmons, Robert R. McCammon, Anne Rice, Ambrose Ibsen, Joe Hill, Walter Jon Williams, and many, many more.

As for films, I seem to be drawn heavily to scifi horror like the Aliens franchise and Pandorum, but I also love original movies like the Babadook, Gerald’s Game, A Quiet Place (I love, love, loved this movie!), The Others, etc. Having said that, I almost never turn down a horror movie.

What I dread in either setting is formulaic, repetitive stuff. You know what I mean… “So-and-so has sold a gerbillion books writing about butterflies, so my next book will be about butterflies. I’ll call it ‘Butterflies on a Train!’” Yech.

Can you tell us a little bit about your work in A.I.?

~I spent most of my time trying to make artificial characters into something more than talking heads. My Ph.D. explored building synthetic personalities by basing character drives and emotions on trait-based personality theory (from psychology). I also did some work in Natural Language Understanding and machine learning.

Also can you tell us about some of the video games you helped develop?

~I worked on Madden directly, and as a character AI adviser on many others under the Electronic Arts umbrella. Probably the most fun I had in the game industry was working on a project that never made it into production—an MMO concept set in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe.

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I love the Hank & Jane IRL, would Supergirl like to comment on you and or your work?

~Direct from Supergirl:

Erik is one of those people who is good at everything he tries. This amazes and annoys me in equal parts. At the time he got sick, he was a professor at a private university. We had moved thousands of miles from family a few years prior so he could take the job. It was a difficult time and eventually, even with all the help and support the university provided, he had to stop working. I remember the day I filled the car with the contents of his office. The next few years are a blur to both of us, him due to pain and medication and me due to working and handling the family and house stuff. I do remember that we started to go for drives as a way for Erik to get out of the house and for us to chat.  We have always been the kind of couple who enjoys spending a lot of time together.

At some point Erik began talking about wanting to write a story with a character that had RA. I encouraged (or nagged, potato/potahto) him at every turn because I wanted him to have something of his own again and be more than the RA. I told him we didn’t need to worry if it ever got published or how long it took to write but that the writing was what he needed to do. We set up the office with a recliner and a swing arm for his monitor and keyboard so he would be able to sit long enough to write more than a sentence or two. There were flares that interrupted and the writing went in fits and starts for a while but eventually he had something.

Any interesting stories (that you can tell) from your criminal investigative days?

~I can’t say much from the investigative days, but my experiences drive my writing, to be sure. There are far more horrible things in the world than we give it credit for. One of the scariest moments in my life was an interview with a homeless man when gradually realizing the depth of his paranoia and persecutory delusions, then discovering he was armed with .45 caliber pistol.

My years working on a psychiatric intensive treatment unit also fuel my work—in fact I am developing a concept for a novel or two pulled directly from my time there, and parts of Demon King came from this part of my life, as well (and not just the obvious bits 😊).

What would you like people to know about you?

~I have a so-called invisible disability. It’s not really invisible—it must easy to see based on the glares I sometimes get when Supergirl pumps the gas, holds the door open for me, or cuts my steak in a restaurant. It’s especially not invisible for my family and friends. It has changed me-physically, but it has not conquered me, and it has not changed who I am at the core (a big, dumb, stoic Viking). For more about my pointy-stick collection, please see:

https://erikhenryvick.com/2017/06/11/how-can-you-do-that/

https://erikhenryvick.com/gear/

Even with this stupid disease, I love life. I’m a positive person most of the time, and I try to have fun with whatever I’m doing because that’s the best sharp, pointy, monster-poking stick I can find. I love to laugh, and I love meeting and talking to people.

How do you combat writers block?

~I don’t really suffer from writer’s block. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I shouldn’t write, and most of the time, I’m bright enough not to waste time on those days, I just go relax with a good book or movie. I mostly have the reverse problem. I have far more ideas than I can write in the time my Personal Monster™ allows me. I’m rapidly filling up a digital notebook of ideas, beginnings, endings, characters, etc. Hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out a way to write faster (or develop implant technology that sucks the stories directly from my head while I sleep).

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Any advice for other writers facing their own “personal monsters”?

~Push that monster out of the way and get to work. Find a way to do what you need to do. Experiment, take notes—whatever is necessary. DO NOT LET THE MONSTER WIN.

Do you have a personal mantra?

~If I do, it involves Personal Monsters™ and sharp, pointy sticks. Or maybe something funny.

I want to thank Erik and Supergirl so much for taking the time to answer my questions and give us such a personal look inside this amazing authors mind!

You can learn more about Erik and his books here : https://erikhenryvick.com/

 

 

Horror Fan: A Poem (2018)

Horrorverse, Universe

A Place that I like

I might run into Freddy, Jason, or Mike

Halloween is our Christmas

And frights just delight

Love to be scared on a dark stormy night

Gothic or classic, Paranormal or slasher

Monster or Giallo or just a gore splasher

We love all the terror that horror rouses

We even go out to real haunted houses

Movies or art, music or books

Sometimes can get us some real dirty looks

But love it or hate it

We really don’t care

Cause we are really just looking 

For our next big scare

9/20/2018

 

Damian Maffei: Interview (2018)

I had the definite joy of speaking with Damian Maffei from the new Strangers: Prey at Night but also from such films as Closed for the Season, Christmas With the Dead, Wildfires, and I’m Dreaming of a White Doomsday.

