Today folks we have an interview with Adam Pepper.
At times disturbing and grim, others raunchy and comical, Adam Pepper’s work is known for a unique blend of horror, suspense and speculative fiction. MEMORIA, Adam’s debut novel, reached #1 on the Dark Delicacies Best Seller list and received rave reviews from Cemetery Dance and Chronicle. “Super Fetus,” his outrageous Bizarro novella was called “In-your-face, allegorical social commentary” by esteemed reviewer, Paul Goat Allen. His quick-hitting short work has appeared in genre magazines including THE BEST OF HORRORFIND, Vol. 2 and SPACE AND TIME. Adam’s non-fiction credits span from NEW WOMAN MAGAZINE to THE JOURNAL NEWS.
GNOH– Hi Adam, how are you doing?
Great, Jim. Thanks for having me.
GNOH– Can you give us quick background on who Adam Pepper is?
Sure. I’m an author who’s spent the last decade orso trying to break into publishing. I’vehad two agents, written five novels and collected hundreds of rejections butfailed to land a mass market deal. Ihave had success in the small press and built a loyal grassroots following formy gritty and offbeat style. I came fromthe school that thought self publishing was for wannabes that didn’t have thetalent to make it. It took a long timeto get past those preconceived notions. But the industry has changed so rapidly. Authors no longer need an agent or a publisher. Authors need an audience. That’s why I’ve chosen to it alone with mylatest novel SYMPHONY OF BLOOD. To reachout directly to readers and connect with an audience.
GNOH– So out of all the genres out there why horror?
I don’t considermyself strictly a horror author, but everything I do has a dark and cynicalslant. That’s the worldview I bring tomy fiction. I’ve always been attractedto bleak and gritty plots filled with disenchanted and alienated characters. I’m a fan of the underdog, of theunderestimated and underappreciated. That’s just me.
GNOHAre you a fan of other genres?
Absolutely. I love crime fiction and just about anythingdark, edgy, offbeat, unique and intriguing.
GNOH– Can you remember what first made you fall in love the genre?
It started with themovie, The Shining. It came on cable TVwhen I was about 8. I wasn’t supposed towatch it, but I did, and I loved it. Imoved on to the old Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes. Soon, I graduated from reading Tolkien toreading King, and I never looked back.
GNOH– I take it you are still in love with it? Would you agree though, that she is a harsh mistress? There has been some really rocky times formyself, times where I’ve walked away from her, but there is something aboutthat keeps me coming back. Have you everfelt this way?
It’s certainlydisappointing to see how Hollywood treats horror. And in the fiction game it can be hit andmiss, but that’s true with everything.
GNOH– What would you say are your three favourite things about the genre, and whatare three things you hate about the genre?
I love the creativity and imagination of agood horror tale. I love the freedom andI enjoy exploring the harshness of human nature. I don’t like when things become too formulaicand safe. Or when authors take the cheapway out rather than putting their heart into the piece.
GNOH– Was writing always something you wanted to do? Was it a compulsion, or was it something youjust fell into?
Writing mostcertainly is a compulsion. I have a hardtime figuring out exactly what writing means to me, and sometimes even why Ikeep doing. I’m not making a living atit, so I can’t call it a career. Butit’s really not a hobby. I have hobbieslike skiing and golf that I do strictly for enjoyment and have no aspirationswhatsoever in. Writing is somethingdifferent. It’s work, no question. I love it and find it rewarding, but thereare days I’d rather drop a cinderblock on my toes.
GNOH– Can you remember much about your first stories? Have you ever considered going back to themand giving them the once over for publication?
Looking back on myold stuff is a lot like a 7th grade photo. Kind of embarrassing, but it had potential.
GNOH – Your writing style has been described ashaving “the spare elegance of a man who knowshow to write”,and “a fury and a passion uniquely his own”. How woulddescribe your writing style?
To the point butcinematic. I try to set the scene and employ all of the senses but with aneconomical use of words. Most importantis the passion. Without that it’s alljust words on a page. It’s the author’sfury that brings those words to life.
GNOH – I’vealways wondered how does an author find his own voice? Is it difficult to filter out other authorswork?
