Oct 13

Saturday Six Pack – Michael Montoure – Author of Permanent Damage

Today’s Saturday Six Pack is with Michael Montoure, short story master, who just launched his latest collection, Permanent Damage. If you like horror and still have bad dreams from some of the spooky stories you heard around the campfire as a child, Michael is your guy. But as you’ll see, like a lot of horror writers he has a great sense of humor. (As long as you find someone carrying a bloody axe to an interview funny…)

And with Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to focus on Michael and his work. Let’s see how he spends his time when he’s not trying to scare the crap out of people.

1) Thanks for agreeing to do Saturday Six Pack, Michael. Please put that down, you’re making me nervous. You’ve mentioned that your obsessions include hidden truths, secret dealings, and the changing and fragile nature of our own pasts and you’ve also given yourself the description of being an unreliable narrator. As my Damaged Po$$e characters would say at this point, “I’m going to need a little clarification here.”

Oh, jeez, sorry about the axe — I forgot I was carrying it. I’m just gonna set it in the corner, here, and try not to let it drip on your carpet — do you have any newspaper or something I could lay down first?

Anyway, you’re asking an “unreliable narrator” for *clarification?* Really? Well, okay ….

See, I think we’re *all* unreliable narrators. We see the world imperfectly, through rough and imprecise senses, and we recall it later with a memory filled with biases, over-simplifications, and outright fabrications. In short, honestly, *we don’t know what the hell is going on.* We run around through the cracks and slip between the gears of a world that is infinitely more complex and indifferent than we can even guess at.

Most people stay comfortable inside the illusion that they’ve got a handle on things, they understand the world enough to get by. My characters certainly do. Until I come along and take that safety away from them. Just to see which way they’ll run.

2) In addition to your short story work, you are also currently working as a writer and producer of the webseries “Causality.” Can you tell us a bit about it and where we can find it?

Sure thing! Unfortunately, you can’t actually watch the show yet — we’re still in production, but you can check out a couple of teaser trailers and our prequel episode at http://www.watchcausality.com.

CAUSALITY is about a hidden community of stranded time-travelers in Seattle, who are trying to quietly lead a normal life, until that peace is shattered by an unexpected new arrival — and what she’s unknowingly brought with her. It’s been a bit of a departure for me to be writing science fiction instead of horror, but I think anyone who’s read my fiction and comes to this hoping for the same kind of dialog, for interesting characters and the way they hurt each other, the same sharp plot twists — I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.

We don’t have a release date set, but we do now have a rough cut of episode one, and it’s everything I wanted it to be — touching, exciting, funny, creepy, and intriguing. I can’t wait for people to see it.

3) I noticed the Twilight Zone and Rod Serling references in one of your reviews. High praise indeed. Rod used to visit the Thousand Islands where I grew up and I had a chance to meet him several times when I was in my teens and working at a restaurant he used to eat at. He was a very nice man who always had time to chat and took an interest in how I was doing. I was impressed by his total lack of self-importance, even though he was a major talent and celebrity. Pretty much every author I’ve met who writes horror, or focuses on the dark side, has been low-key with a great sense of humor. Are people surprised when they meet you once they understand the type of stuff you write?

Not really. The axe is a dead giveaway.

No, seriously, though, people often are surprised when they find out. Their eyes widen a little a little and they look at me as if they’re trying to spot some signs of violent madness they might have somehow overlooked.

I’m never surprised, though, when I meet a fellow horror writer and they turn out to be one of the nicest people imaginable. (I am deeply envious of you for meeting Serling, by the way.) As far as I can tell, horror writers are actually more emotionally healthy than most people — and I think that’s because we don’t have any suppressed, unsuspected inner darkness we haven’t dealt with. We keep our inner demons on a leash and make them tame enough to sit at the dinner table.

4) You’re obviously extremely well-versed in the short story form. Do you have any plans to write a novel or do you simply prefer the short story form?

I do love me some short stories. That’s mostly what I read, even — I do read novels, but mostly anthologies. I know that’s a little odd. A really good short story is just such a lean, precise, powerful little engine of character and plot, not a scene or sentence wasted — there’s really no other treat for me quite like it, as a reader.

That said, I do have a novel in the works — an expansion of one of the stories in SLICES, actually. I have a good, solid first draft of it that I’m revising now

5) You do spoken-word performances of your stories at Seattle coffeehouses. That conjurs up images from the Sixties of smoke-filled rooms and black turtleneck sweaters but I understand live performances like these are making a comeback-although I’m pretty sure you have to smoke outside these days. And given the amount of rain Seattle gets, that must really suck. What is that experience like and is it something you do because you really enjoy it, or is it more of a strategy to help you promote your work?

Yes, they *do* make us smoke outside these days, and it’s highly irritating.

It definitely started out as a promotion strategy, but it became much more important to me than that — now it’s just as essential to me as publishing. It gives me a way to connect with my audience, to see their reactions and respond to them, that just putting words on a page would never allow. It’s even improved the quality of my writing — it makes me think about the sound of the language I’m using, about the rhythm and resonance of it.

6) Last question. And this is the one question I ask everyone who does Saturday Six Pack. If you could change one this about yourself as a writer, what would it be?

That’s a simple one. I wish I were *faster.* And honestly, what that really amounts to is being more disciplined about making myself sit down and get started — once I’m actually writing, it always goes well, but sometimes it takes forever to reach that point in the first place.

Especially these days, when there are so many things an indie author needs to spend time on that take time away from writing. You know, blogging, getting reviews, keeping up on social media, and … doing … interviews ….

Man, this just got awkward.

Michael’s website: http://www.bloodletters.com/

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