Friday, June 4, 2010

13 Questions with MyMiserys: Nickolas Cook

Interview conducted by MyMiserys (aka Kimberly Cook)

1. How old were you when you wrote what you consider your first story?

Well, the first hand-written story that I can remember writing was at seven or eight years old, more a superhero comic book than anything else. I was a HUGE comic book fan for most of my early life, until they just got ridiculous expensive. In fact, the first job I ever got was at thirteen years of age and that was to pay for all the damn comics I had to have ever month. Man, did MARVEL make some money off me.
But that same year, for my birthday, my parents bought me a ROYAL typewriter, a beat-up old manual one, the kind that used those old red/black dual level ribbons. God, how I loved that old machine. I can still hear the 'clack-clack' of the keys if I try hard enough.
Anyway, the first real horror story I wrote on that heavy ass thing was about a bunch of werewolves who, in guise of humans, moved into a small suburban neighborhood, and used these underground tunnels they dug to kill their neighbors. They're discovered later by a couple of redneck good old boy carpenters and the end of the book becomes like a siege story, with the heroes and their wives shooting it out with the bad guys.

2. What inspired you to write it?

At that time my daddy was (and still is) a self-employed carpenter, so I got that part of my story from my hero worship of my father. The tunnel thing came from a Richard Laymon book you might have heard of: THE CELLER (one of the first horror novels I ever read, at the tender age of eight or so, I think.); and the werewolves came from the movie THE HOWLING, which I'd seen a couple of years before and it really stuck with me. God, I loved that movie!

3. What was the first book you wrote?

The first thing I wrote that could be considered a full length novel was back in 1998, shortly after moving from Orlando, FL., where I had hopes of becoming a pro screenwriter for Disney, to Tucson, AZ. to marry my wife. It was called something like THE BARGUEST BEAST, a total ripoff of JURASSIC PARK in that it was about a genetically re-created prehistoric wolf on a small island off the coast of CAPE VERDE. It gets loose and kills everyone, and the company that had bio-engineered it sends a group of scientists and mercenaries to find out what happened--of course, knowing full well what is on the island. There were the usual horror tropes mixed with an adventure style war with the giant bloodthirsty wolf thing.
Trust sounds way better than it turned out. It was a mess. I've never been able to make myself do the necessary work on it to make it work. Not sure it would be worth it.

4. Of all the books you've written, which is your favorite?

Without a doubt, BALEFUL EYE. It's about an aging hitman who finds an ancient artifact that's actually a key to a prison for the fallen angels. The angel, Samyaza, escapes and calls all his brethren together to battle God and his Archangels, with a handful of humans who get mixed up in this huge war for dominance of mankind. It was the book that I got to say a lot of things I'd been thinking about for years: my beliefs about religion and faith, good and evil, and love and honor. It was published back in 2006 with Publishing with absolutely NO attempt to promote it from the publisher. They recently released it to back to me and I'm shopping it around again, as we speak. In 2008, during an interview with CLIVE BARKER, he asked me to send him a copy because he loved the synopsis I gave him. So he still has it, I guess, and, with any luck, maybe one day he'll send me an email to tell me it's the best damned book he's ever read. HA!

5. Which book would you like to forget you wrote?

Well...I can't say I'd like to forget any of them, but if there was one I wish I could re-write as the more mature person I am at 40 it would be the as-of-yet unpublished KITTYWAMPUS. It's my coming of age story, about my young life in Cookville, the place where my father's side of the family had lived for almost a hundred years. It was deep in the woods, and for about five miles in any direction there were only Cooks. It was a total redneck environment, lots of drugs and drinking everywhere, lots of trouble with the law, fights, guns, just plain bad stuff for a kid to see. Fact is, if not for my great grandmother, who introduced me to books and had me reading by the time I was five, I'm not sure what would have happened to me. Anyway, the book deals with how I learned that my daddy was just a man, just as full of weaknesses as any human being, but full of other qualities which I hope have been passed down to me as a man. But, you know, the book is really about those woods and the sense of power and haunted-ness and love that they conveyed to me, even as a kid. And, of course, it's about the thing we all knew as The Kittywampus, which lived in the woods and could be seen and heard at times by plenty of witnesses. I could tell some pretty frightening stories about the Kittywampus, but I won't here. But, if anyone wants to hear them, catch me at a future World Horror Convention and we'll talk.

6. Who is the most influential person in your life?

Living? My wife, Kim. She is an amazing person. My best friend and the hottest, sexiest woman I have ever known. Smart as hell, too. And she keeps me honest. There is no bullshit in our relationship. But you already knew that, right? Everything I've written, and will write, is for her.

7. Who is your favorite author?

Just one?
No way.
Sorry, but I'm going to have to cheat...

