Max Booth III
Raised in Northern Indiana
Lives in a small town outside San Antonio, TX
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Perpetual Motion Machine
Managing Editor of Dark Moon Digest
Author of The Nightly Disease, Escape from Dinosauria (w/ Vincenzo Bilof), How to Successfully Kidnap Strangers, The Mind is a Razorblade, Toxicity, and They Might Be Demons
Editor of Lost Signals, Truth or Dare?, Long Distance Drunks, So it Goes, Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories, and Zombies Need Love, Too
Writes online for LitReactor and Gamut
Tell us five things we might not know about you?
- I was once banned from a gas station after refusing to pay for a fountain Coke that’d gone flat. 2. I still like Green Day despite what my other punk friends think. 3. When I was very young, Mike Ditka bumped into me outside of a casino and didn’t apologize. 4. I lived in a hotel room from ages 12-16 and it was not exactly pleasant. 5. Earlier this year, I ran over the family cat and I still see him dying when I close my eyes.
What made you want to pursue a literary career, was there an epiphany one day or was it a slow burner?
Here’s a boring but honest answer: I don’t know. There was no epiphany, nothing poetic to jerk off about here in this interview. I’ve always been a writer. It seems less natural not to be writing. Nobody ever told me I was supposed to breathe, either. It’s just something I started doing one day. I probably wouldn’t die if I stopped, but I’d be more irritable.
The Mind is a Razorblade has one of the most memorable openings to a novel in the last 3 years. Do you have any advice for novice writers trying to create a compelling opening?
There are thousands of new stories published every day, and they’re all just a click away.
Our attention spans have never been shorter. We have to give readers a reason to continue to the next word, the next sentence.
It’s much easier for someone to give up on a book than to invest hours of their precious time with one.
You have a very distinctive style, combining elements of humour, bizarro fiction, neo-noir, pulp and more. How did you go about developing this style? Who were your influences?
Whatever style my writing takes is no conscious effort. The more I analyze my own writing, the more I want to abandon writing forever. As long as I’m not bored while writing, I figure I’m doing something right. As far as influences go, I’d list Joe Lansdale pretty high on the list. Same goes for Stephen King, Stephen Graham Jones, Jack Ketchum, Elmore Leonard, Flannery O’Connor, Christopher Moore…shit, the list just goes on. Lansdale, primarily, though. The way he blends genres served as a major revelation. There are no rules when it comes to writing. Restricting yourself to one genre weakens your potential.
You, Richard Thomas, George Cotronis and many of the other writers working together on Gamut are all phenomenal writers but you are also all publishers: Kraken Press, Dark House, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. Why do you think this is?
That’s easy. We’re all very foolish and overly ambitious. Our egos have capsized us into lunacy, and we won’t stop until stress eats us all alive.
You are very public on social media about your work as a hotel manager and the strain of customer service (we can relate having also worked in customer service for a number of years). Do you think that doing this work has influenced your writing for the better? You certainly seem to meet some very crazy characters.
I believe every writer needs to take at least one customer service job in their lifetime. It will teach them so much about this world, and the humans who inhabit it.
Hell, why limit it to just writers? Everybody could benefit from hospitality. The sooner you learn how strangers treat “the help”, the sooner you’ll learn to be a better person. The hotel job especially helped considering I wrote an entire novel based off my experiences (The Nightly Disease).
Your series at DarkFuse, The Nightly Disease, was very popular it seems, with the limited edition hardback copies all selling out. Of all your work it seems the most rooted in personal experience: it follows Isaac, a hotel worker in Texas, who is on the graveyard shift… Can you tell us a bit about what it was like writing that and how it came about?
I wrote the majority of the novel while working overnight shifts at my hotel. Usually after dealing with an especially shithead guest. It was a decent way to relieve stress. So, yeah, a lot of the novel is autobiographic disguised as fiction, but come on, so is most fiction. I was thrilled that DarkFuse decided to pick it up, and oh man, I still can’t believe how fast the limited edition HC sold out. How cool is that? I haven’t seen a physical copy yet, but I’m itching to get my hands on it.
