Monday, January 27, 2014

Interview with Mark McLaughlin.

Full Name:
Mark McLaughlin

Current hometown:
I live in Davenport, Iowa.

Favorite city and why?
London. It’s such a fascinating mix of the old and the new. So many wonderful restaurants. Their chocolate is soooo much better than American chocolate. I love wandering through Harrods -- it’s like an upscale safari. A person could get lost in there! Also, I love British accents.
I must acquire some of this London chocolate you speak of!
U.K. chocolate is so much darker and richer.  It’s hard to go back to U.S. chocolate after enjoying theirs!
If their women are anything like their chocolate I’m working on my accent and learning to love soccer, I mean, football, I mean, rugby, ah… you know what I mean!

How would you describe yourself physically?
I used to be stick-thin when I was younger. Now I’m more solidly built. I eat a lot of fish and vegetables so I don’t get too heavy.

The first thing people notice about you is…
I have been told my eyes are my most striking feature. I have two of them. Any more than that is just being showy.
Or any less for that matter.
Ha! True!

Religion, if any?
Technically, I’m Greek Orthodox. The maternal side of the family came from Crete. My beliefs are very simple. Basically, I think folks ought to be nice to one another.
The golden rule… “He who has the gold makes the rules.” No, wait, the other golden rule.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
No, not really. I’m very practical.

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
The occasional gin and tonic -- that’s about it! I don’t have time for bad habits.  Too busy writing and working!
I find time to smoke and write at the same time. Multi-tasking!

Current occupation:
I’m the PR Director of a marketing & PR firm.
Has your work experience as a p. r. director helped your book sales?
Certainly, I use my various advertising skills to promote my projects. It would be silly not to.  Naturally I believe in my books and want them to be successful.  And, it’s fun to think of different ways to promote my books.
What has been your most successful promotional scheme?  You already used it, so there’s no harm in sharing it.  You can whisper it quietly in my ear if you’d like.  I won’t tell anyone other than anyone reading this interview.
Sorry, but if I told you … I’d have to cryogenically freeze you so you never shared that top-secret info with anyone during my lifetime!  Sure, I’ve already used it -- but I plan on using it again!

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I’m not at work writing articles and news releases for clients, I’m at home writing books and stories for horror-loving readers. Also, I enjoy watching B-movies, horror movies, cult films … I watch at least one movie a day, but I’m writing or doing other things while the movie is playing. I’m big on multi-tasking.
I’m all about multi-tasking. I always have to be doing at least two things at once.  When I’m painting I’m listening to music or audiobooks or podcasts. When I write, I either have a movie I’m well familiar with on in the background so I can look up at it every now and then to give my eyes a rest from focusing on my laptop screen, or I listen to music, trying to find stuff to delete from my 60,000 song music library, and editing out interesting samples when I find them to use in my electronic music projects.
You’re like me in that regard. I can’t just sit and watch a movie, doing nothing else. Except, of course, when I’m in a movie theater!  They get mad if I drag my computer into the theater.
That’s why I’m single and watch all of my movies at home.  Once I figure out how to get women, coffee, cigarettes and pizza delivered, preferably at the same time, I’ll be perfectly happy to just stay at home and write around the clock.
You ought to get those electronic cigarettes, so you can e-smoke while you e-mail!

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Do my best to avoid zombies, naturally! Stockpile food, water and other supplies and wait until the zombies rot away to nothing.  They’re awfully perishable, ya know.
I’m having that problem with the post-apocalyptic zombie-epidemic book project I’m working on. I want to write it on a ten-year arc but I don’t know how to resolve the generally accepted fact that zombies don’t feed themselves, so I’m going with a variation on the zombie theme where the zombies are mostly brain dead except for the lizard hindbrain, so they lose all of their higher cognitive functions, but still have the instinctual drive to eat. I think it will play a bit better than your usual “They’re dead. They’re all messed up.” angle.
I’m glad you’re putting some thought into it.  Some writers just base their zombies on NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD or some other famous movie and then just dial in a variation of the movie’s plot.  In my story collection, BEACH BLANKET ZOMBIE, I made the zombies in the various stories as weird and unusual as possible.  Some are broad parodies of movie clichés, and even then, I made the parodies far weirder than the material being spoofed.
Don’t get me wrong, I love myself some Romero zombies.  Hell, I’m wearing the Night of the Living Dead t-shirt I was wearing the first time I met George Romero as I type this.  But if I want to enjoy some Romero zombies, I watch the movies.  If I didn’t think I could take it in a different direction and write the book I always wanted to read but couldn’t find, then I wouldn’t’ve bothered.  Time will tell if I can pull it off.

