Author Interview: Adam Howe

Today, I am lucky to do a Q & A with Adam Howe, author of Black Cat Mojo. If you haven't read my review yet, go here: The Dark Reviews.

Tell us about the book:

1)  What was your inspiration for Black Cat Mojo?

Check out the story notes at the end of the book for the long version.  Short version?  ‘Weird news’ and ‘dumb crime’ articles.  I started writing these goofy crime/horror stories and something seemed to click.

2)  What made you combine these novelettes into a single book?
 The stories have an animal theme, and are unified by noir-ish characters, doomed by their pasts and their own bad decisions.  But for purely mercenary reasons, I required a certain word count for a print version of the book, and I wanted that print version on my shelf!

3)  Where did titles like, Jesus in a Dog’s Ass come from?
  There’s a popular slogan for a UK paint brand.  ‘Does exactly what it says it on the tin.’  I was writing about a dog’s ass.  There was no prettying that up.  Bottom line (no pun intended): it made me laugh.

4)  The cover is closely related to the stories inside the book. Was that the intention? And how did it come about?
  The design was my idea, and I was delighted with the end result.  It seemed to be a good way of referencing the stories and I felt the road (to hell) signs would be eye-catching.  The designers Inkubus did a great job with Black Cat Mojo, and my new book, Gator Bait.

5)   The first story was about a dwarf with a huge penis named Rummy. A washed-up actor with a debt to pay. Where did he come from?
 The inspiration for Rummy came from a hoax news article.  There’s a UK tabloid called the Daily Sport.  Our equivalent of the Weekly World News.  They wrote an article about the partially eaten remains of Gordon Ramsay’s porn dwarf lookalike (Percy Foster) being discovered in a badger sett… That fired off my imagination.  I just had to write about it.  I’m surprised Franzen didn’t beat me to it.

6)   Where do you get your story ideas from?
   Pop culture, mostly.

7)   What made you write about porn stars, trailer trash, junkies etc?
   Writers are advised to write what they know; I simply recalled my troubled past as a drug-addled, trailer-dwelling, adult performer… Of course, this was before I cleaned up my act and became an Englishman.  The videotapes still exist, I believe.  My porn name was ‘Noddy Whopper.’  True story. 

8)   Frank’s story was my personal favorite: Frank, the Snake, & the Snake. Besides the character coming from the idea of what happens to a mobster after he goes into hiding, was there a reason why he was the most ‘honest’ of all the characters? Did any of it stem from bad things happening to good people? Or am I reading too much into it?
   Yeah, you might be reading too much into that. Frank’s as much of a weasel as the rest of the characters, self-pitying and projecting blame.  If he seems more decent and honorable than the other characters, it’s only because they’re such utter shitbags… I’m glad you like that one.  I think that one might be my favourite, too.  That was my nod to Elmore Leonard… He’s probably rolling in his grave at that.

9)   How much research did you do?
 Depends on the project.  For these stories – apart from monitoring my Jack Russell terrier’s bowel movements, and a thorough (and ongoing) investigation into dwarf pornography – very little.

10)   I was wondering about the themes in the book, intentional or not intentional. Animals. Trailer trash. Men with mommy issues. Is there an overall connection to all these? Or is it supposed to be left to the reader to take away whatever they want to take away from these shorts?
 One of my beta readers said a psychoanalyst would have a field day with a story like “Of Badgers & Porn Dwarfs.”  But if I’m working out any issues, they’re so deeply repressed I don’t know about ‘em.  I was just having fun.

Tell us about your writing background:

11)  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
 As a kid.  I was a natural born liar, and got the crazy notion I could make a career out of it.  (‘Career’ remains to be seen.)  

12)  Why do you write?
   You’ve read my stuff – I need to get this sick shit out of my head!

13)   When did you write your first story and how old were you?
   Can’t remember exactly.  Recently my mum sent me something I wrote age 6 years old – illustrated, no less – about a bulletproof werewolf.  Sounds awesome, right?  Maybe I’ll polish and publish it.

14)  What advice would you give to your younger self?
 Not to waste so much time as a screenwriter – though I learned a lot of valuable lessons that serve me well as a prose writer.  And to quit drinking sooner.  It kills me to think of all the time I pissed away.

15)  What book or books have influenced you or your writing the most?
 Earliest influence: Stephen King. For the skinny on how my short story Jumper won Stephen King’s On Writing contest, and meeting the King, check out my guest blog at Adam Millard’s site Influences these days: mostly crime fiction.

16)    Do you outline or plot or do you wait to see where an idea takes you?
 Coming from a screenwriting background – which is all about structure – I always outline and plot, but I’m flexible within it, and allow my characters room to breathe, let them take me where they want.

17)   What is your favorite book? Or some of your favorite books? And why?
  Oh man, I can’t even begin to answer that…
  Stephen King’s On Writing.  I learnt so much from that book.
  I’m a huge fan of Joe Lansdale’s Best Of.  Such a varied collection. I only discovered  Joe in the last few years.  His work – in particular his humour, and his seamless  blending of genre – has been a huge influence on my current output.

Tell us more about your current and future endeavors:

18)  What are you working on at the moment?
   My new novella, Gator Bait, has just gone on sale.  Readers of Black Cat Mojo may be surprised at this lean, mean horror/noir.  Very dark!
   My publisher and I are currently doing the proof edit of my next novella collection, Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet.  There’s only one Black Cat Mojo-style story (but it’s a good one).  The rest is Richard Laymon/Jack Ketchum-style dark and nasty.
   Right now I’m working on my first novel, One Tough Bastard: my love letter to 80s/90s action films.  It’s a “buddy” story about a washed-up action star and a talking chimpanzee fighting crime in Hollywood.

19)  What book/s are you reading at present?

20)  What are your ambitions for your writing career?
   My immediate ambition is to finish my novel, One Tough Bastard.
   Beyond that, I don’t want to say for fear of jinxing it.   

21)  What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
   Don’t give up, work your craft and be patient.

22)  Where can we find your books?
   All the regular online retailers.  Black Cat Mojo is available in eBook and print.  Gator Bait is available Kindle only.  Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet will be available 03/11/15 in eBook and print.
   Follow me on Goodreads and Twitter @Adam_G_Howe.
   And check out my page at the Comet Press site

23)  Any final thoughts for the readers?
   Think how cool it’s going to be, the day I win the Pulitzer (for a story about a donkey-dicked dwarf or a dog with diarrhea) you’ll be able to tell your friends: But of course I was reading Adam Howe back in his Black Cat Mojo days.

Adam Howe


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