>Interview With Carson Buckingham
Today for your reading pleasure we have an interview with Carson Buckingham .
GNOH–HI CARSON. HOW ARE THINGS WITH YOU?
Just to the left of perfect, thanks.
GNOH–CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR WRITING CAREER?
I decided that I wanted to write after reading Ray Bradbury. His painfully beautiful selection and manipulation of words was just the sort of magic I wanted to learn. Reading Mr. Bradbury is a symphony on paper. I was thirteen years old when I decided that a writer was what I wanted to be. I’m a good bit older than that now, and I continue to learn my craft every single day. It’s just been within the last couple of years that I’ve felt my work was ready for publication–and I guess a publisher or two agree with me, which is most gratifying. Of course, prior to this, I received enough rejection slips to paper a bathroom or two, but I kept going–and that’s what separates the writer, who wants this career more than anything else in the world and will put in the time, effort and study required; and the wannabe who chucks it after a couple of rejections to pursue something else, or to self-publish really bad writing, just to see their name on a cover.
I write because I have to–I don’t have a choice. It’s a deep drive within me and is the way I best express myself. I can’t imagine doing anything else and happily anticipate the time when I am making enough money from my writing that I can quit my “day job” and write full time.
GNOH–I SEE YOU USED TO BE A STAND-UP COMEDIAN. COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT?
I wrote jokes, I stood, I told jokes. It was fun for a while, but the traveling gets old, and I didn’t want it enough to make it a career. The only great thing that came out of it was meeting and getting to know Rodney Dangerfield–a great comedian and a greater man. He helped many young comics get their starts. I still miss him terribly.
GNOH–WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Looking in the mirror, mostly.
I also find the absurd hugely entertaining, so as you may imagine, these days I’m pretty much laughing non-stop. As to contemporary comedians I like, I’d have to say that Ferrara, Pinette, Inglasias, and Dunham consistently make me laugh. I like Lewis Black’s earlier DVDs, but lately he seems to be going the way of George Carlin. At the end of his career, Carlin didn’t entertain so much as get onstage and rant–and the rants weren’t funny. I recall going to one of his shows in Connecticut a few years before his death, and I (and the rest of the audience, unfortunately) at one point went twenty minutes without a laugh. Black seems to be walking down that path, too. It’s almost inevitable when you are an “angry” comic and you stay in the business for decades. If you’re going to comment about life’s absurdities and general stupidity your amusement at such things must always outweigh your outrage. If it doesn’t, all you are doing is unfunny, red-in-the-face bitching. The comedy stops being an act after a while and everything genuinely pisses you off. I was an “angry” comic, too, and I felt this happening to me–one of the reasons I got out of stand-up.
These days, I just write the HORRORSCOPES for the Hellfire Herald every Sunday as my humor outlet.
GNOH–SKYDIVING? WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU WANT TO CHUCK YOURSELF OUT OF A MOVING AEROPLANE? SURELY THE INFLIGHT MEALS CAN’T BE THAT BAD?
It is often safer to chuck yourself out of a jump plane than to land in one. Skydiving is a feeling that can’t be duplicated by anything else. It’s a real rush, but I wouldn’t do it these days. I took up skydiving at a point in my life when I didn’t care what happened to me–and oddly enough, that enabled me to relax with it and really enjoy the experience.
GNOH–I SEE YOU USED OT HAVE 42 DIFFERENT TYPES OF TARANTULAS. ARE YOU SOME SORT OF CRAZY PERSON?
Not crazy–though there are some who would disagree.
Tarantulas, contrary to popular belief, are largely non-poisonous and a bite is really not much worse than a bee sting, though I have never been bitten. Those who have gave me this information. Tarantulas are quite docile and the terrestrial ones may be handled occasionally with no consequences. The arboreal tarantulas are best left unhandled, as they have a neurotoxin in their tiny body hairs that will stick into one’s skin. Over time, with frequent handling, nerve damage to the handler can result, sometime severe. Tarantulas are just the reverse of snakes, in that the more you handle a snake, the tamer it gets. This is why it’s best to handle them infrequently, if at all.
I’ve always like bugs–the bigger the better. My largest tarantula, a Goliath Birdeater, weighed a pound and a half!
