Updated: Mar 17
CHEW ON THIS! has been nominated for a Splatterpunk Award and I have the exclusive skinny with the authors.
Author de Jour: John McNee
Nikki Noir: You’re featured in a food anthology, so let’s get this out of the way first: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve put in your mouth—I mean weirdest thing eaten ;)
McNee: When I visited Iceland, I ate fermented shark. I personally think that's pretty weird, but it's not even the weirdest food in Iceland, where you can also get puffin burgers, whale steaks and little licorice balls dusted with ammonia. Anyway, culinary tradition dictates you eat the shark with a shot of Icelandic liquor called Brennivin (roughly translated as 'burnt wine'). The flavour packs a punch, but was not to my liking, so I passed the plate to a local who insisted that she loved it.
Noir: Tell us about your story in Chew on This! and what inspired it.
McNee: This was a story inspired by its original title, four words that cropped up in conversation with a friend. I said I thought it sounded like a good title for a story and he laid down a challenge in which we would both write a story in a week using that title and then have them independently judged to find a winner. To the best of my knowledge, he never wrote his story but I wrote the first draft of what would become 'With a Little Salt and Vinegar'. Scotland's relationship with fried food is renowned the world over and this story leans into that stereotype, taking it to an extreme with my own fantasy-horror vision of dockland life, the kind of chip shops you can find there and the kind of characters who will source, cook or eat anything for a dare. Sadly, I had to change the title as the one that inspired the story gave a little too much away.
Noir: If you were a spice/seasoning, what would it be, elaborate if you want.
McNee: Caster sugar, because I'm sweet and refined.
Noir: What’s the scariest real-life, food-related situation you’ve been in?
McNee: Around 12 years ago, while I was travelling across the USA, I visited an Arby's. Sometimes I still get nightmare
Noir: What does literary success look like to you?
McNee: A lot of readers. Reaching and building an audience is, for me, the toughest part of trying to 'make it' as a writer. When readers begin finding their way to my work of their own accord - without me having to tempt, cajole or bribe seemingly every last one like the bally talker outside a circus sideshow - then I'll feel like I'm getting somewhere.
Noir: What’s your next project and where can we stalk you?
McNee: My most recent publishing credit is the story 'In Exchange for an Honest Review', which opens ONE OF US: A TRIBUTE TO FRANK MICHAELS ERRINGTON, a mammoth horror anthology edited by Kenneth W Cain. Frank Michaels Errington was an extremely positive force in the horror writing community and an extremely prolific reviewer, who sadly died while awaiting a kidney transplant. My story, which finds a book blogger doing battle with a vindictive, egomaniacal (and possibly homicidal) horror author was written to pay tribute not only to Frank but to everyone who makes a habit, hobby or profession out of reviewing horror books. I wanted to demonstrate my appreciation by writing a story with a critic as the protagonist and in which he got to be the hero, simply by doing what he was best at - writing honest reviews. I liked Frank, I'm proud of the story and I hope more people will check out the book, especially since all the proceeds go to the American Transplant Foundation.
You can learn more about CHEW ON THIS! here