Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart ships this month, 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. Today’s interview wraps up the series, and if you’ve missed any of the interviews, you can see all of them HERE.
Today, please welcome Michael Kazepis to the blog!
Will you tell us a bit about your story in Giallo Fantastique and what inspired you to write it?
The story’s called “Minerva,” and it’s about a young woman that comes to Athens after the death of her brother. I want more English-language stories set in Greece that aren’t so Dancing Zorba/ mythology/fall in love on some bullshit island. Athens can be a heavy place. Broken sidewalks, half-destroyed monuments. Europe’s favorite anarchists. There’s a fascist police force and an entrenched elite that would give James Ellroy a raging hard-on. Systemic-corruption and racism—it’s not the easiest place to be a woman, either. And riots! I think protest footage has become our most famous export, even though protests have been something of a ritual that predates the economic depression by, say, at least the founding of the republic. There’s wealth of darkness and hopelessness to explore, and an opportunity to light a fire at the center of it.
Have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I wanted to do other stuff more than I wanted to write. I wanted to be a pro wrestler. I wanted to play football. I wanted to be a musician. I played guitar for seven years, but I stopped improving after about two. I was in this horror punk band, The Midnight Picture Show, for a while. I think I did a couple shows with them. I remember my band mates often feeling like, man, are you still not getting it? They were supportive but I’d hit my ceiling with that form. I also wanted to join the military, but when the United States invaded Iraq, my father asked me not to. My brother and I are the only males in the family that never enlisted. We come from a long line of servicemen and farmers on both sides. My great-grandfather wrote about his experiences in the First World War. He had breathing problems after being gassed by the Germans. My father’s mother was a journalist for the Cincinnati Enquirer. She always wanted to write fiction. I found some letters about her wanting to write a great American novel or something. She was very learned. I never met her because she ended up killing herself the year I was born. We have a similar handwriting style. Writing seems like something I’ve both inherited and fallen back on.
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?
There’s nothing specific that comes to mind. I mean, characters, sure. I only know what I like when I come across it. About seven years ago, a friend introduced me to Thomas Pynchon’s work. I realize mentioning him is like a badge for some people, but he’s just got this really great rhythm to his writing. It makes me crazy that V. was written by someone in their twenties. I like George Pelecanos, James Sallis—Drive is a perfect novel—Sam Pink, Juliet Escoria, Cody Goodfellow, J.S. Breukelaar, Violet LeVoit and Kris Saknussemm. Bolaño’s Antwerp hits close to home.
What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, dark fiction?
Horror, thriller, and graphic novels were almost exclusively what I read until I was in my mid-twenties. Every summer we’d visit family and I’d stock up on imported paperbacks and comics from the Alpha-Beta supermarket on Vouliagmenis Street. I’d be stuck at my grandfather’s farm just south of Athens and would read a couple of books each day. Then I’d write my own imitations on notepads. There was an interest I can’t put words to. That feeling, though it’s mostly lost now, is something I can remember being so strong.
What’s next for you?
I have a novel called Nothing Crown that’ll be out later this year. It’s about a Palestinian teenager that walks from the West Bank to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a rapper. I’m also the head editor of King Shot Press, an imprint of Broken River Books. We’ve just released the launch titles: Leverage by Eric Nelson, Killer &Victim by Chris Lambert, and Strategies Against Nature by Cody Goodfellow. There’ll be another wave of releases in October, then we’ll be on a quarterly schedule. 2016 has some ambitious projects on the way, one of which is Silk Road, a weird crime serial “pilot” being written by J David Osborne and myself, which will then be handed off to other writers to continue as a series—there’ll be more about that soon. I keep busy.
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?