Name: Michael Fisher
Where are you from:
I was born and raised in West Virginia, but I call Washington DC home as it is the city that helped mold me into the man I am today.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc:
I have done a lot of different things in my life. After high school, I joined the Navy and served eight years as a hospital corpsman with the specialties of Field Medical Technician (Combat Medic) and Psychiatric Technician. While I was wrapping up my time serving our nation, I got my apprenticeship to learn how to tattoo. Once I got out, I had a full-time career which I have been doing since 1995. In addition to those, I have also worked for an electronic security firm as well as helped run and DJed at a gothic/industrial club night in DC for four years.
These days my life boils down to my family and my job, with what free time I have otherwise, devoted to my writing and editing work with J. Ellington Ashton Press. I am a family man with a beautiful wife and three kids who seem to be growing up way too fast.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My first published story with JEA Press, The Return of the Devil Fly, was just released in an anthology called Midnight Remains. This story won the runner-up for short story of the year for 2013 with this publisher. I also have an upcoming collaboration titled Feral Hearts due out this summer, created along with some of the other great minds at JEA. Also, my first novel, DCs Dead, will be coming out this year as well. This looks to be a good year with JEA.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been a storyteller for most of my life. I started running Dungeons & Dragons games for my friends when I was 10, and my love of roleplaying, or more specifically, interactive storytelling, was cemented. I first chose to write down my stories in 2002 when I was having a slow streak at the tattoo shop I was working in. I had run a very fun game with some of my friends in DC right before I relocated to South Florida in which I had the players run characters of themselves. I thought that if I could get it down on paper, I could have something for myself. So I picked up a spiral-bound notebook and started writing it out longhand. I still have that notebook in a box somewhere. I never expected to get professionally published, rather that I would have to use a vanity press to have a copy for my bookshelf. I wrote for a while and hit a writer’s block full force. I didn’t look at it for ten years. In early 2013, I saw a call for submissions for a charity anthology called The Tall Book of Zombie Shorts to help out the Wounded Warriors Project. As a vet, I wanted to help somehow. I contacted one of the editors and offered up what I had completed on DCs Dead. I was quickly told that I need to get this story completed and submitted to a publisher, that it was that good. That lit the fire under me and I started writing again. Little did I know, that editor, catt dahman, would wind up running the publishing house that I would sign with a year later.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It just hit me today that I really am an author and not just some fool fumbling around in the dark, spewing the madness of my mind out into the world.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel, DCs Dead was inspired by my love of the zombie and survival horror genres, as well as by a group of wonderful friends in the Metro DC area that I consider family, although many of us have since moved on to other areas of the country.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Other than trying to stay firmly under the broad umbrella that is the horror genre? Not particularly. DCs Dead is a standard head-shot Romero-rules zombie story, where as Return of the Devil Fly is a first-person descent into the madness that can follow a soldier back from war. I am currently working on a story that is as much murder mystery, police procedural and horror.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
DCs Dead is named after a Vampire gaming session my good friend Patrick , who also features in DCs Dead, ran for about three years. The Return of the Devil Fly came to me while listening to the Misfits song The Return of the Fly which is about the classic Vincent Price film of the same name. I wanted to run in a totally opposite direction from the original, so I used the title, as well as character and actor names, as inspiration. The main character’s name is Vince Price, no relation to that actor guy though.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That is a good question. There are underlying messages such as loyalty and sacrifice, but overall, it is just a fun romp in the zombocalypse.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I hope my stories are quite realistic. I write from a mix of personal experiences with locales and people combined with thorough research. I have been told that perhaps some of my dialogue is a bit…salty, and perhaps, I should tone it down. My opinion is that it was written with real people’s voices and their manner of speech and I refuse to compromise their voices for propriety’s sake.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
That’s a really good question, Fiona. I have gained quite a bit of wisdom from Robert Heinlein via his character of Lazarus Long, who has appeared in many of his books. Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon series has a wonderful blend of wit and wisdom as well, which is how I like to live my life. Clive Barker’s Books of Blood proved how visceral short fiction can be as well as shining a light on the beauty in the ghastly.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
In scope, I would love to consider HP Lovecraft a mentor but I am nowhere as verbose as the Old Man of Providence. In reality, I would have to say that catt dahman is my mentor as she is the one who saw the possibility in my rough scratchings and has driven me to continue and guided me along the way.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading, and editing, an upcoming book from JEA called Warriors by Tabitha Baumander. It is a great story of the people who have fought the battles against the darkness for millennia.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Very much so. As I said, Tabitha’s story has my undivided attention currently. Edward Cardillo’s Odd Tales of an Old Man, Saul Tanpepper’s Gameland series and SB Knight’s Game of Straws are at the top of my To Read list
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Like I said before, I currently have a second novel in the works that is a police procedural story involving some ghastly deaths in the Washington DC area that are baffling a particular homicide detective. I am writing a story titled Wake Up Dead which I am writing for an upcoming anthology called Axes of Evil II. The story is best described as a heavy metal revenge beyond the grave tale. I am also working on another zombie novel, this one at sea on a cargo freighter.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Once again, I have to give the props to catt dahman as well as the rest of the staff at writers at J. Ellington Ashton Press. We are all quite supportive of each other and have to qualms about dropping what we are on to help out.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Writing is currently a hobby for me as I do not anticipate being the next King or Rowling, so I will continue with my career tattooing until I no longer can.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Of course, I was still making changes the day I submitted it. Now that it is in the editing process, more changes will come. A great man once said, “No work of art is ever completed. It is simply abandoned.”
