Interview: Michael Hodges, author of Invasive and Black Friday

Michael Hodges is one of horror writing’s most exciting up and coming writers. His latest book, Black Friday, charted straight at the top of the horror charts, and he's building a track record in Hollywood, with his novel The Puller optioned for Hollywood adaptation, and other potential deals in the works. He also seems like a pretty decent fella, and has decent taste in music to boot. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk to him about horror, music, and photography.

PS: What was the first thing that got you interested in horror?

MH: It had to be the woods at night. I spent a lot of time in the Northwoods of Michigan and Wisconsin. My grandmother, when driving back to the cabin at night, would sing spooky songs to goof on us kids. I wondered what was out there, beyond the penumbra.

PS: Do you consider yourself primarily a horror author?

MH: Good question. If I had to take a step back and examine my genre, I’m more of a hybrid. My stuff doesn’t fit neatly into boxes. For example, my novels will always be filled with research and science, which makes them lean towards the Michael Crichton side of things. But at the same time, my novels are typically darker and more violent than his. If anything, I’d classify myself as a writer of science fiction/horror.

PS: We connected on Twitter through a shared love of the band Crippled Black Phoenix, who we’ve both used as an inspiration to our writing. Do you always write while listening to music, and what other bands or artists provide the score for your books?

MH: Ha, that’s funny, because I’m listening to Crippled Black Phoenix as I type this. I always write with music. Certain songs are attached to characters and scenes. I’m writing a novel called “The Last Colossus”, and the song “You Take the Devil Out of Me” by CPB is integral to the creative process.

As far as other bands, I have a top five “all time”:  Pink Floyd, Grandaddy, M83, The Flaming Lips, and Radiohead.

PS: Who is your favourite horror writer, and why?

MH: Cormac McCarthy. The Road is perhaps the bleakest thing ever crafted, even bleaker than Pet Sematary. Cormac not only writes great characters, but he also does “landscape as character” better than any writer I’ve ever read. I’ve incorporated these elements into my own work, like The Puller, where the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is essentially another character.

I read too many new novels where it’s just a guy walking around the same old boring landscape, and I’ll stop reading. There’s more to life than just a person’s basic actions from path to path. There’s a wider swath of self-awareness of entire ecosystems that should be explored on the page.

PS: What first prompted you to write?

MH: It just chose me.

PS: Your most recent novel, Black Friday, has rocketed to the top of the horror charts on release, so congratulations for that. What can you tell us about it?

MH: A kleptomaniac, unemployed IT guy, a shopaholic, and a meth dealer are trapped inside a Chicago supermall on Black Friday by alien forces.

It’s a return to the more psychological style of The Puller, in a suburban landscape.  My first three novels all focus on “trapped” themes, and how these characters organically extract themselves form their predicament.

PS: What’s your favourite horror film of all time?

MH: Probably The Thing. I love everything about it, especially the cool analog synths . I’m kind of a synth-head.

PS: You are also a prolific photographer, specifically of the nature in your part of the United States. What made you get into that?

MH: I’ve always been into nature, so photographing the world around us was a way for me to express myself, and to raise my self-awareness. I want to know more about the living things around me, more than work to strip mall to bed to work. What makes the world tick? What is this cool little creature that lives near me? How did these things come to be, and what is their significance in the big picture on this floating ball of rock we call home?

In a developing, overpopulated world, I see wildlife as under siege, and this theme is reflected in the core of my work.

PS: Do you consider your photography to be an escape from your writing, or vice versa?

MH: I see them as complimentary. I enjoy spending a week camping in Glacier National Park, and incorporating that experience organically into my work, to create richer, more rewarding environments on the page.

Also, tracking grizzly bears is helpful when you’re writing a novel about grizzly bears.

PS: Black Friday is your third novel, and you also have a collection of short horror and sci-fi stories available. What can you tell us about those?

MH: I have a new short story collection out called The Gloaming. It reflects first-contact and apocalyptic themes. A couple blurbs:

Hydra: A top scientist discovers a way to extend the human life span by decades, but grapples with the reality humans will be the only species left on the planet if implemented.

Uncommon Ally: After meteors wipe out most of mankind, the meteors that crashed into the ocean infect the seas with invasive species. A young rebel snipes the invasive's from shore, and finds an uncommon ally in the great white shark.

PS: Lastly, where can my readers find you?

MH: I love hearing from readers. They can hit me up at:

https://www.facebook.com/MichaelHodgesAuthor/

or my official website:

http://michaelhodgesfiction.com/