In no particular order of importance:
Michael Moorcock
Robert E. Howard
J.R.R. Tolkien
E.M. Forster
Edith Wharton
Jorge Luis Borges
Edgar Allan Poe
H. P. Lovecraft
Alexandre Dumas
James Fenimore Cooper
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Louis L'Amore
Richard Matheson
Robert B. Parker
Charles L. Grant
Ramsey Campbell
Brian Hodge
Dan Simmons
Kenneth Roberts
Yukio Mashimo
Robert McCammon
Stephen King
Anne Rice
Clive Barker
Robert Dunbar
Brian Lumley
Marcel Proust
John Skipp and Craig Spector
Hunter S. Thompson
Poppy Z. Brite
Harlan Ellison
Richard Laymon
James Herbert
M. Cervantes
H.G. Wells
Jules Vernes
Victor Hugo
John Milton
John Donne
William Burroughs
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
M.R. James
Algernon Blackwood
Arthur Machen
and Robert Aickman

I could go on, but that's fairly representative of where I am right now. I can point to each of these folks and say, definitively, this book, story collection, or even essay, made me want to write, made me the man I am...for whatever that's worth.
Which is going to make the next question really tough. HA!

8. If you could only own one book, what would it be?

It'd be a tough call between THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and DON QUIXOTE by Cervantes. But if it can only be one, then I have to go with DON QUIXOTE. That book has so many layers, so much humor, so much human pathos, such sparkle and life that I never get tired of reading it.

9. When and where do you write?

When and where I can. I used to limit myself to one room, after 9 PM at night, but I found myself copping out too many times if those criteria weren't met. So I made myself stop finding excuses when I wanted to be lazy or if I was overwhelmed by a project. But I do think I write better at night, when the house is a bit quieter and there aren't so many distractions.

10. Do you have a "day job?"?

Well, some people reading this might have heard about my 'little injury' back about a year and half ago (Feb. 2009). During a KRAV MAGA martial arts drill (the same discipline which master horror author Brian Hodge studies) I took a step the wrong way and completely ruptured my right Achilles tendon. Just plain bad luck. Since then I've had multiple surgeries to correct it, tons of various complications, and now, unfortunately, it probably will never be completely healed. I won't go into gross detail (and there's plenty of them, believe me), but if you see me at a future WHC or Killercon, ask me and I'll show you what me and my wife affectionately refer to as my 'shark bite' leg. Because of the issues surrounding the healing, I've lost the ability to do many of the things that I loved. The physical stuff, like weight lifting, martial arts, running., etc., etc. For now, at least, I can't do any of those things. So, therefore, my "day job" has become going to various docs and therapist and trying to get my leg to work right again. But at least I've been smart enough to have used this crap time in my life to keep writing short stories, some novels, and I started this magazine and have kept it up and running for a little over a year now.

11. Do you have a "dream job?"

Yes. My 'dream job' would be to own and operate a drive-in, where I could show the movies I think are the best of the old horror classics. Not just the Universal stuff, but I mean the Euro-trash classics, the Giallos, anything that I wanted. And it would always be at least a triple feature every weekend night. Something like DEEP RED, TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD and ALIEN CONTAMINATION. You know, stuff that's just fun to watch and you can still get bad dubbing, blood and boobs for your buck. HA!

12. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Either New Orleans or somewhere in Oregon, where it rains five months out of the year, where there's freakin' green and water, and four seasons a year, instead of the two we have here in Tucson, AZ.: Hot and Fucking Ridiculous Hell Hot. People die in this place every year just because they didn't drink enough water that day or forgot to wear a hat! Seriously. I'm a Southern boy, born and raised. I miss the woods and the water with all my heart and soul.

13. What is your guilty pleasure?

Probably watching really bad Euro-trash/exploitation horror movies and finding something relevant in them and being very (way too) entertained. I mean, some really heinous crapola. But I love watching the bad stuff. Those movies had heart and soul, no matter how shitty their production values. You can feel it when you watch them Unlike the modern, big studio, "let's throw stuff at the screen and call it a movie" bad stuff. They're made for morons. They have no heart, no soul, and most of them you can't even call proper 'horror'. They're really just video games on the big screen, made for people who don't really care about the steady, depressing down slide of American horror cinema.
But don't get me started. HA!
Find me a convention and we'll discuss it.

Nickolas has had dozens of short stories and non-fiction reviews and articles published in print and electronic formats. He has been the fiction moderator for for over four years. To date, his three published novels, THE BLACK BEAST OF ALGERNON WOOD (Dailey Swan Publishing), BALEFUL EYE ( Publishing) and ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND from Coscom Entertainment, all of which have received several positive reviews and he’s been said to display a true craftsmanship missing in much of modern horror. His upcoming all-original, novel length sequel to the hit, ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND, is ALICE AND THE QUEEN OF THE DEAD, soon to be released from Coscom Entertainment. His first short story collection, 'ROUND MIDNIGHT AND OTHER TALES OF LOST SOULS, will be released September 2010 from Damnation Books. And his forthcoming 2nd novel with Dailey Swan Publishing, PAINT IT BLACK, is due out in 2011. His work has been compared to the quiet horror masters of old, such as M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood and Robert Aickman, with a twist of bebop jazz for good measure. To contact the author, email