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I believe we already covered this and I would rather not bore your readers with redundancy.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m afraid that I can’t at this moment, Fiona. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprises to come. The wet, gory surprises.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The biggest challenge to my writing these days is time. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of it. Hell, I am being interviewed when I really should be sleeping. There will be enough time for sleep when I am old.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite authors are HP Lovecraft and Clive Barker. Both firmly grasped the concept of otherworldly horror by the throat. However, Lovecraft held it close and whispered the secrets of the things from beyond our world into the scaly ear of the listener while Barker rips that throat out and paints a visceral masterpiece in the carnage.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not as of yet. I would love to be able to at some point but I need to gain a following first.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
So far, and I hope for the foreseeable future, I have designed the covers for every book that I have been involved in. I highly doubt I will be doing the cover for Axes II, if my story is even accepted.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was trying to muscle my way through that ten year deep wall of writer’s block. Little did I know, all I needed was a wonderful woman from Texas and her verbal sledgehammer.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Even when you think you are done, you are far from it. While going back and double checking DCs Dead for errors, I would decide to add to scenes, flesh out descriptions and give the characters a bit more to say. Next thing I know, I am another 10,000 words in without even thinking about it.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up on your dream. No matter how daunting it may seem, if you have that knack for telling stories, I am sure someone out there will want to read them. Don’t get dejected by rejection letters. Remember, Stephen King was rejected by every single publisher when he wrote Carrie and now, he is the King of Horror.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Take a chance and dive headfirst into one, or more, of my stories. I think it will be worth your time.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Of course not. My mom tells me that I was reading the Bible at three but I don’t remember. I remember the first book that I became enthralled with. I remember reading Gahan Wilson’s Harry the Fat Bear Spy, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books when I was in elementary school. I also remember eating up an Alfred Hitchcock magazine of horror fiction my mother would get when I was about nine or ten. There was a Chelsea Quinn Yarbro story about a monster baby that tormented a man in his apartment building, which was in one issue. That story stayed with me for years. Combined with the fact that my earliest memory is watching Bela Lugosi’s Dracula with my mom when I was four as well as films like Dawn of the Dead at eight and Alien and Phantasm at nine, it is no wonder that I am so comfortable in the dark.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I used to paint and draw in my free time. These days, there is no such thing as free time. I still draw for my clientele. I would say that my cover design work, both for my books, as well as freelance for other authors, is currently my hobby.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I am currently greatly enjoying the Walking Dead, of course, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, the Following and True Detective for the darker side of my mind. The lighter side revels in Two and a Half Men, Two Broke Girls, Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.
In regards to film, as with my writing, I am a longtime horror nut. Clive Barker’s Nightbreed is my favorite film and I am greatly looking forward to the Extended Director’s Cut Blu-Ray coming out this year. I am also a die-hard Star Wars geek since 1977. Sci-fi and horror films are my longtime friends and companions, through the bad times and the good. I am glancing at my DVD library right now, and seeing the ten foot section of shelving full to the brim with primarily horror films makes me smile.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I absolutely love German food. My grandfather was German and I learned to appreciate it at an early age. I also love Italian but it doesn’t love me. Buffalo wings and beer are only slightly beaten out by roast beef with horseradish and a Guinness for something I would want as my last meal. I am pretty sure that sushi would be fighting for its place in the top as well, but I don’t eat it as often as I would like, simply due to the price of good sushi.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I have followed many paths in my life and I feel I am on the path I belong upon. I am , first and foremost, a tattooer, secondly, a writer. The day may come where my hand will grow shaky and my vision will blur and those roles may switch.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I have a few different pages for my writing including my listing and interview on the J. Ellington Ashton site, a Facebook fanpage, and my Amazon and GoodReads author pages.