CHHR: When did you start writing horror?
MRT: I started writing around 2013, although horror has always been in my DNA. My parents were Mexican Immigrants and were never able to pick up the English language (although they tried until the end of their days). I heard many dark tales from them in my youth, some folklore, others reality. As a child I’d take advantage of the language barrier on the rare occasion we’d visit the video rental store. Underneath a copy of The Goonies or TMNT I’d sneak a copy of Faces of Death or Nightmare on Elm Street or Night of the Living Dead or Evil Dead or any other horror and wait to watch as soon as they went to bed. Otherwise it was Tales from the Crypt or Twilight Zone or Creepshow or any other television horror. It was when I returned to school in 2013 where I found my passion for writing and attempting to disturb the sugar-coated comfort level this world has blanketed itself in.
CHHR: What scares you?
MRT: Humanity. The horrible potential of destruction that the human race is capable of. From the physical to the emotional. Bullets are more easily dispersed than an honest debate or conversation. It’s become too easy for loyalty to transform into betrayal. It’s too easy to point the finger in blame. The easily offended frighten me, an oversensitive society diluting accountability. How we easily turn the cheek on the oppressed and suffering scares me. The level of entitlement the world claims. The hypocrisy. To watch the majority claim righteousness while aiming their verbal rifles with their eyes closed at the truly innocent. How the majority easily claim to be innocent. Reality and its shadows are scarier than any fiction that has and will ever be created. Art imitates life.
CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?
MRT: My day job takes up more than 40 hours per week. The drive to and from work alone takes up about ten hours on top of my work hours. Luckily, I ride in the work truck with my crew and our crew lead drives. There, I’ll spend the hour ride either editing or writing or reading. After getting home I’ll spend another hour (or two, tops) doing the same. Lately, it’s been mostly preparing for Hindered Souls Press’ 2018 publication schedule.
CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, what are they?
MRT: I’m really a boring writer. One thing I tend to do is pace while filtering through thoughts. I also speak out my dialogue lines a lot—when I’m alone, of course. Keep in mind that I work through those quirks with arms flailing (I’ve been told if I’d been born without arms I’d be a mute :D.) Other than that it’s music and scotch-whiskey when I write at home.
CHHR: Do you use outlines or do you go with the flow?
MRT: I wish I could say I use outlines, but I can’t. I wish I could say I just go with the flow, but I can’t. What I tend to do is integrate both methods. I’m a huge note taker, when my muse has me dead-set on a particular project I jot notes down religiously through the construction of the project: at work, in bed, dinner, lunch, sexual intercourse, sitting on the pot. My notes end up getting chaotically organized in the timeline of the project. As I move through the writing process I eliminate the notes/ideas as I incorporate them directly or in a modified form. By the end I have a few ideas/notes left which I either move to a miscellaneous folder for future projects or delete completely.
CHHR: How did publishing your first book/short story change your process of writing?
MRT: After publishing my first short story in a local arts and entertainment magazine I was blessed with ignorance: I was going to easily move onto many more short story publications and publish a novel next to Stephen King and Chuck Palahniuk and have groupies and movies and a shoe-line and an endless amount of psychedelic drugs and the world! Of course, it’s not that easy. That ignorance has since been blessed with modesty. An appreciation for the literary arts and the passion needed to want to write. The hard work and persistence needed. Always seeking knowledge and hoping to never fall into complacency. They say the fool learns from his own mistakes, the wise man learns from the fool’s; I say to the wise man, “Your welcome.”
CHHR: What do you think makes a good story?
MRT: When the story can extract emotions strategically from the reader. This is a skill very difficult to master and I hope to say that I can achieve that someday. The plots and sub-plots have to keep the reader guessing while allowing them to dig their own emotional grave. More than anything, it needs to remove the reality of the reader reading; needs to kidnap the reader and drop them in the middle of the narrative and dialogue without the sense of time until their significant other or child or bus driver or prison guard whoever in the real world shouts at them. The reader should see the world differently afterward—even if just a glance—and should feel satisfyingly exhausted.
CHHR: What do you think makes a great character?
MRT: A great character has to be relatable. Has to make the reader wish they were real so they could hangout and shoot the shit sometime. Has to make the reader get frustrated and angry toward characters. Has to inspire sympathy and a sense of pity for characters.
CHHR: What are you currently working on?
MRT: I’m in the process of writing a literary conspiracy theory story. As soon as that’s wrapped up I will begin work on my next transgressive-horror novel I’ve titled Leathered Angels (working title). What secrets are we willing to hide and bury in order to live the white-picket fence life with the Astro-turf grass?
CHHR: What authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
MRT: Oh boy, I think you could pick anybody whom I follow on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, they all inspire me. Some of the names that jump out immediately to keep the list short would be William Marchese, Gary Buller, Jesse Dedman, A. A. Medina, S.J. Budd, Dustin Schyler Yoak, Kelly Evans, Gabino Iglesias (a friend of all indie authors), Zak Ferguson, S.C Burke. There are so many more, I hope those not listed do not get offended, I’ll shout you out next time! They all inspire me with their tireless work ethic, their love for the literary arts, their criticism, their willingness to help, and their unconditional friendship.
