Greetings from the Ethereal Plane,
Let the interview commence!
CP: Can you tell us a little bit about your story “Last of the Aztec Riders?” What inspired it and how did it come to fruition?
MM: I got the idea from Jay Dobyns’s account of his time spent undercover infiltrating biker gangs in Nevada. I know something about bikers because my brother’s biggest ambition when he was 19 was to join the Pagans, local scooter trash. Last can be described as the kind of yarn an Easy Riders magazine editor might have accepted back in the ’70’s if he’d come to work with a particularly bad hangover that accentuated his morbid streak and found this miscegenation in the slush pile. If horror is largely about being scared, I can say from personal experience, bikers strike fear into civilians very effectively.
CP: While speaking of inspiration, what inspired you to become a writer? And what authors helped carve your path to horror?
MM: I hope I’m not being pompous, but like Bill Faulkner said, “Some people want to write. Other people need to.” I fall in the latter camp. As regards to horror, I think that life is basically a horror story and getting more and more so every day.
CP: What are your goals and aspirations as a writer? What does the future hold for Mark Mellon?
MM: I would like to be a successful, recognized novelist, but I’ve realized from the beginning that this is pretty silly, since it’s a 19th Century ambition in a 21st Century world.
CP: Tell us something that not many readers know about you.
MM: I was a Russian linguist in the US Army back in the ’80’s. It’s given me a lasting interest in Eastern Europe and Slavic culture.
CP: “Last of the Aztec Riders” has some visceral imagery, especially towards the end. Can you explain a little what helped decide your language towards the description of the idol and deity, and what you were trying to achieve with its appearance?
MM: I based the description on Xipe Totec, a particularly grisly Aztec deity even by Mesoamerican standards. The image of the faces split wide to reveal the skull beneath is a common theme in Mesoamerican religious imagery and used to be for sale in Mexican border town souvenir shops. That’s where I got the idea. What I meant to invoke was hubris and fate, what resulted from trifling with unknown rituals by ignorant men who prided themselves on their hardness and strength, only to summon an implacable judgment of primordial cruelty.
CP: Do you have any other works releasing soon that our readers can look forward to? If not, are you currently working on any pieces?
MM: I have a neo-noir novella, The Track, that is due to be published in October by Dark Passages Publishing. I’m currently writing a fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy, City Of Witches.
CP: If you could meet and converse with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
MM: I admire William Faulkner very much and like to think that we might have had a nice talk over a few drinks, depending upon Bill’s mood at the time. I also like Kingsley Amis a lot, another big drinker, but a huge curmudgeon in his old age.
CP: What is your favorite novel or work, and/or author? Why?
MM: There are too many writers that I like too much to give you a straight answer. I can tell you that I think At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’Brien is the funniest Irish novel I’ve read. Vladimir Nabokov is an especial favorite author of mine, a genuine master. As far as fantasy novels go, I think the one I’ve enjoyed the most is Jonathan Strange and Mr. Worrell by Susanna Clarke. She has Jane Austen’s style down cold.
CP: What is your writing process?
MM: I get ideas that rattle around in my head for years and then I set them down at some point. Most of the time I write at night after work. I try to write a thousand words each time, but frequently fall short. I’ve been having a long fallow period lately, but I’m too much in the habit of writing regularly now to ever stop completely.
CP: If you could give advice to new, young authors concerning the publishing world, what would it be?
Mellon’s Four, Four Word Writing Rules
- Get used to no.
- Writers don’t make money.
- Just keep plugging anyway.
- Write. Write. Write. Write.
Read Mark Mellon’s “Last of the Aztec Riders ” today in Hinnom Magazine Issue 002!
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