I am so excited that Michael Crane agreed to this interview. He is known around town as the “king” of horror and slice of life short stories, and after reading his books, I have to agree. He has turned me into a fan.
Michael Crane is an indie author and scribbler of inane babble that can sometimes end up as stories. He went to Columbia College Chicago where he earned a BA in Fiction Writing and drank one too many Red Bulls. He’s the author of In Decline (stories), Giggles (a novella), and Lessons and Other Morbid Drabbles. Some of his favorite writers are Richard Yates, Raymond Carver, Ray Bradbury, David Sedaris, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O’Connor, and Alice Munro.
Let’s begin with a VERY important question. Are you a coffee drinker?
Yes, I’m a slave to the Caffeine God, and have been all my life. Usually in the morning, I’ll have coffee. Or a Red Bull. Whatever can get me through the morning. I’m tempted to try both at the same time, but I’m pretty sure no human body can deal with that (nor should they).
What is your favorite, if not, what gets you going in the morning?
So long as I have cream and sugar, I’m fine with whatever coffee is around. Except for decaf. Decaf can go to hell.
How many books have you written in your career? (yes, Novella’s and short stories count. Writing is writing)
Seven that I’m owning up to. A few I pretend don’t exist (since they were written when I was in high school). I have some short stories that I’ve published separately, but I didn’t count those.
Ohhhhhh, let’s talk about the ones that you aren’t owning up to. Would you like to give us a hint?
I can be bribed with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue. Every man has his price!
In all honesty, these were written when I was in high school and I used vanity presses. I didn’t do it to really sell to people I didn’t know. I knew the only people who would want to check them out were friends and family. I did it more for myself. I wanted to see something of mine in print. It was a great motivator. This was way before ebooks became popular, and the chances of somebody just happening to stumble on something you published through a vanity press were slim-to-none. That’s why I really don’t count them, and also why I don’t advertise them.
What genre is your favorite?
General fiction, which may seem funny since I have a lot in horror. I’m a sucker for slice-of-life.
You write dark stories, can you tell us why?
Happy stories bore me to tears. I’m always more fascinated with sad or horrifying stories. I think it’s fun to explore darkness in a creative way, which is why I’m thankful for having a creative outlet to do so.
What is the most embarrassing thing you have done?
My best friend and I made a movie in high school for one of our classes. We actually worked our butts off on it and it turned out pretty good. But now I can’t watch it without cringing, and my friend decided it’d be fun to show my girlfriend (who’s now my wife) the movie. And it was the first time she was meeting my friends, and here comes Rick with tape. I couldn’t look at her when it was playing. Hell, I couldn’t look at anybody. I’m still amazed she married me after that.
Any chance we could find it on You Tube?
He keeps threatening me that he’s going to put it there one of these days! It wouldn’t surprise me if it winds up there.
Describe your writing in one word?
What would be your dream vacation?
I admit I’m not much of a traveler, but I’d love to visit Italy. Maybe Paris?
What is the most dangerous thing you have done?
Tried to get through a complete work day without any caffeine whatsoever. I really, really, really don’t recommend it.
Are you married?
My wife and I married last year!
Do you have/want any children?
Right now, we have two cats and a chinchilla. I know it’ll sound corny, but we consider them our children. I think we’re more “pet” people than “children” people. We are planning on getting a French Bulldog at some point. And you can bet we’ll spoil the hell out of him/her.
Tell me about Nermie?
Nermie is our pet Chinchilla. We’ve had her for three years now, and she’s a lot of fun. She squeaks like hell if you try to pick her up, but otherwise she lets you hold her for a while. It’s pretty fun to watch her take a dust bath. To keep them clean, you pour some dust that they sell at the pet store into a container, and she just jumps in and flops around in it.
What did you want to do with your life (career) when you were growing up?
I just wanted to write stories. Even if I couldn’t do it for a living, or if I wouldn’t make a ridiculous amount of money. I didn’t care what I ended up doing, so long as I was able to write at some point. And get my work out there for people to read.
Describe your outlook on life in one word.
Very hopeful. Wait, that’s two words. Crap. Okay. Hopeful. But that sounds bland by itself. Okay, how about if the very is silent? There. I can live with that.
I notice you get a lot of paper cuts that could possibly be fatal. What the hell do you do in your day job?
I scan/index files into the computer for an insurance company, and I do other odd jobs around the office. So, I’m always in contact with paper. Chances of me making it through the week without a single paper cut is extremely rare.
What is your absolute favorite TV show/series? You can ONLY PICK ONE! Yes, I am aware that this could cause you great stress.
That’s really a tough one, because it seems to always change with time. But right now I think it’s safe to say that Doctor Who is my all-time favorite. I’m completely obsessed with it (which will surprise nobody who follows me on Facebook). I also say it’s my favorite because if I were ever given one of those “desert/island scenarios” where I could only watch one show for the rest of my life, it’d be that. There are so many episodes, both new and old. And it’s extremely well written with fleshed out characters. It’s the kind of stuff I love, and I’m not even a big sci-fi fan.
Tell me the ONE character in your books that is the most like you. You can only pick ONE, no cheating?
I would say the narrator from my short story, “The Roller Rink,” since it was pretty much inspired by true events. I still altered/changed things around to tell a better story, but that’s pretty much me when I was that age. I’m sure there’s other bits of me in some of the characters that I write. I think it’s unavoidable.
How do you advertise your books?
Poorly. I’d love to say I have a plan, but I don’t. I’ll go on Twitter every now and then to promote, and I may post a link on my Facebook page every so often, but I really try not to overdo it. I’ve gone with sites where you pay for advertising, and that’s worked out at times. I always feel guilty when I plug my books, even uncomfortable. I don’t know why that is, because I’m really proud of my books. I’m just afraid of sounding like a commercial if I do it too much.
When did you first, without hesitation, call yourself an author?
I think it really started once I had more stuff out there, and I realized people were buying my books and even writing me about them. Once people outside of my group of friends and family started to read my stuff, I think that’s when it really hit me.
What do you wear when you write?
A tuxedo along with a bowler’s hat. Because I’m fancy, dammit! Truthfully, pretty much whatever I’m wearing that day. I don’t have what I’d call a writing outfit. Although if I run into a writing rut again, it might not be a bad idea to come up with one. And no, I do not dress up like Mr. Giggles when I write. I’m demented, but I’m not that demented. Yet…
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I don’t really play the lottery, mainly because I hear of all of the horrible stuff that happens to winners. It seems more like bad luck to me than anything. But if I did play… probably a bunch of Doctor Who junk and some books. Pretty much what I’m doing now.
How many hats do you own?
I think I have four. Oddly enough, I really don’t wear them all that much. I always think, “Oh, this will look cool!” And then as soon as I get home and put it on, I immediately have buyer’s remorse. That usually takes place when I look at myself in the mirror.
I have a Budweiser’s baseball cap that I’ll put on during the weekends if I’m lazy. I think I need a new cap. I don’t even drink Budweiser these days.
And the last question, If you could ask your future self one question, what would it be?
“Will I ever write the fucking novel? My author friends keep asking me that…
End of Interview:
For more, visit Michael’s blog.