In the last of my series of interviews with Guns & Romances contributors (go get your copy now if you're in the mood for a selection of action-packed, lust-fuelled tales) I've got Matt R Jones stopping by for a few questions.
Welcome, Matt. Tell us a little bit more about yourself.
(R)Evolution By Night series, formerly known as the Hollywood Vampires series. I love vampires, horror, science fiction, comedy, monsters, and vintage genre films and comic books...I incorporate all of those things, and then some, into the (R)Evolution series. Because why shouldn’t a violent, bloody encounter between vampires and creatures from another dimension at least have a few moments of silliness?
Tell us more about your story and what you enjoyed about writing it.
“The Dance” has been a piece of unfinished business since 1997, having gone through several drafts and variations in the ensuing years, with each version getting just a little closer to the story I’d always envisioned it as. Having a chance to write this final, definitive version was immensely satisfying, and it finally felt like I put the damned story to bed.
“The Dance” is a peek into the relationship between the enigmatic vampire Wade (from the Unholy War duology) and the bright-eyed, playfully murderous vampiress known as Raven. This isn’t an origin story, and it’s not a final chapter, either, but one of a long series of brutally screwball run-ins between the two powerhouse immortals. Some couples argue over the bills, the thermostat, or where to put the washrag on the sink--it’s part of life, and part of the relationship, right? Wade and Raven, on the other hand, have been trying to kill one another since the waning days of the Roman Empire, and it’s an arrangement that works for them...though it could be argued it doesn’t work so well for anybody else in their general vicinity.
For this particular vignette, which takes place in a shit-hole bar on the bad side of Los Angeles, Raven has brought a new partner to their ongoing dance...an ancient, nigh-unstoppable creature from another dimension, which is simply out to kill everybody and everything it encounters because it’s colder than deep space and hungry as hell. Of course, she thinks it’s hilarious. She would. Wade begs to differ, and things are going to get ridiculously bloody, vicious, and explodey before all’s said and done.
Why do you think short fiction is important?
Not everybody has time to read a novel, and not everybody has the inclination to read a novel. Reading a novel is a pretty serious commitment, and even people who regularly read and love novels aren’t always in the market for 80 000 to 100 000 words...sometimes you just want to read something short and sweet. It’s fun to sit down and read something start to finish in a single sitting! Short fiction is a way for an author to present a complete, fully-realized story to the reader without asking for the massive time commitment.
There’s also the fact that not every story needs an entire novel to be told. Ray Bradbury was the master of presenting a whole world to the reader in just a few short pages, as were Richard Matheson and H.P. Lovecraft (though admittedly, Lovecraft’s short stories tended to run a bit long). People who complain about Stephen King’s monstrous tomes should really check out his short fiction, as King can totally kill in the short form.
A well-written short story is, in some ways, more satisfying than a full novel. Because the story’s shorter, everything is compressed...big events come faster, pacing is increased, resolution is reached swiftly, and the author is forced to build their world with a few well-crafted sentences or paragraphs rather than spend page after page on exposition.
Working in the short form has the benefit of forcing an author to up their game and choose their words carefully, and even if an author’s strength is in telling monstrous, sprawling epics, there’s a lot to be learned from having a limited word-count and being economical while telling a tale.
Well-written short fiction is a win for both author and reader.
What is your favourite short story?
Probably either H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer In Darkness” or Ray Bradbury’s “The Million-Year Picnic.” “Whisperer” is a slow, fascinating build, laden with cosmic dread, and the way Lovecraft melded sci-fi elements with horror blew me away. “Picnic,” on the other hand is short and bittersweet...even though the world’s come to an end, Bradbury ensures you don’t mourn its loss, and leaves you with wistful hope for the future.
Have you got upcoming projects you'd like to talk about?
I’ve also finished writing the first Unholy War follow-up novella, Fallen Star, which further mixes the combination of horror, sci-fi, and action found within “The Dance,” and I’ll be figuring out a release and all that good stuff for it in the near future, as well.
And I’ve got a big backlog of (R)Evolution By Night material that I’m looking to reissue over the next couple of years, as well, so there shouldn’t be any short of stuff from me to keep your eyes open for! So many stories, so little time...