In our interview with Richard Thomas (available here) he mentioned he was very excited to have you as a columnist for Gamut magazine. What kind of content will you be looking to create/post?
The monthly column—titled No Vacancies—will be sort of an extension of the hotel novel. Each column will detail a real experience I’ve had at work, told in a humorous and humiliating manner. Here’s a free sample of January’s column.
What’s really interesting is that though your novels have lots of New Weird and often create very bizarre, speculative realities, they also have a strong emotional core and the prose is emotive; it’s comparable with someone like William Gibson who is known for these incredible sci-fi/cyberpunk concepts but actually writes warm & convincing characters. Was this something you learned or something which came naturally?
I’d redirect you to my “how has your work influenced your writing?” answer. Writers must be fluent in empathy.
Characterization is one of the most important skills you can have. Interacting with other people—especially when they’re at their angriest—is a surefire way to graduate the school of realistic, emotional writing.
You must be extraordinarily busy with all your commitments: a demanding job, writing, publishing let alone family and social commitments. What do you do to unwind? Do you have any time at all to chill out?
If you could work with one writer you haven’t worked with already, who would it be?
Chuck Tingle. Duh.
Many of your stories have a horror component, and it’s kind of hard to talk about horror without talking about the colossus that is Stephen King: do you read much of his work? Where does he rank for you in terms of favourite writers and influences?
Like most horror writers, I’ve been with him since childhood, and I don’t plan on leaving him until I’m dead. I feel like I summed up my feelings about King well enough in this LitReactor article: https://litreactor.com/columns/happy-birthday-stephen-king
Straight up no messing: what’s the weirdest thing that happened while you were on shift? Has it made it into one of your stories?
Once, while taking out the trash at around two in the morning, a mysterious van started speeding around the hotel blaring “Yakety Sax” from a loud, powerful speaker with the windows down. And yup, there’s a “Yakety Sax” scene in The Nightly Disease.
What are your top five books?
WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ASKS THIS QUESTION?
Okay, here are five random books I really love that everybody should read:
John Dies at the End by David Wong
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
What authors or books would you recommend to our readership at STORGY Magazine?
I’m going to try to list names your readers might not already know about—so yeah, automatically we’ll exclude folks like Craig Clevenger and Will Christopher Baer because come on, those are day-one reads. With that in mind, here’s who you should be keeping an eye on: Alyssa Wong, Brooke Bolander, Jessica McHugh, John C. Foster, Usman T. Malik, Gemma Files, Ed Kurtz, Damien Angelica Walters, Lori Michelle, Grant Wamack, Betty Rocksteady, Christopher David Rosales, Jeremiah Israel, Joseph BouthietteJr, Robert Dean, Andrew Hilbert, Gabino Iglesias, Paul Michael Anderson, Michael Paul Gonzalez, W.P. Johnson, George Cotronis, Vincenzo Bilof, Craig Wallwork, Kristopher Triana, Kurt Reichenbaugh, Ashlee Scheuerman, Bob Pastorella, Amanda Hard, Carmen Maria Machado, and oh my god, I’m gonna shut up now before I’m unable to stop.
With you choosing literature to let out your artistic abilities, which you do very very well; have you ever thought of using other artistic ways to express yourself?
When I was younger, I desperately wanted to be a filmmaker. I used to create truly terrible short films that I’m glad no longer exist. I also used to make comic books and sell them on the school bus for a quarter each. There’s a reason I only stuck with writing.
We know you a busy man, but are you currently working on anything?
I’m currently working on a horror novel titled Cirrhosis and a crime novel titled Casanova Curbstomp. I have no idea what will ever become of them. I have no idea what will become of myself, or you, or anybody.
Visist Max here:
Interview by Joseph Sale
Read Joseph’s interview with Richard Thomas…here
Read Joseph’s Fiction:
An Eye For A Butterfly
Read Joseph’s Reviews below:
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