I am absolutely thrilled and delighted to have been asked to be a part of Adam Howe’s Die Dog or Eat The Hatchet Publicity Blog Tour. I am even more delighted to be closing the tour down with an awesome Q&A ! I have had the pleasure (?? hmmm lol) to read and review Black Cat Mojo and Die Dog or Eat The Hatchet when both were originally published. The links to these reviews can be found below and I would absolutely suggest you have a quick read before you read the Q&A as I think it may give you a feel for why I asked the questions I did. A big CrimeBookJunkie *THANKS* to Adam!! So let’s see what Mr Howe has to say…..
CBJ: Underneath that layer of complete madness lies Adam Howe – what can you tell us about the normal, everyday you? Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
You seem to picture me as some slavering lunatic, scrawling his lurid imaginings on the wall of a rubber room in the asylum… Which isn’t far off the mark. Nah, I’m just a regular Joe. Well, regular-ish. I’m a British writer of fiction and screenplays. I write Americana in the crime/horror genres. My partner and I live in South London with our Jack Russell terrier. We’re expecting our first human child in July. The missus and me, I mean. Not the dog. Though it’s not for want of trying.
I spent my primary school years in Australia, before returning to the UK in my pre-teens; and all through that time I was scribbling away. My break as a writer came when Stephen King chose my short story Jumper as the winner of his On Writing contest, an international competition for unpublished writers to pen a King-style short story. My winning story was published in the paperback and Kindle editions of Steve’s book, and for the grand prize, I traveled to NYC for an audience with The King.
After that, I spent a few years writing screenplays, with so-so success, though nothing I wrote ever made it to the big screen, before returning to writing prose fiction. In March 2015, Comet Press published my debut collection, Black Cat Mojo, followed by my second book, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet. And much to my surprise, readers seem to like ‘em.
CBJ: Your stories and characters are completely off the scale, and I mean so far off I shake my head and feel slightly sick after reading your books… where in the world does your mind have to go to in order to get those stories out?
I’ll take the first part as a compliment, thanks… I don’t ingest large quantities of psychedelics before setting down to write. In fact, I’m a teetotaler. Wasn’t always the case. I’m a reformed hellraiser. Five years sober now. Can you believe it actually took me getting sober and (ahem) ‘sane’ to start writing this crazy stuff? The truth is, I don’t know where it comes from…it’s just in there. And for the sake of my sanity, better it’s out of my head and onto the page, right?
My main influences are crime/horror fiction, true-crime, horror movies of the 70s and 80s, action movies of the 80s/mid-90s, the American ‘shock’ comedians of the pre-PC 90s, Looney Tunes cartoons; when you add to that the ‘weird news’ stories of the world wide web, you get something approaching my style.
For instance, ‘Of Badgers and Porn Dwarfs’ from the Black Cat Mojo collection was inspired by a hoax news article claiming that celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s porn dwarf lookalike, that might of been seen in content on websites similar to Tubev homemade had been discovered, partially devoured, in a badger sett. Most people would read the article, chuckle and move on with their lives; me, I had to write about it. Or the scene in ‘Jesus in a Dog’s Ass,’ in which my dumbass crooks attempt to steal a tainted urine sample from a prison medical truck; this actually happened. So, I like to fictionalize those ‘you couldn’t make it up’ stories.
CBJ: Is there anything off-limits that you just would not write about? And if yes…why?
I don’t write solely to shock – that just seems to happen – so long as it’s organic to the story, anything and everything is fair game. That’s especially important when it comes to writing comedy, and I consider most of my stories, even the extreme stuff, to be black comedies – I believe Hitchcock said something similar about his work. That said, I’m a storyteller at heart, and my primary purpose is to entertain the reader. Nobody wants to read sympathetic portrayals of paedophiles, or graphic depictions of animal torture, things like that, anymore than I wish to write them. I may write about taboo subjects, but tone is important.
CBJ: What is one question that you have never been asked / wish someone would ask? Then answer it!
You seriously expect me to pose my own questions? The bloody cheek of it! What kinda half-assed outfit are you running here, Holten? Alright, how’s this…
Q: Mr. Howe [I’m very formal with myself], with a baby on the way, is it true that unless my readers buy all your books, the child will starve? A: Yes, Noelle, I’m afraid it is. Please ask them to give generously.
CBJ: You are going to be a dad soon, how do you think this will change your writing? Or will it?
Bedtime reading should be interesting, eh?
“Tell me the one about the dwarf porn star again, dad!”
