Trick-or-Treat Thrillers is very honored to interview the J. Ellington Ashton 2015 Editor’s Choice Anthology of the Year award, Kent Hill!
Book: Straight To Video: An Anthology of B-Movie Awesomeness
We were young and on the edge of boredom, when the tapes took hold. With the birth of home video they came; the good, the bad and the bottom-of-the-shelf beautiful. With insane plots and very little money, a group of mad geniuses picked up the tools of moviemaking and crafted a cinema of unmistakable glory; stories of werewolf ballerinas, killer tomatoes, suburban commandos, deathstalkers, centrefold psychos, robot vampires and samurai cops.
In this age of biodegradable blockbusters, a chosen few, a happy few, a band of video store frequenters have come together to resurrect the days of high adventure, that came with awesome covers (that were often times better than the movie) and bad tracking. These are the stories spawned from the minds of those whose childhood ghosts still haunt the aisles of abandoned video stores the world over.
With the indelible impression of the golden age of VHS emblazoned on their banner, this incredible gathering of writers now return you to a time when the B movie was king, in the days before ‘so bad its good’. This is the fiction flavoured with those gems from the junk, the films that bypassed a theatre near you . . . and went straight to video.
What does it feel like to be the winner of the 2015 Editor’s Choice Anthology of the Year award from J. Ellington Press?
It was really unexpected. The credit though, does not solely lie with me. I had the privilege to work with an incredible group of authors and the finishing touches were added by my friend and master artist Brian LeBlanc. The team at JEA were so welcoming and gave me free reign to build these books. One quickly became two and then three. It is a series of works I have poured a lot into. To quote Werner Herzog, “I live and I die with this project.” It had been (Straight to Video) an idea I had been kicking around in my head for so long; all of a sudden we were off and racing and certainly by November (fingers crossed) the third installment will be released and the journey will be complete. It is such an honor to receive any kind of praise from one’s peers. I am humbled to say the least.
You’ve written and edited several books. Which was your first book? Which was your favorite?
Well my first book was Alien Smut Peddlers from the Future. I had spent three years trying to get published. I was trying the old wanted to earn my place at the table. I tried the UK and finally came to the States. I went through multiple houses till I came to the last on the list, last chance. They were called StrangeHouse Books and they were new and they were looking for the weird and wonderful. So I gave it to them. I sent them a bunch of books but the settled on a strange little western-inspired tale that I had been writing in the dead on night, imaging the whole thing in black and white, listening to Neil Young’s score for Jarmusch’s Dead Man. They liked it, they published it, and the rest is history.
My favourite book that I have written is DeathMaster: Adventures in the 39th Uncharted Dimension. It was the movie I have been making in my head since I was a kid. It is dedicated to Jim Wynorski (who has a copy and whom I am proud to call friend) as it was inspired by his films. His first flick as directed was Lost Empire and I recall him saying that he crammed that movie with everything he’d ever wanted to put in a movie in case he was never asked to direct another one. So it was my plan for DeathMaster. Not only would I fill it with references to the movies that I loved but cram it with all the stuff I wanted in a book, in case I was never published again. Thankfully that has not been the case.
What got you into writing sci-fi/horror?
Movies . . . yeah movies, I watch a lot of movies. I was a child of Star Wars. I was sat down in front of a TV when I was not quite four years old. My dad put a box on top of the TV, then he stuck a smaller box into that box. Then the Fox logo was up and I really don’t think I came out of the lounge the same that day. My life was changed forever. I just wanted to be able to choke people from across the room.
What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like?
I really don’t have a process. I like to write sitting in my chair, every writer should have a good chair, with a notebook. I have written most of my works longhand except when I’ve been under the gun. I also don’t go back every day like I know others do. I write it till it’s done, then as I type I rewrite, then I edit and go over it once more. So the draft I turn in is really the third. I write by points. As I used to write a lot of scripts I would write out the scenes and then bullet-point the essentials. Then I go through and flesh them out. I also always know or try to see the beginning and the end. It is easy then to fill in the middle. I have writing barrages as opposed to writing days. There’ll be moments when it comes upon me and I take up the pen and the words come through me. Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn’t, but when I am done I am filled with relief and contentment.
What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why?
Gee whizz , there are a few, and I know I have said different ones when asked this in the past, but I am going to say (because it is one I keep coming back to) The Gunslinger by Stephen King. Even just the first half of the book is brilliant and visceral. I have always said, if one wanted, and I know they want to bring it to the screen; you could make a movie out of the first half of the book alone. This operatic supernatural western and has at once so simply and yet elegantly composed with great characters, dialogue and visuals. I read the first half every now and again. It is in a word, inspirational.
What are you doing next?
Well always a lot on. Got a sub out for a strange western anthology. Gotta write a barbarian story (that’s a whole nother interview right there – love writing sword and sorcery). Have Straight to Video 2 coming real soon, then gotta prep the third for release. A poetry book. Will be in some JEA and other anthologies all on the way with themes like ghosts, trolls, parodies of The Wizard of Oz, a Sinbad collection, plus more of my own stuff since Straight to Video will be done with (for now). I am planning a sequel to my limited edition book I wrote for Dynatox Ministries SWORD DUDE, and a different take on the Scottish play. So yeah, lots on.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
No retreat, No surrender. Keep coming up, keep writing, I am here to tell you that it is possible. Of course the route Itook, the way I work, the way I went about the whole getting published thing will not work for you. But it takes drive, determination and tenacity. I often compare it to Tim Robbins in Shawshank; we he writes letters, pestering the government for funds and inventory to help build the prison library. Hope is a wonderful thing, maybe the best of things. Get busy living, or get busy dying, absolutely goddamn right. I have come so far and have had defeats but also great victories. Because of my writing I have been able to meet and work with extraordinary people, I met my true love, my darling wife because of it. Hope gets frail but it’s like Steven Seagal, it’s Hard to Kill. I know you can get here, don’t lose hope. It is waiting for you . . . take it, it’s yours if you want it.
To view all of the author’s books go to the following link