TALKING MONTAUK MONSTER, SAMHAIN PUBLISHING, AND METAL WITH AUTHOR, HUNTER SHEA

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Hi Hunter! First off congrats on your success thus far in the horror writing community. I want to start this off with you giving us a brief rundown on Hunter Shea pre-Samhain Publishing.  What kind of jobs did you work?  Are there novels or short stories that you wrote/released or shopped that we don’t know about?

Thanks, Glenn! The last few years have been a crazy ride. I’ve made a lot of stops along the way before I could add ‘author’ to my resume. I’ve done landscaping, retail, supermarkets, pizza delivery, spent a decade with the phone company and then director at a video company. Thankfully, the phone company job was so dreadful, I needed an outlet to make sure my brain didn’t up and die on me. Writing was that outlet. There are plenty of short stories that will never see the light of day. I cringe so hard when I read them, my eyelids almost fuse shut. But hey, that’s all part of the process. You have to learn to crawl before you run. The first full-length novel I ever wrote was, of all things, a romantic comedy. That one I’m still very proud of and may revise it and see what happens.  

Sounds different. Let’s talk about Samhain. How did you get started with Don D’Auria and what has the journey been like?

Being an avid reader and horror fan, I was hooked on everything Leisure Books published (part of the now defunct Dorchester Publishing). Don was the editor for legends like Richard Laymon, Brian Keene and Jack Ketchum to name a few of the dozens of brilliant authors that published through Leisure. I wanted desperately to some day work with Don. To me, then and now, if Don plucks you out of the masses, you’ve arrived. When I submitted my first horror novel, Forest of Shadows, I sent it to Don and Don only. It took several years of back and forth before he rescued me from the slush pile. He first offered me a deal with Leisure, and then they collapsed, and came back for me when he joined Samhain. My book was part of the kickoff of Samhain’s horror line. Don is such an incredible guy. Turns out, we grew up relatively close to one another and have many of the same interests when it comes to the world of horror. The best part about him as an editor is his willingness to let his writers take chances and tell the story they want to tell. It’s been freaking awesome.

For those readers out there who may not be familiar with your work yet, give me two pieces you’ve done with Samhain that you would want a Hunter Shea virgin to read.

Naturally, you start with book numero uno, Forest of Shadows. I’m a big paranormal geek and love a creepy ghost story. Nothing I’ve written is as personally revealing as that book. Plus, it’s a launch point for follow up books, Sinister Entity and Island of the Forbidden. Next is my true love – monsters. Swamp Monster Massacre is my love letter to Bigfoot, B movies and ass-kicking fun. Funny enough, that’s the book that landed me the deal to write The Montauk Monster.

Cool. I’ll have to check those out. I recently read Sinister Entity (really enjoyed it) I know it’s the second in this overall story. One thing that struck me personally right off was the 80’s metal/hair metal references. I see we share a love for 80’s hard rock and metal. Is that Hunter or was it mostly for the character.

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Dude, I am a product of 80s metal. I was fortunate to be there to watch Motely Crue, Cinderella, Metallica, Tesla, Whitesnake, Def Leppard and so many others perform. Damn that music was raw and just plain fun. When I was creating Jessica’s character in SE, I had to make her a little metal protégé.

I just missed the boat by a couple of years. I was too young to go to shows and had to watch my brother get to go to all the Ozzy and Motley shows. What was the best concert you attended at the time?

The best band I ever saw perform was Tesla. I got there early for one of their shows and while the stage was being set up, they came out and did a 40 minute acoustic set just sitting on metal chairs. Then they came out later to do another 2 hours. To me, they were the true rock geniuses of the 80s.

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Love the metal, but let’s get back to business. I want to touch on your Samhain release from earlier this year, The Waiting. The Waiting is brilliant. To me it is the perfect example of a novella. It’s so tight, full and compact.

Wow, thanks. That was a difficult one to write because I was so close to the source material. What are your thoughts on novellas overall?  Personally, I love them.  I think the novella form is the best form for horror. It’s hard to keep the tension building for a full-length novel. I hate filler, so for me, the novella is ideal.

I checked out some episodes of your Youtube show, Monster Men. It seems like a lot of fun. I have to ask two questions here. First: Who does the theme song? My son, Axl.  was be-bopping like a madman to it.

