{Interview} Kendall Reviews Talks To Damascus Mincemeyer.

Exposed to the weird worlds of horror, sci-fi and comics as a boy, Damascus Mincemeyer was ruined for life. Now a writer and artist of various strangeness, he’s had stories published in numerous anthologies and has a collection, Where The Last Light Dies, available on Amazon. He lives near St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. and can be found lurking about on Twitter @DamascusUndead

Kendall Reviews Interviews Damascus Mincemeyer

Kendall Reviews: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Damascus Mincemeyer: Hi, I’m Damascus (pleased to meet everyone!). The biography I use a lot claims I’m ‘…a writer and artist of various strangeness from St. Louis, Missouri, USA’, which is a fairly accurate description. I spend most of my time conjuring book cover art for horror publishers and writing far-out fiction that’s appeared in numerous anthologies, including Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn, Earth: Giants, Golems and Gargoyles, Air: Slyphs, Spirits and Swan Maidens (all from Tyche Books), Bikers Vs The Undead, Psycho Holiday, Monsters Vs Nazis, Mr. Deadman Made Me Do It, Satan Is Your Friend, Monster Party, Wolfwinter, Hollywood Holocaust (all for Deadman’s Tome, and books for which I also provided cover art), Hell’s Empire (Ulthar Press), Hear Me Roar (World Weaver Press), Crash Code (Blood Bound Books), On Time (Transmundane Press), Appalachian Horror (Aphotic Realm), A Tree Lighting In Deathlehem (Grinning Skull Press), Seven Deadly Sins (TerrorTract Publishing), the Sirens Call ezine, the Gallows Hill website and the magazines Aphotic Realm and StoryHack. My first-ever book, a collection of short horror fiction, Where The Last Light Dies, was released October 28, 2020 on Amazon by Deadman’s Tome publishing.

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

DM: Well, indulging the artist’s side of my personality fills up a good percentage of my non-writing day. Other than that I watch horror and sci-fi movies, TV shows and read comics. You know, all the standard geek stuff. I also enjoy cooking and tend to waste an absurd amount of time fiddling around on social media, but picking fights with old ladies in quilt knitting chat rooms is just too much fun to resist!

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

DM: H.G. Wells was my top writer as a boy, and The War of the Worlds was my favorite novel. Then, as now, I loved anything with a paranormal or creepy angle, so stuff like the Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark books, Random House’s Step-Up Classic Chiller adaptations of Dracula and Frankenstein and C.B. Colby’s Strangely Enough! cast a deadly spell on me.

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

DM: Music plays an enormous role in my writing! I love all types of music–punk and post-punk, metal (black/death/thrash/metalcore), gothic rock, electronic music, ‘80’s New Wave…the list just goes on and on. Despite this, I actually require absolute silence when I write. I need to concentrate, and usually write late at night (over very early in the morning) for this reason. But I usually create a ‘soundtrack’ of songs for a specific story I’m working on to listen to when I’m not writing. I helps set the mental mood, so to speak, for when I sit down for the real work. A lot of my tales feature music in them, too. My story ’Getting To The Gig’ is about three punk rockers encountering zombies on the way to their concert in 1982 Los Angeles and is full of musical references.

As for favorite album? Geez, it changes all the time. I’ll say Metallica’s Master of Puppets ranks high as an all-time favorite. The Fat of the Land by The Prodigy is a stone-cold classic. Drab Majesty’s Modern Mirror has been on my playlist constantly since its release. Lately I’ve been listening to After The Burial’s In Dreams and The Ghost Inside’s Get What You Give albums quite a bit.

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

DM: For me, it’s always a toss up between the 1968 version of Night of the Living Dead and the original Dawn of the Dead (though I do adore the remakes of both). Night’s ability to shock remains undiluted, and I still remember my first viewing: I was seventeen, and had bought a $5 VHS copy at a music store. I knew nothing about the film other than it had zombies in it, and I had NO idea about the ending, and it startled me so much I recall yelling at the television. Its influence is so vast that a mark clearly delineates horror’s pre and post- period in relation to the movie’s release.

