AN INTERVIEW WITH STEVE VERNON
Hi,Ginger Nuts. I’m doing fine, although the sky is bleeding glaciers and penguinpoop this morning. We are talking deep freeze cold, out there. The pumpkins areshivering and the polar bears are talking long johns. It’s October here andNova Scotia – and she’s come to the party dressed up as Miss Mid-January.
Well, Iseem to remember wanting to be a superhero for a while. I think I figured thata set of spandex tights and a six-pack of pectorial implants was going to getme more girls – but then I got a little older and lit on the idea of growing upto become a writer. Since I was about eleven years old or so I had figured outthat the thing I was best at was putting one word after another in a mildlyentertaining fashion.
GNOH – Other than your grandfather and therailway workers, who would you say has been the biggest influence on yourwriting?
My cat.No one else has such a deep intense understanding of my guru-like wisdom.
GNOH – You have had a very varied workhistory, in your time of travelling across Canada, you’ve certainly paid yourdues. Do you think that an author needsto live a life before they can fully tap the potential of their writing skills?
The onething that I got out of my lifetime of trying to earn enough money to keep mein ink, paper and postage stamps is a keen appreciation for the entire spectrumof existence. Meeting and working with as many people in as many walks of lifeas I have gives me a really hard-won sense of what makes people tick. I mean myresume would include burger flipper, house painter, garden digger and raker ofleaves. I have worked as a roustabout, a carnie, a pusher of concert tickets, ahardware clerk, a pusher of cotton bales, an environmental criminal, a cleanerof oil tankers, a tree planter, a fiddlehead picker and a sidewalk palm reader.I’ve served ice cream, worked in libraries, pushed billions of boards, andworked as a professional snow shoveller. Wave a dollar in the air and I will mostlikely jump for it.
GNOH – And what exactly is fiddlehead picker?
Afiddlehead is a fine succulent baby fern. It is called a fiddlehead because of theway it curls itself into such a fine tight spiralling knot. That’s when youpick it = when it is young and tasty – before it uncurls itself and grows upinto a gnarly old bitter fern.
GNOH –Are you at liberty to tell us aboutbeing an environmental criminal?
I’msworn to secrecy on that point.
GNOH – You describe yourself as Nova Scotia’shardest working horror writer, are there many
of you guys in Novia Scotia?
Thereare a couple of horror writers here in the maritimes – but damn few that I knowof. We don’t get much in the way of exposure or anything even close to success.But hell, let’s face it – even if Stephen King himself decided to pull out ofMaine and move on up here I’d still call myself that because it sounds so damncool.
GNOH – But it’s not just writing stories thatyou have a passion for, you also love telling them,
which gives you the mostpleasure, writing the stories, or performing them to a captive audience?
I don’tknow if “captive” is the right word for it. Makes me sound like I’ve got a packof hog-tied cheerleaders locked up in my basement. Let’s just say I love to tryand captivate my audience – holding them with nothing more than the force of mywords and personality.
GNOH – I always imagine a cold winters nightand big campfire whenever I read one of your tales. It’s a feeling a lot of people seem to haveabout your writing. How do you feelabout this description?
Let’sface it. At the heart of things we are just alone in the darkness, huddledaround a hopeful campfire, praying for a few good words and a reason for being.That’s what being human is all about, isn’t it? Hanging onto something in thedarkness, reaching out for that next line, trying hard to pull yourself towardsthe light.
You’remistaking me for a sniper. I fire a shotgun and I intend to hit as many readersas possible. A well written book for children is a pleasure for adults to readas well – so I am aiming for all age groups – no matter what particularbookshelf the bookstore insists on stacking my books on.
GNOH – You have a spotters guide to seamonsters, in Maritime Monsters, it’srather hard to get hold of a copy in the UK, is there ever going to be anotherversion of this available? And moreimportantly will there be a sequel, and if there is will you include the Landshark in it? (I was always on the vergeof making my son believe in Land Sharks, and this would help tip the balance inmy favour)
Well, Iwrote it for a Nova Scotia publisher, (Nimbus), so it is very unlikely that Iwill ever try and follow it up. I do have another children’s picture book withmonsters and such in the back of my mind but it would be something a littledifferent than Maritime Monsters.
GNOH – I first encountered your writing with Hard Roads, which feels like a lifetimeago. How do you feel the stories in thisbook stand up to your most up to date work?
Well,it depends on which book you’re talking about.
Withouta doubt I would have to say my personal favourite is DEVIL TREE – a full lengthhorror-historical that is only available as an e-book through Crossroad Press.It is one of the deepest and purest old school horror novels that I have everwritten and I am very proud of it and hope that everyone who reads thisinterview goes out and downloads about twenty or thirty copies to theirKindle/Nook/ipad e-reading device.
GNOH – It seems that you are entering a verybusy time with regards to publishing, you have e-book out, a new novel Tatterdemon from Blasphemous Books, and Do Overs and Detours from Dark RegionsPress. How do you keep yourselfmotivated during these busy times?
I thinkI mentioned that mortgage that keeps calling to me every month???
GNOH – Your e-books have found a home withDavid Wilson at Crossroads Press. You’veknown David for a while haven’t you?
Davidwas actually the first person to ever review my work – way back in the days ofJanet Fox’s SCAVENGER’S NEWSLETTER when he reviewed a chapbook of mine entitled“A Fine Sacrifice”. Then, in Cemetery Dance he went on to review my weirdwestern cult classic LONG HORN, BIG SHAGGY – A TALE OF WILD WEST TERROR ANDREANIMATED BUFFALO. We’ve also appeared together in quite a few anthologies andmagazines along the way. Dave’s a good man and I really enjoy working with him.
Actually,the whole e-book venture has been a bit of an experiment for me. It seemed likea great way to get some of my older out-of-print work out there – as well assome new work I was working on. E-books are definitely part of the new futurefor writing – and I definitely wanted to get into the game and try it out.Crossroad seemed to be the one company out there making a real effort to roarinto the new age of digital publishing.
GNOH – David has built up quite a stable ofwell respected authors it must be a good feeling to
be associated with equally talentedauthors?
Well,when you’re talking a line-up that includes Tom Piccirilli, Ed Gorman, AlSarrantonio, Chet Williamson, Jack Ketchum, Wayne Allen Sallee and WestonOchses for starters you just have got to know that you’re in mighty good company.
GNOH – So far you have released a number ofyour classic hard to get books through Crossroads, such as Long Horn, Big Shaggy and NothingTo Lose. Can you let slip any secrets on future publications?
Well,there are a few more old properties that are slowly working towards e-bookformat – but I am also working on a few new projects – including ahorror-historical in which a pack of Russian Cossacks go toe-to-toe with theundead; and another novella in which a team of over-the-hill bush leagueLabrador hockey players match up with a pack of vampires. Think 30 Days ofNight meets Slapshot and you are somewhere close to the mark.
GNOH – One of your upcoming releases that Iam really looking forward to is Tatterdemon. Can you tell us about this story? Am I right in thinking that this is an old story that you have reworkedfor publication?
TATTERDEMONis a full-length novel that deals with the troubles a small town runs into whenit must deal with an infestation of random killer scarecrows. There’s witchcraft,backhoes and power mower – not to mention a fire truck.
You can purchase Steve’s books by clicking the following links please do Steve is one hell of a story teller.