The Splatter Club's first anthology is about to drop and being one of the contributing authors, I've got a front row seat to the insanity! Please join my exclusive, splattery interviews with the cast and crew of Welcome to the Club #1!
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Today we chat with Robert Essig
Nikki: What’s your most extreme or most bizarro fantasy? Feel free to follow up on why you never will never act it out in real life?
Essig: I don't have an extreme or bizarro fantasy. If I did, I suppose I would write it as a story rather than act it out in real life. That being said, the extreme stories I've written are far from fantasy. I'm too busy to fantasize about much of anything anymore.
Nikki: What real-world environment is most terrifying to you? Why?
Essig: Big cities. That's one of many reasons why I moved from San Diego to rural Tennessee. I much prefer nature to sharing space with strangers. A specific environment I find terrifying is Hollywood. It's a shithole town. Nasty. So many of the people there are sharks, or just burnt out beggers. It's sad and depraved. On top of that you have people trying to sell you shit everwhere you go, people dressed up in stupid costumes, harassing passersby. It's one of the worst tourist traps in the world..
Nikki: Tell us about your story in Welcome to the Club? What inspired it?
Essig: "I Hang My Hat and There's No Blood" is about a low level comedian with a regular gig in some diminutive theater in Vegas. His life is a monotonous routine through the scorching streets of Vegas, but he has something of a surprise for his next show. Something to shake up the monotony his life has become.
My last trip to Vegas inspired the story. You'd think since I have such strong feelings about big cities that I would hate Vegas, but my feelings are sort of mixed when it comes to that particular city. I used to like it well enough, for what it is, but my last trip was in the middle of July and it was like being in Hell, for a variety of reasons. My descriptions of Vegas in the story were entirely drawn from the trip, right down to the condo my lead character lives in. The Burt Lancaster Theater, where he works as a stand up comedian, isn't a real place, but it was based on the place I went to see Evil Dead the Musical (which was so bad I almost walked out halfway through).
Nikki: What does Splatterpunk or bizarro fiction mean to you? And is it a big part of you as an author?
Essig: I like my horror raw and gritty, for the most part. Both what I write and what I consume. That sort of story fits nicely under the Splatterpunk umbrella, though I think the meaning of Splatterpunk has probably been convoluted over the years. Some people seem to think it was merely a period of time in the 80s and 90s, but I think that was just the birth of a writing movement that has lived on and even mutated a bit. From Splatterpunk we got extreme horror, even Bizarro. If I'm not mistaken, Carlton Mellick III has cited Skipp and Spector's The Bridge as a major influence. For me, Splatterpunk is a confirmation that it's okay to write whatever the hell I want to. It might not be for everyone, but there's an audience out there somewhere. It means I can get down on street level where literary fiction fears to tread.
Nikki: If there’s one thing you’d want readers to know about you or the mission of your work, what would it be?
Essig: I have no real mission. I love to write stories. It's fun. That's it. I don't want to get stuck on any certain trope, so if someone reads a book and doesn't like it (maybe it was too much, maybe the subject matter didn't hit the spot), try another one. I've learned that I cannot and will not judge a writer on one book. Sometimes you start off with the worst one, or one that just doesn't fit your tastes. Gotta give them another chance (unless, of course, it's just awful writing). My mission is to write what I would like to read. If others like it, that's great. Hell, that's amazing. But all I'm doing is writing for myself. That's what makes it enjoyable.
Nikki: What’s your next project and where can we stalk you?
Essig: I am editing an anthology for Blood Bound Books called Chew on This!, which features stories that have themes of food and drink by a slew of authors including Chad Lutzke, Kristopher Triana, Tonia Brown, Ronald Kelly, and many more! The book is currently up for pre-order at only .99 cents! Pre-order HERE. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Just look up my name. You can check out my blog, where I occasionally review vintage books and post updates on my work.