Dead Head Reviews (DHR): This is your first published collection, correct? How did you settle on the stories in it?
Patrick Loveland (PL): Yes, this is my first collection. I had a general idea for a while about what this book was going to be and which stories made the most sense for it. There were originally a few that weren’t going to make it in, and one that got replaced pretty late in the process. The ones that made it in that weren’t going to were a result of me taking so long to write the core novella (that was supposed to just be a short ha) that I crept out of the window the original publishers required for exclusivity on those shorts.
As for how I settled on this set of stories…I wanted this book to be about go-for-the-throat thrills and chills and survival horror action that I feel comes naturally to me. The “cinematic” leaning that people mention sometimes in reviews of my stories—which makes sense, because I started as a screenwriter (and I still am one). So, the book took on a pulpy thrills and chills feel all around, in much of its content, and especially its presentation.
DHR: Your stories definitely do feel cinematic. You break the book into two parts: “YESTERDAY AND TODAY” and “TOMORROW AND BEYOND”. Where the first part are stories based on the past and present time, and part two is all futuristic stories. Did you plan on setting up the book like that all along?
PL: Once I decided what I was going for with the book, yeah, I knew I wanted it to be chronological. A big part of wanting to put this book together was having two shorts that had been serial near misses, publishing-wise, that were a couple of my favorites I’d written. And they were both period pieces. A Weird Western and one set during the Vietnam War. Another thing about my stories that I’m sure is not that uncommon with other authors in this genre realm is that many of my stories exist in a kind of shared universe. Some more directly connected, some more tangentially. Peripheral.
Looking at my stories with knowledge of how they connect or don’t with this shared universe approach, I decided to put this together in the order they would appear to happen in. Like a tour through my multiverse, I guess you could say. Plus, I felt like it might be helpful to the reader to be able to feel it was a progression through time, without having to go from a far future alien space god short to a story in the present day about Halloween candy and make those possibly jarring shifts in their mind frequently. I’m not saying readers aren’t capable of that, but that’s not the experience I wanted them to have.
DHR: That Vietnam War one was seriously so cool! Also, I’ve never heard close-but-not-directly-connected stories described like that before—peripherally. I love it. I’m going to use that!You do all the art in this book. It matches your writing style for sure, but is there a theme that readers may not catch on to that you’d like them to?
PL: Not necessarily a theme (other than the cover illustration I did, with its Many Eyes) but I think I just wanted a Crypt Keeper-like character to introduce the stories. And since I decided on just using images without words, I wanted to have the character—lovingly called “Spoop Boy”—convey something about each story just from what they were wearing or surrounded by. Like costumes and props.
DHR: That’s a really great idea! Spoop, ha. Can you tell us a little bit about Stay Strange Publishing?
PL: Sure. Honestly, I got a little tired of waiting 3-6 months to hear back on story submissions, acceptance or not. Of course, I’ll still be doing that in the future, but at that point it drove me toward something different. I also felt like I’d learned a lot working with the publisher of (the original version of) my first novel, April Moon Books in Canada, and interacting with many other indie and self-publishers, and I felt like maybe it was time to try one of those approaches out myself.
I considered just self-publishing…but I was really drawn to an entity here in my hometown of San Diego called Stay Strange. It was originally and continues to be a noise and experimental music tape and CD label, as well as a performance and event series. Its founder—Sam “Strange” Lopez—and I had become good friends from the noise and music scene here from way back. I have a huge amount of respect for Sam and what he’s done with Stay Strange, so I approached him about adding a publishing wing to the whole setup. He said he had actually been thinking about that himself, and was very interested.
Then the third core member of SSP—Christopher Smith Adair—just kind of clicked into place. They’ve been a lifelong friend of mine and copyedited most of my work, something they’re certified for and done a great deal of in the pen-and-paper roleplaying realm—Call of Cthulhu, Trail of Cthulhu, Pulp Cthulhu, etc.—as well as being a published writer of roleplaying modules and a whole campaign that was recently released by Chaosium Inc. A Cold Fire Within for the Pulp Cthulhu system.
I’ve also seen a lot of much larger and more successful imprints and publishing setups go under, for a few different reasons. But one thing that seems to be pretty common when I read about one doing that is a feeling like they may have spread themselves too thin. So, the only other thing I’ll say about Stay Strange Publishing for now is we’re taking it slow and steady, and only have one other project lined up right now for sure, with some other prospects but nothing concrete. Not open for submissions or anything like that, though. ha
DHR: That’s so cool that Sam has a multi-faceted entertainment business. I really like that origin story. Did you create the logo for SSP? Any particular influences for it?
