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Mason Cole

answers the Usual Questions

photo, Mason Cole, courtesy of the author; 220x220

Mason Cole

American author Mason Cole says of himself, "He wanders the New Orleans night, in search of stories. Sometimes, he finds them -- other times, they find him.

He doesn't believe in ghosts, but he sees them all the time."

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

There was this one guy -- he was dressed as a TIE Fighter pilot and he was obsessed with zombies. Not like a fan of the genre, though -- he didn't know who George Romero was, and didn't read zombie fiction: he believed zombies were not only possible but inevitable, and he informed me that the very place in which the convention was being held would soon host a Gun Show -- and that he was going to attend and buy himself a gun. For when the zombies came.

But stories like that, while fun, are not representative of the encounters I've had -- the vast majority of folks who love this stuff do so in ways that are not delusional or alarming...

There's no rush quite like hearing from someone who enjoyed one of my stories or novels. Knowing that they spent time with my words and found them to be worth their time... it's the second best thing about being a writer.

(The best thing being the huge royalty checks. I assume. Having yet to receive one.)

But I'm not quite answering your question: encounters with readers typically doesn't affect my work, but just this week, a very enthusiastic review of my first novel, Pray to Stay Dead, resulted in my beginning preliminary work on its follow-up.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

Receiving glowing praise from Poppy Z. Brite and Jack Ketchum. I still go back and read those blurbs. In fact, it was Poppy's reaction to Pray to Stay Dead ("Write me another one") that I mention in the previous answer.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Stephen King. I grew up in a house that wasn't in love with reading. Aside from several display copies of the Bible, some Bible encyclopedias, and an assortment of books about the Old West and UFOs, there weren't many books in my house when I was a child -- and certainly no novels.

My mom showed me Universal's Frankenstein when I was three. I watched a lot of TV, a lot of movies, and my brother's Famous Monsters Of Filmland were always lying around. Pretty much as far back as I can remember, I was a Monster Kid. This was the late seventies/early eighties, so naturally I was aware of Stephen King -- through the movies based on his novels, not through the novels themselves...

And then I got my first King book, Night Shift, when I was twelve. I immersed myself in King, and quickly moved on to others. King's work was my path to reading and writing (didn't help me much with arithmetic, however).

Other influences include Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, Kurt Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, Alan Moore, Lawrence Block, and Ray Bradbury.

And George A. Romero -- don't even get me started on Romero...

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

It would have to be a lift ON a spaceship, and I'd have to be trapped with Han Solo, sometime before the events of A New Hope, when he was just an asshole pirate drug smuggler and the Rebellion hadn't softened him up. I'd get lessons from him on being cool.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Harrison Ford, circa today. He seems perpetually annoyed, although I guess it would be fun to smoke out with him and make cabinets. Not in the elevator, mind you -- the cabinets, I mean. Not enough room. Smoking out in an elevator is fine.

Oh, never mind -- I change my answer: an OCTOPUS! Being trapped in an elevator with an octopus would be the WORST. That movie that Shyamalan produced a few years back, Devil? Woulda been so much creepier if it had been called Octopus.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

Wow -- a hopeful variation on the "desert island" scenario. Assuming my living quarters in space are as accommodating as your average dorm, I'd want my wife and a stack of books I haven't read yet, and one or two that I already have.

Beam me up.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

Obtaining an audience large enough to pay me to write for them for the rest of my life. A novelist is an artist in search of benefactors. They've been branded an "audience," but they're benefactors, and they're the most beautiful gift a writer can receive: ears who listen and who like your work enough to pay you to keep doing it.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

If Twin Peeks were a question, it would be that last question. It speaks to this sense of importance the novelist places upon the act of writing -- this is church for us, and church is writing and thinking about writing and talking about writing, amen.

My work is the special satisfaction of my work.

submitted by Mason Cole

10 October 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: Down the road from New Orleans, two years before STAR WARS came out...
Resides: Down the road from New Orleans, a year and two months before STAR WARS comes out...
Pray to Stay Dead
Buster Voodoo
In Her Hand a Rag, a Rope (a story)

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