Charles Austin Muir is the author of THIS IS A HORROR BOOK and BODYBUILDING SPIDER RANGERS AND OTHER STORIES. His short fiction has appeared in such anthologies as Peel Back the Skin, 18 Wheels of Horror, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror, Dark Visions, Strange Behaviors and This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck With. He lives in Portland, Oregon, in the U.S. with his wife and four dogs. Adopted at birth, he is not related to Charles Muir the Tantric sex guru. He may be related to John Muir, though.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I write stories, books and essays and work as a therapeutic exercise trainer for a chiropractor. I live in Portland, Oregon, with my wife and four dogs.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I enjoy going to karaoke, though I don’t get out much. I like going to used bookstores and comic shops.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
I loved the Alfred Hitchcock anthologies at my school library. I loved them as physical objects—the weight of them, the library bindings, the covers and illustrations by Fred Banbery. I loved the stories, too, though they gave me nightmares.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I only listen to instrumental stuff when I’m writing to cancel noise around me. In my teens when albums really influenced me, I loved The Who’s Quadrophenia.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
The Shining. When I watch Jack Torrance going loony I get a smile on my face like I’m watching puppy videos. As a kid who was bullied, I ended almost two years of being harassed and humiliated by pretending I was Jack Torrance. That movie got me through hard times.
KR: What are you reading now?
Zombie Punks Fuck Off edited by Sam Richard of Weirdpunk Books, At Least I Get You in My Art by Christoph Paul and The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
J.R.R. Tolkien early on, then Robert E. Howard. When I read “Pigeons from Hell” at age 10, I knew I wanted to write weird, creepy, atmospheric stuff.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
For short stories, I like to write preliminary notes and then brainstorm on a sheet of paper laid out sideways. I’ll write fragments of story details as they pop into my head. I’ll take a break, soften my gaze and absorb what I’ve written down. When I see a connection between two details, I’ll draw a line from one to the other and number each one in whatever feels like the best order for the story. After that I’ll write out each detail on an index card and lay the cards out in numerical order. At this point I might see the need to shift the order a bit so I play with it until the overall sequence feels like a good starting point. I got part of this method from John Skipp. It helped me write the first draft of “Party Monster” in twenty-one days while working as a driver’s assistant for UPS during the holiday season. I’m a really slow writer.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I tend to write stories that don’t require much research. I am an obsessive copy editor, though. I was a journalist and wrote obituaries among other items for thirteen years. I edit my work as if it’s an obituary and a relative of the deceased is going to look at it.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
I take a 10-minute walk while I drink my first cup of coffee. I’ll sit for a minute, then go to my office and write. I’m getting better at recognizing when I should take a break, but I still will spend hours staring at the screen and thinking I suck until somehow the problem resolves itself.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
“Party Monster.” It was gruesome, full of wild concepts and had a visual element with sigils inserted in the narrative. It ran in Peel Back the Skin published by Grey Matter Press in a lineup that included Ray Garton, Jonathan Maberry, Lucy Taylor, Yvonne Navarro and Graham Masterton.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
I don’t have any yet. I have two books out now though, and I know I will read any reviews for them. It makes my chest tight thinking about it.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
When you submit a story to a potential publisher, follow the publisher’s guidelines.
KR: What scares you?
Heights. Spiders. Darkness. Obnoxious neighbors. Bad drivers. Bowel problems.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Paperbacks. I read e-books, too.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
It’s a short story collection called This is a Horror Book published by CLASH Books. You could call the stories bizarro, but really they’re just weird, in the way John Shirley’s weird stories are weird. They’re campy, raunchy, dreamy, self-referential, creepy and packed with satire. There is also a strong streak of dark male psyche throughout, ranging from broey male bonding stupidity to all-out toxic masculinity. There are chaos magic spells, killer rabbits, kung fu sorcerers, mystical brothels and mutant slasher villains who drop Arnold Schwarzenegger one-liners.
KR: What are you working on now?
I’m developing a novel that will explore toxic masculinity in the context of the body horror subgenre.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
Ol’ Dirty Wan, a sorcerer from “The Raekwonomicon” in This is a Horror Book. He can fight and cast magic spells and he’s laid-back and kind.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
Elise McKenna from Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time. I’m all about transcending time with a nineteenth-century stage actress who looks like Jane Seymour. Plus when we get old and travel back in time the island will pretty much look the same.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
Clive Barker. I saw him read once and he was hilarious and seemed like a nice guy. I can see him inventing ways to write and paint on the island.
KR: Thank you very much Charles.
You can find out more about Charles by visiting his official website www.charlesaustinmuir.com
Follow Charles on Twitter @CharlesAMuir
Charles’s author page can be found here
After reading this book please bring this tome back to your local library. Seriously! This is an extremely important book and if you do not bring this book back, you risk letting out a chaos magick spell that will destroy the world, as beasts bring destruction to life itself. That includes bunnies. Do you really want to face killer bunnies, and don’t think Charlize Theron will save you. She won’t! So read this extremely important horror book and then bring it back, and also don’t look at Internet porn at your local library, it’s rude and attracts succubi!
CLASH Books Librarian
SEE! the Ipsissimus Arachnus, the wall-crawling, occult commando unit BEHOLD! the Catholic church which changes into an automaton GAZE! upon self-love via a meta, sci-fi epistolary GIRD YOUR LOINS! for Charles Austin Muir’s debut collection, an unfiltered and utterly gonzo mutation of short fiction. A satire of satire, Bodybuilding Spider Rangers and Other Stories will surprise even the most seasoned readers of the absurd.