It is catchy, isn’t it? Like a virulent disease! It was created by Steve Capalbo who is friends with Jack, the other half of the Monster Men. We also have a closing theme that was performed by our mutual buddy Colin Farmer and his band, The DXR All Stars. Jack and I used to work with Colin. We danced a jig when we got those theme songs. It upped the Monster Men game!

And second, during the World War Z review episode you mention that the Zombie genre needs to be “shot in the head and put to bed” . I feel the same way times a hundred.  Do you feel this way more toward the film world or the literature world? Would you ever attempt a zombie novel?

I think we have shambled the gamut of the zombie genre, both in film and literature, though I still hold out hope for quality zombie books. At least in book form, you can be original and out where the buses don’t run. Movies like to play it safe, beating a dead horse until the stink is too much for even the dullest viewer to stand anymore. I still can’t believe that WWZ made a zombie movie without any real blood. Are you kidding me? And Brad Pitt’s character was more resilient than Daffy Duck during hunting season. Oy! I have an idea for an anti-zombie zombie novel, the bullet to the head, so to speak. I’m just not quite ready to commit it to paper yet.

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Let’s talk about Montauk Monster. It’s on Pinnacle. How did this come about? Do you have an agent or get to them yourself?

Talk about a wild way to get a book deal. I do have an agent, but this came out of the blue. My editor at Kensington (of which Pinnacle is a part), Gary Goldstein, loaded up his Kindle with a ton of novels and novellas, looking for a new voice. He emailed me out of the blue and said he couldn’t put Swamp Monster Massacre down. At first, I wasn’t even sure he was legit. I thought it was a prank. Seriously. But the more we talked, the more I realized we were of the same mind when it came to loving old monster movies. Together, we wanted to put one in book form. The Montauk Monster is our B-movie come to life, with enough facts thrown between the fiction to keep people nervous.

Give us the gist of the tale.

In the beautiful beach town of Montauk, Long Island, bodies are piling up, torn to shreds, fizzing with a strange toxicity. County cop Dalton Gray is the man on the scene as the disturbing deaths occur during his watch, the graveyard shift. The citizens of Montauk are reporting strange creatures lurking in the night, their numbers increasing. It doesn’t take long before the whole town is thrown into a full-scale panic. Can Gray discover the truth behind these hideous creatures before it’s too late? The action is non-stop and the monsters (and their origin) are terrifying. If you need a book to bring to the beach or on vacation this summer, The Montauk Monster is it.

That sounds awesome. Before we finish, I know you are still working with Samhain. I’m assuming this will continue?

You can’t pry me away from Samhain. My next book with them, a horror western, actually comes out in July. It’s called Hell Hole and is a total departure from anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve got cowboys, black eyes kids, wild men, Rough Riders and ghost hunters all descending on an abandoned mining town in Wyoming in 1905. Next up with Samhain is the sequel to Sinister Entity, Island of the Forbidden. It takes place a few years after SE. Jessica and Eddie are apart and not the same people they used to be. That’s slated to come out January of 2015.

What else do we have to look forward to in late 2014/first half of 2015 from Hunter Shea?

Aside from my Samhian books, my second book with Pinnacle should be out some time next year. I just handed in the manuscript, so I’m waiting for the date.

Busy man. All right, we all love some rapid fire, so here we go:

Give me your favorite TV show right now that no one would guess you liked.

Longmire. Best show on TV. I want to be a sheriff in Wyoming because of that show!

Two writers you think people should be reading:

Jim Lehrer (he of the McNeil/Lehrer fame on PBS) for straight up quality storytelling and Brian Moreland for superb horror.

Lastly, I’ve read ‘Salem’s Lot 4 times. What book have you read the most?

A Moveable Feast by Hemingway. I read it every year since I discovered it, so I’m guessing I’ve read it at least 20 times. Thank you for taking the time, Hunter. Best of luck with The Montauk Monster and Hell Hole. Hey, thanks for having me. And welcome to the Samhain family. I’ll be grilling – er, interviewing you very soon!

Thanks, man. I look forward to it.

 

Check out Hunter’s official website: Hunter Shea

Find Hunter and his friends at Samhain Horror

And order your copy of his summer masterpiece, The Montauk Monster

 

 

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