Weapon of choice:
For fighting zombies? Distance! If they can’t reach me, I’m okay!
Best offense is a good defense.
Or just a good fence!
Top it with concertina wire and you’re onto something.
And a sulphuric acid moat!
Now you’re thinking!

Do you have any special skills?
Writing. Artwork and illustration -- I used to be a graphic designer for many years.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I majored in Mass Communications and also Speech & Theater. Back then, I thought I might become an actor, but I soon realized I’m poor at memorization.
So you picked three majors that were pretty much the same thing. When people ask you what you went to college for, you should just say “Talking…” and let them figure it out.
Speech & Theater was actually one major -- but thank you for trying to give me an extra degree!

Any pets? If so, what are they and what are their names?
I have a big orange cat named Tang.
That’s because nothing rhymes with orange.

What is your favorite animal?
The marsupial werewolves from Howling III. Also, monkeys of the NON-poop-flinging variety! Would Lovecraftian monsters count as animals…? Some might, I suppose, albeit extremely evil, extra-dimensional monsters. I love writing about monsters, and most of my horror stories have some kind of monster in them. My Lovecraftian horror collection, BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM, is filled with Lovecraftian monstrosities, including some of my own evil entities, like Kugappa and Ghattambah.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
I hate cold weather. It just drains me. Not really a pet peeve … it’s just something I hate!

Favorite / least favorite food:
Love smoked salmon, lobster and roast chicken.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?

“Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!”
That’s one of my favorites too! I definitely used that in the Lovecraftian story I wrote a few years back.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Being born!  Being a nonexistent entity before that was super boring.  Nothing to do!
That’s what I say to suicidal people.  Life might suck, but it usually beats the alternative. Plus it’s really hard to get pizza delivered in hell. The only place that will deliver is Dominos.  We really should have seen that one coming.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you? 

My Greek grandmother’s death, back when I was a teenager.  I was absolutely devastated when she passed away.  She was a wonderful lady and my greatest friend back then.  I am proud to say she inspired my love of horror! Attentive readers of BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM will notice that the first and last stories in the book feature older Greek women.  They’re in honor of my grandmother, who loved to watch scary movies with me when I was little. She would say in a funny voice, "Oh, hold my hand, Marcos! Here comes the monster!" She had a very earthy, robust sense of humor, and I'm sure she would’ve enjoyed being a character -- even the villain! -- in a scary movie or story. I remember, we once watched the movie THE BLACK SCORPION together, and after the movie, we talked for quite some time about the special effects. Neither of us knew about stop-motion techniques, of course, so we couldn't figure out how they did the giant scorpion! I think we decided it was some kind of puppet … but even then, we still had plenty of unanswered questions!  She was totally supportive of everything I did, and always knew the right thing to say. If I told her about somebody who said something mean to me or about me, she would say, “If they don’t like you -- I hate them!” She was always on my side, 24/7.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Becoming a writer. I enjoy doing it and people seem to enjoy the results of my efforts.

What do you do?
I am a writer. I write mostly horror and dark fantasy. I’ve written hundreds of short stories, hundreds of poems, many story collections, and co-authored a few novels, some of which are still being shopped around for publishers.

How did you get started doing what you do?
When I was a teenager, I sent off my first story, “As Osiris Wills,” to SPACE & TIME magazine, and they accepted it. I’ve been writing ever since. I’m glad SPACE & TIME accepted that story -- I was very new at writing and hadn’t enclosed a self-addressed envelope for the return of the manuscript in case of rejection! All that was long before email and the Internet. The submission process is much easier for authors today.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Never sent out a manuscript filled with misspelled words and bad grammar. Why send out flawed work? If you know you have problems in those areas, find someone who can help you with proofreading. The Word program has functions that can help with those concerns, so be sure to use them.
Definitely!  Nothing worse than a writer who doesn’t know the difference between “it’s” and “its” or among “their”, “they’re” and “there”. I was invited to participate in an anthology once and I gladly wrote a story just for the anthology.  I get my contributor’s copy and what’s the first word I see? “Forward” as in “Foreword”. *foreheadpalm/headdesk*

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.

My fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in more than 1,000 magazines, newspapers, websites, and anthologies. I keep busy! I’m always writing. My latest books are the Lovecraftian story collection, BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM, and the two-author poetry collection, REVENGE OF THE TWO-HEADED POETRY MONSTER (with Michael McCarty).
Other book-length works within the past few years include the story collection BEACH BLANKET ZOMBIE, the collaborative fiction collection PARTNERS IN SLIME (with Michael McCarty), and the collaborative horror novel, MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL (with Michael McCarty). I’ve written lots of earlier books, too, which are out of print, like the story collections SLIME AFTER SLIME, MOTIVATIONAL SHRIEKER, HELL IS WHERE THE HEART IS, and more.
Also, I am the coauthor, with Rain Graves and David Niall Wilson, of the poetry collection, THE GOSSAMER EYE, which won the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry. I’ve also written many solo poetry collections.
At my day-job, I’m a PR Director, writing client articles for business journals, newspapers, trade publications and websites.  I also write news releases on a regular basis. Like I said, I’m always writing!

What are you watching?
I recently watched SCARS OF DRACULA on YouTube -- an old Hammer film I’d never seen before. Love those old Hammer films!
A man after my own horror heart!  I went on a huge Hammer binge last year and downloaded and watched everything. I watched the Dracula, Frankenstein and Mummy cycles. The monster design may not have been amazing, but they sure knew how to cast their female leads!
You’re right, some of their monster make-up wasn’t the greatest. But they certainly were lucky to have Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee onboard! They were intense actors and they worked so well with each other. 

What are you listening to?
I enjoy the group DEAD OR ALIVE and have been listening to their various releases since the ‘80s. The lead singer gets a lot of plastic surgery and it’s always interesting to check out the face du jour.
Idea for a best of collection? “The Many Faces Of Dead Or Alive”. BOOM! *drops mic*

What are you reading?
Re-reading VATHEK by William Beckford, an adventure in the style of the Arabian Nights, written in 1782. Elaborate, beautifully written adventures!

Favorite author / book?
Favorite author/book would be a tie between THE WINE-DARK SEA by Robert Aickman and the collected short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Very different authors, but I enjoy both immensely.
I used to be a third-shift security guard at the cemetery that Lovecraft was buried in. It was nice to have to stop by his grave and make sure nobody was trying to dig him up during my regularly appointed rounds. I also made a stack of grave rubbings. I’ve got one left if you want it. You cover the postage and I’ll mail it out to you.
Sounds pretty cool!  We’ll have to exchange some emails to get that arranged.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Be an astronaut! I love carnival rides, so a rocket into outer space would be incredible. I do realize I’d be inside the rocket, not riding the back of it, like a cowboy on a horse.
Yes, but a man can dream, can’t he?

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.

ALIVE: Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman on the old Batman series. I was in love with her when I was a kid! I would actually daydream about having Catwoman as a wife.
DEAD: H.P. Lovecraft … though somehow, I get the feeling he might have a personality a bit like Sheldon on BIG BANG THEORY. But, that wouldn’t be a problem. I’d still enjoy talking with him.
FICTIONAL: Dracula! It would be fascinating to have a conversation with a civilized monster.
I actually met Julie Newmar. If it’s any consolation, she’s a silver fox and quite a nice lady. She can claw up my curtains any time she wants to.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?

Question: Mark, of all the stories you’ve written, which one is your favorite?
My answer: Whichever one is currently in-progress! While I’m writing a story, it’s always my beloved. When it’s done, I turn fickle and fall in love with the next story.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Author Michael McCarty, with whom I often collaborate.
Excellent! You make the introduction and I’ll handle the follow-through.