Dawn of the Dead, on the other hand, is the perfect sequel. It expands on the world created in Night, and we get the first true glimpse at the societal breakdown only hinted at in the first movie. The characters are so well drawn as individuals that the audience truly cares about their fate, which is something more horror films need to strive for. The gore effects, too, were so outrageously plentiful that I was both shocked and giggly about the on-screen carnage. I remember the first time I watched Dawn it was as a triple-feature along with Hellraiser and the Stephen King IT miniseries, none of which I’d ever seen before, and all of which I loved afterwards. That was a fun day.

KR: What are you reading now?

DM: The questions in this interview. No, seriously, I’ve been all over the spectrum with my reading lately. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction, and just finished Three Bill Williamson Stories by Harry Turtledove, and Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert, which was tough to wade through, though I enjoyed his rich descriptive detail and the battle scenes enormously.

KR: What was the last great book you read?

DM: Phobetor’s Children by M.G. Mason. It’s a sci-fi/psychological horror novel set in Vespasian-era Rome, and six gladiators are sent on a covert mission into Germania, where an infestation of otherworldly creatures have overrun two Roman forts. It’s got tons of gore, action, and great character depth. The author’s a trained archeologist, so all the rich period detail is used as precisely as a legionnaire swinging his gladius. An enticing, exciting read.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

DM: I’m a physical book snob at heart, though I’m loathe to admit most of what I peruse these days is read in digital on my phone.

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

DM: I discovered H.P. Lovecraft when I was 16, which was a mind-blower. Clive Barker’s work, particularly The Books Of Blood, was extraordinarily influential, as was Colin Wilson and Harry Turtledove. Joss Whedon’s blend of comedy and horror had a profound effect on me (I was, and remain, a huge Buffy and Angel nerd). I was an avid Fangoria reader growing up, too, and no moment was prouder than when I had my first-ever published art (a pen & ink drawing of Hellraiser’s Pinhead) in their Postal Zone letters column.

As for the visual side of things, being exposed to Jim Lee’s X-Men comics at 13 was a revelation, and I instantly began creating my own comics. For me, it was just another medium to tell stories in. For many years I tried to get a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max inspired comic afloat, but never quite succeeded. I did manage to get published several times in Heavy Metal magazine, which remains quite a feather in my cap from those days.

I still love comics, though, and must list Preacher, James O’Barr’s The Crow, Battle Royale, The Sandman, Hellblazer, Fist of the North Star, The Walking Dead, The Ultimates, Uzumaki, Spawn and the old Warren comic magazines Creepy and Eerie as among my all-time favorites.

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

DM: I always like to pretend I’m the hip, clever, organized planster with all the angles prepared in advance before I dive into a story, but in reality it’s a mixture of planning and spontaneity. I do create an outline and a scene-index breakdown with the main relevant information and plot points, but it’s rarely more elaborate that that (I don’t go in for creating vast character/world bibles for my stories. I’d much rather put that effort and time in creating the actual writing process.). So I do know where I’m driving when I set out on a journey, but the road to get there is often filled with wild detours as ideas come to me during the ride. I’m always getting flashes of dialogue and paragraphs when I’m doing non-writing related things and jotting notes down. To others I must look like a nut, with my collection of scribbled-on scrap paper.

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

DM: I perform a ton of research before starting any project. I think my story ‘Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam’ that was in Hell’s Empire required more information-gathering than anything I’ve ever done. The book was a shared-world alternate history/horror anthology set in a Victorian Britain being invaded in War of the Worlds fashion by the Satanic armies of Hell itself, and all the stories were linked together by editor John Linwood Grant so that it reads like a novel. My story is about the Battle of London and the sheer amount of period research required (two months worth!) was staggering. But I think all the effort shows in the finished piece.