The new Strangers is about a family’s road trip taking a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it weirdly deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive.

I really enjoyed the film and Damian’s performance in it but he does not consider that acting and he should know. He was born in Queens, New York on June 27th, 1977 and went to school for acting at William Esper Studio in Manhattan where they teach the Meisner technique and the “Reality of Doing” with such notable alumni as Christopher Meloni, Steve McQueen, and James Caan. So lets ask him a few questions :

Why do you love horror?

~Who knows. I’m sure there’s some psychological reason for it. I just know that when I’m searching for a new movie to watch, I’ll immediately browse the horror genre. Or if I’m trying to get something going creatively, push a project, it’s in the genre. Dark, brutal, most of the time. I just know that when I was a kid, and I was sneaking downstairs to watch something on TV… I’d try to find a horror movie.

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So I wanted to find out about some of his favorite horror films, films, and the actors and actresses in them.

~Fave Horror: Alice Sweet Alice (1976) with Paula Sheppard as Alice and also starring a young Brooke Shields, Jaws (1975), Alien (1979), Alien III (1992), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Christine (1983), and all time favorite is the original Black Christmas (1974). He is huge fan of the slasher sub-genre in horror.

He also for TV shows loves House of Cards and Glow.

Some favorite actresses- Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim VS the World, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Sigourney Weaver (Alien and Ghostbusters franchises), Amy Adams (Sharp Objects, and Nocturnal Animals).

Actors- Kane Hodder (Jason X, Victor Crowley, Hatchet , Jason Goes to Hell), Guy Pierce ( Memento, LA Confidential), Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Zodiac), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises).

The Most fun I had talking to Damian is when he said Weekend at Bernie’s was his favorite horror comedy, I had never thought of it that way but he is right it was a very macabre film when you think about it. But we both agree it is actually time for a reboot of the film and in this day and age we would flip the script so that the roles played by Andrew McCarthy and Johnathan Silverman from the 1989 version would now be played by Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon with Damian as the new Bernie! I would definitely pay to see that!

What do you want people to know about you?

~Oh, I don’t know. That I’m out here just trying to do some quality work, make the most of whatever time I have in the things I’m lucky enough to be in. And when I’m not menacing people onscreen I’m usually being overpowered by my 3 sons and 10 pound dog. My favorite decade for movies, particularly the genre, is the 70’s. By far and away.

Any funny stories from sets?

~On Prey at Night I charged Lewis at the pool and swung so hard I lifted my entire body into the air and fell on my back. I was embarrassed, and pissed off, so I just laid there for a couple of seconds not moving or saying anything. But… I had the sack on my head, so everyone thought maybe I had knocked myself out. I’ll do another Strangers one, there’s a scene in a van where I get in, and the other character is sort of pinned to the seat via this wood plank that’s gone through the windshield. So I get in, and there’s all glass on the dashboard. Fake glass though. Looks real! Movie magic. So I sit down, and I get the idea to just… Play with the glass a little bit before I turn my attention towards the radio. Wipe some glass and blood off the dashboard. Little cleanup. So I do it. Johannes liked it, told me to keep it in. So I did it again on my next take. Take after that, I sit down in the car, start to wipe the glass off, and I feel my skin being penetrated and let out a yelp like a sleeping puppy being poked in the ass with a knitting needle. Apparently, during the other character’s shifting in his seat, the wood plank had shaved off a sliver of actual glass from the window, and it landed in the glass pile. You can tell the difference if you give it a real good look, but not when you’re in the zone, man! Anyway… For all that, the bit didn’t even make it into the theatrical cut. And to think I bled for it…

Do you have a personal mantra?

~A personal fave is Ray’s “I’m not going to listen to this, I’m not going to hear this now.” from The Burbs. I trot that one out often. Otherwise I like to bastardize Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” and appropriate Galaxy Quest’s “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.

I want to thank Damian so much for taking his valuable time to speak with me. I am a fan of his and as I look on IMDB there is an upcoming film that he will be in called Haunt by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods both known for being writers for A Quiet Place and Nightlight. Damian could not tell me much about it except that it was one of the most fun times he has had shooting a film. IMDB’s description is as follows: On Halloween, a group of friends encounter an “extreme” haunted house that promises to feed on their darkest fears. The night turns deadly as they come to the horrifying realization that some nightmares are real. The film is still in post-production but it sounds like a lot of fun and I for one am looking forward to it and Damian’s performance in it!

