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Black Static


Getting To Know You

14th Jun, 2009

Author: Peter Tennant

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Those of you who have been lucky enough to receive their copy of Black Static #11 by now or who are regular readers of this blog, will know that the Case Notes featured author for this issue is Steve Mosby.

We have a review of his latest novel, Still Bleeding, some sidebar factoids about Steve and an interview in which he discusses his work in general and the new book in particular.

For the online part of the whole Case Notes experience, I threw a number of random pairings at Steve and asked him to tell me which of the two he preferred and why, a technique which I feel works rather well, particularly as it involves minimal effort on my part, and besides, can you imagine Salman Rushdie, Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon or any of those other highbrow literary types doing an interview which throws up an answer like ‘I’m a sucker for stuffed crust’. I’ll bet most of those guys don’t even know who Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers are.

Q: Memento or The Usual Suspects?

A: That's a hard one, as they're both great films, but I'd have to go with The Usual Suspects. I like the story and the trickery more. 

Q: McDonalds or Pizza Hut?

A: I'm a sucker for stuffed crust so I'll have to go with Pizza Hut. But in an ideal world, neither. All things being equal, I genuinely prefer cooking for myself, and others, from scratch. 

Q: Belle and Sebastian or Nine Inch Nails?

A: No! That depends on the mood. Overall, it'd be Nine Inch Nails, who are one of my favourite acts. But I wouldn't want to sacrifice The Boy With The Arab Strap either ... NIN are going to shade this one, I think. Having seen Trent Reznor perform Hurt live - just him, a piano and a field full of silent people - I prefer it, perhaps blasphemously, to the Johnny Cash cover. 

Q: Audition or The Grudge (Ju-on)?

A: I think I'm one of the few people to be absolutely terrified by The Grudge - and by that, I mean the remake. My wife was too: I probably shouldn't say this in public, but I went through an odd and unlovable phase of making that guttural clicking noise and crawling jerkily through doorways just to freak her out. 

But I think it has to be Audition. There's just so much more to it. The last horror that really disturbed me was the French film Martyrs. Not sure if I liked it, as such, but it's horror in the same way the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre was. It's an assault.

Q: Critical acclaim and the respect of your peers, or money?

A: To be entirely honest, it's money. If you're publishing and getting money, someone likes you. But in the crime fiction world, and I'm sure elsewhere too, these things often go hand in hand. 

Q: The books - Dracula or Frankenstein?

A: Been a while since I read them, but I'll go with Frankenstein. I don't find vampires remotely frightening, and Frankenstein has the pathos and human interest going for it. 

Q: Old age and obscurity, or fame and die young?

A: Old age and obscurity. Life is too much fun. Having said that, I've always been convinced I'll die young: it was a genuine surprise to reach thirty without incident. But then, I'm not famous, so I'd prefer to hang in there for a while yet either way.

Q: Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers?

A: There's something very basic I employ with monsters, which I call the 'Class 2B kickability' test. When I was at school, I was talking to a friend about how scary Bob from Twin Peaks was as he crawled slowly across the floor, leering. And my friend - who was a little unhinged - just sniffed and said ‘well, if that was me, I'd have gone over and kicked him in the head ... just to see what he did, you know?’

And there's no real argument with that. On the basis of the test, I have to go with Voorhees, as he's a large zombie with a machete. Michael Myers is - at heart - just a nutjob in a Shatner mask.

Q: Beer or lager?

A: When I was younger, it was beer - and we have a real ale festival nearby that we all still go to every year - but I do tend to go for lager when I'm out and about. In general, it would actually be red wine - or maybe Irish coffee, which is clearly one of the best things ever invented.

Q: The Descent or 28 Days Later?

A: They're both on a level, I think, but probably The Descent. 28 Days Later has sentimental value, as it was the first DVD I bought, back when I'd just gone to living on my own in - frankly - a shit-hole, after the end of a long relationship, but I like The Descent more overall.

Q: Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger as The Joker?

A: Heath Ledger. This one's a no-brainer for me. 

Q: Michael Marshall or Michael Marshall Smith?

A: It's got to be Smith, just because Spares and Only Forward are two of my favourite books, and I love the short stories. The Straw Men is probably as good, but overall I'm going to go with Smith.

Q: Pet rat or pet lizard?

A: Easy one: it's rats all the way. I had a couple of pet rats once - Jay and Bob - and it's amazing how clever and friendly they can be. I really don't see the point in lizards. It must be like looking after a stick.

Q: Myspace or Facebook?

A: Definitely Facebook, assuming I can't say Twitter. I've got a Myspace page, but it's rare for me to log on anymore, as it's so clunky, slow and horrible. Facebook does everything Myspace does, but gives the impression it was designed to do it. When I used to build databases and websites as a Uni admin, the first rule was to know exactly what structure was needed before you started. Myspace looks like it was made up as people went along.

Q: Sherlock Holmes or Poirot?

A: I did a festival panel recently where the prep work was to write the first paragraph for a Poirot or Marple novel in your own style, and I was embarrassed to realise I'd never read any Agatha Christie at all. So it's Holmes. 

Q: Manhunter or Red Dragon?

A: If you mean films, it's Manhunter all the way. That was a film - and soundtrack - that defined my teenage years, and Michael Mann's one of my favourite directors. Plus, I don't like Anthony Hopkins as Lecter at all, and it comes back to the kickability test. He is, after all, just Anthony Hopkins. In the films, once he was out of his cell, they had to do the 'serial killer as magically-appearing-behind-you ninja' trick to lend him any credibility whatsoever. 

Whereas Brian Cox manages to be sophisticated, clever and articulate, and still somehow looks like a thug. Watch him chew gum as he's waiting to give the phone back. Cox's Lecter could rip a man's head clean off.

Q: Jazz or punk rock?

A: Oh god - punk rock. One of the highlights of my year now is Download Festival at Donington. In fact, I was forced to listen to a jazz band in a bar last night and I'm still furious. 


And for anyone who wants to brace Steve in person regarding his preferences in movie monsters or attitude towards alcoholic beverages, he will be in attendance at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate at the end of July (details below). 


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