Your Arms Around Entropy author Brian Fatah Steele talks to Kendall Reviews.

Brian Fatah Steele has been writing various types of dark fiction for over fifteen years, from horror to urban fantasy and science fiction. Growing up hooked on comic books and monster movies, he gravitates towards anything imaginative. Steele originally went to school for fine arts but finds himself far more fulfilled now by storytelling. 

His work has appeared in such places as 4POCALYPSE, BLOOD TYPE, DEATH’S REALM, IDOLATERS OF CTHULHU, PAYING THE FERRYMAN, CTHULHU LIES DREAMING, and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated DARK VISIONS, VOL.1.  His own titles include YOUR ARMS AROUND ENTROPY, THERE IS DARKNESS IN EVERY ROOM, BRUTAL STARLIGHT, FURTHER THAN FATE, and IN BLEED COUNTRY. 

Steele lives in Ohio with a few cats and survives on a diet of coffee and cigarettes. He spends his time still dabbling in visual art, vowing to fix up his house, acting as a part-time chaos entity, spending too many hours watching television, and probably working on his next writing project.

KR: Coffee?

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KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

I’m a 40 year old white guy living in a small town in Ohio with two cats. I smoke too much, and spend most evenings watching TV with my girlfriend. I originally went to Kent State University for fine arts, and while I’m far more fulfilled as a writer, I still dabble in visual arts.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

Read a lot, watch more TV than I should. I also work on those aforementioned visual art projects, usually two-dimensional stuff. Paintings and illustrations, some digital work. My brothers and a group of our friends have recently taken up camping every so often, but we’re hardly roughing it.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

There was this book series that I used to get at my local library, and I must have checked each one a dozen times as a child. They were the hardback, fictionalized versions of the old classic Universal Monster movies, complete with pictures. I’m talking everything from Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein to titles like Black Cat. There must have been twenty of those things, and my tiny self adored them.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

I’m not sure if I have any one single favorite album of all time. I love a lot of different music, and my mood shifts constantly. In the last few years, I’ve been a huge fan of everything from The Glitch Mob to Gojira, Sigur Ros to Lana Del Rey. And I’ve written to all of them.

Murder By Death, Post Malone, 65DaysOfStatic, Zoe Keating, Bring Me The Horizon, Panic! At The Disco, The Weeknd, God Is An Astronaut, Halsey, A Perfect Circle. It’s all made it into my writing. Music is essential to the process, each story needed its own soundtrack.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?

I’d have to say John Carpenter. The Fog terrified me as a child, and The Thing is one of my favorite movies of all time. He thinks outside the box, doesn’t play to traditional Americana Horror troupes. Halloween set the standard, In the Mouth of Madness is brilliant, and Ghosts of Mars is nowhere as bad as people think. So many other good ones! I’m still waiting for a complete box set.

KR: What are you reading now?

2018 has been a great year for horror fiction. I just finished the stunning flash collection The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer, and now I’m reading Practitioners by Matt Hayward and Patrick Lacey. People need to stop releasing so many awesome titles, because my TBR pile is getting out of control.

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KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

My three “big guns” that I always mention first off are Clive Barker, Brian Lumley, and Warren Ellis. I read Books of Blood vol.1 when I was way too young, and I’ll admit it, I stole the other two volumes. I was hooked. It was a whole new world opened up to me. That cover to Necroscope by Lumley was going to draw in any young boy, and it taught me that if wanted to blend horror, sci-fi, and action in a story, I could. Don’t be constrained. Finally, the run that Ellis had on the comics Stormwatch into The Authority showed me there could be a message amidst the carnage.

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Along with those guys, it’s been all types of authors over the years. Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, Edward Lee, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Grant Morrison, Laird Barron, James Rollins, Charles Stross, Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason, John Claude Smith, Nate Southard, Mary SanGiovanni, John McCallum Swain. I’m just as influenced by work coming out today as I am by re-reading Lovecraft.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I plot everything out way ahead of time, even short stories for the most part. Short stories might just have a few paragraphs of notes detailing the structure, but novels get a full treatment. I write lots of short chapters, each chapter around 1000 words, shooting for between fifty and sixty chapters. I’ll plot out the entire book, each chapter with a detailed paragraph of what’s going on and how it might link elsewhere in the book. The entire outline is done complete with character notes and additional notes on world building before I ever write a single word of the story. It’s all about continuity. I’d rather do two drafts and a few rounds of edits because I had too much info, as opposed to seventy-two drafts because the first go was a mess.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It all depends on what the story calls for. For instance, I’m working on a book now that has two police officers in it. I happen to be friends with a cop, so I invited him over and grilled him with questions for two hours. A short story in my collection Your Arms Around Entropy involved the fracking industry, so I called up a buddy of mine and did the same thing. Networking is important. I’m only a few blocks away from a branch campus of Kent State University, so I’ve harassed professors there before on myriad topics.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

I prefer writing in the morning while I can still focus, so I usually get up, feed the cats, make coffee, and get to it. I try to write at least 1000 words a day, 2000 if I’m up to it. Because of the way I structure my books into chapters, that can pretty much equal a chapter a day, so I can feel like I’m making progress.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

Wow, I had to think about that. I might say “Bleak Mathematics.” It’s about a rock band inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and their cult-like fans. It appeared in the anthology Cthulhu Lies Dreaming from Ghostwoods Books and is out now in my collection Your Arms Around Entropy. The self-titled story in that collection could very easily tie.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

Yeah, doesn’t everybody? Just don’t reply to the reviews, and you’ll be fine.

KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?

Just keep writing, keep submitting, and keep reading. Ignore anything that states it’s a “rule” for writing.

KR: What scares you?

Not much. I don’t have any of the basic phobias. Blindness worries me, as I’m a very visual person. As a Progressive, the current political climate in America more angers me than scares me. I work those “fears” into my writing more than fears of spiders or heights.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

I honestly don’t have a preference. However those words are getting to me makes me happy. E-books are nice because they’re cheap, but it’s nice to have a physical copy.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

My collection Your Arms Around Entropy is available now on Kindle for only $0.99, twelve stories of Cosmic Horror and Lovecraftian Nihilism. Loose Reality, Apocalyptic Landscapes, Bleeding Earth, Chaotic Limbo, Dangerous Music, Mime Armies, and Much More.

KR: What are you working on now?

My UF/Cosmic Horror novel Bleed Away the Sky will be out from Bloodshot Books in early 2019, and I have another Cosmic Horror novel finished with warring celestial deities in a small town. Currently I’m working on novel that features some more “classic” monsters but viewed from a different perspective.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why? 

You can choose…

  1. One fictional character from your writing.

Tanner from There is Darkness in Every Room. Heh, I pretty much based her off my girlfriend.

  1. One fictional character from any other book.

Either John Constantine from Hellblazer or Lestat from the Vampire Chronicles. That would be hysterical.

  1. One real life person that is not a family member or friend.

I’ll go with Clive Barker. The man shaped with my imagination in so many ways, I’d just like to tell him “Thank You.”

KR: Thank you very much Brian.

You can follow Brian on Twitter @brian_f_steele

You can visit Brian’s author page here

“There is darkness everywhere. It lingers in wait under your bed and fills the void of space. Whispers that trickle into your mind when you’re vulnerable and a mass that stirs in that deeper black that cannot ever possibly be understood. Tales of divergent worlds, but all enveloped by forces more powerful than any nightmare.

A teenage girl staying with her grandparents for the summer discovers the abandoned shack on the property still has a terrifying purpose. With a small portion of America infected with an alien organism, a government envoy is sent in to parlay. A music journalist investigating a rock band influenced by H.P. Lovecraft stumbles into a far more harrowing underground scene. What appear to be millions of mimes roam the streets, killing people or worse. A necromancer’s protégé wonders how much more death can be summoned before there’s a breaking point. In a world now filled with monsters, a young woman is slowly dying one day at a time.

Twelve tales of cosmic horror and Lovecraftian nihilism. Stories where you have accepted the darkness, dove into the abyss, swallowed down the chaos. Stories where you’ve wrapped your arms around entropy.”

You can buy Your Arms Around Entropy from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Even as a young woman, Tanner is haunted by childhood nightmares of alien abduction. She’s trying to find her place in college, but a series of bizarre murders on campus isn’t helping her paranoia. Tanner just desperately wants to be normal, but finds herself in the center of a celestial game, the players beyond comprehension. The terrifying truth spans across humanity, and there is no hope, there is no tomorrow. There is darkness in every room.

You can buy There Is Darkness In Every Room Amazon UK & Amazon US

What is The Bleed Country? The space between words in a prayer and the last number in Pi. It is where faith & dreams are held safe, where unborn terrors lurk and all the answers are painted in colors that don’t exist. There have always been Agents who protect Bleed Country, individuals granted powers who walk the under-roads known as The Scar and seek to keep the balance. But now cards have been thrown, and while the only true constant in this reality is change, it is coming faster and more surely than anyone could have predicted. Sides will be drawn for the battle of Bleed Country, and not everyone will survive…

The DarkRedPress Special Edition of In Bleed Country contains the original novel, plus character illustrations done by the author along with three new Bleed Country short stories. “Bound In Blood” speaks of an enigmatic origin, “The Brutality Coda” details a mysterious death, and “If I Only Had Some Couth” spills the secrets concerning everyone’s least favorite scarecrow.

You can buy In Bleed Country from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Imagine if you woke up in a dead world. A world much like this one, but devoid of all other life. A place where telephones rang at random intervals, written words appeared in some bizarre language and night fell whenever it so desired. This is where Luke and Anna find themselves, here to play out a deadly game between two ancient forces. It is here they’ll learn the truth about magic, the truth about each other, the truth about butterflies and spiders. Welcome to The Stitching.

You can buy The Stitching from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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