An Interview with Adam Cesare, author of “In the Flat Light ” (GIALLO FANTASTIQUE)

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart will ship in May, and I asked if we could do some spotlights on some of the authors and their stories. The authors, and editor Ross E. Lockhart kindly complied. I’ll be posting these throughout April and May to get the buzz going, so keep an eye out for more this month.

Today, please welcome Adam Cesare to the blog!

Will you tell us a bit about your story in Giallo Fantastique and what inspired you to write it?
My story’s called “In the Flat Light” and it’s about an aging Italian film director who’s haunted (figuratively/literally?) by an accident that happened on the set of his last big feature.

It’s inspired by a lot of things, both films and real incidents. There are so many shades of giallo (both literary and film, and they all seem to sit on different places on the spectrum between the crime and horror genres). I really wanted to pack all I could into one story. The Black Concerto, the film-within-the-story, is very heavily influenced by Dario Argento’s Inferno, but the director character is not a direct corollary for Argento, there’s some Lamberto Bava and Fulci in him.

I don’t do a lot of short story writing and, whether it’s a cause or an effect of that, I’m not often invited to submit to anthologies. But I saw the title for Giallo Fantastique shared somewhere, saw that it was Ross Lockhart who was doing it, and I had to at least try to get in.

I’m usually really timid about approaching editors, but I’ve been a lifelong fan of the genre and I got seized with a fit of “this kind of stuff is my bread and butter! I should be allowed to try, damn it” and basically bullied my way into Ross’s office via facebook and twitter.

He was really nice about it, though.

Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve always been a reader, but a shift towards writing happened early on in college. I went to school to study film, but then found that I was better suited to screenwriting rather than film production. I’ve always loved genre fiction, so I kind of put those two loves together (wanting to tell stories and wanting to read horror stories) in a way that made sense.

While I was busy with classes and finishing my first novel, Video Night, John Skipp had put out a call for novella submissions. I struck up an email conversation with him and that resulted in Tribesmen (a book that’s recently been re-released by Deadite Press). So my first two books were period pieces (1988 for Video Night and 1979 for Tribesmen) that had a heavy film influence, not that they read like screenplays or anything, just that they deal with filmmaking and characters who are obsessives (like me!).

I try not to be a one trick pony, my other full-length novels don’t lean as heavy on the film thing, but it’s something I always come back to and I’m back at the well again for my Giallo Fantastique story.

What do you like to see in a good story, and what authors or novels have influenced you the most in your work, and your life?
I like a lot of things.

I like the intersection of high and low art. I love genre, but I hate laziness in genre. I want to read books that let me have my cake and eat it but also don’t talk down to me or read like the authors themselves don’t do much reading. I love a well-written story, and if that well-written story happens to have a high body count and some kind of crazyass monster…well.

Joe Lansdale’s The Drive-In is a great example. It’s beautiful, it’s like one of the most perfect horror stories I can think of. It’s profane and ludicrous and funny, but it’s also this kind of treatise on movies, entertainment, and consumption.

In novels I’m usually (but not always) a fan of simple, straight-forward prose, something that can propel a story along, but when I read short fiction I tend to want a little more beauty in my language. I’m reading selections from Livia Llwellyn’s Engines of Desire now when I take breaks from long fiction, and damn can she put words together nicely. Jeremy Robert Johnson, Laird Barron, and John Langan (who’s in Giallo Fantastique!) also do short stories that hit that sweet spot of literary and genre for me.

What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, dark fiction?
I have a lot of friends who are diehard horror fans who love the genre but don’t read much, they focus on the film side of things.

I’m a fan of both mediums, so I guess what I enjoy most about reading is the smugness. The fact that while my buddies are complaining about remakes and sequels and lamenting why the latest indie gem isn’t getting a wide theatrical release, I’m just over here, reading my fiction, seeing how much great original content is being produced in the genre.

I’m kidding about liking to feel smug, but pretty serious about everything else.

What’s next for you?
My next novel is going to be put out by Random House’s Hydra imprint. It’s called Mercy House and it’s about some bad (like, splatterpunk-level bad) goings on in a home for the elderly. I’m really proud of it and people can pre-order that now (and they should because I would love them forever).
And I’m also excited to check out the rest of the stories in Giallo Fantastique. That table of contents is ridiculous!

Thanks so much, Kristin!

Keep up with Adam: Website | Twitter

About Giallo Fantastique:
An anthology of original strange stories at the intersection of crime, terror, and supernatural fiction. Inspired by and drawing from the highly stylized cinematic thrillers of Argento, Bava, and Fulci; American noir and crime fiction; and the grim fantasies of Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, and Jean Ray, Giallo Fantastique seeks to unnerve readers through virtuoso storytelling and startlingly colorful imagery.
What’s your favorite shade of Yellow?

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