If you would like to learn more about Damian I have included some links:

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0535541/?ref_=tt_cl_t5

https://www.instagram.com/damianmaffei/

Tra Cee Horror Hostess Extraordinaire.(2018) Interview

Tra Cee is a singer, songwriter, COO of Terror Records Inc. and owner and hostess of the amazing SCRM Radio. Rarely do you get to interview someone whose answers mirror your own in so many ways, but I actually got that fortune. I have known Tra Cee from our Twitter #horror family for awhile now and she is a true joy to converse with so I wanted her to be my next interview here at Horrormadam.com. On Twitter she can be found at @TraCee_tr and the fantastic SCRM Radio can be also found on Twitter at @SCRMRadio and the link to listen into some of the most amazing people in horror is at https://www.scrmradio.com/ So please read on to some fabulous answers to my following questions.

Tra Cee you are a singer, songwriter, COO of Terror Records Inc., SCRM radio, and raising 3 daughters-how do you find the time?

~That’s easy – I don’t sleep, lol. In all honesty though, it is challenging. I am finding myself having to really schedule my time. I never thought that SCRM Radio would take off like it did. And while I don’t have hundreds of thousands of monthly listeners (yet), it appears that there is a niche for what I provide, and I am happy about that. Add to that my music (I’m releasing a new song this fall and I am going to London to shoot two videos next year), my record label and my girls – plus my full time job – time management is going to be the way I stay sane!

Why the horror genre?  ~

I love horror, I have ever since I read the spine, then the back and then the introductory excerpt of a John Saul book – Suffer The Children. After that I saw my first real horror movie – Night of the Living Dead – and from then on I was hooked. I won’t lie, during those years, when I was discovering both my love of horror, the authors who so eloquently put my fears into print and seeing it acted out on the big screen, my life mirrored some of the things I read and saw. So, seeing the bad guy get dispatched onscreen, seeing good triumph over evil (sometimes) and feeling like I was not alone in what I was going through, helped me make it through some tough years in foster care.

 

What are some of your favorite, movies, TV shows, musicians and authors?

~ That’s hard, there are so many!!!!!

Okay, let’s start with movies:
Thir13en Ghosts (original and remake, though I like the remake more)
NOES – because Freddy!
Halloween (all of them, even the bad ones, lol. Because, Michael)
F13th
I Saw The Devil – though not categorized as horror, I feel it was a horror/thriller
Train to Busan
NOTLD
Carrie
Lost Boys
Fright Night
Psycho
The Exorcist
Pet Cemetery
Cujo…gosh, there are too many to mention!

TV:
Slasher
Supernatural
Grimm
Sleepy Hollow
Hannibal
The Exorcist
Bates Motel…just to name a few

Musicians:
John Carpenter – his scores are amazing!
Calabrese
In This Moment (more goth, but she rocks!)
Shakespeare’s Sister (90’s goodness)
Marilyn Manson – is he really horror? I like him though 🙂

Authors:
Stephen King
John Saul
Dean Koontz
Anne Rice
Daphne du Maurier
Shirley Jackson
Mary Shelley
V.C. Andrews
Octavia Butler
Clive Barker
Tamara Thorne
Alistair Cross
Kealan Burke – so many more!

 

I know you are a wine person like I am, what are some of your favorites?

~? Fave wines and best music/ horror pairings? I love wine, though I am not rich enough to be an expert!! Lol. Red wine gets me in trouble, but white wine is what I love when reading a good book! My favorite has to be Prosecco when watching a good horror movie, followed by Moscato when listening to music.

What do you want people to know about you?

~That I’m not a witch or serial killer – I’ve been accused of being both, so I just want to set the record straight (laughs). In all seriousness, I just want people to know that I love what I do. I love this genre, and the people I’ve met in the horror community are more like family than friends. Also, I love to write and sing, so if you have time, please be sure to check me out. My music is everywhere music can be bought or streamed. My girls love horror too, so it is indeed a family affair over here! Also, I love bacon, green olives, cheese and cheesecake – so if anyone who reads this feels led to send a care package… 🙂

 

Why should people listen to SCRM Radio?

~Because it is horror theater. Much like buying and listening to a book through audible, it is a way to hear some awesome horror stories, and being able to move around and work while you do so. You don’t have to be stuck in front of your TV or computer screen to get your horror fix. Bonus: there are some really talented people on my station bringing you these awesome narrations. If you tune in, you won’t regret it.

What are you promoting right now?

~Besides SCRM Radio, my music is what I would like for people to check out, and support. My song that is on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and anywhere you can find music to stream or download is Favorite Song – by TraCee ft. Da General. The official video is on YouTube, and as I wrote earlier, I will be releasing my next single and video this fall, as well as two new songs and videos next year.

I want to thank Tra Cee so much for taking the time to answer my questions and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I can not recommend SCRM Radio highly enough or her wonderous music, so I am including some links below so you too can have as much fun with Tra Cee as I have!

https://music.amazon.com/artists/B01DVBH81I/CATALOG?ref=dm_wcp_artist_link_ad

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/favorite-song-feat.-da-general/id1100284404

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