Interview: Michael Fisher
Book Name and Description: It Always Bites You in the End, a tale of tattooed terror, wrapped in the shell of a series of homicide investigations in the Nation’s Capital.
What gave you the idea for your book?
There is a painting from the 80s titled Tattoo by Boris Vallejo, showing a dragon tattoo on a muscular man’s arm rearing off the skin and biting the wearer. It made me start wondering what other sorts of trouble a person’s tattoos could bring into their lives.
What got you into writing horror?
I’ve been a storyteller since I started running Dungeons & Dragons games with my friends in elementary school. I’ve also been a fan of horror since I was four years old an my Mom introduced me to Dracula, the Bela Lugosi classic, of course. I grew up watching Chiller Theater with Chilly Billy Cardille that had been picked up by our local TV channel, boosted from Pittsburgh. I saw Dawn of the Dead and Phantasm in their theatrical runs even though I was only a child of single digits. I started reading Stephen King around ten and Clive Barker and Lovecraft in my teens, graduating to the spatterpunks of John Skipp & Craig Spector Poppy Z. Brite and Joe R. Lansdale in my twenties. It was only natural that when I started actually writing fiction, it would be of the most gruesome sort.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing DC’s Dead, my first novel, in 2002 when the tattoo shop I was at was lacking for clientele. I had lots of free time and not a lot to fill it. Just before I relocated to South Florida, I ran a one-night zombie survival horror roleplaying game with some friends, having them play themselves. The setting of the game was the area of the Washington DC suburbs we lived in. The game ran well past midnight and it went so well, one of the players called me when he got home because he was so freaked out by driving through the empty streets that I had just depicted. He expected zombies to attack when he got out of his car. I figured that if I could impart that kind of terror from just talking with my friends, maybe I should try to capture that same feeling in print.
Tell us about your past books and stories?
Well, as I said before, DC’s Dead was my first novel featuring a group of friends, self-described DC Freaks—goths, punks, DJs and the like, who one Sunday night witness the zombie rise happening live on TV at Arlington National Cemetery. The rest of the book details how they try to get to safety and survive, first at a rescue station, then later at a cabin in the mountains of Virginia that belongs to one of the group.
I try to follow the old adage of write what you know, so I have a tendency to set my stories in areas in which I have at least visited if not lived. I have stories set in eastern Ohio (near where I grew up- The Return of the Devil Fly), Chicago and it’s outlying communities (where I served in the US Navy- Wake Up Dead), Washington DC (where I lived for twelve years- DC’s Dead & It Always Bites You in the End) and South Florida (my current home of almost fifteen years- From the Murky Depths & Boca Duende). I have written about my club Scene in DC in both of my novels, psychiatric wards (my specialty in the Navy- The Darkness of the Soul), and tattooing, which is my career of the last twenty-one years.
The major locale I have used multiple times that I have spent less than forty-eight hours in is New York City. I have set at least four stories in Manhattan, my East Side Ripper stories Out of Darkness Comes Life & Softly Comes the Ripper, JEA’s long-awaited Lycanthroship and a follow-up tale Hunter in the Dark featuring my WWII veteran Thomas Hemmingford from Lycanthroship, as well as the introduction of my character of Barry ‘the Needle’ Nero from Feral Hearts.
As a Navy vet, I have found occasion to use veterans as characters, both with the afore mentioned Mr. Hemmingford, as well as the protagonist for The Return of the Devil Fly, who also has a brief mention in Darkness of the Soul. I also have the character in DC’s Dead based on myself, so he is also a USN Hospital Corpsman, so those combat medical skills came in handy in the zombie apaocalypse.
I notice that I also have an affinity for police officers as main characters such as the Broward Sherriff’s Deputy in From the Murky Depths or DC Metro Homicide Detective Bill ‘Mac’ MacCallen in It Always Bites You in the End. Sadly, it doesn’t always end well for them. That’s nothing against police officers. I have some great friends that are cops. It is more of a case that most of my tales end badly for most of the people involved. I call that the Lovecraft School of Literature. If, by the end of your story, a large majority of the primary characters are not dead or insane, maybe you should go back over it. I’m not one for the happy ending, at least in fiction.
What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like?
My writing process is very slooooooooooow. There are times I feel like a sloth in a human skinsuit. I don’t have much free time in which to write. I work more than full-time tattooing, as well as being a husband and father of three beautiful kids. I do most of my writing in doctor’s waiting rooms, in my car waiting to pick up the kids, at Boy Scout meetings (That’s a good one since I get almost an hour and a half there) and late at night when I really should be sleeping, like right now. My alarm will go off in less than five hours to begin my day which won’t end until probably around midnight at least. I look forward to a period in my life when I can devote more of my time to my writing, but that won’t likely be for another seven to eight years at least.