I think consistent voiceis one of my strong points. Whether I’mwriting horror, crime or even mainstream fiction, there are certain constantsto my style. I’m a native New Yorker,born and bred. One thing we don’tstruggle with in NY is expressing unique and individual voice.
GNOH – On a similar note, how important do you thinkit is for an author to be well read in their given genre? Is it important to know what has gone before?
That is absolutely essential. If you aspire to excellence, you have to putin the time. When I first startedseriously pursuing writing horror, I read a lot of the classics, Dracula,Frankenstein, Jeckyll and Hyde, along with the modern day favorites like King,Barker and Straub. Then I dug deeper andfound Ketchum, Lee and Laymon. Thatperiod was critical to my development as a writer. But I also believe in reading widely. Writers shouldn’t stilt their growth and gettoo stuck in reading one thing. Readclassics, read new fiction, read bestsellers, read obscure stuff. It’s all rewarding in different ways and itcan only make you better.
GNOH – Your first novel Memoria was reached numberone on the Dark Delicacies Booklist. Not bad for a first novel. What gave you the idea about a man searchingfor the secret to utilising the brains full potential, and the discovery of thehuman soul?
That core idea isn’t allthat original. We’ve all heard thetheories, that humans use only 5% of their brain. I had kicked that idea around for years andthen I had this totally separate idea about a land where humans were trappedwith their worst memories while their bodies continued on Earth withoutthem. I combined the two short storiesand Memoria was born.
GNOH –The novel has gained some excellent reviews, Inoticed one review that while positive criticised the ending of the novel. Was the ending you wrote always the one youintended. The review hints at the endingbeing rife for a sequel, is there going to be one?
I don’t know if I’llever revisit Memoria. I think the storystands on its own. It’s been a long timesince I’ve read those reviews so I really don’t recall what that particularperson’s issue was.
GNOH – The novel is currently out of print, do youhave any plans on releasing it again, perhaps as an e-book?
Well, this goes backto the 7th grade photo thing. Memoria had potential, but I look back and it isn’t nearly up to mystandards for myself and my work. Memoriawas written in the 90’s. Forget theinternet, the author of Memoria was living in a 600/month dumpy basement apartmentwith no computer, no cable TV, not even a desk! Just a Brother word processor on the kitchen table and a chair from the‘70s with a worn-out bright orange cushion. I’m not that guy anymore and I’m not sure I want to go back. I told that story to the best of my abilityat the time. I’m all about movingforward. I have stories to tell today.
GNOH – Going off topic for a moment, what is yourtake on e-books?
I am a big believerin the power of digital media. It ismore than the future. It’s now, especiallyfor popular fiction and disposable reading. Some people are resistant to change, but they should ask themselveswhy. It’s okay to love books and have aromantic attachment to them. But the storytakes place in the reader’s mind. The averagereader reads a book once and moves on. Digital books are perfect for those readers, and I happen to be one ofthem.
GNOH – How did you fall into the twisted world of Bizarro fiction?
I wrote a short storycalled “Super Fetus” and read it at the 2002 World Horror Convention and itdrew a lot of attention. Carlton Mellickwas one of the people who really loved my story. I wrote it into a novella and wanted him topublish it under his Eraserhead Press. At the time, he basically said the story wasn’t fucked up enough, whichwas ironic to say the least, as the story was too fucked up for anyone otherthan Eraserhead. The story sat on myhard drive for about 4 years, when I saw Carlton at another convention andtotally out of the blue he said, “So what happened to Super Fetus?” When I told him nothing, he said let’spublish it. So we did (with some heavyrevisions to add fucked up-ness).
GNOH – Bizarro fictionis on the outskirts of the genre, and is seen as some as being all about styleand shock rather than telling a good story. What would you say to those people?
I’d just say it’s notfor everyone and if it’s not for you that’s cool.
GNOH – I’ve always pictured the Bizarro writers as meeting in some dark cellar like thewitches from MacBeth. Do you guys havemuch to do with each other?
They do a con everyyear, BizarroCon. I like all those guysand wish them well, but I’m really on the outskirts of the scene.
GNOH – So what exactly is your Bizarro novella Super Fetus about?
