I stumbled upon this the other day and thought it would be perfect to re-post. It is just as relevant now as it was when first posted by Zack Kullis. Since then, Zack and I have come to be great friends. We greatly respect each others work and are even working on a collaboration of short stories in a collection called Club Blaze. Zack has written some really bad-ass tales in this one, ones that truly bend the parameters of horror.
If you're really nice and visit his website and read his other posts, he might share what's in his hookah with you. Then, on the other hand, he might shove you deep inside it. Hmmn. There's a story there.
Our passage through darkness continues as we stalk the Damned. I
take you on this journey with iniquitous excitement, knowing full well
that that we might not leave this sinister realm.
We pass into depths full of woe and fright, of Mephistophelian
delights where Cthulhu still walks with the Elder Gods. Close your eyes
if you wish. Take my cloak for guidance, but know it is far too late
The descent takes us down a path filled with smoke, heat, and the
growing sounds of another being. Rounding a corner, we find a large
figure standing back from a hellish fire. His face is unreadable in the
red glow, but the malice and cunning in his eyes makes us falter in
“This is Blaze”, I whisper in your ear. “Let me speak for both of us…”
Blaze, we would parley with you, as we are stalking the Damned. You
have a number of stories with Pen of the Damned, some of which are “Ashes to Ashes, Blood to Blood”, “The Enforcer”, and “The Steps of Fear”.
Your stories range from creepy to absolutely visceral. You once
said “I feel we need to challenge the barriers to what lurks in the
unknown.” Could you expand on that, and did you ever have any
experiences that gave you an affinity for things that lurk in the
unknown, or that gave you an affinity for the unknown itself?
I’m an older writer, Zack, and with that
comes a great deal of life experiences. Unfortunately for me, the bulk
of that experience seems to have been rooted in things that are not
pleasant. Death, failed relationships, pain, disease, and even a life as
a child that was anything but pleasant. However, these experiences and
my empathy for the common woman/man who gets his ass knocked down at
every opportunity give me a purpose in life. I am compelled to write
about the Dark. The Dark is real. Someone else can write about glory
days of daisies and sweet dreams. That crap is foreign to what lurks
inside my soul. On a positive note, I never run out of things to write
As far as knocking down barriers to what
lurks in the unknown, not enough is written about new conceptual
possibilities. Too much of the same dog and pony show. It is time we
kick those barriers apart and delve into truly horrible scenarios
floating through the minds of those who are tormented beyond return.
Like most of my stories, “The Steps Of
Fear” was festering inside me long before I wrote it. The longer these
tales reside within me, the Darker they become. Add in infidelity, a
total distrust for the psychiatric profession, which I view as a bunch
of non professionals and ill educated morons, and you have “The Steps Of
Fear.” Okay, I’ve pissed off the whole world of psychiatric
“professionals,” but I don’t care. They need to step up to the plate and
do their jobs. Other ideas hit me in a flash, but some are rot-gut,
deep-rooted horror all the way.
What is your favorite part of being a member of Pen of the Damned? My favorite part of being a member of The Pen Of The Damned is
that they put up with my bullshit. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t lie; I
merely tell it like it is and they say, “Okay, Blaze is writing some
wonky crap again.” Plus the ten of us are pretty Damned talented people
and work at the craft. Notice the word WORK. It’s not merely pretty
words for us. We spew the venom on the pages before us.
Do you have a favorite author, or is there a particular author who influenced your writing? My favorite author is Edgar Allan Poe. No one else can compare to
him. I enjoy reading all the great authors; Hemingway, Steinbeck,
Twain, Spillane, and so many others, but there was only one Poe. The man
was a God. My style is mine now that I’ve stopped the ghostwriting
thing, thank God. I do not wish to write in the style of anyone other
You have been a ghostwriter for over 75 novels. That is one hell of a
feat. Your dark mind must be full of characters and back stories. Can
you tell us about any of those novels, or could you give us advice on
how to reach that literary level? Because of the legal ramifications, I can’t really say anything
about the past novels I’ve written as a ghostwriter, other than the fact
my last one was used by an author who accepted the Stoker for it. True,
my name was not to have been acknowledged as being the true author, but
as far as professional integrity goes, had it been me, I would have
refused the Stoker. I refused to write any more of them. These guys are
on their own as far as I’m concerned now. Thus, I have very little
regard for awards for any of the arts. Beauty for our readers is in the
eyes and minds of each individual who reads our tomes. Some people love
blood, gore, and splatter. Others don’t. All art is discretional. We can’t please everyone. As far as
reaching my “literary level,” it’s merely one word after another. No
science to that. Let your “Story people” write your tale for you and
throw the damned outlines out.
What do you enjoy about dark literature? Dark literature is a no holds barred way to pen the truth. Sure,
horror writers embellish the tales, but at the very core of our stories,
there is always the truth. Do you want to be truly scared? Read “The
Pit And The Pendulum” and feel that blade coming at you. That story goes
to the very soul of what humanity fears the most.
Is it easier for you to compose and write the part of a protagonist, or the part of an antagonist? Why? Most of my new stories are written in first person, present
tense, and as such, the protagonist’s view is portrayed. No fly on the
wall crap for me any more. However, I also believe that the visual
within the soul of the protagonist certainly displays the beasts in
their most evil state. However, I have written tales where I wrote first
person tense for both, merely alternating chapters to capture their
inner thinking. So, to answer the question, I can, and do, write either
part with relish.
What is the next piece of meat on your dinner plate? What does Blaze how in store for us? My next piece of meat consists of a huge steer running across a
vast field. I have novels coming out this year, tales in anthologies,
short stories, and collections of shorts. I also have a long non-fiction
story which I will present as fiction so I don’t have to change
anything. Most of the folks are dead anyway. I have some YA stories
coming and some poetry: you guessed it; it’s Dark. While I have novel
series comprised of horror/action/psychological meanderings, I also have
some others that are simply Dark, psychological horror, like in “Ashes
To Ashes, Blood To Blood.” That tale was so totally original that it
blew my mind away. I disgusted some people with that one, so I got the
results I wanted. Yes, I write of conventional monsters, albeit in
unconventional ways, but I wish to write about new monsters as well.
There are some in my soul ready to jump out on the page now. One of
these bad boys is in an upcoming novel series. I’m rather proud of the
conceptual imagery of these tales. I won’t say anything more about them
other than the first one is titled, “The Devil’s Tongue.” Thank you for
this interview, Zack, and remember that you will be the protagonist in
my next tale for The Pen Of The Damned. Oh, yeah, baby!