Got any questions for me?
Are you going to put out a book of your interviews someday? (Maybe you already have and I don’t know it! Have you?)
Are you setting me up with this question? Because if you are, prepare to have your jaw drop… I’ve put out two collections and I’m working on a third. The third collection might be a two-volume deal depending on how many interviewees get their interviews back to me in a timely manner. I’m shooting for between twenty and thirty interviews for a zombie-genre-author themed collection of interviews. I already have fifteen finished as I type this. I have forty-five interviewees that I approached about the project. Actually, I probably approached, as in Facebook messaged, more like a hundred or a hundred and fifty interviewees, but I received replies and indications of interest from forty-five of the authors I messaged. Anyone that doesn’t get me their finished interviews by the end of January when I’m shooting for as a publishing date will just have to wait until the next collection. I also plan on doing a general “authors” collection, an “actor/film-maker” collection and a “musician” collection as I accumulate more interviews. I was trying to think of a way to monetize the site without having to resort to running advertisements, which I’m not even sure if you’re able to do on Blogspot. I decided to put out collections of interviews in print-on-demand / e-book format of each twenty-five interviews as I finished each twenty-five. But not all of the interviews came out good enough that I’d want to put them into a collection for sale. I put out a “Best Of” as the first volume collecting what were, in my opinion, the best interviews from the first 50 or so interviews. I noticed that a theme was emerging. I had been interviewing a lot of artists, because when you interview one artist and they post the interview, and you check out their friends lists on Facebook, you end up interviewing a lot of other artists, so the second volume of collected interviews is “artist” themed. I noticed that there was another trend of interviews with authors working in the zombie genre so I decided to work towards putting out a collection of those interviews. When I put them all together, I noticed I only had around six interviews, and I wanted to have between twenty and thirty interviews, so I cruised the zombie groups on Facebook looking for zombie authors to interview. The list of authors in the Zombie Book Of The Month Club was really helpful as it contained the names of a lot of authors actively looking to promote their books, and each author usually promoted other authors. My intention is not to profit from the interviewees and I’ll be sending every interviewee a free PDF copy of the book, and what do with the book is none of my concern. I’d kind of appreciate it if they kept it to themselves, but if they decide to share it with their friends, family and fans there’s nothing I can do about that. Either way, at least they’ll be reading the book. It’s true that if you interview someone, you get their fanbase for free and I’m not oblivious to that. The blog is called “You Are Entitled To MY Opinion” after all. If an interviewee isn’t quick on their feet and able to keep up their end of the interview I’m going to treat them as a hostile interviewee. I can’t make anyone be interesting, but hopefully they know how to be interesting on their own.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote. All of them.
My Amazon Author’s Page: Twitter:

About the Interviewee:
Author Mark McLaughlin's latest releases are the story collection, BEST LITTLE WITCH-HOUSE IN ARKHAM, and the two-author poetry collection, REVENGE OF THE TWO-HEADED POETRY MONSTER (with Michael McCarty). Other recent works by McLaughlin include the story collection BEACH BLANKET ZOMBIE, the collaborative collection PARTNERS IN SLIME (with Michael McCarty), and the collaborative horror novel, MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL (with Michael McCarty).
Mark's fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in more than 1,000 magazines, newspapers, websites, and anthologies, including DARK FUSIONS: WHERE MONSTERS LURK!, GALAXY, FANGORIA, LIVING DEAD 2, THE BEST OF ALL FLESH, WRITER'S DIGEST, CEMETERY DANCE, MIDNIGHT PREMIERE, DARK ARTS, and two volumes each of THE BEST OF HORRORFIND and THE YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES (DAW Books).
Mark is the coauthor, with Rain Graves and David Niall Wilson, of THE GOSSAMER EYE, which won the 2002 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Poetry.
He writes a blog on cinematic horror called And, he is also a marketing and public relations specialist, writing articles for business journals, newspapers, trade publications and websites. Be sure to visit his Facebook page at and his Amazon Author’s Page at

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
He is currently working on ten novel-length book projects which will be released in 2014.
He also publishes themed collections of interviews from his interview blog You Are Entitled To My Opinion.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces electronic music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his videos at:
Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
E-mail him at:

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