It’s hard to say. I really have no idea what to expect, how fatherhood will change me… If you were to remove from my work the profanity, the violence, the sleaze, the enjoyment of Abbie G on webcam shows online – am I missing anything – I think there’s much for a child to enjoy. My brother-in-law told me I write about the kinda stuff his six-year old daughter likes, animals and bodily functions. I think he meant it as a compliment. Still, I wouldn’t want him reading some of my books until he was old enough, just as I wouldn’t want him on sites like collegeporn.xxx until then.
CBJ: What do your friends and family think of your novellas?
My family and friends know how long I’ve been at this writing lark, so they’re pleased I’m finally getting some recognition. But I imagine they probably share your slightly nauseated reaction, followed by feelings of intense shame for having enjoyed ‘em so much. When I proudly presented ‘Of Badgers and Porn Dwarfs’ to my mum, her words were, “Who’s going to want to read this?” Not the other members of her genteel book club, it would seem. But she gets what I’m doing now. I think the positive reviews helped! My dad isn’t a reader, so god knows what he makes of it all. But he’s a bit of a storyteller himself – which is a polite way of saying ‘bullshit artist’ – and shares my dark sense of humour. Mostly he’s impressed that I can sit still for so long to write.
My biggest supporter is my partner, Suzie. Her personal reading tastes are for more mainstream crime thrillers – Michael Connelly, John Connelly…it seems any Connelly will do – though I continue trying to corrupt her, not least with my own work. In fact, you have Suzie to thank (or blame) for my novella Damn Dirty Apes, in which a misfit posse embarks on a backwoods safari to rescue their friend from a randy Bigfoot-style creature. I ran that one past her – “So there’s this porn star from a website similar to Nu Bay, wearing a monkey costume who gets abducted as a sexual mate by a skunk ape” – much to my surprise she encouraged me to write it, and it turned out to be the most fun I’ve had writing.
CBJ: Both Black Cat Mojo and Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet have some serious messed up characters who do some seriously messed up things. I am kind of afraid to ask this…but are any of your characters based on people you know?
You mean, apart from my well-endowed dwarf friend, Stumpy? No, I’m afraid/relieved to say that all my characters are fictional, though drawn from real life here and there. For instance, the character of Horace Croker, from the Gator Bait novella, is based on a true-crime case, that of Joe ‘The Alligator Man’ Ball. Happened in Texas around the Prohibition days; Ball was a bootlegger and tavern owner who entertained his guests with live-feedings of the alligators he kept in a pit behind his place…and entertained himself by feeding young women to the beasts. When the law finally cottoned onto him, Ball shot himself dead before he could be arrested. The gator pit was drained, and found to contain a mess of human bones… The Joe Ball story has since grown into legend, so it’s hard to separate fact from fiction, but I’d always wanted to write about it. And you know what they say; between the truth and the legend, print the legend.
CBJ: Are there any other genres would be keen to write and what are they?
Well, my stuff kinda blends genres anyway. I guess you could broadly define it as crime, with horror elements, laced with black humour. I have more ‘mainstream’ stories I’d like to write, but all within the crime/horror genres. What can I say? I like what I like, and write the stuff I want to read.
CBJ: What are you currently reading?
I’m researching a project set during the Vietnam war so right now I’m reading a lot of ‘Nam fiction/non-fiction. And I recently read and enjoyed Hard Case Crime’s novelisation of The Nice Guys, the new Russell Crowe/Ryan Gosling movie. I’m a big fan of the screenwriter Shane Black, who wrote stuff like Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, and Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. Guy stuff! Black was a huge influence on me as a younger writer. Can’t wait to see the movie. If the book’s any indication, it should be great fun. Your readers should check out the publisher Hard Case Crime, who publish neglected pulp classics, and neo-pulps by lesser-known crime writers.
CBJ: What projects do we have to look forward to…and will I need to book my therapist in advance?
Coming up next is Tijuana Donkey Showdown, the ‘eagerly anticipated’ sequel to the Damn Dirty Apes novella from the Die Dog collection, in which my hapless hero, ex-boxer turned strip club bouncer Reggie Levine, is recruited by a seedy used-car salesman to retrieve the man’s Chinese crested terrier from a roadside zoo, where the dog has been mistaken for a chupacabra, and finds himself embroiled in a bonkers criminal conspiracy. This one’s pretty crazy, even by my standards. You may want to have your therapist read it to you, and redact the parts she feels might tip you over the edge. I’d say, “Bill me,” but I don’t make enough money from this.
