I started taking writing seriously after graduate school around 2007. I had no idea what I was doing, so I started writing a novel, and then another one after that, and so on, with no clue whatsoever how to go about getting published. It was only once I started attending professional conferences like the World Horror Convention that I met loads of people in all stages of their careers and began to learn about the business. After my first con I started publishing short fiction, and during my second I made my first novel sale to Thunderstorm Books with a little horror/sci-fi hybrid called Control. Since then I’ve branched out into Westerns (A Wind of Knives) but mostly crime/noir/mystery (The Forty-Two, Freight). I was honored this year with inclusion in 2014’s Best American Mystery Stories, with my story “A Good Marriage” selected from Thuglit by Otto Penzler and Laura Lippman, and my first of four novels from DarkFuse, Angel of the Abyss, is out this month.
What do you love about being an author?
I have always loved storytelling. It began with cinema but quickly segued into literature (though I remain a hardcore cinephile). All I’ve ever wanted to do is tell stories, and I’ve always had a dozen rolling around in my skull waiting to be written down. I wish I’d taken it seriously sooner than I did, but now that I’m in the thick of it, I can’t fathom doing anything else. To be perfectly honest, though, I’m in general agreement with Dorothy Parker when she said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” I find the process grueling. I find the self-promotion loathsome. But a finished book or story delights me to no end, and like nothing else I’ve ever known. It’s like being a god to my own little universe. And I’m a totally unreliable, trickster sort of god.
If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?
As an only somewhat apologetic Edgar Rice Burroughs geek, I’d have to go with Tarzan of the Apes and a gazelle he just killed with his bare hands.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?
Graham Woodard and Jake Maitland are the main roles in Angel of the Abyss, so I think Jake Gyllenhaal would be great as Graham and maybe DJ Qualls for Jake. Cloris Leachman would make a terrifically wicked Cora Parson. For poor, doomed Grace Baron? Michelle Williams.
Human beings. Just regular people. Every so often a truly evil person comes along, but for the most part I think humanity in general has the capacity for it, and nearly anybody under the wrong circumstances could be driven to despicable acts. It’s a thought that leads to suspicion and anxiety about the world around us, and what drives me to write about people doing awful things to one another.
If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?
That’s easy—I’d head back to 1970 and enjoy that gloriously fun and filthy decade for all it was worth, spending the preponderance of my time in Beame and Koch’s wild and wooly New York City. The Forty-Two was my time machine for that purpose, the closest I could get. But I’d still take the real thing.
What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?
Two things spring immediately to mind:
- You’re not as good as you think you are. Keep learning, keep improving.
- This isn’t nearly as solitary a process as you want it to be. Go out there, online and in the real world, and meet people. It’s a rare artist—or professional of any stripe—who makes it entirely on their own. Networking is a good thing.
If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
Probably Sasquatch because nobody can find him and he gets to hang out naked in the woods, which sounds refreshing and pretty liberating.
Where do you write best?
On the porch, hopefully in cool weather, with a pack of Marlboros and a cup of tepid black coffee close at hand.
What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?
Rob Hart’s New Yorked, which is coming out in June from Polis Books. I harangued him for an ARC at this year’s Bouchercon and tore through it like I had 24 hours left to live. It’s an absolutely tremendous NYC crime novel, one of the best I’ve read, told from the point of view of a morally ambiguous bruiser with a broken heart and a somewhat skewed sense of right and wrong who just wants to find out who killed the screwed-up girl he loved. I adored it and can’t wait to see it earn all the heaps of praise it deserves. Grade A noir.
If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?
I’m happy to jump between several genres, and even cross them, in my work. I started out in horror and continue to work in that world, but I also write Westerns, crime fiction, and I even have a sci-fi novel bumping around in my brain. I love genre fiction in general because of the opportunity to play with tropes and conventions, but I’m not satisfied to be pigeon-holed in any one of them.
Where can fans find you online?
My online home is http://www.edkurtz.net, and I’m also on Facebook.