Monday, January 4, 2016

Brian Kirk We Are Monsters - Author Interview and {Giveaway}


CM: First of all, I would like to thank Brian for joining me today and taking the time for this interview.

Well that sure is nice. I’m happy to chat with you and appreciate the time you’re taking for this as well. Look at us! We’re on our way to becoming proper chums. 

CM: Your new novel, We Are Monsters, came out in July to wide praise. Congrats! Can you tell us a little about it?

Yes, and thank you. We Are Monsters is my debut novel, literally making it a dream come true. Although all books are basically dreams that have come true when you really think about it. I mean, isn’t a book basically the end result of someone extracting the contents of some subconscious dream-state into the material realm. But that’s off topic, and perhaps too esoteric for this early on in the interview. My apologies.

We Are Monsters is a story about a brilliant, yet troubled psychiatrist named Alex Drexler who is working to create a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as you may imagine) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.

I am overwhelmed by the reception it has received so far from readers, professional critics, and some of my favorite authors who have been kind enough to endorse it, including Mercedes M. Yardley, John F.D. Taff, Jonathan Moore, and Brian Keene. 

CM: Was there an inspiration behind the writing of We Are Monsters

I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness. The idea that our own brains can turn against us is terrifying. It’s the ultimate enemy; it knows our deepest secrets and it’s something we can’t escape. 

I also have a great deal of sympathy for people who suffer mental heath disorders. I’ve dealt with OCD all of my life, which produces chronic anxiety, negative thought loops, and periods of depression. No fun, I’ll tell you. And I feel that mental disease is misunderstood by our society at large. In fact, many people who are mentally ill are often labeled as evil or deranged, which I feel is unfair, and precludes us from exploring proper treatment options. 

I suppose I found the subject both fascinating and deeply personal, and I wanted to explore it further, so I wrote about it. 

CM: This is your debut novel, but I also read in your bio that you are a freelance writer. Was breaking into writing fiction difficult for you? 

I grew up a voracious reader with a love for telling stories. But then I went to college and figured it was time to put aside this frivolous pastime and get serious about pursuing a “career.” I studied marketing and took a job at an ad agency, which was the most creative line of work I could find that paid real money. But it wasn’t fulfilling. I was miserable. I still had this intense desire to tell stories that wouldn’t go away. 

So I started writing short stories in the evenings and on the weekends, and then I began submitting them for publication. After accruing a massive stack of rejections for a couple of years, I finally sold one. Then another. After a while I decided to quit my full time job at the ad agency to work freelance and write a book. That’s how We Are Monsters came about.

CM: Do you have aspirations to write in other genres besides horror?

I aspire to tell stories that are entertaining, meaningful, and emotionally engaging. For some reason these stories typically have dark underpinnings, and most likely always will to varying degrees. I don’t really think in terms of genre, however, until it comes time to find a market for the story. 

I’m currently working on a trilogy of dark sci-fi thrillers, so I’ve already strayed outside of horror a bit. Although there are sections within each book that are certainly horrific. 

CM: Have you been inspired by any particular books or movies? What is your favorite horror novel and/or movie? 

I’m always finding inspiration through others’ work. I love to read books that are so good they intimidate me and make me feel helplessly inferior. That’s where inspiration comes from. David Mitchell is an author who does this for me on a regular basis. Cloud Atlas made me want to quit writing, then made me want to do it better. Quentin Tarantino provides the same kind of inspiration on the film side. 

Regarding my favorite horror novel, I’d say The Stand by Stephen King, with Peter Straub’s Ghost Story being a close second. 

My favorite horror movie is The Shining, with Event Horizon being a close second.

CM: What books would we find on your nightstand? Any recommendations (besides your own book, of course)? 