PL: Actually, yeah, I did create it. Other than my many horror and dark surrealist art influences—HR Giger, Zdzisław Beksiński, Wayne Barlowe, Moebius, Junji Ito, etc.—that particular logo had one very specific influence. It was me riffing on the original Stay Strange logo, which was created by a badass local harsh beatmaker here who goes by Tenshun—who also performed in a little local supergroup to do backing sounds for a reading I did at my favorite SD bookstore, Verbatim Books. He was joined by other local legends Esteban Isaac Flores (of Monochromacy, BWATWOB), Christian Molenaar (of Those Darn Gnomes, and many others), and Xavier X. Vasquez (on video production, presentation, and lighting).
So yeah, I just took what I loved about Tenshun’s original logo and did it in my own style to keep the Stay Strange energy flowing through it.
DHR: HR Giger is one of my absolute favorites too! Which, is the perfect segue into my next question. I know that one of your biggest influences in film is the Alien series. Did that come into play with any of the stories?
PL: Well, yes and no. Without going into too much detail—as I’m known to do about Alien series topics—I feel that Alien and Aliens are masterpieces of slightly different subgenre overlaps (and I personally love it as a Trilogy, with Alien³ as the bleak but noble finisher of Ripley’s story) and along with JC’s The Thing and a few others, those films informed and molded my approach to Sci-Fi/Space Horror—and suspense and pacing in general, especially Aliens, which is a masterclass on build-up, thrills, and weaving horror in with bursts of action as it plays out. So, I’d say I learned a lot from those films in terms of pacing, atmosphere, and how to be economical with character-reader attachment, when needed. But no direct influence in these stories, other than my general approach.
In the book, Applewhite and Zorn does have a short stretch that could be called reminiscent of Alien, but only as much as any story that turns a spaceship into a “Haunted House” with a monster stalking around in it could be. “Halcyon-noyclaH” also has some more obvious influence when they’re on the planet, but I didn’t think about it in those terms as I was writing it.
Also, I will add that I’ve been working on a SF/H novella in-between publishing/art projects that owes much more to my love of the mentioned films in obvious ways, and I’m hoping to have that out early next year. More to come on that.
DHR: Agreed about Aliens 3. I’ll keep my ears open for further news on that novella.What are your favorite stories? Does one top all the others?
PL: I have my favorites. I’m proud of every story in the book or it wouldn’t be there…but with that said, my favorite shorts in the book—because my favorite all around would have to be TOO MANY EYES, the title novella—would be “Ekwiiyemak (The Place Where It Rains),” “The Ballad of Chihuahua Puente,” “Not Cavities,” “Whoever Fights Monsters…,” “R-Day for Mrs. D,” and “Beluga”.
I also have to say that “PIE” holds a special place in my heart, because I love cyberpunk, but especially because of all the stories my late father was able to read of mine over the years before he passed away, he said it was his favorite. He even gave me some stainless steel chopsticks as a gift, similar to those the main character carries and uses in the short.
DHR: Wow…that’s incredibly touching, man. The first part of your book heavily focuses on California, as did your debut novel A Tear in the Veil. Are there any fellow Californian authors that you look up to that inspire you more than others?
PL: Good question. Of the authors I know who live in California…I have really enjoyed what I’ve read by Israel Finn, Jimmy Callaway, Chad Stroup, and Ted E. Grau. There’s also someone coming up (who I think lives in Davis, California) named Alex Chase who is what I think you’d call One To Watch. Also, I think Rachel Nussbaum is now a Californian (after moving from Hawaii), and she had a very well-written poem in a George Romero charity tribute anthology (Stories of the Dead from EyeCue Productions) I also had something in, and I look forward to reading more from her.
DHR: Do you have anyone in particular that inspires your art?
PL: If you mean my graphic art, I think I touched on that. If you mean writing, I’ve always been a fan of Clive Barker, King, Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, William Gibson, John Shirley, Douglas Coupland, and Kurt Vonnegut. And I’m sure there are others I can’t think of right now.
DHR: Sorry, I meant your graphic art. There were some tough words to pronounce in this book. For example, your first story Ekwiiyemak (The Place Where It Rains). That was one of my favorite stories, by the way. Where do they derive from?
PL: Thanks, glad to hear it was one of your favorites!
