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TLO Member Interview: nomis
TLO Member Interview: nomis
Interview conducted by Phillip Stecco
Published by G. S. Carnivals
TLO Member Interview: nomis

TLO Member Interview: nomis
Conducted by Phillip Stecco

Simon Strantzas is the author of Beneath the Surface. His next collection of stories titled Cold to the Touch is forthcoming. The mysterious Mr. Strantzas lives in Canada.

1) How did you first encounter the work of Thomas Ligotti?

I can't recall where I first heard the name, but in those days of the horror boom all sorts of things were on the local bookstore shelves, and I found a copy of Grimscribe there. I bought it and read it and cannot say I liked it. It was difficult, challenging, and a far cry from the bulk of fiction I read. I put the book away. Yet, I could not shake it. Images from it would appear at inopportune moments, flashes of something sinister that lurked behind the veil of reality. I went back to the bookstore and found Songs of a Dead Dreamer. I read it. Again, I didn't like it. But, again, the waking nightmares returned, the intriguing flashes of something not quite right. It was at this point I realised, whether I wanted it or not, the work of Thomas Ligotti had its hold on me and would never let me go.

2) What are some of your favorite works by Mr. Ligotti?

The works that most appeal to me are the later period pieces like "The Bungalow House" and the Quine series of tales. His corporate horror tales are quite intriguing, and perhaps the most accessible of everything he's done. Tangential to the question, I'll relate my belief that many writers have a group of tales they have read in the past that influence everything they do, even if not directly. I don't mean being influenced in general by a specific author, but rather a specific story from that author. For me, "Our Temporary Supervisor" is one of those stories. Exactly why I cannot say, but it is a touchstone tale when it comes to my work. Much of my fiction can be traced back to it, most especially my tale "Behind Glass".

3) What other writers do you enjoy reading?

Robert Aickman, of course, as well as Ramsey Campbell, Lovecraft, Steven Millhauser, Peter Straub, LP Hartley, Edith Wharton, Shirley Jackson, EF Benson, TED Klien, Dashiell Hammett, Jorge Luis Borges, Steve Rasnic Tem, Lisa Tuttle, and an entire army of others.

As far as smaller press authors go, I'm partial to Terry Lamsley, Reggie Oliver, Mark Samuels, Richard Gavin, Gary McMahon, Matt Cardin, John L Probert, and Laird Barron off the top of my head. I'm sure I've forgotten some, and will regret missing them later. I feel quite strongly that there is a wave in horror fiction right now that is stronger than ever before. I blame the existence of the specialty presses that arose about a decade ago and brought back into print many authors who had almost been forgotten by modern audiences. Interest was renewed for many of us who had grown tired at the tail-end of the horror boom, and opened our eyes to what possibilities still existed.

4) Do you recall your earliest attempt at writing fiction?

I've always written, but I haven't always written to be a writer. Thus, my early tales were few and far between for most of my life. The earliest stories were blatant rip-offs of movies and comic books I enjoyed. They were primarily superhero based. As I grew older I attempted many different styles, but it wasn't until I neared my thirties that I realised what I wanted to do. Luckily for me, writers in general start their careers later than everyone else.

5) What projects are in the works?

I am putting the finishing touches on Cold to the Touch, my second collection of short fiction, due from Tartarus Press sometime this year. I've also been commissioned for a third short collection of new material from a relatively new publisher. The goal is to put it into print this year as well, but that depends on how quickly I can write it. I'm not as prolific as some of my brethren. After that, I intend to rest somewhat and catch up on my reading, but may instead collaborate with other writers I admire. I also have the outline for a short novel I'd like to attempt, if only to see what all the fuss regarding writing novels is about.

6) Do you have any favorite singers or musicians?

My musical tastes have evolved into something a bit eclectic, but decidedly boring. Very little you can't buy through iTunes. Among others, I like Monster Magnet, Franz Ferdinand, and They Might Be Giants (the last of which inspired my tale "It Runs Beneath the Surface".)

7) Do you have any favorite artists in the visual media?

I must confess I don't understand much art. Most of the visual work I enjoy comes from comic books artists like Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, and Al Columbia. I was lucky enough to meet Dave McKean at FantasyCon '08, which is a memory that still thrills me. I don't get starstruck very often anymore, but I was certainly starstruck by him.

8) What are some of your favorite movies?

