In the horror writing community, especially on the indie level, you hear a lot of names. When reviewers and other authors start repeating a few of these names and the author’s works over and over, you tend to want to know what’s going on. One of those names I’ve been hearing on blogs, review sites, and from fellow authors is Michael Patrick Hicks.
I’d see a few book covers that looked really cool, and form the synopsis’s on the book pages, I thought the stories sounded intriguing. For whatever reason, I’d never purchased one. BUT I kept hearing people talking about him and seeing his books pop up among friends on social media.
We were already Facebook friends, but I hadn’t made time for his work yet.
Then, I saw the cover for his latest release, BROKEN SHELLS. I knew I was going to read it as soon as I could. Yes, folks, a beautiful, kick-ass book cover can persuade people to read your work!.
I quickly gobbled up two of his fantastic shorter pieces (THE MARQUE and REVOLVER), and then dove into a review copy I received of BROKEN SHELLS. This guy is legit, and definitely one to keep an eye on.
Last week, in preparation for his new release, I got to interview, Michael.
Check it out.
Glenn Rolfe: How long have you been writing, how long have you been actively publishing?
Michael Patrick Hicks: I’ve been writing for twenty years now, going back to a high school creative writing class. I’ve been writing in some form or another all my life, but it wasn’t until very late in high school that I became a huge reader and then set about learning the fundamentals of storytelling and writing my own long-form stories. Whatever embers of storytelling I had were stoked into a serious fire in that creative writing class, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Publishing-wise, 2018 will be my fourth year in this business.
GR: High Fever Books. Can you talk about that and whether you’d ever consider releasing works from other authors?
MPH: I started off independently publishing science fiction and horror stories, and decided last year that, with the release of Mass Hysteria, it was time to differentiate. My first two novels were cyberpunk/sci-fi adventures. Mass Hysteria was my third novel, and wildly different than either of those, going into extreme horror. A lot of my short stories have horror elements to them, or are in fact straight up horror, but Mass Hysteria felt like a good jumping off point to stake out my own ground in the horror genre and let my readers, or would-be readers, know that I’m serious and am planning on sticking around for a while. So, I started High Fever Books and set about rebranding those short stories that I felt fit under this horror banner, and launched Mass Hysteria. Broken Shells is up next, and there will be plenty more to follow!
High Fever Books is just getting started, but at some point in the future, I would most definitely consider releasing works from other authors. There’s no timetable for this, but frankly, I just don’t have the time and money to open my doors to others just yet. When I do it, I want to do it right, and that’s going to involve learning a lot about contracts and contract law and making sure I can offer authors a fair shake and a good reason to entrust me with their books.
GR: You have a number of short stories, novellas, and books, out there, plus a Kindle Worlds release. How did the Kindle World piece come about? Did they approach you? Have you seen more or less success compared with your other releases?
MPH: Back in 2016, Amazon approached author Nicholas Sansbury Smith about creating Kindle Worlds titles around his best-selling Extinction Cycle series. I’d read and reviewed a couple titles in Nick’s previous Orbs series, and he got in touch to thank me, then found out later that I was an author. He was, in fact, one of the first people to blurb my debut novel, Convergence, and we’ve been corresponding online for several years now. So, when Extinction Cycle got picked up for Kindle Worlds, he invited me to take part, we hammered it out with Amazon, and From the Ashes came out later that year. It’s been a wonderful experience for me, both personally and professionally. I’m honored Nick thought highly enough of me as a writer to bring me on board and trust me with his universe and his monsters. Professionally, it’s been among the most successful things I’ve written, and it allowed me to stretch my writerly muscles a bit and dig into military sci-fi/horror, so I definitely have no complaints! It was an awesome experience all around.
GR: You just had a new baby recently, how’s that going? Any new routines in the writing schedule?
MPH: It’s going well, thanks! And our two-year-old loves being a big brother, so I think everyone is pretty happy, so long as we get the baby fed on time. With our first child, I was still able to maintain a fairly routine writing schedule, but having two kids has pretty well upended that beyond all repair or reason. My new writing routine is a “whenever, whenever” philosophy. I don’t find a lot of time to write at home anymore, and I work a full-time job, so I’ve bought a portable foldable keyboard and installed a writing app on my phone. I try to squeeze in my writing during my lunch break or before work, otherwise, life just gets too chaotic.
GR: I first heard of you through Hunter Shea, I think a couple years back. I finally dug into your work at the end of last year with your piece, THE MARQUE. I’m late to the party, but I’m glad I made it. That story was fantastic. Sci-fi/western, I believe…at least, that’s the vibe I got. I quickly followed that with REVOLVER (an amazing piece). I think you have a bleak outlook on our future… Is this something you feel or is it just fun for you to fuck with us?
