Today, I'm interviewing Shawn Cook, the skilled author who contributed One Last Gamble to "The Temporal Element." Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Shawn.
COOK: Ah, anytime. Not sure about the skilled part though…
MTI: Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? Nothing real personal, just a little background.
COOK: Let’s see, born and raised in Occupied Illinois but escaped by digging a tunnel into Indiana. Managed to find a beautiful woman with the patience of a saint and blackmail her into marrying me. She signed the contract, hahahahahaha!!!! Erm, uh, anyway… I work around fifty hours a week for the Evil Empire and try to raise four kids. So, yeah.
MTI: Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to write fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?
COOK: I’ve always had a vivid and hyperactive imagination and writing helped get the stories out of my head and onto paper. I love to write, although finding time is a bit of a problem. And I’m never happy with anything I’ve done. My favorite genre is horror.
MTI: Tell me, who is the one author who has influenced or inspired you the most?
COOK: It’s a toss-up between Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft. As far as finding a new kick-ass Sci-Fi author of note I’d have to say Aaron Dembski-Bowden. His Night Lords series is awesome.
MTI: The Temporal Element is a Martinus Publishing anthology devoted entirely to time travel adventures. These fictional accounts are fascinating, of course, but do you ever believe that humanity will discover a viable way to travel backwards and forwards through time?
COOK: Nope. And even if we did, could you imagine the damage we’d do?
MTI: Regardless of whether it's probable or even possible, if you could go back to any point in history, when would you visit?
COOK: I’m a bit of a history lover so the list is near endless. D-Day, Thermopylae, Gettysburg...
MTI: Looking forward now, what futuristic piece of technology would you like to own, or have for your personal use?
COOK: Jet pack or hoverboard. Someone owes us that much at least.
MTI: Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
COOK: What I can when I can. Kids, Job, etc.
MTI: Other than One Last Gamble appearing in The Temporal Element, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?
COOK: Hopefully. But I’m getting pretty good at dealing with rejection letters.
MTI: We all have a pile of them! Speaking about acceptances, though, you and I both had stories published in several Pill Hill Press anthologies over the years. With the recent closure of that fine company, the speculative fiction marketplace has lost yet another venue for writers like ourselves. I'm not trying to be depressing or anything, but do you happen to have any thoughts on this sad loss?
COOK: Ah man, that broke my heart. For some of us, small press is the only way we can find our voices.
MTI: So true. On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?
COOK: Not really. I honestly can’t stand most of what’s out there nowadays.
MTI: Most Temporal Element contributors seem to like The Walking Dead. Anyway, what sort of music do you enjoy?
COOK: Heavy Metal. All of it.
MTI: You have a lot of potential readers paying attention right now. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with them, perhaps something to make them even more interested in your work?
COOK: Take a chance on small press and authors you’ve never heard of, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I think people just need to read more. I don’t care what you read, just pick up a book.
Except the Twilight series. That’s just crap.
MTI: Bold words of advice, for sure. As we close out this interview, I'm sure our readers would love to see a sample of your work. Would you like to share a paragraph or two, perhaps something new that nobody has seen before
The world outside the bus began to lighten; the sky became a sickening awkward crimson. It was quick, this change, as if morning had broken in record time and was doing its damnedest to get to noon. Lee could only gape at what was revealed. Looking out of the pocked and chipped window he could see the cracked highway the bus traveled, could see the blasted landscape for what it was. Razor-sharp rocks jutted upward here and there through spongy-looking soil. Blackened trees swayed in the wind; the heavy fruit of garroted corpses hung from their branches, still agonizingly animate. They kicked weakly while struggling with bound hands, faces blackened from suffocation. Thick tongues poked from between their lips, eyes rolling insanely.
Below the dangling feet of the undead sat fat mutated toadstools that flourished from the puddles of offal around the base of the trees. Purple and blue streaked the leprous skin of the fungi in distinct shapes, patterns that offended Lee’s vision and caused his eyes to water. The toadstools swayed slightly on bloated stalks, seemed to mark the passing of the vehicle by leaning slightly toward the road. Lee gasped as one of the disgusting fungi split down the middle revealing thousands of needle-like teeth.
It strained upward, pulling its skin taught to the point of breaking until those needle teeth found the hanging fruit above. Lee glimpsed a mottled orange tongue wrap around the man’s foot, pulled the limb deeper inside its maw and closed its mouth around the knee. Pulling down it stripped the meat from the dead man’s leg as the figure thrashed weakly, eyes bulging in insanity.
MTI: Chilling stuff! Thanks for a great interview, Shawn, and the best of luck in getting more stories out there. Those who want to read more of his stuff can pick up The Temporal Element.