Question 1: What do you wish people would ask you about your writing?
Over the years I’ve had all of the usual questions, plus a few that are specific for writers of what
my business cards call “dark speculative fiction.” I have my pat answers which run through my head.
Where do you get your ideas?
A service similar to the Book of the Month Club. Every month they send me two ideas. I pay
for the ones I use and send back the others. The honest answer is “everywhere.” The idea for my
first published story came when I was playing with Matchbox cars. My little brother mispronounced Zamboni as zomboni and boom!
I had an idea for a story once. Would you write it for me?
Thanks, but no. I’ve got that service I mentioned.
Have I read you/Have I heard of you?
Maybe, probably not. If you would like to, I have books to sell.
This one is usually accompanied by a face or a tone which implies the question “Are you
deranged? Do I have to be worried about you?” The short answer to this one is: why not horror?
The longer answer involves a discussion of good and evil, exploring all aspects of human nature, and the understanding that sometimes it is necessary to “gaze into the abyss” in order to truly understand ourselves.
What I would rather have someone ask is “Why do you write?”
The genuine answer is that I don’t really know. I just know that I have all of these people living inside my head and they are all clamoring for me to tell their stories. To be honest, there is also a certain amount of vanity involved. I like being the guy who tells the stories, especially the ones that creep people out. It sets me apart from everyone else. Plus, at least according to my sister, I’m less of a jerk when I’m writing. She told me this during a brief period when I stopped writing and focused on “serious, grown-up stuff.” [I am paraphrasing a little here because I’m not sure about your policy on swear words.] Finally, writing just seems to come naturally. There are times when the words just flow out, as you can see by the verbose answer to your first question.
Question 2: Which of your characters would you most like to meet and why?
There are two answers to this question, the literal one and the sort of metaphorical answer. The
latter is that I would like to meet all of the characters which I have not yet had a chance to write
about, implying that by telling the stories that I have yet to tell, I will be meeting them.The more literal answer is Kira. She has already made one appearance in the short story “The Numbers Don’t Lie” which appeared in Erie Tales: 666. I also have extensive notes for a novel length story which I haven’t quite got around to writing yet in a file entitled “Daughter of the Morning Star.” She is Lucifer’s daughter who is desperately trying to make it on her own. She has to work twice as hard as any other demon to show that she is capable and that her position in Soul Acquisitions is not just nepotism. She’s tough, has a biting wit, and can be particularly heartless. There is also a shadow of insecurity which she tries to keep hidden behind her bravado. It isn’t easy growing up in the brimstone shadow of the Lord of Hell, plus she and her dad aren’t on the best of terms.
A close second would be Wednesday Weld, who started out known only as Victim Who Dies Horribly #3—Barn. She was supposed to come down from a hayloft and be devoured by zombies, but when the time came to write that scene, she refused. I know on a deeper level that it was my subconscious telling me that given what I had written so far, the actions I had planned simply did not fit with her personality. However, it really felt like my fictional creation was sitting there telling me No. She ended up being one of the few survivors of that story and the main character in the sequel. I would like to thank her for pointing out the huge writing fail I was about to commit.
Question 3: Where is your favorite place to shop for zombie attire?
I’ve gotten a lot of material from various places on-line. I spend way too much time on Think Geek and browsing Etsy stores. Despite this, I would have to say that my favorite place to shop for zombie material would be at conventions. I’m fortunate enough to have been to a number of horror conventions, often as a vendor (either on my own for Dragon’s Roost Press or with the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers). In fact, we have been doing many of the same shows for long enough now that we’ve formed friendships with many of the other vendors. This has created some great opportunities for collaborations. We also have a number of attendees who look for us every year. It is very satisfying to have someone come up and ask what new material we have this time around. Attending conventions is like having a little family reunion every few months.
The only down side is that my wife has instituted a policy where I have to discard two tee-shirts for every one that I purchase.
Michael Cieslak is a lifetime reader and writer of horror, mystery, and speculative fiction. A native of Detroit, he still lives within 500 yards of the city with his wife and their two dogs Tesla and Titus. The house is covered in Halloween decorations in October and dragons the rest of the year. He is an officer in the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. His works have appeared in a number of collections including DOA: Extreme Horror, Dead Science, Vicious Verses and Reanimated Rhymes, the GLAHW anthologies, and Alter Egos Vol 1. He is the current Literature Track Head for Penguicon. Michael’s most recent endeavor is the Dragon’s Roost Press imprint which published it’s first anthology Desolation, 21 Tales for Tails in 2014. A portion of the proceeds of each sale of Desolation will benefit the Last Day Dog Rescue organization. Dragon’s Roost Press’ most recent publication is Mary Lynne Gibbs’ YA novel The Maiden’s Courage.
Michael’s mental excreta (including his personal blog: They Napalmed My Shrubbery This Morning) can be found on-line at thedragonsroost.net.
Dragon’s Roost Press: http://thedragonsroost.net/Publications/publications.html
The Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers: http://glahw.com