In Search of Monsters: Q & A with Hunter Shea

Hey, Hunter. *grins* I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for stopping by. You’ve had a super busy schedule lately between releasing your novella Swamp Monster Massacre, and dealing with a nasty blow from Mother Nature. I’m so glad you and your family made it through alive and well! You’ll have to excuse me if I get a little giddy. It’s not often someone lets me out of my cage, and I’m a really big fan of your work. Now let’s get rocking!

Writers tend to have a unique outlook on things. Not too many people go through life, have something horrible happen, and shrug it off with a smile. A lot of us do that, because we know those events can be used as fodder. How often do you find yourself building off of real-life experiences (either good or bad) and implementing them in your work?

First, thank you for allowing me to loiter on your blog for a bit. Super Storm Sandy was kind enough to spare my house, but the devastation in NY has been apocalyptic. Parts of the city and suburbs look like Dresden. It’s going to take a long while before we fully come to grips with the scope of this storm.

My real life experiences find their way into my books and stories all of the time. I’ve been fortunate, or unfortunate, to have had several paranormal experiences in my life.

Those experiences and my childhood fascination with ghosts, monsters and aliens helped forge an entire career. I’m particularly fascinated with ghosts not only because of my experiences, but also because that is absolute proof of life, or a form of life, after death. I’d like to think there’s more to us than a few years puttering around this planet. I guess in a way I’m sticking to the ‘write what you know’ adage, and damn if it isn’t fun.

Fun for you and readers alike! What is your favorite book you’ve written so far and why?

Forest of Shadows will always be a personal favorite because it was the book I poured my soul into and the one that got me a career in horror writing. I’ll always be grateful of the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. I have to say, Swamp Monster Massacre was my favorite to write. I decided to have as much fun writing it as I hope people have had reading it. I got to explore my inner Tarantino and Nimoy and let their spirits dance on the page.

I read you got the idea for Swamp Monster Massacre after catching a glimpse of Sasquatch on TV. Of course, you wanted to make the monster your own and ran with it, putting a unique spin on things. I was really impressed with Evil Eternal. Not only was it fantastic horror, but it was fun. There were some great moments of levity and humor. Is this something you try to incorporate often?

Thank you! I’ve always wanted to write a Bigfoot book, and when I sat down to do my spin, I wanted it to be off-the-wall and as original as I could make it. Mobster, tourists, thugs and skunk apes. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Evil Eternal started as such a dark story that I felt I needed to lighten things up with characters like Shane and Cain. Hey, that rhymes! Even in real life, I tend to lean toward the comedic in everything around me, even the dark, awful stuff. Evil Eternal is so over-the-top and dramatic, it needed light touches here and there to ground it a bit. Notice I said ‘a bit’, because that book is wicked strange.

When it comes to horror, you want to bring your readers on a rolling wave of emotion. A little humor brings you down, leaves you vulnerable, then smash!, you ratchet the fear and suspense in an overwhelming swell of churning emotions that makes someone turn the next page with one eye squinted shut.

I’d just like to say, I found Michael’s character kind of hot. 😉

And here I created Shane for the ladies! I can see Father Michael’s appeal, if you like tall, deathly pale, hairless and quietly dangerous. At least now, I know your type. 😉

LOL! Tall, pale, and dangerous is awesome! Okay, back to being serious. If you were stuck in the Everglades with a bunch of skunk-apes from Swamp Monster Massacre, what five items would you want to have with you and why?

Great question. Here goes:
1.   A video camera so I could get proof that they exist and walk among us.
2.  A bazooka with unlimited rounds. I’m not taking any chances. When I shoot, I don’t want any of those murdering beasts to get up and come after me.
3.   Lots of coroner bags to collect the pieces and send them to various labs for analysis.
4.   A cooler loaded with ice and a case of Sapporo beer.
5.   A bundle of Excalibur cigars. This and the beer are to celebrate my capturing evidence of skunk apes and surviving their murderous wrath.

Those things seem insanely smart. I’ve always loved the intelligent foe. They add so much more intensity to a story. Speaking of, there’s some pretty wicked content in Swamp Monster. These beasts have no morals! Did your publisher flinch at any of the more taboo content?

My editor, Don D’Auria, grew up just like me, drawn to the same spooky movies and stories, so he was on board 100% with everything. I like to think that the creatures had some morality, in the fact that they were a family unit and cared for one another in their own special way. I wanted to show that revenge can cross species lines and how very much like us they are in that regard. Now, the way they went about things was a tad harsh, but hell, they worked with what they had.

That they do! So many writers struggle with fear and revulsion when they reach certain aspects of their story. I think a lot of readers endure this experience, too, and it’s such a huge part of the draw of horror. One part is screaming “You can’t do that!” The other is chuckling and roaring: “Don’t hold back!” Do you ever find it difficult to push certain envelopes when writing, or is it always just balls to the wall?

Maybe because I’m so jaded, I don’t worry about writing things that will offend people. Proof of that is in Evil Eternal where I murdered a baby 3 pages in. As a horror writer, you have to bust through the ‘you can’t do that!’ barrier and make your readers squeamish from time to time. Back in the 1930’s, just seeing Frankenstein’s face made people faint. Today, you have to bring a hell of a lot more to the table to even capture people’s attention. It’s a challenge for writers.

Excellent points. What can your audience expect from you in the future? Any exciting news or upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?

I have a short story collection that I hope will be out around the holidays next month. My cover artist has shown me some great stuff, so I can’t wait to get that out. The sequel to Forest of Shadows, Sinister Entity, will be out in April, 2013 with Samhain Publishing.

There’s a short story called The Graveyard Speaks that will come out just before it to bridge the gap between the two books. I’m doing research right now for my next novel and have a ghost novella completed and ready to go to my publisher. There’s no rest for the weary, but I won’t complain. This has been everything I’d hoped for and more.

You can read more about Hunter and his quest for the dark and strange at his
website : www.huntershea.com
Twitter : @huntershea1
Facebook : www.facebook.com/huntershea1
YouTube : Monster Men 13 channel

 

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