What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why?
I don’t know if I can nail it down to just one book. How about a top five, in no particular order?
Cabal by Clive Barker
The Scream by John Skipp & Craig Spector
The Stand by Stephen King
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson
What are you doing next?
Once I can get things back in to my regular groove, I am going to return to working on my tale of a lone sailor aboard a freighter stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, fending off the living dead while struggling to survive.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
If you have a love of writing, if you feel that overwhelming drive to tell your stories, don’t let anyone dissuade you. Don’t do it for fame or fortune. I know lots and lots of writers an very few are able to do it full time. We all still have to have a regular job to pay the bills. If it comes, that’s amazing, but don’t count on being the next Stephen King or JK Rowling because those chances are very slim.
Michael Fisher, Fish to his friends and family, has worn many hats in his long life. He’s done a little of everything, including US Navy Hospital Corpsman, club DJ, security specialist, psychiatric technician, painter, and currently, father, Mason, author and tattooer, not necessarily in that order. He has a love of ugly Hawaian shirts. He also bears a passing resemblance to Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski. He is also a member of the Horror Writer’s Association.
His work includes the collaborative novel Feral Hearts, his first novel DC’s Dead, and short stories in Midnight Remains, Rejected for Content: Splattergore, Rejected for Content 2: Aberrant Menagerie, Rejected for Content 4: Highway to Hell, Floppy Shoes Apocalypse, TrollKind: Under the Bridge, Urban Legends: Emergence of Fear, FVM: The Deadliest of the Species, Doorway to Death as well as many other upcoming anthologies. Within Stranger Aeons is the first anthology on which he has taken lead.
Michael is an award-winning author, artist and editor with J. Ellington Ashton Press. Awards include JEA Honorable Mention for Short Story of the Year 2013 for the Return of the Devil Fly in Midnight Remains, as well as Top Ten Artist and Top Ten Editor from Critters Workshop Annual Preditors & Editors 2014 Awards and Top Ten Author, Artist, Editor, Book Cover, Nonfiction Article and Short Story from Critters Workshop Annual Preditors & Editors 2015. DC’s Dead was awarded J. Ellington Ashton Press’ Editor’s Choice Award for 2015. He also won runner up for CEO’s Choice Novel of the Year for It Always Bites You In The End and Runner Up Anthology of the Year for Within Stranger Aeons for the JEA Choice Awards, as well as multiple awards for his cover design work.
My website, Epic Fish Tales: http://epicfishtales.com
It Always Bites You In The End: https://www.amazon.com/Always-Bites-You-End-ebook/dp/B01LXFP8XU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&
Rejected For Content 1: Splattergore featuring Out Of Darkness Comes Life: https://www.amazon.com/Rejected-Content-Splattergore-RFC-Book-ebook/dp/B00NVS9KDG/ref=la_B00JARA3CE_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&
Rejected For Content 2: Aberrant Menagerie featuring The Darkness Of The Soul: https://www.amazon.com/Rejected-Content-2-Aberrant-Menagerie-ebook/dp/B00VPFEQ5Y/ref=la_B00JARA3CE_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&
Rejected For Content 4: Highway To Hell featuring The Cruelty Of Children: https://www.amazon.com/Rejected-Content-4-Highway-Hell-ebook/dp/B01IKY3TU0/ref=la_B00JARA3CE_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&
Strange Dominion: Weird Tales Of The Wild West featuring The Dark Man: https://www.amazon.com/Strange-Dominion-Weird-Tales-Wild/dp/1537343246/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&
Urban Legends: Emergence Of Fear featuring The Curious Case Of The Canine Hairsuit: https://www.amazon.com/Urban-Legends-Emergence-Essel-Pratt-ebook/dp/B012BOV024/ref=la_B00JARA3CE_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&
TrollKind: Under The Bridge featuring Boca Duende: https://www.amazon.com/TrollKind-Bridge-Amanda-M-Lyons-ebook/dp/B01AQRQJA6/ref=la_B00JARA3CE_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&
Doorway to Death: An Anthology From The Other Side featuring Wake Up Dead: https://www.amazon.com/Doorway-Death-Anthology-Other-Side-ebook/dp/B015VLG1GY/ref=la_B00JARA3CE_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&
FvM: The Deadliest Of The Species featuring Up From The Depths: https://www.amazon.com/Deadliest-Species-Males-Females-Book-ebook/dp/B01CBP4H3M/ref=la_B00JARA3CE_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&
Midnight Remains featuring The Return Of The Devil Fly: https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Remains-catt-dahman-ebook/dp/B01M0RS8GN/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&