Right now you’d find Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale, who is quickly becoming my favorite contemporary writer. There’s nothing he can’t do. I keep a recommended reading page on my website where I write about books that have inspired me. His novel Mucho Mojo made the list, and here’s what I had to say about Lansdale, whom I highly recommend to readers of all kinds.
There are many reasons why you should be reading Joe R. Lansdale. Here are a few:
  • He writes like Ernest Hemingway, but is more fun to read. Thus, by extension, and in my humble opinion, he is a better writer than Hemingway.
  • He embodies the best qualities of a writer. He’s incredibly talented, but does not rest on talent alone. Read his writing advice and you’ll soon learn he maintains his prolific pace the same way a construction worker builds tract homes. By waking up at the crack of dawn with a lunch pale and a hard hat and going to work. He doesn’t wait for inspiration to come.
  • He can, and does, write anything he wants, crossing genres and making up some of his own. You like horror, westerns, sci-fi, or literary books? You’ll like Lansdale.
  • He can make you laugh, make you cry, and scare the living shit out of you.
  • He is constantly churning out books, and they’re all really good.
Another writer to keep an eye on is Jonathan Moore. His debut novel Redheads was a Bram Stoker Award® finalist and received the praise of Jack Ketchum. His follow-up Close Reach was one of my favorite novels of the year. And his next release The Poison Artist, which comes out in January 2016, has received advance praise from Lee Child, Justin Cronin, and the almighty Stephen King. I have it pre-ordered and can’t wait for it to arrive. 

CM: And last, but not least, what do you have in store for your readers next?

Thanks for asking. First, I have a new short story titled Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave coming out in the anthology, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, alongside two of my idols: Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. When one of the editors, Doug Murano, announced the story he said, “This is the kind of story that starts book burning parties,” which leads me to believe the story works. I’m honored to be part of this project, and can’t wait for the anthology to come out.

In addition, I am currently working on the second book in a trilogy of dark sci-fi thrillers. The first book is complete and currently in the hands of a literary agent whom I’ve recently signed with. We are putting the final touches on the book and plan to submit it to publishers early next year. 

CM: Thanks again for joining me today, Brian. I look forward to hosting you and your books in the future here at Castle Macabre.

Thank you for having me! And I look forward to being back.

In the meantime, I invite anyone interested to connect with me through one of the following channels. Don’t worry. I only kill my characters.

Brian Kirk

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads


About We Are Monsters
Samhain Horror (July 7, 2015)

The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum.

He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.

Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.

Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.


About the author
Brian Kirk lives in Atlanta with his beautiful wife and rambunctious identical twin boys. He works as a freelance writer in addition to writing fiction, and is currently working on the second book in a planned trilogy. We Are Monsters is his debut release. Feel free to connect with him online. Don't worry, he only kills his characters.

See more about Brian at: http://briankirkblog.com/

Follow Brian on Facebook and Twitter. He's found on Twitter at @Brian_Kirk and looks forward to connecting with you.

Praise for We Are Monsters
“Keep an eye on Brian Kirk. His ambitious debut, We Are Monsters, is a high-voltage thrill, like watching Sam Fuller’s Shock Corridor and Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners on split screens. ” — Jonathan Moore, Bram Stoker Award nominated author of Redheads

"We Are Monsters is fantastic -- a frightening and intense thriller and one hell of a debut novel. I was blown away. Brian Kirk is exactly what readers need -- a talented new voice with original, awe-inspiring ideas that can push the genre forward."
-Brian Keene, best-selling author of Ghoul and The Rising

"Brian Kirk's debut We Are Monsters is a smart, elaborate novel that weaves together the best and worst of us. Complex, terrifying, and still humane, this book moved me to both horror and compassion, and that's a difficult thing indeed. Easily the best book I've read this year." (Mercedes M. Yardley, author of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy.)

"A tightly woven tale from an author who has a heart, and that makes me excited to see what else Kirk has in store for us. The whole story will have you examining the human race as never before." (Ginger Nuts of Horror)

"Brian Kirk's debut novel We Are Monsters is a sure bet. A hippy-trippy jaunt that goes deep into the baser things we keep bottled up... and what happens when they're freed. Highly recommended!" (John F.D. Taff, Bram Stoker nominated author of The End In All Beginnings.)

"A disturbing, gets-under-your-skin debut novel. I expect to read much more from Kirk in the future." (Robert Ford, author of The Compound and Samson and Denial.)


"Cleverly told. Psychologically complex." (Scarlet's Web)

"A gorgeous display of conceivable terror that resonates long after reading." (Ranked as one of the Top Ten Horror Novels of 2015 by Best-Horror-Movies.net)

Buy the Book
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Samhain

Giveaway
Enter via the Rafflecopter from below to win a $25 Amazon gift card from Brian Kirk! You can perform several tasks for entering each day here or at each stop that posts the giveaway link. Best of luck! Hurry...giveaway ends in three days!
a Rafflecopter giveaway




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