“Ekwiiyemak” is a Kumeyaay word, one of the languages spoken by the Ipai-Kumeyaay-Tipai Native American peoples originally inhabiting and currently in the region of California I’m from, sadly, to a much lesser extent. I apologize in advance if I mess any of that history up. But that is my understanding. As it is commonly spelled now, Cuyamaca. I grew up camping in the Cuyamaca area with my grandparents, also going to the small town of Julian to the north of that. The town in the story is my own playful alternate history of that place. Julian is a great cozy mountain town mostly associated with apples and apple pies at this point, but in my experience with it personally and in my research, I found out about its history as a mining town, originally.
And one translation of Ekwiiyemak, and the one that obviously inspired me, is “The Place Where It Rains.”
DHR: Well, from my point of view the story sounded realistic! On one more of your stories, Pizzapokalypse, please tell me that was created out of Max Booth’s pizza anthology.
PL: Since you asked, yes. It was written for that and was actually short-listed for it, but didn’t make the final cut. No love lost on my end. I’m sure that book is a great read.
And this happens to be the story that was the late-stage replacement I’d mentioned. I consulted with CSA about how the stories meshed, and they told me if there was any story that didn’t fit for them, it was my story “The Five Crystal Dragons”, a Kung Fu/Vampire/Hammer/Shaw Bros homage toThe Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires—originally published in April Moon’s excellent Short Sharp Shocks Vol.4: Spawn of the Ripper, a book all about Hammer and Amicus homages—so I really thought about that.
I did agree that most of the book is populated with much more amorphous, “unknowable” creatures, and vampires might have thrown off the flow of it. And I had recently received the rejection on “Pizzapokalyps,” so I felt it could fit in more, with its goopy, shapeshifting pizza-bominations.
I am fond of “The Five Crystal Dragons,” though, so I’m sure it will pop up someday in another collection or something like that. Maybe free on my site. We’ll see.
DHR: Well, I’m glad you had it in this book. It was hilarious and conjured so many neat images in my head! I’d be interested to read that vampire story too. I noticed you always paint a pretty vivid picture of your tech. Do you do a lot of research to figure out certain sci-fi creations or is engineering or science sort of something you read for pleasure?
PL: Somewhere in-between. I do read about those topics and enjoy it, but it’s also a part of my research. I call it “research-tainment” ha
DHR: Haha, nice. “The Bulb”, in a strange way, made me think of Pacific Rim. Did that film happen to have any influence on that story?
PL: Not directly, no. I can’t remember if I’d even seen Pacific Rim when I wrote that one. It was my very first published story, actually. It was for the second Short Sharp Shocks anthology by April Moon Books, Stomping Grounds, which was all about kaiju and the like. So, I guess you could say that book and Pacific Rim shared similar influences, but there was no direct connection on my end. That book is also a great read, by the way.
DHR: I bet it is. Which one of your stories would you put yourself in and bet that you’d come out on top in the end?
PL: Good question! I’d say, of all the stories in the collection, I’d be most likely to get through “Not Cavities” unscathed. If that creepy, diminutive woman gave me an ultimatum, I’d listen. ha
DHR: Haha! Man, I would hope I’d listen to her too. If you were one of your own characters, would you be concerned?
PL: Very! I don’t make it easy on them, for the most part.
DHR: You bastard!Is there anything you’d like potential readers to know before going into this book?
PL: What I would say has already been spelled out pretty well, I think. This book is mostly about pulpy thrills. Deeper things might seep in here and there, but these collected stories were written predominantly to entertain. I feel like the title and presentation convey that, but just in case, don’t go into this book expecting what some call literary horror.
DHR: That’s a fair statement. Would you like to make a shout-out to anyone?
PL: Other than those mentioned already,I would like to say that my wife is a huge help to me, creatively. As a fellow huge horror and sci-fi fan, I’ve been bouncing story and promo ideas off of her for years and she knows me well enough to give advice that is honest and also takes my quirks into account. Also, my daughter, who is only 7 years old, but keeps one of the posters of my weird cover image for the book up on her bedroom wall—at her request (and with rainbow unicorn tape to hold it up). Ha
Oh, also Re-Animated Records here in La Mesa—they’ve been very supportive, stocking both of my books and hosting a reading for me and Chad Stroup in October that was a lot of fun. Just a great shop, and a family operation too. Very cool people.
DHR: That’s a fantastic support system, brotha. Thank you for giving us your time, Pat! Always a pleasure talking to you.
PL: Thank you!
You Can Follow Patrick on:
His Website: patrickloveland.com
Publisher’s website: Stay Strange Publishing