This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!
Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.
A: My story is called “Luminescence.” The genesis was an article I read about how climate change was throwing off the ecological balance and creating an explosion of the squid population, either somewhere in Asia or perhaps off the coast of Mexico (I can’t remember for sure). From what the article said, the squids are basically eating everything in sight. I saw an opportunity to take an almost Lovecraftian setup and explore it in a more prosaic, hopefully down-to-earth fashion.
Q: What drew you to writing a survival horror story for Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror?
A: I’ve been a fan of the survival horror genre since I first saw Night of the Living Dead back when I was in middle school. I don’t believe any sub-genre of horror strips the human psyche more thoroughly down its basic — and all too often destructive — components. I’m fascinated by the notion that the threat might be overcome if the people could just learn to work together, and how rarely they manage to do so. It’s a bleak outlook, but one I believe to be basically true. For every person who rises above their circumstances, there are ten more who let the same petty bullshit get in their way.
“Luminescence” fell into my head at the exact right time; I was about halfway through my first draft when I saw the submission call and thought it sounded like it might be a perfect fit. I’m extremely honored to be a part of this collection.
Q: What work (fiction, video game, movie, TV show) of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?
A: Any of Romero’s Living Dead films, obviously. But if zombies aren’t your thing, I don’t think you can do any better than John Carpenter’s The Thing. I’d recommend Alien and Aliens as well. And, if you’re (like me) phobic of the ocean and looking for something a bit more rooted in reality, I still find 2003’s Open Water to be one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen.
Q: How do you think current events impact people’s experience of horror fiction?
A: That’s always a hard question to answer. To me, horror is fundamentally about what happens when the irrational suddenly invades a fundamentally rational (fictional) world. It’s basic. It’s primal. It’s being a Neanderthal sitting at the mouth of a cave and wondering what’s lurking back there in the dark. When the real world itself suddenly turns irrational — as appears to be happening now — horror becomes one of the tools we use to try to make some kind of sense of it. Unfortunately, we usually fail. There’s just no way to make sense of the senseless, but I guess there’s value in the attempt.
Q: What survival situation do you most fear?
A: I’m absolutely terrified of the ocean. I won’t go in past my knees, and even that’s asking a lot. I can’t imagine anything worse than being caught on a sinking ship.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?
A: For me, it’s getting past the standard plot expectations and letting the characters—and their flaws—dictate the outcome. Story is all about the choices the people within them make, and in a survival horror scenario the margin of error between a good choice and a bad choice must be vanishingly thin.
Q: The zombies are coming for real this time, and the outbreak is getting closer. What’s your survival game plan?
A: Two of my best friends are borderline survivalists and gun nuts. I’m neither of those things, so my plan is to head straight to their house.
Q: What writing project are you currently working on?
A: I recently finished the first draft of a long horror novel, and I’m nearly finished with a (hopefully shorter) crime novel. And I’m itching to make another movie as soon as I can find the time!
Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?
A: You can find me on Facebook by searching for Scotty Milder Author/Filmmaker Page, as well as on Amazon, where my feature film Dead Billy is currently available. The film’s website is www.deadbillythemovie.com. Many of my short films are also available at vimeo.com/trifectaplus