Interview with Michael J Moore
Author of After the Change
Michael J Moore lives in Seattle, Washington. His books include the bestselling post-apocalyptic novel, After the Change. His work has appeared in Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Horrorzine Magazine, Schlock Magazine, Minutes Before Six, Terror House Magazine, Siren's Call Magazine, Hellbound Books anthology Ghosts, Spirits and Specters, has been adapted for theater and produced in the Seattle area, is used as curriculum at the University of Washington and has received an Honorable Mention in the L.Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. His short stories will also be released by Rainfall Books, Horror Tree – Trembling with Fear, Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine, Transmundane Press and Soteira Press.
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In your own writing, which character of yours do you relate to most?
- I relate most to Gabriela Urieta, from Ninja Girl. (set to be released this year by Rainier Publishing House). I've written the first two books in her series, and both times I've been able to connect with her on a very personal level.
Do you read your own genre? Is it a favourite?
- Of course my own genre is my favourite. I write in two genres, horror and young adult. I don't read books in these genres because it's what I write, though. I write the books because it's what I would like to read.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
- I grew up in a small town about an hour north of Seattle. Since I was young, I've always had a strange infatuation with big cities though. I really enjoy traveling and admiring the different architectural layouts of cities I haven't been to.
Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
- Moods. Emotions. Reflections. It all pretty much stems from internal experiences that I've done my best to recreate through stories.
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on it and what can we do to break past these assumptions?
- I've had people look at me funny when I tell them I write horror. Some have even laughed. I don't let it bother me when people refuse to take the genre seriously. If they miss out on a good story because of incorrect assumptions, it's their loss. The bottom line is good writing is good writing, regardless of genre or even topic. A well written story should provide emotional payoff, and not just fear. With horror, fear is merely the vehicle that gets us there. There's always going to be the stigma that scary stories are nothing more than excuses to glorify gratuitous violence and gore. I don't think we need to reprogram the way people think though. Just keep writing what we want to write, and let them read what they want to read. The pieces will fall into place on their own. There will always be an audience, just like there will always be critics.
A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world. Where do you see horror going in the next few years?
- The social issues haven't changed. Throughout history, they've always been the same--racism, classism, poverty, corrupt politicians, etc.--they've only manifested in different ways at different times. There will always be stories that hinge on the gloomy potential consequences of these things. And a lot of it has, and will continue to be great fiction. A lot of recent horror, however, has been influenced more by style than social climate. Writers are trying to offer situations and monsters that haven't been used before. I think we can expect to continue to be surprised.
What are the books and films that have helped define you as an author?
- From the time I was old enough to enjoy television, I was watching old scary movies with my Mom. I would save every penny I found until I had a dollar to rent a VHS from the horror section. I remember one time when I was ten or eleven, my mom pulled Sleep Away Camp off of the rack and said, "Michael, you have to watch this one. You'll love it." I fell in love with RL Stine as soon as I learned to read. One day I found a box of dusty Stephen King and VC Andrew books in the closet. I tore through “The Shining” in three days when I was eight. Regretfully, I didn't subject myself to the traumatization caused by Flowers in the Attic until twenty years later.
What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice of?
- Tom Richey and John Hunt
How would you describe your writing style?
- I like to approach social issues without beating you over the head with them. My style is meant to take you for a fun ride, not tell you how or what to think.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative, that have stayed with you?
- Recently the guitar player for My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult wrote in a blurb that he was patiently strumming his guitar, waiting for one of my sequels to be released. I thought it was pretty awesome, since that band was not only on the soundtrack, but appeared on The Crow. That was my favorite movie as a Kid.
Diego Conner is at school when his world changes. As soon as his classmates start killing each other, he runs. Then, when he gets home, his parents try to eat him. They aren’t zombies though. They are alive and can be killed. He simply calls them “The Changed”.
The only people he knows who haven’t changed are his friends, Sheena and Wes. With their families gone, the fifteen year olds are forced to look out for each other. But how will they survive? Who can Diego turn to? Is it Wes, a born leader or Cali, the only girl he knows? Together, can they find survivors and a new way of life? Can they face a new journey – one filled with brainless, flesh eating monsters? The prison awaits.