The work of directors like Soderberg, Fincher, Cronenberg, the Coens, and so on. I also enjoy Film Noir and many of the classics. I prefer black and white films nowadays because of their timelessness. I also think black and white, because it's not how we normally see the world is in fact more akin to our dreams; there are things we see and believe in black and white that would never convince us were they in colour. I don't think it's a coincidence that we as a culture started to lose faith in the news media just after colour television became widespread.

9) Do you watch television?

I do. Not as much as I once did; I've grown more discerning. But I still enjoy it on occasion and am enraptured by the new Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, Lost, and House. I really liked Pushing Daisies as well, but it seems to have died a lonely death.

10) What foods do you enjoy eating?

If it's not good for you, I like it. That said, I try to eat as responsibly as I can, though I'm still a meat-and-potatoes fellow.

11) Do you have any odd hobbies or collecting fetishes?

I used to have many hobbies, but scaled everything back in order to focus on my writing. Nowadays, the closest thing I have to a hobby (beyond buying books) is collecting Hellboy items. I'm not overrun by them, but I have a few too many for a normal person.

12) What recreational activities do you enjoy?

Movies, pubs, general hanging about... I try to walk as many places as I can.

13) Life?

... is something that must be tolerated until the end comes.

14) Death?

... is sweet relief promised.

15) Work?

... is a diversion; a means to an end.

16) Do you have any interesting work anecdotes to relate?

I don't think you'd be entertained with stories from my job. They're rather mundane and insular. Of course, I did once work as an exterminator, and have all sorts of horror stories banked, but should I recall them I too might shrivel from fear.

17) What is your earliest childhood memory?

A birthday party, perhaps my own, where I stood in front of my family's television and watched a Dick Van Dyke special. I believe I was five.

18) What is your fondest childhood memory?

Having been blessed with a relatively decent childhood, nothing particularly sticks out.

19) Do you have a special plan for this world?

I do. I can't go into great detail, lest the surprise be ruined, but when it's done you shall all know my name. And nobody will die. (I added the last part in case "they" are watching. Shh!)

20) What else should we know about you?

I'm a rather easy-going fatalistic misanthrope. We exist, but are so constantly amazed at our own contradictions that we rarely go outside.
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By candy on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

Thank you for sharing with us!!!
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By Aetherwing on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

"Of course, I did once work as an exterminator, and have all sorts of horror stories banked, but should I recall them I too might shrivel from fear."

You too? I worked as an exterminator for almost 2 years back in the '90s. I saw and experienced some of the weirdest and most unpleasant things during my tenure. People need to show the "Bugman" more respect: they have a harrowing trade.

Good interview, nice to learn about you!

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By nomis on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

We were most likely in the profession at the same time, or at least close temporally. It was the sort of job I disliked while involved in it, but I relish mentioning now that those days are long past.

And I agree: the bugmen, we get no respect.
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By The New Nonsense on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

I am putting the finishing touches on Cold to the Touch, my second collection of short fiction, due from Tartarus Press sometime this year.
Congrats, Simon! That's wonderful news. I really enjoyed your first book, so I'm looking forward to more Strantazian fiction.
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By starrysothoth on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

I enjoyed reading this interview. I regret not buying this author's first story collection before it went out of print, but I'm definitely going to pick up the second one.
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By nomis on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

You shan't have long to wait, friends. Nothing official at present, but I'm hoping to see the book early this summer.
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By Julian Karswell on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

Notwithstanding your interesting interview, death is, like heroin, hideously romanticised.

Death is more often that not exemplified by piss and ####-stained sheets bearing the impress of painful, suffering torment; death is gut-wrenching empathy and heartless disinterest; death is vanity and pride subverted and decayed, with once vital youthful flesh transformed into rotten worm-meat. Above all death is fear.

Death is not a merciful release to be savoured like a fine wine before a seductive, langorous snooze. It is the brutal and often painful loss of life. Unless your quality of life is such that living is intolerable - for example, a crippling illness, or the death of a loved one, or crushing loneliness - then the mere pretentious affectation that death is something to be relished is a fallacy. If you think otherwise you should spend a few weeks working in a hospice or an abbatoir, or better still, in a refugee camp in some truly deprived third world country.

The only people who die with a smile on their face are usually those pumped so full of morphine that they are oblivious to the romantisication of their condition.

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By nomis on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

It was just a glib response, Chris, and I think it reads that way in context. There's no reason for a diatribe on the subject.
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By Dr. Valzer on 06-03-2009
Re: TLO Member Interview: nomis

A highly interesting set of answers from a great writer of visionary horror. Thank you for sharing this, Simon.I'm very eager for COLD TO THE TOUCH.
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