And what’s not to like about tarantulas, anyhow? They eat little, they are quiet, they don’t require much space, they don’t destroy your furniture, piddle on your oriental rug, or chew your shoes to pieces.
That being said, I still would really love to have a Rottweiler some day.
GNOH–SO WHY HORROR?
After the previous question?
Seriously, I suppose I’ve always had something of a dark side, and since I’ve gravitated to horror books and horror movies throughout my life, it seemed like the logical choice for my own writing. I love the amount of imagination it involves–it challenges me and I live to be challenged.
GNOH–WHAT SORT OF HORROR AUTHOR WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS?
I write psychological suspense/paranormal thrillers. I really detest slasher/splatter stuff–blood, guts, and gore. Such writing seems less about the story and more about the shock value. But I must stress that this is a personal opinion/preference. Obviously there is a place for this sort of writing–the place just isn’t on my bookshelf. I have always preferred creepier, more subtle horror. In my work, I go more for the “something isn’t quite right, but we’re not sure what it is” philosophy. It keeps the reader just slightly off-center, making the reader as uneasy as the characters in the story. At least, this is what I strive for. My favorite horror subjects are haunted houses.
GNOH–WHAT ANNOYS YOU ABOUT THE GENRE?
Gratuitous sex, violence, and gore.
GNOH–WHAT SCARES YOU?
Footsteps when I know no one else is home.
Open closet doors at night.
Phone calls at three AM.
Dying without being remembered.
Mental disease–Alzheimer’s–how much scarier can you get than that?
GNOH–WHICH CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS DO YOU FAVOR?
My favorite newcomers are Gina Ranalli, Gregory Funaro, and Michael Bailey. My favorite contemporary famous guys are Ray Bradbury, Peter Straub, Stephen King, Dan Simmons, The Mathesons (father and son), John Harwood, Susan Hill, Kit Reed, F. Paul Wilson, John Shirley, and Dean Etchison. Favorite deceased famous authors: Shirley Jackson, Charles L. Grant, Wilkie Collins, M. R. James, and Poe, of course.
GNOH–IF YOU COULD HAVE A PIECE OF YOUR WORK TURNED INTO A MOVIE, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DIRECT AND STAR IN THE MOVIE?
I’d love to see my novel, Gothic Revival, made into a movie, starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Jody Foster. Who would direct? Oh, Jonathan Demme without a doubt!
GNOH–WHAT ARE TEN THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
1. I collect autographed photos of comedians.
2. I play guitar and sing passably.
3. I love puppets and cartoons. Favorites? The Muppet Show and The Bugs Bunny Show.
4. I do most of my writing on legal size yellow pads while in the bath tub. I think better in water for some reason. My husband has even built me a desk that fits perfectly across the top of the tub!
5. I do not own a car. I do own a unicycle.
6. I prefer to stay up all night and sleep through the day.
7. I am a dish freak. I love interesting dishes of all kinds.
8. I hate to let Christmas go. We still have our little live potted pine tree in the living room with all the tiny lights on it. I still light it at night.
9. The only vegetable I detest is okra.
10. I am unafraid to change the color of my hair and do it three or four times a year–though I don’t go outlandish with the blues and pinks so popular now. Though a natural blonde, right now, my hair is dark golden brown and I just may have found the color I’ll stay with for a while.
GNOH–YOUR STORY,”LEMMINAID,” WHICH APPEARED IN THE SPECTRUM COLLECTION, WAS ONE OF MY HIGHLIGHTS. WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THE STORY?
Actually, it was an old Gahan Wilson cartoon that I saw decades ago that stayed with me, for some reason.
GNOH–YOU HAVE A STORY IN DAMNED IF YOU DON’T. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE STORY AND THE ANTHOLOGY IN GENERAL? THERE ARE SOME GENRE HEAVYWEIGHTS IN THERE.
The anthology is about the appalling consequences–made all the more ghastly by turning a group of horror fiction writers loose on them– of cultivating an addiction rather than curtailing it–thus, Damned If You Don’t. In my story, “Skin Deep,” the protagonist is addicted to cosmetic surgery. And yes, there are some outstanding horror authors in this anthology. I am honored just to be included. Such fine company–F. Paul Wilson? John Shirley? Wow! F. Paul Wilson’s, The Keep was the first horror novel I ever read, so it’s a real thrill for me to be in the same book with him.