I’m also part of an anthology called Chopping Black Party due from Necro Press in October. All the stories are set on one particular street, the other writers and I have been given a house number, and briefed to write about the sordid shenanigans that occur behind closed doors. My story, Foreign Bodies, concerns ‘gerbilling,’ which as you know, Noelle, is the sexual practice in which a live rodent is inserted into the anal cavity. Each to their own, right?
And I’m currently collaborating with rising star American horror writer Adam Cesare on a period crime/horror project we’re pitching as Michael Mann’s Public Enemies meets John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Beyond that, I’ve cleared my schedule in anticipation of the baby’s arrival. I’d like to write the Vietnam piece I’ve hinted at, and my long-gestating novel, One Tough Bastard, but I’m wary of committing myself to any big projects until I’ve adjusted (ha!) to the change of being a dad.
CBJ: How would you describe your books to someone who has not read them before?
My work is unlikely to appeal to readers of a sensitive disposition, or the easily offended, but a quick glance at the synopses – or even this Q&A – should tell you if these stories are for you. One reviewer has described the Die Dog collection as reading like a drive-in movie triple-bill, which is a nice way of putting it.
Despite the lurid subject matter, I’d like to think my work is surprisingly accessible. My style is quite traditional, and as a screenwriter, very visual and fast-paced. And most of all funny, if you share my warped sense of humour. The characters are rich, albeit often morally bankrupt, in the noir tradition, and the stories themselves are packed with more incident than you’ll find in most full-length novels, so don’t be put off by the novella length.
I’d advise wary readers to take a punt on Gator Bait, which is available as an eBook single, or free to Kindle Unlimited readers, as well as being part of the Die Dog collection. This should give you a taste of my work, and hopefully leave you wanting more.
CBJ: What is your favourite movie of all time?
This is always subject to change, and current mood, but the movie that made the biggest impression on me as a child was Jaws. The scene in which the head jolts from the wrecked hull of the boat cured me of my kid-habit of sitting too close to the TV. In fact, Jaws led me to becoming a writer. After seeing Jaws, I wanted to be a shark hunter. Then a marine biologist. Then, when I finally realised Jaws was fiction, that someone had made it all up, a writer.
CBJ: What scares you or really freaks you out?
Well, I’m neurotic as hell, so pretty much everything worries me, but I can imagine little worse than being savaged and eaten alive by a wild animal. As a fearless young boy growing up in Australia, I’d collect in jars all kinds of creepy-crawlies, spiders and scorpions and giant centipedes, which in hindsight I realise could’ve killed me with one bite or sting; now I panic if there’s a bumblebee in the room. I remember holidaying at a beach house, discovering an old surfboard under our shack, I took it out into the ocean, waaaaay out there, couldn’t surf, just sat there, legs dangling in the water. Years later, I’d discover that this beach was known as the Great White shark attack capital of South Australia. How appetizingly seal-like I would’ve looked to any passing shark, perched there on my surfboard. Today you couldn’t get me in that ocean for love or money.
On a phobic level, there’s something called trypophobia that really turns my stomach. The phobia of clustered holes. Like a honeycomb, say. Especially holes where they shouldn’t be holes. In humans, for instance. I’ll wait while you keyword search ‘trypophobia in humans.’ …Nice, huh? Apparently this is a common phobic pressure point. This subconscious fear of clustered holes perhaps calls back to when our ancestors had to be on the lookout for cave-dwelling beasties; a primal fear that Adam Cesare and I hope to exploit in readers with our current work-in-progress.
CBJ: Is there anything you would like to ask me as a reviewer?
Oh, I’m asking the questions again, huh? Nope, don’t think so… But I do want to thank you for stepping out of your regular reading comfort zone and taking a chance on my work. It still tickles me to think that when I first subbed Black Cat Mojo to you, you thought you were being trolled.
*Some Links and Information About Adam Howe*
Tune into all the stops on the tour at the publicity page: https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/die-dog-or-eat-the-hatchetadam-howe-publicity-page/
Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, Synopsis
DAMN DIRTY APES
Washed-up prizefighter Reggie Levine is eking a living as a strip club bouncer when he’s offered an unlikely shot at redemption. The Bigelow Skunk Ape – a mythical creature said to haunt the local woods – has kidnapped the high school football mascot, Boogaloo Baboon. Now it’s up to Reggie to lead a misfit posse including a plucky stripper, the town drunk, and legend-in-his-own-mind skunk ape hunter Jameson T. Salisbury. Their mission: Slay the beast and rescue their friend. But not everything is as it seems, and as our heroes venture deeper into the heart of darkness, they will discover worse things waiting in the woods than just the Bigelow Skunk Ape. The story the Society for the Preservation of the North American Skunk Ape tried to ban; Damn Dirty Apes mixes Roadhouse with Jaws with Sons of Anarchy, to create a rollicking romp of 80s-style action/adventure, creature horror and pitch-black comedy.
DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET
Escaped mental patient Terrence Hingle, the butcher of five sorority sisters at the Kappa Pi Massacre, kidnaps timid diner waitress Tilly Mulvehill and bolts for the border. Forcing his hostage to drive him out of town, it’s just a question of time before Tilly becomes the next victim in Hingle’s latest killing spree. But when they stop for gas at a rural filling station operated by deranged twin brothers, Dwayne and Dwight Ritter, the tables are turned on Hingle, and for Tilly the night becomes a hellish cat-and-mouse ordeal of terror and depravity. The meat in a maniac sandwich, Tilly is forced against her nature to make a stand and fight for survival. Because sometimes the only choice you have is to do or die…to Die Dog Or Eat The Hatchet.
Prohibition-era 1930s… After an affair with the wrong man’s wife, seedy piano player Smitty Three Fingers flees the city and finds himself tinkling the ivories at a Louisiana honky-tonk owned by vicious bootlegger Horace Croker and his trophy wife, Grace. Folks come to The Grinnin’ Gator for the liquor and burlesque girls, but they keep coming back for Big George, the giant alligator Croker keeps in the pond out back. Croker is rumored to have fed ex-wives and enemies to his pet, so when Smitty and Grace embark on a torrid affair…what could possibly go wrong? Inspired by true events, Gator Bait mixes hardboiled crime (James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice) with creature horror (Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive) to create a riveting tale of suspense.
Listen to this sample reading from the book over at YouTube from the folks at Manor House:
Adam Howe writes the twisted fiction your mother warned you about. A British writer of fiction and screenplays, he lives in Greater London with his partner and their hellhound, Gino. Writing as Garrett Addams, his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of the On Writing contest, and published in the paperback/Kindle editions of SK’s book; he was also granted an audience with The King, where they mostly discussed slow vs. fast zombies. His fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Thuglit, The Horror Library, Mythic Delirium, Plan B Magazine, and One Buck Horror. He is the author of two collections, Black Cat Mojo and Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, plus the eBook single, Gator Bait. Future works include Tijuana Donkey Showdown, One Tough Bastard, and a crime/horror collaboration with Adam Tribesmen Cesare.
Find him on Twitter at @Adam_G_Howe.
Praise for Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet
“It’s an explicit, hard-hitting, twisted funhouse ride into pulpish horror wrapped loosely in a tattered skein of irreverent, jet black humor. In short, it’s a freakin’ blast.” –Walt Hicks, author of Dirge of the Forgotten
“With Die Dog Or Eat the Hatchet, Adam Howe hasn’t written one of my favorite books of the year, he’s actually written three of my favorites. Stories that are tight, toned, and genre-confounding. Horror fans and crime fans are going to come to blows over who gets to claim Howe as one of their own, but they’re both going to be wrong because Howe’s his own thing.” – Adam Cesare, author of Tribesmen and Mercy House
“The recipe for Adam Howe’s DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET is: Two parts Joe Lansdale, One part Justified, and a heavy dose of WTF. The result is a swampy cocktail darker than any backwoods hayride, stronger than the meanest Sasquatch, and crazier than anything you’ll find chicken-fried at your local state fair.”-Eryk Pruitt, author of Hashtag and Dirtbags
“Adam Howe proves with the three stories in this book that he can basically write anything. And write it very well indeed. To summarise: A three novella collection that you absolutely must have in your collection. I give this one the highest possible recommendation that I can.” -Nev, Confessions of a Reviewer
“Adam Howe’s “Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet,” is equal parts terror and fun, his dark comedic voice dances through each of the works in this collection to create engaging stories filled with bars, dames, rabid dogs, and an ape with one hell of a right hook.”(Nathan Crazybear/Splatterpunk Zine)
“Once again this author has sucked me into the darkness of his stories and unleashed the twisted, disgusting and stomach churning madness that I come to expect. In fact, I would have been very disappointed if this book was not even more mind-blowing than Black Cat Mojo. And he did not disappoint. Hats off to Mr Howe for creating this magnificent novella of pure horror. I would definitely recommend this to readers of horror and make sure you buckle up as you will be in for the most twisted ride of your life!” -Crime Book Junkie
“I’m pretty certain that whatever genre you like to read, be it pulp, noir, horror, anything really, you will find something to enjoy here. It’s fast paced, action packed and brilliantly written. Comet Press has got a diamond on their hands! 5 stars” -Adrian Shotbolt