The life of an independent author is not for the faint of heart. It also doesn’t come without casualties- countless hours of sleep, canisters of coffee grounds, social get-togethers, ink cartridges.. the list goes on and on. Very rarely does one simply pen the next great American horror story and get to live out their days on a beach in Naples, Florida. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t tons of amazing authors out there striving to produce the next great American horror story and some continue to get pretty damn close. One such author who has rightfully staked his claim in the game as one of the most active writers on the scene is Max Booth III.
Max Booth III is the type of hyper-busy writer you’d expect an independent horror author to be. He manages to fit in writing and editing time whenever possible, whether that means squeezing in sixty minutes of editing during down time at his day (night) job or scribbling away whenever the mood or an idea hits him.
The author of four novels, Booth also manages to run a publishing company called Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. He’s also a columnist for two websites.
Recently, Booth even managed to carve out a few minutes to chat with me about everything from his writing routines to what books he deems invaluable in the world of literature.
Read on, folks. The night is young..
MANGLED MATTERS: Growing up, what were you reading and watching that was shaping you into the horror fan you are today?
MAX BOOTH III: I didn’t have many restrictions as a kid with what I could read and watch. I was watching Tarantino at seven or eight and reading King by age nine. R.L. Stine basically taught me how to read and inspired my love for reading horror fiction, but I would say the Resident Evil games and anything by John Carpenter planted those initial horror seeds. Except for The Thing, which for some reason I only watched for the first time fairly recently. It’s basically the greatest movie of all time and I hate myself for waiting so long.
MM: You’re currently embarking on the infamous One Story per Week Challenge, something that I first learned about from reading an interview with Ray Bradbury many years ago. How’s that coming along for you?
MBIII: I’ve actually a couple weeks behind right now thanks to an unexpected novel deadline (this is a good thing!). I’ll catch up here soon. As long as I have fifty-two short stories finished by the end of the year, I’ll consider the challenge a success. I’m loving it, though. I’m usually very lazy with short stories, so this has helped kicked my butt in gear.
MM: What authors do you cite as inspiration and/or mentors?
MBIII: I am largely inspired by the usual bunch: Stephen King, Joe R. Lansdale, Flannery O’Connor, Elmore Leonard, John Carpenter, Quentin Tarantino, Shane Black, and so on.
MM: I love your thoughts on customer service and the belief that every author should haveto work one customer service job to really get the feel for creating characters and dialogue. As someone who has worked nothing BUT customer service all their life, I love this and have always thought the same thing. Do you find yourself bringing real people you encounter into your stories often? Do these people tend to meet a horribly terrible fate more often than not? haha
MBIII: My latest novel, The Nightly Disease, is about eighty percent nonfiction disguised as fiction. It’s based off my own experience as a hotel night auditor. Most of the guest interactions in the book are real situations I’ve encountered. Some of the guests do not have happy endings in my book. Daydreams derailed into Hell.
MM: If you’re given the task to pick three books to preserve forever, personal favorites that don’t have to hold any sort of significant value for anyone but you, which books make the cut and why?
MBIII: John Dies at the End by David Wong, because I’ve read it four times now (at least) and I’m still not sick of it. It’s the perfect mix of horror and humor. The Stand by Stephen King, because it would make a great weapon to bash against an enemy’s face should an enemy dare attack. And I’m gonna cheat for the last one and preserve Joe Lansdale’s entire Hap and Leonard series. Even the ones he hasn’t written yet.
MM: Of all your work, and there’s a ton of it, which would make for the best film in your opinion?
MBIII: I think How to Successfully Kidnap Strangers would make a great indie comedy, but my secret wish is to adapt The Nightly Disease into a television series. You hear that, Netflix? FX? AMC? Hit me up!
MM: What is a ‘typical’ writing session for you like?
MBIII: I don’t know if I have a typical writing session. I try to squeeze in words here and there when I have spare time. I work at the hotel five nights a week, and I’m usually working on editing and non-fiction during my shift. I try to reserve an hour of each shift for fiction writing. On my two nights off, I write pretty much constantly. I woke up at seven this morning and knocked out a good 3,500 words before stopping to have lunch and answer these interview questions. When I’m finished with these, I will make my third pot of coffee and continue writing. I don’t set word count goals. I just write until I no longer want to write. I rarely do not want to write. I write usually on my Chromebook or Mac, but I also write longhand and sometimes I also use a typewriter, depending on my mood. If I find myself stuck on something, usually changing what I’m writing on can help me get out of my funk. I love using the typewriter, but it’s loud as shit and annoys my girlfriend, even if she won’t admit it. The problem with writing longhand is I can never read my handwriting afterward. It’s truly atrocious. Maybe I should have attended medical school.
MM: You wear just about every hat a writer can wear, from author and editor to guest contributor and all-around fan of the craft. Is there one particular aspect of writing you love most?
MBIII: I love it all, but I’m most comfortable when I’m typing away at a new novel. When I’m writing non-fiction, such as articles for LitReactor or Gamut, I’m writing for a specific audience. When it comes to fiction, I’m writing for myself and nobody else.
MM: How did you get involved in Gamut? It’s amazing to see how quickly that project got off the ground and is really making waves within the literary community.
MBIII: I’ve known Richard Thomas a long time. We’ve worked together on many projects. In the very early stages of Gamut’s conception, he asked if I’d be willing to write a monthly column based off my experiences at the hotel. This was just after I finished writing The Nightly Disease. I told him hell yeah, let’s do it. It’s amazing how much the website has managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
MM: How often do you do the convention scene or public events? If you have any coming up in the near future, please share where your fans can meet you!
MBIII: Not as often as I’d like. I live with my girlfriend, and she has two kids from a previous marriage, and they’re a handful. Plus, I have a full time job and it’s always a difficult time trying to request time off when I need it. This year, we are looking to attend the San Antonio Lit Fest in April and Austin’s Texas Book Fest in the fall.
MM: What are you currently working on?
MBIII: I’m currently finishing up a short werewolf novel titled Gnawing on Bone. The title may change, since I’m not 100% sold on it. Also in the works: a kidnapped-children book titled Cirrhosis and a funny crime caper titled Casanova Curbstomp. Besides writing, I’m also wrapping up 2017’s release schedule for my small press, Perpetual Motion Machine, plus we will start putting together April’s issue of Dark Moon Digest in the next couple weeks. The day I’m not busy with multiple projects will be the day of my funeral.