Super Fetus is thestory of a fetus whose white trash mom wants him dead, but he refuses to beaborted. It’s intentionally inflammatorybut there’s no political or religious connotation attached to it.
GNOH– Other than Super Fetus, where would you recommend a Bizarro virgin to start?
Carlton Mellick’s TheBaby Jesus Buttplug. Awesome book!
GNOH– Your second novel Symphony of Blood : A Hank Mondale Supernatural Case, hasjust been released. I take it from thetitle this is hopefully going to be the start of a series?
Yes. I’m working on the 2nd book as wespeak.
GNOH– Can you tell the readers what the book is about?
SYMPHONY is the storyof a hard-up PI whose plush case of protecting a rich spoiled brat escalatesinto an encounter with a man-eating monster.
GNOH– There are rather a lot of supernatural detective novels out there, how doesyour differ, and where would you say it sits on the spectrum of detectivenovels?
It’s definitely inthe vein of Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green. It’s a genre piece, so much of it may seem familiar, but I bring mycreative energy and take some risks in narrative style. There are no standard vampires or werewolves.
GNOH– How much in common does Symphony have with Super Fetus and Memoria,stylistically?
All my work has anoverall consistent style and voice, even though the genres aren’t always thesame. Disturbing, grim, somewhat offbeatwith a dark sense of humor. That’s whatI do.
GNOH– How do you go about writing a supernatural detective story? Do you plan out the plot without thesupernatural elements first, or do you treat the novel as a whole?
I knew from the startthat this was going to be a monster story.
GNOH– How much work have you put into building the world of Hank Mondale?
Hank is a somewhatfamiliar PI with the flaws and weaknesses you may expect, but he’s also anorganic character who continues to grow and develop in my imagination.
GNOH– How does the supernatural elements exist alongside the mundane world?
How do birdsfly? How do bees sting? Why does the Earth revolve around thesun? For the purpose of SYMPHONY OFBLOOD, the supernatural just is.
GNOH– How well has the book been received?
It’s in its secondmonth and SYMPHONY has been quite well received. I’ve been in and out of the top 100 DarkFantasy ebooks on Amazon and the reviews have been great. The response from book bloggers has beenpositive. There’s been a nice presenceon GoodReads and Library Thing. So farso good.
GNOH– As an author you have had a good level of success in the small press. Do you strive for the breakout novel?
Of course. That’s why I wrote SYMPHONY to beginwith. I had published Memoria and SuperFetus and I wanted to write something a bit more commercial.
GNOH– Do you ever think that Super Fetus may have held you back from getting the bigbreak? That maybe the big publishinghouses can’t see past the title?
I do wondersometimes. At the time Super Fetus wasreleased, I was shopping around a suspense novel to agents. That novel was far more mainstream than SuperFetus. I’m sure some of the agents musthave looked at my website and googled me. Perhaps they were put off. Icouldn’t say for sure.
GNOH– If this was a reason would you consider using a pen name?
I’m not against a penname but I think despite the variety of genres I work in, there is aconsistency to what I do, and the audience that connects with my work seems tobe okay with the different directions I go. I want to embrace that diversity, instead of marketing each workseparately.
GNOH- Would you ever consider moving toanother genre for the big break. Forexample would you write a Twilight rip off for the big break?
I’mnot overly pretentious but I do have an artsy side. I decided a long time ago that I’d rathercontinue working a day job than write something that I’m not passionateabout. I have no problem “selling out”for the right opportunity (and price), but I truly believe that art andcommerce can meet in the middle somewhere. And you can’t patronize your audience. If the passion isn’t there, the readers will know.
GNOH– Fame and fortune, or respect in the genre?
“Respect” in thisbusiness is usually built on bullshit. Ineed to respect myself.
GNOH– So what does the future hold for you?
I am going to releasemy second Indie novel soon. It’s abrutal crime drama with a traditional love story, think Reservoir Dogs meetsRomeo and Juliet. After that the secondHank Mondale book, and then who knows.
GNOH– Thanks for popping on for a chat Adam, I’m looking forward to dipping intothe world of Hank Mondale.
Thank you. I really appreciate it.
You can purchase Adam’s books by clicking the link below