Sunday, 12 April 2015

Men in Horror: WELDON BURGE

I first 'met' Weldon when I read the incredible Zippered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! And I thought 'DAMMIT' I should have been in there. Those works were creative genius at its finest. The prose, the stories, the story telling, the imagination, aaaaaaahhhhh, I died inside with each one because they were so damn good. 

I devoured that book, cover to cover. And voted for it on Goodreads, promoted it, and I believe it was on the very first Solstice List: Best Horror Books and Stories Not to be Missed ©. In fact, this book was one of the few books that created the thought for this list. 

Lucky for me, Weldon put out another volume, I submitted and my story After Darque, loosely based on a true story, and based on a real person, was chosen. I remember writing this piece and coming into work one day asking my 6'5" 270 pound cop friend how much he thought his legs weighed, in all seriousness, and the look of horror on his face was priceless. I still giggle over that. Because in the next breath I asked him over for dinner. Yes, he came over. 

After Darque was a delicious story based on another police officer friend of mine who explained to me, in great detail, how he had his finger severed due to a training injury, while he was awake: The sight, the smells, the sounds it made as it was leaving his body. The first thought I had: Apotemnophelia. I mean, don't we all?

So I read a few more works from Weldon and thought, this man is brilliant. He writes, he selects near genius pieces of work, and he is hard working and dedicated to the craft. In fact, some of the stories he has selected have gone on to receive Bram Stoker recommendations. Clearly, he knows what he is doing.

If you have the taste for the bizarre and the out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to horror, and you have a fairly keen grasp on reality, I highly recommend the Zippered Flesh series. 

His others include Uncommon Assassins, Insidious Assassins and Someone Wicked.

Weldon Burge
1. When did you start writing horror?
I’m guessing around the age of 13 or 14. I wrote hundreds of truly excretable short stories in my teens!
2. Have you written in any other genre?
I write quite a bit of suspense/thriller fiction, and even my horror writing tends to be more psychological horror/suspense than pure gore. When I started Smart Rhino Publications a few years ago, my intent was to publish both horror and suspense fiction—that pretty much reflects my own freelance work. Those genres are also what I primarily read, so it was something of a no-brainer to focus on them in my publishing venture.
Most people don’t know that I’ve also been a prolific garden writer. Over the years, I’ve written for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, and many other gardening magazines.
3. What makes you uncomfortable?
Not much when it comes to writing. Reading or speaking before crowds … yep, uncomfortable! I’m just a mellow, easygoing, soft-spoken guy, something of any introvert. Standing in front of an audience scares the bejesus out of  me.
4. Does your family read your work?
Yes, but not everything. Most of the members of my family don’t read horror fiction.
5. Does your writing make you uneasy?
Not really, no. If anything, I work out problems—especially philosophical or psychological issues—through my writing. I should point out that I think horror and humor are kissing cousins, and I’ve always thought the best horror is interlaced with humor, whether really dark and crawling around at the edges or gonzo and right in your face. My own writing often contains subliminal humor. And many readers of the Smart Rhino anthologies have commented on the dark humor sprinkled throughout.
6. Who would you say you write like?
My stories have been compared most frequently with Richard Matheson’s—and I certainly don’t have a problem with that! But I hope that my writing has a voice that is uniquely my own.
7. Who are your favorite authors?
Well, let’s look at the bookshelves in my office: Clive Barker, Joe Lansdale, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, Graham Masterton, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Robert McCammon, F. Paul Wilson, Jeffery Deaver, Lawrence Block, David Morrell, Jack Ketchum. Those are just some of my favorite writers—and I’ve been lucky enough to have some of them contribute to the Smart Rhino anthologies! Not that I’m a fanboy … but it’s so cool to work with writers whose writing I’ve enjoyed for years!
8. Who influences you as a writer?
That’s actually an excellent question, and my answer is probably one you’ve not heard. As editor/publisher for Smart Rhino Publications, I’ve published more than 70 authors in the past three years, and have read stories from well over 100. Selecting stories for anthologies is no simple task--but it is a learning experience. Working with so many writers with such varied styles and voices has helped me fine-tune my own writing. I see how some things work, how some things don’t work, and better ways to improve the writing of those who submit stories for my consideration. I always work with those writers who show great promise. And, by doing so, I learn so much about my own writing. Sitting on both sides of the desk—as writer and editor/publisher—is the best training for any writer. So, to answer your question, the writers that I work with probably have the most influence on me as a writer.
9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?
What I remember is my uncle’s enormous box of horror, suspense, and science fiction comics from the late ‘50s/early ‘60s—especially the classic EC comics. He had a huge collection, hundreds of comics, and I just loved that he shared those wonderful comics with me. My love for horror fiction certainly started with those!
10. How old were you?
I’m guessing around 8 or 9. Way too young for such gruesome stuff (LOL!)
11. Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?
Not really. But I tend to stay away from gratuitous child and animal cruelty.
12. What was the best advice you were given as a writer?
Write what you enjoy reading! Of course, you need to write to an audience. But always keep in mind that YOU are your first audience. That sounds obvious, but I’ve run into quite a few writers who have tried to write for an audience with which they’re not familiar (or a genre they don’t enjoy reading) just to make a buck. No no no!
13. If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?
I’d start sending out freelance material long before I did. The fear of rejection is, well, silly and should never be a reason for refusing to submit your work. The worst an editor can do is say, “No.” Continue to refine your work and always keep your work in circulation until it finds a home.  
14. How many books do you read a year?
As an editor/publisher, I read quite bit, mostly short stories for anthologies. That eats into my time for pleasure reading, so I’m sure I’m reading far less than I have in the past. I’m guessing I read 10-12 books a year for pleasure.
15. Do you write every day?
I work with words every day—as a writer, as an editor, as a publisher. I’m always juggling several projects. I just recently contracted with Lisa Mannetti to publish her novella, THE BOX JUMPER, which is dark historical fiction about Houdini and his battle with fraudulent spiritualists. I have a novel and short stories of my own always percolating in the background. So, keep your eye on Smart Rhino Publications—more amazing things are coming!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much, Malina! This was great fun, and I hope at least some of my answers helped other writers.