Mike Chinn, has been published in Dark Horizons, Dark Valentine, Doomology: The Dawning of Disasters, Morpheus Tales Urban Horror Special, Null Immortalis (Nemonymous 10), Kzine and Postscripts to name but a few! He edited the Pulp Heroes series of anthologies for Alchemy Press. And as well as scripting comics for DC Thomson (including an 8-week “Billy the Cat” adventure for the Beano) he has published two books on how to write comics: Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel and Create Your Own Graphic Novel. Previous Damian Paladin stories appeared in The Paladin Mandates and he is currently working on a further Paladin collection, Walkers in Shadow.
Mike, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
Somehow I’ve reached the wise old age of 60 without managing to grow up one iota (except for the grey hair). I live in Birmingham, UK, with Caroline – my wife of almost 34 years – and three voracious guinea pigs. What can I say about my writing? Apart from my Damian Paladin fiction, which is kind of 1930s adventure pulp meets the X-Files, I’m a bit of a gadfly, never concentrating on one particular genre or sub-genre. My forthcoming collection, Give Me These Moments Back, from The Alchemy Press is fairly typical, I guess: a bit of horror, a soupçon of western, some crime, ghosts, borderline science fiction, humorous sword & sorcery and kaiju monsters.
How long have you been writing and how did you get started?
I’ve been writing since I was in short trousers: stories, comics – and I’ve no idea how it started. It was just something I did. In my teens I started writing “books”: just short stories that were heavily influenced by Alistair MacLean, bound in covers drawn by myself. Then I discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Moorcock and these volumes rapidly mutated into derivative sword & planet thud’n’blunder. The world of fanzines (before the concept of the Small Press) was the next, inevitable outlet; followed by joining the British Fantasy Society, where I discovered I wasn’t alone.
What is at the root of Give Me These Moments Back?
There’s no theme or overriding arc to the collection (or at least, not one I’ve seen; no doubt one of my smart-arse friends will tell me there is, and what I mean by it). It’s just a vehicle for some of my more recent work – showing off, to be frank – and one that isn’t purely horror fiction.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
If you’re in it for the money or the fame, you’re in the wrong job.
Do you have music playing when you write? What are your tracks of choice?
I like to have something on in the background, but to be honest once I’m into whatever I’m writing I become totally unaware of it. I’d like to say I pick music that fits with whatever I’m writing, but the truth is I just bung something on depending on how the mood grabs me: Hawkwind, The Decembrists, Richard Thompson, Arcade Fire, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel…
Do you have a typical writing day?
I drag myself out of bed, shower, dress, fetch the newspaper, tell the guinea pigs to stop begging while I’m getting breakfast ready, skim the paper as I finish my tea, tell the guinea pigs to stop begging again, drag my sorry ass up to my den, check emails and anything else that’s become part of the daily ritual. Make myself another cup of tea – not forgetting to tell the guinea pigs off for begging – then gawp at the screen until lunchtime. Rinse and repeat until around five-thirty when I have to think about starting dinner.
Who would play you in your biopic?
A young Clint Eastwood.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I’d like to think I’d tackle anything. One story in the collection deals with paedophilia and another includes a rape. And I’ve had to acknowledge the racist attitudes of the 1930s in some Damian Paladin fiction. Thinking on it, I reckon the only thing I’d avoid is torture porn because it seems to be revelling in its brutality whilst pretending to be shocked by it.
Have you ever included people you know (disguised or not) in your fiction?
Yes. Moving on…
Who are some of your favourite authors and what is it about their work that appeals?
I think I may have mentioned Michael Moorcock already? He’s been a major influence ever since I read Stormbringer, I admire the way he’s written SF, fantasy, comics, pastiche and literary fiction whilst avoiding being pigeonholed. He’s his own sub-genre, I reckon: a Moorcock book is what it is. I discovered Fritz Leiber through his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser fiction – I was reading anything sword & sorcery at the time – but soon realised he was also published across many genres. Ray Bradbury is a great stylist. Roger Zelazny took familiar fantasy tropes and bent them to his will in the excellent Amber series as well as stand-alone novels such as Creatures of Light and Darkness. I have a soft spot for Isaac Asimov. Stephen King (I generally loved the Dark Tower sequence, even though parts of it misfired horribly). Ramsey Campbell, whose voice is unique in the horror field. Joel Lane and Graham Joyce, both inimitable talents who were taken from us too soon.
Comic: Batman or Fables?
Hey, this is me. The Bat, of course. Although Fables is pretty cool, too.
Conventions: when and where.
FantasyCon 2015, October 23rd – 25th, East Midlands Conference Centre and Orchard Hotel, Nottingham, UK. Not sure if I can make any others, although (plug alert!) I should mention that Give Me These Moments Back is being launched at the Birmingham SF Group’s monthly meeting on 13th March, the Briar Rose Hotel, Birmingham UK.
What are you up to next?
A new Damian Paladin collection, Walkers in Shadow, will be published by Pro Se Productions in 2016, whilst I’m told my Sherlock Holmes steampunk mash-up, Vallis Timoris, is due out in May 2015. In the planning stages are a couple of pulp-style novels, Darkness, My Old Friend and Corsairs of the Deep, for which I have titles but little else, and a gothic western which has a plot but no title.
Give Me These Moments Back is launching tomorrow at the Briar Rose, Bennetts Hill, Birmingham!
It will be available from tomorrow on Amazon in paper and kindle editions!
Give Me These Moments Back by Mike Chinn.
Eighteen stories that range from the depths of the Pacific, the cruel charms of Venice, the price of immortality, to the Appalachian Mountains…
- Welcome to the Hotel Marianas
- A Matter of Degree
- All Under Hatches Stow’d
- Be Grateful When You’re Dead
- Kami Ga Kikoemasu
- All Beauty Must Die
- Parlour Games
- Cold Rain
- Once Upon an Easter
- The Appalachian Collection
- Just the Fare Back Home
- Harbour Lights
- Like a Bird
- Give Me These Moments Back
- Brindley’s Place
- Holding It In
- Saving Prince Romero”A ring of external spotlights flared to life, revealing the floor of the Mariana Trench a few metres below us. The backwash filled the observation room with a cold grey light… As one, they gasped at the sight. I didn’t blame them – even though I’d seen it dozens of times, it still caught the back of my throat.”
“Donnie could feel himself beginning to shake. He clenched his fists, fighting the tremors. For a moment, he back-flashed to October last year: River Phoenix, on a Hollywood sidewalk, dying. No resurrection from the flames that time: no one was reviving dead movie stars.”
“The storm bounced the Oji-Maru across the ocean like a toy boat. Sky and sea were black; the only light came from the ship’s navigation lamps. Ishimaeru could barely make out the bows and harpoon gun. From somewhere he heard the sound of shattering glass. It reared out of the dark, vast and … and wrong. Nothing but bones…”