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

DM: I don’t set out to write with a particularly conscious style in mind. I just write the way the words come into my head. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s detailed, emotional and smooth. At least I’d like to think so, anyway!

KR: Describe your usual writing day.

DM: A typical writing day for me is that there is no typical writing day. I just squeak in writing whenever I can in between all the other life stuff.

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

DM: I can say that ‘A Night At Satan’s Palace’ is probably my favorite. It’s about two old guys in their seventies who stop by a Las Vegas strip club where the strippers are demons in disguise and intent on opening a portal to Hell. I like its mix of comedy and horror, and it’s the story I’d share with someone unfamiliar with me to showcase my work. I also like a story called ‘Hunter’s Moon’ that involves a werewolf hunter attempting to save a little werewolf girl, and ‘Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam’ is one of my personal favorites as well.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

DM: I really haven’t had any of my works reviewed yet, so I guess the answer is no. Will I one day in the future, if and when that happens? We’ll see.

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

DM: I think the complexity of both my plots and characters has vastly improved since I began my professional career. My economy of words has, too. I can tell a fairly complicated tale in less space than ever before.

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

DM: When I started writing and was getting constant rejections letters, someone close to me said, “Don’t worry. All it takes is one acceptance to get the ball rolling.” And they were right.

KR: What scares you?

DM: Loneliness. And failure.

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

DM: There are eighteen of my short stories (400 pages worth!) in the collection Where The Last Light Dies, and they cover the entire genre spectrum from comedy-horror to tragic, psychological pieces to torture and straight-up splatter. There’s something for every type of horror fan, and it’s available on Amazon right now! Go take a look. You’ve only got your sanity to lose. Oh, and I painted the cover MYSELF. I’m quite proud of that!

KR: What are you working on now?

DM: I’m busy with the final stages of my debut novel. It’s called By Invitation Only and it’s about a trio of stoner teenagers in Colorado who inadvertently become vampires and have to deal with a group of evil vampire hunters intent on killing them and destroying their entire hometown. There’s a lot of comedy mixed in, and it’s my deliberate attempt to upend the dire state vampire fiction has ended up in since the release of Twilight. Vampires, to me, can still be bestial beings capable of inflicting terror. No sparkles required.

KR: You find yourself on a deserted island. Which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why? You can choose…

A) One fictional character from your writing…

DM: Oh, my…Most of my creations are either totally inept, complete evil bastards or deeply flawed individuals with few saving graces, so doing the Gilligan’s Island thing would most likely end in rapid starvation for all parties involved regardless of who I pick. But there’s one character from a short story I had published in the anthology Hear Me Roar that would be cool to hang around. Her name is Chia Pet Hepburn, and she’s a quirky, rainbow-haired, foul-mouthed punk chick of the post-apocalyptic American heartland who takes no crap and (incorrectly) thinks she’s a badass. She’d make fun company.

B) One fictional character from any other book…

DM: I think Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan, Lord of the Apes might know a thing or two about jungle survival, so probably him. He can leave the monkey sidekick back in Africa, though.

C) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend…

DM: Well, I fostered a volcanic infatuation with Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Sarah Michelle Gellar when I was a teenager, so…yeah, why not? Ultimately, however, I can see this scenario ending with both her and Chia Pet Hepburn running off with Tarzan and leaving me to die alone, so I might need to reconsider Tarzan bringing his monkey along for the journey. I’d need somebody to tell all my stories to!

KR: Thank you very much Damascus

Where The Last Light Dies

18 solid and unrelenting stories of thrills, horror, and dread. Damascus Mincemeyer’s vivid story-telling creates tales that will stay with you forever.

There is a place at the end of every road, after each song has finished and all tales have been told, where the sun dims and the shadows take hold. Few who have ventured to that darkened realm return to tell what they’ve witnessed, but in these eighteen harrowing stories those that have recount the horror and the hope, the desire and the despair that lies WHERE THE LAST LIGHT DIES.

You can buy Where The Last Light Dies from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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