Hosted by Ty Schwamberger
Interview conducted by Adam P. Lewis
Adam: I’ve been following your work for a few years now, switching my reading and audio book time mainly between you and Richard Laymon. One of many similarities I found between you and Laymon are the references to Mark Twain’s classic characters Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, to whom and which Laymon based his novel, Savage. How important is it for a writer to remember his or her roots (i.e. fiction, movies, family, childhood, etc.) when writing new and original fiction?
Joe: I think it’s important. You don’t always have to show the roots directly, but it’s good to have them. It gives you a base for inspiration, and not necessarily literary inspiration. But the kind that just inspires you to write, that gives you passion because the early writers were the first ones to fire you up. Still, you can’t just depend on the roots. There’s always new stuff to be discovered, even if it’s old stuff just now found.
Adam: Many readers don’t think humor when they think horror. I’ve gotten strange looks from my wife while bursting out in laughter while reading horror novels and watching horror films. The element of humor, in my belief, is harder to translate and get a laugh in written form than it is for a comedian on stage or a comedy film to come to the same success. Do you find it challenging to interject comedy into horror? Also, do you sit down to write and think to yourself that this story is going to feature humor or does it just happen?
Joe: It’s hard to do it naturally. I found I had a knack for it by accident. The writers who influenced me there were mostly not horror writers, and I write plenty of things besides horror, and read very little of it these days, though I do read it. I read things that have horror elements more than a pure horror novel. Robert Bloch, however, was a big influence on humor and horror as flip sides of the same coin.
Adam: You’ve written novels and stories featuring comic book characters such as Batman, Johan Hex, The Spirit, and the most famous serial killer to date, Jack the Ripper. In the span of your life, how has your connection with comics influenced your writing and does that influence reach beyond the pages you’ve written for comics and settle in your non-comic work?
Joe: Comics were the most important reading material in my early life. I love them and they taught me to mix genres. They do it naturally. I love them, and the comics continue to be important to me. They taught me color, genre-crossing and dynamic scenes.
Adam: If Bruce Campbell acts in it, I watch it. But when I first read the synopsis for Bubba Ho-Tep, I thought that I’d be wasting my time watching Elvis and a black JFK battle a mummy dressed up like a cowboy. Even after typing that sentence the concept still sounds ridiculous to me. What resulted after watching the film was I found a new author to follow. Because if anyone could create a story that was translated into a movie that ridiculous sounding and become entertaining, cool, comical, and yet logical, they deserve new fans. My question is: do you worry that when your written work is translated into theatrical versions that they’ll lose their merit in the visuals?
Joe: Of course I am, but, the story or book still exist, even if they screw up. It doesn’t change the source material. And you can only have so much control, and even when you do have control in film, you’re dealing with a lot of different people, egos, etc.
Adam: Which is more of an accomplishment to you, winning numerous writing awards or being a renowned martial artist inducted into the International Martial Art Hall of Fame?
Joe: Awards are nice, but they don’t drive me. I know people who are so caught up in that they live for it. I like it, of course, but I don’t live for it. Outside of family, I live for the writing and the martial arts. Writing will last longer, I think.
Adam: Who’d win in a mixed martial-art showdown inside a caged octagon, you or a zombified Bruce Lee who’s blessed with new school zombie mobility of quick on their feet running and attacking rather than the old school George A. Romero snail’s pace movement?
Joe: I have no idea.
You can learn more about Joe and his writing at: Joe R. Lansdale
Adam P. Lewis is an author in the horror genre. You can learn more about his work here: Adam Lewis on Facebook
Ty Schwamberger is an author in the horror genre. To learn more about his work, you can visit his website at: Ty Schwamberger