GNOH–YOU HAVE A NOVELLA COMING OUT IN APRIL FROM HELLFIRE PUBLISHING. CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Yes, that would be Home. It’s a journey of self-discovery for Kate Kavanagh that begins with a carnival fortune teller and ends at an unusually modified house. Following the deaths of her mother and beloved aunt, Kate inherits the family homestead in the Irish enclave of Three Oaks, Connecticut; but the house has changed since she visited a year ago–no more windows on the first floor and gaslights and a wood burning stove in place of the modern appliances. It also appears to be haunted. And that’s just for starters. Once she moves into the house, Kate herself begins a gradual but terrifying biological transformation that is part of her inheritance, too; though not mentioned in the Will. With the help of a Rottweiler that’s more human than animal, a new friend whose farm stand is only open dusk to dawn, and the “Rat Boys,” Kate will get some answers or die trying.
This will be available as an ebook on May 1st and a print book in early June, and may be purchased from Hellfire Publishing.
GNOH HELLFIRE PUBLISING IS ALSO RELEASING YOUR NOVEL THIS SUMMER. LET US KNOW WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FROM THAT.
The title is Gothic Revival, and here’s the scoop:
Alex and Leo Renfield are contractors looking for work. They ‘ve just moved to the village of Woodhaven, Connecticut to escape from the chaos of New York, and are pretty close to broke. Out for a cheap Chinese dinner on their first anniversary, they are fortunate enough to run into Theodora Hamilton, a woman who is willing to pay them an astronomical amount of money just to paint the first floor of her house.
But before Theodora agrees to sign a contract for the work, they have to have a physical which will be handled by Dr. Orbon, the Hamilton’s family physician…who has an office at the edge of the cemetery and whose office hours are, shall we say, unusual–and for a very unusual reason.
After passing their physicals, the Renfields will have a month or so free before their start date, during which their lives in Woodhaven begin to fray at the edges. An unnatural garden, a creepy box turtle, a mysterious client, and Fred and Ethel Mertz moving in next door conspire to make Alex feel as if she’s losing her mind and make Leo certain that she is.
And on top of all that, there is a list of strange conditions that Theodora insists must be adhered to to the letter if they want the job. The Renfields must live in the house while the Hamiltons are away for the summer on vacation. They must begin work at midnight and stop at six a.m. They must remain on the first floor. The rest of the house is strictly off limits to them. They must not stray off established pathways when outside. Since Leo will not be allowed to bring his truck to the job, Cooper Black, the caretaker, will be their only link to the outside world–and he doesn’t seem to like them very much. Oh, and no scraping of old paint or any sort of wall preparation whatsoever, and they must use only the cleaning, beauty and personal hygiene products that the Hamiltons provide–not that they’d want to spend too much time in the bathroom anyway, what with the frieze of sixty marble faces ringing the wall and staring down at them.
On the upside, the Hamiltons will provide them with nothing but the best in terms of food and drink for the duration of their stay, with a packed pantry, a well-stocked walk-in freezer, and a top shelf bar.
But there’s something wrong in the basement…something terribly wrong…something that’s desperate to communicate with the Renfields upstairs.
To get help.
GNOH–DO YOU HAVE ANY RITUALS WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING?
Outside of doing much of it in the bath tub, when I do sit down at my computer, I first play a game of hearts before getting to work. I also wear a particular favorite blue chambray shirt when I write.
GNOH–WHO OR WHAT IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING?
Ray Bradbury as my motivator and benchmark. My husband, Phil, as my biggest supporter and source of encouragement.
GNOH–CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT ANY FUTURE PROJECTS?
I’m in the middle of a novel now that is a horrific story of a doomed relationship with a working title of Noble Rot. It’s hard to tell you much more because the story keeps changing every time I sit down to it–the characters have taken over and are running wild–but in a good way. This could be my best piece yet–I’m very excited about it.
GNOH Thank you Carson for taking the time to do this interview it was a pleasure