Interview with Lincoln Crisler

KatG talked with horror author Lincoln Crisler about his many projects and roles:

1) Severed heads – for or against them?

Especially around this time of year, I’m all about some severed heads. Sure, jack-o-lanterns are great, but I’m a huge fan of efficiency, and chopping off a head is far quicker than the time and precision required to carve a pumpkin.

2) In your first collection, Despairs & Delights, you seem to like to stick your characters into no-win situations. What was the idea for this collection?

I hadn’t really thought of it as being a collection of no-win stories! The idea was that I’d been writing short stories, mostly while deployed to Afghanistan, and getting them published in a variety of freezines, mostly online. I had enough for a short collection, and started pimping it out. I hadn’t seen a common theme at all until Bailey Hunter, who wrote the introduction, mentioned how most of the stories involved sacrifice of some sort. And I think life is like that, really. For the most part, even with the best things in life, there’s some sort of sacrifice involved in bringing those things into being, or as a result of having them.

3) Magick & Misery offers stories that are dark, intense and unsettling. Did your background as a soldier influence this collection?

I don’t think there’s anything in the book that touches on my war experience directly. What there became is a collection of stories mostly written while deployed (the same tour during which I wrote much of the first collection’s pieces), mainly as the result of a promise I’d made to make the most of my time away from home and as a result of the desire to escape the monotony of deployment by escaping into other worlds. I don’t write about the military in my fiction, since I live it every day. It’s a conscious choice that I’ve made, though I’d certainly consider altering that decision in the future if a great story came to mind that required a military setting.

4) Your horror writing ventures into both fantasy and science fiction. Has your experience of them been different or do you not distinguish?

Oh yeah…they’re different, all three. I hardly ever watch horror movies, for instance, but my reading for the past decade has been mostly horror. I read science fiction and fantasy almost exclusively in my younger days, but such reading these days in those genres consists mainly of comic books. I write a lot of horror, and science fiction comes naturally enough. Writing fantasy is a bit more of a push, but it’s something I plan on tackling in an upcoming novella.

5) Your novella, Wild, takes place in the American Old West where a sheriff is dealing with unusual circumstances. Tell us how this story came about.

I initially asked my fans and friends on Facebook to pick between a Sherlock Holmes/Western blend or something else, while deployed to Qatar in 2009. They picked the Western, and I began looking for mysteries around that time period. I lucked into an unsolved missing persons case that just happened to occur in El Paso, where I was stationed at the time. The rest kind of just fell into place. I left the book open-ended, and readers want more, so I’m writing a sequel next year.

6) The sheriff teams up with some unusual characters – a sorcerer and a cattle rustler. How does their partnership work?

The initial concept for the story was going to have more Sherlock Holmes flavor, and while it grew away from that, my medic, Juan Vargas, was my Watson…the military service, his career as a medic, and his journal, quoted extensively in the book, detailing his adventures with Matt Jacoby, the main character. The outlaw…well, it made sense to have him in the book. My characters were tracking down an outlaw gang, and I figured a ‘bad guy’ who was involved merely for his own gain would be an excellent foil, and I daresay he might be my favorite character in the book.

7) And speaking of teams, you have also teamed up with authors Tim Marquitz, Ed Erdelac and Malon Edwards for Four in the Morning, an up-coming novella collection where you each take on a person in a different age group. What can we expect from this project?

You can expect four brand-new novellas, each of which will deal with childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age and their inherent problems in a speculative manner. I’m particularly excited to bring Malon Edwards into the project. He’s a wild card, really…a lot of readers won’t know who he is, because he’s written short stories for the past few years, mainly in smaller venues. He’s submitted to a couple of my projects in the past, to includeCorrupts Absolutely?, and I’m impressed with his work. I can’t wait to see what he pulls off in the larger novella format. Tim and Ed are both great, accomplished authors. If anything, I’m working my brain overtime just to make sure I’m not outshined on my own project!

8) In addition to your writings as an author, you also have been an editor for the Our Shadows Speak anthology and the Lightning Journal e-zine, and now are the editor for the up-coming anthology Corrupts Absolutely? offering dark superhero tales. How do you see your work as an editor as opposed to your work as an author?

Not every author should edit, but there are many who do, and I feel that I’m in great company: John Everson, Kim Paffenroth and Jonathan Maberry, to name just a couple. I feel that being on the other side of the fence gives me a good perspective; my career as an author helps me be understanding as an editor, and having been an editor has given me more patience when it comes to the idiosyncrasies of the industry. Sometimes there’s more going on than authors, or certainly readers, will know.

9) You also write book reviews for Shroud Magazine. As a reviewer, what do you see happening in the horror field currently?

I’m seeing other, smaller presses filling in the gap left by the massive scaling-down of mass-market publishing. Known talent is beginning to spread out more, instead of being collected into a couple of larger stables. The smaller presses feel less obligated to limit creativity, too, so the authors are getting freer reign. I really do have limited experience on which to base an assessment, but I do know that I’m excited to be a newer author in such a malleable time for horror fiction.

10) Besides Four in the Morning and Corrupts Absolutely?, are there more up-coming projects in the hamper?

I have the WILD sequel, which I’m writing next year and hope to release in September. I have two other novellas I’m writing on spec in the hopes of pitching them to a couple of larger small presses. I have a story in the upcoming Robots vs. Zombies anthology that IDW Publishing is releasing in March, and I’m trying my best to break into comics with a five-issue limited science fiction series that I’ve been shopping around.

You can find out more about Lincoln Crisler’s work at http://lincolncrisler.info/

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