Terrie Leigh Relf: What types – and forms – of writing do you do?
Michael McCarty: I write fiction and nonfiction books, poetry books, and short story collections. I’d describe my works as speculative fiction gumbo: horror, science fiction with humor and just plain weird. I don’t do cookie cutter books. Sorry. I think if my books were to make a noise, they’d sound like a snake Sssss – scary, strange, sexy, silly, and surreal.
Relf: What is your area(s) of subject matter expertise? How did you discover this niche? What intrigues you about it?
McCarty: My area of expertise would be in interviews, because I’ve done thousands of them, and the two books that I’m most proud of are both interview books:
Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews With Horror and Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers and Conversations With Kreskin by The Amazing Kreskin and Michael McCarty.
I noticed over the years, that most interviewers either did a cutthroat type interview or a powder puff piece. I did neither. I’ve been doing interviews for over 40 years, so after doing this for over four decades, you become real, real good at it. I try to make my interviews sound like you are sitting in the same room with the interviewees eavesdropping on the conversation about their work and their life.
Relf: How do you balance your creative and work time?
McCarty: It is all a balancing act, like walking on a tightrope without a net – go to work, write, play with the rabbit (Latte), do chores around the house. Any spare moments I have, I write. A lot of ideas are rolling around in my head for a while before they end up on the page, fermenting like fine wine.
Relf: What tips do you have for other writers?
McCarty: Writing is a tough profession. It’s not a track meet but a marathon run, and it does get exhausting at time. Remember you are in this for the long run, not the short run, and hang tough.
Relf: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular? Where do your ideas come from? What inspires and Intrigues you?
McCarty: Life inspires me. Music inspires me. Books and movies inspire me. Once I find a unique idea, I grab it by the horns like a bull at the rodeo and hang on for dear life.
I was inspired to write I Kissed A Ghoul because I saw too many popular teenagers in Young Adult fiction at the time. The President of the Student Council, the quarterback of the high school football team, the head cheerleader, the most popular kid in school, etc. What about the rest of us who struggled to just survive in high school: the geeks, the freaks, losers, and average students? I came up with the idea of an overweight, horny teen, the son of the Mayor, who every time he tried to score with some chick, ended up fighting monsters instead.
McCarty: I’ve had 35 books published with various publishers including Crystal Lake Publishing, Dark Moon Books, Wildside Press, Start, Whiskey Creek, Caliburn Press, and many more.
Awards: The David R. Collins’ Literary Achievement Award from the Midwest Writing Center. The Creep Of The Week, Acri Creature Feature. I didn’t win, but have been a 5-time Bram Stoker Finalist.
Relf: What are you working on now?
McCarty: I have two books with Mark McLaughlin, one is a Dracula/vampire short story collection, the other is a science fiction/horror novel. Besides that, I am finishing up a solo project that I am hoping will be published next year.
Relf: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them? What did you learn from these challenges and how did it make you a better writer?
McCarty: The biggest challenge is Amazon; they are ruining the publishing industry.
Relf: Are you currently a writing mentor? If so, what are your thoughts on mentoring?
McCarty: I mentor about a dozen writers. The ones I am most proud of are Cristopher DeRose with his Scribes of Speculative Fiction (I co-wrote a few of the interviews as well) and Joan Mauch’s first novel, Halifax. They were both great writers before they met me, but I might have helped them out a bit.
Neil Gaiman gave me some great advice that helped me get my first book, Giants of The Genre published (by the way, Neil Gaiman is interviewed in Modern Mythmakers), so I try to return the karma by helping writers out as much as I can.
Relf: Who are your favorite characters? How did they come into being, and what do you love – or loathe – about them?
McCarty: I always come up with the character first before the plotline. When I was working on Monster Behind The Wheel, I remember writing a 20 page Q&A as if I had done an interview with my character, Jeremy Carmichael (e.g., What were his aspirations, thoughts, dreams, ideas, etc.). I showed it to Mark McLaughlin, and he said, “That is great. Now do the same thing for the villain of the book, Frank Edmondson,” which was great advice. You should know your villain just as well as your protagonist.
Relf: Since you’re also a poet, what forms do you write in? What is it that you love about these forms?
McCarty: Writing poetry is like a kiss. Writing a novel is like making love – both are wonderful. LOL. I come from a background where I was a songwriter/musician for years, so it was a natural progression to go into poetry. I have the following poetry collections published:
Revenge of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster co-written with Mark McLaughlin
Relf: Anything else you’d like to add that I haven’t asked? For example, what would you like to see more of in your specific genre? In the publishing field?
McCarty: Thank you, Terrie. I’d also like to thank my collaborators: Mark McLaughlin, Jody LaGreca, Joe McKinney, The Amazing Kreskin, Sheri Gambio, and Sherry Decker.
Please check out my books! All of my work is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or ordered at your local bookstore or library. You can find me on Twitter, GoodReads, FaceBook, and my blog site. And of course, I love to hear from my fans, so you can snail mail me at this address: Michael McCarty, P.O. Box 4441, Rock Island, IL 61204-4441.
Relf: Thank you much for creating the time for this interview, Michael. Loved writing that intro to Bride of the Two-Headed Poetry Monster for you and Mark. Please be sure to check out all of his books, send him some fan mail, and yes, check out his bio below.
Michael McCarty has been a professional writer since 1983, and the author of over thirty-five books of fiction and nonfiction, including I Kissed A Ghoul, Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews With Horror And Science Fiction Writers And Filmmakers, Laughing In The Dark, A Hell of A Job, A Little Help From My Fiends, Dark Duets, Monster Behind The Wheel (co-written with Mark McLaughlin), Lost Girl of the Lake (co-written with Joe McKinney), Conversations With Kreskin (co-written with The Amazing Kreskin), The Scream Queen series Night of the Scream Queen and Return of The Scream Queen (co-written with Linnea Quigley), The Bloodless series Bloodless, Bloodlust and Bloodline (co-written with Jody LaGreca), and Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack. He is a five-time Bram Stoker Finalist, and in 2008, won the David R. Collins’ Literary Achievement Award from the Midwest Writing Center. He lives in Rock Island, Illinois, with his wife, Cindy, and pet rabbit, Latte.