MPH: Both! I maybe don’t have the sunniest disposition by nature, and I tend to gravitate toward darker, bleaker stories in general. Writing them just comes naturally, but I won’t deny that it is fun for me to fuck with people. And Hunter’s a great guy; I’m glad he convinced you to give my work a try.
GR: On to your latest, BROKEN SHELLS. Another fine piece, sir. I read your blog post about the origins of this one, those car dealership “winning” tickets/games. I get those ALL the time. My kids try so hard to get me to call them. After reading BROKEN SHELLS, I’m glad I never have. What was your favorite part about writing this one?
MPH: The creatures! I love a good creature feature (and since you mentioned Hunter, I have to say, he’s one of my favorite creature feature authors out there right now; dude knows how to write a fun book!), and I wanted to do something that was gritty and monstrous. Once I figured out how to make them more monstrous than a car salesman, I found my in and got to work.
GR: Your creatures were my favorite part of this one, too. They really steal the show. Loosely based on Native American folklore, was this a separate piece or idea at one time that just fit where you wanted the dealership story to go? (I loved the idea)
MPH: While BROKEN SHELLS was a creature feature right from the get-go, the folklore aspect of it all was a late development. I don’t think I really hammered out what these creatures were until the third or fourth draft. In the first draft, they were just kind of there, but I knew I had to do more to deepen their existence and give them a bit more definition. I was researching various hollow earth myths and once I came upon the Native American folklore, I thought that was something I might be able to use and twist around a bit.
GR: You’re a very versatile writer. The three works I’ve read from you are all over the map. Obviously, they all have a toe (or torso) in the horror realm. It’s got me wondering, what are five of your favorite books all-time? Any genre.
MPH: IT by Stephen King. DARKNESS, TAKE MY HAND by Dennis Lehane. TRANSMETROPOLITAN by Warren Ellis. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller.
GR: We just lost a great in Jack Ketchum. Any of his works that really meant something special to you?
MPH: I’m loathed to admit it, but I actually haven’t read any of Ketchum’s work yet. I had been planning on fixing that this year, but now that we’ve lost him I feel a greater sense of urgency to explore his works and discover his voice. Seeing so many other authors speaking on his passing and what he meant to them as a friend or colleague, or as an author, or in writer’s who found him a source of inspiration in their own works, has been heartbreaking. He was clearly one helluva guy who meant a lot to so many. I definitely need to read his books and have OFF SEASON queued up on my Kindle as my first Ketchum.
(*Note–Michael has since read and reviewed OFF SEASON. You can check out his review HERE)
GR: What books are you looking forward to in 2018?
MPH: GLIMPSE by Jonathan Maberry and OBSCURA by Joe Hart are at the top of my digital to-read pile right now. I’m dying to get my hands on the CLICKERS: FOREVER anthology from Thunderstorm Books! I’m also really excited to see what Flame Tree Press does when they launch in September. They’ll be publishing new titles from Hunter Shea and Jonathan Janz, so I’m eager to get my hands on both of those, and I’m curious to see what else they’ll be coming out with. While I want to catch up on a lot of the books I already have, I’m positive plenty of new releases will catch my eyes and tug on my wallet over the weeks and months ahead.
GR: Any news or links you want to share?
MPH: No news yet, aside from the release of BROKEN SHELLS on Feb. 6, but hopefully I’ll have some soon regarding a historical horror novella trilogy I’m hard at work on. You can stay tuned for news on that at my website, http://www.michaelpatrickhicks.com, or join my mailing list at http://eepurl.com/RmjWf and get news delivered straight to your inbox.
GR: Thanks for stopping by the blog, Michael. Best of luck with BROKEN SHELLS.
BROKEN SHELLS by Michael Patrick Hicks
Antoine DeWitt is a man down on his luck. Broke and recently fired, he knows the winning Money Carlo ticket that has landed in his mailbox from a car dealership is nothing more than a scam. The promise of five thousand dollars, though, is too tantalizing to ignore.
Jon Dangle is a keeper of secrets, many of which are buried deep beneath his dealership. He works hard to keep them hidden, but occasionally sacrifices are required, sacrifices who are penniless, desperate, and who will not be missed. Sacrifices exactly like DeWitt.
When Antoine steps foot on Dangle’s car lot, it is with the hope of easy money. Instead, he finds himself trapped in a deep, dark hole, buried alive. If he is going to survive the nightmare ahead of him, if he has any chance of seeing his wife and child again, Antoine will have to do more than merely hope. He will have to fight his way back to the surface, and pray that Jon Dangle’s secrets do not kill him first.
Get your copy of BROKEN SHELLS HERE