Stuart R. West is the author of Demon with a Comb Over and Dread and Breakfast among others. He has an uncanny knack of combining dark humour with horror – and getting away with it. Quite simply – it works. I’m delighted to welcome him back here today.
Cat: Hi Stuart. Great to see you again. A lot has been happening this past twelve months, hasn’t it? Tell us how it’s been for you.
Stuart: Thanks for putting up with me again, Catherine. Yes indeedy, a lot has been happening. We’ve all been busy scrambling trying to find new homes for our Samhain Publishing orphaned books. Tons of anxiety and ridiculousness and time that I’d rather spend writing. But Demon with A Comb-Over landed at a new home. Dread and Breakfast went to another horror publisher, Grinning Skull Press (very nice to work with and their covers are spectacular). And I’m currently trying to polish a horror short story collection. Oh! Like a warrior, I’ve been battling every dang flu and virus unleashed on mankind.
Cat: Demon with a Comb-Over has just been reissued by Riverdale Avenue Books in a new edition that combines it with The Book of Kobal. Tell us more about how that came about and what to expect.
Stuart: Demon never had its time in the sun, never given a fair shake. No one knew about the book and I think that extended to its first publisher, Samhain. Not to speak ill of… Oh, the hell with it! Samhain threw the book under the bus without a skidmark of marketing.
Sorry. I know I’m inviting bad karma to the party by speaking ill of the dead. Anyway, RAB rose to the challenge. But I thought there should also be new content upon a rebirth. Hence, my titular demon’s origin tale, The Book of Kobal. In all of its glorious bad taste (spanking Hitler, a slap fight with Jesus, you know…history), it just had to be spewed out. You’re welcome!
Cat: I know you must have been asked this a lot recently, but did you have anyone in mind when you settled on the title Demon with a Comb-Over?
Stuart: Honestly, I didn’t. I wrote the book a couple years ago before the Orange One rose above being a blip on bad reality TV radar. But now he’s such an ugly, loud, orange blight on the world, it’s hard not to draw post-comparisons. Both Kobal and the Cthulhu-like Orange One want to end the world. My book’s fiction. But in reality, I have fingers crossed that there won’t be a whole lotta’ nuking going on in the next four years. Keep hope alive!
Cat: Dread and Breakfast is a great read. I love stories where everything is homey on the outside – but scratch the surface and there lies something scary. You say your home state, Kansas, is scary so I wondered if there was a model there for the Dandy Drop Inn?
Stuart: Not a physical model, Catherine, but I think the tale represents our wondrous, red-state of mind, peculiarity of Kansas. Pretention time! I’ve only scratched the surface, though. As I’ve said before, Kansas is creepy. Our serial killers really take the cake (whatever that means).
Cat: So, what next from Stuart R. West? Any more books coming out this year?
Stuart: The aforementioned short story horror collection, all tales taking place within Kansas. It started as a lark, then I discovered I had a lot to say about the Midwest. Kinda’ driven by political angst and fall-out but I hope I don’t let that get in the way of the entertainment and spooks and chills and laughs.
I’m also considering writing a novel based upon one of these tales. There’s something about a teenage girl, in early ‘60’s farmland Kansas, whose father is a mortician, and happens to dwell in a peculiar town full of supernatural events.
Cat: I’ll look forward to reading it. I think 2016 was a great year for horror books. What were your favourite reads of last year?
Stuart: I’m copping out here, Catherine. There wasn’t a bad book I read and yours were among the best. I’m also fond of L.X. Cain’s book, Bloodwalker. Girl can write.
Cat: Thank you, Stuart! It was a pretty good year for horror films too. Any particular ones that stood out for you?
Stuart: Yeah, there were some really good flicks. Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, What We Do in the Shadows (maybe a little old, but still one of the freshest, finest horror comedies ever). Hangman was seriously sinister and creepy and nightmare-inducing. There’re many more I’m forgetting. Oh! The Nicolas Cage “Left Behind” film was absolutely hilarious. What’s wrong with Nic Cage these days?
Cat: You’re a prolific author and cover many different genres. Is there any genre you wouldn’t tackle – and why?
Stuart: I used to say “romance,” but I’ve changed my mind about that as I have a fun idea, I think. I kinda’ want to say science-fiction (because I don’t want to research science), but I’m never gonna’ say never there either. Possibly porn/erotica. Only because it bores me after the first several paragraphs. Then again, my idea about gay, Christian, werewolf erotica probably needs to be spilt.
Cat: When you sit down to read a horror story, what do you look for in your ideal read?
Stuart: Characters, always characters first. Scares don’t come if you don’t care about the characters. And even though humor keeps sneaking into my horror books (can’t help it; it entertains my bad boy), I would never sacrifice character or plot to end up in inane farce. So there.
Cat: What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Stuart: Always wear clean underwear.
Cat: What advice would you give to your 21 year old self?
Stuart: Value your hair while you have it. And invest in computer stock.
Cat: Thank you for being my guest today, Stuart
Stuart: Thanks for letting me darken your cyber doormat, Cat!
Demon with a Comb-Over (featuring The Book of Kobal) by Stuart R. West and Riverdale Avenue Press. Available in Kindle format and paperback.
Stuart R. West Blog: Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley
Stuart R. West Amazon author page
Stuart R. West Facebook
Stuart R. West Twitter: @StuartRWest