CHHR: What’s in your TBR pile?
MRT: My TBR list is ridiculously huge, never enough hours in a day. I have a TBR lottery jar for my print, e-book, and audiobook list. I’ll go through some of my physical copies here to attempt to keep it short and indie:
Puppet Skin by Danger Slater
ID Cancer; The Weird by S.C. Burke
Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias
Knock and You Will See Me by Andrew Cull
4 Rooms in a Semi-Detached House by Madeleine Swann
Home Is Where The Horror Is by C.V. Hunt
The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett
Hater by David Moody
…and I’ll stop there for now, any more and we’d need a bottle of Scotch and an endless night.
CHHR: What’s the horror scene like in Colorado?
MRT: We have a good scene here amongst the Rocky Mountains. I’ve found more writers in Denver and its surrounding areas than I have in Northern Colorado where I’m from. Either way the support is amazing just like the rest of the genre worldwide. There are many festivals in Colorado that either celebrate or accept the horror genre with arms wide open, as well. A couple of the names coming out of Colorado you should watch for are Gary Robbe and Josh Schlossberg.
CHHR: If you could have a beer with one horror author, who would it be?
MRT: I hate to fall into cliché and choose Stephen King like any human should (and I would) so I’m going to be slightly different and say Joe Hill. I feel there’d be a million more questions to build upon. Aside from being the King’s heir, he can write some really twisted and bizarre things with great characters and storytelling altogether, it’d be nice to tap into his mind, tip a cold one with, snort a rail with, commit a felony with. I’d even go to confession with him just for the experience.
CHHR: What is your spirit animal?
MRT: My spirit animal would either be a Liger which is bred for its skills in magic haha or a pit-bull: usually receives a bad rep although it’s just a big, goofy puppy with skills in intimidation.
CHHR: You own Hindered Souls Press. Can you tell us a little about it? Are you open for submission? What kind of horror are you looking to publish in 2018?
MRT: Hindered Souls Press was created out of frustrations with the state of literary publication and its pretentious side, mainly the short fiction anthology/magazines. Many asked for everything from reading fees, response time being up to a year, some responding to those accepted, some asking for exclusive submissions, an established platform, some mixing up lots of these negatives, etc. I believe this leaves many authors and their work out there disrespected and being robbed of a chance at being accepted and published due to being newer amongst the crowd. Therefore, I created the Hindered Souls anthology.
After that I shopped my novel Sugar Skulls to many publishers and received horrible contract offers. With the experience I had gained with the Hindered Souls anthology, the concept exploded into Hindered Souls Press where I vowed to offer the author the lion’s share since they did the hard work of creating the work itself.
HSP is looking to publish horror in any form as long as it changes the way we view the world and makes every nerve burn within our skin; we are hoping to do a second installment of HS: Dark Tales for Dark Nights, submissions opening in May 2018 and opening submissions for novels and novellas in November 2018.
A year into our publication and we have an amazing lineup of deranged authors for 2018: A. A. Medina’s Siphon comes out February 2nd; Renée Miller’s Eat the Rich comes out in July; Leo X. Robertson’s Jesus of Scumburg comes out in December. Hope you’re ready!!
CHHR: Do you have any advice for writers who are trying to get published?
MRT: Read! Read inside and outside of your genre. Edit, edit, and edit. Research successful editing methods through books and other writers. Use an outside source to edit after you’ve gotten as far as you could on your own; use multiple beta-readers who are also writers (avoid using family and friends as they are most often too nice to suggest edits or point out flaws in the writing itself.) Do not use your narrative to tell the reader what is happening, instead, show and make the reader use their five senses to experience the story themselves. Find your own voice. Following every single rule that’s set out there robs you of this, but learn when and when not to follow them. Rules are made to be followed, twisted, and broken. Find your happy medium, but make sure it is clean. Don’t be scared to grab your reader’s face and slap it painfully numb. Be unforgettable, our words will live longer than we will.
“Life is a matter of death. Death is a matter of fact.”
Micah DeAtta learns this as he awakens with Death seated across from him, whetting his sickle. Micah has no choice but to converse with Death in order to figure out his own demise. As their conversations become a battle of wits, Micah is forced to relive prominent deaths of family and friends before learning of his own. Each death happens in real time, each correlating with the nine levels of the Aztec underworld. Before it is said and done, Micah will have been forced to face his fears, his losses, and the fact that although life may be too short, death is forever.
“I would like to welcome the world to The Die-Fi Experiment. Please join us in the fun that is the
deterioration of the world by means of social media.”
Marie and her husband are spending their honeymoon in Tokyo, Japan. While strolling the downtown streets, they are hoaxed into a chance at winning the latest cell phone: First to get through a maze of doors wins! Only they both awaken amidst a sadistic live-stream gameshow. Marie competes against a man while both of their partners are strapped down to chairs. The winner of the deranged challenges imposes extreme pain for their own partner while the loser receives their own form of demented punishment. As it goes on, more and more people around the World Wide Web tune in. The winner of the entire competition gets the chance to fight one last time for their ultimate chance of survival against their own partner…to the death! Will Marie and her husband get the chance to have their first fight as a married couple, and if they do, who will be the last one standing?