Next up for Wayne Simmons’s interview treatment is author Simon Logan. Simon’s latest release is KATJA FROM THE PUNK BAND – an excellent novel released through Dark Fiction’s new champions, Chizine Publications.
WS: So, who are you and what contribution are you making to the sci-fi/ horror genre?
SL: I’m Simon Logan, author of the novels Katja From The Punk Band and Pretty Little Things To Fill Up The Void and the short story collections Nothing Is Inflammable, Rohypnol Brides and I-O. I started off writing in the UK/US horror small presses but quickly became bored by the apparently self-imposed restrictions on a lot of horror writers. I decided therefore to draw more on the things which interested me rather than paying any attention to what everyone else was doing or what I thought I should do. So I turned to things like music (industrial initially but now more punk) and movies as well as my interest in subcultures: body modifications, fetish, psychology, politics etc, and started doing my own thing. The initial result was I-O (so called because it was the input of my interests to create the output of my stories) which was pretty experimental and very rough. However, I quickly found the direction I wanted to go in. I felt it was important that if I were going to spend so much time writing and creating something and then expecting people to spend their own time consuming it, then it should be worthwhile doing so. I didn’t just want to do what everyone else did.
WS: Your first release (Input-Output) was a collection of short stories set against an industrial backdrop. What inspires your fascination with all things mechanical and industrial?
SL: I’m not sure where most of my obsessions come from, to be honest, but I often latch onto subjects quite intensely. I love viruses, I love quantum physics, I love just learning how things work, whether that’s machines or biological systems or whether it’s people. The stories in I-O, and pretty much everything since then, have a very industrial backdrop, like you say, and part of that came from the music I was listening to at the time – Nine Inch Nails and Pitchshifter. I’ve always been interested in people or places that don’t function properly, that aren’t the best of the best. That’s why I always liked Star Wars but not Star Trek. Star Wars was about rebels struggling with shoddy equipment, oppressed people fighting back against a tyranny. Star Trek, on the other hand, with its best-of-the-best of everything, always sat uncomfortably with me precisely because they were so elite. I’ve always been more interested in people who aren’t the best at what they do, who don’t have everything at their disposal and the same goes for settings. Plus it’s just fun to describe.
WS: Katja from the Punk Band is your latest release with Canadian publisher, ChiZine. The book has been stocked by numerous stores throughout Canada and N. America. How does it feel to find your name on the shelves of brick and mortar stores?
SL: Well I’m not sure about the distribution leap for Katja from my other books. I’ve certainly not seen any copies in my local Waterstones (though to be honest I’ve not been in one for ages) so if they are in bookstores across the pond then it’s a fairly abstract idea for me. From what I’ve heard, CZP are doing a fantastic job of getting it into stores and getting it a bit of a wider audience on the whole. I’m under no illusions that I’m anything more than a clique author in that I have a fairly small audience, at least at the moment, but those that do like my stuff seem to really like it. I do feel I can reach a wider audience and I guess I’ll just keep writing and see what happens.
WS: What writers inspire you?
SL: I actually take more inspiration from other sources, like music and movies. For whatever reason Deftones lyrics have inspired several short stories I’ve written: there’s just something about them which seems to trigger something in me. Movies like Inception, Mulholland Drive, Triangle and Cache all inspire me with how they play with convention and form, and how they challenge the audience. But certainly authors like Chuck Palahnuik, Will Christopher Baer and Jack O’Connell appeal to me because they show me how you can push things. I’m reading John Ajvide Lindqvist’s HANDLING THE UNDEAD right now and am loving that: it’s so full of compassion and a really fresh take on zombie horror. I often find myself more inspired by sentences or small snippets of dialogue rather than entire books. Another book I’ve read and loved recently is The Patron Saint of Plagues by Barth Anderson which is a viral horror set in Mexico City and manages to blur genres handsomely. I also recently re-read the short story called “Foot Work” which forms a part of Chuck Palahnuik’s novel “Haunted” and I think that is just the most perfect short story. It’s about the dark side of alternative therapies, about women who turn to the dark side and become assassins, using their skills for evil. It’s fairly short but sometimes that’s when stories work best. It has a great idea at its heart, explores such ideally fully, and then ends.
WS: How important have conventions been to your writing career? What other ways do you promote yourself?
SL: Conventions are basically my idea of a waking nightmare. I was meant to attend the recent World Horror Convention in Brighton to launch my book but had to pull out for financial reasons. However, even if I had made it I think I would have spent most of the time fighting back panic attacks J I’m not necessarily antisocial, I’m just not that bothered about being around other people. I’ve never been to a writing convention, never attended any workshops, never been to a writing group – the only reason I’d do anything like that would be for self-promotion. I get on fine in my own company and don’t feel the need to have others around me. When there are others there then you have to start worrying about what to say and how to behave J In terms of promotion I do what I can: working in the indy press means that you have to fight so hard to even be noticed – although ChiZine have done a great job so far. I maintain my own website and I promote myself via the usual social networking outlets as best I can. As I say, I’m not great at the whole personal interaction thing so to be in a position where someone is doing that for me is reason enough for me to want to be successful! Perhaps I could just do the old Harper Lee recluse thing and pretend I’m some sort of mysterious artiste rather than just a social misfit.
WS: Would you describe your writing as character-driven? What inspires your characters? What attracts you to characters from the fringes of society?
For more interviews and book reviews by Wayne Simmons, go to www.waynesimmons.org
Belfast born, Wayne Simmons, has been loitering with intent around the horror genre for some years. Having scribbled reviews and interviews for various zines, Wayne released his debut horror novel, DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, through PERMUTED PRESS. The book was received well by both fans of the genre and reviewers alike. In April 2010, the rights to DROP DEAD GORGEOUS reverted back to Wayne. An extended version of DDG will be released through SNOWBOOKS in 2011.
Wayne released the zombie apocalyptic horror novel, FLU, through SNOWBOOKS in April 2010.
In what little spare time he has left, Wayne enjoys running, getting tattooed and listening to all manner of unseemly screeches on his BOOM-BOOM Box…